Teachers Write! 6/29 – Friday Writing Happy Hour

Happy Friday, everybody!  First a reminder… I have a book signing on Tuesday, and the always-great Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid has made arrangements for far-away friends to order personalized, signed copies of my new mystery, CAPTURE THE FLAG, or any of my other books for kids. Just give the bookstore a call at 518-523-2950.  Shipping is free on orders of $50 or more and reasonable on smaller orders, too.  Be sure to let them know you’re part of the Teachers Write community so I can write a special inscription. 🙂  If a book is for your classroom or library, or for a gift, I’m happy to personalize those, too.

Now…pour yourself a lemonade or iced tea, and let’s get celebrating our writing for the week! We have a great giveaway today…Rosanne Parry is giving away an audiobook of her novel SECOND FIDDLE.

Just leave a comment by Saturday 11pm EST to be entered in the drawing, and winners will be announced on Monday.

Friday Writing Happy Hour is a chance to relax and share comments about our progress, goals, accomplishments, and whatever else is on your mind.  If you’d like feedback on a snippet of writing, head on over to Gae Polisner’s blog for Friday Feedback, where you can share a few paragraphs of your work and offer feedback to others, too.

 Enjoy your weekend, and remember to check in at Jen’s Teach Mentor Texts blog on Sunday.  I’ll see you back here Monday morning!


53 Replies on “Teachers Write! 6/29 – Friday Writing Happy Hour

  1. One of my characters in a story seems to have wandered off on me. I no longer have a firm grasp on them — their motivation, etc. So, I wrote them a poem, as writer to character. — Kevin

    Lick the Stamp with Fiction

    So, you wandered away on me again
    just when I thought I had you anchored
    with a plan, a blueprint, an idea of a path to follow,
    and it all began with one crazy thought that put a twist in the mix.

    I’m content to let us see where this will go
    as I loosen the tether lines of words, and plot, and even characters,
    and type with one ear open to the sounds of your voice,
    ready and willing should you find the need to leave breadcrumbs again.

    We’re partners here, you know, so don’t be gone long;
    Send off postcards of your ideas,
    and be sure to post your return address onto the upper corner
    right next to the place where you lick the stamp with fiction,
    for you never know when I will need to find you to place you back on the page
    of an idea.

    Listen to the poem as podcast: http://cinch.fm/dogtrax/poetry-podcasts/509958


    1. Love this, Kevin!

      I have to say that I feel blessed – I finally figured out my MC’s main motivation in returning home. It’s going to require reworking the beginning a bit, but I’m down with that. I also figured out some other bits. So not as much writing this week (at least not in paragraphs) but lots of notes and outlining.

      I love how these characters start to feel like they chat with us… walk away from us… feel like real people. Amazing what our minds can do.

      1. That’s great, Maria. I need to get to that place. And it may be that my days are filled with dad-duty right now, so extended writing time is rare for me to come by. That leaves my characters opportunities to wander off …

    2. “lick the stamp with fiction”! I’m guessing you love this line, too, because you made it the title, but I think it’s fantastic! “Loosen the tether lines of words…” That part caught me, too. Nice work! I love that you channel your frustration with fiction into other genres.

  2. To say that I’ve had some distractions from writing this week is an understatement. Three days of curriculum work (more about that in July), learning how to use iMovie to make a slideshow for my mother-in-law’s memorial service tomorrow, getting ready to leave for PA…the list goes on. I have checked in each day to glance at all the wonderful wisdom being shared about writing and have managed to jot down some thoughts about topics I’ll focus on in July. In the meantime, to quote Jimmy Durante, “make just one someone happy, and you will be happy, too!”

    1. Sorry about your MIL, Catherine. The writing will be here in July. We will be waiting for you then. 🙂

    2. I’ll echo Gae’s sentiments – we’ll be here when things settle down. And I hope your mother-in-law’s service is beautiful tomorrow. I’ll be thinking of your family.

  3. Tuesday Quick Write with Julie, Finding the Character Within, was phenomenal! I discovered that when I chose the internal music for my character, he totally transformed. Looking at his face on the outside, I felt sorry for him. The magic happened when I chose the internal music and I realized he was mischievious and had a thirst for adventure. While listening to the music and writing at the same time, I could visualize my character in action. What fun! The results of this activity were powerful. I will definitely use this activity with my students in the fall. Now I just need to figure out the logistics.

