Tag Archives: FRoG

Young Writers Workshop: Jump In!

     FRoG (Friends of the Gifted & Talented) has opened registration for Super Saturdays!

Young Writers (grades 3-8):  Come out to ONeill Middle School in Downers Grove, IL to learn and write with an award-wining author – Me!

Workshops are filling fast – REGISTER TODAY!!


Writing Workshop I  Grades: 3-8,  50 min classes: 10 am

Five weeks: Jan 29-Feb 26, 2011 $45

Do you love making up stories? Learn how to bring out the stories within you in this exciting class. Improve your writing skills by using the same process and style strategies used by professional writers to bring your creative ideas to life. Through reading and working together with other students, your inner author will emerge! This is also a perfect opportunity to prepare for the PTA’s Reflections program.


Writing Workshop II  Grades: 4-8, 50 min classes: 11 am

Five weeks: Jan 29-Feb 26, 2011 $45

Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? Young writers will learn advanced techniques to improve their craft: how and when to use symbolism, subplots, transitions, figurative language and more.  We will learn how to give and receive constructive criticism in a workshop setting. Come prepared with a first draft of a short story or several chapters of a novel-in-progress and we’ll help you make it shine!  This is the class you need if publication is your goal.

Prerequisite: Writing Workshop I or Writing Sample submitted to Instructor


“Thank you for being a great teacher to Grace. Her love of writing has grown because of you!” ~ Katie, Downers Grove Parent

“Mariah had such a great time learning from a pro.” ~ Reyna, Downers Grove Parent

“Thank you for all your help! I couldn’t have gotten this far without you!” ~Melissa, 8th Grade Student

“Garrett wishes your class was everyday, now that’s exciting!!!” ~ Shari, Downers Grove Parent of two writing students

“Yemi and her mother have nothing but great things to say about your workshops. ” ~ Reyna, Bolingbrook Parent

“You’re like the Dear Abby of Writing! U Rock!” ~Kate, 7th Grade student

“Every time I would pick up Jay after the workshop he was almost hysterical.  If you know my son, he is very composed most of the time.  But he would drop all his inhibitions and brainstorm through the workshop.  He really ENJOYED the writing classes with you.  The classes prompted him to take his journal with him while travelling rather than a hand held video game.” ~ Rupa, Downers Grove Parent

“Thanks again for including Anika – she had a blast. ” ~ Newenka, Darien Parent

 “Allison was very excited about writing the whole week.  Your “what if…” exercise gave her a fun way to think about things to write about (at home, for fun, when she only has 15 mins or so to do some writing).” ~Betsy, Downers Grove Parent

 “YOU ARE THE BEST! Never before have I had such a fabulous writing teacher. I want to write books that get published and turned into movies, like my uncle’s. I want to do this for my passion and my future fame. You rock Mary Jo!” ~ Katie, 5th grade student

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Filed under Education, Events, Get Published, Young Adults

What I learned this week

Double-Friday Feature!

Each week I post what I learned in writing, teaching, marketing and life! Because last week got away from me, today is Double Feature Friday!


  • Guess what? I can write in the midst of my kids! This week, pressed to get some words, any words, on the page, I took my laptop into my boys’ room and sat at Sam’s art table. While he rummaged through a Tupperware of craft beads, picking out the heart-shapes for me, I wrote a very rough draft of a guest post on teaching young writers. I also answered, with many misspellings and fragmented sentences, a 10-question interview for another author’s blog. Yes, it was frustrating having my thoughts interrupted after every other word, but I have some good raw material to revise later. So, no excuses for you mamas and papas (and that means pet-owners, too!) Go here for more tips on prioritizing your writing time.
  • Another great tip I probably mentioned before but actually used this week was the on-line egg timer. Curse you Twitter and Facebook and other realms of the internet distraction world. Now I can time my time writing: 30 minutes to craft interview questions for an author blog tour: go! 20 minutes to write a press release for my young writers summer studio: go! Try it, you’ll like it! (Mikey did!) Go here for tips on breaking bad writing habits!


  • The age group I teach creative writing to is middle grade.  Where are these young writers? Twitter, not likely. Bloggy land, maybe. Facebook, bingo!  So, I created a Facebook group to target the ages I’m trying to reach. Come on over and join the discussions! Here are instructions to create your own Facebook group. While there, become a “fan” of UpWrite Press – they give away free business-writing books!
  • Also searching for my young writer market, I came across some cool young adult and teen blogs:  BloggingYA, Blackeyedsusans and teen fiction cafe. Check them out, share the love!
  • As a writing teacher, I’m feeling pressured (from myself) to become more familiar with The Classics. So, this week, I’m reading The Sound and the Furyby William Faulker (via audiobook, which is the best invention since sliced bread!)


  • I’m a huge advocate for being involved in my community within my platform.  Hence, I’ve been keeping in contact with the coordinator of a local youth enrichment program, FRoG (Friends of the Gifted and Talented). My efforts paid off when an announcement on my young writing studio was sent via email newsletter to the entire mailing list of FRoG, which I understand spans multiple local school districts. In one week, I had about 8 emails from inquisitive parents, followed up with 5 newly registered students! Get out there and CONNECT! Here’s a site offering Free advertising of your upcoming events
  • Here is a great article on how writers should (and should not) use social medias!
  • Want to get more exposure on Twitter, but don’t want to fall in a manhole by texting and Tweeting on the street? Click here to find out how to bulk-write and then schedule your Tweets.
  • And, last but not least, here is the link to the free ebook, Work At Home Marketing That Doesn’t Suck,by Tina McAllister. Some handy little gems in there!


  • Most of the day’s stresses are melted by watching a few episodes of Seinfield and enjoying a sweet treat at night!
  • Be friendly and social: you never know who you’ll bump into, say, in the grocery store parking lot or waiting to rent a movie. I’ve bumped into several of my students’ parents just being out and about in the neighborhood.
  • Play! This week feeling frazzled and sluggish by deadlines and eating unhealthy, I snapped my laptop closed, grabbed the boys and their bikes and went riding. They rode, I walked/ran to catch up. We found a steeply sloped sidewalk and rode back and forth, then spun in circles in the grassy field and collapsed on the ground in giggles. Felt fantastic!

So…what did you learn this week?


Filed under Advice, Believe, books, Education, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, Rest

“Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

With another presidential debate on last night, this quote is pretty relevant, don’t you think?  So, who is making plans and promises? And who is providing faithful service?  Of course, as both candidates stated, we need to “look at what the records show.”

What do your records show about you and the promises or plans you’ve made?  Are they self-serving lofty dreams?

Don’t forget the small things we can do to serve. Serve ourselves, our friends, family, neighbors or community.

With the pleading of my 9-yr-old son, I began to serve the young writing community. I started a volunteer writing workshop for young writers, providing them a safe place to express their creative voices, share their works and learn the techniques to improve their craft. They had a blast! They wanted to barricade the door so their parents couldn’t drag them home. Talk about the satisifaction of working for FREE!

Well, that 4 wk summer workshop turned into a year long invitation to teach.  And…that turned into a paying opportunity.

I’m still volunteering, but also offering a more intensive Saturday workshop in the Downers Grove, IL area, beginning Oct 18-Nov 15.  If you have a young writer who may be interested, please click here.

If you have tips of your own or questions on how to give back – drop me a line! “It takes a village…right?”


Filed under Advice, Education, emotion, Inspiration, writing inspiration