Friday, March 17, 2023

Embracing Change with an Etheree

Happy Poetry Friday (and St. Patrick's Day too)!

Today, I'm wrapping up our TeachingAuthors series on the theme of Moving Forward in the New Year by sharing an original Etheree poem.

You may recall that Esther kicked off our topic back in January with her review of The Stories Behind the Stories: The Remarkable True Tales Behind Your Favorite Kid's Books by Danielle Higley (Bushel & Peck Books). Of course, I loved reading all the posts in this series, but April's has especially stuck with me. She shared her One Little Word for the year: Simplify. The word is becoming my mantra as my husband and I try to declutter all the stuff we've accumulated over the last forty years. Given that we've lived in only one place in all that time, it's A LOT of stuff! 

Image of lots of tools and storage bins in corner of a room
This photo by Sigmund on Unsplash looks a lot like a corner of our basement.

The decluttering has been necessitated by the fact that we're seriously contemplating selling our house.  Doing so would be a HUGE change, and we're both finding the idea a bit overwhelming. That feeling inspired me to take up this month's Poetry Sisters' challenge to write an Etheree on the theme of "transformation." I came up with the following. (Click on the image below to enlarge it.)

I still don't know what the future will hold, but writing this poem helped me feel a little less overwhelmed. So, a big THANK YOU to the Poetry Sisters! I look forward to reading all your Etherees at the end of the month. 

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell
Meanwhile, I'm going to check out this week's Poetry Friday roundup hosted by Laura Purdie Salas.


Friday, March 3, 2023

The Causal Chain Experience

Recently, my students asked about creating strong plotlines. Remember, narrative is a sequence of cause and effect.  Stories are formed by an interlinked sequence: Event A causes Event B (and so on). To reinforce both action (external) and emotional (internal) plot movements, build tension, and create strong drama, a writer needs to be mindful of the story’s causal chain.

Harrison Demchick (The Writer's Ally) offered a wonderful analogy on this concept.  Think of plot as a twisted layout of dominoes, and every plot beat in your narrative is a single domino. The first domino is the inciting incident, and once tipped, it launches a succession of plot beats. This is the rising action. Over the course of the story, there are complications, subplots, and dramatic turns.  This rising action reaches a peak, and there’s anticipation – upon baited breathe, perhaps even a dash of hope -- about what comes next. And ultimately, with the climax, the hero emerges. 

Weak plots tend to follow a “This happens, then this happens, and then this happens” formula.  Such a plot is reduced to a series of unrelated scenes. A stronger method for mapping a plot is using the formula, Therefore + But. In this way, the plot unfolds logically, and every scene also becomes relevant. Returning to the domino analogy: while the author may push the first domino over (the inciting incident), the readers cannot help but stay engaged and in awe as several thousand dominoes fall as a consequence. 

In other words, the power in any plot beat is not the beat itself. It’s how the character got there.

Everything that happens should be the effect of what precedes it.  If readers don’t understand why the car broke down when it did, or why the dragon showed up at that moment, or why the roommate left when she did, even if the event is off stage, then it may be issues with causation.  Cause without effect is like a single domino set up alongside, but not within, the domino chain. If the domino can be removed without effecting the chain, then the domino isn’t necessary. Likewise, if you can remove a scene, or a sequence from the manuscript without notable effect on the surrounding action, it reflects a weakened causal chain.

So, what does a strong causal chain do?  The very nature of a strong causal chain -- like dominoes-- creates anticipation and builds tension that leads to a dramatic, emotionally satisfying finale.

For a visual, check out this video, in which pro domino artist Lily Hevesh uses 32,000 dominoes to create a massive domino chain, taking 82 days to build.

This is the perfect illustration that demonstrates how a causal chain works in Story. Each subplot must connect to and ultimately affect the broader action.

This video displays the four stages of Story so well:

1.The Set-Up. 

