Dear (Contact First Name),
elcome to the first Capitol City Young Writers' quarterly
newsletter, Write On!
I would like to thank each of you for becoming a member and
sharing your passion for writing at such a young age. You are taking those
first steps to share your dreams and hopefully turn them into a reality. My
hope is that we are able to provide a resource, to connect you with other young
writers throughout the world and provide unique mentoring and career building
What began small, with an interest in teaching creative
writing in my daughter's school, led to a series of events which later grew
into the reality of CCYW. Most
recently, our outreach has turned international with members in Canada and Germany.
This same passion and dedication extends to an amazing board
of directors who live throughout the U.S. Tracy Saville our vice president and
treasurer (CA), Mary Jo Campbell as secretary (IL), and board members Bob
Yehling (KY), Deborah LeBlanc (LA), Kathryn Mattingly (CA) and Bob Stanley
(CA). Each one of us believes in the power of education and mentoring and has
become a part of CCYW to share a diverse expertise in career, education and
Write On!, our
quarterly newsletter is one of many benefits you receive as a member. In each
issue, we will feature articles from published authors in a variety of
different genres from fiction and non-fiction to the business of marketing and
publishing. A "Spotlight Author" will be featured in each issue who will share
their journey as a writer. This month, Margaret Weis shares her success story,
speaks about the author who inspires her the most and offers helpful advice to
the young writers of today. Each newsletter will also highlight the early
success of a young writer - someone who is making their dreams a reality before
graduating from high school. If you have a success story and believe your story
would inspire others, or if you would like to see an article on a particular
topic please contact us at email@example.com.
One of the many benefits as a literary agent is to travel
each year throughout the U.S. and Canada to writers' conferences. The purpose
of a writers' conference is to gather with like minded writers who share a
passion for writing and to spend one to several days learning the art and craft
of writing as well as the business of writing. Classes vary from beginning to
advanced, allowing any level of writer to enjoy the benefits of attending.
recently, I attended the Truckee Meadows Community College Writer's Conference
in Reno, Nevada as a workshop presenter, sharing my expertise as a literary
agent with the attendees. These conferences are not solely for adults. Two CCYW
members attended this conference, Elena (grade 6) and Breanne (grade 9), both
who live in CA and traveled to Nevada in order to attend. Elena is a CCYW youth advisory board member
and returned with an experience that will not only add to her own abilities as
a writer, but with skills to enhance her leadership position to CCYW. Breanne
completed a full length fantasy fiction manuscript last November and had the
opportunity to try her "in person" pitch to Writer's Digest editor, Chuck
Sambuchino, in front of 150 other writers during a workshop. Both girls
impressed the attendees of the entire conference and received numerous
compliments and words of encouragement for their perseverance and
(Pictured: Elena, Chuck Sambuchino, Breanne)
Because I believe in the importance of writers' conferences,
I am currently working to provide scholarships to young writers at various
conferences throughout the U.S. Any
scholarship opportunities will be posted to the website and sent in an email
For members or sponsors who would like to provide a
conference scholarship, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scholarships are provided through individual donations and grants.
I look forward to hearing from you and I hope you enjoy the
President and Founder
Author Spotlight: Margaret Weis
Pictured: Margaret Weis with daughter, Lizz Baldwin Weis, who is also an author
Margaret Weis was born
and raised in Independence, Missouri. She attended the University of Missouir,
Columbia, graduating in 1970 with a BA degree in Literature and Creative Writing.
In 1983, she moved to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to take a job as book editor at
TSR, Inc., producers of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® role-playing game.
At TSR, Weis became
part of the DRAGONLANCE® design team. Created by Tracy Hickman, the Dragonlance
world has continued to intrigue fans of both the novel and the game for
generations. 2004 was the twentieth anniversary of the DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES,
which has sold over twenty million copies world wide. Dragons of Autumn Twlight has been made into an animated film
featuring the voices of Kiefer Sutherland, Michael Rosenbaum, and Lucy Lawless
from Paramount Pictures.
Weis is the
author/co-author of several other New York Times best-selling series, including
DARKSWORD, ROSE OF THE PROHET, STAR OF THE GUARDIANS, THE DEATHGATE CYCLE,
SOVEREIGN STONE, and, DRAGONVAARLD. Weis also continues to write with co-author
Tracy Hickman for the Dragonlance novel line, THE LOST CHRONICLES.
Weis and her daughter,
Lizz, have finished their newest romance novel, Fallen Angel, which was
published October, 2008. Margaret and Lizz are also working on a Wonder Woman
graphic novel for DC Comics with artist, Justiniano.
Weis is currently
working on a new six book series with Tracy Hickman, Dragonships of the
Vindras, to be published by Tor.
Weis is owner of
Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd., the Serenity Role Playing Game, based on the
movie by Josh Whedon, licensed from Universal Studios, and the Battlestar
Galactica RPG, also licensed from Universal, Supernatural, licensed from DC,
among other exciting game and book projects.
Weis lives in
Wisconsin with four dogs, Max, Tess, Dixie, and Joey. Weis and her dogs, Dixie
and Joey, enjoy competing in flyball tournaments. Also living with them is
mystery cat, Motley Tatters.
Interview with Margaret Weis:
When did you know that
you wanted to be a writer?
I was actually a storyteller long
before I knew I wanted to be a writer. My kindergarten teacher had me sit in a
little chair in front of the class and I told stories to the kids while she did
her paperwork. I was always the kid in the neighborhood who made up the stories
we used to act out when we played soldier or fairy princess locked in the
castle. I was good at telling stories and later on I found out I was good at
writing them down. It wasn't a big deal to me.
Other kids could hit a ball really far or run really fast.
What was the first experience that gained you recognition and how did you feel?
My first novel that I
wrote with co-author, Tracy Hickman, unexpectedly hit the New York Times best-seller
list. The book was Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the first volume in the
Dragonlance Chronicles. Tracy and I wrote it when we worked for TSR, inc., the
company that first produced the game, Dungeons and Dragons. I was astonished
and elated. In fact, I was so elated that when I fixed my kids tuna casserole
for dinner, I accidentally used cat tuna instead of Star-Kist. The kids loved
it. They said it was the best I'd ever made!
Who inspired you the most and/or who did you aspire to write like?
My family went to the
library every week. I read books from the time I was little. I remember reading
Dumas's the Three Musketeers in the fourth grade and I added the three
musketeers to our neighborhood games of make-believe. When I was a freshmen in
high school, I read all the Sherlock Holmes stories. I used to lie awake at
night and make up stories about Sherlock Holmes and how he and I and Dr. Watson
would solve mysteries together. I realize now that this was how I learned to
plot stories and develop characters. When I took creative writing courses in
college, I learned how to analyze books and short stories and poems to see the
techniques other writers used. I do that to this day!
Which of your past books are most memorable or rewarding to you?
That's like asking a mother which of
her kids is her favorite! I like them all for different reasons. But I guess my favorite book is always the
one I'm working on.
Please tell us about your current or future projects.
