Archive for March, 2013

Question about California Writers Club Young Writers Contest

March 29, 2013

One student mailed her entries today and is concerned whether or not she’s made the April 1st deadline.  When will she hear the outcome? 

Your stories will get there on time.  They will be stamped today which is the important thing.  We check the mail box through the week so even if the mail carrier messes up the STAMPED date is the important thing.  Next week the manuscripts are put into categories of grades and whether or not they are poems, short stories and personal narratives.  Then I take them to the various judges and they get read.  Next, the judges talk with each other. So this whole process takes weeks.  As soon as the judges get back to me with their decisions, the winners get phone calls and I post the winners names on this blog.  Hopefully all of this will be done by May 1. 

Although winners get phone calls, everyone else will be notified later with a letter as mailing information in clearly printed on the form and is correct. 

Thank you for your very good questions!  Liz

Summer 2013 Middle School Writing Workshop in San Francisco

March 28, 2013






A writing workshop for kids who love to write

entering 6th, 7th and 8th grades

Writing the Extraordinary Short Story

From Idea to Finished Draft

 June 17—21, 2013

1 – 4 pm

Fort Mason Center

Join us for five days of Creative Writing, Fun Word Play and Extraordinary Activities that will help you tap into your writing muse and get your stories on the page!
 We’ll cover all the creative writing basics: character, plot, point of view, setting, dialog, conflict, and sensory details. We’ll spend class time practicing our craft and share work with each other.
 Young writers will finish the workshop with a strong, original short story that has a beginning that hooks readers, a well-paced middle, and a memorable climax and resolution; for use in school, contests or just for fun (the best reason of all).
 The workshop will be led by:

Sharry Wright, MFA

Ann Jacobus, MFA

 Materials: pen or pencil and notebook (or tablet/laptop)

Class size limited

Cost: $450.00 (with two half-price scholarships available—see us for details)

Contact or Inkspell Writers on Facebook for more information or to register. Check us out at:    

 Ann Jacobus Kordahl

California Young Writers Contest 2013 – 6, 7 & 8 Grades in Contra Costa County

March 26, 2013

 Attention middle school students who live in or attend school in Contra Costa County!  Mail your short stories, poems and/or personal narratives postmarked by April 1 to be eligible for $$$ prizes! 

We need YOUR entry NOW!  Apologies for the wonky way the guidelines appear on this post.  They also are on the right side of this blog in a neater version.


California Writers Club

Mt. Diablo Branch, Contra Costa County



Honoring a New Generation of California Writers

      See for contest information




Home Address_____________________________________________________________

               Number  &  Street                                                           City                                                      Zip

Home Phone_____________________________ E-mail Address




First and Last Name of your English (Creative Writing) Teacher___________________________________________________________

Manuscript Title___________________________________________________________

MANUSCRIPT CATEGORIES (please check one):

_____ Short Story (up to 5 pages typed, double-spaced)

_____ Poem (up to 30 lines, can be single or double-spaced)

Suggested Poetry Prompt ideas (not necessary to use these specific words)

1. It shouldn’t have happened this way                                    2. Who knew what I was thinking?

3. If I had been there, it all would have been different             4. More ideas on website noted above

_____ Personal Narrative (capturing an event in your life; up to 3 pages, typed, double-spaced)

Mail submissions to:  Young Writers Contest, California Writers Club, PO Box 606, Alamo, CA  94507

DON’T MISS OUT:  Only entries that follow the guidelines EXACTLY will be considered!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


1. Contest open to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students who live in or attend school in Contra Costa County.

 2. Submit 2 copies of your manuscript. Do not include artwork or a cover. Your manuscript must be typed or computer generated at 12 point, double-spaced, one-inch margins around perimeter. No staples. Paper clips only.

3. Put your name in the upper left-hand corner of each page. Number each page.  Put manuscript title on the first page.

4. Multiple entries are welcome.  Each entry must be accompanied by a separate application form (above) or 3×5 card noting: name; home address; home phone; school; grade; e-mail address; teacher; manuscript title; and category.

