Category Archives: teaching

Finding your Writer’s Voice

My NaNoWriMo group met at the library a few weeks ago to practice an exercise our liason learned in a workshop.

This is Intense. It WILL resurrect your creativity.

  1. You should have at least one partner, but a group of 3 or 4 works best.
  2. each writer brings 3 pictures to the workshop (cut from magazines, printed from online, taken from your own camera) images should be interesting because these will be used to prompt ideas
  3. everyone lays their pics onto one table and each writer selects 2-3 images that really pique their interest or speak to them
  4. back at your notebook or laptop, one person sets the timer for THREE MINUTES
  5. as a group, pile your pics together and choose one picture to start with, study it, let your mind churn out characters, settings, story lines or dialogue and get ready …
  6. Timer goes – Start writing! Write as fast as you can, no thinking, no plotting, No EDITING
  7. Time’s UP! Stop writing even if in the middle of a sentence.
  8. Flip to the next picture, look it over quickly – you should only have 60 seconds before starting the next round.
  9. Timer starts – Start Writing again! THREE MINUTES. This should be an independent scene or story idea from the first one you started, though if you’re an amazing prolific writer, you can connect the scenes….
  10. Repeat these writing sprints through your stack of images (should have 9 total).
  11. After the 9th scene is written, take turns READING aloud your story snippets to the group. You should read them straight through, pausing briefly between to give your partners time to jot down some thoughts on your work.
  12. After each writer has read aloud, offer your feedback. Feedback should remain positive  – think of it as writing a fan letter to your favorite author. These are all very rough drafts, remember.
  13. One more time, each writer reads aloud straight through all 9 snippets of their writing.
  14. This time, each writer will offer feedback based on:
  • How each scene made them feel
  • What genre they believe this scene would fall into
  • Ask what the author had in mind for the story plot and the ending
  • Which of the 9 was the strongest story

At the end of this fun, fast workshop, you will each have 9 story starts, a full tank of confidence and a better idea of your writer’s voice and the genre that you write the best.

Here are the pics my group used:

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Filed under Advice, Fiction, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, teaching, Voice, writers, Writing prompts

Holiday Gift Ideas for Young Writers!

Since I published a post on Gifts for Writers, I realized there is a whole other group out there with wish lists of their own…

How about a Holiday Wish List for the young writers in our lives?

Summer Studio, Aug. 2011 {Hobo Day}

As a Creative Writing Teacher to young adults (and a mom to 2 young writers), I can recommend a few ideas: (Scroll down for a fun, FREE offer, too!)


Of course, to write on. Duh! Some cool but inexpensive ones: Go to a craft store, like Michaels and search their clearance and $1 bins for hard bound spirals


To teach and inspire them. Some I love:

How Writers Work, Ralph Fletcher “This book will show you how writers work, how you can become a writer, and how you can find a process that works for you.”

A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer within You, Ralph Fletcher “Other people have daily thoughts and feelings, notice this sky or that smell, but they don’t do much about it. Not writers. Writers react. And writers need a place to record those reactions. That’s what a writer’s notebook is for. It gives you a place to write down what makes you angry or sad or amazed, to write down what you noticed and don’t want to forget . . . .”

Live Writing: Breathing Life into Your Words, Ralph Fletcher “Instead of awls and hammers, a writer’s toolbox contains words, imagination, a love of books, a sense of story, and ideas for how to make the writing live and breathe. I wrote this book to give you some practical strategies to throw into your toolbox. I hope you’ll try them, because these are ideas that can make you a better writer.”

Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises that Are NOT Personal, NOT Introspective, NOT Boring! by Dawn DiPrince, Cheryl Miller These contain some hilarious prompts to get your young writer’s pen moving and their mind churning!

Writing Magic: creating stories that fly, “Gail Carson Levine shows how you, too, can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialogue, develop memorable characters—and much, much more. She advises you about what to do when you feel stuck—and how to use helpful criticism. Best of all, she offers writing exercises that will set your imagination on fire.”


Rory’s Story Cubes: “Rory’s Story Cubes contains nine cubes with 54 images. Just roll the cubes and come up with a story that links together all nine face-up images.”

The Writer’s Toolbox, Jamie Cat CallanThe Writers Toolbox includes lots of fun writing games–sentence sticks, cards, spiny dials and comes in this nifty box.”

Your time & creative planning:

Young Writers will gain much from meeting a real, live author during a book signing, listening to a reading or, just hanging out with you and sharing stories, written or told. To find Author visits and Readings, look to your library and local bookstores. Also, check out the Events Page of your child’s favorite authors to see if they’re coming to your area soon.

A group of other young writers!

