Monday, July 30, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/30/2018

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:
Hi everyone! I had a doozy of a week that you can read about here which explains why I spent my time reading all the stories other former clients of Danielle Smith were sharing instead of reading books. I also did a lot of brainstorming this weekend to get myself back into the mode of drafting. Hopefully I'll be back to reading this week. 


Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm still hoping to finish Dear Martin by Nic Stone this week and finally get to Being the Change by Sara Ahmed.

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 check out other blogs to see what they're 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, July 29, 2018

Teachers Write Weekly Check In #3


Hi, friends!

I had a hard week. It was the kind of hard week where I didn't write much at all and I actually wasn't sure I would ever feel good about writing again. 

A big thing happened this week even though I can fit it into just a few words. 

My agent, Danielle Smith of Lupine Grove Creative, shut down her agency. 

She was accused of fraud, ended our contracts, and that was that. 

I signed with her at the end of 2016 so it was less than two years that I was one of her clients. In that time, I thought she was sending my picture books to editors but after checking with the few editors whose names she specifically shared with me, it seems as though they never saw my work. That's pretty bad, right? I mean, I was shocked and heartbroken. I've cried and cried and cried. But in talking with her other clients, it seem as though she did this to most of us and to some, on a far larger scale. That's really bad.

I spent most of the week consumed with listening to stories from other clients, shaking my head as I tried to understand why (I'm not sure I'll ever know why), and figuring out what my next steps will be. I've lived a year in these last few days, having gone through so many emotions. 

I was supposed to be adding words to my work in progress, my shiny new draft I've been so excited to get to. But I didn't get far before I got the news from Danielle. 

It's been a really hard week but I have a plan to start querying again and to keep writing (which I'm so so so glad I have been doing all along) and to move forward on my journey as a writer. The kidlit community has been extraordinarily kind and has offered support in a variety of ways. Personally, Anne Ursu, Laurel Snyder, Katherine Locke, Josh Funk, Kate Messner, and Brooks Benjamin have been so helpful in talking me through plans, thinking about agents to query, working on my query, and getting my work ready to send out. I cannot thank them enough. So many others checked in on me and offered words of encouragement that truly meant a lot.

I'm outraged at Danielle and what she put me and the other creators through. As mad as I am and always will be, I do appreciate the feedback she gave me on my picture books and I sure do have an unbelievable story to tell. 

My advice this week is as much for me as it is for you and your students. 


I'm telling myself to keep going. We have one more week of Teachers Write and I hope you are telling yourself and others here in our lovely community to keep going. And when you're working with student writers this year, I want you to remember these two words:

Keep going.

Photo Credit: Brittany Thurman

Just why are these two words so important? Because writers are notorious for having an idea, for starting, and for giving up. I bet you can talk to tons of people who will tell you they have an idea for a story or who started something but never finished it or even for those who wrote something but then never did anything with it. No matter where you are in the process or if you're starting fresh on a new idea...keep going.

Sometimes, all we need to hear is a vote of confidence. It can even be a whisper. But those two words make a difference. I believe in you and what you have to stay, so I hope you keep going. 


And if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone makes you feel as though you shouldn't keep writing or your writing isn't good enough or there's no reason to keep going, don't listen to them. 

Believe me. Keep going. 


Finally by Saturday night, after listening to the playlist I made for my work in progress over and over again to try and get my mind off all the jaw dropping, blood boiling stories I've heard, I pulled out my notebook and started writing. Characters I've been trying to seeing better in my mind came into crystal clear view. 

The loss I experienced this week reminded me of other times in my life when I've been disappointed. I pinpointed times when I've been so heartbroken for different reasons and I forced myself to remember the hurt I've felt before. In remembering, I realized that every single time, I found a way to keep going. 

So that's what I'm going to do and I hope you do to. 

I can't wait to hear how everything is going! Happy writing!!!

Rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.


Today, in the comments:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What inspires you or encourages you to keep going?

P.S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible, it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! Keep being awesome!

Monday, July 23, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/23/2018

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 ended up doing more audiobook reading than anything else this week although I did read some of Merci Suaréz Changes Gears. I was almost done with One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus so I finished that up. And then I was able to borrow Dear Martin by Nic Stone. I have no idea how I haven't read this one yet but I'm glad I am now. Also, the a audiobook narrator is amazing so far.

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm interested to listen to the rest of Dear Martin this week and to do some professional reading by finally getting to Being the Change by Sara Ahmed.

