Tag Archives: Teachers Write

I am Only One Person

This poem is directly inspired by the Teachers Write! prompt on Jo Knowles’ blog, and in reflection on the tragic events of the past week.

One Person

I’m only one person, but I can…
at each passerby, every person in line
White or black,
Or any hue


I’m only one person, but I can…
for and with each family whose loss
Is their whole world
In a single moment


I’m only one person, but I can…
my blood, each part used
To replenish, sustain, heal
Bodies of humanity


I’m only one person, but I can…
my two children to love thy neighbor
Do what Jesus did
Accept, forgive, sacrifice.


I’m only one person, but I can…
Bear witness
to the pain I know others suffer
Because people are not listening
Nor believing it is real


I’m only one person, but I can…
for courage to fight for equality
And unity
For the world


I’m only one person, but I can…
I can…
I can…
I can…


(c) Wendy Scalfaro, 2016. Al rights reserved.


Filed under Poetry

Exploring Doodling Again

Teachers Write never ceases to amaze and surprise me. Today on Kate Messner’s blog,  guest author Elizabeth Dahl explains how she became a writer, and how doodling while writing helped her with that process. She challenged us to give it a try. I have to admit, this is one of the hardest exercises I’ve tried this summer. I was an art major way back when, but quickly changed my major when I realized I could not compete with those more talented than I am. When I set out to doodle today, I couldn’t do it… at first. Then, just like with writing on that blank white page, I started and before I knew it, I was lost in the creative process. What I produced is not extraordinary by any means, but it was fun to do! So much so, in fact, that I plan to doodle as much as possible from this point on. Who knows, maybe I’ll one day illustrate a book (yeah, ok).

Anyway, here are my efforts from today. What do you think?

(c) 2015 W. Scalfaro. All rights reserved.


IMG_20150727_164619018 IMG_20150727_164624707


Filed under Fiction, Inspiration, Writing

Exploring Setting from Different Points of View

Author Elana K. Arnold presented the Tuesday Quick-Write on Kate Messner’s blog today. She had us shift points of view and describe the same setting. Here are my descriptions. They’re very rough. I have not worked extensively on any of them, and have not spent time editing them.

A description of my surroundings

I live on a corner, where one street is busy and the other is a side street. We have weeds – which we call alien plants because they grow so quickly – bordering the property line on one side. The birds love these weeds because they can hide in them. Our neighbor behind us mows his law a couple times a week, and is precise about where his (unmarked) boundary is. He’s planted a shrub – possibly a lilac – on the side. Across the street is a young motor head. He fixes cars in his driveway. His next door neighbors hate him and spy on his constantly. We all jockey for a parking position on the street because no one likes these neighbors.


The same surroundings, now from the POV of a lost six year-old child. 

I don’t know this neighborhood. How did I get here? The streets are strange. There’s a dog barking somewhere. I hope I don’t see it, or if I do, I hope it’s friendly. Should I go to someone’s house and tell them I’m lost? There’s no one outside, so I don’t know if anyone is home. There’s a motorcycle parked in front of this house. Cool! My mother said never to go near anyone with a motorcycle because they make bad decisions. Some houses have nice yards. Oh, there’s the dog. He’s a huge, black, furry dog! And he’s barking a deep booming bark. I’m not going near him! Now I see a lady with two kids. Mom always said that if I got lost, to find another mom and ask for help. I’ll go ask because she looks nice.


The same surroundings, now from the POV of a housecat. 

Ah, I love it out here. I think I’ll just creep under these bushes and wait for the birds. It’s dark and cool under here. What’s that? Oh, a bug crawling over the stones. I’ll just watch for a while. Maybe give it a good sniff. I’ll try smacking it with my paw. Here come the birds. They don’t know I’m here. I’ll watch them preen and chirp. Hey! They’re flying away! Oh, it’s the woman and her two kids. They scared the birds away. I think I’ll take a nap now.


The same surroundings, now from the POV of aa fifteen year-old whose parents are divorcing.

I’ve always hated this place, now I hate it even more. Dad’s leaving. Figures. I have to stay here with Mom. Not that it matters. She’s never here anyway. NONE of my friends live around here. Dad used to take me everywhere because he works from home. From this home. House. It’s not really a home. And this neighborhood is not really neighborly. Bunch of old people, or people with little kids. They always look at me funny, like they’re afraid of me or something. Like I’m gonna hurt anyone. I’m too puny anyway. All I have is this stupid skateboard. That doesn’t get me very far. And the stupid sidewalks around here are all cracked and broken. There’s parts where the tree roots have pushed sections of sidewalk up. I have to stop when I get to them. Or I could ride in the street, like I see everyone else doing. Mom would have a fit if she saw me do that. Too bad. I’m going down this person’s driveway. The yard is up so high that the apron of the driveway is a ramp. I put my earbuds in and crank up Eminem. I’ll get a good start on that and just ride down the street, away from this house.


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Filed under Fiction, Inspiration, Writing

A Rhyming Poem

Today on Kate Messner’s blog, author Liz Garton Scanlon gave a Teachers Write mini-lesson on rhyming poems. Here’s my attempt at completing the assignment.

On Display

The circle widens as more people come
A crowd such as this I would not find at home

Children are screaming and running amok
America passes by along the sidewalk

The rumble and roar of Harleys overpowers
The weather report does not call for showers

“Lemonade!” the girls shout from their homemade stand
Salesmen stroll by with light up toys in hand

No mosquitoes but June bugs hover ‘round trees
Overhead brown bats swoop in for a free meal

Then all grows still ‘cept for ahs and ooos
As fireworks burst forth into glorious blooms

(c) 2015, Wendy Scalfaro. All rights reserved.


