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Reading Partners Books + Tweet Tales Week 246

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably heard me mention Reading Partners a couple (of hundred) times because I think it’s such a great organization (learn more about it here). They pair volunteers with students who are reading significantly below grade level for two hours a week to follow a super easy curriculum. This is my fifth year tutoring, and not only is it a lot of fun, it achieves real results. 
 
In fact, I’ve been on cloud nine this week because my fifth grade student had her midyear testing on Monday, and she went up over a grade and a half! That’s a huge improvement in just three and a half months. She’s almost at grade level now, and I’m so, so, so proud of her!
 
As Christmas approached this year, several things came together to spark an idea.
 
1. Sometimes when I mention Reading Partners on Facebook, friends who live in areas without RP comment that they wish they had one so they could volunteer too.
 
2. One of the cool things RP does is called Take Reading Home. When the kids start, they are given a book to keep, and once they read it and bring back a completed worksheet about the book, they get to take home another book. This helps them build a home library, which improves their reading skills.  
 
3. My siblings use Amazon wish lists to direct the rest of the family on proper gift items, so I’d been perusing them to decide what to get my sibs.
 
Anyway, I noticed it was getting to be pretty slim pickings in the Take Reading Home library - like the leftover books no one bought back in the 70s or something - and I figured my friends who wanted to volunteer might donate books instead, but how could I make it easy?
 
Boom!! That’s when it hit me! So I created an Amazon wish list with some of the books the students enjoy the most, and then I posted the link to Facebook and Twitter and hoped for the best. 
 
Two days later, three packages of books arrived at my house. I’m not gonna lie, I totally cried. And the packages kept coming over the next month! Since it was right before Christmas, there were often multiple deliveries per day. I’m sure the UPS drivers hated me, but it was so worth it. Opening all of those beautiful, beautiful boxes of books was like having Christmas for several weeks straight.
 
One of my friends even shared the link on her own FB page, and HER friends sent me books. Y’all, complete strangers sent me books to give to kids, which is too awesome! 
 
When I started this adventure, I figured I’d get about twenty books. And I would have been thrilled with that. Instead I got … are you ready for it … because it’s pretty amazing … a grand total of 95 books!! Yes, 95!!! 95 books that low-income kids get to take home and call their very own. Books that will help them become better readers and improve their lives in so many ways. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Sandra, Anne, Laura, Jenn, Rebecca, the Glazer family, Jill, Uyen & VW, the Brokes family, Joanna, Lisa, Nikki, Nadine, and an anonymous donor for helping me with this project. I am blown away by your generosity and so very grateful!
Reading Partners Names
My local chapter of Reading Partners is also very excited by this. They have asked me to put together an article explaining what I did including step-by-step instructions for creating a wish list so that the national office can share it with all their volunteers. Can you imagine how many kids will be helped if other volunteers have similar success? Although I know none of them will be as successful as me because I have the best friends. The very best. (said in my Donald Trump voice). 
 
I wanted a fun way to say thank you, so I decided to spell out THANK YOU! with all the books you donated. And there were so many books that there were some left over to kinda sorta make a smiley face!
Thank you
It looks a little lopsided because when it was done it was so big that even standing on the very top of the ladder I couldn't fit it into the camera frame. Instead I had to use the pano feature, which is tough to keep straight while standing on a wobbly ladder.
 
This is me testing things out and realizing there might possibly be a sizing challenge.
Taking picture
Here I am trying to take the picture with my arms stretched as high as they'll go and my dad trying to make sure I didn't fall off the ladder and die. You can see how successful I was at aiming when I couldn't see anything.
Top of ladder
Me trying to be cool as I say "Thank you!"
Thank  you!
Me trying waaaay too hard to be cool as I say "Thank you!"
Thank you!
And here are a few pics to give you an idea of what 95 books looks like. 
 
