Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Writing Class

Last Friday, I held my first-ever writing class for eighteen teenagers.

It was awesome. I'm not implying that I was awesome—I don't want to think about that one way or another—but the kids were awesome. Some of them loved to write already. Some loved to read but weren't so sure about writing. Some avowedly hating writing, but they all listened, and they got it.

When they asked them what the rules of writing are, they said, "There are no rules!" And they would be mostly correct.

I say mostly, because there are a few rules of writing.

Here are the six rules I gave them and I want them to live by as we critique each others' work. (That's how we're going to do things in this class—not too much talking from me, mostly sharing from them.)

1) No story is too lost (if you aren't willing to give up!)

2) Everything can be fixed

3) The fixes are often smaller than you think

4) Be prepared to throw out everything—but when you throw out everything because you understand your story better, that is true progress!

5) You are never done—and that's a good thing!

6) Writing is not a talent, it is a skill that needs regular practice to be developed

They don't teach that in schools. In school, they teach rules. In a lot of homeschools, they teach rules. Rules overwhelm children when they are trying to grasp their ideas and put them down on the page. Rules overwhelm adults when they are trying to grasp their ideas and put them down on the page. Rules are easy to state, easy to enforce, easy to grade. But rules do not teach how to write.

The last step in publishing (basically) is copy-editing. And yet that is one of the first things teachers work on with their students. Copy-editing.

The last step in teaching writing to people of all ages should be copy-editing. The first step should be talking about ideas.

More later...

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Actual and Awful Truth of Becky Thatcher

Alert important people! Calvin devoured this book and the main character is a girl!!! Not that he won't ever read a book where the main character is a girl—he will and does—but this book is overtly about a girl. 

There must have been something about the cover, because I did not put this before him and even suggest he read it. 

But he couldn't stop reading once he started. He made himself two hours late getting his homeschool stuff done because he couldn't stop reading. 

And I let him.

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Ages 9 and up.

Description from Amazon:
Tom Sawyer’s and Huckleberry Finn’s adventures are legendary, but what about the story you haven’t heard? In 1860, eleven-year-old Becky Thatcher is the new girl in town, determined to have adventures like she promised her brother Jon before he died. With her Mama frozen in grief and her Daddy busy as town judge, Becky spends much of her time on her own, getting into mischief. Before long, she joins the boys at school in a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas, and Becky convinces her new best friend, Amy Lawrence, to join her.

But the theft doesn’t go as planned, and Widow Douglas ends up being unfairly accused of grave robbing as a result. So Becky concocts a plan to clear the Widow’s name. If she pulls it off, she might just get her Mama to notice her again, as well as fulfill her promise to Jon in a most unexpected way. That is, if that tattletale Tom Sawyer will quit following her around.

Friday, September 12, 2014

You must read (or listen) to this book.

This book is my kind of book, and the audio version of this book is even more perfect.

I do not say this often. Please, at least try the audio. The narrator perfectly captures Astri as she has to make decision after decision. As she faces one brutal challenge after another. It's tough to weave stories into books. So many readers shut down when a character starts telling a story, but not in this book.

This is the kind of book I want to shake in people's faces until they pick it up to read it.

Picture me shaking this book in your face. Then pick it up to read it (please!)

Ages 10 and up.


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

A writing class for teens

I'm teaching a writing class for homeschooled teens this year. I'm really excited (and a little nervous). I poured over all of my writing books for essential texts I wanted them to read. What I ended up choosing surprised me.

These kids aren't necessarily striving to be fiction writers. Many of them aren't striving to be writers at all. Most of them will probably be there because their parents are forcing them, so my goals are pretty simple:

1) To help them learn how to think like a writer
2) To develop within them an energy for writing—the beginning of passion
3) To help them feel creative, powerful, and strong as they write

I also feel like the goals of any kind of writing are the same:

1) To communicate an idea
2) To convince your audience
3) To capture your audiences attention (and possibly heart)

With those things in mind, I chose these two books:

The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life by Twyla Tharp


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A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman.


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Neither of these were books I planned on choosing. I still can't believe I did, but after looking over everything, I decided I wanted books to inspire. Twyla Tharp's book is nothing but inspirational and encouraging. It is also full of ways to embrace creativity and make any project your own—autonomous.

I am opposed to the serious study of grammar before a love of writing is firmly in hand. So why would I pick a punctuation book?

This book shows how punctuation is a tool to empower the writer. It is also chock full of fabulous examples of great writing. It is not about grammar. It's about flow.

If anyone else has any great ideas for texts, I'd love to hear them. I think I'll post my first lesson plan here, just to remember it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Website and Squirrel's World

My book is coming out March 31 of next year. Here is the cover!


You have to have a website if you have a book (it is a law of the internet), so I have a website now. I'm linking this blog to the website, and I suppose I'll have to link this blog to the website. I'm also going to try to be more active on twitter, and I will occasionally recommend books on twitter as well as here. 

My website: lindsayeyre.com and my twitter name (or whatever that is called...) is @lindsayeyre (I think).

Now, onto the good stuff.


Flannery just read out loud to me a favorite book I've never blogged about before:

SQUIRREL'S WORLD by Lisa Moser

A perfect read aloud for you to your child or for your child to you. You can't help but love Squirrel, and Valeri Gorbachev is one of my favorite illustrators!

Ages 3 and up for a read aloud. Ages 6 and up to read on their own.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Braces

Lucy got braces today. She looks awesome—doesn't know what to do with her lips. She asked the orthodontist why on earth she would want different colored elastics on her braces; it's not as if she'd want anyone to look at them. I think she'll keep her mouth shut for the next year.

I'm not sure this was a helpful thing, but the entire way home, we discussed this excellent book by the excellent Raina Telgemeier.


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A true horror story of braces. Not for the faint of heart, but perfect for its laughter and its tears. A must for every preteen and teen.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

For your fantasy lover...

For anyone who loves Lord of the Rings or Wizard of Earthsea or Game of Thrones...

The Abhorsen Trilogy beginning with Sabriel. This is a NY Times bestselling series, but I don't hear people talking about it, and it's old enough, you might not know about it for your child who loves fantasy.  AND IT HAS A GIRL PROTAGONIST! That is saying something.

Ages 12 and up


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Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. . . .