Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kekla Magoon's Mini-Lesson on Points of View

From today's Teacher's Write mini-lesson, the wonderful Kekla Magoon. Kekla is one of my favorite authors. I love her fresh voice and the topics she chooses to write about. She takes me to places I've never been and I learn so much.

To see today's quick write lesson visit Kate Messner's Teachers Write blog:

My quick write response of two characters I'm getting to know in a wip. It's enough of a draft to play with later. Thanks, Kekla!


Empty Flour Sack

The pantry flour sack
was empty so
I washed it and
hung it up on
the basement line.
I’ll cut an apron for Pearl
covered in flowers
and tuck a tea towel
into each pocket.
I’ll add Mrs. Lesley’s
recipe for Date and Nut Bars.
Someday, when we are ladies
with our own homes
we will make fancy foods
for our husbands.
Our aprons will be starched
and our tea towels
will be finest linen.

Linda Mitchell 7/30/15 all rights reserved
Mrs. Lesley

Empty Flour Sack

I cannot keep enough
eyes on that girl, Irene.
I need blacking cloths
for the fire place
and Mrs. Guilder’s shoe kit.
That old flour sack
was in the kitchen pantry
yesterday and I
went to take the shears
to it -- but it was gone.
Looked all over for it.
Irene was awful quiet
as she scrubbed pots
in the sink.
    Irene, where is that flour sack?
    Which sack, ma’am?
    Oh, for pity sake...the newly emptied one.
    Dripping dry in the basement, ma’am.
    What on heaven’s green earth for?
    I’d thought to make a new apron, ma’am.
    You  have plenty of service aprons.
    An apron for my cousin, ma’am….she
    has needed a new one for a long time, ma’am.
Oh, dear girl.
A flour sack apron...
How can I deny such a luxury
to your friend?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Caroline Starr Rose on Today's Teachers Write Friday Feedback

Friday Feedback for Teachers Write is hosted by Gae Polisner who is an amazing YA author. Her third novel was just picked up and I really look forward to it coming out. I love Gae's work because it captures relationships.....and that's what draws me to story.

Today, Gae is hosting one of my heroes. So, it's a little....lotta....intimidating to participate in Friday Feedback. Caroline Starr Rose writes novels in verse. And, she does it so well. I am inspired by her and aspire to do what she does. Today she gives a wonderful mini-lesson and example in the FF feedback post.

Her challenge to us campers is to: use lyrical language to build story and build momentum, create tempo. Hoo boy.....that's no small task. Sounds easy. But, it takes some real thought and play time with a page to do this.

I started out with a draft poem from this summer.....that I spent time revising this morning. I'd love to spend MORE time revising and getting it right...but, alas. Life as a mom and human being are calling me back to real life. And, I have to run. But, it's fun to play with language. Right now, I rather stink at meter as you can see. But, my process kinda shows if you look at the first poem and the revision. Someday, I'll have it right.

DRAFT from earlier in the summer

There is an order of business to the night
First, frogs because it’s five o’clock
somewhere, right?
Then, lilies shutter down
hands folded in bedtime prayers.
Sky’s pulsing sun looks left
looks right and crosses an empty dirt road.
Shadows pull long….
camp fires light and warm
faces, toes, story-telling into dark
backdrop for silent moon rising
white then gold then red.
Eyes and heavy dew fall.
Flashlights, tent zips, yawns
applaud coyote yodels across hills.
Embers remember our newest yesterday
as Today sleepwalks up one hill
stage left behind the curtain
on mark and ready for her call.


Camp Fire

Frogs tuning in the pit,
bass strings on cattail necks.
for this evening’s premiere
camp fire performance.

Shadow arms draw curtains back on colored flames that warm
faces, toes and story-telling in jokes, duets and s’mores. 

Pale intermission moonrises white then gold then rose. Illuminating shining faces a chorus of camp fire’s glow. As the final act winds down…

Heavy eyes and dew fall flash-lights zip in and out of tents sleeping bags and pillows hold us coyotes howl and sing applause.

Embers night-light our way to sleep
Yesterday finds center stage, her mark
for one final bow and curtain call our bravos whispered in the dark.

Linda Mitchell 7/24/15all rights reserved

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Inspiration in Teachers Write today is from author Sarah Prineas to see the protagging our main characters accomplish in our stories. My protagonist is one that always moves forward no matter what, somewhat heroically. Her name is Irene. This is a draft I will tinker with later.

See Sarah's writing exercise please visit Teachers Write on Kate Messner's blog:

Irene's Doors

If I figure right,
I’ve walked in and out of
ten thousand doors in my life.
Everyone does.
It’s just a matter of
which doors invite us.

My first was the finely
planed, green painted door
of the mountain house Dad built for Mama.
That door fairly kissed me
in my comings and goings.

When Mama died I left the
familiar green, walked down the mountain to Aunt Ruth's
weather-beaten board door
leaning my head and hip
against the spot that always
seemed to stick in the jam.

The door to the farm-truck
that drove us to Daniels
was wide-open-friendly, dusty and work worn.
That door squeaked and closed
with a bang that told me I was going

Unlike the taxi Mrs. Lesley called
to take us to Guilder House.
Those doors were all business
of hush and quick out of the
city and up the hill for a fare.
Now, Guilder House door looks down on me with indifference. There is no friendliness or welcome
in it’s black paint and brass knob.