These are the books sorted into piles of similar books. The National Geographic for Kids was the most popular with Dr. Seuss and Amelia Bedelia as the runners up. 
Sorting books
Boxes of books waiting to be unpacked in the Reading Partners trailer. 
Boxes of books
Another view of boxes of books in the Reading Partners trailer.
Reading Partners trailer
But as much fun as those pictures are, this one is by far the best ...
Jocelyn and student
This is my second grade student, who was so excited about the new books that it was tough to get her to go back to class. And I hope the look on her face says "thank you!" better than my words ever could.
 
The kids always need new books, so if you still want to donate, I'm going to leave my wish list up all year - click here to see it.
 
15 Minute Tweet TalesI'm also going to squeeze in my 15 Minute Tweet Tales word here at the end.
 
buccula - a person's double chin; excess skin and fat under the chin; literally a "little cheek" beneath the chin. 
 
1/24 - The buccula that jiggles when he talks is not as disgusting as the words coming out of his mouth, but both make me want to punch him. 
 
Is Reading Partners in your area? Have you volunteered with a literacy group? Does my student's happy face make you smile? Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 245

15 Minute Tweet TalesI had my nose to the grindstone this week because I was working on three different grant applications for various projects. As per usual, I was working on them until the very last minute. I know it’s not the best way to function, but I work so much better under pressure, so there ya go. I’m excited about all three of the projects, so fingers crossed at least one of them gets funded! And now that all three of the applications are turned in, I have no more excuses for not starting my latest revision of my MG WIP. Oops, better get to work!
 
But first, here’s this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales word:
 
aphthong - silent letters; letter(s) employed in spelling a word but not pronounced, like the 'k' in 'know' and the ‘p’ in ‘psychology.’ 
 
OK, before my tweet tale – how weird is this word?!? That’s a lot of consonants shoved together. I looked up how to pronounce it, and I’m still not sure I’d be able to drop it into conversation without embarrassing myself. And now for the tweet tale:
 
1/17 - She wonders why people giggle when she says she has pneumonia until sister snaps: the 'p' is an aphthong, you don't have poo-neumonia!
 
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 244

Last week when the meteorologists started talking about snow in South Carolina, my ears perked up. While I HATE the cold, I do love to play in the snow. But of course, as usual, the snow was only going to be in the Upstate, not here in the Lowcountry. So I was a sad panda. 
 
Then I found out my brother was going up to visit my sister to film some of their Ask Doctor Jo videos. Hmmm, I thought, my brother’s house is about halfway between me and potential snow country … and a plan was formed. I packed the warmest clothes I owned, jumped in the car, and drove to my brother’s where I hitched a ride as he drove us the rest of the way to my sister’s. 
 
We had a great weekend of sibling bonding – we ate yummy food, we watched silly movies (of course the dog-loving siblings watched The Secret Life of Pets), and we played in the snow. 
 
They were originally calling for 4-6 inches, but I think it was only about an inch, maybe two. And it wasn’t the sticky kind, so we couldn’t make even a baby snowman, but we still had fun romping in the snow with the dogs. 
Rish siblings in the snow
Joanna with dogs
Brian with the pups in the snow
Jocelyn in the snow
 
15 Minute Tweet TalesAnd now for this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales word:
 
aglet - a metal or plastic tag or sheath at the end of a lace used for tying, like a shoelace.
 
1/10 - When she comes home, all his stuff is gone. Was he ever really there? An aglet from his sneaker is the only proof she didn't imagine him.
 
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 243 + Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Freya and I both hope your 2017 is off to a wonderful start!
Happy New Year Freya
I know, I know, it’s been too long since I posted. Over three months in fact. Yikes! And my tweet tales have mysteriously disappeared from Twitter. Oops! It’s funny, when I was doing a tweet tale every day, I never missed a day in four years, but when I shifted to once a week, I was often a day or two late until I just … stopped. I guess it’s easier to maintain a habit when it’s an everyday thing.
 
Anyway, I didn’t intend to stop blogging or posting tweet tales. But my September got crazy (all good things - a writing retreat, travelling to visit family, various projects) so I ended up missing a week. And then another week. And then I decided I needed an extra awesome post to make up for those missing posts but didn’t have time to do an extra awesome post. And then as the weeks passed, I thought I needed to do tweet tales for all the missing weeks in one post to break even but that seemed so daunting that I never sat down to do it. Next thing I knew, it was Thanksgiving and all the holiday chaos started. So at that point I decided to quit stressing about it and start with a clean slate in 2017. So here I am! 
 
