We are coming to the close of another school year. I can’t believe it. This year went by too quickly. I went to a retirement dinner yesterday to celebrate the careers of four amazing educators. Women who inspired not only their students but the faculty and administrators they taught next too. As I heard the stories of stellar careers, I thought about two things. (1) I hope that I leave a lasting impression on students they way they did (2) I wonder what ever happened to Mrs. Murphy, one of my favorite English teachers in high school.
Mrs. Murphy was one of the those teachers who challenged you to strive to be better than you were the day before. She made us not only look at what we can do, but what we can’t and figure out how to overcome the challenge. She really stayed with me all of these years. I had Mrs. Murphy my junior and senior year. And senior year was the best one. She was certified to teach a college level course, and we were given the opportunity to take it if we chose to. Well I chose to, and it was a great experience. We read college level books, worked on poetry beyond the standard practices, and collaborated on projects that many freshman college students don’t get to do.
The one project though that Mrs. Murphy had us do was the last project of our high school careers. We had to write a letter to ourselves. We had to write the letter and talk to ourselves, 5 years from now. Basically, write to our future self and talk about we hope to accomplish and where we hope we were at that moment in our life. We all wrote standard things like I want to be a millionaire, I want a good job, I want this and that. But then she had us write about where we hope were with ourselves. Meaning, were we happy with how we turned out. Did we feel we deserve what we have been given? 5 years after I wrote that letter, my mother says I received some mail at my old address. It was my letter. and WOW! is all I can say.
So as the end of the year comes, think about doing this with your students. You might just hit them in a way you never reached all year.
So I talk about books a lot, since well, I am a librarian and all. And I have mentioned some apps and websites to visit if you are interested in writing a book of your own. Well here are few more, and these are super easy that not only are they great for classroom use, but those budding writers in your class or home might get a kick out of these too. These apps are perfect for both entertainment and education (well at least the eBook ones are, the comic ones are purely entertainment). Teachers will be able to create original eBooks to use in their classroom. Teachers will have the ability to add images, text, links, recordings and more to the eBook. Then simply share with students or colleagues to allow greater access to information. These apps allow you to create and upload your eBook to iBooks and ePub readers. You can access many of them through an app or online. The prices vary but these are all well worth the look.
Students and kids will have fun with these apps as well (especially the comic ones). They can take stories they have written and create a collection, or create a photo book highlighting a recent summer event or family function that you can share with just those who you would like. No need to put in bookstores for the world to access, unless of course you want to. These apps are a great way to keep kids creative and writing all summer long. Heck all year long for that matter.
The comic apps are fun since you don’t need to be an artist to use. By using pictures you already have you can add cartoon images and drawings to create funny one of a kind strips. So check them out.
Book Writer for iOS
IDEAL e-Pub Creator for Android and iOS
Creative Book Builder for Android and iOS
Comic Puppets for Android and iOS
Photo Comics Pro for Android
As a librarian I read a lot. When I worked in publishing I read a lot. As a reviewer for a magazine I read a lot. So I thought, how hard could it be to write a book. I have a notebook that has a ton of ideas in them. Some are just plot ideas. Some are characters. Some are full chapters or scenes. Some are picture books. And some are layouts for graphic novels. So with all of these ideas, I thought, hey this should be no problem to write a story. Well let me tell you it is tough.
Moving the story along, using descriptive wording, having the voices sound realistic, all of these elements are hard to master. I have tried my hand at writing only to face such terrible writers block that I abandon the story all together. These stories soon find a permanent place in a filing cabinet under the heading “Better Luck Next Time.” I have had the opportunity to meet several authors over the years and to hear them speak about the writing process. But it wasn’t until this year that it all really clicked for me.
I was able to have the incredibly talented Wendy Mass come to my school for an author visit. While she was here she spoke about her process, and she even shared with us a form she uses to help her better create a character and develop a plot. I thought, I have an idea, let me see how this form works. Well let me tell you, it worked great. I was able to flush out my main character and several supporting characters. I came up with a plot and I broke down how I wanted each chapter to go to help with the flow of the story. I was going to be able to write now.
Not so fast.
It was great that I had all of this. I felt like these filled in forms was success enough. However, now I actually had to start writing. And that is where it gets tricky. So I just started writing. A little free writing, just to see what might come out of my brain. And low and behold, some good stuff did. Or at least I think it is good. Now am I already on my fourth chapter. It is no where near being the level I would like it to be at, but that is what editing is for. I will have the chance to rework, and rewrite as much as I need to.
I thought writing a book would be easy. Just put some words on a paper and make a story out of it. I can tell a story no problem, writing one should be just as easy. Well I have learned that writing a story is difficult and not everyone succeeds. But if you keep at it, you will have a product that you can be proud of. So keep a look out, my goal is to see this published at some point (eBook or print form). I hope to have the first draft done in the next week or so. Fingers crossed. I will keep you posted on my progress.
Happy reading and happy writing.