I'm currently working on a new
series for Tor books with Tracy Hickman. It's called Dragonships. The first
book is Bones of the Dragon. It's a fantasy about a young man named Skylan
Ivorson, who is the war chief of his people. Three sets of gods are going to
war over Skylan's world and his gods are losing. Skylan and his people go on a
quest in their dragonship to try to help their gods win the war.
What is the best advice you could give to young writers?
BE PATIENT! Give
yourself time to grow creatively. After all, if you play football in high
school, no matter how good you are, you're not going to play for the Green Bay
Packers. If you are taking ballet
lessons, you won't be asked to be prima ballerina with the American Ballet
Theater. It takes years of work and practice to be good at anything. Writing is
Know your target audience. Who are your most important customers, clients or prospects, and why? Know what is important to them and address their needs in your newsletter each month. Include a photo to make your newsletter even more appealing.
Insert a "read on" link at the bottom of your article to drive traffic to your website. Links are tracked, allowing you to see which articles create the most interest for your readers.
Business: Think You're Ready for an Agent? Not So Fast!
By: Chuck Sambuchino
Editor, Guide to
You finished your first novel. Congratulations. There were
bumps in the road along the way, but that was then, this is now. You're all finished. Done.
The next thing needed in your journey to being a famous author is
getting a literary agent to represent you.
Right? If that's what you're
thinking I have one thing to say to you.
the first draft of your novel is a monumental accomplishment, and a big step in
the right direction. But it's just
that. A step. There are more steps
I know what
you're thinking. You're thinking, "But
Chuck! It took me a year to finish this
dang beast of a book and I want to get moving on this. I think I should get it out there and see
what happens." If that is indeed what
you're thinking, know that it's a free country, and you're free to do whatever
you want. High-schoolers have sold
novels before. S.E. Hinton was a
teenager when her young adult novel, The
Outsiders, was published. The book
sold more than 10 million copies.
Lightning does strike.
you're serious about doing the process right, there are things you need to know
and do before you start looking for an agent.
Start with these four tips below.
1. Revise and
phrase goes: "Good writing is rewriting."
You've jumped the first hurdle on your path by sitting down, putting in
the hours, and completing a novel. Now
you need to set it aside for a few weeks then return to it with fresh
eyes. You'll quickly start to see
characters, scenes, dialogue and narrative that doesn't work as well as you
thought. Feel free to cut out
paragraphs or even chapters. If you
feel inspired to write new material, do so.
When you've finished editing, save this "new" version of the novel as a
2. Seek editing help.
writers who will swap work with you and give you a free critique. Do this by looking for local writing groups
(check online and in the newspaper). Or
look for online groups in the same genre you're writing in. For example, if you wrote a mystery, the
Mystery Writers of America might be a nice Web site to check out and soak
in. Some big sites may require a fee to
join, so think about asking for a year's membership as a birthday gift. Use Google to find lots of resources
online. It may be tough to hear someone
else criticize your work, but keep in mind you need to hear honest feedback-and
(once again it's a free country), if you don't like their suggestions, you
don't have to take 'em.
3. Don't stop
better at writing and editing as you go along.
The more you write and read, the more you learn. This means two things. First, it means that the work you create in
high school is not usually award-winning stuff, if you know what I mean. It's a start,
and you can learn from it. Second, know
that with each story, or screenplay, or article you write, you're getting better. The
worst thing you can do is put down your pen, declare yourself "finished" and
try to get an agent for this book you've written: your one and only novel. That's called "putting your eggs in one basket." You're young-keep going.
4. Educate yourself
challenging at first, but if you want to sell your work, you need to know the
process of how work gets sold. For
example, let's say you simply write a letter (or an e-mail) to a literary agent
and say, "I've written a mystery novel.
Will you be my agent?" The agent
will say no 100% of the time. That's
because if you want to get an agent, you have to submit a query letter, and a
query letter has a specific purpose, structure and format. Don't know what a query is-or perhaps what a
synopsis is? Don't worry-I had no clue
till I was much older than you. The
point is to get online to Web sites and slowly start to realize how books get
sold, and how contests work, and how magazines get articles, etc. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be
selling your writing and seeing your name in print. Good luck!
Chuck Sambuchino is the editor of Guide to Literary Agents and the assistant editor of Writer's Market (both Writer's Digest books). He is a former staffer of several newspapers and magazines-most notably Writer's Digest. In addition, he was recently named the founding editor of Screenwriter's and Playwright's Market, a directory and instructional resource for those who write scripts and plays (December 2008 release).
He is a produced playwright with both original and commissioned
works produced. Chuck is also a freelance editor, public speaker, and
award-winning journalist-with accolades from both the Kentucky Press
Association and the Cincinnati Society of Professional Journalists. He
teaches online instructional courses through Writers Online Workshops.
He is a magazine freelancer with recent articles appearing in Watercolor Magic, Pennsylvania Magazine, The Pastel Journal, Cincinnati Magazine and New Mexico Magazine
Fiction Craft: Hook Your Readers!
By Les Edgerton
from: Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs
Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go)
television and the speed and complexity of modern life have changed our reading
habits. Whether we do or not, most of us feel we have insufficient waking time
to get done all we need done each day. We're too busy for slow openings. And
movies have taken the lead in creating a product that caters to the
contemporary lifestyle. When movies were first created, they followed the
literary model. It has come to pass that films have passed the written word in
popularity and now it is movies that drive the entertainment engine. Novels and
short stories nowadays imitate movie structure.
What does that mean to you, the
young and beginning writer? It means that if you expect to have your work
published, you will need to understand modern story structure. First, you need
to accept as fact that publishable stories are always and without exception
about one thing always and that one thing is: trouble. If you accept that-and you really should, because it's
true-then you should know that today's stories begin in one place. Where the
trouble begins. Not ten years before the trouble or even ten minutes before,
but when the trouble begins. The
trouble begins with a story element we call "the inciting incident."
The definition of the inciting incident is "something that happens to the
protagonist that creates and/or reveals the story problem to him or her."
I won't go into depth on inciting incidents or what passes for trouble in
fiction because of limited space here, but you need to become familiar with the
definitions of what constitutes trouble in literary terms and how inciting
incidents work and are written, available in any good writing text, including
my own book, Hooked.
The best way to learn to be a good writer
is to read everything you can get your hands on and write. Read and write. It's
really that simple. However, when you read, be aware of the fact that writing
changes and always take that into consideration. What I mean by that is that
while we should read and also respect those writers who came before us, many
times those "masters" are using techniques that aren't used nowadays
and therefore they may not make the best models for our own writing.
great example is William Faulkner. A brilliant writer, he was one of the
pioneers of the writing technique known as "stream-of-consciousness."
However, Mr. Faulkner is dead and his work is frozen in time. There are many
writers today who use stream-of-consciousness in their writing today much
better than Faulkner did, writers such as Gordon Lish or Amy Hempl for
instance. If Faulkner were still alive he would have had the benefit of all
we've learned about writing technique and being a smart guy, his books would be
taking advantage of this and would look much different today than they did
then. Whenever a great writer is offered up to you for instruction, keep in
mind that many times their style is considered dated by today's standards and
therefore some of what they did cannot be emulated.
* * *
And finally... a prescription.
Be true to yourself.
