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!

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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

Horror at Hawkin’s Forest (via Story Writing Express)

{Courtesy of panoramio.com}

Tuesdays With…

Is a weekly series of author interviews, guest posts by agents, editors, freelance writers and now – my very own Young Writing Students!

I teach Young Writers and LOVE to publicize their work. If you are  a current or former student of mine, email me and we’ll schedule a guest post featuring one of your short stories, or a link to your own blog! mjcwriter”at”comcast.net

And now, courtesy of my son, David’s, new writing blog…

This is a story I wrote a long while ago for school, so there will be no gore or blood in this one.

Horror at Hawkins Forest

Yet another suspense brilliantly written by: David Campbell III

Snow and frozen leaves crackled underneath Jim’s steel-toe work boots. “Great!  Now it’s 6:00!  Cheri’s going to kill me!  This is the second time this darn car has run out of gas on me.  Maybe I could just call her on my- darn it!  Forgot my cell phone back at … Read More

via Story Writing Express

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Filed under Get Published, Inspiration, teaching, Young Adults

Young Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Riley Carney


Riley Carney


Imagine being only 17-years-old and having landed a 5-book series! Welcome our young guest, Riley Carney, today as she talks about her love of writing and helping combat to world-wide illiteracy with her nonprofit organization: Breaking the Chain.

Riley Carney writes for tweens and teens from a unique perspective – she is a teenager!  Riley tries to make her stories exciting and filled with action and humor, and make her characters relatable to teens.

She was fifteen when she wrote The Fire Stone. She also wrote the next two books in The Reign of the Elements series, The Water Stone and The Wind Stone when she was fifteen, but she wrote the last two books in the five-book series, The Immortality Scroll and The Final Alliance when she was sixteen.

About Book One:

The Fire Stone: Book One of The Reign of the Elements, is a Middle Grade high fantasy adventure story brought to life by memorable, vibrant characters.

The story is about Matt, who knows how to shovel hay, dig trenches, and dodge his father’s whip, but when three terrifying creatures attack him, and he is rescued by a wizard, kidnaps a baby alorath, and is befriended by elves, Matt’s life transforms overnight from dreary to astonishing. When he unwittingly joins a quest to find the Fire Stone, one of the elusive Stones of the Elements which have the power to destroy the world, Matt is thrust into a string of perilous adventures. He soon discovers that magic does existand that he has extraordinary powers that can change his destiny and determine the fate of Mundaria.

Find out more about this fascinating teen and then leave a comment or question for Riley to be entered in the book giveaway (The Fire Stone)drawing before the clock strikes midnight tonight!


Win This Book!


Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

Tell us about your love of writing! Which stage of writing do you love best (idea, rough draft, revision, etc.)? When did you decide you wanted to be a published novelist?

My favorite stage of writing is the rough draft. I follow my outline so I know where I’m going, but otherwise I just let myself write and I love it! I usually write my first draft in 1-2 months because I have such a buttoned-up plan before I start, and because I don’t worry about grammar or typos. Later, I edit, but for the first draft, I just write.

I decided I wanted to be published after I finished my first novel. It was important to me to try to get published for a number of reasons. First, I think I wrote a great fantasy adventure story, which I loved writing and which I loved reading enough to edit it repeatedly, and I’d really like to share that story with other kids. Second, I am very involved in children’s literacy and I think a lot of kids stop reading between the ages of eight and fifteen, especially boys, and I think the fantasy genre keeps those readers interested and engaged in reading. It was important to me to publish because I hope that a boy or girl somewhere enjoys my stories enough to keep on reading. Third, some of the proceeds from my books sales go to my nonprofit for children’s literacy, Breaking the Chain.

Taking the step to publish your novels is huge! Can you tell us how you prepared your manuscripts for publication and how you found an agent?

The most important steps toward getting your novel published are: to edit it again and again, to let people whom you trust read your manuscript, and to listen to constructive criticism from people who know about writing. Remember that writing is very subjective, so you’re not going to please everybody, but do listen to people who can help you become a better writer. Once your manuscript has been edited to perfection, you can begin submitting it. Things have changed a lot in the publishing industry. You used to be able to submit directly to publishers, but none of the large publishers will take unsolicited manuscripts any more. You have to get an agent first, and then the agent finds a publisher for you. Unfortunately, obtaining an agent is very difficult, especially as a teenager. The best solution for me was a small, independent publisher.

Being an author has its ups and downs. I imagine your young age has its own set of unique roadblocks. What setbacks have you come across and how would you advise a fellow teen author to push through?

As teens, we face a lot of obstacles, so persistence is important. Also, always be open to improving your work and trying new types of writing. Every writer has things to learn, especially teens, so stay open-minded. As for publication, a teen author faces the same obstacles to publication that any other author does, but they are amplified because of their age and their short and/or insignificant biographies. Often, independent publishers are more willing to look at young authors. I would say the main way that a teen gets published is to make sure that your work is the best that it can be before you start submitting it, and then be persistent, and don’t get discouraged. Many adult authors, many who are now very successful, have been rejected, frequently dozens or even hundreds of times.

Most importantly, write because you love to write. A lot of aspiring writers, especially teens, focus too much on the end goal of getting published. Publishing is an admirable goal to have and a great achievement, but if you write for the sole reason of getting published, it will show in your writing. If you write for enjoyment and for the sake of sharing a story, your writing will be drastically better and publication will likely be the pleasant result.

Being a published author is more than just writing. Can you share the different hats an author must wear to get the word out and connect with readers?

Well, there are the obvious things that an author must do like find an agent/publisher, and all the research and steps that go into that process, and then there’s more rounds of editing with the publisher, but after all that, is the book marketing process. Publishers really expect authors to do the majority of the marketing for their book these days. I conduct interviews all the time, speak at schools, libraries and writer conferences, spend a little time each day on Twitter and other social media vehicles, and anything else I can do to let my audience know that my book and I are here. It’s time consuming and sometimes exhausting, but I really enjoy most of it, especially speaking to kids at schools, which has been very rewarding.

I think it’s really important to remember that while all of these processes are important, the most important thing is to keep writing. You’ll be doing what you love, you’ll be a better writer, and you’ll have the next book ready if things don’t work out with the book that just came out.

Let’s talk about the struggles a writer faces. Many of my students complain that they can’t come up with ideas and when they do, they write themselves into a corner and have a difficult time finishing their story. Can you offer any tips on how to generate ideas and take those ideas through to a powerful conclusion?

First, reading is a great way to prime your imagination. Also, I get ideas from everything! People or things or circumstances can all give me ideas. For example, the man with the plaid pants standing three people ahead of me in line – I wonder what he might have had for breakfast, why he picked those pants, why he keeps looking at his watch?  I ask myself questions about him until I begin to create a whole imaginary world involving him. Or sometimes, I’ll look at an object and try to imagine something happening to it. I write down all of my ideas – big or little. Once I start to get the inkling of an idea (and write it down!) I’ll take my time thinking about it, usually by doing something mindless like bouncing a ball, or playing with silly putty, and while I’m doing that mindless thing, I’m actually consciously and subconsciously thinking about those ideas. And then I write the ideas down! I have a notebook that is filled with jotted down notes, and I go back to it all the time when I’m actually developing an outline.

I begin with a few notes about my story, explore my characters a bit, maybe even write a page or two. Once my idea has begun to grow, I’ll construct the basic plot points. I start with a very bare-bones sketch of what I think might happen. Then, I begin to add to that skeleton. Eventually, I outline the story chapter by chapter, allowing up to a page of prose to describe each chapter. I begin to put in details so that everything fits together, but also so that I can remember important things that I want to add to certain scenes. Often, I’ll even add snippets of dialogue, humor, or emotion into certain scenes in the outline.

When my outline is complete, I begin to write, giving myself as much freedom as I need to add, delete, or change directions. I have changed major characters and added whole chapters to my story that weren’t in my original outline. I always have the option to let my characters alter the story, but using an outline ensures that the story actually gets written.

After the story is written, it can be edited and tweaked until it feels right. The editing process is easier, if less fun, than the creative process, so, my writing motto is: “just get it on the page,” and the only way the writing will always get on the page is with an outline.

Beginning every book with an outline has been the reason that I’ve been able to write eight books in the past two years.

Another struggle many young writers face is “lack of time.” What would you tell writers who say they just don’t have time to write (or revise?)

I think everybody has time to write if they want to badly enough. Right now, I am taking six AP courses, applying to colleges, speaking at schools, running my non-profit, working out every day, doing interviews and social media, spending time with family and friends, reading, AND writing every day. I put it on my schedule, and I make sure it happens. Look at it this way: even if you only wrote for about twenty minutes each day and generated 250 words (approximately a page per day), you would have a book in less than a year. Pretty much everybody can find twenty minutes that they waste each day, so it just comes down to how important it is to you.

Support for the craft: How does your family support your goals?  Can you offer advice for parents and teachers who wish to encourage their young writers in the craft?

My family has been supportive in a variety of ways. We read all the time growing up, the television was rarely on, and we rarely played video games. My older brother and I played with Legos, had light saber battles, built hideouts, and had grand adventures with action figures and stuffed animals – anything that involved creating imaginary worlds. My parents have always encouraged us to go after our dreams. They never told us we were too young or that it was impossible to do the things that we wanted to do. After I wrote my first book, my mom read it and offered grammatical advice and occasional plot advice, and my brother always has a few helpful pointers. I never felt like they were criticizing my writing. The most important advice I could give parents and teachers is to let their children/students know that they should go after their dreams, and that even though they’re young they can do anything they put their mind to. And then, offer constructive advice rather than criticism!

What are your favorite books and/or websites on writing?

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass





The websites all have links to numerous author, agent, publisher sites that are helpful.

Not only do you write and publish books, you are passionate about literacy. Tell us about your organization, Breaking the Chain, and how we can help!
When I was fourteen, the summer before going into high school, I learned that over 120 million kids around the world are denied access to a basic education, and that over 126 million kids, ages 5-17, work in hazardous conditions. In the United States, 1.2 million kids drop out of school annually. These statistics are heartbreaking, especially since there is a direct correlation between poverty and literacy.

I wanted to do whatever I could to change those statistics, so I created Breaking the Chain that summer three years ago, with the goal of breaking the chains of poverty for children by creating literacy opportunities.

Breaking the Chain has built three schools in Africa and provided water purification systems and alternative income for two of those villages. In the United States, we created a children’s literacy center at a Women in Crisis shelter in Colorado and bought thousands of books for different reading programs around the country.

Now, we are focusing on our program called Bookin’It which has put more than 18,000 new books into classrooms in low-literacy/high-need elementary schools in the U.S. I am very excited about this program because it can have such a significant influence on children’s literacy. Many children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods don’t have books in their homes, so it is imperative that they have books at school or they will never learn to read.

We focus on elementary schools because that is the most critical time for literacy; if a child does not learn to read by the fourth or fifth grade, he/she will probably remain illiterate. Three billion people around the world live in extreme poverty. I hope that we can expand to affect as many children as possible, since literacy is one of the most crucial components of breaking the cycle of poverty.

The main way to help Breaking the Chain right now is to donate. A small amount of money makes a difference in a lot of children’s lives. Only $2.50 buys a book and $250 buys an entire classroom of books, and those books will be in those classrooms for 5-10 years. Another way to help is that kids can start a 2500 Dollar Club at their school (www.linkbylink.org) which will put books in 10 classrooms.

What’s next for Riley Carney?

College is next, but I will continue to write while I’m in college. I definitely see myself as a career author, but I plan to have another career, too. Right now I only spend 2-3 hours per day writing and I’ve written eight books in the past two and a half years, so I think I would get bored only being a writer. I am very interested in history, political science, international relations, and languages, so I’ll have to see what evolves as I go through college. I also hope to continue my work with Breaking the Chain and continue to promote education opportunities for at-risk children.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the book giveaway! Winner will be randomly chosen and announced tomorrow, Oct 19


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Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Give Aways, Young Adults

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: The Espressologist

Surprise readers! Today we have a local YA author, Kristina Springer, in a Writers Inspired exclusive interview (and book giveaway!) Doesn’t that just sound tweet-worthy? Well, go ahead and Tweet it, baby! But be sure to add your comments or questions here – one lucky winner will be randomly selected to win Kristina’s hot YA book The Espressologist.

Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

  • On YA themes:  What are your thoughts on relationships and issues teens face today and how do you incorporate theses themes into your books?

I think they are similar to the relationships and issues I had as a teen only a lot more intense. It’s way harder to be a teen now with all of the technology we have. When I was a teen no one carried cell phones and the Internet wasn’t as big as it is now. Geez, I could only make one phone call a day for a max of 30 min (sounds like prison huh? J ). But now if you’re having any trouble at school it follows you home on facebook and twitter and texting etc. It seems a whole lot harder to navigate through the teen years today. I try to stay really aware to what teens are dealing with now and reflect it in my writing.

  • On YA Characters: How do you research and stay current on teen-speak, dress and gestures when writing a realistic teen character?

I never grew up and I watch way too much reality TV (I love The Hills and can’t believe it’s over.) and teen dramas. I obsessively read magazines like STAR and I’m online constantly so it’s easy to research what’s hot right now. Oh, and since I do most of my writing in coffee shops I occasionally eavesdrop so beware! J

  • On YA feedback: What has been the response from your readers on your books (any ARC’s out on My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours?) How do your readers relate to your stories? What about parents/teachers?

It’s been really great! Reviews are rolling in now on My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours and so far it’s been all good. So I’m very happy about that! And there have been lots of awesome reviews of The Espressologist and I’ve gotten really great letters from readers (both teens and adults). Most fans tell me about their coffee drink preferences and how they match up with their boyfriends/husbands. There are a lot of Espressology believers!

  • On Writing: Your website says you drafted your first book in FOUR MONTHS, not to mention your role as wife and mother of four!) Did your experience as a technical writer prepare you for writing quickly? Can you tell us about your writing process from idea stage through rough draft, revision and querying agents?

Wow, great question! No, technical writing is pretty different from fiction writing. Although, I learned to type really fast as a technical writer. And all of my great grammar skills came from that time in my life. Of course, I’ve since learned my grammar skills aren’t quite as awesome as I thought they were. J Actually I think being a mom has helped me to write so quickly. Lots of writers work full-time at writing and my kids are little so I’m with them full-time. So whenever I do get a break, like late in the evening or someone else is taking care of the kids for a bit, I need to make the most of my time.

As for my writing process, I love to just sit down and let the book fly out of me without any hesitation or worrying about structure etc. With The Espressologist I wrote the entire book from the same table at my local Starbucks. Then I revised it as much as possible and sent it off to my critique partners. Then I revised more based on their notes and when I felt the book was ready I started querying agents to see if they wanted to read it.

  • On Deals: Tell us how you got a two-book deal! Are the two books related? Was the second book drafted or completed when the first book went to auction?

My agent sent out the submission to a bunch of publishers. Four publishers wanted The Espressologist so my agent then set up an auction and each publisher offered their best deal. I went with Farrar, Straus, and Giroux and they bought The Espressologist and a second unnamed book. I had no idea what the book would be at the time of sale so no, they weren’t related. I wrote My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours last year and that became the second book in the deal.

  • On Experience: What has been the best part of this whole writing, publishing, promoting experience for you so far and why?

Oooh, that’s hard. It’s been a lot of good! It might be a tie between first selling the books and seeing my first book on a shelf in a bookstore. As for why they’re the best, well, both were dreams that seemed so far out there and reaching them was amazing.

  • On Teaching: Can you offer some tips for young writers starting out?

Don’t give up! There will be a lot of rejection but you have to keep plowing ahead. And get critique partners who write in the same genre as you. You want people who will tell you the truth and rip your stuff apart and offer advice. Not the kind that say “oh it’s so good, you’re brilliant!” That’s your mom’s job. J

  • On Tomorrow & Beyond: Tell us what’s next for you and your books!

I’m busily promoting My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours (release 8/31/10) and finishing edits on my Fall 2011 book, Pumpkin Princess.

THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, *In stores now* from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS, 8/31/10, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

PUMPKIN PRINCESS, Fall 2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux


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Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Get Published, Give Aways, writers, Young Adults