Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to the weekend! This week was loooooooong for me.

Thank you to Natalie for hosting the link party for all things Weekend Coffee Share!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you Storyaday is in full swing. I am posting reflections about the prompts, my stories and my process daily on the blog. So far I have written a full story each day. I am connecting with some new writers which has been fun. Some of the stories have surprised me which is always a good thing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a day of Voxer coaching on Monday which was enlightening. I was able to talk out some things that were puzzling me with my community and what I want to do next. If you are not familiar with Voxer, it is an app that allows you to record audio messages for another person. Essentially it is voice texting. I normally am not an audio processor but have found that this app helps me in certain situations.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my professional development this week at work was not fun. We were looking at the Wisconsin standards and determining their Depth of Knowledge number. After an hour and a half I was done.

Would you like a refill? Some water? I bought the sparkle water you like! I think there are some homemade chocolate cupcakes with the cream filling left too.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was able to attend a Hermit Crab workshop during my lunch time this week. The class was out of the UK and worked out with my schedule. Hermit Crab styles are a way to write a story that takes the form of something else like a recipe or advertisement. I have been having trouble with the recipe aspect of the form and there was an example that was really helpful.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this weekend I am spending time with my son. I also have a writing circle on Sunday I am looking forward to. Plus there is writing time!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I hope to listen to some great podcasts while I am in the car this weekend. Any recommendations?

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Thank you for joining me for a coffee today. I always love when we chat!

I would love to hear what you are working on and what you find inspiring.

I am already looking forward to our chat next week!

I am gathering creatives for a Fabulous Flash Fiction class June 9-13th. Registration opens May 15. Sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

I am teaching a class about What the HECK to do with all your freewrites! You can sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/866f580e114c/freewrites

Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to May!!

Thank you to Natalie for hosting the link party for all things Weekend Coffee Share!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am going to DisneyWorld next month! I am taking my son for a graduation present and it seems unbelievable to say out loud.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I wrote and read a lot of poems during the month of April. May is dedicated to short stories. I am reflecting on my writing process in a public way for this challenge. The posts will go up several times a week, if not everyday. You can check out DAY 1 here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am obsessed with Elizabeth McCracken’s new book The Souvenir Museum and I was able to pick up a hold from library yesterday. I was thrilled and started reading it immediately.

Would you like a refill? Some water? I have homemade s’mores and vanilla cupcakes with my grandmother’s frosting.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I took some time off in the evenings the last week of April and it wasn’t as refueling as I thought it would be. The new schedule is tiring, but I am getting used to it. I am hosting my PUSH group this Tuesday and I am so glad. I missed it terribly last week. I could tell I did not have my intellectual conversation on Wednesday morning! I woke up frustrated and not rested.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am back to my fasting schedule and it is going well. I will be at my goal weight by the end of June.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you there are lots of exciting things coming this month and next. I have two writing classes later in the month. There are a few short trips planned as well.

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Thank you for joining me for a coffee today. I always love when we chat!

I would love to hear what you are working on and what you find inspiring.

I am already looking forward to our chat next week!

I am gathering creatives for a Fabulous Flash Fiction class in early June! Sign ups will be May 15. Sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

I am teaching a class about What the HECK to do with all your freewrites! You can sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/866f580e114c/freewrites

Weekend Coffee Share

It is the last weekend of April! Can you believe it? Time has been playing tricks on me for sure.

Thank you to Natalie for hosting the link party for all things Weekend Coffee Share!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the teaching with my cohorts went smoothly this week in kindergarten. The pace feels quite different and I move groups of children from here to there to everywhere. They play separately, together which is a new experience but they are adjusting well. I am glad to be able to do cut up sentences and making words with them.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been transcribing more stories into the Google Drive from the notebooks. I am gearing up for Storyaday. It was transformative to my writing life when I stumbled across a podcast about it so many years ago. I joined the write in on Saturday morning and saw some friend’s faces I hadn’t in a while!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am obsessed with Elizabeth McCracken’s new book The Souvenir Museum. I listened to an interview between her and Karen Russell and it was fantastic! I found several other interviews with her and listened to them on my walk as well.

Would you like a refill? Some water? I bought the sparkle water you like! I think there are some homemade chocolate cupcakes with the cream filling left too.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am sad I missed the deadline to sign up for the 2 day, 10 words, 1 poem contest. The words were released yesterday though so I am writing the poem anyway! You could use them for a story as well. They are unusual words and I had fun looking some of them up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my poetry class is over now and I believe I will miss it. I enjoyed this group of people immensely this month.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am looking forward to May. I have many things planned and ready to launch. It is going to be a great gathering month!

——-

Thank you for joining me for a coffee today. I always love when we chat!

I would love to hear what you are working on and what you find inspiring.

I am already looking forward to our chat next week!