I taught creative writing for three
years at the University of Toledo and although I'm a couple of years removed
from that gig, I still get emails and phone calls and mail from students I was
privileged to teach while there. I just got another email from one of my best
students yesterday and thought folks might be interested in her story. She's a
wonderful writer and it just so happens she's a young black woman. Normally, a
writer's race wouldn't be notable, but in this case it is, I think.
When she came to my class the
first time, she told me that another professor in the department whose classes
she'd taken before mine, had told her she needed to quit writing the fantasy
novel she'd been working on for years and instead, write about her "black
experience." I was dumbfounded, especially since the young student told me
she could care less about her so-called "black experience," feeling
that all she'd ever had was an "American citizen experience," or a
"resident of Toledo experience," and what she really enjoyed reading
and writing about was fantasy. But, she now had doubts. I told her that I
thought this teacher's advice was the silliest I'd ever heard. What does it
matter if she was black or white... or green or purple? Write what you want to
write, I told her. If Samuel Delany had had a teacher like this woman had and
told him he should only write about his "black experience," we'd
never have gotten to enjoy his wonderful sci-fi books.
Well, my bright young student
has finished her novel (fantasy) and it's really darned good. She's in the
process of securing an agent and sending her "baby" out into the
world. Not a word in it about any "black experience."
Wonder what this teacher is
going to say when her former student's book gets published...
The first rule in teaching
should be: Do no harm.
Too bad some folks don't
follow this precept.
* * *
If you're looking for good writing
texts, I'd like to suggest both of my own, Finding
Your Voice and Hooked. I'd also
like to recommend to you the book I consider the very best on writing, Janet
Burroway's Writing Fiction: A Guide to
Narrative Craft. It's a pricey book (but worth every cent if you can afford
it!) and you can get a much cheaper, used copy at www.abebooks.com.
Les Edgerton has published nine books, including a novel, a
collection of short stories, and two writer's how-to's. His fiction has been
nominated for the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award,
PEN/Faulkner Award, Jesse Jones Book Award, and the Violet Crown Book Award,
among others. One of his screenplays was a semifinalist in the Academy Award's
Nicholl's Foundation and another was named a finalist in the Writer's
Guild Awards and a semifinalist in the Best of Austin Screenplay competition.
He's taught creative writing for the UCLA Extension Writer's Program, was the
visiting writer-in-residence for the University of Toledo, the visiting writer
for Trine University, and teaches creative writing online for the Gotham
Writer's Workshop, for Vermont College (where he earned his MFA in Writing),
and for Writer's Digest Writer's Online Workshop (WOW). He also provides
private coaching for the writing of a number of prominent Hollywood
personalities. Les will participate in two of the nation's most
prestigious literary events, this summer. First, at the University of
Wisconsin's Writer's Institute, where he will be the co-headliner along with
Linda Seger, screenwriting guru. LesEdgerton.com
Non-Fiction Craft: Memoir Writing
Write Your Story Now!
Linda Joy Myers
National Association of Memoir Writers
The young man grinned across the table from me as he
adjusted his owl-shaped glasses. "I've had all these experiences I want to
write about, but who will listen to me? I'm only 18, and no one thinks I've had
much of a life yet."
His eyes glanced down at his hands where the loops and
twirls of a tattoo encircled his fingers. They folded into hands of
supplication and then fluttered apart like nervous birds. In his dark eyes, I
could see the passion to tell his story. I told him, "You have the passion to
write your story, and you've already started.
Your poetry, songs, and blogs are your story. You can capture your ideas
and thoughts any way you want, just make sure you write while it's fresh." He
nodded and fiddled with his iPod, his face relaxing into a smile.
As the President of the National Association of Memoir
Writers, I encounter many people, young and old, who have a story to tell and
who want to write a memoir. This is a great time to write your story because
there are so many ways to tell a story, and so many places where you can share
it. No matter how old, or young, you are, from the time of your birth you fell
into the story of your family, friends, school, and companions. We enter the
world in the middle of other people's stories, and intertwine ourselves in and
out of the tapestry of life that's made of many colors.
Often, people ask me, " Where do I start? How do I know if
my story is boring?" My answer is always this: start anywhere. Write about an
experience you had that you can never forget. Put yourself back in the
scene-remember how things smelled, looked, tasted. The sounds around you,
notice the faces, fabrics, and feelings you had then. Throw it onto the page quickly
without censoring. Allow yourself to be messy and unorganized, that is how the
creative mind works.
After you have done some of these stories, then you can
figure out when they happened, you can create a timeline for your stories, and
have a sense of whether you want to edit them, put them in a blog, or start
writing a book.
The important thing when you want to write your life is to
begin, and begin now. If you have a
passion, a "fire in the belly" to write, let it guide you. Take dictation, and
don't listen to any critics. It is your story. It is your life. Begin writing
Myers, Ph.D. has had a therapy practice in Berkeley, California for 30 years
and has taught memoir writing as a healing practice for 10 years. She is
President and Founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers.
Linda is in the process of completing a non-fiction book on the healing
benefits of writing memoir to be published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley in 2010 and
is also the author of a book-length memoir, Don'tCall Me
Mother: Breaking the Chain of Mother Daughter Abandonment, which received
the Gold Medal Award from the Bay Area Independent Publishing Association in
2007. A chapter from the book was a finalist in the 2005 Writers Digest
Nonfiction contest. Linda Joy Myers
Poetry Craft: Fool-proof Forms
# 1 - Freewriting
By: Bob Stanley
Sometimes poetry forms can
seem difficult, and they keep us from getting started. So I look for ways that
help me write. One of the simplest ways to "get ideas on paper" is called freewriting. Now freewriting might lead to
a poem, and it might not. But the idea behind it is that if you write something, you'll write more. The only rule of
freewriting is "keep writing." Don't stop for anything. Especially don't stop
because you are worried if it's any good. The truth is, when you put words on
paper, you start to have ideas. So just let your mind ramble - let the words
lead your mind and don't stop - and you'll discover ideas you didn't know you
Natalie Golberg has used
freewriting to help her in her writing career. These are some of the pointers
- Give yourself a
time limit. Write for one or ten or twenty minutes, and then stop.
- Keep your hand
moving until the time is up. Do not pause to stare into space or to read
what you've written. Write quickly but not in a hurry.
- Pay no
attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness, or style. Nobody
else needs to read what you produce here. The correctness and quality of
what you write do not matter; the act of writing does.
- If you get off
the topic or run out of ideas, keep writing anyway. If necessary, write
nonsense or whatever comes into your head, or simply scribble: anything to
keep the hand moving.
So the next time you're
stuck for an idea, try freewriting, and see where it takes you. If you pick up
some ideas for topics to expand on, then you can go back and write about them.
Freewriting can work for creative pieces like poetry or fiction, and it can
help with essays, too. You can use it in the beginning of a writing process, or
in the middle. Learn to make freewriting work for you - it may seem silly at
first, but it's a proven cure for "Writers' Block."
(Fool-Proof Forms #2 - Anaphora will be featured in June 2009's Write On!)
Bob Stanley teaches creative writing and English composition
at CSU Sacramento and Sacramento City College.
