Tag Archives: young writers

Some gems found on the web:

Found while randomly trolling the internet….

Any of these sites speak to you? Please share! I love to hear what my readers are thinking.

This blog post was written to the musical muse of: Chasing Cars /Snow Patrol



Filed under Uncategorized

A Short Story by a Young Writer

Please give a warm welcome to a student of mine, Fiona. Fiona has taken my writing workshops for several years now. She is a gifted writer, who has a talent for descriptive word choice, emotion-filled stories and the very important “showing, not telling” technique. Enjoy this short story and please leave an encouraging comment for this young author! (For details on my workshops, click HERE.)

Crushing Candies

By: Fiona, 6th grader

I stepped into my room, dropped my backpack, and flung myself into my desk chair.

“Can you believe it Paisley? Summer already!”  I listened to her go on and on about how amazing her boyfriend is.

“Got to go Paisley, I’m late for work!” I hung up the phone and dug for my apron in the hamper.

My job was manning the cash register for our candy shop, Millers Candy. My dad worked in the office paying overdue bills and making orders for Three Musketeers, Butterfingers, and a wide variety of hard candies. In the kitchen is where toffee, chocolate, and other good stuff were made.

A mom and a little girl walked to the mini fridge covering the peeling yellow paint. The mom took a little paper bag to fill with  ten-cent candies, and the little girl asked for almond bark. She looked like the perfect girl to be my little sister that I wanted.

Right then, a man in a black suit walked through the doors. I recognized him from the coffee shop. His name was Mr. Johnson.

“Hi, Mr. Johnson! Would you like a toffee sample?”  I said with a cheesy grin.

Mr. Johnson’s Bistro coffee shop has been a success since it opened. My mom walked in wearing her apron covered with flour. She greeted Mr. Johnson.

“So Kerri,” he began referring to my mom. “Your candy shop has been getting in the way with my business.” He said with a fake smile.

“Hmmm… and how so?” my mom said with her hands on her hips.

“With your intimidating sweets around my sales are going down.” He replied.

“Intimidating?” my dad said walking out from his office with a raised eyebrow.

“So what you’re saying is no other stores in Red Oak have a problem with our sweets but you do?” I butted in.

“No, what I’m offering is a large amount of money to shut you down.”  He said with his head up tall.

“We’re going to have to ask you to leave Mr. Johnson and have fun getting us out.” My mom said.

At five o’clock I closed shop and swept the floor to go eat dinner. When I was deep into my steak, I reached for my phone in my pocket, but it wasn’t there.

“Mom can I go get my phone from down stairs?” I asked.  She handed me the keys.

I headed toward the stairs and went down. When I reached the shop I couldn’t believe my eyes. Little rats lay in the ten-cent candy baskets and in the cotton candy loft. Their red eyes were staring at me and their rubbery pink tails twitched.

“MOM!!!” I shouted. She came running down the stairs with a first aid kit and fire extinguisher. Her over protectiveness was shining like a sun.

“Rats” my dad yelled and ran down the stairs. He came back down with floral garden gloves and a lidded bucket. He collected each one.

My mom called the Health Department from the wall phone in the kitchen. I could tell she was freaking out a little bit or maybe a lot.

I took out my phone from the cabinet next to the register to call Paisley. But there was no answer. I went upstairs to my room and I could see the Health Department van in the driveway. Four men came out in blue disinfectant suits.

I saw a little girl with her mom walking down the sidewalk. I could imagine her being my little sister. She could sweep the floor and pass out samples. I suddenly got a text from Paisley. It read:  hey, with Josh and can’t come.” I sighed of loneliness. No siblings, no friends, no boyfriend.

Life is just great!

It’s ten p.m. and the men are still here. A familiar voice called my name. Paisley was standing in our kitchen. She knew we never locked the doors.

“Can I sleep over” she asked.

“Sure whatever” I replied moaning.

“Claire, come with me.” Paisley said motioning towards the hallway.

I grabbed my umbrella and walked to the door out of the apartment complex. Paisley stopped in front of the store. She told me to look at the door sign.

Closed by the Health Department

Until Further Notice

I nearly fell down on the wet sidewalk. It was like the sign said DEATH TRAP! NEVER SET FOOT IN THIS AREA!

“Mr. Johnson did it! He put the rats here!” I cried to Paisley. Soon my parents walked outside.

