Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

A few weeks ago I read a Medium story by Shaunta Grimes where she pointed out that Twyla Tharp once said,

“When I walk into my studio, I am alone, but I am alone with my body, ambitions, ideas, passions, needs, memories, goals, prejudices, distractions, fears. These ten items are at the heart of who I am. Whatever I am going to create will be a reflection of how these have shaped my life and how I’ve learned to channel my experiences into them.”

Twyla is a dancer, and she brings all ten of those things to her art form…


Thanks to Revelation Tattoo- Gladstone, MO

I got a tattoo this past weekend. This was my second attempt at getting a tattoo. The first was when I had just turned 18 and wanted to get an ankle bracelet tattooed around my right ankle. It was way more painful than I had expected, and I didn’t get any further than a tiny fish. I have explained to many students over the years when they ask me about it that tattoos are quite painful and really be sure you are willing to go through with it before the artist begins.

But this past weekend I was successful. Giving…


My school library for the week

Today I offer an excuse for not having written on Medium for awhile. It is true that I am immersed in writing a YA fiction book that takes more brain power than I’d like to admit. And spring is busy for my three kids (and three dogs that are ready to go, go, go now that it’s nice out), but the true reason my writing has taken up residence on the back burner of life this week is because the circus has arrived in my library. …


Photo by Andrew Tanglao on Unsplash

I start lying to myself the minute my alarm goes off at 4:30am (yes, I’m crazy, but I only get things done in the morning and have to be at work by 7:25). The first lie is I tell myself I only have to get up and let the dogs out. They will whine until this happens anyway, so honestly it’s easier on my blood pressure and everyone’s well-being if I just get up and take care of it. I convince myself that I only have to do this one task, and then I could really go back to bed.


(I want to preface this with saying I am a librarian in a middle school in the Midwest. I have been in education for 20 years.)

My favorite part of my day this school year has happened to be 7th hour. For those of you that do not teach teenagers, let me explain to you how remarkable this statement is. It’s nothing short of a miracle. 7th hour is the last hour of the school day. These children have sat in their seats for 6 ½ hours by the time they come to me. Those who struggle with sitting still…


Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fear, specifically how much of our lives (or at least mine) are ruled by fear, and how this can play into our story writing/reading. Fear and anxiety are one of the first emotions I remember feeling as a kid. Not that my childhood was tragic or particularly scary, but I always seemed riddled by irrational fears. …


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Starting last week I made a goal for myself to write two articles a week on Medium, and as is true with every goal I set for myself, I immediately began self-sabotaging it. First, I went back and reread a post I had shared recently about a student of mine that recently committed suicide. I still couldn’t get through it without sobbing, but I read enough to see it was riddled with errors. So, great I can’t even proofread, yet I think I’m going to write two articles a week on here. …


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Stories from the stacks…

I have been a middle school librarian for thirteen years and before that taught in the middle school classroom for seven years. That’s two decades of my life spent with teenagers day in and day out. When people ask what I do, the first thing I usually get after I answer is, “you must really like to read” (true), and the second is that I must be crazy to want to work with middle schoolers (probably also a little true). At this point it is then followed up by a story or two about their own…


Learning to finish what you start

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

I am great at new beginnings. I love New Year’s resolutions; I look forward to spring when it’s time to clean and is out with the old, in with the new; and the start of school every year I find excuses to buy new pens, pencils, post-its, notebooks, and planners, knowing that the fresh start will be amazing.. There is nothing I love more than a new idea or project and taking the time to get organized to accomplish it. …


I have been a teacher and librarian for almost two decades (though there is no way I can be that old!), and I have seen many trends in education come and go. From whole language to six traits of writing, 7 reading strategies, and a ton of other bullshit, there has always been one experience I treasure with students, and that is reading them a well-written story out loud. And I’m not talking just elementary students; I do this with teenagers. We all love it. …

Nicole Marie Ali

Middle school librarian, writer, and avid reader

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