Bob's poems have been published in various journals and anthologies, and
have won a number of awards including the California
Focus on Writers first prize for poetry in 2006. President of the Sacramento Poetry Center, Bob is currently
editing a collection of poetry by poets laureate from the cities and counties
of California. He and his wife Joyce have four children, and they have lived in
the Arden area of Sacramento since 1989. Bob's first chapbook, Walt Whitman Orders a Cheeseburger, will
be published by Rattlesnake Press in the spring of 2009.
Screenwriting Craft: Formula for Writing Success
My "Formula" for
by Eldon Thompson
There's no such thing as overnight success. Or if there is, I haven't met anyone who
encountered it. If you talk to someone
who achieved a rapid rise in fame, fortune, or some other pursuit, I'd be willing
to bet that what they truly experienced is simply the manifestation of years
and years of preparation, dedication, and discipline finally paying off.
I enjoy lifting weights.
I have for nearly twenty years, since deciding in the Eighth Grade that
I needed to get bigger and stronger if I wished to excel at football. Nowadays, a lot of people I meet in the gym
want to know my secret to staying fit.
They ask questions like: "What
do you eat? Do you take any
supplements? Have you ever used
steroids?" The assumption is
that there's some magic recipe that they might follow in order to enjoy an
Unfortunately, it's not that easy. I have only a rudimentary understanding of what constitutes a
good diet. The only supplements I've
taken can be picked up at GNC. My
"secret" is simply to lift hard an average of two hours a day, six
days a week, for almost two decades.
It's much the same with writing. If there's a magic bullet or secret pill for getting published, I
never found it. Nor have any of the
other professional writers I've met over the years, many of whom are much more
accomplished than I am. What I have found, despite the myriad roads to
publication, are certain commonalities-traits and practices that each and every
one of these professionals exercised in order to achieve their goals. It's the closest I've managed to come to
devising a formula that aspiring writers might follow. I call it the 6 "P's".
(1) Passion -
First and foremost, you have to love to write.
Passion for the craft will ignite your endeavors and sustain you when
times are hard. No matter how much you
enjoy it, there will be days in which you wonder why you bother, why you don't
simply give up. Mere enjoyment won't
get you through. You have to love it so
much that not writing is more painful
than writing could ever be. It's been
said that if you can do something other than write, you should do that
instead. My feeling is that nothing in
life is easy, so you might as well do what you love.
(2) Preparation -
If a person has a specific goal or destination, chances are, they will not
reach it by accident. Travelers have
maps or navigation systems. Builders
have blueprints. Coaches have game
plans. If lacking these planning
materials, the odds of success decrease dramatically. Why should writing be any different? If you're just toying around, that's one thing. But if you have a goal, then look ahead to
see how best to get there. Take the
time to analyze your story idea, synopsis, outline (whether loose or detailed),
pitches, proposals, and query letters.
When ready to submit, research agents, editors, and the marketplace in
general. If you are haphazard in your
approach, you will likely reap haphazard results.
(3) Practice - The
more you work at something, the more natural it becomes. For most writers, storytelling is largely
instinctual. But there is always room for improvement, and any
writer worth his or her salt is always striving for it. Professional athletes don't just show up on
game day. They review their
fundamentals, analyze opponent tendencies, and practice their techniques over
and over again. There's no better
method for improving one's physical, mental, or artistic skills than simply
logging the repetitions. For writers,
that means reading everything you can get your hands on and writing as much as
is humanly possible. You'll meet lots
of people who claim to have amazing story ideas. But writers sit their tails in the chair and actually write.
(4) Patience -
This may be the hardest notion to accept, particularly for inexperienced
writers. We all think ours is the next
great tale, and there's a tendency to want to rush it to market before someone
beats us to it. Having such aspirations
can be a positive thing, but expecting overnight results can lead to undue
frustration. In the world of
publishing, few things happen quickly.
Even after you've written and revised your manuscript to "perfection,"
you'll spend weeks, months, or years submitting to agents/editors and awaiting
their responses. Even when you are finally published, you may wonder
why readers aren't racing to bookstores to snatch your debut volume off the
shelves. Rather, you'll likely have
published two or three volumes before anyone realizes you've written one. It all can
happen faster, but it rarely does. I
hate to see aspiring writers get discouraged when they realize just how slowly
the wheels of publishing tend to turn.
So think of writing as a marathon, not a sprint. Dream big, but set a long-term pace, and
don't expect too much too soon.
(5) Prioritize -
To become a professional writer, you'll likely have to give up something of
lesser importance to you along the way.
As I mentioned above, writing takes time-and lots of it. Every moment you spend playing games,
watching TV, or hanging out with friends is a moment in which you could be
honing some aspect of your craft. Going
without sleep, spending money on writers conferences, giving up your Friday
nights out-these are the types of sacrifices you may have to make if you plan
to take your work to the next level. I
don't recommend ignoring your family and friends completely. Don't shirk responsibilities such as school,
work, or chores. But if writing is
truly important to you, make it a priority.
Look at other hobbies that mean less to you, and consider cutting them
out of your schedule. Life is filled
with balances and tradeoffs. With
writing, as with all things, you may have to repeatedly ask yourself how badly
you want it.
(6) Perseverance -
I know it sounds trite, but the surest way to fail is to stop trying. People out there (even friends and family)
will tell you you're foolish to pursue a career in writing. At times, you'll wonder if they're
right. Some level of doubt is
necessary, as it pushes us to work harder, to challenge ourselves to do
better. There's nothing shameful about
changing your mind and altering your professional pursuits. But if you truly want to write, then do
so. You may have to modify your
specific actions from time to time in order to achieve better results. You may have to take time off entirely to
deal with something else life throws your way.
No matter your circumstances, however, the ultimate decision is
yours. If building a writing career is
what you really, really want, then don't let anyone tell you it can't be done.
There it is, my formula for writing success. In today's fast-food, movies-on-demand,
instant-communication society, it may not be what folks want to hear. But it's the best advice I can offer. Would you prefer that it be easy? If it were, everyone would be doing it. So look at it as a way to challenge
yourself, to do something that sets you apart from the pack. And imagine the sense of joy and
accomplishment you'll feel when able to fulfill a dream that others told you
Like most fantasy writers,
Eldon Thompson is an avid weightlifter and wishes he was playing quarterback in
the NFL. But a hardcover deal with HarperCollins for his "Legend of Asahiel" trilogy
seems a fair consolation prize. In it, he is dutifully following some of the
longest-standing conventions of the genre... so that he can tear them all down
and catch a reader or two by surprise. If that doesn't work, he is on the verge
of making a splash in Hollywood - and hopes that he won't merely drown. His
screenplay adaptation of Terry Brooks's "Shannara" is currently indevelopment at Warner Bros.
It From the Rooftops: How To Develop The Self-promotion Habit
Your heart warms with pride, your cheeks
burn with a tinge of self-revelation, and your stomach flutters at the thought
that you have made your innermost thoughts public. No matter how comfortably or
uncomfortably you experience these feelings, without a doubt I'm talking about
one of the best feelings in the world: seeing your byline appear after the
title of a piece you wrote and got published.