Filed under Poetry, Writing

An Interview with one of My Antagonists

In today’s lesson Teachers Write on Kate Messner’s blog, author Tracey Baptiste explores Voice. Two of the exercises have us become one of our characters and answer interview questions, and then flip the switch and become the opposite of that character and answer the same questions. Here is what I wrote as a result.


Exercise 2: Becoming Your Character

I love my country more than anything else. I hate anyone who makes me out to be anti-American, or not loyal to my country. I am jealous of anyone who has a higher status than I do. If I could do anything, I would convince my husband to ask for a promotion at work, so we could buy a nicer home. My biggest secret is that my mother hated this country. She never wanted to leave Germany, and so she never learned to speak English. I was teased by other children because of her; Therefore I did not love her.

Exercise 3: Flip the Switch

I love my family more than anything else. I hate when people are teased or called out for being Anti-American, when they have given their whole lives to pulling their own weight in America and building a life their ancestors would be proud of. I’m jealous of women who can have more children. If I could do anything, I would have my husband take more vacation time so we could go to the shore.

These exercises helped in that I was totally surprised by Mrs. Schmidt’s biggest secret. I had no idea!

Try these exercises and see what your characters reveal to you.

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Filed under Fiction, Inspiration, Writing

A Character Sketch

Here’s the character sketch I wrote today, in response to the mini-lesson from Melanie Crowder on Kate Messner’s blog for Teachers Write.

This is my protagonist.

Lily, age 12, has two items in her possession: the book, The Secret Garden and her doll, Molly. Lily’s mother made the doll, and it was the one item they made sure she had when they left their apartment for the last time. Molly represents love and safety for Lily, which is especially important because Lily ends up in an orphanage. She has the doll with her as much as possible, or she has her in a safe place where she can retrieve her when she needs her. The Secret Garden is another representation of love, but the nurturing kind that Lily can give. It’s also her source of strength and determination to go on, and helps her understand the world around her.

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Filed under Fiction, Inspiration, Writing

A Quick Poem about my WIP

This “poem” is the result of a prompt from Jo Knowles’ blog for Teachers Write.

Age 12,
a child growing up during WWI.
Her desperate mother,
places her in the care of a cruel woman,
who dumps her in an orphanage.
Feeling torn away from her mother,
she nonetheless
does as she’s told.
She finds solace in nurturing her garden,
kindness from a loving nun,
and a friendship,
that challenges boundaries.
Until a tragedy opens the door to freedom,
but makes her question what really matters.

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Filed under Fiction, Inspiration, Poetry, Writing

Time to Get Moving!

Thanksgiving morning, 2012 I woke up to a revelation. I had been “thinking about” writing a novel (based on my grandmother’s childhood spent in a Catholic orphanage) for several years. I’d been thinking and planning, and thinking some more, but not doing any writing. So, that fall morning, I had this realization – If I had started writing this novel a year ago, then I’d be a year further along. Duh!

And so I began…

to research.

In order to start writing, I knew I had to do a bit of looking at the time period (1918-1919) in order to get a feel for it, before I could begin to form a story. I went back and looked at my grandmother’s genealogy notes that I had collected over the years. I delved into websites, books, and articles. I read and took notes until…well, until I really had to get my butt moving and write!

Then along came Teachers Write! This wonderful virtual summer “camp” is the catalyst that got me really believing that I could do this writing thing. Although I first “enrolled” in the summer of 2012, I was only a lurker. But when founder and children’s author Kate Messner tweeted about the 2013 camp, I jumped right in. I haven’t looked back.

Undoubtedly the most beneficial part of TW for me has been Friday Feedback with author Gae Polisner. She and her invited author friends provide critiques of participants’ writing pieces. They’re helpful, supportive, friendly, and encouraging. I was never so sad to see summer end.

And then…

And then at the end of the camp’s session, Gae offered to continue Friday Feedback on a monthly basis! Talk about generous.

Regardless of her offer, I didn’t participate immediately. I got caught up in getting back to school and into a new-old routine. My own children began their sports activities for the season, and Mommy Taxi (AKA I have no time for myself) started up gain. It took me until this past Friday to get going.

At the end of 2013, I knew I would come up with my writing goals for the new year, and that I would actually write them down. And I did.

As a matter of public record here is my major writing goal for 2014:


In order to achieve this major goal, I needed to identify minor goals as building blocks.

This goal is probably the most difficult for me to meet. I always have good intentions, mostly to get up earlier each morning, get ready for work, and then sit down to write. I recognize that I can’t always do that (due to personal or professional demands), but I always attempt it. Maybe the writing gets done in the morning, maybe during lunch, maybe at night. Or maybe, like my first excerpt submitted to Friday Feedback on 1/10/14, in five-minute increments between requests from my husband and children. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing, and I know myself well enough that if I don’t feel like doing something, it ain’t getting done! So, in those instances, I read or do more research instead.

Goal number one above directly impacts my ability to achieve goal number two. I’m always cognizant of this. Even if Gae is not able to host FF, I still have this monthly goal in the back of my mind. It’s very motivating. Therefore I write…

More writing. Always more writing. In meeting this goal (as vague as it is), I’m actively working at my craft (and maybe even inspiring others to do the same).

So, there it is. This is the first year I’ve actually put my goals in writing. I believe this is the first year I will accomplish what I had in my mind to do.

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Filed under Inspiration, Uncategorized, Writing