Play With Your Words Art Prompt #9: Greeting Card Inspired Writing

I love mid December when the Christmas cards start arriving in the mail. There are so many fabulous card artists and so many beautiful cards.

For your play with your words art prompt, look at the holiday cards you have received (or are planning to send). Select one that inspires you.

Write a story, essay, or poem inspired by your selection.

When done, edit and revise checking that you have used specific nouns and verbs (and of course, making any other corrections or changes you would like).

Show your card and read your piece to your writing partners. Enjoy the wonderful assortment of card inspired writing. Feel free to share your work here for others to enjoy.

Preschool Literacy:

Allow your preschooler to select a card and dictate a story, poem, or his or her thoughts about it. Write down what your child says, and when you are done, read back what he or she has said, pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one to one correspondence between written and spoke word. Attach the writing to the card and post it somewhere in the house where others can enjoy it.

Happy Holidays!

I am taking Christmas break off for family and holiday activities, so this is my last post until after the new year. I pray you have a very merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season. I’ll see you back here Monday, January 3 with the first fiction reading response for 2012.


Wed. 12/14 My Christmas Journal

This year, I am resurrecting something I made long ago, but let languish during my busy years of teaching, and now blogging, writing novels, and searching for an agent—My Christmas Journal.

What is my Christmas Journal?

It is a seven and a half by nine and a quarter-inch binder in which I record a miscellany of information about each Christmas season as it passes. I’ve actually started a second binder because the first one is full. The journal includes the recipes for the cookies I’ve baked and the amount of each type that I baked. At our peak, my kids and I baked a quintuple batch of Nancy Hebel’s Gingerbread Boys and Girls. The following year I made a note: “The mixer can’t possibly handle more than a 5x batch of gingerbread no matter how much you love them.”

I include menus for Christmas breakfasts or Christmas dinners I’ve served including how much of each item I made, or bought, or assigned someone to bring, and whether that was sufficient, not enough, or too much. (I prefer to err on the side of too much.)

I include advice for myself for the next year. For example, only a few years into Christmas journaling, I came up with the good idea that I should spend no more than one night staying up past 10:30 making or wrapping gifts for Christmas during the week before Christmas. Another year, there is a brief “Note to self: get Sharon’s Rocky Road recipe. It’s easy and its good.”

I punch and insert one of each of the Christmas cards I sent each year, as well as really beautiful, or cool, or sweet ones we received—including, of course, hand-made ones from the kids.

I also include a photo or drawing of the Christmas ornament we made each year. I loved to make a variety of ornaments with my kids so they’d have gifts for grandparents, teachers, aunts and uncles, and even now that they’re grown, I can’t resist making ornament gifts for family and friends every Christmas.

There are reading lists. My daughter Gen and I loved Madeleine L’Engles 24 Days Until Christmas. I recommended I begin reading aloud the rest of L’Engle’s Austin family books to her. Sadly, another year there was a note: “Read the Christmas books!”

I sometimes truly journal a page or two about a particular Christmas season. One year I did a page of thanksgivings, another year, after Christmas, a page of what I did right, so I’d remember to do it the next year.

I flip through my old journal and those special times with my kids are fresh before me. I look into the new one to see how many iced Christmas cookies I made last year and whether I should make the same amount this time. Thank goodness I at least recorded that much last year!

There is even an Ode to Tissue Paper, a little ditty I made up because Santa always wrapped my gifts in tissue paper when I was a child and so the crinkle and crunch of tissue paper in my hands is a delight to my spirit.

I can’t wait to decorate my new journal. Then maybe I’ll finally get around to sending out some Christmas cards. Merry Christmas and happy journaling to you!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Genny!

Happiness Is… Fiction Reading Response Exercise #65


Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.


Think about what you have read.


What has made your main character happy in your reading. Is it a person, and event, and object? Write a journal entry from your protagonist’s point of view explaining what made you happy and why.

Preschool Literacy:


Sit down together and read a picture book with your preschooler.


When you have finished your reading, ask your preschooler what made the character in the story happy. Was it another character, something that happened, on some thing?


Talk a bit about what made that main character happy and what makes each of you happy. Enjoy this quiet time together.

Love is the Gift: Santa’s Favorite Story/Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #47

To Think About

In Santa’s Favorite Story, by Hisako Aoki, Santa tells the forest animals about the first Christmas, “when the Christ child came.” He tells the animals, “It is my favorite story because it reminds me why we are so happy at this time of year. Love was the gift God gave to us on the first Christmas, and it still is, you know. And this love is far better than any presents I can ever deliver.”

This is my favorite children’s Christmas picture book. I gave each of my children a copy as a gift, and now I’m hunting down copies for my granddaughters.

What do you think about the Santa in this story and what he said? What are your thoughts and feelings regarding Christmas, gifts, and love?


Write a few paragraphs or a short essay sharing your thoughts on this quote or these topics.


When done, share what you’ve written with your writing partners. Compliment one another on the clarity, strength, and fluidity of your writing. Please feel free to share as comment.

Best book in November + NaNo Confession

Best book in November

Wow! A whole week into December and I’m just now getting to my best book of November post. While I enjoyed many books this month—Shadow Over Kiriath by Karen Hancock, Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip, and (a beloved December favorite—read early this year) Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge, my favorite read this month was Tony Hays’ The Killing Way, a murder mystery set in the court of King Arthur.

I learned of this book over a year ago from an editor at the Willamette Writer’s Conference. Having been a long time lover of all things King Arthur and a fairly recent convert to the mystery genre, I knew when the book came out I would need to hunt it down and read it. The Killing Way did not disappoint. A novel with a decidedly historical, Celtic setting, it was not just a mystery that happened to take place in King Arthur’s court, but story of the deeply personal struggle of one of his warrior’s and a crime that could potentially derail Arthur’s reign. I very much enjoyed this book and recommend it.

NaNo Confession

And now it’s sad confession time… I wrote my 13,000 words for NaNoWriMo, thoroughly enjoyed doing so, and quit. Starting a new job, I discovered is not a wise commitment to mix with the NaNoWriMo endeavor. Something had to give and, content with the start of a novel that would have been nowhere near finished at the 50,000 word mark, I decided to set it aside. It remains a story I am eager to tell, but one I am not equipped to invest in at this time.

So, NaNoWriMo was fun. I would like to take a crack at it some less complicated November, and I definitely will return to the novel I began. Just not today.

A Focus on Setting: Fiction Reading Response Exercise #64

Read: for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Think: about what you have read.

Reflect: Go ahead and look back over what you have read. Make a list of words and phrases from your reading that helped you imagine what the setting was like.

Discuss: your responses with your reading partners.

Preschool Literacy:

Read: a picture book with your preschooler. Flip back through the pages when you are done.

Ask: Get out a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Ask him or her to tell you words to describe where the story took place. Write them down in list form.

Create: Read the list back to the child pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one to one correspondence between written and spoke word. Then get out art materials and make a picture of where the story took place.