2. The Context and Complications. 

3. The Empowerment of Hope. 

4. The Emergence of the Hero.

How to strengthen your causal chain: Using these four stages as a framework, outline your narrative using the causal chain format, depicting the events of your story as a series of cause and effect relationships. This should help strengthen your causal chain.

A Note About the Video: TKSST is a collection of 5,000+ kid-friendly videos, curated for teachers and parents who want to share smarter, more meaningful media in the classroom and at home. And it's free for everyone. Curated by Rion Nakaya, first launched with her teens when they toddled. 

-- Bobbi Miller

Friday, February 17, 2023

A New Year...An Upcoming Book - Anatomy of a Book's Journey

Moving Forward in the New Year!  

Here we go…2023 is here and I am on a speeding train toward the book launch of my first book that sold in July of 2018.  It’s been a long time coming and certainly not without its own story, replete with the twist and turn of not ending up being my debut book.  So where did it all begin?  Well, with my very own teaching author of course!  Here’s the anatomy of a picture book sale for an author who wondered if it really could be done. 

Chance meetings and serendipity have always been my friends. As a public school teacher in Los Angeles, Otis College of Art and Design allows teachers to take one free extension class a semester. In 2017, I attended an open house ready to sign up for a painting class.  It had been a long time since I had explored my ideas on canvas.  It was a life I had wandered away from once I had a child in 2001. I was ready to add a little pizzaz to my life, to reclaim that part of me that had slumbered through my child’s childhood. I meandered through the tables exhibiting the offerings, awake and alive to the endless possibilities of reentering a formal learning environment.  And then I happened upon Deborah Nourse Lattimore and my life took a new turn.  

I had been exploring writing for children and I had been putting the work in to learn the craft. It was work.  Enjoyable work…but work, nonetheless. I had no intention on that day to add to my workload. I was looking for delight. But, Deborah was pure delight and I found myself signing up for her class instead of the painting class I had intended.  I was about to find myself at a new level of a career that I had been dabbling with, wanting to be serious but unable to find the next level.

Deborah Nourse Lattimore is the author-illustrator of almost 40 children’s books and has taught writing for years. Her gift as a teacher is to recognize each students level and extend their reach in a non-judgmental, nurturing, and loving way.  Deborah creates the conditions for good writing to occur without the student knowing that it’s happening. The growth is organic and authentic and not performative, process over product. I thrived. 

After studying with her for months, I took a risk and randomly asked her if she ever recommended her students to an agent whom she was friends with. She said, “Sometimes.” I ventured further, “Would you consider recommending me?”  I braced for the very real possibility of a no.  But there it was.  My first yes.  

That December I travelled to Egypt to visit my father and extended family.  Egyptian Lullaby tumbled out of me as a full-blown manuscript. I could hardly keep up. It was my love letter to Cairo. 

Abigail Samoun of Red Fox Literary was still looking at some of my weaker manuscripts when Deborah encouraged me to send her Egyptian Lullaby. Abigail’s response was positive, and my timing was on point. Abi was traveling to New York that week to meet  with editors.  She asked if she could take my manuscript with her. It was a resounding yes from me which resulted in 5 interested editors from leading publishing houses. I naively expected an immediate sale.  


Some clean up and revisions were necessary.  Time passed…editors passed on it…and the manuscript stalled. Knowing that rejection is a part of an author’s lifestyle and accepting that every turn is an adventure kept me out of the trough of despair and imposter syndrome. But time kept passing and nothing was happening. Then we got a bite, but a full rewrite was required. I’m always up for the challenge and adventure so I jumped in and responded to the editor’s direction.  The manuscript was significantly different, but I liked the changes and was willing to let go of the original story. 

We were ready to cross the finish line when Emily Feinberg contacted us. Egyptian Lullaby seemed like it belonged at Roaring Brook Press. A different manuscript that I had in my collection of manuscripts seemed like it was better suited for the original editor whom I had worked with.  So, I ended up with two sales. 

As it turned out, my instincts were right.  The version of Egyptian Lullaby that ended up as a picture book was the original version, illustrated by the extremely talented Hatem Aly.  

Ironically, Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story became my beautiful debut picture book
stunningly illustrated by Fiona Halliday. It unfortunately came out on May 12, 2020, just as the pandemic lockdown kicked into full swing, almost three years before Egyptian Lullaby which is due out on April 18th of this year. 

It is a delight to revisit the journey of my first book and honor the people responsible for it. 

This blog post is dedicated to Deborah Nourse Lattimore, my unrelenting mentor who makes me feel like I can write anything, Abigail Samoun, my amazing agent who believes in me, guides me, supports my decisions, gives me the belief that there are unlimited possibilities always possible and helps me bear all the rejections that go with this path, and Emily Feinberg, who took my original manuscript and made it into something I could never have imagined it would be.  

My love for the three of you is immeasurable and my respect is boundless. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

By Zeena M. Pliska

Friday, February 3, 2023

But Ya Gotta Have Friends! (Sorry, Bette Midler!)

January 1st means a fresh start, new resolutions for many people. The Gregorian calendar insists the New Year comes in the middle of grey, grisly, winter, with short days and long dreary nights. I think that's a mean joke. The last thing I want to do this time of year is make resolutions or "move ahead" on a project.

So what do I do to jolt myself out of the midwinter blahs? I talk to my friends As I've mentioned before, some of my best friends are books. I consult my "writers on writing" shelf.

The first book I read about writing was Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit.  Ueland is the friend you talk to when you fall in love with writing, because she's in love with it too.  She gets it. If You Want to Write was published in 1938, but so timeless in style and advice, it could've been written last week. She believes that everyone is talented, original and has something important to say...just what a new writer wants to hear! "Try to discover your true, honest untheoretical self," says Brenda. Wow! Somebody wants to hear from the "real me"? All right!

How can you not love a book with chapters titled "The imagination works slow and quietly," and"Be careless, be reckless! Be a lion, be a pirate when you write." Then there is my favorite "Why Women who do too much housework should neglect it for their writing." (Not a problem, Brenda!) I've written journals off and on since third grade, but when I read So You Want to Write in my 20's, I was encouraged to "Keep a slovenly, headlong, impulsive, honest diary." Ueland set me free to write and write and write without fretting over what I was writing, or what it might be some day. She turned me into an enthusiastic observer and journal keeper. I re-read So You Want to Write when I need to fall in love with writing again. (Sidebar--Greywolf Press brought the book back into print in 1983...and it has not been out of print since. That should speak to the quality of Ueland's advice.)

Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird came into my life when I was trying to turn all that journal writing into actual stories...and having serious doubts that I could do it. Anne Lamott is the big sister friend, who has been there, done that and is going to tell you Get over yourself! Don't listen to your inner voice screaming, Who told you you are a writer.?You stink! Don't freak out. Take deep breaths. You can only write one sentence at a time, word by word. (Or bird by bird, as per the title.) Whatever writer's block you have, or how horribly you judge your own work...Anne Lamott has already done it, much, much  worse! (If you need a visual, think of Cher in Moonstruck, slapping Nick Cage and yelling "Snap out of it!") When I'm overthinking or hypercritical to the point of inertia, I pour a glass of wine and spend a little time with Anne.

After decades of plugging away, I began to publish. However, the myth that "once you get your first book published, the next one is easier" is just that. A myth. I sold my first book. The next one took four years. (Although in the wild and wacky world of publishing schedules, the second book came out before the first one!) I didn't have an agent. In fact, I was discovering that getting an agent was harder than getting an editor's attention.I was sure that J.K Rowling and Stephen King were not having my problems with a-hiccuping career. That's when I happened on Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. 

