Thursday, July 9, 2020

Wee-Sources: Writer's Retreats!

Or as I say here in my Wee Words World:
Writer's Wee-Treats!

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

Writing IS hard, but not TOO hard if you do it in community.

You won't understand the unabashed power of a community until you are a part of one.

Community has more meaning now than ever before. And being a world away from my family and friends, I appreciate any community I can connect with. Bonus points, when it aligns with my passion for writing!

πŸ’– Enter, Poetry Friday!

Poetry Friday is a free weekly online gathering of poetry writers, readers, educators, anybody! Poet extraordinaire, Renee LaTulippe at No Water River, gives the best explanation of what Poetry Friday is and who can participate (everyone!) and how.

This week's Poetry Friday hostess is Ruth at There is no such thing as a God for-saken town.

This week's Wee-Source post is a curated list of 'writing in community' opportunities to keep your writing mojo rolling through the summer and beyond...

(All of the following Wee-Sources involve some kind of fee to participate, but I am receiving NO compensation for featuring them here. I just found them interesting and wanted to share. Sign up at your own risk.)

πŸ’– Many of us are teachers and ALL of us are dealing with Covid restrictions so the good peeps at Teach Write, LLC have got you covered on how you can keep going with your writing at a safe distance with their Teach Write Academy.

There are multiple workshop opportunities there, but the one that interested me the most was the monthly Time to Write!: An Online Writing Workshop for Teacher-Writers. Their motto is "Together We Write Better". For a small fee you join a weekly session over the course of a month that will give you community and accountability in a safe (on multiple levels) on-line environment with other teacher writers. There are multiple times to choose from so as to fit your individual schedule. The times are a little tricky for me here in Switzerland, but I think I might try to join an August session. Will you join me?

πŸ’– A name that is synonymous with children's writing AND community is Highlights Foundation.

Nestled in glorious northeastern Pennsylvania, Highlights is an amazing Wee-Source for children's writing retreats. I participated in a Highlights Poetry workshop back in 2012 where I was awestruck by met many Poetry Friday peeps. It was a life changing experience.

Right now Highlights is offering multiple workshops on a variety of children's writing subjects. And let me tell you, October is the month for children's poetry! Right now they are advertising on-site offerings. But as the Covid world evolves, that may change.

For those of us who can't travel to Highlights, they just announced another online treat:  Meditations for Writers & Illustrators: An On Demand Course that will be starting next week. A whole list of online offerings are here. The awesomeness never ends!

Poet/author extraordinaire, Laura Shovan, reminded me that Highlights also recently reopened for Unworkshops where you can use their gorgeous facility and dining services as an unstructured writing retreat getaway. All the information on Unworkshops is HERE.

πŸ’– Another name synonymous with the best of the best of children's writing is the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators or SCBWI for short.

In the age of Covid, SCBWI has made the decision to hold all of their programs exclusively online. That means, no matter where you are in the world, you can participate in an SCBWI event! No planes, no hotels, no time off work! You just need to pay a participation fee, wear your best pajamas/sweats, and drink your steaming cup of tea while you learn from the masters! Speaking of masters, Linda Sue Park is the keynote speaker for the Indiana region's conference: Diversity Day: Writing Outside Your Lane on Saturday 12 September.  There is a price difference between member and non-member, but either way, SCBWI events are an incredible value. And, many make available a recording of the event for registered participants after the event is over. Perfect if you are in another timezone! Check out all the Regional Webinars here.

πŸ’– And if you want to be a part of the most amazing writing community on the planet, look into the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) program at Hamline University. 

I am proud to be an alumna and even prouder to be presenting my webinar: Poetic License: Road Tested Methods for Adding Poetry to Your WIP for High-Octane Reader Benefit to my fellow alumni this weekend! Utilizing my Language Learning education and experience, my webinar is about how to infuse poetic elements into your writing for not only reader enjoyment/engagement, but also for huge language learning benefits. I gave a different version of this talk back in April through SCBWI-Switzerland. I'm happy to say I got to know some wonderfully supportive and talented writers from all over the world through that experience - a shout out to Elisabeth in Switzerland and Kathy in California!
Contact me if you'd like me to share my webinar with your organization.

As more 'writing in community' Wee-Sources come through my inbox, I will share them with you, dear Weaders. Please contact me direct (bridgetatbridgetmageedotcom) if you know of or are involved in an opportunity you'd like to share. I'd be happy to feature you/it on my blog!

