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Writing Road Trip

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Curves Ahead 

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 oper­a­tion, safe­ty issues, how he shouldn’t

Not Enough Beds!

Tripping with Mona Lisa 

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 spent writ­ing, revising,

Lisa Bullard

Georgia, Broadway, and Niagara — Cheese or Font? 

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 remem­ber to come back and

Lisa Bullard

Take the Next Turn 

As a writ­ing warm-up, why not ask your stu­dents to cre­ate a fresh new spin on a tired old way of say­ing something?

Lisa Bullard

Wandering Aimlessly 

As a brain­storm­ing activ­i­ty for your stu­dent writ­ers, I encour­age you to offer them mean­der­ing time.

Lisa Bullard

The Limo’s on the Way 

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 man­u­script that just

Lisa Bullard

Backseat Drivers 

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 as

Lisa Bullard

Signal Your Intentions 

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 to

Lisa Bullard

Forgetting How to Drive 

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

Lisa Bullard

Stopping by the Diner 

My dad has a pas­sion­ate hatred of olives on, in, or even in the gen­er­al vicin­i­ty of his food. He’s con­vinced their mere pres­ence con­t­a­m­i­nates any­thing else on his plate. So when he eats at his favorite small-town din­er, he’s always care­ful to tell the serv­er that he wants his din­ner sal­ad with­out the black olives

Lisa Bullard

Pickle Voice 

I think that what we mean when we talk about “writer’s voice” is a writer’s per­son­al­i­ty show­ing up on the page. It emerges through many diverse writ­ing choic­es, rang­ing from word usage to tone to rhythm.

Lisa Bullard

A Vehicle for Change 

I’d heard my mom talk about “duck and cov­er”: hid­ing under her school desk from a poten­tial nuclear attack. And I’d par­tic­i­pat­ed myself in tor­na­do drills dur­ing my own school days, lin­ing up in a base­ment hall­way with our arms cov­er­ing our heads. None of that pre­pared me for a lock­down drill. I was on one of my reg­u­lar gigs

Lisa Bullard

Shifting Gears 

The only argu­ment I’ve ever wit­nessed between Teenage Nephew 1 and Long­time Girl-friend was a doozy. And I couldn’t help chortling with glee because the basis of their dis­agree­ment was so close to my heart: What makes for the best pos­si­ble sto­ry? Actu­al­ly, the way they put it was, “What’s bet­ter, ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Har­ry Pot­ter’?” But don’t let

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