Connect mind and heart through writing.

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Finding an Extra 1,000 Words…

tennessee 070lthe long and winding road

I love writing but sometimes finding just the right words to elicit the desired emotion is challenging.  This blog helped me get on the right road.

Look here for photos like this great one from greyerbaby : http://publishedtodeath.blogspot.com/2013/03/6-sites-where-you-can-get-fabulous-free_22.html

Happy trails to you.



The Starting Bell

The Starting Bell Blog PicTeachers looking for an alternative to the uninspiring prompt, “What did you do this summer?” can find motivation from two picture books: Dozens of Cousins by Shutta Crum and How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen.  Students from elementary to middle school (and beyond) can listen to or independently read these stories and then share their responses.  Even reluctant participants will have something to contribute, especially if the outcomes are optional – writing, drawing, sharing aloud; within varied groupings.  Be sure to have at least one example of your own to share with your students.  Here are some suggestions to add spark your students’ responses.

After reading Dozens of Cousins, say to your students:

  • Select your favorite two-page spread and explain why you chose it. Share why you see yourself or a relative in the illustrations?
  • Every gathering is different. Describe your favorite moment, when your family members get together.  Add lots of details so we can know how you feel.
  • What happened during your family reunion that caused you to laugh? Be sure to include lots of details so we can laugh too.
  • Select an animal that best describes the actions of your family members, during a large gathering, and give examples. Feel free to use more than one animal.

After reading How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?, say to your students:

  • What happened to you on your way to school? It could be today or another day that’s hard to forget.  Either way, include the details so we can live in those moments too.
  • Select your favorite two-page spread and explain why you chose it. Are you the dinosaur or someone else in the illustration?  What else would you say or do?
  • Why do you think the author chose dinosaurs? What would you have chosen? Redo the illustration with your choice.
  • Tell us which of these dinosaurs best represents you. Researching the name may help.  Be sure to include a similarity we can easily recognize and perhaps one that’s not as obvious.

The Pictures in My Book

I revised text to match submission specifications and was sure my imagery would propel readers through a boyish adventure.  While waiting for editors to recognize my shining example of literacy, I decided to request candid critiques from the toughest of judges – children.  A visual arts teacher and I tossed around some ideas for adolescent illustrators, until she caught one that would work.  Her students read the text, selected a verse that spoke to them, then pulled out the pictures.  Would they see the images I had tucked into my words?

In a couple of weeks, I received pictures of squirrels, jet planes, mud puddles, and wind. However the stroller, the element that lent levity and heightened the level of adventure, was absent.  After another read through I realized I had kept the stroller in my head instead of releasing it to the page.  I’ve corrected the omission, the story is now stronger, and submissions should supply a more favorable outcome.

My lesson learned:  Before submitting picture books, ask a range of readers to draw what the text reveals.







Writing In My Sleep

For several weeks I’ve been struggling to revise a poem.  I couldn’t find a way to make the lovers connect throughout the time frame.  One night I snuggled into my pile of pillows and said aloud, “I need a way to link the lovers together.”  I relaxed, my eyes closed, and I saw myself in a workshop with myself (oh how I love the possibilities within dreams), and then all went black.  Upon waking the next morning I had the answer. Their existence was linked by the filigree design of lace.  Perhaps I’ll share the poem after a few more revisions.

Meanwhile, you might want to check out this article, “How to Solve Problems in Your Sleep (Literally)” by Justin Secor (https://medium.com/better-humans/dfb12da75a3d), and then put your brain to work while you sleep.  Let me know what you come up with.

First Response

Hi Eric,

Thanks for giving me the thrill of seeing someone reply to my post.  As you can guess this is all new to me and your blogs are definitely full of inspiration.

Living in between the falling flakes,


Hurdling the Challenges

What gets in my writing way?  

Mostly a lack of time, depleted stores of energy, and fear-affected procrastination.  None of this is news to writers or anyone moving forward to transformative goals.  Change is challenging and sometimes I’d rather crouch behind the wall than climb over it.  However, in living openly I’ve found a few things that were hidden in plain view on my side of the wall.

What surprises found me?

I learned that those feelings, tucked tightly next to my progress, weren’t slowing me, they simply placed my creative train on another track.  So instead of hiding behind my wall or creating a false façade, I explore the emotions and store those sensations in a place for use with my characters.

If the struggle to get it all on paper, keeps the emotions too alive to focus, I dive into my other writing world, the one that feels more neutral yet gently stokes my inspiration fires.  This is the world of mentor texts, research, artifact gathering, and a day off to breathe.

Then what happens?

My brain resets to my write rail so that I can revise with vigor, seeing new perspectives and able to hear the direction my characters are urging me to take.  The time I thought wasn’t there is reshaped into accessible small chunks, my energy stores are gradually refilled as action pushes procrastination behind production.

Would you like to join me?

If you are in your write mind, select something that’s keeping you on the unproductive side of the wall and find a way to use is to scale your barrier.  Write for yourself or share your thoughts with me.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Just when I tho…

Just when I thought I was choosing the wave I learned the wave was actually choosing me.

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