Hmm, where, oh where would you find this? Not on Amazon or eBay. Unfortunately, you may have a difficult time finding a young writers’ workshop or even a book club for kids. Again, I’d recommend starting with your library and local bookstores. Or better, start one yourself! No idea where to begin? I can help! Subscribe to my email list and I’ll send you my Top 10 Ways to Start a Writing Revolution Checklist, for FREE! Now, that’s in the Holiday Spirit!


Filed under Advice, books, teaching, writers, Young Adults

I’m a Poser

I talk a good NaNo talk, but I do not walk a good NaNo walk.

I have  a confession….

It’s November 9

And I have written exactly…

ZERO words towards my 2011 NaNo Novel. 


I have the kickin’ idea, I even have the time.

But I also have a plan.

A plan for something Amazing, Exciting, Inspiring

It has to do with writing…

And teaching…

But it’s taken my creativity and energy away from NaNo’ing

At least for now…

But for all you crazy NaNoWriters – I salute you and wish you luck, plot twists and a bit of encouragement and lots of caffeine!


“You never know what you can do until you have to do it.”

Betty Ford ~ 1918-2011, Former First Lady and Founder of the Betty Ford Center

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, teaching

Thankful Thursday

Big Smiles!

Some days, it’s just enough to be thankful for your health, other days there are blessings dropping from the sky like crisp autumn leaves – in abundance! Honor them all, big and small.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” -Karen Lamb

Today, I am thankful for…

NaNoWriMo season!!!! AND…drumroll,   I HAVE A SOLID working IDEA for this year’s novel! *Squeee!!*

My Daily emails from Bob Proctor, who sends me motivating quotes, many of which inspire these posts!

My amazing “second family” – my silly, sweet and supportive coworkers.

Haunted Houses and the fuel it added to my Novel idea fire. Went here on Sunday with my oldest >> The Eleventh Hour

Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream. Just Eat it. Seriously.

What/who are you thankful for today? Tap into the gratitude and see how it frees your mind for creativity. Share!


I’m so thankful for my readers!! Please SUBSCRIBE and be part of my secret inner circle, which is getting Larger! ; )

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Filed under Believe, emotion, teaching, Thankful Thursday, writers, writing inspiration

Thankful Thursday

Big Smiles!

Filling your heart with gratitude actually manifests more good things in your life. Don’t believe me? Try it!


“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.”

~ Dale Carnegie, 1888-1955, Author

Today, I am thankful for…

Autumn leaves a-flame in brilliant oranges, reds and purples on the trees outside my window.

A family party where I spent quality time with my favorite cousins!

Keeping up with my daily writing practice.

Gas prices are coming down…

The beautiful essay my oldest son wrote about his Great-Grandma. (proud mama!)

What/who are you thankful for today? Tap into the gratitude and see how it frees your mind for creativity. Share!


I’m so thankful for my readers!! Please SUBSCRIBE and be part of my secret inner circle ; )


Filed under Believe, emotion, teaching, Thankful Thursday, writers, writing inspiration

Thankful Thursday

Big Smiles!

Shout from the rooftops! Sing in your car! Dance in your kitchen! Be grateful. Fully. Every day.

“I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”
– Anne Frank

Today, I am thankful for…

A very unique tool with coaching: The Image Center. Check out the fab coach, Michelle Russell I worked with this week.  Ask about 30 minute “session.”

Heather Sellers. I bow down to you, oh wise one. You read my mind and sync my soul. Read her book to know what I’m talking about >> Page After Page

Though it’s raining a bit more than my liking, I LOVE FALL!!!

Trying to open my mind, my soul, my perception of self and others.

The unexpected “a book you requested has arrived!” from my library. Do you HEART your library?

What/who are you thankful for today? Tap into the gratitude and see how it frees your mind for creativity. Share!


I’m so thankful for my readers!! Please SUBSCRIBE and be part of my secret inner circle ; )


Filed under Believe, books, emotion, teaching, Thankful Thursday, writers, writing inspiration

Writing Prompt for the classroom

…or your room!

Your new Roommate!

My young writers’ group gets a kick out of this prompt*:

Fortunately, Unfortunately

They must start the first sentence of their story with the word Fortunately……. and the second sentence with Unfortunately….

Here are a few examples:

Fortunately, a large box was waiting for me on my porch when I got home from school.

Unfortunately, it contained a dozen wild spider monkeys who would now be living with me!

Fortunately, I made it to class on time.

Unfortunately, I was still wearing my pajama pants!

Fortunately, I won a $100,000 !

Unfortunatley, I am only allowed to spend it on diapers and beef jerky!

What silly or crazy stories can you come up with using Fortunately, Unfortunately? I may give a prize for the goofiest comment!

*This prompt shared by my writing buddy and fellow creative writing teacher, Stephanie. Check out her Young Writers’ Studio!


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Filed under teaching, Uncategorized, writers, Writing prompts, Young Adults