Archive for April, 2012

Art Contest: Design Medallions for the Caldecott Tunnel

April 30, 2012

Get busy, students!  The deadline is May 7 but there aren’t many entries yet!

All students grades K – 12 in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties are eligible to enter.  For design specifics and mailing details see their website:

California Writers Club Young Writers Contest Short Story Winners Continued

April 30, 2012

Thanks to the student who e-mailed me letting me know I never typed the 7th grade short story winners up here!  Sorry this is so late! 

7th Grade Short Story Winners

1st Place      Peyton Annoni

North Creek Academy: Jamie Williams

Fetters of Hate

2nd Place        Molli L. Fagan

Queen of All Saints: Katie Perata-Andrews


3rd Place    Kate Nerone

Orinda: Cecilia Kilmartin

Beyond the Threshold

Storyteller Bookstore – Lafayette, CA Writing Workshops for Students

April 25, 2012


Calling all opinionated readers! Come read soon-to-be-published books and learn how to write book reviews. Sessions include: literary games, insider insight to the world of publishing and book-selling, writing and revision instruction and a chance to discuss books and writing with other voracious readers! Each editor is encouraged to submit a review to our publication, A Bookworm’s Feast and participate in our Press Release Party in the fall.  

Thursday evenings: June 21, July 5, July 19, August 2

Emerging Editors (ages 7-10): meets from 5:00 – 6:30 pm

Junior Editors: (ages 11-up–entering middle-high school) meets from 7:00 – 8:30 pm

 $110 new registrants

$100 returning registrants 

WORDPLAY WRITING WORKSHOPCome write poems and stories in a lively, informal setting! Topics include: setting up a writer’s notebook, creating characters, designing setting, crafting plot, using imagery, discovering symbolism, and exploring poetic forms. Each writer will receive a notebook and materials for making an illustrated picture book. All participants are invited to submit work to Word Waves, our literary journal for kids. A fun Open Mic party will conclude our summer session.  

 One-week Camp: June 25-29 

Elementary Writers (ages 8-10) 10:00 – 11:30 am

Advanced Writers (11-up) 1:00 – 2:30 pm

$110 new registrants

$100 returning registrants 

visit Wordplay Writing Workshop on Facebook or contact Lisa at or 

Best Advice from Authors and Editors

April 23, 2012

I attended a Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators one-day conference in Rocklin, California this weekend.  Fabulous speakers gave terrific writing techniques and marketing tips which not only apply to those interested in writing for children, but writing for anyone.

Here are some gems:

Lin Oliver, who founded SCBWI with Steven Mooser in 1971, quoted well-known authors who have spoken at the L.A. conference since its inception.  

She quoted Bruce Coville:  “Follow your weirdness.” 

Lin also recommends for every book you write  you should read 500 of those types of books to get a feel for that genre.  Which books inspire you most? 

Andrea Tompa, editor at Candlewick Press discussed the process of revision in which she gave detailed questions we should ask ourselves as we go through our projects.    As she quoted Roald Dahl, “Good writing is essentially rewriting.”

Andrea advised us to think about both the internal and external stakes for our characters.  What are they?  How are they resolved?   Many times writers forget about internal growth which needs to happen to their main character. 

Agent Minju Chang from Bookstop Literary Agency spoke about emotions in books.  Make sure you build a bond with your main character and reader.   She quoted Maya Angelou:  ” . . . People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Sterling Editor Brett Duquette talked about voice, the most elusive technique in writing craft of all, in my opinion.  He defined it as the language used in harmony with the characters, narrative, style . . .

For a good example of picture book voice he suggested The Caveman A B.C. Story by Janee Trasler, where the voice begins within the title of the story.  For older books he recommended the play Peter Pan by M.M Barrie and The Fault in our Stars by John Green, among others.

One of several exercises he gave us was this:  Place your character in mortal danger.  Write a complete scene.  (Not necessarily to be used in your book – just to learn about your character)  You will learn a lot about your character through this writing prompt.

And although the agents and editors said they were tired of paranormal books and would love to see contemporary fiction, they advised write what you must and disregard the trends.  Just keep it fresh and unique!

Now . . . back to writing!

