Write One Short Story a Week…

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”― Ray Bradbury

Sounds easy enough.

Short stories could be something as short as 500 words, so how hard can that really be? Well, I’m here to say that for me a short story a week is far from what I’ve achieved over the years. In fact, I’ve probably finished six short stories EVER.

The writing world is full of “professionals” trying to give inspiration to other writers. They mean well when they talk about their own magic formula, but writing is not a tried-and-true craft. What works for one writer may not work for another. We all live different lives, write different genres, and use different methods to reach success.

When I first started writing I was tempted to follow the formula of other writers, but I have since learned that every writer is unique. Additionally, every phase of the journey is unique. What works early in the writing process may not be the best rule to follow as you grow.

Adaptation is imperative for the writing life. If you find a formula that works for you it may not always be that way. If you are still trying to build a system keep the focus on yourself. Ray Bradbury’s method of a short story a week obviously worked well for him. He was a renowned author and his pieces were influential in so much of the sci-fi genre. He’s not a name soon forgotten. I wrote a post about him a few years ago because I am a fan. (5 Reasons to Read Ray Bradbury) But I am not Ray Bradbury. I cannot beat myself up for struggling to produce a short story per quarter (that’s my current goal.)

Gabriela Pereira, founder of DIY MFA, says it best when she explains that the only rule for writing is that there is no rule.

What about you? Have you ever found yourself tempted to take someone else’s advice?

The Ameri Brit Mom

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What Feeds Your Creativity?

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I just watched an inspiring TEDx talk by Gabriela Pereira, founder of DIY MFA. In it she discusses the fact that our human nature makes us creative beings. (Side note: our Father is the ultimate Creator and we were formed in his image.)

We can become our own biggest obstacles, but at our core we all have a story or creative spark to share with the world. Our responsibility to ourselves is to put in the work daily that helps us to channel that creativity.

For me, that creativity is in the form of  writing.

The passion I have for telling stories is strong. That passion has led me to study and practice the craft  nearly every day. I’m working on my next steps as a writer by working through the DIY MFA Book Club.

After reading some of Gabriela’s advice I put together a “Feed Me” box. This is a box of things I use to spark my creativity. For years I’ve had go-to resources, but it is always a refresher to see what others use to help them create.

I gathered all of my resources into one box and am excited to share that with you.

You could really put anything in your box. For me, I have several prompt related resources, an adult coloring book, dice, and random pictures.

Another item that feeds my creativity is coffee.

With mellow music playing in the background and a fresh cup of coffee in front of me there isn’t much I cannot conquer. When I’m writing lesson plans at school I create a similar environment.

What gets your creative heart pumping?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Cookies for Kairos

Serving alongside my family is one of my favorite things to do. Over the past week I’ve had several opportunities to work in the kitchen with both my true family and church family.

Since last Sunday I’ve been blessed to be a part of the process of baking close to 200 dozen cookies for the Kairos Prison Ministry. Our church is sending several representatives to a local prison where the gospel will be shared with inmates. That program involves sharing homemade cookies with those they visit. In the process of baking I learned so much about the Kairos ministry.

You get to know people even better when you are rubbing elbows with them in the kitchen. But even all those cookies later I am convinced that God is blessing our congregation with amazing people at Village Chapel.

The first 70 dozen I helped with was alongside the youth group. Watching a group of high schoolers sacrificing their time moved me. They worked together better than most adults and they kept themselves motivated with mini competitions and games.

I was able to witness God’s love being spread through the simple act of cookie baking. What may seem like a small luxury to us can make a lifelong impact in the life of someone else. I will be in prayer over the next few weeks for those participating in this ministry opportunity.

Be sure to check out more about Kairos Prison Ministry

The Ameri Brit Mom

My Writing Superpower

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The Underdog:

You are the quintessential underdog storyteller and your superpower is creating relate-able characters who have a deep desire to change something in themselves or in the world around them. From rags-to-riches narratives to epic David-and-Goliath-style battles you craft stories with high stakes and compelling characters your readers can’t help but love.

What about you? Take the quiz

The Ameri Brit Mom

Honor Your Reality

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My writing journey hasn’t been a linear one. There have been months of motivated writing sessions and others where I’ve nearly fallen off the map. I’ve taken detours and shortcuts. I’ve even abandoned route several times. While my mind cursed itself for losing focus I’m learning that in those times life needed to come first.

When my heart was breaking for those I love.

When my body was growing a baby.

When work zapped all of my energy.

When anxiety crippled me.

Those are moments in my reality when I set the pen down and just lived. Getting through each day was hard enough I couldn’t push through word counts and pages as well. Some call it survival mode–those days when you do the bare minimum in order to keep your sanity. I’m a human and I find myself on the survivor’s path every now and again.