But perhaps one of the worst feelings is
immersing yourself into a piece of writing, rewriting and rewriting and
rewriting it until every word is as perfect as the lyrics in your favorite
song, actually getting it published, and then having nobody but your mother,
your grandparents, and your best friend seek out the piece and read it.
Fortunately, you can prevent this sad
scenario from happening when your words make it into print by becoming one of
the increasing numbers of authors who champion what they write. By making a
commitment to marketing yourself and your hard work before and after it goes to
print, your words will get read. And by becoming the producer-in-chief of all
your writing endeavors present and future, you will never have to worry about
anonymity today, tomorrow, and as long as you choose to write.
Does this sound like a huge
responsibility? It isn't. You can guarantee that your words will actually be
read by real live people who are not even related to you by getting yourself
out there and getting the hang of promoting yourself. Here are four easy
examples to tackle when you are ready:
an e-mail list:
Who are the people who like to hear about
your writing success? Why not start a list in your address book with them and
keep adding to it as time goes by. You can start by sending out simple regular
announcements of good things that happen-just be sure to get permission. One
way to get permission is to send an announcement about your work out to
everyone you know and tell them that they can unsubscribe if they don't want to
receive future messages from you on the topic.
Create a sign-off at the bottom of your
message that invites people to forward your writing-related news to their
friends who might also be interested. Once you start to get into high numbers
of subscribers (say, 100+), it's time to start checking out automated
newsletter services like www.aweber.com, www.zinester.com, or
www.constantcontact.com to streamline the endeavor. Then people can come and go
whenever they please without creating more work for you.
a simple website:
Although social networking is fun, a
proper writer's website is not a Facebook or a Myspace page; it's not even a
blog. So save the detailed descriptions of your quirks and faves for the social
networking you will do after you've built yourself a solid website to publicize
your genuine writing credentials (creds) across the ethers while you are
sleeping. And if you don't have any genuine writing creds yet, getting some is
an important first step.
Once you have some creds to share, it's
time to test-drive some simple site-building software like Adobe's Contribute
or a free online version like www.dotnetnuke.com. Avoid any web-building
services that are going to flash gratuitous advertising across your site.
Better to cough up a few bucks once a year than have a site that's crowded and
rife with messages you can't control.
To earn the dough to pay for your site's
expenses, why not post links to your favorite books and ask folks to place
their book and product orders through your site so you can earn referral fees?
A few bucks a month adds up over the course of a year. Check out a widget
called Adaptive Blue (www.adaptiveblue.com) that can reference all the
available online booksellers while including your affiliate link to retailers
who make one available.
when it makes sense:
Blogging can be great for writers
assuming three things:
ample material to draw on and time to blog regularly.
the time to determine your appropriate audience, topic and your specific slant
(or take) on your topic for your specific audience.
plan on starting a blog, blogging like mad for six weeks, and then disappearing
from the face of the blogosphere without a trace. Preparation can prevent this
common pitfall from happening to you.
Quite frankly, when you consider all the
time and energy a blog requires, sometimes it makes more sense to cultivate
your email list, aim for publication credits, develop your website and blog
later. Or even not blog at all. Because down the road, you'll have a better
idea whether or not the strategy of blogging is the best one for you. In my
experience working with adult writers, blogging can suck up a lot of energy
that might be better devoted to the writing and pitching skills necessary for
long-term success as a writer.
Why not offer your services doing
writing-related work like mentoring, tutoring, becoming a teaching assistant or
camp counselor so you can become rich with inspiration, confidence and opportunities
too? Staying home and curling up with your pen and journal is great, but
isolation is not a long-term strategy for writing success. Private time for
personal reflection is vital for any writer, but equally important is taking
the risk of expanding your interests to include interaction with like-minded
I host an author series in my hometown
and I recruited a senior in high school to assist me when the task became too
big for me to manage myself. This is an amazing opportunity for Ashleigh because
not only does she get to attend the entire series for free and take notes on
what the authors say as one of her responsibilities, she's also been inspired
to apply for a scholarship to a local writers conference. Volunteering has
spawned numerous writing ideas and conversations with professional writers that
might not have happened had she simply stayed home.
Now you know what can you do to encourage
readers to step right up and read your latest gems without becoming like a
carnival barker. Make peace with promoting yourself as a writer and then work
at it continually. Because if you want to write for today's marketplace,
self-promotion is key to keeping your published work vital and cultivating a
readership who will keep coming back for more.
Katz is the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career
Alongside Your Kids(2007)and Get
Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (2008) for Writer's Digest Books. She is a graduate of
Dartmouth College and holds an MFA in Fiction from Columbia College, Chicago.
Christina is publisher and editor of three free e-zines: Writers On The Rise, The Writer Mama, and the Get Known Groove. A passionate writing instructor, she has mentored
hundreds of writers through her classes over the past eight years. Learn more
Songwriting: Interview with Erik Vanderheydt
An Interview with Erik Vanderheydt, Songwriter & Graduating Senior
By Tracy Saville
About studying music and songwriting, Jimmy Webb in
his book "Tunesmith" said, "It's never too early or too late to start". So
true; take Erik Van Derheydt, age 17 and a senior at Rio Americano High School
in Sacramento, California, for example. Erik's been writing music for 2 years,
playing keyboards for 2, and drums for 4, although he says he's ten times
better on the keyboards, that this is where his natural talent lies. Here's
what new CCYW member Erik had to share about songwriting and his songwriting
experience when I caught up with him recently in between rehearsals for two
performing and recording band projects, composing the international theme song
for Capitol City Young Writers, and the last part of his Senior year.
Lyrics or music? I'm not a big fan of writing lyrics, but I have to
write them, so I do it well. I collaborate with others a lot, like I am with
this CCYW project. I'll end up doing most of the music and my two partners will
probably work a lot on lyrics and helping to compose and produce the song.
biggest creative difference between the two? Personally, I'm a composer, I see and hear the music before I see or
hear the words. It's true; you have to learn the rules and practice before you
can write a book, which is the same for writing music. I'm not formally
trained, and I started by doing everything by ear. Also, I find it easier to
express my emotions through the music itself, because some emotions can't be
described by words. I also like my lyrics to have a story (not like a musical),
or have a lot of meaning to them. I don't really like music with no meaning to
it, like a lot of popular music today.
Who turned you on
to writing music? My dad. He is an
awesome keyboard player, guitarist, and bassist. He built a home studio a
couple of years ago; he bought tons of recording equipment and a Yamaha es7
keyboard. I started messing with the keyboard later on, and then started
writing my own music. I didn't really have a reason to write except I wanted
to; I felt a need to write music. I think I have a knack for it, but I also do
it all day every day, so...
Who are your
influences and what do you listen to? I
listen to ALL kinds of music. Classical, Symphonic Metal, Avant Garde, and
Death Metal are my favorites. Early on I was inspired a lot by Rammstein and
Nightwish. I often listen to bands like Wintersun, Unexpect, Ensiferum, Dog
Fashion Disco, Dimmu Borgir, and Opeth. I listen to composers like Hans Zimmer,
James Newton Howard, Steve Jablonsky, Elliot Goldenthal, Mozart, Verdi, Brahms,
Chopin. The more complex and epic, the better.
your only talent? I can draw pretty
well, and also write stories pretty well. But I live and breathe music every
Where do you want
to take your songwriting? Everywhere.