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 check out other blogs to see what they're 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, July 22, 2018

Teachers Write Weekly Check In #2


Hi, friends!

Happy Sunday! I hope you're still having fun with all the posts at Kate and Jo and Gae's blogs! We're at our halfway point of this summer and a perfect time to reflect and plan forward. Last week I talked about the importance of making time to write and also making sure our students have dedicated time to write. 

Okay, but then there's thing that happens to me. I sit down, ready to write, and I get stuck. Either I'm not sure what I'm writing about or I know something needs to happen but I'm not sure what exactly needs to happen. Or sometimes I have an idea but it doesn't feel good enough. 

Does this ever happen to you? 

What about your students?

Even if it's never happened to you, I'm guessing you've definitely had at least one student in your teaching life who just isn't sure what to write.

This week's writer teacher advice is all about helping students find ideas and celebrate their ideas. AND it's super simple. 

When a student tells you about something that happened to them...at home, at school, on the playground, anywhere, this is what you say: 


Or if it's nonfiction, you can say, "You have to write that down!"

Whether it's how they describe something, words they use, something that happened to them, something they noticed, help them see that they need to write it down. 

Isn't that simple? It's one easy thing you can get in the habit of doing that will make a big difference in how kids see themselves as writers. You can do this for yourself too. Pay attention a little more closely to things that happen as you go about your day and make note of them and how they can fit into your writing. 

Here's an example of something I found this week:


Up on the hill, where the grass meets the cement, I spotted a boy. He was probably 12 or so, sitting there on his phone. I've already had an idea for a novel that I'm drafting this summer but I realized how I could write a scene with one of my characters sitting in this same spot. It seemed like a cozy spot but it also seemed like a lonely spot. I started wondering so much about this boy and then when I drove by it again, I stopped my car so I could get out and take a picture. 

This easily could have been something I missed or something I saw but didn't latch onto. Except, because I've gotten into the habit of noticing things and telling myself there's a story there, it stuck with me. 

You can do it too! And believe me, there is power in doing this for our students. So often they don't realize how to connect real life with what we write about and if that's happens, we can help!

Here's another example that happened with my son at Nerdcamp. He made a zine and was sharing it with people. When he showed it to Franki Sibberson, she asked him if he would make a YouTube tutorial to show her students how to make it. Of course he said yes and we worked on the video this week. 

I'm not sure I would have suggested he do this and I'm not sure he would have either! But with a little nudge of inspiration, he did it!

This week did you spot any stories or can you think of any now that you have to go and write down? Be sure you do...because that's a story!

I can't wait to hear how everything is going! Happy writing!!!

Rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)
What did your writing routine or habits look like this week?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

P.S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible, it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! Keep being awesome!

Monday, July 16, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/16/2018

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:
Nerdcamp was amazing!!!!! And then I had to come home and recover from Nerdcamp. I wrote over 6,000 words last week and I was zoned in so I didn't get much reading done. We did watch a whole lot of Captain Underpants!

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'd like to finish reading Merci Suaréz Changes Gears this week and Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed. And I'll be writing with Teachers Write!

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 check out other blogs to see what they're 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, July 15, 2018

Teachers Write Weekly Check In #1


Hi, friends!

I'm so excited to hear about your first week of Teachers Write!

This post is up a bit late because I've been writing and writing and writing. 

We went to a family party last night and all I could think about was getting back to my story. Has that happened to you yet? I find that when I'm really in the zone, I just want to write more and more.

And isn't this what we hope our students will do?

I'd like to say it's in me. That writing is just something I do. 

But it's not. Writing is a habit I've developed over time. I made a commitment to writing a novel in 2011 and I stuck with that. Since then I've set goals for myself and set aside time and made writing something I do. And because I know it's something I do, I live like a writer. I'm not necessarily looking for stories as much as paying attention to life. 

Which brings me to my first writer teacher advice for the summer.


We hope that Teachers Write encourages you to develop your own writing habits but when school starts again, you'll be the lead learner in your classroom. You'll share and model writing as a habit but also make sure your students have consistent writing time to do the same.

Writing, similar to reading, is important to do daily. You and your students will become better writers because you're practicing. You're sitting down to get your thoughts out, you're composing more, and knowing this, you're brain will start to know what to expect. 

Don't get me wrong. There are times when I sit down at my computer and need to look out the window or when words don't come. But that's part of it too. The idea is that day after day I write. And then when one day the words don't come, it's not a catastrophe. It was just a day when I needed to read instead or talk with a friend or go for a walk for some inspiration. 

But it all starts with a commitment to write. If you are a teacher of writing, you must also make this commitment to writing for your students. They must have time to write everyday. Not assigned, teacher-driven writing. There will be work to do of course to encourage students to write and nudge their writing along but the simplest way to start is to find specific writing time everyday and commit to keeping it sacred. 

If you're here, then you probably have some kind of writing habit going...whether you realize it or not. My friend Marcie wakes up early and writes before going to work every morning. I sneak in time wherever I can but I usually think about where it will fit into my day. 

Take a few minutes to think about your writing this summer and please share what your writing life looked like this week. Reflect on whether it worked for you or not and whether your brain has started to collect ideas because it knows it's going to write or not. 

This week, I didn't have much time to write because I was at Nerdcamp in Michigan but I did set aside Friday morning to meet with a friend so I could really focus and zone in. I write most days at home but I love finding a coffee shop to write if I can. This happens to be Unicorn Cafe in Evanston and it was perfect.

I can't wait to hear how everything is going! Happy writing!!!

Rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)
What did your writing routine or habits look like this week?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

P.S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible, it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! Keep being awesome!

Monday, July 9, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/09/2018

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:
So many fun things are happening this week so I did a lot of prepping for all the fun things this week! I'm at Nerdcamp in Michigan today and tomorrow. This year the kids get to do Nerdcamp Jr! 

Teachers Write officially starts today! If you aren't signed up yet, you can find all the information here. And click here to read my kickoff post from yesterday. 

This week I listened to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
and read some of Merci Suaréz Changes Gears by Meg Medina. The kids and I also read some of A Dog Like Daisy by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb. 

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm super excited to start drafting a new novel now that Teachers Write is here but I'm hoping to still have time for reading too. I'm about halfway through listening to One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus so I'd like to finish that and also finish Merci Suaréz Changes Gears too.

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 check out other blogs to see what they're 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, July 8, 2018

Kicking Off Teachers Write 2018!

*wild applause*
You're here!
I'm here!
WE'RE HERE!
Welcome to Teachers Write! 

Are you ready for another awesome summer? I sure am. When Teachers Write rolls around, I know it's time to connect with amazing educators who are passionate about learning more about writing and writing instruction. Whether you are new here or have been around since the beginning, have been teaching write for a long time or just starting or somewhere in between, I believe you'll find that this is a great community. We learn together, share ups and downs together, grow together, and support each other along the way. This is truly what a writing community is all about. 
I started writing fiction in 2011 when I tried (and failed) at NaNoWriMo. The good news is that I kept writing and then finished the first draft of my first young adult novel during the first summer of Teachers Write in 2012. I've been writing ever since, was in Pitch Wars in 2014, and signed with my agent Danielle Smith in 2016. While I write YA contemporary romance, I also write fiction and nonfiction picture books. This summer I'm planning to draft another YA novel.

If you are new to Teachers Write or need a refresher, Kate has all the information about what happens each day of the week. Sunday is the day that Teachers Write comes to Teach Mentor Texts where I host the weekly check-in. This means you can stop in to reflect, celebrate, and plan for the next week. I also share ideas that I hope you can take back to your students. 

Let's get started! I invite you to introduce yourself, share what you are most excited about, what you are most nervous about, and what you hope to get out of Teachers Write this summer. 


I'd like to introduce myself super quickly in case you don't know me! My name is Jen Vincent and I'm an Instructional Coach for a Mundelein District #75 which is a K-8 district in a northern suburb of Chicago. I'm a mama to two boys who are 8 and 11, a sweet pup named Perdi, and a bearded dragon named Zeke. My partner, Chad, is a PE teacher. We met in college when we lived across the hall from each other in the dorms. He keeps us all busy and we're always up for the adventures he takes us on. My biggest challenge in life: socks.

Don't forget! Teachers Write is all about you. Participate as much or as little as you want, join in everyday, catch up over the weekend. No matter what, we are happy you are here! Don’t stress, just do what works for you and know we - meaning the whole Teachers Write community - are here for you. 

Rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments:
 Introduce yourself!
What you are most excited about?
What you are most nervous about?
What do you hope to get out of Teachers Write?
What's your biggest challenge when it comes to teaching young writers?

P.S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible, it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! Keep being awesome!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/21/2019

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