Are you a teacher who writes?

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Are you a teacher who writes? It’s a simple question. I am, and I’m proud.

With a profession as important as teaching, I often feel like 100% of my time should be dedicated to my job. Most of the time, it is.

I’ve spent many Saturdays and Sundays grading papers and reading young adult novels, preparing lessons and tweaking those final-yet-impactful details that make a good lesson great. To be honest, I love the lifestyle, but sometimes I want to work on my own projects.

While most teachers can sympathize, teacher-writers often have an extra variable to add to the work-life balance equation. When do we dedicate time to our creative projects? When can we chip away at the looming manuscript in our living room? Is there a happy blend of teaching and writing?

I’m sure there is. At the end of the day, I’ve found what works for me. 

Are you a teacher who writes? How do you do it?

  • Leave a comment, I’d like to know.
  • If you have a blog or twitter, feel free to leave a link!

Saturday Writing Session # 2 – Take-aways from five hours of writing

Paper Palaces Saturday Writing Session (1)For those of you who don’t know, I’m a middle school teacher who is also trying to write a twelve-book fantasy saga in my spare time. It’s the most amazing job in the world, as I get to work with children and their writing. To do my job correctly, I need to be efficient and dedicated. Likewise, my writing practice should follow the same principles.

When I come home, I usually grade papers, work on novel-related projects, and spend time with my fiancé. I have to budget my time; it’s just a necessity. My career has its own schedule, calendar, and set of deadlines. As a result, managing my work life is often easier than finding the time to manage my writing projects.

Until a few weeks ago, I tried to write every day. For two years, I wrote in the morning. Last year, I wrote in the evenings.

In a previous post, I explored the benefits of sitting in one place for six straight hours and writing fiction. I talked about my first six-hour session and why I chose to write in a cafe of all places.

One of the largest findings from my six-hour Saturday session was how incredibly happy I felt.  This made sense. After all, writing is, to me, one of the best activities that a human being can choose to do.

Take-Aways from Today’s Session

Today, I wrote chapters for The Staghorn Crown, my serial novel for patrons on Patreon. I found the five-hour session was useful. Here are some take-aways:

  • I walked into the cafe with a blank page and an empty stomach. I walked out, five hours later, with a sandwich, two coffees, and 3,500 words of useable material.
  • The hour I spent revising felt easier than usual, as I had created solid fiction during the previous five hours.
  • Fewer passages needed pruning.
  • Scene-to-scene continuity was clearer.
  • I felt accomplished earlier in the day.
  • My writing deadlines are now impossible to miss.
  • My fiancé, who also happens to edit The Staghorn Crown seems to like this new approach as it frees up time during the week for us to enjoy each other’s company.
  • I’m happy.

If you like what your reading, consider following this blog, liking a post, or joining the Books of Brylennia Facebook Group.

Stay updated on my books, by joining the  Books of Brylennia Facebook Group. You can connect with Laura and me on the process of writing, editing, creating this fantasy series, and our methods of self-publishing. You can post your own contributions too. Join us on the journey.

Writing Wednesday # 3 – Quotes from A New Nine-Novel Fantasy Series

Recently, I have been working on The Witch’s Uprising, the first book in my nine-novel fantasy series A Thousand Watchful Eyes. At the same time, I have planned and started drafting The Staghorn Crown Quintet, a series of five serial novels released to patrons as they are created.


(I’ve included a slideshow of quotes below.)


All twelve of these books are part of my dream to create a massive series that tells the story of a girl, her daughter, and the generations of people who are affected by their actions. It is a story about the strength of humanity in the face of fear, greed, hatred, and ignorance.  All twelve books are set in a magical, medieval-inspired fantasy world known as Brylennia. Working titles for each book are included here.

The Staghorn Crown series follow Quinn, Rhea, Tava, and Celesa and their respective challenges growing up in a magical fortress belonging to an ancient order of magic-wielding women.

The novels from A Thousand Watchful Eyes continue that story, generations after. Twelve-year-old Harlowe, Nineteen-year-old Aurelia, and fourteen-year-old Bryar, each play a part in thwarting the return of an age-old war between the Witch Queen, the Stellaria, and a new agent of ancient evil.

The story, in its entirety, spans all twelve books, each of which are planned (in a massive spreadsheet…Thank you J.K. Rowling for inspiration!).