What advice do
you have for youth who want to pursue a career in songwriting? Learn, learn, and learn, wherever and however you
can. If you're writing and you're frustrated, take a break. When you're writing
the same song for awhile, it will start to sound stale and not good enough to
you; everything won't sound good enough and you won't be motivated to continue.
I've encountered that problem tons of times. Also, don't be arrogant, because
there will always be someone better than you. Arrogance will blind you and
prevent you from moving forward. Nobody will want to work with you and you'll
end up going through so many band members you won't get anything done.
If there was one
big goal or dream that songwriting could bring you, what would it be? All I want is to be successful enough with my music
so I can donate most of my money and be financially secure for the rest of my
life. My goal is to help other people, because one man doesn't really need to
have a lot to be happy.
More about Erik and his
music here: www.myspace.com/solomusicianerikv
My Most Excellent Year-a Novel of Love, Mary Poppins & Fenway Park
by Steve Kluger
by: Becky Levine
T.C. Keller and Augie Hwong have been best friends
since first grade, when T.C.'s mother died and Augie was the only kid who knew
the right things to say. They are so close, they consider each other brothers
and share vacations, houses, and parents. Then Alé Perez comes to school and
catches T.C.'s attention. In many books, this change would cause problems for
the guys, but Kluger makes Alé a great friend to Augie as well as a romantic
interest for T.C.
Of course, things don't start that smoothly. In the
first "conversation" between T.C. and Alé, T.C. sticks a note in Alé's social
studies book, and Alé replies with a letter in an envelope that looks like it
came from the principal's office.
DEAR ALLIE: I'M CONSIDERING A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.
AND BY THE WAY, FORGET THAT MRS. FITZPATRICK CALLS ME ANTHONY. YOU CAN CALL ME
* * *
I appreciate your recent interest, but I'm not accepting
applications at this time. Your letter will be kept in our files and someone
will get back to you if there is an opening.
Thank you for thinking of me.
P.S. It's not "Allie." It's Alé.
Notes? Letters? That's not all. Kluger has stepped way outside the typical
chapter-after-chapter style of most books. His story is told by over a dozen
different narrators, including the three main characters, their parents, and a
CIA agent. Keller's characters use every "written" form of communication from
journal entries to email to text messaging.
When Augie finally realizes he's gay (which
everybody else already knew!), he IMs T.C.
AugieHwong: What would you
say if I told you I think I like boys? I mean LIKE boys. I mean the way you
AugieHwong: That's it??
TCKeller: Depends. Who's the
AugieHwong: Andy Wexler.
TCKeller: The jury's out. I
need to see how he treats you first.
Kluger handles all the
relationships in this book beautifully. Yes, he includes conflict, but the
ground beneath these kids-thanks to their friendship and families-is so rock
solid they can grow with the changes that come along. Not only does Kluger write
tightly and with laugh-out-loud humor, he's given the reader an alternative to
the many books that throw their characters head first into deep, dark problems.
Because, in this book,
even Mary Poppins is real. The triangle turns into a team when Hucky Evan
Harper comes along. Hucky is deaf, pretty angry, and worships Mary Poppins.
Mary Poppins, not Julie Andrews.
Coached by his memories of his mother, and backed up by Augie and Alé, T.C. is
determined to make Hucky's dreams come true. By the time the story is over, the
"family" that T.C. and Augie share has stretched to include Alé, Andy Wexler,
Hucky, and...well, you'll have to read the book.
My Most Excellent Year-a Novel of Love, Mary
Poppins & Fenway Park is a fun, happy story
about romances that work out and dreams that come true. This book isn't likely
to get assigned in your English class or even handed to you for extra credit,
but it's going to make you smile and laugh as you turn every page. And that's
not a bad thing.Bio:
Becky Levine is a writer and
speaker, living in California's Santa Cruz mountains. She writes for children
and young adults, and is currently working on a historical YA set in Chicago,
in 1913. Becky is the author of The Writing Group Survival Guide, coming from
Writers Digest Books in 2010. You can learn more about Becky at her website and
Young Writer Success Story: Samson Dada
Interview with Young Published Journalist, Samson Dada, age 17
Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell
1) How old were you when you had your first article
published and what did that feel like?
I was sixteen years old when I had my first paid article published in
the North and East Manchester Advertiser last summer on Thursday 24 July 2008. Although, I was fortunate enough to have three separate articles published during a one-week work experience placement I spent at the same paper, this was my first paid article of considerable length that I had chosen myself. Asylum seekers: "Should they be allowed to stay?" aimed to make more of the local community aware of the misconceptions and misplaced generalisations that not everyone seeking asylum in the United Kingdom receives financial support and free accommodation. People seek asylum for different reasons, ranging
from escaping tyranny to looking for employment and learning
opportunities. My feelings were a sense of relief as well as
accomplishment. This was because I had been offered the chance to write for the
newspaper at the age of 13, but my inexperience and unfamiliarity with the
basic structures of writing newspaper articles had me writing many different
I remember writing a 1,000 word draft that had no quotes
and a long quote from myself in the format of Samson Dada said.....Eventually after taking out a lot of time in between and giving the editor a lot of lame excuses, my article was eventually published. I also spent quite a lot of time gathering many quotes and making persistent phone calls. I will always remember my first publication for two reasons. One because it was the day when Barrack Obama addressed a crowd of over 200,000 in Tiergarten, Berlin with his "This is our moment" speech, and secondly because my article received written reaction from readers, which led me to be becoming their first ever Youth Community Correspondent. Because I was drooling over my article, I missed Obama's speech, but thank God for You-tube. I doubt
that if this article was as good as it was then my editor Gerry Sammon would be placing his trust in me now to be publishing my articles on a regular basis.
2) Can you give us a quick overview of your writing process? (how do you get your ideas, form them into a story, revise and pitch for
That is a very good question! Homecooks never reveal their secret
recipes, but I will reveal my writing formulae. I may take a national,
international or regional story and try to relate this story to the
local area by including local case studies and or local quotes in my
article. My 'Future hopes now rest with President Obama's article was related to the international event of his inauguration, but the reason it was published was because there was relevance to North and East Manchester. For example, a secretary of the Manchester Cuban Solidarity Campaign group told me that President Obama could improve relations with Cuba by lifting the blockade, lifting the travel ban and freeing the five anti-terrorists serving long sentences in the US following trumped up charges of spying. There are three main different styles of articles that I can present to my to the editor: Informative news
articles, opinion pieces and exclusive interviews. My first three paid articles
for the newspaper were
opinion pieces for me to make a strong statement, but now I am
focusing a lot of getting original news stories to the readers and
also having more exclusive interviews. Last month I secured my first exclusive interview with the chairman of a local football team called Moston Juniors.
I get quotes by emailing the relevant sources, then if there is no
reply closer to my deadline, I phone to them to try and arrange
something. All too often I relied on solely sending emails but there
are not always received in time or responded to. This article:
is a follow up to an originally reported story, so I sometimes respond to stories. The most basic point to remember is to write directly to suit your audience. Because of my interest in national and international affairs I used to fall into a trap of writing a well
written national or international article that had no relevance to my
target audience. So, if you like your publication, find out their
audience, read their articles, analyse their style and adapt to it.