PS I am currently in the middle of the book IF I STAY. I hope to have it done by Friday for my review day.
It is April again and I have decided to share some poems that I find throughout the course of the month. It is a very big month at my schools with poetry writing contests, and younger students starting to really read and understand poetry. I am sharing one that a student found while reading through a book that he describes as “older than me by at least 20 years.” Not really though, the book was published in 1993 it is only 10 years older than him. So please enjoy and keep an eye out for more.
WHAT THE TOYS DO
The cupboard was closed, and the children had gone,
There were only the stars in the sky looking on;
When up jumped the toys and peeped out on the sky,
For they always awake–when there’s nobody by.
The children were far away saying their prayers,
So the toys ligthly stole down the shadowy stairs,
And each said to each, “We’ll be off, you and I,”
For the toys–they can speak,–when there’s nobody by.
So off to the city they went, two and two,
To see if, perchance, any good they can do,
To cheer poor children whose lives are so sad,
For the toys always try to make everyone glad.
by Fred E. Weatherly
James, Kate. Poems for Children. 1st ed. New York: Derrydale Books, 1993. 63. Print.
I am an avid reader of Entertainment Weekly and was happy to see one of my favorite books I read as a child get a full page treatment in the Feb. 28 issue. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh was one of my all time favorite books as a kid because it featured a strong female lead who enjoys to write and who EW writer Hilary Busis describes as “a jerk–but a smart, perceptive, lovable jerk, one who’s wholly relatable whether you’re 11 or several times that age.” This is the perfect definition for a character who has withstood the last 50 years in the literary world, and who in my opinion paved the way for characters like Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior, and Hazel Lancaster. These are characters that don’t apologize for being strong willed and fierce.
So as a sit here an fangirl out over the classic tale, I realized that the story was getting this special treatment because it was turning 50. I could not believe it that a book I loved so much was so old, I don’t say that to sound mean, what I mean is the characters don’t seem to age in my mind. They are still totally relatable to young readers today. And as a librarian I am thrilled with this. My students always ask me for recommendations and I give them the classics as much as I give them new ones.
But Harriet is not the only literary character turning 50. Check out some of the other future AARP members:
Bread and Jame for Frances by Russel Hoben
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Happy 50th to these classic stories and memorable characters.
As I said before I was very happy to see that the book The One and Only Ivan won the Newbery Medal this year. I recently read it again and I must say I found it more enjoyable the second time around. Here is actually one of my favorite excerpts from the book and it reminds me of what it feels like to be a writer. How your biggest supporters are always there for you now matter what. And that even at young ages you sometimes just know you want to create.
I think I’ve always been an artist.
Even as a baby, still clinging to my mother, I had an artist’s eye. I saw shapes in the clouds, and sculptures in the tumbled stones at the bottom of a stream. I grabbed at colors–the crimson flower just out of reach, the ebony bird streaking past.
I don’t remember much about my early life, but I do remember this: Whenever I got the chance, I would dip my fingers into cool mud and use my mother’s back for a canvas.
She was a patient soul, my mother.
I do hope that you take the chance to read this book. It is brilliant.
Filed under Books, Writing
“Don’t write because you want to say something, write because you have something to say,”–F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I remembered I had read this quote a long time ago and it got me thinking about my own writing, both on this blog (which I thank those who support me) and the writing that I hope to one day have published.
For some bloggers they sometimes feel they must constantly be adding new content in order keep those who view or follow them interested. Otherwise, why would they follow. But are we bloggers really saying anything in the end? What is the purpose of the blog? I have friends who use their blog as a venting arena. They are able to get out all of their frustrations, or share the brightest parts of their day. Other bloggers use their platform to help express their art or craft. While others (like this one) are hoping to introduce and educate on new programs/devices/apps/tools to help in the realm of education (or which ever area you choose). We we as bloggers then have something to say. We are writing because we don’t just have to, but we want to. We want our distinct voice on a subject heard. We are passionate about the topic, and we want to shar.
However, I now find myself wondering if my personal writing, my writing of fiction, particularly children’s fiction is fitting this criteria. I have known from a young age that I wanted to be a writer, but I find myself struggling with my fiction writing. So I ask myself, “self, why are you writing this story? what makes this one so important?” And unfortunately in many cases I can not answer that. So, am I writing than just to write? Am I writing because I want someone to say “hey great story!” Am I writing because this is simply what I have wanted to do my whole life? Or am I writing because by writing that particular story I am feeling something towards it. It is a story that I believe needs to be told. Am I passionate about this story.
I find myself wondering on and questioning my work since I have been helping some students with their writing assignments recently and I see how they struggle with the same issues I face. So the questions I ask myself, and I think many writers probably ask themselves, is “Why am I writing? What does this piece mean to me?” So to all of my fellow writers out there, be it bloggers, novelists, or whomever, I hope that when you write you are passionate about what you are writing. And that your voice, your vision comes through!.