In the slides below, you can find quotes from the two related story arcs: A Thousand Watchful Eyes and The Staghorn Crown prequel quintet. To support the making of this series, you can become a patron here, or follow me on this blog, Twitter, or Instagram. The links are in top menu.

Feel free to repost this content. In fact, your share, repost, or tweet supports the making of these books and subsequent publications. If you’re a fan of this project, consider liking my Facebook Author page for more updates.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you have a WIP or series that you are working on, please share it in the comments along with a link in your blog. If you enjoyed this post or the idea of this series, please like and share.

-Curtis

Why I wrote for six hours on Saturday and will definitely do it again!

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On Saturday morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. and groggily prepared myself for six hours of writing. Fueled with two large coffees, and ready for anything, I opened my laptop, sat down, and produced 6,000 words (4,500 of which I’m willing to keep).

By lunch, I was running around my apartment, sharing my happiness with my fiancé. In the process, my excitement may have annoyed my cats!

This overwhelming feeling of productivity after a successful writing session is familiar to most authors and writers. Usually, I am a very slow writer. I spread my work out over the course of days, methodically planning, plotting, editing, and revising in an almost-meditative state.

To make matters worse, I’m huge fan of daily writing calendars and events, and I am often hooked by thirty-day challenges. However, if I want a balanced life with happy friends, family, students, and of course, a happy fiancé, I have to plan my time thoughtfully.

Throughout the last month, I have spent hours and hours of my time grading papers and attending to other areas of my work and home life. As a result, my regular writing hours became more and more irregular.

I attempted to fix this with a daily schedule, which lead to awkwardly written prose and disjointed scenes that needed to be rewritten. This has happened to me before, and my usual solution is a binge-writing session. Thankfully, I learned that I am not alone.

After a listening to this self-publishing podcast interview with author Steve Windsor, I learned that he typically writes for hours on end. Instead of writing in smaller chunks for several days a week – or having a quota of 500, or 1,000 words per day – Steve writes for longer sessions, often producing the highest word count he can.

In his podcast, he mentions sitting in a cafe for six hours and aiming for 15,000 words. This idea of planting yourself in one place, for hours on end, without the distractions of social media, commitments, or household chores thrilled me. It was inspiring to hear a different message for a change. I think longer writing sessions will be my new norm.

As I move forward and continue to work on my nine-novel series and prequel quintet, I’ll post about the experience here. I think I may have found a process that works for me.

Do you have a process that works for you?

Please share in the comments, link a blog post, or tweet your idea to @staghorncrown on Twitter.


Remember to like, comment, follow, or share via social media!

The Witch’s Uprising: Writing Wednesday # 2

From The Witch’s Uprising

Prologue:

Aurelia

Aurelia held her sword as lightly as she could. With any other thief, she would not be so cautious, but one look at the stranger assured her to take each step carefully. She let the grip on her sword stay loose and limber, ready to act. There would be no room for fear or even one misplaced swing; she prepared herself to act swiftly, carefully… softly. Every nerve in her body was electrified with awareness. She breathed deeply as she crept closer to him. The moon unveiled itself, barely revealing a man just a head’s worth taller than Aurelia. In the dappled light, she could see her breath and his. She was closer now, at the edge of the clearing. Peering at a safe distance from this man she had followed from her village, yet he crouched – there… in the center of the everything, almost perfectly surrounded by three large prayer stones, as if no one was looking for him.

A filthy thief, she thought. She knew he was not after bread or meat, or mead. The air reeked like something that had been tossed away and neglected. He leaned over one stone altar, the furthest from Aurelia, and whispered to himself.

He cradled a small child wrapped in a purple blanket – a tiny girl not yet one year old. Flecks of gold from the blanket’s design glittered. He set the child on the altar so delicately that Aurelia was confused. Whose child was this? Not his, not his.

It would take one stroke, but she would have to aim it correctly, or else she would bludgeon the child too. Aurelia remembered everything she had been taught – how to be just so graceful with a sword, just as quiet as the spring wind rippling through grass. She stepped forward.

The townsfolk had talked of this: men like him had come before, years ago, when her mother was a little girl. They were just stories to Aurelia.

Does a story bleed? She knew the answer too well.

Every man bleeds.

When the twig snapped beneath her left foot, Aurelia felt the world shift. Her heart palpitated – the hoof-beat thump of a seasoned warrior filling her chest. Before she could make a decision, before she could swing the sword, the wind blew across her face, and the man turned.