3) Who are your greatest writing influences and why?
One of my greatest writing influences is William Shakespeare because he was a man who lived for writing. He was a true writer in the sense that his versatility was phenomenal. Shakespeare was the wizard of writing with a Midas touch. He wrote poems, plays and novels. A huge indicator of his influence is that his writings were translated into every major language. His works made plays such as Romeo and Juliet and King Lear. Many people still read his works for pleasure, and cover him in curriculum's across the world. My greatest modern influences are J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman and John Grisham. Rowling appreciating and understanding her audience along with her perseverance during extremely painful times in her life make her the success she is today. Philip Pullman captures what description and imagination are by creating worlds with his Dark Materials trilogy.
John Grisham has an influence of me because he is someone with a story. As an ex-politician and retired attorney, his legal and crime
thrillers have sold over 250 million copies worldwide, and this is the
measure of his experiences. Accomplished journalists such as Sky News' Jeremy Thompson and Sir Trevor McDonald are brilliant influences for me to aspire to be, as well as Hunter Thompson and Walter Cronkite because their rare longevity and professionalism is someone I would like to have as a writer.
But I would say that my greatest writing influence is Cleland Thom.
He is one of the UK´s leading journalism trainers, and made me the youngest
ever member of his premier gold mentoring scheme. He also offered me a scholarship to achieve my NCTJ Journalism qualification with CTJT Online courses. Despite his very busy schedule, when I email him he always gives me great advice in many things apart from journalism. He has helped a lot in my life, and is a big contributor in my development towards becoming a qualified newspaper journalist.
4) I see that you are very passionate about politics. Do you feel
that young writers can go further in their writing careers if they
have a "specialty" or "niche" to write about? How has
it helped you
gain more publishing credits?
Firstly, I believe that as a writer it is important, especially if you
work in print journalism to be able to adapt and write about a range
of different issues from archaeology to zoo keeping events.
Secondly, having specialist knowledge and understanding of two or even three areas places you head and shoulders above millions of print journalists. There is obviously freedom and the opportunity to break in markets that will accept your work. The same principle applies to broadcasting. There are news correspondents who report on stories that are assigned to them by the news desk, but specialist correspondents such as political and business ones are placing with a greater responsibility of reporting the news for their important areas. With regard to your question of whether it has helped me gain more publishing credits, the paper I write for is not a specialist one, but my knowledge of US politics allowed me to write about Obama's inauguration and get it published. I do envy the MSNBC White House correspondents such as Chuck Todd, Savanna Guthrie, John Yang and David Gregory.
5) What is on your desk right now (either objects or writing projects?)
There are no great
big lists of writing projects on my desk, but I
have recently had an advertisement about my role in the newspaper, so my brother cut it out and placed it on card. It is now a stand up label on my desk. I like the thought of having 'Samson Dada, Editor' in a large headquarters somewhere. To the left of my desk, next to my hard drive resting on a shelf, there are several books such as Alan Greenspan: The Age of Turbulence which I am enjoying at the moment, The Blair Years by Alistair Campbell and Ann Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. I do not have a clue when I will finish them. Under my desk I often place my journalism portfolio there when I feel like massaging my ego!
Samson Dada, age: 17, resides in the United Kingdom with his parents and brother. He is a student at Xaverian Sixth Form College, studying English Language and Literature, History, Government and Politics.
Writing projects include: Youth Community Correspondent for the North and East Manchester Advertiser; one of three editors for Xpress (College magazine);
and contributor for up and coming magazine.
Ambitions: Become a qualified journalist, write for a national
newspaper and eventually become an editor, own a media business, be an American writer/ correspondent, possibly enter into politics and release at least one book.
Blog/site link: http://samsondada.com/articles/
Grammar: Hip, Slick, Important, Cool, and No Silly
by Professor Brad Henderson,AKA, the neo-cowboy poet and blues-rock drummer "Beau
As a young
person in junior high or high school--among other things, like what your
favorite sport or music group is, where might you go to college or get a job
someday, or whom you secretly admire and want to date--does grammar
matter? Or is it something totally
lame, unnecessary, and weird--like placating your Aunt Margo by dressing up as
a junior member of the Order of the Antelope Family Club and wasting an entire
Saturday morning marching with her and a bunch of old-fogies in a community
Hi-ho. Before you answer, my noble
grade-6-through-12 students, let me ask you this: Do you care about your own ideas--that
is, your signature, creative, and educated thoughts and feelings about your
life, other persons' lives, and all else going on in world around you? My guess is that your answer is definitely yes!
Then, guess what? Like it or
not, grammar--that age-old system for capturing an idea so that it can be
spoken or written, and, hence, saved by you and also shared by you--is pretty
get real, and take a look at what grammar is
and what it is not. First-off, a lot of people--young, old, even
some people who are technically dead and living on in dusty textbooks--preach
about grammar as if it were a thick code book--an exhaustive set of rules and
regulations having to do with how to use specific words when one speaks and
writes. These people seem to be on a
mission of teaching innocent students a bazillion dos and don'ts about grammar,
one punishment at a time. For example, "No! It's not, 'Alexis and me are going to the
mall." It's 'Alexis and
I...'." Or, "My goodness,
that's wrong! One should say, 'That
pile of video games was Jason's. Not
people, let's call them Grammar Vice Principals (GVPs), have good intentions,
but it is they, not you, who should be punished. Yes, grammar does guide speakers and writers to arrange words
properly in sentences. And the GVPs are
often correct relative to the "corrections" they suggest. But they're wrong to imply that being
grammatical is a penance centered around not breaking rules.
true. Being grammatical when you speak
or write means trying to do
something--as opposed to trying not
to do something--regarding the expression of your individual ideas--the
activities of people, places, and things that matter to you. Grammar is a common system of logic for
encoding ideas into language. We need a
common system of logic, rather than random and individualized systems, because
multiple people must use the system, decode it, and make sense out of it. In some ways, too, grammar is cosmic and
universal--sort of like the essence of great music--songs that sound
"sweet" and make you feel "chill."
Not only am
I a professor in writing at a university, but also I am a drummer. I never liked my drum teachers barking
orders at me, but I did (and still do) appreciate the basic rudiments they
taught me, such as how to play a paradiddle, what are the basic components of a
4/4 rockin' beat, and how to take those pieces and create a solid groove
punctuated by tasty fills. A good set
of lessons in grammar--by a teacher who likes to rock rather than one who likes
to be a grammar disciplinarian--will serve you well.
basics of grammar means that you know the basic components of a sentence--the
Eight Parts of Speech--and how to use and arrange those components to
communicate an idea--most importantly, one of your ideas. The resulting sentences are the equivalents
to a well-phrased drum beats, bass riffs, or guitar licks that sound awesome,
rather than like clunkers.
Do you know
the Eight Parts of Speech?