I got a book from my parents for my birthday called THE WEIRD WORLD OF WORDS (by Mitchell Symons), so I’m pulling words from there for this year’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales. Let’s start off the New Year with:
 
15 Minute Tweet Talesadelaster - meaning ‘unknown star’ in Greek, this is the name given to newly discovered plants awaiting classification by botanists. 
 
1/3 - She clutches the adelaster she found to her chest, certain it'll bring her acclaim. Just funny-looking poison ivy, only brings a rash. 
 
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 242

15 Minute Tweet TalesLate again! I’m getting ready to go out of town for a writing retreat, so I forgot about my 15 Minutes Tweet Tales post. Oops! But if I haven’t gone to sleep yet, isn’t it still technically Tuesday? Anyway, here’s this week’s word:
 
sobremesa - time spent at the table after eating, talking and sharing stories.
 
9/13 - The meal was so incredible, the guests so delightful, that the sobremesa lasted for hours, creating two couples & a business partnership.
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 241

Oops! Because of the Labor Day weekend, I totally forgot today was Tuesday, so I’m super late with my 15 Minute Tweet Tales post. To make up for it, I’m including a bunch of pictures of the dogs from the family gathering at the lake this weekend.
 
This isn't a great pic, but it makes me laugh because it looks like Remy is getting sick. Turns out she loves the boat. 
Remy getting "sick"
 
But she hates the car (and often does get sick), so when my brother puts on her harness to leave, she looks miserable. Don't worry, that's lake water on the couch, not something gross.
Scared Remy
 
To get to the lake, my sister's dogs traveled in a taco. Kali was not amused. 
Bear and Kali taco
 
Kali was also not amused when I asked her for a kiss.
Give me a kiss
 
But then she changed her mind.
OK, I'll kiss you
 
Remy and Kali are happy to finally be swimming.
Happy pups
 
And Bear is happy to be jumping.
Bear jumping
 
I'm worn out, so I'm catching a ride.
Catching a ride
 
Time to dry off.
Drying Remy
 
Chloe, Remy, and Freya are super sleepy, and I love the doggie cuddles.
Pooped Pups
 
 
15 Minute Tweet TalesAnd now for the #15tt part of this post:
 
philocaly - love of beauty.
 
9/7 - Because of his philocaly, he tries to become a fashion photog but gets so nervous around the models he drops his camera. Repeatedly.
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 240

15 Minute Tweet TalesRunning late today, so I’m keeping it short and sweet with this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales post.
 
nubivagant - wandering in the clouds; moving through the air. 
 
8/24 - Hiking, I tumble off a cliff. Sprawled at bottom, unable to move. No help coming. Watch nubivagant birds, ready for my soul to join them.
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 239

15 Minute Tweet Tales

Y’all, I’m having Olympics withdrawal. Even though I might possibly be the most un-athletic person on the planet, I’m a total sucker for the Olympics. But in the lead up to Rio, I was pretty blah. Partly because of all the anticipated problems, and partly because I had a lot of writing stuff keeping me crazy busy. But on the night of the opening ceremony, as soon as NBC started playing Leo Arnaud "Bugler's Dream" I was ALL IN! For the next two weeks, my evenings were spent glued to the TV, watching the athletes do impossible things. 
 
So now that it’s over, I’m feeling a bit bereft. And as usual after an Olympics, I pondered finally getting in shape. And then I laughed so hard I sprained something. See! I’m REALLY out of shape. But thank you to all the athletes for inspiring me for the past two weeks. My passion is not sport, but their passion makes me want to be better at what I do, so it’s time to get back to writing, and first up on deck is this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales
 
froward - willfully contrary; not easily managed. 
 
8/23 - She gets so frustrated with her froward dog, but when he jumps the fence to save her from a coyote, she's glad he ignores boundaries.
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 237 AND 238

Well, for the first time in the four and a half years I’ve been doing 15 Minute Tweet Tales, I missed posting a blog about it last week. There were a lot of things contributing to this guilt-inducing lapse, but the biggest was that I was out of town. But I was out of town for a super cool reason. 
 