“Claire, the test will be in by Tuesday to narrow the search down.” my mom whispered.

“Search?” I asked to my mom. 

“Yes, our store is perfectly clean, so it was a scam.” dad replied.

Cool relief filled my body.

“Well your father and I are going out to celebrate!” my mom said.

“Celebrate what?” I asked.

“The adoption of your baby sister!” My mom said.

I started to jump up and down. Paisley and I grabbed some toffee and went to my room.

“Maybe she’s Laura’s age?” Paisley wondered. Laura was her sister.

I sat on the store steps jotting down names for my sister. My favorite was Fallene. Tuesday was here. FINALLY! I thought to myself as the same truck pulled up. I brought the men to the living room. About to make them coffee, I noticed their Java World cups in their hands. That was Mr. Johnson shop.

They said that the man worked with coffee. (Mr. Johnson) and he had brown hair (Mr. Johnson!)

“MR. JOHNSON!” I blurted out and was sent to my room.

After many hours with the police, my mom finally came in and said that Mr. Johnson was on his way to jail.

“Really?” I shouted “I can’t believe it!” I said jumping up and down.

I called Paisley to tell her everything. She was awestruck.

1 Year Later

I waited for hours tapping my toes and wringing my hands. My parents walked in the doorway with a 14 month old baby in my mom’s arms. I ran to the sleepy child.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” my dad said loud enough to wake the baby up.

“She’s more than I ever wanted” I whispered.

Everything was great and getting better.

The End

BIO: Hi, my name is Fiona and I have been taking classes with Mary Jo since I was in second grade. I am in sixth grade and writing is one of my many hobbies. I love writing fantasy stories and short novels.


* How would you like to take a writing workshop with me? Send me an email for details! mjcriter at comcast dot net


Filed under Believe, Fiction, Inspiration, Young Adults

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!


Blogs are people, too. Please subscribe so my blog  can stop taking Prozac.


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

the “h” word

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

John Dryden ~ 1631-1700, Poet and Playwright

Whew! What a week! Back from 5 days of laughing, writing and guiding young scribes at my Young Writers’ Summer Studio, followed by afternoons with my two boys, browsing toy stores and craft shops, walking our little downtown area and checking out new shops, getting ice cream, ordering in.

A week of no routine also meant breaking all of my good habits. I fell off my eating clean plan, made excuses not to work out and ignored all of those other monotonous tasks and responsibilities. Yes, I fed my children. Sheesh!

We all need those days or even weeks when we just S L O W down. Though, I’m paying for that relaxation now!

Habits do make us who we are. Time for me to get my focus back.

Are your habits helping or hurting you?


Leave a comment

Filed under Advice, Believe, Rest, teaching, Young Adults

Tuesdays With…

Young Author (and a student of mine!) Melissa Smith.

Melissa is an exceptional writer, always wowing her peers in our writer workshops. She is not only a poet, novelist, short story writer and musician, but also a song lyricist.

As writers, we know it takes guts to put our thoughts and feelings to paper and even more courage to put those words out into the world for others to read, connect with and reach back  through comments. Please join me in congratulating young writer, Melissa, on her strength to share her song lyrics here with us.

Hopeless Daydreams

Long ago, far away

That time was a different place.

I was in a constant day-dream

Never waking, never seeing.


You came to me

And suddenly


I woke up and came to my senses.

I was almost too much to process.

This life here was open to me.

This life with you was meant to be.


I open my eyes, and I see sunshine.

Outside now, the moon is down.

I’m not dreaming, I’m now living

In this life you’ve made for me.


You came to me

And suddenly


I woke up and came to my senses.

It was almost too much to process.

This life here was open to me.

This life with you was meant to be.


Long lost treasures, hopeful measures

Of a song, lost and gone.

It echoes somewhere deep inside me.

I can’t fight it; no more day-dreams.


You sang to me

And suddenly


I closed my eyes and became renewed.

Dreaming isn’t too bad to do.

Everyone and everything

Long lost wishes, hopeless day-dreams.


Melissa Smith is 14 years old and about to graduate middle school. She aspires to be the next great novelist and immensely enjoys watching (her future husband!) Rafael Nadal play tennis. She is a student member of yalitchat.org. If you’re a member, too, please visit some of her other works at yalichat.org.


Filed under Believe, Inspiration, Perseverance, Young Adults

Young Writers’ Summer Studio!


Writing from our "senses" - an outdoor exercise!

Calling all Young Writers! A Week-Long Writing Studio

“It’s like summer camp for writers!”

Who: Any young writer entering grades 4-8

What: Learn creative writing techniques from an award- winning published writer in a fun workshop format

When: Monday, August 8 – Friday, August 12, 2011 : 9:00 am –12:00 noon, daily

Where: Courts of the Falling Waters Clubhouse ~ Downers Grove, IL

(cross streets 75th St & Fairmount Avenue)

How:        Email or Call to register. (min. 5/max. 15)

Tuition:  $145 – includes instruction, supplies and daily snacks (sibling discounts available!)

More time for:

☻ Pass-it stories!  ☺  Word Wars  ☻  Character Questionnaires

☺ Plot Arc Development  ☻ Dialogue ☺ Conquering Procrastination

☻ Writing from your senses  ☺  Story Pacing  ☻  Journaling

☺ The Art of Revision  ☻  And much, much more!

There is nothing else like this in DuPage County!

For more information on sibling discounts & full curriculum contact:

Mary Jo Campbell, Local Published Author & Creative Writing Teacher

mjcwriter”at”comcast”dot”net  or call:  708.224.0190

Space is limited! Register Today!

1 Comment

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Tuesdays with…Mari L. McCarthy: JOURNALING


Win this ebook!


Journal: Write: Reflect

By Mari L. McCarthy

If the world seems to be off its rocker, your friends turn on you, everybody’s pressuring you, and your mother is obviously out to ruin your life, it’s time you took up journaling.

Keeping a journal is like having a secret garden or hideaway that is always available to you. You can go there anytime, and you always come back from there with a better grip on life.

It seems like a simple thing, and it is. You just get hold of a small notebook and keep a pen with it, and have it always in your purse or back pocket. Whip it out at the mall, on the bus, between classes, at the basketball game, in the middle of the night. Make note. Observe. Reflect. Notice what you notice.

Or you can do it more formally, of course, with a nice big notebook, a selection of pens by your cozy chair at home, and an ingrained daily habit of writing every evening at 9. Whatever works. Whatever system best encourages you to reflect on your experiences and articulate your reflections.

The more you become accustomed to reflecting like this, the more you appreciate the enormity of your awareness, and the infinite number of possibilities that are open to you.

Here are a few ideas to write about, just to kickstart your practice.

  • Write about what makes your best friend special to you.
  • Recollect the best vacation you ever took. 
  • Describe your immediate family and what makes each person unique. 
  • Write about your proudest accomplishment. 
  • Describe your favorite activity or sport to do in your spare time.


Or try this: make a scrapbook snapshot. Create a mini time capsule of your life by filling a page or two with photos, magazine cutouts, drawings and writing about what you love at the moment. Include your favorite foods, books, toys, movies, hobbies, songs, hangouts and friends, and go into detail about why you like these things.

Another idea: think back to a time when you were younger. Doesn’t matter how much younger, just some event that occurred when you were appreciably less experienced than you are now. What would it be like to have a conversation with your younger self? What would you say as encouragement? How would your younger self view the person that you are now?

I love coming up with prompts for journaling, but the soul of journaling is You and Your practice and Your understanding and joy. Interacting in a friendly way with your experiences, especially your younger self, can turn up a ton of good stuff, including making you feel happier and more confident in the here and now.

Mari L. McCarthy

By Mari L. McCarthy – The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Journaling for the Health of It™.  Please visit Mari’s blog at http://www.createwritenow.com/journal-writing-blog/. In 27 Days of Journaling to Health and Happiness (http://www.createwritenow.com/peace-of-mind-and-body—27-days-of-journaling-to-health–happiness/), Mari walks you through an easy process for accessing your natural inner strengths. Mari’s latest publication is titled, Who Are You? How to Use Journaling Therapy to Know and Grow Your Life. See http://www.createwritenow.com/journaling-therapy-ebook/ for details.

 *For a chance to win a FREE copy of the ebook 27 Days of Journaling to Health and Happiness, leave a comment under this post before MIDNIGHT. Winner will be randomly selected and announced Wednesday, May 18


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Give Aways