Personally, I'm not a fan of King's stories or style. However, I am in awe of how he has made readers out of people who don't like to read. I read On Writing, hoping he had some sort of magic formula. Of course he doesn't. However I discovered has a lovely conversational style when writing about his own life...and not homicidal Plymouth Furys or evil, sewer-dwelling clowns.

 King takes the "toolbox" approach to writing. If you don't possess and use these tools, you will never become a competent writer. His first tool: read a lot and write a lot. I'd been telling my own writing students that for years. I didn't know whether to be disappointed that his advice wasn't more exotic, or pleased that Stephen and I were on the same page, philosophically speaking. I didn't tell my students that by "writing a lot," King means that he writes every single day. That's a discouraging notion to a ten-year-old whose life is already scheduled to the gills.(He once told an interviewer that he wrote everyday except Fourth of July, Christmas and his birthday--but that wasn't true. He writes every day.) I also write every day, although not necessarily of the journaling-and-writing-project variety. I'm a moderator of a Facebook (OK Meta!) page that involves a lot of research and concise explanatory writing. This keeps my toolbox working between projects, and through the spells when my imagination seems to have dried up and blown away. (I tell my students to write on weekends and school holidays...and whenever they are happy or sad or mad. That winds up being pretty much every day...without them knowing it.)

The other "tools" King uses are so basic, I'm a little insulted he calls them tools; vocabulary and grammar. Vocabulary doesn't need to be voluminous (The last time I was required to know and use the word "salubrious" was in taking the ACT.),  varied and useful. If you get stuck, he suggests a thesaurus, preferably not the one that came with your word processing program. For grammar, nothing can beat our mutual old friend, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style.  While King never does tells how he can turn out bestseller after bestseller, he does remind me that if you don't read, write, mind your vocabulary and grammar, you're never going to write anything. On Writing is that professor you regard with awe, but when you actually talk to them, find they aren't magical or mystical...just hardworking and focused. 

My last friend is my teacher friend, Ralph Fletcher. (I don't personally know Mr. Fletcher, but after reading everyone of his many books, I feel as if I do.) I rely on Fletcher to inspire me as a teacher.  He is a master teacher of writing as well as a writer for children. He knows how kids think, and how to jazz their imaginations, free them of their writing hang-ups. His books contain writing exercises and topics (he doesn't use the word "prompts") for every age group--including adults. I've never taught a class without Ralph Fletcher at my side, in spirit. 

No one gets through this writing life alone. As the great Bette Midler sings "'cause yah got to have friends." Please feel free to introduce me to some of your writing friends. 

Posted by Mary Ann. Rodman 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Congratulations To Our Latest Giveaway Winner!

This is just a quick post to congratulate the winner of our latest book giveaway: The Stories Behind the Stories: The Remarkable True Tales Behind Your Favorite Kid's Books, by Danielle Higley (Bushel & Peck Books).

 And the winner is:  

                                        Margaret S.

Thank you to all who took time to enter our giveaway. And special thanks to Bushel & Peck Books for providing the book for our winner!


Friday, January 20, 2023

1 WORD FOR 2023

Howdy from California, Campers ~

Soggy California! Sorry about the drips on this page (I'm in Southern CA and we're fine, thank you).

And Happy New Year and Happy Poetry Friday to all! (The links to Poetry Friday, my poem, and my upcoming class are all below.)

Our theme for this round is Moving Forward in the New Year. We began with Esther's enticing review of the book, THE stories BEHIND THE stories (read her review here and enter to win it in our first BOOK GIVEAWAY in this fresh new year)

I'm up next.

In the 13 years I've been privileged to be part of TeachingAuthors, I've learned rain barrels-full about writing, teaching, poetry, and friendship from my fellow TeachingAuthors, from many of you, and from the Kidlitosphere and Poetry Friday communities.

One thing I've learned is that many of you move forward by choosing a word for the year.

So I tried it. Sometimes I'd choose a word and then discard it because it didn't seem to move me forward. But one year the magic happened. That was the year I chose the word CAPABLE.

I chose it because the nasty noises in my brain continually convinced me that I was never going to be capable of doing whatever it was I was doing. 

That word set me on the road to discovering I was, indeed, capable.

                                drawing (c)2023 by April Halprin Wayland

Good old CAPABLE. We're still very close. 

Usually, instead of choosing a word for the year,  I choose a word for the day. The book I read each night has one page for each day of the year. The page begins with a quotation, followed by a paragraph expanding on the quote, and then a gentle resolution for the day.

For example, one recent quotation was: "Competitions are for horses, not artists." ~ Bela Bartok

The words from that reading that resonated in me were: "People who have developed the art of living...are as respectful of their own values and opinions as those of others." (underlining is mine)

Every night I read a page and every morning I forget what that page was about.

So I decided to condense the whole page into one or two words. In this case, my word for the next day may have been "self-respect." And guess what happened when I woke up the next day? 

Nada. Nothing. 

Even if I created a visual for my word--for "self-respect" (which might be someone looking in a mirror and liking what she saw) even then, I still couldn't remember what I'd read. 

Finally, I decided to write that word on the top of my foot each night. In the morning, before I sat up, I'd challenge myself to remember the word, and sometimes I could. But if I couldn't, I'd lift my leg and read my foot. 

I write my word on the TOP of one foot. I do NOT draw faces on my toes. But, boy, it sure looks like fun...maybe I'll try it. (photo: Pixabay)

All day long my word walks with me. And if I feel scrambled, I'll stop and focus: what's my word? I rarely need to take off my shoe to remember it. 

Here's the draft of a poem I wrote about it:

by April Halprin Wayland

I write the word I'd like to think

on the top of my foot each day in ink.


Absurd, absurd, some friends may say,

to walk with that ink on her foot all day!


How odd, so odd, some will assert,

to write on one's foot—imagine the dirt!


You know what I mostly wish from this?

to tune out the voices and follow my bliss.

          poem © 2023 April Halprin Wayland. 

(That last stanza is super corny, but that's what I've got for you today ~ says this recovering perfectionist)

As this new year rolled around, I thought I'd try a word for the whole year again. I sifted through many. The word that felt exactly right is SIMPLIFY.

It's already working its magic: each time I'm overwhelmed by too many emails, too many TO DOs, too much noise, I think: SIMPLIFY. A calm washes over me. I focus.  And guess what? In simplifying the tasks I take on, I've begun writing a picture book I'm totally in love with!💗

I haven't felt this excited about writing in a long, long time. 

What's YOUR word for today or for the year? I'd love to read it in your comments.😊

And hey, Campers ~ my one day, three-hour Introduction to Writing Children's Poetry will be held again on January 28 from noon to 3pm PST. We read a variety of poems and have time to write our own. Come join the fun! It's offered through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program

Thank you for hosting Poetry Friday, Marcie!

posted by April Halprin Wayland, with help from Monkey and Eli, posing with one of their favorite, very old poetry books.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Heaps of Heart and Hope for 2023 + OUR BOOK GIVEAWAY!

 What better way to launch the New Year than with a Book 


And not of just any book.

 IMHO: Children’s books gift Readers with Heart and Hope.

Katherine Paterson described story as “one heart in hiding 

reaching out to another.”

"A good book,” venerable Atheneum editor Jean Karl shared, 

"…respects a child’s capacity to become.”

But when a children’s book offers us the true and remarkable 

stories behind the stories we’ve come to love – as does Danielle 

Higley’s THE stories BEHIND THE stories (Bushel & Peck 

Books, 2021), how could we not reap EXTRA heaps of Heart 

and Hope?

Think: twenty-nine writers’ hopeful hearts waiting to be



I guarantee our Giveaway Book will fortify you fully so you 

can keep keepin’ on in 2023.