She had seconds to act – seconds!

The blade cut across the air, but it was too late.

She saw his face change first, and then his neck and shoulders. His torso seemed to compress and then shiver, until every rumor she had heard was confirmed at that very moment.

Every story, every tale of his power or his ability – everything was as her mother described. Most girls went their whole lives without seeing a shape-shifter, yet by Aurelia’s age, most women had not seen what she had seen.

The child screamed, and Aurelia swung. The man unfolded and unfurled like smoke, and she heard what she knew to be the flutter of wings. All the stories were true, she thought. He has returned. The Madness had ended twenty years ago with his death, but now he has returned.

With that truth, she doubted if she would live to her twentieth year. And in the seconds that passed, her sword cut through nothing but air. There was no longer anyone where the man had stood. He was now, not one man, but hundreds of fluttering wings, hundreds of screeches flowing up into the sky and away. Her blade passed through a cloud of dark birds as they filled the thin night air. She hacked and hacked to no avail, and for a moment she caught the altar in the corner of her eye. The child was gone, and the night was quiet as still water.

 

 


This excerpt is from The Witch’s Uprising, Book One of A Thousand Watchful Eyes. Read The Witch’s Uprising for free on Wattpad.

For more excerpts and writing Wednesdays, like and follow.

Thanks!

-Curtis

My Reading Week: It’s Monday, What are you reading? #IMWAYR – October 23rd, 2017

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For another monday, I’ve decided to participate in It’s Monday! What are you reading?, which I found through Jen Vincent’s Blog TeachMentorTexts.com, and Kellee’s Unleashing Readers. Jen has children’s literature as the subject for these posts, which she has defined as  “picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit…”  If you’re interested in books appealing to younger crowds, or children’s literature in general, check the links that Jen Vincent provides on her blog. There you will find a list of sites participating. Each separate site has a similar posting with children’s literature titles.

Since I tend to read middle grade and young adult novels for school, and I’m currently writing a young adult novel series and posting previews on Wattpad, my focus will be on the older end of the children’s literature spectrum. With some exceptions, the books I read are typically a little darker or more serious in content than most you would find in intermediate and primary fiction. 

A link to Common Sense Media appears under each book for parents and teachers to assess whether or not the book’s material is appropriate for their children / students.

 

What am I reading?

 

Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli

Reading Status: Looking Forward To This

One of my students gave me this book as a gift, which I always take as a strong endorsement for the book’s quality. In fact, several students have read and enjoyed Stargirl, but I have not yet had the opportunity to read it. At a short 186 pages, Stargirl follows an eleventh grader and the tension between staying unique or becoming “normal.” It’s been quoted on Common Sense Media as a popular book and a “scathing commentary on teenagers.” How interesting! Themes related to nonconformity run throughout the book, which means it will be a great pick for teens.  It’s always nice to see a book that paints social pressure with a full spectrum of colors. I’ll post about it next week, or on YA Friday, if I am finished with it then.

Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli on Common Sense Media


 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology Book Poster Image

Reading Status: Finished.

This is definitely a book that would appeal to young adults, although I’m sure it’s classified as adult fiction/mythology. That’s the funny thing about mythology; the distinctions we build around which audience should read mythology, and at what age,  are blurry at best. Neil Gaiman does a fantastic job of retelling the Norse myths with a contemporary voice. Interestingly enough, there are mixed reviews for this book.

Whenever sacred source material is rewritten, this seems to be the case. Some critics loved it, while others questioned the authenticity of Neil retelling the stories. All in all, this was a quick and gripping read. I recommend it to anyone who loves mythology. Before you hand it to kids, however, please note that it was marketed towards an adult audience. See the CSM link below.

Norse Mythology on Common Sense Media

 


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

 

The Graveyard Book Book Poster Image

Reading Status: Partway through – I’m still reading The Graveyard Book! Here’s a link to my previous post.

The Graveyard Book on Common Sense Media

I seem to have a thing for Neil Gaiman lately…


 

What are you reading?

Please comment or share. The new layout occasionally moves the comment link to the top of the post! Happy Monday!


Follow Curtis on Wattpad: Curtis Teichert on Wattpad

YA FRIDAY: 3 Books to Add to Your Shelf

 

In an earlier post this Monday, I previewed three books: Pax by Sarah Pennypacker, Ghost by Jason Reynolds, and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for IMWAYR.

