Recently, I’ve been thinking back on a time when my focus was riveted on helping to care for a family member who was dealing with serious medical issues. It’s been stressful to have this large “life moment” disrupt my normal routine, but it also brings with it a certain kind of clarity. It’s kind of […]
A few years back, I had one frightening week. I had my head down, working hard, when I heard a commotion outside. I got up to look out my front window and saw the SWAT team marching towards my house, carrying guns and wearing bullet-proof vests. Once the sound of the news helicopters alerted me […]
When I was a kid growing up in the north woods of Minnesota, a group of my neighborhood friends had a “Chipmunk Fort.” It was constructed out of a pile of old fencing materials in my friend Paul’s backyard; each kid had their own “house” in the fort. We spent some time collecting pretty rocks […]
Ask your young writers to imagine a social media proﬁle for their main character. What games do they play? Do they win? Do they cheat? What would their online proﬁle say? Do they lie when they’re online, and if so, what about?
To be able to learn how to get somewhere, I have to drive the route myself. Riding shotgun doesn’t work if I’m trying to memorize the route; somehow the feeling of the necessary twists and turns has to seep up through the steering wheel and into the pores of my hands for me to be […]
I try to deliver regular advice you can use to aid and inspire your young writers, but this week I’m leaning on the wisdom of others. This is advice I’ve found helpful those times it feels like my writing wheels are stuck in deep mud and spinning wildly and I’ll never gain traction again. Here, […]
Blind spots are a driving danger, but they can also be a reading pleasure.
Nothing is a bigger thrill for the young writers I mentor than what we have come to call their “publication parties.”
When I was a young teenager my family made a road trip from Minnesota to Texas to visit my father’s parents. The long trip south mostly featured one kind of civil war: the endless bickering of my two brothers and the male cousin who’d come along for the ride. For the trip back north, I […]
As a kid I was the one who instigated a lot of the fun. It might be playing pirates in the tree house, or cops and robbers in my mom’s parked station wagon, or spies who wrote secret code in lemon juice (later revealing the message by holding it over the toaster). Often our make […]
When I was a little girl and my Minnesota grandparents came to visit, we shared them around for sleeping purposes. One night I would share my double bed with Grandma, and the next night my brother and I would switch places, and I’d sleep on his top bunk while Grandpa settled into the bottom bunk. […]
All freshmen at my college had to wear beanies at the start of school. Besides the obvious fashion quandary, the problem was that students from the town’s rival college gloried in stealing beanies. And I knew if any of my upper classmates caught me sans beanie, they had the power to make me stand on […]
I was thrilled when Teenage Nephew 1 grew old enough to mow my yard. We negotiated a price and then headed outside. I knew that at his house, his father was King of the Riding Mower, so mowing was a completely new skill to Teenage Nephew. So I carefully reviewed the basics with him: mower […]
Some basic story lines that rarely fail to provide excellent starting points for struggling young writers.
After my ﬁrst book was published, one of my friends gave me a knowing look and said, “I’ve ﬁgured out exactly what your story means.” I nodded wisely, two of us in on the same secret together, but truthfully? I was eager to hear what she had to say. Because in all the time I’d […]