Adrianna Pantano

Why do you write?: I write to express my creativity. I write so I can have a way to let my imagination run wild. When I write for fun, ideas start flowing and I never want to stop because I feel like I should add more and more.

Describe where you write.: Sometimes I write in my bed, otherwise just any other relaxing environment.

Who or what is your muse?: My sister, Nicole

Three wishes . . .: 1. To have a successful career where I am happy doing whatever I am doing. 2. Enough money to build a nice home theater when I am older because I am a movie addict. 3. Have a huge family where everyone is always together and visiting. (Lots of children and grandchildren)

Favorite childhood book, and why?: All the Junie B. Jones books. She was young like I was, and I enjoyed reading about all her different experiences

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: Late at night. Right before I go to bed, I sit and reflect a little about the day, so sometimes new ideas pop into my head.

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: The Great Gatsby!!!! I am a sucker for older books and love stories. Reading about all the things Gatsby did to be with Daisy was incredible and I loved it!!

E-book or print? Why?: Print. I feel more connected to the book if I can physically hold it in my hands. It just feels more natural since that is the traditional way. Also, E-books give me a headache because I am focusing so hard on the screen.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: Happiness. When I write for fun, it is usually something random but positive.

Ari Collier-Waiomia

Why do you write?: I write to improve my grammar and improve my ability to be creative. I also write to remember positive and important memories in my life.

Describe where you write.: My bedroom

Who or what is your muse?: My grandfather, and past events

Three wishes . . .: peace, equality, health

Favorite childhood book, and why?: Mr McGee Goes to Sea by Pamela Allen

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: Middle of the night, so peaceful

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

E-book or print? Why?: Print. I get too easily distracted on electronic devices.

Favorite magazine, and why?: National Geographic as it is very informative.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: Information, and possibly a slight feeling of happiness

Five Minute Friday: Give

Give.  Reading Kate Motaung’s post with the prompt, Give, really leaves a reader a lot to ponder.  To appreciate the good, there is hardship, struggle, unrest, etc.  This is a tough concept to accept.  In the last week, my grandfather-in-law passed from cancer, my husband’s co-worker was killed by a driver under the influence, a friend’s mother passed, my mother was diagnosed with dementia, a dear friend told me her Thanksgiving was spent arguing with her husband, another friend spent the holiday nursing her two kiddos and husband back to health after suffering Type A flu, a loved one in debt, and on and on and on.  With all of this take, the idea of give seems exhausting.

In a sermon last week, Pastor Dennis touched on this same topic in finding the joy in the every day, if even just a smidgen.  Over time these small observances will accumulate into a large acknowledgement of joy.  Thus, he ended his sermon with, “I wish you enough.”

So, this week I plan to trudge on and search for opportunities to give to others so that they, too, may have enough and discover their own inkling of joy.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.   -Luke 6:38


If the thought of wanting a guardian angel has never crossed your mind, believe me, you will want one named Cole after reading young adult author Angela Scott’s ANYONE?.  Set in an apocalyptic America, ANYONE? follows seventeen-year-old Tess as she searches for her father and brother while trying to stay alive amidst ruins and the absence of any inkling of civilization.

Ms. Scott accurately captures the thoughts of this youthful protagonist with the interjection of humor, “I couldn’t believe how out of shape I’d become.  I wasn’t a super athletic person, but I did P.E. every other day at school, which should count for something- all those laps and dodging balls”  (Loc 374-375).

Furthermore, while evaluating the dire situation, Tess’ adolescent reasoning makes sense, “People had left a lot of great things behind, so wherever they went they left in a hurry.  No one leaves Doc Martens and Beatles’  tees behind.  No one”  (Loc 758-759).

While meeting hunky Cole in the local Rite Aid, we learn Cole, too, has a sense of humor when he throws a chocolate bar at Tess’ feet on the assumption her unpleasant attitude could be attributed to premenstrual syndrome, “He removed a candy bar from his pocket and tossed it at my feet.  ‘Look, chocolate.’  Then he turned and took off down the aisle ”  (Loc 1192).

Besides Cole’s sense of humor, he speaks with much wisdom to Tess, “‘Texting?  Why do kids insist on finding ways to be less and less sociable?  Call your friends and actually talk to them, or better yet, write them a note. . . .  Somehow, even without phones, we managed to communicate and meet up at the right places at the right time'”  (Loc 1152-1153).

The allusions found in ANYONE? to other literary works throughout is refreshing with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and, of course, The Hunger Games, two of my favorites.  Not to mention Tess’ claim, “‘Like I said, the book was better.  Books are always better'” (Loc 3448) brings tears of joy to my eyes.

Now, of course, the English teacher within must make note of errors . . .

