I was honored to be part of a special event last month: Write On, Door County hosted its first Young Writers’ Conference in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Attendees came from several States to join in the fun. How I’d love to have had that opportunity when I was a teenager.
Alongside a talented and inspiring faculty, I taught classes to middle school students about discovering story and creating memorable characters. Waiting for the first group to settle before we started, I asked one of the students whether she had plans for the upcoming Spring Break. The girl looked me in the eye, responding passionately, “This is what I choose to do with my Spring Break. I want to write.” Her answer summed up the enthusiasm for this event from the outset to the lively student open mic at the end.
The selection of workshop options was impressive: from poetry to songwriting to learning about freelance writing and much more. I did not meet the whole faculty but those that I spoke to were exceptional and, after the isolation of the lockdown, proved to be a balm for creative minds. Long may this wonderful event continue. Huge thanks to the organizers, especially Jerod Santek, Write On, Door County’s Founder and Creative Director.
I always love the enthusiasm and passion of my Story Explorers (Grades 1 -2), and I was especially proud of their compassion in my recent class. We made some special book marks for Love Smiles, a wonderful non-profit organization that raises awareness of pediatric cancer and also gives support to those who have been diagnosed and their families.These book marks will be included in the warriors’ comfort packs. The Story Explorers jumped at the opportunity, creating messages of hope, encouragement, even designing their own mini-wordsearch and including jokes to entertain and raise the spirits of the warriors. Check out my Program Options for further details about my classes.
In the SCBWI-Illinois Oak Park Network January meeting, my co-rep, Sallie Wolf, and I will be discussing the value of commonplace books. Throughout history, many authors and thinkers have used these books as a way of cataloguing information and inspirational nuggets for future use. We would like to revive this tradition as a way of thinking about the writing process, inspiring ourselves, and keeping motivated in a way that could be helpful in the year ahead. Join us as we share inspirational quotes, write them down and create a ‘communal’ commonplace book for 2022. The event takes place on Zoom at 7PM, January 13th, 2022. Click here for details.
The Celebrating Creativity exhibition for my local school district was a hum of activity last week. The winners of my Summer Creative Writing Competition and the students of my new Storytelling in Word & Image class with Janet McDonnell were rightly proud of their projects. And I was proud of them. Other students showcased their projects as well, including a photography exhibit and a selection of bookmarks. It was wonderful to see the excitement of both the artists and their admiring audience. As the event organizer, Dr. Randy Lange, reminded us: “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” (Albert Einstein).
I am thrilled to have launched a brand new program this semester with professional illustrator, Janet McDonnell. Writers often create visual art as part of their creative process, a way of ‘seeing’ their story more clearly. In our class, we immersed ourselves in mixed media storytelling, too. If you would like to learn more about this program, click here. I’m delighted to share and celebrate the work of some of the talented youngsters who took part in the class (click on the illustrations below to see their stories in word and image):
I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Write On, Door County Young Writers’ Conference next year. I will be running workshops on “How To Find A Story Anywhere” and “Faces: An Exercise in Character Development.” If you would like to learn more about this exciting conference for budding young storytellers, click here. Early bird rates currently apply.
Wow! Had a wonderful time last night, hosting the SCBWI Magical Middle Grade event with Lorelei Savaryn, learning all about her writing process, building magic systems, tying magic into plot, plus tips for creating engaging, heartfelt stories. The audience was so engaged that we ran overtime! If you’d like to join in the middle grade fun, a recording of event is available for a limited time .
Thrilled to be hosting Lorelei Savaryn, Children’s Author at our SCBWI Illinois Oak Park network online November meeting. Free and open to all. Join us to discuss all things middle grade, incl. building magic systems, tying magic into plot, finding inspiration, plus tips for creating engaging, heartfelt stories.
If you’re interested in writing or illustrating kidlit, you can access a wealth of professional information, support, and networking opportunities at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Join our SCBWI Oak Park network online tomorrow, Sept. 9, at 7pm CST for a free presentation by SCBWI Illinois‘s Regional Adviser, Deborah Topolski, to learn about the treasures on offer. https://illinois.scbwi.org/scbwi-il-2020-spring-networks/