California Writers Club Winners

April 23, 2012

Poetry Winners

6th Grade

1st Place

Rachel King

Pine Hollow:  Lisa Shedd

I Am Currently in the Process


2nd Place

Genevieve DeWalt

Athenian:  Meg Freedman

I Asked


3rd Place

Akunna Ekeh

DallasRanch:  Kevin Landski

Stand Back

California Writers Club Young Writers Contest Winners

April 20, 2012

 8th   Grade  Poetry

1st Place   

Arielle Wenokur

Dorris-Eaton:  Brad Breilein

The Gopher


2nd Place

Max Yun

Dorris-Eaton:  Deeni Schoenfeld

I Love to Hate


3rd Place

Carolyn Buxton

Bristow Middle:  Shawna Borba

There Lies You


California Writers Club Young Writers Contest . . . More Winners

April 18, 2012

Short Story

6th Grade

1st Place

Peony Tang

Sequoia Middle:  Michael Holmes

The Baker’s Sons

2nd Place

Ciara Chow

The Athenian School:  Meg Freedman

Beauty of Death

3rd Place

Vivian Pang

Gale Ranch:  Lauren Smith

Runner’s Racetrack

7th Grade  Poetry

1st Place

Sarah Mardjuki

Dorris-Eaton:  Melissa Parker

Memories Gone

2nd Place

Kismat Dhaliwal

Dorris-Eaton:  Melissa Parker

One in a Million

3rd Place

Megan Gladden

Kings Valley Christian:  Lee Ann Pfotzer

My Calico

California Writers Club Young Writers Contest Winners Continued

April 16, 2012

Short Story

8th Grade

1st Place

Pooja Kini

Gale Ranch:  Jordan Milat

Ji, Dida


2nd Place

Lauren Furman

StoneValley:  Courtney Konopacky

The Boy of Smoke and Ashes


3rd Place

Sophie Cipolla

PineValley:  Sylvia Hegarty

A Week in the Life of a Cat

California Writers Club Young Writers Contest – Personal Narrative Winners

April 15, 2012

2012 Winners                  Personal Narrative

 6th Grade

1st Place

Sanjeeve Ganga Raju

PineValley:  Robin White

A Change in My Life

2nd Place

Micalyn Struble

Dorris-Eaton:  Claudia Fredricksson

Warning: New School Ahead

3rd Place

Lauren Russell

Windemere Ranch:  Diana Kaplenko

Just One Step

7th Grade

1st Place

Eli O’Brien

Orinda:  Cecelia Kilmartin


2nd Place

Olivia Fishlow

Orinda:  Cecelia Kilmartin

Without Her

3rd Place

Callyn Oshita

Gale Ranch:  Andrea Kopshever

Deadly Snack?

8th Grade

1st Place

Samira Maboudian

Orinda:  Lori Hardy

Podium Fright

2nd Place

Conner Roberts

Dorris-Eaton:   Deeni Schoenfeld

Unsung Courage

3rd Place

Max Yun

Dorris-Eaton:  Deeni Schoenfeld

An Individual of Inspiration

Short Story and Poetry Categories have not been announced yet.  I will post when they are.  Honorable Mentions are not listed here but will be mailed to students at a later date.  Congratulations to all the winners and everyone who entered.  What fabulous talent we have in young writers in Contra Costa County!

Judging the Young Writers Contest of the California Writers Club

April 13, 2012

If you’ve entered the Young Writers Contest breathe easily now.  We ARE judging the manuscripts as you read this.  Don’t worry.  We read each and every entry several times. 

Now as the judges bicker . . . I mean discuss, communicate, email, phone, claw each other’s eyes out . . . er, trade their first-born children for their favorite first place winner . . .

All jokes aside, you will hear soon.  It just takes time.  It’s just like sending your story, poem or personal narrative to an editor for publication.  There are stacks and stacks and editors are busy. 

The judges all have lives beyond this contest too. 

As soon as the judges decide, I call the winners and post their names here.  Everyone who enters will hear eventually by mail one way or the other.  Honorable mentions are mailed. 


The most difficult aspect to learn in the writing field. 

What should you do in the meantime?

1.  Read, read, read!

2.  Write, write, write!

3.  Watch a good movie and figure out what makes the story work so well.