“to need to me” (Loc 171), eliminate second “to”

“If dad or Toby were alive”  (Loc 393), here “dad” should be capitalized

“He squatted in front on me”  (Loc 962), “of” for “on”

“motel onninth and ninth” (Loc 1060), space between “on” and “ninth”

“of a wide-eyed figure stared through the store window”  (Loc 2306), replace “stared” with “staring”

“A chill still hung in there air”  (Loc 3526), “the” for “there”

And, Cole’s bed is initially introduced as a “queen bed” (Loc 1730), but later referred to as “the huge king-sized bed” (Loc 1905).

All in all, an entertaining read which maintains suspense until the very end and leaves the reader (or at least me) contemplating an angel tattoo of his/her own.


Writing Workshop Wednesdays (17)

With Thanksgiving only a day away, I thought an acrostic writing using the word Thanksgiving would be appropriate for this week’s writing prompt.  What I like about acrostic writing is that it helps those creative juices flow by offering direction and, I believe, the finished product can make even the reluctant writer unleash his/her inner poet.

Tears of joy, not pain

Hugs from others, especially the unexpected ones

Answers to prayers

Novels which make me stay up past my bedtime . . .

Kindness from others and to others

Sassy walk as learned on a Girl Scout field trip


Invitations, unexpected and inclusive of all

Volleyball coaching with a dear friend


Nestled under the covers on a chilly night

Gratitude for all that was,all that is, and all that will be

Be sure and SHARE your acrostic writing in the comments section (especially if you are one of my English 111 students).

An Extra Cheesy Thanksgiving?

Watching my girls’ anticipation of Thanksgiving makes me think of my own Thanksgiving experiences while a child.  I cannot remember a Thanksgiving where my parents were married as they divorced when I was eight.  I can remember the years my dad drove my sister and me to Jackson, Mississippi, for a yearly celebration with my paternal grandma, Zella.  Zella (one of the coolest names I have ever heard to this day) lived with her sister Irene and several little dogs who liked to bite at each other and our dog, Cleo.  Charlie, a Lhaso Apso, I recall as being the worst of the pack.

Every year we would eat the Thanksgiving meal at Cousin Lou’s, Irene’s daughter’s house.  She was a nurse and quite the creative soul.  There were usually piles of projects stacked around the house with one year clay jewelry being her interest of choice.  That year she gave me an emerald green glazed medallion with my name carved on the front which hung from a black velvet rope.  I wore that necklace with much pride for years as it was difficult to find any items with “Courtney” engraved on them, and I now wonder whatever happened to it.

The counters in Cousin Lou’s kitchen were always overflowing with food, but I was a picky eater, so I usually only ate the mashed potatoes and yeasty rolls with butter all the while anticipating dessert and the return to my grandma’s house.  Since we only saw Cousin Lou and her much older children once a year, I did not know anyone while my extreme shyness did not help the situation.

Cousin Lou had three sons and a daughter.  At one point her younger sons became addicted to drugs and robbed my grandmother and great aunt’s house.  My grandmother and great aunt have since passed, and the last time I saw Cousin Lou was when she came to say a final good-bye to my dad when he was dying from cancer.

After my dad remarried, I went solo with him and his wife one Thanksgiving to my stepmother’s brother’s house.  He and his wife at the time were artistic, and as I think back, had an interesting house filled with colorful creative pieces.  I believe my dad was dreading the idea of having to go to their house from the start.  When we arrived, the house was full of people, but the turkey had yet to be put into the oven which meant we would not be eating for several hours.  My dad pulled my stepmother aside, and I overheard him say, “You set me up!”

Within the hour we were driving the streets of St. Louis looking for an open restaurant in which to eat our Thanksgiving meal.  Finding a Pantera’s we ordered pizza, and I ate while they sat in silence.  This, without a doubt, was my most mouth-watering childhood Thanksgiving dinner complete with extra cheese.

Now as an adult, my heart swells at my children’s joy as Thanksgiving nears.  They embrace the stability of a meal comprised of their favorites (as they compose the menu) year after year seated next to their mom and dad.  On this Thanksgiving I wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving filled to the brim with much gratitude and, perhaps, some extra cheese.

Amanda Geiger

Why do you write?: I write to express my feelings through another outlet. In writing, you can relive the moments you write about. In some cases this is a good thing, and in others it is not. I often find myself feeling the same way I felt during that situation after I finish writing. I learn more about myself every time I write.

Describe where you write.: I like to write in Starbucks. I am not sure what it is about the coffee shop, but I focus much easier and accomplish more.

Who or what is your muse?: My little brother is my muse. He often tells how much he misses me and cannot wait to see me. Being only ten years old, I am his role model. Because of that, I want to be the best I can be to set a good example for him.

