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 […]
So what’s the perfect game for somebody who lives in a state with lots of dairy farms, spends a huge hunk of her time writing or reading, and has been known to insert a butter head into a novel as a red herring? Why, it’s Cheese or Font, of course! If you’ve never played, please […]
The creative career guidance book said my options were puppeteer or mime.
As a writing warm-up, why not ask your students to create a fresh new spin on a tired old way of saying something?
As a brainstorming activity for your student writers, I encourage you to offer them meandering time.
I’ve found there’s an alarmingly close correlation between the topsy-turvy emotions of a high school crush and a writer’s feelings during the process of submitting a manuscript to publishers. As the writer waiting for an answer from The Perfect Publisher, you go through the same hopeful highs and “why doesn’t anyone love me?” lows. The […]
Some of the best advice you can give student writers is also some of the easiest for them to carry through on: to write better, they should read better. Read better, as in: Read more. Read widely. Read outside their usual reading “type.” Read carefully. Read for fun. Read ﬁrst for story, and then read […]
It wasn’t so unusual that my teenage nephews were sending me signals that translated to: “Will you take us to the store right now so we can spend these Christmas gift cards from Grandma?” What was new this year was that they also wanted to do the driving. Brand-new permits in their pockets, I agreed […]
You always hear it around the time of the first fall snowstorm in Minnesota: “It’s like people have forgotten how to drive!” It refers to the fact that even drivers who are diehard Minnesotans—as evidenced by the Minnesota Vikings flags flying from their pickup antennas—don’t seem to have the tiniest clue how to drive on […]