Fun Friday: 4th Graders, Families and Teachers Get FREE Admission to National Parks



Explore ancient dwellings!   FREE



See a waterfall taller than a building!   FREE


Fourth graders, take your family along! Teachers, download activity guides and send your whole fourth grade class!




This is a terrific program called EVERY KID IN A PARK, from the U.S.



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Department of the Interior. It targets THIS SCHOOL YEAR’s fourth graders, their families and educators–offering  free access to hundreds of national parks, lands, and waters for an entire year.



You can sign up, beginning September 1. The website has suggestions for trips to see animals, forests, mountains– you name it.

You can’t pass this up!


Lake McDonald


Posted in Every Kid In A Park program, Traveling, U.S. Parks, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

TeenWriter Tuesday: Teen Playwright’s Debut

Emma Baxter

During her junior year in high school, Emma Q. Baxter wrote a coming-of-age comedy for the Paula Vogel Mentors Project, a fellowship program run by Philadelphia Young Playwrights. The project pairs aspiring student playwrights  with a professional playwright mentor for one year.
Emma wrote NEARLY FAMOUS from start to finish and then, in May, she was partnered with Found Theater Company to produce a full production of the work. Together with Writers Theatre of New Jersey they brought the play to life this July at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia and again at the Roxbury  (New Jersey) Performing Arts Center in Emma’s hometown.

(Photo: Courtesy of Walter F. Rodriguez)

According to Emma,  being part of the Paula Vogel Mentors Project “was life-changing… I felt like my work was valuable and important— around every corner was someone asking a serious question about my play or consulting me for a major decision about the production. I was amazed with every step of the process at how much everyone involved with the project was truly invested in my play and cared about what I had to say.”


“Saturday night was the night of a lifetime. It was so incredible for me to watch my words performed on stage, and having so many people I know and love in the audience only amplified the surreal experience… Seeing Nearly Famous come to life and be appreciated was an indescribably magical experience.”

If your high school creative writing program includes play writing, why not see if a local theater group would be willing to mentor one of your students all the way to DEBUT?


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Fun Friday: Most Anticipated Books for teens and children

Heartless by M MeyerPublisher’s Weekly has released its list of Most Anticipated Books for Fall 2016. These are their own editor picks and include new titles from Laurie Halse Anderson (ASHES), Richard Peck (THE BEST MAN), Sarah J. Maas (EMPIRE OF STORMS), Jay Asher (WHAT LIGHT), and the one I’m most anticipating– HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer (“long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love”).

See the whole list and drool, right HERE.

Which one are you waiting breathlessly for?

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TeenWriter Tuesday: 5 Ways to Make Career Connections

Go Teen Writers!

If you are not already familiar with the website Go Teen Writers,  I’d like to introduce you. GoTeenWriters offers honesty, encouragement and community to teens who want to be published.

If you want to meet other teens who love writing and stories just like you do, consider joining the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. It’s a private group where members talk about their stories, help critique writing, and encourage each other. If you’re interested in joining, email the admins at: goteenwriterscommunity(at)

You can also subscribe to their monthly(ish) newsletter here. I promise it’s worthwhile.

How to Make Connections

Rachelle Rea Cobb is a homeschool grad. She wrote the Steadfast Love series during her college years and, five months after she graduated, signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher, WhiteFire. In this July 25, 2016, post on GTW, Rachelle discusses How to Make Connections and Boost Your Career. It’s a business strategy–and you want to have a career in the business of writing, right?

Her five top recommendations:5 ways to make connections

  • Leave blog comments.
  • In fact, comment…everywhere!
  • Share others’ blog posts on social media.
  • Respond on Twitter.
  • Explore Goodreads. 

Check out GoTeenWriters for more… right now!

P.S. If you’re in the Houston-Bay Area on Thursday night, I’ll be presenting a workshop on The Short of It — Synopsis, High Concept, Query, BlurbFitting a 400-page manuscript into one page, one paragraph, one sentence. It can be done! The workshop is being hosted by Bay Area Writers League (B.A.W.L.), at the Clear Lake Park building on NASA Rd. One, at 7 pm.


Posted in Business of Writing, Publishing Industry, Social Media, Teen Authors, Teen Authors, Teen writers, Tips for Teen Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Words on Wednesday: The Emotion Thesaurus

Every good writer tries to “show not tell” character emotions. But even experienced authors may be limited in their familiarity with certain feelings. Extreme emotions such as anguish, desperation, paranoia, rage, and full-out terror may–thankfully–exist only in our fictional worlds.

Enter the helpful duo of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. The pair have written several volumes of a thesaurus series, including a 5-star guide to character emotions as expressed through body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

Emotion ThesaurusThe Ackerman/Puglisi volume on Emotions is an incredibly useful tool for writers. With 75 named emotional states and all the external “indicators” for those states, it can be your go-to reference for creating believable characters under stress. It can also be a powerful brainstorming engine for plotting. For these reasons alone, it’s worth the price (currently ON SALE for $4.99/Kindle).

But the book’s authors also have an Introduction that includes sharp, intelligent discussions of show-don’t-tell (with examples); a section on clichéd emotions and melodrama; how to avoid overusing dialogue or thoughts; misuses of backstory; even ways to utilize setting.

In other words, it’s a powerhouse reference book that should be on every writer’s shelf.

“One of the challenges a fiction writer faces, especially when prolific, is coming up with fresh ways to describe emotions. This handy compendium fills that need. It is both a reference and a brainstorming tool, and one of the resources I’ll be turning to most often as I write my own books.”

~ James Scott Bell,bestselling author ofDeceived and Plot & Structure

Emotion Amplifiers: A Companion to The Emotion Thesaurus

Emotion AmplifiersCurrently being offered FREE, this short, 72-page companion book explores 15 common states that “naturally galvanize emotion. States like exhaustion, boredom, illness, pain, and extreme hunger can push characters to the limit, compromising their decision-making abilities and decreasing the likelihood of them reaching their goals.”

Emotion Amplifiers will help you brainstorm the situations that most effectively “tighten the screws… and amp up the tension” in your stories.

I heartily recommend both of these volumes.

P.S. The authors have a fabulous website, Writers Helping Writers, where they host contests, offer writing advice… and are currently posting chapters of their forthcoming book on Emotional Wounds (think things like finding out your father is a criminal, being abused as a child, etc.)– good stuff!

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Posted in Character, Character arcs, Character-driven action, Characters, Conflict, Emotion Thesaurus, Interaction with Setting, Interior life; interiority, Motivation, Resources, Story Elements, Story ideas, Tips for Teen Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment