Blackout Poetry and NaNoWriMo

IMG_6029They opened the library doors for us– our secret society of writers. We headed to the basement, which felt just right.

I sat in the Aldrich Library in Barre, Vermont with an excited and diverse group of writers. Among us were teenage sci-fi writers, a woman who writes about puppies, a 70 + year old man, and a nine year old girl. All gathered to learn about how to participate in the ridiculous National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge– to write 50,000 words in one month.

We talked about plot ideas, best times to write, no editing! and programs that help. We laughed nervous laughs and ate chocolate. Then we started a writing activity, because, well, that is what we do. This one is a fabulous one to do with students, I did it the next day with mine. Continue reading

Bullying on Bus 10: Available for Pre-Order!

Bullying on Bus 10 (1)A few months ago I offered a short story that I wrote about vicious bus bullying in middle school to readers who pre-ordered my upcoming book called The Order of the Trees. The story– sometimes called Bullying on Bus 10, is a raw and unflinching look at a junior high bus filled with harassment, bullying, and torment. It is based on many true events from my youth.

I was moved by the outpouring of conversation and support for this story.  So I created discussion questions to go with the book, search for and linked to resources for parents and teachers, and published the book to Kindle. It is available today, October 1.

Bullying on Bus 10 includes: Continue reading

Indigo Girls: a thank you note 25 years in the making

392623443_7d2c0eb4bd_z(also published on Scary Mommy: Club Mid)

What do they say about the road to hell? About those good intentions…I’ve thought of writing this letter for no less than about 10 years. It’s high time I pulled this out of the folds of my brain and into reality.

You see, this really is a thank you note 25 years  in the making. Let me explain.

I started listening to the Indigo Girls when I was a teenager. I’d listen on the way to cross country meets, bouncing along on brown vinyl seats through the backroads of Pennsylvania. Or on the way back, tired, covered in mud or sweat. I listened to tapes on my walkman with the buttons that sounded like “KA THUNK” when I pushed on them or rewound a sound I loved. I heard Emily and Amy sing about fake friendships. I’d had a few of those. They told me it was okay. That I would get thought it and find real ones. I believed them. They sang about using their hands, love’s recovery, about the Southland in the Spring time, and Pushing the Needle too Far.

I heard their voices singing about what is true and beautiful– nature, friendship, honesty, bravery. Now this was the 80s and early 90s and not many women were singing about those topics. It was all Cold Hearted Snake, and I Think We’re Alone now, and Don’t You Want Me.  It was confusing. Be beautiful, be vulnerable, but don’t speak up. Not many women were singing like the Indigo Girls: soaring harmonies, real and true lyrics, passionate, articulate, inspiring.

Continue reading