I am gathering creatives for a Fabulous Flash Fiction class in early June! Sign ups will be May 15. Sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

I am teaching a class about What the HECK to do with all your freewrites! You can sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/866f580e114c/freewrites

My First 6 Weeks with the Artist’s Way…again

Here in my truth about creative recovery –

What is It?

The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron which came from a creative recovery class she was teaching. It is a 12 week program divided into weeks with tasks and two main tools with the purpose to find and fuel your creativity. It is not just for writers, it is for anyone. There are two main tools in addition to the weekly exercises.

Tool 1: Morning Pages

This is the heart of the program and is likely a word you have heard or read around writers and other creative people. Morning pages are simply three pages of longhand writing done in the morning that are a brain drain. You write whatever comes to mind. They are not supposed to be smart but they can be. Many times it is complaining or what you need to remember for the day.

Julia Cameron says: There is no wrong way to do the morning pages.

Yet, there is much conversation around what is the “right” way to do them. Our inner critic makes us perfectionists and many of us are hard wired to want to do things right.

Why do we do morning pages when they aren’t considered real writing? To get to the other side — of the censor, of our own obstacles — they help us get out of our own way.

For me, the morning pages lift the fog and I reach clarity. My relationship with them are different because this is the fourth long term relationship I have engaged in with the tool. It is more about what happens after the morning pages for me. All my other writing is more clear and focused when I use this tool. My MP’s tend to be list like and weird streams of thoughts. There are reflections and random memories as well.

Tool 2: Artist Dates

The artist date is a weekly date you take solo.

Read the entire article here.

#FMF Next

I participate in Five Minute Friday. Set the timer for 5 minutes and freewrite with the word provided. Find the link up here.

Set the timer and GO!

As I read the information about the prompt this week on the site I immediately thought of my work with Emily P. Freeman’s book The Next Right Thing. If you follow my blog, you know I love this book and have been reflecting through it since the beginning of the month. Each chapter is highlight by Emily on Instagram.

The idea of #mynextrightthing has been on my mind for quite awhile. It is a decision making process that makes sense especially in the sense of overwhelm. I can figure out what to do next, even if it is little like take a shower, or make a sandwich, or breath. I have been through trauma that had me feeling like I was trying to make it through the minute, not the day. I don’t remember exactly when I found the podcast The Next Right Thing but I know that it spoke to me. Emily’s voice is amazing if you haven’t listened to her either. I am thankful Emily is in my life this way.

There are lots of circumstances in this world that do not make sense to me. I used to be able to make a decision pretty quickly. This was at a time where my perception was that “Everything was gonna work out.” I have made some decisions which led to more obstacles as time went on and now I second guess as to if I will make the wrong decision. I have people relying on me and cannot afford to make any more mistakes than I have to. I will continue to make mistakes but try to be as informed as possible!

My next right thing right now is to keep writing. I will interact with my writing people this morning and my family this afternoon. Another next thing is to be open to opportunities and appreciate the moments I am in. The amount of next right things I get to choose are not guaranteed.

If you have not read Emily’s book I urge you to get a copy. It will be given as a gift from me several times this year! You can find it here.

Mentor Text Monday

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

Today’s Mentor Text is a picture book from Jacqueline Woodson.

Image result for this is the rope

This is the summary from Google Books:
The story of one family’s journey north during the great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto the car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

After I use this book for interactive read aloud the discussion leads to sharing about items in our lives that are important to us. These items have stories attached to them. The book centers around one item. This is also a good time to talk about focusing on one idea for a story if your students are trying to squeeze too much into one piece.

One of the coaching questions I am starting to use is “Which 3 stories are ones only you can tell?” Stories are important to our lives and items can be touchstones to tell those stories. I love this book to illustrate the idea of an item being a souvenir for a chapter of our own lives.

After the group discussion I have students write 3 items that are important to them on a post it note or in their writing notebook. Then the students star one item that are willing to share. I will tell the students that starring and sharing does not lock them in to writing about that one during creation time.

Then we share out. I tell students that they may add or modify their list based on the discussion. Often when writers talk new ideas spring forth. We get reminded of something important. We need to teach students to take advantage of these sunny writing moments. The shared items are written on a chart so it is accessible to students during writing time.

We also talk about what they notice about the structure of how Woodson chose to write the book. We also talk about why she chose to use the repeated phrase. Noticing author moves is important to the writing process but we also have to make sure as the teacher we lead them to make the connections back to their own writing. To understand why an author chose to use a certain craft device also eliminates the need for students to throw everything they know about craft moves into one piece. It is much more effective for them to know WHY as the author they are choosing the way to write it. Connectons to other books we have read that have repeated phrasing is good to add here as well.

Woodson uses the repeated sentence stem: This is the rope at the beginning of almost every paragraph throughout the book, which is a great structure to start with especially with reluctant writers.

Writing Springboards from this book:

  1. Use a repeated sentence stem: This is the __________ (insert important item for each student)
  2. Brainstorm stories which go along with the 3 items the student has chosen.
  3. Write a poem or their own children’s book about their most important item.

Companion book: Another book that follows a repeated pattern is The Important Book. It is written in poem form and is a good mentor text as well.

Image result for the important thing

#mynextrightthing

I adore Emily P Freeman and her work. I was honored to be a part of her launch team and have been slowly absorbing the book in small chunks. It makes me think.

On Instagram Emily offers a community encouragement project to lead people through the book. I am not participating on Insta, but will share the graphic and some of my thoughts here.

pay attention

I pay attention to other people’s reactions and then sometimes base my behavior off this information. It has made me successful in job interviews in the past. I pay attention if I care about you or the outcome.

I pay attention to small details for my writing. I pay attention to how I feel or how something looks so I can write about it later. I pay attention to my reactions to words – written and oral – and then reflect on them later in writing.

I am not consistent about paying attention to the clothes I wear. I used to care a great deal and would be in dresses and heels 95% of the time. My job is different here, but sometimes I feel like my choices of clothing is based only that I need to be covered so I am not arrested for indecent exposure.

find silence

There is no real silence.

There are pockets of time where there is LESS noise.

There are always thoughts circulating through my brain. There is always a fan on, or a machine whirring, or a phone ringing.

When the power goes out and everything stops there is MORE silence.

name it

The idea of naming is a concept that seems particular to Emily. On Tsh’s podcast SIMPLE last year it was mentioned that Emily has the knack for naming the un-nameable. This has stuck with me and intrigues me.

Is it real unless you name it? Does IT have to have a label? Like relationships – people ask each other “What are we?” “Where is this going?” “Are you my girl/boy friend?”

In writing – did it really happen if it doesn’t end up on paper? Or on a social media platform?

We all have stories and the way we tell them are our own.

Naming is not explaining. I do think of naming as reframing. The darkness has the ability to suck us into the place where we know no answers. It can cause worry, anxiety, and physical ailments.

When I am upset that a car has cut me off on the highway instead of being sucked into negativity I think “Maybe they have a sick child and are needing to get home.”

When someone gives me a reaction that I am not expecting I think “Maybe they have something else on their mind right now.”


Emily says naming can release new growth and requires specificity. But naming is something I am still figuring out. Any thoughts are appreciated!

#FMF Offer

I participate in Five Minute Friday. Set the timer for 5 minutes and freewrite with the word provided. Find the link up here.

Set the timer and GO!

I offer myself to the world and subject myself to rejection or acceptance.

I offer my writing to publishers.

I offer my writing to my blog readers.

I offer my writing to other readers and critique partners.

I offer bids to people to connect with them. (If you don’t know what I am referring to here is an article)

I offer extensions of friendship.

I offer words to the world and some are rehearsed and some are not.

I offer honest feedback and advice to my friends and coworkers when they ask for it.

I have learned to protect myself as I often do not think as others do. I am “no nonsense” as a colleague put it. I would rather be respected than liked – 360 days out of the year that is.

I recognize people do things different ways and that is ok. I just don’t want them to try to impose their thinking on me if we aren’t friends or I didn’t ask. I do not ask questions I do not want the answers to.

I offer my true self to people…sometimes.

#Writing Prompt Wednesday

Whenever a name or a concept comes to my attention multiple times in a week I know I am supposed to pay attention. The serendipitous concept of the week is Sarah Selecky. Her name has come up on podcasts I listen to as well as her writing school. Then when I was listening to Caroline Donahue’s solo episode for the The Secret Library Podcast she was mentioned again. Sarah teaches a Story Intensive and has guest teachers. Caroline just finished working with a group of students.

Sarah has several resources on her website and a blog. She originally came on my radar when I was looking for a way to organize my short story files in Google Drive. She was the only one that had an in depth articles about it I could find that day. Maybe it was fate. I was then led to her newsletter from there. It is one of the few I read from beginning to end.

Sarah has a novel which I checked out from the library this week as well and started reading. I like her writing style immensely. The book is called Radiant Shimmering Light.


Her twitter feeds are full of great prompts too.

One exercise she talks about is a list prompt. She starts many of her writing practice days and classes with it. This is how it works:

  1. Randomly choose a letter of the alphabet.
  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes. (I like the Insight timer)
  3. Write a list of words with that letter.

After the exercise you can choose some words to use for freewrites.

Choose a handful of words to write a story.

Write whatever came to mind as you were writing the list.

Here is the list of words I came up with last night while I was writing at the library:

  • savor
  • silence
  • sandwich
  • someone
  • soar
  • swelter
  • snow
  • subtle
  • slow
  • symmetrical
  • synthesize
  • soul
  • space
  • summer
  • spring
  • salami
  • swindle
  • suck
  • sink
  • sly
  • sinister
  • swarm
  • singer
  • simmer
  • saute

The words swarm and simmer and saute stood out to me so I started a kitchen scene with a character.