Three wishes . . .: My first wish would be to know the last name of who I am going to marry. My second wish would be for the safety of who means most to me in life: family and friends. My third wish would be to know when I am going to die so I can accomplish my bucket list before then, and because dying is one of my biggest fears.

Favorite childhood book, and why?: Time for Bed. My parents read it to me most nights before bed. The book wound me down and helped to calm me before going to sleep.

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: My ideal time to write is night. The dark is relaxing and calming, and helps me clear my mind.

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: The Clique series. I am entertained at the amount of drama, and now since I am in college, I can laugh at the pointless high school drama.

E-book or print? Why?: Print. I can only look at a computer screen for so long. A tangible item in your hands also makes it easier to focus.

Favorite magazine, and why?: I do not ever read magazines, but if I had to pick one it would be Seventeen Magazine. I am entertained by the drama with the famous people in the world.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: I would like readers to enjoy and get caught up in my writing. To see how much emotion and effort I put into each word, and appreciate it as much as I do.

Kate Motaung

Why do you write?:  To encourage others in their spiritual walks and to remind readers to keep an eternal perspective. We’re just pilgrims here, passing by on our way to our eternal home.

Describe where you write.:  Depends on the time of the day. Sometimes the library, sometimes Panera. Sometimes at my dining room table, or in the love seat tucked in the corner of my lounge.

Who or what is your muse?:  Other writers whose voices I love, such as Lisa-Jo Baker, Emily Wierenga and Susan Meissner inspire me to be a better writer.

Three wishes . . .:  For my three kids to grow and mature in their relationship with Christ and to trust in Him alone for salvation; that my writing would glorify God, even if only one person is blessed by it; to set my heart on things above, not on earthly things.

Favorite childhood book, and why?:  I remember really loving The Polar Express when my mom read it to my sister and me every year at Christmas time.

Explain when is your ideal time to write.:  Usually after my kids go to bed, when silence permeates the house.

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.:  Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. It challenges me to grow in my spiritual journey every time I read it.

E-book or print? Why?:  I prefer reading print books. There’s just something about holding the words in my hands and turning the pages that makes the reading experience more enjoyable.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?:  My prayer is that they would find hope through the message of the gospel, and be challenged to seek first His kingdom.

Read a review of her book Letters to Grief here.

Five Minute Friday: Notice

Notice.  As a kiddo, it seems to come naturally when one says, “Hey!  Look!  Look what I can do!  See what I drew!  Listen to me read!  Watch me!”  Loving parents, grandparents, adults, siblings, etc. then respond with their full attention in an ideal world.  Children need that reassurance and, I believe, rightfully so.

I wonder why some people think this inner need dissipates as we grow older.  In teaching young adults, I want them to know what they write, think, and say matters.  If a student lingers after class to share with me an idea or e-mails me a short story written in his/her free time, I am elated.  I want them to know I will gladly drop what I am doing because I am interested, and they deserve my full attention.

This feeling of wanting others to know they matter and my taking notice most definitely stems from my adult desire for others to think I matter, too.  Now in my forties, I have learned reassurance and interest from others all but disappears.  People are more apt to criticize, complain, or simply clam up (yes, I embrace alliteration fully) rather than notice.

Today I noticed the man behind me in line at the drive-thru.  He looked like he had a lot on his mind as he was shuffling through some sort of paperwork.  He was driving a minivan, so I assumed perhaps he had children which may mean a full weekend ahead after the close of this work week.  Inspired by a friend’s act of JOYing someone, I decided to treat this man to breakfast anonymously.  Driving away I was smiling because I was hoping this man knew someone took notice of him today.

How will you take the time and show people you notice them today?

Ian Zalewski

Why do you write?:  I write only when I am required to by my teacher in a class. I do not personally do any other form of writing unless it is an essay or paper for an assignment.

Describe where you write.:  I write either in my bed or at my desk in my dorm.

Who or what is your muse?:  The fact that if I do not write well I will receive a poor grade.

Three wishes . . .:  First wish would be to have an infinite amount of money. Second would be to get any girl to fall in love with me. Last wish would be to destroy all diseases in the world.

Favorite childhood book, and why?: Red Wall because it was the only book I read as a child.

Explain when is your ideal time to write.:  My ideal time to write would be anywhere from 5 P.M. until 10 P.M.

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.:  Hunger Games because it has fantastic imagery and second- order writing. It also has a very action- packed plot.

E-book or print? Why?:  Print because I have never used an E- book to read. I just like the feel of a book in my hands.

Favorite magazine, and why?:  Sports Illustrated because I am a big sports fan.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?:  I would like my readers to be able to take away some sort of connection with my writing and joy fom reading it.