Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Salon: March 9, 2014

From the Sunday Salon's original website:  Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.  

Today's Weather:  This time last week the temperature was below zero.... today the high will be in the 60s.  I wish I could say this was uncommon for Kansas...

What's on the menu:  I think in celebration of our extra hour of light this evening... as well as spring-like temperatures... we may grill something for dinner.

Highlights of the week:  In some respects, this week was no different than the past two:  a limited focus on teaching, a greater focus on Stepping Stones, and some time connecting with friends.  However I would have to say that the highlight was spending time with my granddaughter last night while her parents went out to dinner.

We took her to the mall where we shopped at Barnes and Noble, American Girl, and the Disney Store; we ate dinner at 5 Guys Burger and Fries; and we rode the carousel.  Afterwards we came back to our house and had a tea party with my mom's china set.  While tending to a (nearly) three-year-old can be exhausting, it can also be energizing and ever so rewarding.

Teaching Overview:  Brit Lit is still conducting read-arounds of the research paper - spending on average about thirty minutes per student - revising three paragraphs.  It is my sincere hope that these students are learning the craft of writing while listening to these suggestions for improvement.

English Comp has finished the required textbook assignments (except for the research paper, of course) and we are now experimenting with other writing styles.  On Thursday we took a break and just played.... but I was so impressed how ALL the students stayed on task and helped create a viable story.  We used Rory's Story Cubes as the basis for our narratives and shared many laughs.

Currently Reading:  I read/skimmed about six books on the writing of memoir - three of which I loved and have added to my own personal library for on-going reference:

While I won't take the time to review each one of the books here (perhaps I will in a separate post), I can summarize and tell you the reason why I loved them is because they are concise, informative, and focused on the writing craft as opposed to writing prompts.  I have plenty of books (and online resources) should I need help in what to write; I am looking to learn how to write a life story in an engaging way.

I am currently reading Beth Kephart's Handling the Truth, which I am enjoying.  The author knows her craft and she presents the material in an informative way.  However, she uses many examples from published memoirs to help the reader understand her teaching point, which I do not think is my learning style.  I would rather read the author's words and then read the memoirs for myself.

I still have about ten more library books to review on the subject, and then I plan to transition to reading memoirs themselves.  There are several that are mentioned in nearly every book on the subject:  An American Childhood by Annie Dillard, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Liar's Club by Mary Karr, Growing Up by Russell Baker, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didon, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, and Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.

If you have read a worthy memoir lately, I would love to hear your recommendations.

Writing Progress:  I have met with the two beta readers for First Impressionism (my NaNoWriMo piece) and discussed their valuable input.  I will now begin to assemble those comments, as well as my own, on the excel spread sheet with the hopes of starting the revision process by this time next week (this is taking longer than I first while it appears that I have made little progress in this area, it is not because I have lost focus)

Weekly Exercise:  Ok... it is hard to get motivated to exercise when it's below zero outside (I can justify anything...)  BUT... the weather is warming up and spring break is next week.  It is my intention to get back into a routine during the break and hopefully maintain it until the end of the school year.  Once June arrives, I am confident that I will return to the 5k walk-a-day routine that I began last summer.  And I am excited!

Stepping Stones:  Since developing this Sunday Salon template, my life has changed significantly.  And while I want to try to incorporate Artist's Dates, Craftiness and Photography into my life, I feel as though the development of this new venture feeds that "creative" side.  Perhaps this summer I will delve into those activities on a weekly basis, but for now, all my free time seems to focus on this area.

Developing a website --- what a learning curve!  Two weeks ago I had no idea that and were two completely different animals.  Now I do... and while I know that offers more versatility, I am not sure I want the hassle of transferring the domain name (which is another steep learning curve...)

The reason for the possible transfer is that allows for little customization.  It is not that I want to do anything flashy --- just have the ability to use different font sizes and colors for subheadings on a individual pages (a piece of cake in Blogger)... but apparently that requires learning the basics of CSS code (?)  Since I only discovered yesterday that CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets you can understand how inept I am.

And then there is Twitter.... I have never experienced such poor customer support.  And if I could find a way to communicate that to Twitter, I would write them a terse email.  However, the only way to contact Twitter with a question is to send a form email... which results in an instant canned reply that directs you to support links on the website (which I have already read.. multiple times).  Perhaps my "business" can survive using other social media like Facebook and Google Plus.

What's on the Horizon:  Grading compare and contrast papers before Tuesday; introducing Tale of Two Cities (my favorite unit of the year); reading more books on memoir; developing a revision schedule for First Impressionism; working on the business website.  In other words... more of the same, and I LOVE it!


  1. We'll be firing up the grill tonight too. I love the warm weather!

  2. You have so much going on! Your day with your granddaughter sounds like it was a lot of fun. :-) I'm in the middle of reading memoirs too this month. The Liars' Club is an amazing book. It's very well-written but can be hard to read sometimes because of the subject matter. A book that I plan on rereading this month that I really enjoyed is Around the House and In the Garden by Dominque Browning. A Broom of One's Own by Nancy Peacock is another good memoir.

    Have a good week!

  3. I knew there is a big difference between vs., which is why I'm planning to focus solely on building my website after finishing my revision. I knew it uses CSS, but I was hoping I wasn't going to have to develop my own. Well, at least it's free. Or close to it, compared to buying Dreamweaver and building a site with it.

  4. Wow! That's a lot going on. I feel like I should read more memoirs and more about memoirs, but they keep getting sent back to the library unread. At the moment, I'm favoring books set in England. I liked The Memoir Project and I agree that writing prompts aren't that useful to me -- although if you do want some, I liked Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach. His exercises were better than most in getting me to write something that I might actually use in my manuscript.

    Joy's Book Blog

  5. I read Glitter and Glue by Anna Hope and very much enjoyed and related to it! Her writing seamlessly melded the then and the now and its effects on who we are.

    Sounds like you are doing some amazing progress on your writing! That's a total inspiration to me!

  6. The crazy weather is driving me nuts -- 60 yesterday; 20 tomorrow. Argh.