I am nothing to this door.
But to me, this is door
ten thousand and one. by Linda Mitchell
all rights reserved 7/21/15

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Book Review

Two for Joy
by Gigi Amateau
Candlewick 2015

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies”
                                          ~ Bette Davis

   If one thing is true in Two for Joy by Gigi Amateau it’s that Aunt Tannie is no sissy! Neither is her niece, Grace or great-niece, Jenna. Even though they live states away from each other the three generations of women are emotionally close. Aunt Tannie is Jenna’s larger than life hero complete with farm-land, chickens, big truck, motorcycle and a lovey cat named, Butt. Jenna dreams of winning a soccer game for Aunt Tannie with Mom shouting encouragement from the sidelines.

   However, Aunt Tannie is getting on in years and after another one of her falls, Grace worries that Tannie needs assistance. After all, Tannie is the one who taught her, “We all need help sometimes”. Grace and Jenna plan a drive to Tannie over spring break, to convince her to drive back and move in with them. The problem is Tannie is a strong woman….with a farm and animals and precious memories of a life with her husband in every inch of it. She doesn’t really want to go.

   All three embark on an adventure making sure Tannie has what she needs. It’s not easy. Each family member is in a very different stage of life and one is as proudly independent as the next. All three try to “do” for the others in ways that lands the clan in a mess of grump. But the memories and traditions that bind them including baking and bird watching, counting rhymes and putting family first are keys to unlocking what works for this inter-generational family.

   Amateau informs us that “over a million children in the U.S. share in care giving as part of their family life. My own daughter was a joyful presences for my grammy”. It’s this experience that Amateau shares with so many of us that make this book a wonderful read and read-aloud for children as young as five, parents and grandparents of any age. Abigail Marble's illustrations make this short chapter book friendly for readers in third grade and up.

   Two for Joy's message: “we all need help sometimes” is a gentle reminder to all to look out for each other and to accept help even when it’s difficult or not how we imagined we’d receive it. Thank you Ms. Amateau for packing so much love into eighty-nine short pages of Two for Joy for a million families of readers and then some.

Review by Linda Mitchell

Friday, July 17, 2015

Teachers Write guest author, Amy Fellner Dominy author of A Matter of Heart and Die for You, introduced us to character mapping. It's a deceptively simple exercise that really, really sparks insight into a story's character. In ten minutes I had some new ideas that I don't think I would have arrived at otherwise. Better yet? They add layers of conflict. Hooray Ms. Fellner Dominy!

Check out this game changing writing exercise for yourself at:

Mrs. Lesley

If Elliot hadn’t begged
a place for Alice at Guilder House
I wouldn’t have been saddled
with her care and keep.
   Your getting on in years, he said
    all that bending and lifting at Guilders’
    tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk
    I’d hate to bury you early, like your sister.
    I’ll cancel your bill if you train her.
This Depression makes for strange bedfellows.
I’ve half paid-off Francis’ funeral.
Elliot needn’t have offered such an exchange.
Daniels Funeral Home is no suitable
place for this snip of a girl.
Those big eyes in that delicate face,
so much like my Francis,
I didn’t stand a chance at saying no.
Now, I’ve got a job on my hands.
I do not believe in reincarnation.

Linda Mitchell 7/17/15 all rights reserved

Monday, July 13, 2015

7/13/15 Writing challenge from Liz Scanlon author of The Great, Good Summer--which is getting lots of great reviews. Ms. Scanlon challenged us to write a twelve line poem in couplets or quatrain. It's not as easy as it looks and not all my rhymes are perfect. But, I'm happy enough with the draft to leave it for tinkering later. Thank you Liz Scanlon!

Letters in the Dust 1934

Nineteen hundred thirty-four
my name written in the dust
across my breakfast table
one finger a guilty brush.

Dirt blown in from Oklahoma
That was supposed to grow the corn
but boiled and sifted east on winds
dry as bones, sterile, full of scorn.

For farmers frantic to plant and sow
a crop, some food, a bit of life.
It’s been too long between our letters.
This is no good way to write.

Linda Mitchell all rights reserved

To see the Teachers Write Challenge on Kate Messner's blog go to: 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sylvia's Smile

I'm high-jacking my own blog today as a part of Teachers Write an on-line summer camp for teachers and librarians who also write. It's a super experience and I highly recommend it. Today's quick-write prompt is from author Phil Bildner....on Kate Messner's blog:

In the quick write Phil challenges campers to people watch and turn it into a piece of writing. Here is mine for today--always in verse. It's a revised bit of WIP. But, I went to the hair salon this morning for a hair cut.....and remembered the people watching that led to this.

If you are interested in Teachers Write Summer Camp please see Kate Messner's blog. I believe the sign-ups for campers this year are complete. However, the camp runs five days a week from the public blogs of authors: Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jo Knowles and Jen Vincent. You can always follow along there.   ~Linda

Mom always said
just about everything
could be covered
with a smile.

She said this for about
the millionth time while sitting in
the pumped up chair of Chrissy’s Salon
which was just a room
off the back of Chrissy’s house.

I watched Flintstones
on the little black and white TV
on a plastic table
next to dryers for the older ladies
with wash-and-sets.
I enjoyed the invisibility
of childhood and
warm hum of the dryers.

In mid yaba daba doo
conversation went silent
as shears kept snipping
and the dryers, drying.
Ms. Audrey sigh-said poor Sylvia,
followed by tsks and tuts
     such a tragedy and those kids...
     never would have guessed…
Hanks of gossip in the form
of sympathy fell on
the floor …piling up with hair
waiting for Chrissy’s broom.

When Chrissy murmured
     no church funeral
my eyes flew from the screen
to her Cover Girl painted face.

Chrissy met the
questions in my eyes
over mom’s wet head,
and commented on
Mom's large ears.
Mom stared into the mirror
at a reflected point above me
and the dryers and the TV.
     Sylvia always had the brightest smile.     

7/7/15 all rights reserved