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  1. New Bedtime Story: The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

    September 26, 2022 by asteffann

    Continuing the tale of Emma, who is researching lighthouses along the coast of Maine, this story brings us to the city of Rockland. The lighthouse there is interesting, but it’s the mile-long breakwater walk to its front door that will really capture your imagination. To learn more about Rockland and the midcoast of Maine, visit my other website for our vacation rental, Sadler House.

  2. New Bedtime Story – Dreams of the Portland Head Light

    August 24, 2022 by asteffann

    I am really excited about this story, which is the first in a series that will be coming out over the next few months. Part travel, part history, you will be able to join Emma, who is researching the historical lighthouses of the Maine coast. I am really privileged to have the fabulous Abbe Opher narrating, and I feel optimistic you may not be able to stay awake to the end.

  3. New Bedtime Story: A Lazy Summer Day in 1982

    August 6, 2022 by asteffann

    My latest bedtime story is close to my heart! Like the characters in this story, I was 10 years old in 1982. So this story is for all of us who are turning 50, but my hope is that anyone who grew up in the seventies or eighties will find fond memories in this tale of Brian and his friends.

    Whether it’s a BMX bike, some tetherball, sitting on the curb at the convenience store, or a pile of baloney sandwiches, my guess is that part of your childhood summer made in here. Sweet dreams, X’ers! Listen to it at this link on YouTube or find it on the Get Sleepy podcast on any podcast platform you may use.

  4. New Podcast Bedtime Story: A Retelling of the Fairy Tale “The White Slipper”

    July 7, 2022 by asteffann

    My latest reimagined fairy tale is on the free podcast feed and the YouTube channel! This one is also narrated by the soothing TK Kellman and it’s sure to whisk you off to dreamland.

    Travel to a beautiful, faraway city on a river, where a king has a problem almost nobody can solve. In the end, we’ll find that a little bit of reading and a lot of courage can make all the difference.

  5. New Podcast Bedtime Story: The Country Antiques Market

    June 10, 2022 by asteffann

    I loosely based this relaxing sleepy story on a real antiques market near where I live in Loudoun County, VA. The narration by TK Kellman is perfect and I truly hope you can’t stay awake until the end. Enjoy!

  6. Chronotopes: They Sound Complicated, but They’re Cool

    December 15, 2012 by asteffann

    …and make sense.

    What is a chronotope?

    There’s an old saying that “Hindsight is 20/20,” meaning that events often seem clearer with the benefit of distance and objectivity. Consider whether or not you have ever looked back upon an event from your past and had a new perspective on what happened than you did at the time. Do you think you would tell the story of that event differently now than you would have then?

    According to the influential literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, any story, told by any person, is firmly entrenched in the time and place in which it happened. Not only that, but the story is also influenced by the biases and experiences of the narrator or the writer…and even by your own biases as a reader! It sounds very complicated but it is, in fact, a pretty basic concept. In short, stories are always told from someone’s unique point of view and they are received by readers through yet another lens of experience.  He calls the unique worlds created by these stories “chronotopes.”

    In his essay “Forms of Time and Chronotope in the Novel,” Mikhail Bakhtin explains it this way:  he states that readers “must never confuse…the represented world with the world outside the text” (253) (the “real” world, if there is such a thing). He explains that the phenomenon of chronotope in literature is a function of “the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships,” (84) but that “out of the actual chronotopes of our world…emerge the reflected and created chronotopes of the world represented in the work” (252). To put it more simply, the teller of the tale will show you a story that is one version of what happened in that place, in that time, from his or her point of view. This is a unique chronotope would have changed if the story had been moved elsewhere or happened years later. Each story is inseparable from its setting and its writer.

    Are events clearer in retrospect? Or not?

    Are events clearer in retrospect? Or not?

    photo: lowjumpingfrog

    Works Cited

    Bakhtin, M. M., and Michael Holquist. “Forms of Time and Chronotope in the Novel.” The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin: University of Texas, 1981. Print.

  7. Want That Job? Don’t Forget to Write!

    February 27, 2012 by asteffann

    Today I came across an article by the managing editor of Business Insider that reiterated something my mother taught me at a young age:

    Thank you notes matter.

    When I was in college, searching for my first job in business, I wrote these on the typewriter in my room. In each note, I was sure to do all of the following:

    • Spell the interviewer’s name properly
    • Say something that indicated I remember what we discussed in the interview
    • Reiterate my interest in the position
    • Say something about why I would be a good fit for the job

    All of this was done with proper block format and then I signed the letters by hand. These letters were always mailed within a day or two. Waiting more than a week was considered lax.

    It’s not surprising, in the digital age, that emailing such a letter is considered acceptable. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should slip into sloppy habits like those you’d use when emailing friends. Despite the temptation to think of it as just a causal missive, you always have to remember that you will be judged one more time by the content and style of this email. In fact, as this article points out, your worst mistake of all is not bothering to send one.

    Whether you’re applying for an administrative, a technical, or an executive job, give this article a look. It provides compelling evidence that even those of us who do not envision using writing in their careers are still going to need to express themselves clearly and persuasively to get ahead.

  8. Say What?!

    December 6, 2011 by asteffann

    A friend of mine from my advertising days posted this link today, and I couldn’t agree with it more.

    Whether it’s in business or in academics, many of us are feeling overloaded with jargon. Writing is needlessly complicated. Meaning is lost. Sincerity is compromised.

    I really appreciate what Dan Palotta has to say in this post called I Don’t Understand What Anyone is Saying Anymore and I challenge myself and all of my students to be less concerned with sounding “smart” and become more concerned with clarity!

  9. Literally…

    October 13, 2011 by asteffann

    In class last week, I couldn’t resist airing my complaints about how people are always using the word “literally” to describe things that are not really literal.

    For example:

    “My headache was so bad that my head was literally exploding.”

    Um. NO. Your head may have been figuratively exploding…or you wouldn’t be telling me this story.  I felt kind of bad sharing this diatribe with my students. I knew one of two things must be true: either they were thinking what a bore I am for being so picky (and that I should get a hobby) or they had just acquired a new pet peeve that would dog them for life.

    Not literally.

    Anyway, today I saw an article on CNN and was about to cry foul.  MISUSED!

    Then I read the article and saw that I had (figuratively) jumped the gun.

    Your dead iPhone is a goldmine – literally

    (weird lack of capitalization in title is theirs, not mine)

    I was expecting a story about how people could mine my information in my dead iPhone to steal my money, which does not make an iPhone a literal goldmine.  However, it appears that a dead iPhone actually contains precious metals. Actually!

    Well, I don’t really have an iPhone, but now I’m thinking about how much I should really let my toddler play Angry Birds on my precious Droid.


  10. Isn’t it really, truly ironic?

    October 12, 2011 by asteffann

    We were talking about irony in class.

    Specifically, the conversation revolved around a song by Alanis Morissette that I can’t help but really dislike.  You all know it.  This is a song that has made it even harder for Generation X to determine what things are ironic and which things are just an enormous bummer. There is an argument that her situations represent cosmic irony. I remain unconvinced. In any event, if you adhere to the basic definition that irony is a situation in which the result is the opposite of what one would expect, Morissette’s song does poorly.

    Fly in your chardonnay.  It may make me swap my glass, but it is not ironic. It’s not even unusual, if you are outside.

    Meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife?  Not ironic.  In fact, most of my single friends would argue it is so common that they could scream.

    Rain on your wedding day? Judging by the soggy season we’ve all had here in the D.C. area, this is more likely than not! Therefore, I say it is (again) not ironic.

    A good way to get a fly in your chardonnay

    Alanis Morissette fails miserably at thinking up ironic situations (although she may more recently be overshadowed by Natasha Bedingfield, who pronounces the word hyperbole as “hyper BOWL” in a hit song).  After our discussion in class, during which we tried to think of truly ironic situations, something happened to me that I felt qualified.  I had to share it.

    My husband and I have been trying for months to get an approval from our very strict homeowner’s association.  We want to plant a tree in the common area behind our house.  Finally, the approval was given and the homeowner’s association sent us some paperwork to sign, finalizing our permissions to plant this tree.

    They sent it to the wrong address.  


    “Isn’t it ironic.  Don’t you think? A little too ironic.  Oh yeah I really do think.” – Alanis Morissette

    Oh, look.  It’s pouring rain again.