  4. The best part of the prompts for this virtual camp is how they leave little footprints in my mind. I haven’t “written to the prompts” per se very much, but they’ve given me little insights – scenes – changes to my characters to make them more intriguing and “whole”.

    The picture of the beach scene from Monday gave me a minor character who then gave me the motivation for my MC. Not a bad bit of work from a single photo. The Wordle prompt gave me some new insights into my story – and GREAT ideas to use with my students in the fall.

    http://www.mariaselke.com/2012/06/using-wordle-for-revision.html (My word clouds, if you care to peek)

    1. It’s intriguing to peak at someone else’s word clouds (almost sounds …. pornographic .. but IT’S NOT!). You pointed out the word “one” coming up a lot, which is fascinating, because I wonder how you are using it in your story.

    2. I love the glimpse into your story that your word clouds provide, too. I bet you’ll have a blast sharing this activity with students!

  5. Writing is so hard for. Teachers write is helping we to approach writing in different ways.

    1. It may surprise you to know that writing feels “hard” for authors, too, quite a lot of the time. I’m glad that we’re adding to your tool box this summer.

  6. This has been an INCREDIBLE week of learning! It put a new spin on writing tools for me. Using artwork to improve writing quality, actually using music as a tool for creating a character, and Wordle are three ideas that I found particularly exciting. In addition, an answer I received from Sarah Albee on my Wednesday question about organizing research is another invaluable part of this week’s learning. In case you missed that, check out http://www.bibme.org for auto-creating bibliography entries, and Scrivener where you can find a tutorial video about software that helps in creating chapter books and long texts. Thanks everyone!

    1. I wish Kate were here to see all the nice things you’re saying about Teachers Write! It’s phenomenal what she’s put together here. Am so glad it is inspiring so many of you! And I’ve been so unbelievably impressed with the quality of writing, support, and humor! Just a grand thing. 🙂

    2. I am here! (Back from vacation in a rental place that shall forevermore be known as The House of Mold and Vomit. Not our best week for the memory books. 🙂 I’m so glad you had a good week back here at camp – and I’m off to look at Sarah’s research comment, too. As someone whose research organization consists of having one notebook for each project and shoving everything inside it, I could use some of those tips, too!

      1. Aw, House of Mold and Vomit sounds singularly unpleasant for a vacation — but singularly wonderful for a novel! Hope it serves you somewhere. We missed you! 🙂

  7. I agree with all of the posts! This has been an unbelievable summer of learning with Teachers Write! I bought a three-ring binder, and I am printing each quick-write lesson, lesson/activities/ideas from Wednesday Q and A, and any other relevant articles that I will access in August as I prepare for the upcoming school year. And of course, I am using the information to help improve my own writing (still a beginner, but moving ahead slowly).

    Another thank you to our wonderful organizers and all of the great authors who share throughout the week! And another thank you to all of the friendly and informative writers that are plugging along like myself and offering advice along the way.

    Side note: Used the noun generator with my second grade daughter as a summer writing prompt. So far, the words used: land, fiction, money, and snow. My favorite line, “One time there was a big snowstorm. That big snowstorm swept people off their feet.” 🙂

    1. I love that last line of your daughters. Isn’t it so fantastic to be learning all of this with little ones at home. I feel like my Kindergartener and Second Graders are teaching me and I’m teaching them so much about process and thinking.

    2. I’m so impressed with how you’re organizing everything from Teachers Write – I hope it’s a help to you through the school year, too. And I love your daughter’s “snow” writing!

  8. I have really enjoyed the prompts and ideas this week. I like how throughout the week we were asked to explore how other media can help us get ideas. I came away from this week with plenty of engaging ideas for my 8th grade classroom. I also felt a lot of personal success meeting my writing goals this week. I think these prompts spoke to me much more than last week’s prompts and it doesn’t hurt that I started a writing workshop this week and have been engaged in writing and thinking about the teaching of writing every morning this week.

    1. Interestingly enough, the juxtaposition of all those other-media related writing prompts was pretty much accidental, but I loved the way it worked out, too. Glad it was a good week for you!

  9. I’ve been casting about for weeks now. I’ve got a idea I love, but can’t seem to find the narrative voice, or who my characters really are. My story has been kind of stuck in the mud. I admit that I’ve been a bit envious of the progress that everyone else seems to be making. But today, I dug out some bits and pieces of other things I’ve written, and I think I may be getting close to finding my characters.