And Good News! It will also inspire one lucky Young Reader 

because the publisher honors its Book-for-Book Promise: for 

every book sold, Bushel & Peck donates one book to a child in 


Be sure to enter our Book Giveaway! Instructions follow this post.

To nominate a school or organization to receive free books from 

Bushel & Peck, click here.

In her Author’s Note, Danielle Higley shared an important insight 

she gleaned while researching the how and why her chosen 

children’s book creators told their stories. Yes, creativity and 

imagination played a role.

 ·       J.R.R. Tolkien, while editing a student’s blank paper, penned, 

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” – and then promptly 

built a bigger world.

·       A young librarian patron queried Beverly Munn Cleary, 

“Where are the books about kids like us?” and her answer, 

fortunately, was Henry Huggins.

·       Dr. Seuss believed, “Nonsense wakes up the brain cells… If you 

can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in 


But most treasured children’s books were born from extraordinary 

persistence and grit.

·       Beatrix Potter self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit when 

multiple publishers rejected the manuscript.

·       Librarians offered a storm of protest, though to no avail, 

because the children in Gertrude Chandler’s original Boxcar 

Children series “were having too good a time without any 

parental control.”

·       Every day for thirteen years, Christopher Paul Curtis worked 

on a General Motors assembly line, taking turns with his partner 

to hang thirty doors in a row to earn a thirty-minute break to write 

his stories.


From Mother Goose rhymes and Clement Clarke Moore’s The 

Night Before Christmas to Rick  Riordan’s Percy Jackson and 

the Olympians and Jeff McKinney’s Wimpy Kid series, each of 

the true tales behind the featured books magnifies the treasure 

these beloved stories hold.

David Miles’ beautiful illustrations, many collage-like boasting 

photographs and original art, the many meaningful author and 

illustrator quotes throughout and the shared research resources 

on the last pages enrich the book’s enjoyment.

Thanks to Bushel & Peck Books for generously gifting one of 

our lucky TeachingAuthors readers with a copy of THE stories 

BEHIND THE stories.

Thanks, too, to Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core for hosting 

today’s Poetry Friday.

May Heart and Hope accompany you through the New Year!

Esther Hershenhorn


I need to shout HURRAH! for my writer Amy Neeren and her 

recently-released debut chapter book Nellie in Knots published by 

Bushel & Peck Books! The story behind her story offers bushels 

of Heart and Hope.

. . . . . .

To enter the giveaway drawing for The stories BEHIND THE storiesuse the Rafflecopter widget below. (Note: if the widget doesn't appear, click on the link at the end of this post that says "a Rafflecopter giveaway" to enter.)

You may enter via up to 4 options. The more options you choose, the better your odds! 

If you choose option 3, you MUST leave a comment on TODAY’S blog post or on our TeachingAuthors Facebook page. If you haven’t already “liked” our Facebook page, please do so today!

If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.

Note: if you submit your comments via email or Facebook, YOU MUST 
STILL ENTER THE DRAWING VIA RAFFLECOPTER BELOW.  The giveaway ends January 20, 2023 and is open to U.S. Residents only.

If you’ve never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here’s info on how to enter 
a Rafflecopter giveaway.  And a second article explains the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Winter Poem Swap Treasures

Happy Poetry Friday! Today I'm thrilled to share the wonderful winter poem and gifts I received from my Poem Swap partner. First though, a HUGE thank you to Tabatha Yeatts for coordinating the Winter Poem Swap. You'll find Tabatha's blog here.  

I'm relatively new to the Winter Poem Swap--this is only the second time I've participated. This year, I was paired with Tricia Stohr-Hunt. Tricia is a professor at the University of Richmond, where she prepares future teachers. At her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect, she writes about "children's literature, poetry, and issues related to teaching children and their future teachers."

For the swap, Tricia sent an envelope filled with marvelous treasures, including two notebooks and a bag of sweet-smelling scented soaps!

