Showing posts from November, 2016

Advice and Links for Teen Writers

There's no single path to writing success, any more than there is a single definition of writing success (or success in any form).  Careers in writing are tricky. And, journalism and fiction writing are two completely different animals. For fiction writing, the advice I always give to teens is read, write and learn about life (aka, an English major is not required to be a fiction writer and maybe college is a place to explore other intellectual interests, such as history or politics or math!). After that, that are two routes: 1. (If your goal is popular fiction) Write, get an agent, submit work. 2. (If your goal is literary fiction) Go to an elite writing grad program (such as Iowa, NYU, Wisconsin (Madison), Brown, Johns Hopkins), make connections/get an agent, submit work. That said, I have met many talented teens who dream of seeing their words in print. So, to the extent that we can define success as publication, here are a few links: SCHOLASTIC ARTS & WRITING AWA


Coffee. Kindness. Creativity. Community. My four amazing sons. My adorable (extremely funny) husband. People who show compassion and respect for others, even those with whom they disagree. Live theater. Good friends. Connecting with others in real life. Books, books, books...and the people who make them.  Enjoy today. Be happy. There is much to celebrate in this world.

It's College Application Time: What to do when you meet an admissions officer IRL

Whether it is at college fair, on a campus tour, or during an admissions interview, at some point you may find yourself face-to-face with an admissions officer. For some, this is even scarier than choosing the topic for their Common App essay. What do you say? What do you do? How do you make the best impression? DON'T... Recite your scores/stats/accomplishments. These will all be part of your application paperwork and admissions officers are not there to memorize your personal data--they are there to connect with you as a person. Ask questions for which answers are easily found on the school website. You should know if your major of choice is available at their school, the level of Greek life, or whether their campus is urban or rural.  Ask if the food is any good in the cafeteria or how they like the weather where the school is located. Make statements simply to prove you've been on the aforementioned school website.  DO... Ask a question that shows you are genuinel


Recently, I had the good fortune to hear a panel of admissions experts share insights about their roles and the college application process.  The panel was comprised of of admissions staffers from CalTech (Pasadena, CA), University of Oregon (Eugene, OR), American University (Washington, DC) and Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA).  All four individuals were excellent ambassadors with deep understanding of the nature and character of their institutions. The event filled me with optimism and enthusiasm (not stress!). In fact, the more I learn about college admissions, the more I genuinely believe that stress can and should be avoided. Why? Because, whether you are hoping to play a D-1-2-or-3 college sport, want to bring a special creative ability to campus, or are simply a well-rounded student looking for a welcoming place to continue your academic pursuits, admissions officers are reading your resume in search of the same thing: FIT. They are asking themselves, "Will this applican


The "murky middle" is a phrase--and a writing space--that strikes fear in the hearts of novelists in all genres. Whether you start with an outline (plotter) or follow your instincts from scene to scene (pantser), you eventually get to a place where you've set up all the relationships, planted all the plot seeds, and have to figure out how that BIG MOMENT actually happens on the page. I know when I've hit the "murk" when I find myself writing the following red flags: Extended passages of dialogue Sudden info-dump  A scene where the MC suddenly wonders about religion/love/politics These red flags show me I'm trying to force the pace. That, perhaps I've stopped listening to my characters and tried to trump their "instincts" with the plot trajectory I have planned in my head. Maybe it's just plain old "sick of this story" page 200 burn-out. I have found SCRIVENER to be a tremendous help at this moment in my writin

Free FIRST PAGES Writing Workshop this Saturday at KCLS Woodinville

SATURDAY,  NOVEMBER 12, 2016, 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM Woodinville Library,  17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville, WA The next class in this FREE series of writing workshops  will be jointly led by Sara Nickerson, Holly Cupala & me! First Pages Interactive Workshop Are your first 250 words ready for a professional review? Are you stuck and looking for some help identifying the best start for your story? Bring the first page of your work-in-progress for this friendly, progress-focused interactive workshop led by Sara Nickerson, Stasia Kehoe and Holly Cupala, and leave with a stronger, better opening page! This workshop is open to writers in grades 7 to adult. Registration is not required.  For instructions on HOW TO FORMAT YOUR PAGE for the workshop, go HERE . For more information about Woodinville Library Programs, go  HERE .  Hope to see you on Saturday!

Second Saturdays Writing Program: Get Ready for a FIRST PAGES INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP November 12

We're well into our second year of amazing FREE writing workshops at KCLS Woodinville. Coming up on Saturday, November 12, from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM ,  participants will have a unique opportunity to get professional feedback on their work from this classy three-author panel: This workshop will be FRIENDLY, POSITIVE, ANONYMOUS (for submitting writers) and CONSTRUCTIVE. Please consider taking advantage of this exciting FREE opportunity which is usually only available within expensive writing retreats and conferences. BE BRAVE! Here are the guidelines to help you prepare. WHAT TO BRING: ONE (1) copy of the FIRST PAGE of your work-in-progress, formatted as follows: Text should be double-spaced 12 point, legible font such as Times New Roman or Courier DO NOT PUT NAME, TITLE or other information on the page Picture book texts are fine, simply adhere to above restrictions HOW TO SUBM
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