Archive for January, 2012

How cold was it?

January 31, 2012

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” my husband sighs.  “You walked up hill both ways to school in snow drifts higher than you were.” 

Most of his growing up years were in sunny Los Angeles and Arizona so he has nothing to complain about. 

Did I mention when I walked in those snowdrifts, north-western howling winds attacked me, and I had an allergy which made my skin itch in the cold?

Do you hear the violins playing in the background yet?  It’s no wonder my husband rolls his eyes any time we get talk about the weather of our childhoods.  We both love heat, so he can’t pull the “how-hot-was-it” one on me, as the hotter the better for both of us.

Neither of us can understand how our son loves the cold and settled in a shivery area.  Not our genes, surely.  Perhaps it skipped a few generations.

But weather is a part of our lives so ingrained we don’t even realize it.  Sometimes we forget to include it in our writing.  Have you weaved it inside yours? 

Look out the window.   What is the weather like right now? 

Go outside.    Use all of your senses.   How do the elements feel?    Describe them to yourself.

Has the weather play an important part in your life?  Cause you pain, humor, or an unexpected event? 

1.  Use all of your senses to write about a specific type of weather in a poem or paragraph.

2.  Write about a weather memory.   Make sure your reader feels an emotion. 

3.  Watch the You-Tube video of cold-weather to inspire your writing!

Find the Comic In YOU!

January 24, 2012

We laughed our way through a terrific comedy workshop this past Saturday at the Walnut Creek Library with nearly sixty middle school students improvising, writing, and critiquing their way through humor.   There was enough talent in that room to produce several books, a magazine and a sitcom script or two. 

When I asked students to introduce themselves and share a moment of humor, one boy said, “My name is __________ (name protected so he won’t sue me) and I blew up my mother’s laundry room when I was four.”   Turns out the scientific genius was experimenting in his basement, so he wasn’t hurt in the procedure. 

The young man next to him stated, “My name is ___________ and I helped my brother blow up our mother’s laundry room.” 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to meet the mother.  I wanted to find out what medication she was taking.  Did I mention these boys are available for stand-up?

After this group entertained me and Susie (Sarah Wilson ) as they performed a comedic drama improv with such advanced skills I wanted to call Hollywood, we left feeling elated and knew this group would go on to write and tell some very funny stories with the humor techniques we discussed and demonstrated. 

How can you be funny in your own writing? 

Look for humor all around you in your own life. 

Use exaggeration when appropriate.  Timing is important (read all of your work out loud!) and find examples of irony, satire and parody in books and movies so you can incorporate these in your own writing.

Have fun being funny!

1.  Write about a humorous memory from your past.  Read it out loud to make it as funny as it can be.  Remember that short words and short sentences work well in comedy.

2.  Watch
and use it to inspire a funny poem or story told in the point of view of a sloth. 

3.  Write a poem or story from the point of view from an object.  Remember to use his or her senses.  What does it really feel like to be this object?  Check to make sure you use action verbs!

Make ’em Laugh! Free Comedy Writing Workshop!

January 16, 2012

What: Make ’em Laugh!  Write Funny: Learn comedy techniques from two published authors

Who: Grades 6 – 8                             

When: January 21, 2012  9 a.m. – Noon

Cost: FREE!

Where: Walnut Creek Public Library, 1644 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek, CA  94596 


What makes readers laugh?  How can YOU create humor in your writing?  Develop quirky, funny characters through games, writing tips, techniques and exercises so you’ll produce a humorous plot, action and dialogue in a terrific page-turning story.

Two professional children’s authors who love writing share their best secrets on writing! You’ll get a chance to ask questions about the publishing world, write, play some games, meet other writers, and “talk books.”

 Led by children’s authors Sarah Wilson and Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff.  

Visit them at  and

 Bring pen and paper and get ready to WRITE!

Register for the Walnut CreekJan. 21 workshop here:

*** Special Note***  Good idea to bring a notebook or clipboard too, as we may only have chairs and not desks in this room.

The Joy of Books

January 12, 2012

Writing Prompt:  Choose an inanimate object.  It could be a toothbrush, a stuffed animal, or an airplane.  Write a story, poem or personal narrative from its point of view.

Stuck in Traffic? Creativity Calls

January 9, 2012

Over the holidays when my son came home, we drove to Santa Cruz.  While driving on Highway 17, winding through the mountains, the cars ahead of us slowed to a stop.   The sun shone through the trees splattering us with warmth and we rolled down the windows. 

 No sense in grumbling.  We could choose to be unhappy or use our time to have fun. 

 “What’s that on the side of the road?” I asked my husband who was in the driver’s seat.  

“A fishing pole,” he said.  Then he drove closer.  “No wait.  Ha!  Believe it or not – it’s a whip!” 

“Strange,” said my son. 

 We were transported to the past and wondered what it was like in stagecoach days on these mountain paths, with drivers using that whip.  Transportation must have crawled along about at the pace as we were now. 

 “There’s a Frisbee,” I said.  If we took much longer, everyone could turn off their car motors and play a quick game. 

We made up funny stories about how these items came to be on the side of the road.  Soon, we drove by a slightly smashed car being loaded onto a tow truck. 

Now it’s your turn! 

 Writing Prompt:

 Objects we discovered on the side of the road:  

juggling pin, printer cartridge, Frisbee, high heel shoe, straw hat, pink sponge

knee pad, whip

  1. Write one mystery story using all of these objects as clues or even characters.
  2. Write a story about one of these objects.  How did it come to be at the side of the road?  Who is missing it?  Who needs it and why?
  3. Write a story from one of these objects’ point of view.  Create a complete character for this object.  What are its loves, fears, dislikes, enemies, friends?