News & Events

Mining the Story: Writers’ Retreat at Shake Rag Alley

I took part in the second Mining the Story: Writers’ Retreat at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts last weekend. Mineral Point is an old mining town in Wisconsin, now metamorphosed into a vibrant artist community. The place hums with ideas and creativity. Some great stories started to germinate and grow in my generative workshop in writing for young people. Thank you to all those enthusiastic participants who put away their adult selves for a while and delved back into the world of their childhoods. I have to confess, I loved introducing you to British classics, like The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, and new American classics, such as I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson.

I also learned about the relationship between art and storytelling in Philip Hartigan’s playful mark-making workshop — it is surprisingly helpful to deepen a sense of story — and about literary magazines with the founder of Hypertext Magazine, Christine Maul Rice, and artistic director Patricia McNair. Participants also took in-depth classes on the Short Story (Christine Maul Rice), Memoir (Patricia McNair) and the Novel (Shawn Shiflett). There was the option to create candy box books with Judith Sutcliffe and Philip Hartigan, and receive individual feedback on writing in one-to-one manuscript consultations.

A sense of community and fun was fostered over the weekend at the readings by both faculty and participants. The retreat will run again next year. It is something of a hidden gem.

See a clip of the opening of the retreat below (thanks Philip, for the video and photos).



Beverly Arts Center, Story-Builder Workshops

Are you a budding young writer? Could you be the next J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. Tolkien? Come along to my Story-Builder Workshop at the Beverly Arts Center and flex your creativity! For more details, click here for the Spring Program 2018 (see the Visual Arts Section). For young people aged 9-11 (Sat. April 14, 10am-12pm) and aged 12+ (Sat. April 21, 10am-12pm).

Book Review – A Properly Unhaunted Place

A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

This is my first book review in 2018 — a great choice for middle grade readers who are in the mood for an unusual, thought-provoking ghost story.  Click here for my review.

Shake Rag Alley – Writers’ Retreat, April 2018

Interested in carving out some dedicated writing time in lovely surroundings, while learning more about the craft of telling stories? The second annual Writers’ Retreat at the Shake Rag Alley School of Arts is scheduled for 27-29 April 2018. It is open to writers of all levels. I’ll be running a workshop in writing for young people. To find out more, click here.

Book review for Halloween

Boris and Bella by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Gris Grimly

I’ve been reviewing again — this time I picked a deliciously wicked picture book for Halloween. Click here for the full review.

Summer Writing Camps

Monster corner book marks

It’s almost time for school to start again, but I’ve had lots of fun over the last few months with the students in my summer writing camps.

I heard some wonderful story beginnings: from modern folktales, to time travel dystopias, to animal shenanigans, to memory-inspired realism.


Paper plate faces


My Grades 1-2 Story Explorer classes involved some book-related crafty fun. Here are some pictures of the projects we tried out.

It’s always exciting to hear the ideas and the meet the characters that are born in a workshop. Everyone has a story to tell.



Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial