Wednesday, December 30, 2015

WATCH: Wired for Story by Lisa Cron


I love how Lisa outlines how humans are wired for story. She reminds us that every society on Earth has story. "We think in story because story provides a context for the facts so we can make sense of them." We live our own stories but we also can learn through life via story. 

She says story is a super power. Because we love them so much, we don't see their true power and potential but they truly are what helps us survive and thrive.


Watch and think about how stories have impacted your life. Think of just how powerful story is. And ask yourself how might telling your own story help others. But not just any story - what is that story deep within you - the raw, true story that might be hard to tell, but that others might connect and learn from. 

Sometimes we overlook the power of story. Don't overlook the power of your story. 
Your story is worth exploring. It's worthy of being set free.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The One With Another Fab Year and an NCTE Recap! #sol15


Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

*          *          *

I'm so woefully behind in everything on this blog but I like the better-late-than-never philosophy and best-laid-plans and all that so I'm going to write my NCTE recap post with my 2015 end-of-year post. 

I can't believe 2015 is over! I looked back through all my pictures and posts from 2015 and it was definitely a fun-filled year. I went to a blizzardy ALA in January/February, we went to Disney World, we did our summer park challenge, I went to and presented at Nerdcamp MI, I left the district I had worked in for my entire career (13 years) and I started at a new district (closer to home AND where my own kids go to school), I went on an rejuvenating yoga retreat, I finished the first draft of another YA novel, and I went to and presented at NCTE in Minnesota. It was an awesome year! Here's more about the awesomeness of NCTE.

I was so excited to present with a colleague from my previous district. Deb is an amazing science teacher, she was even teacher of the year in Illinois. Love it! So I picked Deb up on Thursday morning and we drove up to Minneapolis. Those six hours flew by as we caught up and talked about teaching and teaching and teaching. I'm always learning from Deb and amazed by her passion for teaching.

We went straight to Wild Rumpus. I visited last year when we took a trip to Minnesota and I fell in love. It's an adorable independent bookstore with so much charm you just want to bottle it up and stick it in your purse and sneak little peaks at it all day long.
Me and Deb in front of Wild Rumpus
Thursday night we found a cute little co-op for dinner. They had awesome vegan options but the conversation made my night. It was great to catch up with Alyson and Ruth. 
Deb, Aly, me, Ruth
Last year, Brian was off getting married and I so missed him at NCTE. It was good to have him back! Shout out to my Maquizga! (Go Teachers Write!)
Brian and me
 Of course, I always have to get a pick with my almost-neighbor Gary Anderson. Somehow we see more of each other at conferences miles and miles away than we do when we live only a few towns away the rest of the year.
Gary and me
Friday morning, I presented with this great group of ladies! It was an honor to share the stage with them and to hear each of them speak about how passion fuels their work. I could have listened to them all talk all day. Our presentation was called Passion Driven Research.
Laura Purdie Salas, LeUyen Pham, Kate Messner, Me, Laurel Snyder, Deb Perryman
I caught up with a few other amazing Nerdy Book Club friends! Love seeing these great people in real life and sharing memories with them. It's truly like family. 
Suzanne, me, Melissa
Jilian and me
Me and Teresa
Cynthia and me
Franki and me
Colby and me (I'm still #teamrabbit, btw.)
Me, Brian, John, Laura, Melissa, Suzanne, Lynda
I was able to meet and/or catch up with some of my favorite authors and illustrators too!
Me and Sonia Manzano

Me and Alex London
Jenni Holm and Me
Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Me
And the highlight of my entire NCTE was getting to spend time with this lovely lady. I've known Danielle since before I even started Teach Mentor Texts. She has always been so supportive of me then and now. We met IRL when ALA was in Chicago earlier this year and then I got to see her again at NCTE. It was like a super-mega-bonus. Hooray for NCTE!
Danielle and Me
Looking back at 2015 makes my heart feel full. It was such a great year despite being a year of change. I'm so looking forward to all the fun we'll have in 2016!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/28/2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Happy last IMWAYR of 2015! I can't believe the end of 2015 is here. It was a great year but I love the anticipation of a new year beginning, a fresh start, a chance to make plans. I loved rereading Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and reading The Terrible Two Get Worse

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm looking forward to reading more of The Terrible Two Get Worse with Peanut and I also have I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest that I hoped to read over break. I'm hoping to get a couple of posts up this week as I reflect on the year and set some plans for this upcoming year. So exciting! I have signed up for the Sixty Books in 2016 challenge. Maybe you want to join me/us?

This Week's Posts:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

JOIN: Celebrate This Week - Two Months of Baby Steps


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.


I can't believe December is coming to an end...and 2015 as well. Two months ago I launched Story Exploratory and I've made baby steps since then towards bringing it to life. But in my heart, it feels like giant leaps, big, bouncy skips through a dandelion field because this work is so close to my heart.