Last Saturday (8/6), Greenville, SC, hosted its first ReadUp Festival, a fabulous event dedicated to YA/MG books and authors. Since my sister lives in Greenville, I had a place to stay, so I decided to drive up there to attend the festival and then spend a few days hanging out with her. So fun!
Book Dress
In my book-ish dress, ready for a book-ish day!
 
The festival was amazing! If I hadn’t known, I never would have guessed it was the first year. They had an incredible lineup of authors, with headliners like Jay Asher, Maggie Stiefvater, and Stephanie Perkins. There were lively panels on a variety of interesting topics, and everything seemed to run so, so smoothly. They even had free ice cream in all kinds of flavors when the day got especially hot and sticky!
 
Since it was the first year, the crowd was smaller than something like YALLFest (which I love!), but that actually made it feel more intimate. YALLFest is now like a rock concert in a sold out mega-stadium, whereas ReadUp felt more like a band playing at a coffee house. And guess how super-introverted me prefers to listen to live music? The vibe at the panels felt like you were hanging out with the authors, which I think was a cool experience for everyone in the audience. 
Maggie Stiefvater and Jocelyn Rish
Just "hanging out" with Maggie Stiefvater
 
The smaller feel also let me catch up with authors I’ve met over the years without feeling like too much of a stalker. Because of events through SCBWI-Carolinas, I’ve gotten to know Megan Miranda, Beth Revis, and Carrie Ryan, and I’m sure it makes me sound like a dork, but I totally feel like part of the cool-people writing club getting hugs from those immensely talented ladies. I also got to see and/or chat with a bunch of the awesome authors I interviewed at YALLFest for MTV, like Susane Colasanti, Brendan Reichs, Ryan Graudin, and Renee Ahdieh.
ReadUp Festival panel
ReadUp Festival panel
My two favorite panels at the ReadUp Festival
 
But as cool as all of that was, by far the coolest part of the day was meeting Facebook friend Emily Colin in person. We “met” a few months ago when Emily wrote a blog post about Rebecca Petruck forcing her critique group (i.e. ME!) to eat bugs, and like all people I meet via Rebecca, Emily is awesome. While we were chatting, we first discovered we both went to Duke. Then we discovered we graduated the same year. THEN we figured out we lived in the same freshman dorm. AND we had the same major!!! The similarities we kept uncovering almost became creepy. But with so many ways we should have run into each other, neither of us remembers ever seeing the other. It's almost like we went out of our way to never meet at Duke to then meet each other mumble-ty something years later at a YA book festival. Go Blue Devils!
Emily Colin and Jocelyn Rish
Emily and Jocelyn: Duke twins who never actually met
 
Kudos to everyone involved with bringing the ReadUp Festival to life! As a reader and a writer, I had a fantastic day immersing myself in the world of YA and MG books and chatting with old and new friends. 
 
And now it’s time for 15 Minute Tweet Tales. Since I was such a slacker last week, I’ll do two for this week to make up for it. 
 
Last week:
 
lethologica - the inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word.
 
15 Minute Tweet Tales
8/9 - It started as forgetting a name now and then, but once lethologica dominated most conversations, her son sadly took her to the doctor. 
 
This week:
 
guttitim – drop by drop.
 
8/16 - The coffee falls guttitim,
but it's not enough to save him.
He demands his eggs sunny-side up;
she smashes his head w/ her empty cup.
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 233

Despite my 15 Minute Tweet Tales story below, I did actually have to go outside today. It felt like this:
I'm melting...
 
So I’m just going to post the word and tale and get myself some ice water. Stay cool, y’all!
 
15 Minute Tweet Talesestivate - to spend the summer at a specific place or in a certain activity; to spend a hot, dry season in an inactive, dormant state, as certain reptiles, snails, insects, and small mammals.
 
7/12 - With temps hanging out around 103, I'm just gonna estivate inside. I'm only cracking the door to shoo the pups out to potty. #truestory
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?