If you have followed my blog for a couple of years you will remember the year I took off in 2017. My energy was focused on growing my family and my health. I did write here and there, but I put no pressure on myself to produce things for other people to read. I journaled every now and again, but I took that year for ME. Life was changing and my soul was aching. I didn’t live that reality on the page of my blog because it wasn’t the encouraging me that I hope to be as an online writer.

Luckily, that period didn’t last forever.

I returned in June 2018 with a venegence. Strengthened by the trials I resurrected my presence in the writing world. I re-established goals, re-appeared on my blog, and started to think of myself as a writer again.

There will be a day where once again I will have to step away.

We go through periods where the path has been cleared and we can focus on the road before us. Other times, we have to clear that path before we can go any further. We are not robots. We have souls that need rest.

So give yourself some grace. If you find yourself walking through a storm in your personal life it is okay to put your writing life on hold (or at least in neutral.) We have to honor the reality of life. It’s okay!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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I’m working my way through a DIY MFA program based on the book DIY MFA by Gabriela Periera. Throughout the course and book study I will be posting periodically in response to prompts

The Intentional Arc: Fearless Writing

It’s a frigid January day in Ohio.

The temperatures are dipping below zero and ice is coating roads, homes, and vehicles. It’s one of those days when my soul craves a book, blanket, and coffee. Here’s to hoping that the mom life will give me a chance to do all of those things today. But if not, I’m going to reflect on the latest chapter I read in Fearless Writing by William Kenower.

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Have you ever thought about the fact that every act of communication is also the act of story telling?

A phone call home. A status update. A text to your spouse. A smile.

All of these tell a story.

And every story is told from a specific point-of-view. It is our interpretation of facts. For that reason a story is never completely factual. There’s a little bit of fiction in every thing we do. Our minds work to fill in blank pieces or perspectives that we can never know.

Writing is a lot like telling a story. No matter what kind of writing you do there are three arcs that lurk below the surface of every tale:

  1. The Physical Arc– this is the what of the story. The events, characters, setting and plot all comprise the physical arc.
  2. The Emotional Arc– this is the element of the story that traces a character’s motivations and desires. The how of the story is formed by the emotional arc.
  3. The Intentional Arc– this is the why of the story. Every decision you make as the author of a story comes back to this arc. What is the take away you hope to accomplish? What greater truth do you hope to point to? How do you want your reader to be changed after having read your story?

If you keep the intentional arc of your story at the forefront of your mind nothing else matters. You filter every decision through the sieve of your intentions. There are organic ways to carry this out in your writing. It should never seem forced. But returning to this arc again and again will help you to write fearlessly.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Origins

My earliest memories as a writer were journals of misspelled words and imaginary characters. They were learning to grip a pencil and writing until my fingers bled. They were thumbing through the pages of books in my bedroom. Before I read a single book by myself I had penned my own creations.

Growing up, my parents taught me the value of trips to the bookstore and library. And once I was reading on my own I wanted to read EVERYTHING. I loved the characters, settings, and beautiful artwork on the covers.

I was the weird kid that spent hours sorting through my books in my bedroom. The room itself may be a wreck, but that bookshelf was always in order. Stacks upon stacks of picture books soon morphed into shelves of chapter books. And as much as I loved to read I was also inspired to produce my own stories.

If I watched a movie that I didn’t like I would rewrite the ending. If I loved a series I would create my own installment. My parents still have totes of my old notebooks in their basement. It was an obsession. I can remember them joking that I always needed a notebook, but it was truth. And they always provided for my hobby.

I owe a lot to them. I was blessed to have educators and intellectuals for parents. Both of them still read and encourage me in my own journey as a writer.

Now, as I inch closer to the end of my twenties I am still an avid reader. My oldest daughter is six and already reading chapter books. I’d like to think that I’ve fostered some of those same desires in her that my parents passed down to me. Just yesterday she sat with me and we each journaled about our day in our own notebooks.

I’ve only had one poem published in a traditional market, but my dream of becoming a published author is not dead. I’m continuing to pray and believe that one day a novel with my name on the cover will make it through the wolves. But for me it is all worth so much more than that. Even if I never see that dream realized I am still a writer.

I don’t write for anyone but myself.

I don’t do it for fame, money, or recognition.

I do it because there are stories within me waiting to be lived. If I don’t give them space to breathe then I cannot be satisfied.

I’m a busy mom, teacher, wife, and WRITER.

The Ameri Brit Mom 

I’m working my way through a DIY MFA program based on the book by Gabriela Periera. Throughout the course and book study I will be posting periodically in response to prompts. 

 

 

She Got Game

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The anthem of my winter will be squeaking shoes and whistle blows. It will be the chant of the ball as it bounces atop the hardwood. It’s the call of “I’m open” and the family surrounding me on the bleachers where I will always be her number one fan.

We are starting our third year of basketball. I am looking forward to not being nine months pregnant this season like I was last year. I am also looking forward to watching my little girl grow as a player. She’s already improved her passing, shooting, and dribbling. With a father who performs as a side hustle it should come as no surprise that she’s got game herself.

Two years ago I wrote about her first ever basketball practice. (Check out One Happy Player.)

So much has changed since her first days on the court. I’m looking forward to many, many years as a basketball mom and I am cherishing every practice and game as an opportunity to be thankful. I am blessed to have a daughter who enjoys such a variety of activities. I am blessed to have a husband who is in his element coaching little players. I am blessed to live near so many family members who support our girls and come to their events.

I am blessed to be a BASKETBALL MOM

The Ameri Brit Mom

Influence: Five Minute Friday

I’m joining the weekly link-up at Five Minute Friday today. Each week we respond to a common prompt and encourage one another as writers who share our words with the world. This week our prompt is Influence.

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This year I’ve been working to refocus my writing goals. I’ve been influenced by bloggers I follow, authors I love, and programs like the DIY MFA. All of these things mixed with my passion for the written word have culminated in my plans for writing in 2019. I want to write boldly and with a confidence that is unshakable. After all, writing for me has never been about receiving anything, but rather it is about giving what is inside me life on the page (or screen.)

I have started working through the starter kit from DIY MFA which is a FREE program designed to provide subscribers with opportunities which mimic an MFA program. One quote that they sent me which has inspired me to focus my writing is…

“If there is a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison

I am praying that this year I will grow as a writer and be able to influence others in a positive way. I am praying that the book lurking in some corner of my mind will gain wings and soar. I am praying for a community of readers who will encourage me in this quest. Lastly, I am praying for God’s influence to be evident in every word, post, and book that is crafted by my hands. To Him be the glory!

The Ameri Brit Mom

The Great Alone: A Book Review

Title: The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Copyright Date: 2018

*Setting for book challenge: Isolated Location (Kaneq, Alaska)

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The Vietnam War stole Leni Allbright’s father.

He returned in 1974 a former POW and a new man with a violent streak. His love for her mother ran deep, but flipped a switch in him. And that switch hurt her mother. Every episode ended with an apology and every time Cora took him back. Meanwhile, teaching her teenage daughter that to wake up to broken glass, overturned furniture, empty whiskey bottles and a mother speckled black and blue is normal.

News that they inherited a cabin in Alaska brings Leni hopes that the move will help him. They pack their Volkswagen bus and settle on a homestead in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. Leni’s small family from Seattle learns to live off the land and adjust to life without electricity where their nearest neighbor is miles away.

They quickly become part of their new community in Kaneq. Leni befriends Matthew, the only other teenager in town, and he teaches her how to prepare for her first winter in Alaska. He strengthens Leni’s spirit and shows her that love doesn’t have to mean being a punching bag and letting men walk all over you.

“Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now.”

During their first winter in Kaneq, the citizens face a horrific tragedy that soon brings division. When they need to lean into one another for support the town scatters themselves and builds walls of hatred.

“They were trapped, by environment and finances, but mostly by the sick, twisted love that bound her parents together.”

This was a beautifully written novel about a young girl learning to survive harsh circumstances and weather. Life dealt Leni an unfortunate hand, but throughout the course of her story she learns how to live unbroken.

I haven’t read a book I loved this much in a long time. There were at least five twists in this plot that I NEVER SAW COMING. I love a good, unpredictable read. I found myself constantly wanting to know what would happen next. I cheered for Leni, screamed at her mother, and all but spit at her abusive father.

This year, my goal is read books set all over the world. This is my first book of 2019. As I complete books this year I plan to share some details I learn about different corners of the world.

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I felt like I was in the last frontier as I read this novel. Glacier filled white mountains, cloudless cornflower blue skies, fjords, and northern lights all drew me into the landscape of this beautiful state. Orcas, seals, otters, bears, moose, bald eagles, ptarmigans, and cormorants were all wildlife that appeared in the secluded woods of Kaneq.

“The natural world spoke loudest here.”

I experienced both of the Alaskan seasons. The days where the sun barely set were unusual to me. I found myself wondering how one could fall asleep at midnight with the light of day still bright. Other days, the sun surfaced for only a couple of hours. How depressing that must be to endure! I learned that in many parts of Alaska one must travel over the ice by small planes and that during the winter months casualty numbers were high due to stupid mistakes and poor planning.

I’m off on another travel. Stay tuned to see my latest reading destination.

The Ameri Brit Mom