πŸ’– THANK YOU to Tabatha who shared the following additional writing retreat Wee-Sources:

I have the BEST Weaders. πŸ’“

Enjoy today's acrostic poem and its central message...(see what I did there?)

                at the centeR
                 of my desirE to
                              wriTe better
                        is the uRge to
                               for A
©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Fun With Languages Wee-Sources

GrΓΌezi mitenand!  
(In Swiss German that translates to "Hello everyone!") 

Since arriving in Switzerland just about 3 years ago we have been on a relentless journey toward German language acquisition. We live in central Switzerland where Swiss German is primarily spoken. (Actually Swiss German is a spoken dialect - think Cajun English - but High German is the written form.) Switzerland is unique in that they have four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Notice how English is not one of those? Yeah, the Swiss generally are fluent in English as a second (or third or fourth!) language, but you would be hard pressed to find a Swiss person who will initiate an interaction in English - especially if they assume you are Swiss. 

In the spirit of learning a new language at I remember what it was like to not be able to take the phone into the bathroom years-old, today I share with you Fun With Languages Wee-Sources

Even before leaving Arizona, we started taking German classes. (Shout out to the UofA grad student from Germany, Patrick, who could not believe we knew absolutely no German yet were moving to Switzerland.) And since the first month we arrived, we have been taking nonstop German classes with varying degrees of success. I can honestly say that my speaking and listening skills are at the level of a toddler, and my reading and writing skills are about at a grade 1 level. I am beyond proud of that last statement. πŸ˜ƒ

One Wee-Source I use daily is the Duolingo app on my phone.

In fact, I am up to 462 days in a row!
Some of the sentences I learn on Duolingo are helpful, like:

 Because you know, pants. In our present world reality wearing pants represents a bit of achievement some days...

But then some sentences are not so helpful:

But I have to say NOTHING is more satisfying than that melodic *ding* when you get a correct answer! I'm obviously motivated by positive reinforcement.

Duolingo is great for learning lots of languages, not just German. In fact, they offer 23 languages. There is a free version and a paid subscription "Plus" version. Basically, the only difference is the Plus version is ad free. 

You may wonder, can I achieve fluency using Duolingo? Short answer, no. But, it does help with vocabulary and sentence structure that has benefited me in my in-person classes. 

Deepl is another invaluable Wee-Source that has helped us survive thrive living in a country where 90% of the signs and packages are written in a language we don't know and 95% of the people speak any other language besides English. Google Translate used to be our go-to translating resource until we discovered Deepl. I love that I can write a paragraph in English and then with a click of my mouse, have the whole thing translated ready to be cut and pasted into an email to, say, my doctor. (It can be scary to have to conduct important business - health care! - in another language.) One of the best parts of using Deepl is that it gives alternative ways of saying the same sentence. Plus, when used on the computer you can highlight a section of text, hit control C twice, then a window will pop up with Deepl's translation! SO helpful when we receive an email in German.

As a sad aside, we were supposed to be in Ireland last week for a Green Day concert. (It was an early birthday present for Maureen.) Our flights and concert tickets have been postponed until the end of June 2021...covid willing! 
Anyway, in the spirit of translation and missing seeing Green Day live here is my final Wee-Source for today, a Google Translate version of Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

If you found this humorous and want to see if there is a Google Translate song of a favorite artist, google it. Let me know in the comments if you found one you want to share.

I end with a poem because that is the form of English I love best. It sums up my addiction to Duolingo.

each correct answer
brings me closer
to understan...*ding*

©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

This week Linda at A Word Edgewise is hosting the Poetry Friday festivities! Join us!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Wee-Sources with All My Heart

Welcome dear weader! I am starting today's post with a quote from Confucius (have you ever noticed how close his name is to 'confusion'? Now you have a sense of my constant state of mind, but I digress...)
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
Come on a journey with me, with all your heart.

First stop, my bookshelf...
Pardon my mess...

 order to share with you a Book Wee-View!

I just finished, It is What it is...Now What?!: A Guide for Getting From Where You are to WHO You Want to be by Kathleen Pickrel, LMSW.

A book I loved with all my heart!