It wasn't until I read Tricia's note inside the lovely "Book Leaf" bearing a George Kingsley quote that I discovered she had made both of the notebooks! The small folded notebook with the beautiful butterfly design on the front contains pockets--they held the poem she'd sent plus a series of prompts to inspire my own poems. The second journal is meant to hold those new poems. 

Here's a peek inside the folded notebook:

What a terrific idea! I'm looking forward to trying the prompts in the new year--almost all of them are for forms I've never written before. 

And it was obvious from the poem Tricia sent that she'd done her homework. We've never met, but she knew of my math background. She labeled her poem accordingly:

Holiday Poem Swap 2022
To: Carmela (a fellow math lover)

A Mathematical Pi Poem.

In case you aren't familiar with this form, the number of syllables per line in a pi poem must equal the numbers in pi up to that point. For example, in a 3-line pi poem (often called a pi-ku or π-ku because it has the same number of lines as a haiku), the syllables per line equal 3, 1, 4, to represent the first three digits of π: 3.14. Since pi is infinite, there’s no limit to the number of lines in a pi poem. The longest  I've ever written contains eight lines. Tricia's Mathematical Pi Poem is 36 lines long and is quite splendid!  (If you have difficulty reading the poem in the photo below, you should be able to click on the image to enlarge.) 

I love everything about this poem, and I especially connected with these lines:

There is wonder in
how the world
arranges itself.
Mathematicians across time
find universal delight in
the perfect arrangement of
lines in a plane, or in quadratic

I also love the last stanza (which cleverly follows a blank line to represent the digit 0):

Where will
beauty find you? It sure finds
me in the mystery of math.

I'm so grateful for this opportunity to get to know Tricia a bit. She definitely feels like a kindred spirit.  In addition to loving math's mysteries, I'm intrigued by the intersections between math and poetry. And Tricia's pi poem is a marvelous example of that!

December has been an exceptionally gray month here in the Chicago area. Receiving the envelope of treasures from Tricia really brightened my day, week, and month! And the gifts will also brighten the New Year as I put them to use. Thank you, Tricia!

If you'd like to read the poem I sent Tricia, you can find it in her post here. I hope you'll also check out this week's Poetry Friday roundup being hosted by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.

I wish all of you, our TeachingAuthors readers, a blessed and happy holiday season. Esther will be back on January 6 with a special book giveaway to kick off the New Year! 


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Oh! Oh! Oh!


Remember that old marching song:

99 bottles of beer on the wall

99 bottles of beer

Take one down, and pass it around,

98 bottles of beer on the wall.

Its repetitive melody helps you find your rhythm when hiking trails or jumping ropes. It’s an ear worm that keeps you steady when the task at hand seems monumentally tedious. It diverts your attention from the monotony to the goal. That’s what I feel when I revise. When I finish a first draft, breathing a sigh of relief and accomplishment, I move on to the first revision. Only to discover another plot hole. A character acts out of character. First person slips into third person. Or worse, the history is wrong.


You know what? I hate beer. And this particular morning, after a week of finals, I’m not liking revision. It’s hard, hard, hard work.

Indeed. Instead of spending all those hours writing, typing, outlining, researching, deleting, cutting, pasting, I could bake a pie. I could learn a new hobby, learn to sky dive and jump off a cliff, plant another garden, or two, or three…


 True enough, I have enough gardens. Besides, it’s cold outside. And I have enough hobbies, which mostly centers on books and more books. And I haven’t had a baking oven for over a decade.  And sky diving? What?

Besides, this character, for all her flaws, is getting really interesting. If I could just…

Fine. Back to work.

By the way, wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday.

O yea, speaking of which, I should tell you:

I now have an agent! Sarah N. Fisk is an Associate Literary Agent in the Tobias Literary Agency! I am immensely honored to be working with Sarah!

 As the saying goes: watch this space!

-- Bobbi Miller