This December I joined Linda Urban and her Write Daily 30. I've been writing (almost) everyday. My goal was to put in 20 minutes of drafting my middle grade novel every single day. I did a pretty good job except for the week before winter break when I barely managed to eek through the week in general. I doubled the number of pages I already had and added over 9,000 words. That feels pretty awesome. 

It's not actually a lot but eventually all those words will add up to be a whole book. And that feels phenomenal.

On December 12th, I held the first Story Exploratory workshop - Setting Your Story Free. We met at a local coffee shop on a brisk Saturday morning and I took brave story explorers through a series of activities to help them find the story they need to tell right now in their lives and to help them brainstorm how to take steps towards telling that story. It was an emotional few hours but I left feeling empowered after talking with people who were so honest and introspective when it came to writing and their lives. 

It was only a few hours but it was the first Story Exploratory workshops and I'm planning more for 2016. And that feels exhilarating.

This months marks two months of Story Exploratory fun and one month of having our puppy Perdita in our family. Through yoga, I found how to calm my thoughts. By writing, I found how to be mindful of my thoughts and how to propel myself forward by listening to everything going on in my head. From spending time with Perdi, I've learned how to slow down and be in the moment. She loves to sit at the end of our driveway and take note of everything going on in the culdesac. I've come to love just standing there and soaking up the moment. It's helped me be more mindful in other areas of my life. 

It's all these small additions to my life in this short time that have helped me know that all the energy I put into Story Exploratory are worth it. I have a story to tell and part of my story is inspiring others to find their stories. And that feels wonderful. 

Celebrate with me! 
What do you have to celebrate from this week? 
This month? This year? I would love to hear about it!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/21/2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
On Sunday, I brought our puppy, Perdi, home while my husband and the kids were at my parents'. She was tired after have her puppy training class and then spending the afternoon meeting new dogs in my parents' neighborhood and running around after my parents' dog...which meant she curled up next to me on the couch as I read aloud Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and it was awesome. I read a little of Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye too last week. And Peanut and I started reading The Terrible Two Get Worse by Mac Barnett and Jory John and it's so so fun already. It's just so fun to read with him.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm going to see what reading and writing winter break brings my way. I'm not even going to commit to any reviews because I haven't been so great at getting them up lately...so I'll officially call it a break for break and hopefully I can get some posts scheduled for January. I will be back next week for IMWAYR. See you then!

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/14/2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I adored Find the Good by Heather Lende. I'm excited to share it over at Story Exploratory, there are some great gems. I also read through two unjournaling books I had from the library. I read the first chapter of Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio with illustrations by Will Staehle. A friend started reading Dash and Lily's Book of Dares because I recommended it as my favorite winter-time read...and it made me grab it off my shelf. I reread it every year and now that we have our Christmas tree up, I thought it was time to dive into it again.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm going to continue reading Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye and enjoy my yearly rereading of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. Then I'll see what winter break reading comes my way. 

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/7/2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I read some of Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature by Alva Noe which is super interesting and some of Find the Good by Heather Lende which is also interesting. I also finally read The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. It took me entirely too long to read it but I'm glad I finally did. It was exceptional and I can't wait to share it.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm planning to finish up Find the Good by Heather Lende and I have Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio with illustrations by Will Staehle to read. I'm hoping to get through more of Strange Tools but it's definitely not an easy read. It just takes a lot of brain power - and between the holidays, the puppy, and writing along with Linda Urban's Daily Write 30, I don't have much to spare!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Friday, December 4, 2015

WRITE: We Are Here!


What does the number 7,000,000,000 mean to you?


There are over seven billion people on this planet and you are one of them. 
That’s a whole lot of people!


What about the number 400,000,000,000,000?


Scientists have figured out that the odds of you being born are 1 in 400 trillion.
horton hears a who.jpg
When I see these numbers, I want to cheer, “We are here! We are here!” like the Who’s on the little speck in Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who. We should be celebrating life, celebrating that we are here, celebrating this chance to live and make a difference. We don’t need a special occasion to celebrate life, life is a special occasion.
Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 1.44.13 AM.png

Every Saturday, my friend Ruth Ayres, hosts a Celebrate link up at her blog. Everyone is invited to share celebrations of the week. Sometimes I have something big to celebrate, sometimes I have a little thing to celebrate. Sometimes I have one thing to celebrate and other times it’s a handful of things. I love the sentiment of this meme because it helps remind me that I do have a lot to celebrate. Even if I’m feeling cranky, frustrated, tired or overwhelmed, I still have something to celebrate. I love reading what other people are celebrating as well. I discovered the picture above while reading a Celebrate blog post by Jaana at Janna’s Writing Blog.


Let's Write! Explore your thoughts about what you consider a special occasion. Does a special occasion truly have to only be something momentous and earth-shattering? What are some special occasions we might take for granted or overlook? How might writing be a way to celebrate a large or small moment?

You are a special occasion. Thanks for stopping by!


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/09/2019

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme ho...