    1. I’m rooting for you, Natalee! Don’t worry about starting at the beginning if you cant find it yet. Pop into the story wherever it’s speaking to you… let it suck. Let it be crap. Let it frustrate you if it must. If you’re working with it — and it’s in your psyche — you may find that the right way to get it going comes to you at another time (showering, sleeping, dancing, running, walking, etc…) Good luck!

    2. Natalee- I know your characters will come to you. They will appear when you least expect them-at the grocery store, on your way to the park, as you wait at a traffic light, as you buy that latte from the local cafe, in tomorrow’s mail. Your characters will come. Watch and see if they don’t. Good luck!

    3. Sometimes, I’ve found that if my characters aren’t showing up, starting without them can work wonders. (They can be a bit like toddlers who don’t want to come along on an outing…until you walk out the door, and then they run to catch up, saying, “Wait for ME!!” Worth a shot, maybe?

  10. I had a hard time with the prompt to “Find the character within”. Maybe because I am not working on a particular character for a book. For the first time in this teachers-write camp I was completely blank! It felt very convoluted to me, for some reason, so I didn’t write! Now, THAT was silly of me. I think I’m taking the prompts too seriously.

    1. Two things, Mary… First, it’s absolutely fine to read the prompt and say, “No, not this one,” or “Not today.” And second, you’re also more than welcome to make up your own prompt. If you read one and think, “I don’t quite get that…” just decide what you’d like it to mean and write in that direction.

  11. I am having trouble getting with the program. I’ll read the Quick Writes and then the responses, then time disappears. I need more time! Just today while I was driving in the car, a song came on, and I thought, “That’s the song Momma loves!” But now it is Friday and that prompt was what? Tuesday? This is not to say that I am not being inspired to write. I want to participate more. It’s hard to find the time to do it all. I’ve decided to give myself a break and let that be. The important thing is I am here. Right?

    1. That is the important thing! And you know what? The lessons and prompts will be here when you’re ready. Very often, I have an idea, or an editor asks me to consider something, and I think about it without writing for days or weeks (and yeah…sometimes months) before I actually get writing. Remember that thinking is writing, too.

  12. Dear Mom and Dad,
    Writing camp is really great.
    There is so much to masticate-
    Quick Writes, questions, words galore
    All encourage writing more.
    There’ll be a party at the pool
    And we’ll have 90 to be cool.
    Alas, as I write children’s verse
    My writing is a little terse
    Compared with paragraphs and pages
    Of writings penned for many ages.
    I’m stretching, but my comfort zone
    I fear is close to you at home.
    Don’t get me wrong, this camp is fine.
    I’m learning to make writing shine.
    So long for now. Thanks for the pen.
    I’ll use it when I write again.
    Poetically yours,

      1. Aw, that’s AWESOME, Mary! Kate, perhaps we should *make* all the campers write us poems at the end of the season. 😉

        1. Glad you liked it. :-). I am a bit serious here. I write poetry for children and am stretching as I work through the quick writes but would love some suggestions about a poetry manuscript I’m working on for submission. Any suggestions are most welcome. Many, many thanks for the writing yoga class…M

  13. The music prompt was very enlightening for me, and I thought the timing was interesting because I incorporated music into some of the scenes I wrote last weekend. And I was reading Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY this week, which is thoroughly infused with music and is an excellent model for how to seamlessly embed music into your story. ♫♪

    I also went on a short writing marathon this week with my youngest daughter, and the change of scenery revealed a new character and new insights into my MC. I don’t feel like I got tons done in terms of wordcount this week, but I feel like the words I did get down were meaningful and on point. Overall, I’d say it was a good writing week.

  14. Getting ready for our anniversary adventure to Nova Scotia, and wildly finishing up curriculum orders and other giant stuff at work, so unfortunately the writing took a bit of a back seat this week, but… I was very excited by Ruth McNalley Barshaw’s Monday lesson about drawing first to write better. Been struggling with how to break up chapters, and I’ve already decided to take all the scene synopses in my notebook with me on my trip and try to draw each one. I might be wrong, but I think it might help me figure out where the chapters most naturally lie. I know that drawing will also help me see the holes in the settings I’ve been discussing with my readers. Have prompts, will travel!