This is not a writing book per se, but if you have a goal to become a writer (or anything else!) then the concepts and activities contained in this book will get you there. Kathleen Pickrel, LMSW is a life coach working with people who are ready to make a positive change in their lives and want additional support in making that change. Her encouraging writing style and accessible content really will change your life...but you have to do the work. I must confess that I've read my fair share of self-help books and I usually come away feeling worse about myself because I can never quite implement what is described. What makes It is What it is... Now What? different are the "Action Sheets". These worksheets help align your thinking into an accessible actionable steps that will literally change your life. It is heartening to know that the author is walking the walk of the talk she talks - she transformed her life using the techniques outlined in this book. I also love that each chapter includes inspirational quotes that support the concepts. One of my favorite quotes in relation to the discomfort we all feel about change is:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. - Neale Donald Walsh

To find out more about Kathleen Pickrel and the life coaching services she offers, visit her website at Her book and coaching services have helped me in immeasurable ways - even from abroad!

The next stop on our journey is a heart-full forest walk in central Switzerland:
Smidgey is our flower girl.

Like many of you, I seek out nature to keep me grounded sane. My favorite way to recalibrate myself is to take a walk in the forest. Until arriving in Switzerland, I had always fancied myself a water person - backyard pool, lake or ocean. I don't have access to a backyard pool or ocean here, but Lake Zug is walking distance from our house. But the lake is not where I gravitate to day after day, it is the forest that is up the hill from us. The density of the trees, the lushness of the green, the cacophony of bird and frog sounds settle my brain and lift my spirits. In fact, that is where I spent last Wednesday afternoon celebrating my 31st wedding anniversary with my one true love (not Smidgey, Joe!). Out of this stroll came this tiny poem:

nature officiates
our continuous
walk down the aisle
©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Finally, speaking of tiny words, I whole heartily subscribe to the idea 
of using tiny words (hence, my wee words blog name) to make 
sense of life. 
And as luck would have it, I have found a Wee-Source for a FREE international, daily magazine of haiku and micropoetry called tinywords.
The editors say this about their journal: "Our goal is to publish excellent poetry whose ambitions and effects far outstrip its small size."
The poems arrive every weekday in my inbox, sometimes just 8 or 9 words long, and they never fail to either make me pause and think or smile.
They accept submissions only during February and August. If you subscribe now you can study their micro brilliance and possibly submit come August.

Today Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup. Please check out the poetry goodness.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Wee-Sources: Ways to Cope

The world has a lot going on. (Understatement much?)

How are you coping?  The primary feeling that bubbles up within me is a percolating state of emotional exhaustion. In recent years, months, weeks, days, hours I have been on the lookout for methods and strategies that help me calm my inner tumult.

Today I am sharing some of the coping Wee-Sources I have recently relied on. Maybe they will offer you some support, distraction, and/or comfort?

(Note: If you have any coping Wee-Sources you'd like to share, shoot me an email or leave them in the comments and I'll add them to this post to help others.)

My first Wee-Source has helped me with my feelings of overwhelm when it come to the news. I try to stay informed about my local Swiss community, national Swiss news stories, and US news stories on a daily basis. This requires a certain amount of time, effort, and translation to get all the information. Oh, and I choose not to be on social media so my information gathering is focused on direct news outlets. (Full transparency, I am in the process of creating a LinkedIn page, but does that count as social media?) Suffice it to say, the seeking out and consumption of daily news takes a bit out of me. One Wee-Source that I have found to help me process the US news in a historical context is my free subscription to Heather Cox Richardson's: Letters from an American - A newsletter about the history behind today's politics. One of my sisters (shout out to She!) told me about this newsletter and it has changed the way I view the US news of the day because a historian is synthesizing the content and allowing me to process it more efficiently. HCR is an American historian and Professor of History at Boston College. She also has a YouTube channel and some paid content, but I really like and appreciate her free daily newsletters to help me cope.

The second Wee-Source I want to highlight comes from writer Suleika Jaouad. For the last several months she has spearheaded an amazing free 100-day global creative project called The Isolation Journals: One Creative Act a Day Alone. Together. She describes it this way: "The goal of this is not to write the next King Lear or to churn out publishable masterpieces. It’s an opportunity to pause, take a few moments to exhale and reflect, and to expand our creativity as a community during these extremely challenging times."

Though it is in its waning days (today is Day 73) there is still time to sign up to receive a free new creative prompt delivered to your inbox every day through the first week of July. Click here to sign up. And for the prompts you've missed so far, you can check out @suleikajaouad on social media.

I haven't completed every prompt sent to me, but I have done a few. A particularly fun one landed in my inbox on May 4th: Day 34 - Ode to Mutts:
"Write a scene from an imaginary biography of a pet. It can be yours or, like Virginia Woolf, a take on the secret life of someone else’s pet. Extra points for parody, or if it’s written from the pet’s perspective."

Nothing like channeling your dog's thoughts to help you cope with all that is happening in the world. And being the overachiever that I am, I wrote my journal entry from Smidgey's perspective:

Smidgey here. She of the nine lives. At least that’s what my people tell me. They say this because of my propensity to have near-death experiences. I don’t intentionally set out to almost die; stuff just seems to happen to a wee little pup like myself.

My first brush with death came when I was wandering the Wisconsin countryside in the middle of winter. I was a little over 6 months old and weighed about 13 lbs, but I had already had a litter of puppies. The people at the Humane Society said that I had run away from a puppy-mill. I didn’t want to leave my pups, but what was I supposed to do? I was in the Humane Society “system” for about 6 weeks when my unsuspecting loving people came in looking for a new dog after the passing of their first dog, Smarty. Have you ever heard of such a silly name for a dog? Don’t you be looking at me like that. I wear the Smidgey moniker with pride! But I digress. Anyway, after a few prancing moments and a couple of lap sits, I had my people in the palm of my paw. It’s been like that ever since.

It took just a year and a cross country move until I had my next brush with death. It happened at my pit bull cousin’s house. Cuz had a taste for sausage shaped smaller dogs apparently. That wasn’t fun. A year later I hung out with a different pit bull cousin who had the same culinary preferences. That wasn’t fun either. And wouldn’t you know it, the pit bulls in Switzerland like  sausage shaped smaller dogs as well. I think they might me mistaking me for some wurst! I showed that last pit bull who’s worst! His ears are probably still ringing. Take it from me, pit bulls have bad breath. But come to think of it, their breath is not nearly as bad as a coyote’s. Talk about rancid! Thank goodness one of my person-sisters interrupted the coyote’s attempted pup-napping. Not sure why anyone would call that ‘napping’ because I was definitely NOT sleeping in that nasty coyote’s mouth.

Snakes are a whole other kettle of fish, uh, I mean reptiles. Once I waltzed right over the top of a girthy, 5ft long rattlesnake. How was I supposed to know it was lounging just under the surface of the sand?  When it popped up, coiled into a spiral with its mouth open and tail rattling, I was a few inches past its head. I suppose it could have still lunged and bit me, but I think it was as surprised as I was. Speaking of surprises, that rattlesnake that slithered under our backdoor into the living room was a bit of a surprise. It was headed right for my pillow when dad almost stepped on it! A few bad words later, mom had me tethered to the other end of a leash and headed out the front door. Not sure what dad did with our uninvited guest, but from the look on my people’s faces, I don’t think I want to know.

In addition to reptiles, a particular amphibian, the Sonoran Desert Toad, AKA the Colorado River Toad, tried to do me in once, too. Okay, more accurately, I almost did myself in by trying to “play” with one of these guys. Apparently, they are poisonous to dogs. Who knew? Actually, dad knew and got me away from the green ball of death. Phew.

By my count it seems I have used eight of these so called nine lives. But now that I think about it, don’t nine lives refer to cats? Hold on a second, am I a cat? This requires further exploration…
©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

My final Wee-Source for the today builds on Smidgey's question and hopefully will give you a smile to help you cope.
Below is Episode 1: Me-ow? in my Smidgey's Identity Crisis Poetry Series.

Please, have a watch. Do you think I may have a problem because I keep channeling Smidgey's inner thoughts? I guess it is one way of coping...

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by amazing Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.
She is inviting participants to share a post in honor of Nikki Grimes and her body of work. Several weeks ago, for Poem in Your Pocket Day, I shared a Golden Shovel poem using a strike line from Nikki's poem, Pigeon, from her collection A POCKETFUL OF POEMS.  I'm sharing it again today.

At first, I treated staying home like

a vacation. Time to write some

poems or binge watch that wild

show, “Tiger King” on Netflix. The thing

is though, this is a pandemic. I am anxious.

People are dying. I want to

help people, see my family back home, go

to the movies. Will life ever again truly be free?

©2020, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.