One of the
Eight Parts of Speech is the noun--a
word or group of words that represents a person, place, or thing. Another is the verb--a word or group of words that expresses action. A Third Part of Speech is the pronoun--a word that stands-in for a
noun as a placeholder. What's more, the
noun being replaced has a special name, the "antecedent." (Okay, so you just learned a big, fancy
word. That wasn't so bad, was it?) Now, would you like to learn more about the
other five parts of speech? If so, I
suggest you Google the "Eight Parts of Speech." Or, ask your English teacher.
end with a simple sentence made from three words, each representing a Part of
Speech--pronoun ("I"), verb ("like"), and noun
I like grammar.
of this sentence guides the proper arrangement of the words. For example, it's not "like grammar
I." That sequencing sounds too
funky. Grammar lines the words up
correctly so the listener or reader "gets it." Moreover, let's slice and dice this
sentence. Here, the correct use of the
pronoun is "I" not "Me."
However, what's really important, is that "I" stands for somebody,
maybe you. You.
Dude! It's all about the antecedent, not the
important, your ideas are important, and the grammar you use to express your
ideas is important, too. This is not to
say that learning grammar is a breeze, nor that it's as fun as ripping out on a
drum set or shredding on a guitar. But
it's certainly more worthwhile and less embarrassing to master than learning
how to wear a fuzzy outfit with horns, Swiss-march, and make fake antelope
noises in public with your Aunt Margo.
Brad Henderson is
a Professor in Writing for the University Writing Program at University of California,
Davis, and the author of the forthcoming book, Grammar Rocks. Henderson's
first novel, Drums, won a Phi Kappa
Phi Award in Creative Writing from University of Southern California, and
received endorsements from the drummers of Guns N' Roses and Pearl Jam. He is also the author of the poetry book, Split Stock. Henderson's stories, articles, and poems have appeared in a
variety of newspapers and literary journals.
When he is not teaching students how to write grammatically, Brad spends
his time performing before Sacramento-area audiences as "Beau Hamel,"
the neo-cowboy poet and blues-rock drummer.
From the Board: Tips on Starting a Writer's Group
Find Your Tribe!
By: Mary Jo Campbell
you want to do - begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it."
to wrap up this issue of Write On! by coming full circle on the subject of
passion. Verna speaks of the energy found in a writers' conference. Well, what
if you could get that juice once a month or once a week, even?
talking about a writers' group. This is a small gathering of writers who meet
locally at a designated place on a designated day to share their writing and offer
each other feedback.
can be lonely. And without people to read your stuff (besides your mom) how do
you know if it's really any good? In a
worn black notebook that sat in a box under my bed for years, was a story I had
scribbled. To me it was just "OK," a short piece I wrote from a
writing prompt with no real direction. The characters were intriguing, the
setting was mysterious, the pacing was quick, but there was no plot. I mustered up my nerve and read it to my
surprise, they were in awe. They saw the dark undertones, they could read where
my main character, Georgie was headed. They urged me to write more of this
story, to go forward with it in the direction of a novel. Of course I was giddy
and my head filled like a balloon. But, I took their advice, and their
constructive criticism, made some changes and charged full speed through rough
drafts and outlining the entire plot arc.
piqued your interest? Want to know where to go to find your writing tribe?
your school offers a writers' group. See if the PTA sponsors an after-school
program that would benefit writers.
Junior Room at your public library. This is where I started the first young
writers' workshops last summer, in Illinois.
park district. Maybe if more than one
young writer is requesting this type of program, they'll begin to offer it.
local bookstores. They have story time for tiny tots; maybe they offer a
gathering of young scribes.
strike out finding a group already in session, become the chief of your own
writing tribe. Here are some basic
rules to follow to assure your group will be successful:
Decide when, where and how often you will
meet, and for how long.
Determine a mission or purpose for the group:
will it be a gathering to share and critique each other's works? Will the main
goal be publication for each? Will each member be required to bring in a
writing resource to help educate each other on the writing craft? Or maybe a
newsletter or website to share that lists markets accepting young writers?
Discipline yourselves: on time limits given to
each reader, the criticism allowed, arriving and ending your workshops on time
and snack consumption. One girl had a few too many granola bars one night; it
tribe grows in numbers and confidence, you'll see a stark improvement in your
own writing and the ability to find quality in other's writing as well.
Mary Jo Campbell sits on the Board of Directors for CCYW as Secretary. She is a published
freelance writer who founded the first Young Writers' Workshop at the
Downers Grove Public Library in IL. Mary Jo also teaches two writing
courses (Creative Writing Workshop and Publish Me!) for students in
grades 3-8, through FRoG: Friends of the Gifted & Talented, also in
IL. Her FRoG students each participated in the 2008 Young Writers
Program of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and celebrated
their successes with a party and public reading. Mary Jo is currently
working on her novel "Not Girls Like Me." She can be found giving tips
and inspiration at her two blogs: writerinspired.wordpress.com and
Call for Editors:
At this time, we have posted a call for editors for the
youth run literary journal. Applications are due by May 1st,
We will be taking applications for youth advisory board positions as well and details will be posted
to the website soon. The application deadline for these positions will be May 1st.
Please continue to check the website regularly for
Adult Volunteer Positions:
Marketing and Publicity Sub-Committe
My Space Page
Send application and resume to
Capitol City Young Writers
|Author Spotlight: Margaret Weiss
Find out how this successful novelist got her start and keeps her momentum in this issue's Author Spotlight Interview
Think You're Ready for an Agent? Not So Fast!
Editor, Chuck Sambuchino talks about the right time to find an agent for your work
Hook Your Readers!
Fiction author, Les Edgerton, gives tips from his latest book on how to hook your readers from the first sentence
Write Your Story Now!
Memoirist, Linda Joy Meyers, shares the process of memoir writing
Fool-Proof Forms: Poetry
Bob Stanley describes the "fool-proof" exercise of "Freewriting" to help strengthen your poetry.
Formula for Writing Success
Screenplay writer, Eldon Thompson, uses the analogy of weight lifting in this inspirational article on how to succeed in your writing. Eldon was the presenter at our February 2009 meeting!
Shout It From the Rooftops!
Author, teacher and speaker, Christina Katz, will speak from experience and show you how to grow your "platform" by promoting yourself and your writing.
Young Songwriter, Erik Vanderheydt
Learn how this rising rockstar writes his music, his lyrics and finds inspiration
My Most Excellent Year-a Novel of Love, Mary Poppins & Fenway Park
A book review by Becky Levine will have you in stitches and racing to pick up this novel from your bookstore
Young Journalist Success Story
Read Samson Dada's amazing interview of his first publishing experience and the politics he closely follows.
Play with your Words!
Neo-cowboy poet, Brad Henderson, shows how you can have fun with grammar!
Find Your Tribe!
CCYW Board Member & Secretary, Mary Jo Campbell gives tips on starting your own young writer's group.
Check the website often for updates and new announcements!
Next "Meet the Authors" Meeting:
|May 16, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at St. Francis High School Theatre in Sacramento
For New Members:
We have a limited supply of books autographed by Eldon Thompson for new members.
Work with us!
Available Positions for young writers interested in working for the CCYW Journal.
Be our Friend!
Coming soon: You can be our friend on Facebook & MySpace