For this week’s YA Friday, I’d like to keep the tradition of previewing a book I have read, one book that I’m partway through, as well as one that I am looking forward to. If you have read any of these books, please like and comment below, letting us know your thoughts!

Unbroken

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive Book Poster Image

 

Reading Status: Finished

Summary: The young readers edition of Unbroken is a great non-fiction pick for WWII enthusiasts. The book follows the successes and struggles of Louie Zamperini, an olympian and airman during the Second World War.  Laura Hillenbrand recounts his life story, infusing the pages with heart-breaking moments, intriguing factual information, and stories that illuminate the full spectrum of the human condition.

While there are some intense moments for younger readers, this edition is a solid book to add to the YA shelf. I have included a link to Common Sense Media for teachers and parents to review the books content. Unbroken was made into a popular movie, but as my students would say… the book is often better!

Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media Review: Unbroken – Young Adult Edition

Graceling

Graceling Book Poster Image

Reading Status: Partway Through

Summary: Kristin Cashore hooked me with the first 100 pages of Graceling. The main character, Katsa, is a Graceling. Like other Gracelings, society has marginalized her for her abilities and appearance – an apt metaphor for how remarkable women are treated in our society.

All Gracelings excel at a skill or talent. Katsa’s happens to be killing. With this skill, she makes a marvelous assassin and enforcer, but her uncle, the King, uses her. Within the first fifty pages, Katsa begins to question her role in the Kingdom. She meets Po, another Graceling from a privileged part of society. Po is Graced with excellent combat skills. While I am only nearly 100 pages in, I can safely say that have enjoyed every page so far.

Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media Review: Graceling

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial: Magisterium, Book 1 Book Poster Image

Reading Status: Looking forward to!

Summary: 

Callum Hunt has been warned to stay away from magic, yet despite his father’s warnings, he has failed. Callum has “failed at failing” the Iron Trial, opening him for admission to the Magisterium.

As I have not yet started this book, I am very interested your own comments and suggestions. Should I read it? Here’s a delicious quote from the back cover:

“Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.”

Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media: The Iron Trial


If you enjoyed this post or YA Fridays, please like and follow this blog. Share your thoughts in the comment section!

-Curtis

#FantasyFansUnited – Want your audience to grow? Fantasy Fiction Friday # 1

Fantasy Fiction Fridays: #FantasyFansUnited

I know this is published early, but after this week’s coffee question and a responses from WordPress bloggers and Instagram users, I couldn’t help myself.

Paper Palaces will provide a place for Fantasy Fans on WordPress and other platforms to unite, including writers, authors, artists, and other enthusiasts of fantasy fiction, art, and movies.

The goal is to revel in our passion for this genre! Let’s spread the inspiration!

What does that mean, and what’s the difference between this community and others?

Every Friday, I will make a post related to our ever-growing fantasy community on WordPress.

Throughout the week, I also make posts on other Social Media Platforms, using the hashtag: FantasyFansUnited.

I will post links to the highest-quality blogs in this fantasy-loving community, while encouraging the rest of us to do the same.

Who do we welcome?

  • Authors, artists, writers, teachers, readers, book reviewers, and fantasy enthusiasts that write on WordPress and/or other online platforms!
  • Any blogger, Instagram or Twitter user, content creator, and Bookstagram enthusiast

Anyone joining should some interest in any of the following subjects: fantasy fiction, fantasy movies, book reviews and commentary, reading, literature, or fantasy as a genre.

This is just to name a few. If you like fantasy, and you produce or are interested in high-quality content, you should join.


What are the primary interests of this group?

  • Everything fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction
  • Producing and reading high-quality blog posts
  • Building a readership for every blogger that joins
  • Guest-posting on each other’s blogs

What are the benefits and what do we do?

  • As this community grows, your readership will grow.
  • You will get to read high-quality posts
  • You won’t have to sift through the WordPress Reader to find like-minded posts, content, and interesting artwork
  • By posting in this community, your work will be referenced, re-blogged, and visible across other social media platforms

How do you join?

Create your content and include the tag FantasyFansUnited whenever the post relates to the genre of fantasy. If you post on Instagram or Twitter, use the hashtag #FantasyFansUnited.

Add this tag to your reader. It may take some time to populate with posts as we build our community.

I will re-blog and reference our highest-quality posts on WordPress and other Social Media platforms, and I encourage our community to do the same.


What if I want my blog featured, or an author to guest post?

There are two options.

Share your site in the comments section, and I will re-blog or post content on the next Fantasy Fiction Friday after previewing your site. Or, more preferably, use the form on my Coffee Questions Page. By using the form, I can connect you to other creators.


If you like today’s post, please like and follow this blog. Comment with your thoughts below!

Consider joining our community by adding the FantasyFansUnited tag to your WordPress, or by using the same hashtag for your Instagram and Twitter posts.

Thanks!

-Curtis

Photographs of Whitby – Seaside Ruins and Inspiration for a YA Fantasy Series

A few years ago, my fiancé and I traveled to England. Whitby stood out as one of the most picturesque locations I have ever seen in my life. Yorkshire, as a whole, is very beautiful. Here are nine photographs of Whitby that served as inspiration for the novels in my young adult fantasy series A Thousand Watchful Eyes, particularly the serial novella The Staghorn Crown. Clicking the photos will enlarge them.

9 Photos of Whitby that Inspired A Thousand Watchful Eyes, The Witch’s Uprising, and The Staghorn Crown

 

 

(Click to enlarge.)

Have you been to Whitby? Is there a different place that inspires fantastic feelings?

Share in the comments.


Sample chapters of The Witch’s Uprising, the first book of the series inspired by these photos is available to read on Tablo. For more information on this young adult fantasy series, you can see my Books page.

My Reading Week: It’s Monday, What are you reading? #IMWAYR

imwayr

This Monday, I’ve decided to participate in It’s Monday! What are you reading?, which I found through Jen Vincent’s Blog TeachMentorTexts.com, and Kellee’s Unleashing Readers. Jen has children’s literature as the subject for these posts, which she has defined as  “picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit…”

Since I tend to read middle grade and young adult novels for school, and I’m currently writing a young adult novel series, my focus will be on the older end of the children’s literature spectrum.

Therefore, these books are a little darker than most you would find in intermediate and primary fiction.

I suppose this keeps with October’s theme. A link to Common Sense Media appears under each book for parents and teachers to assess whether or not the book’s material is appropriate for their children / students.

If you’re interested in books appealing to younger crowds, or children’s literature in general, check the links that Jen Vincent provides on her blog. There you will find a list of sites participating. Each separate site has a similar posting with children’s literature titles.

What am I reading?

 

Pax by Sarah Pennypacker

 

Image result for pax sara pennypacker

Pax is the youngest book on the spectrum; it is often marketed as an intermediate book. Pax follows a young boy and his fox as the two are separated and trying to find one another. This book blossoms with crisp and descriptive prose, as well as emotional-intelligent character development. From my own experience, the book was true to boyhood. Obviously, that depends on the reader! As Pax and his boy, Peter, find their way in the world, the reader becomes increasingly aware of the personal and inter-personal conflicts involved in the human condition. Peter must form and patch up relationships with adults, while Pax must navigate what it is like to be a domesticated fox released into the wild. The novel alternates perspectives and storylines, creating an unforgettable experience for the reader.

Common Sense Media: Pax by Sarah Pennypacker


 

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost is easy for a sixth grader to read, but I would recommend it to seventh and eighth graders first, purely based on the first chapter. The main character, Castle Cranshaw, experiences a traumatic; he and his mother must run away from his father during a frightening alcoholic episode. This event is referenced in the book; however, most of the book follows him as he goes through the milestones of middle school: joining the track team, finding his place among peers, learning to overcome embarrassment, and running towards the person he wants to be. It’s a great book. I had the opportunity to hear the author, Jason Reynolds speak at a school function. He was phenomenal. Ghost is part Jason Reynold’s Track series.

Common Sense Media: Ghost by Jason Reynolds


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

 

The Graveyard Book Book Poster Image

Neil Gaiman’s prose are deliciously dark and sharp. He pulls no punches, as the book starts with a very creepy murder. If children’s horror is up your alley, look no further! According to my sixth grade students, The Graveyard Book is a great, is a great, imaginative read. I just started it this week, so I can only speak to what I know. Neil Gaiman has impressed me with his other work, and I have no doubt the rest of the book will continue to hook me with every scene.

Common Sense Media: The Graveyard Book


 

What are you reading?

Please comment or share. The new layout occasionally moves the comment link to the top of the post! Happy Monday!