5. Deadline:  Manuscripts must be postmarked by April 1, 2013. Winners will be announced when judging is complete.


­_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 PRIZES: Winning short stories and poems from each grade level will receive $100 for first prize, $50 for second prize and $25 for third prize. The Betty Tenney Essay Award of $100 will be given to the best personal narrative/essay in each grade. Second and third place prizes may be awarded in this category at the judges’ discretion. Prizes will be presented to winners on May 11, 2013, at a lunch banquet. A published author will speak. Parents are welcome.

TEACHERS: We are striving to encourage individual creativity and expression. Do not send entire class assignments. Teachers of winning students will be invited to attend the May 11th banquet.

March 21, 2013

The other day we attended an art exhibit from the Dutch masters.  Knowing very little about art history, we soon tagged along with a tour in session to discover the story behind the story.  It turns out one painter, Meindert Hobbema, couldn’t paint people.  In one of his lovely woodland landscapes, there were several farmers and local villagers in the scene.  So what did he do?  He contracted out.  Paid them a fee and that was the end of their services.  No credit at all. 

Reminds me of the world of ghost writing in publishing, or work-for-hire.  One example in children’s books is The Babysitter’s Club.  Although Ann Martin began the series, soon she went off and wrote her own books and other writers penned them.  They did get some credit, however.  Just check the dedication page.  That’s the author. 

Art is also similar to literature in how we read a painting.  On first glance of one shown at the museum, we saw a family seated around a table celebrating a baby’s christening with wine.  One man was lighting a very long pipe.  But to hear the story behind the story, we discover that this pious occasion wouldn’t have been a time for such inebriation. The pipe symbolized something else entirely. The adults in the picture looked like they were having way too much fun.  The woman’s clothing dipped lower than it should have, and her seating position invited more than friendliness.  Who knew?  Today we wouldn’t think twice about it.   In the corner a parrot perched.  It wasn’t merely the family pet, but a symbol.  The artist was saying the children in the picture would learn from the adults’ wild ways, or parrot by example.

Writing Prompts:

  1. Pick up a book you love and parrot or model what you admire about this writer. 
  2. Make a goal of an artist date for yourself once a month.  Or once a week if you can.  See a play or attend a writer or artist event.  Keep a journal of details that impresses you. 
  3. Choose a painting from a book, online or from an exhibit.  Without knowing anything about it, write a short story or poem to go with the art work.  

This Dog Shows Character!

March 12, 2013
Who did this?  The answer is obvious by the reaction of the characters involved.
Writing Prompt:
1.  Using a character’s facial expression, action, thoughts and/or dialogue, show guilt or innocence in a story or poem.
2.  Choose a character you know in your life.  Show this person or animal’s character through action, details, and/or dialogue in a personal narrative. 
3.  Write a poem showing character.  Author Jane Yolen defines poetry as “compressed emotion.”  Take out any words that aren’t absolutely necessary.

Contra Costa Reading Association Writers at Work

March 6, 2013

Please Post

The Contra Costa Reading Association presents:


                                                                                                Writers at Work

Join us for a morning filled with inspirational ideas from a children’s author, as well as writing sessions presented by outstanding local teachers of writing.  Our featured author is

Elizabeth Koehler Pentacoff

Our keynote speaker is children’s author, teacher and is an energetic presenter who shares her love of drama and words in instruction to promote a love of writing.  She has presented at schools throughout the state.

This author’s books include: Jackson & Bud’s Bumpy Ride, The ABC’s of Writing for Children, John Muir and Stickeen; An Alaskan Adventure, Curtain Call; Games, Skits, Plays & More,  Louise, the One and Only, Wish Magic, Help, My Life is Going to the Dogs, You’re Kidding, Incredible Facts About Presidents,  and Explorers.

Writers at Work is for students in grades 2-6 who are interested in writing, parents who are looking for ways to motivate and enhance their child’s writing and teachers looking for ideas to use in the classroom.

Please note: CSUEastBay now charges $5.00 for parking.  If possible, please carpool with your friends.

 When:           Saturday, March 9, 2013, from 9:00-12:30

Where:         California State University East Bay, Concord campus

4700 Ygnacio Valley Road, Concord

Cost:              $5.00 per child (accompanying adults are free)

$5.00 per adult, unaccompanied by a child

Please make checks payable to CCRA

Stay in touch with CCRA’s events by visiting our website

Writing Memories for You and Your Characters

March 5, 2013

While I was away on vacation in the Southern California desert, I purchased postcards and pulled out my handy purse-sized travel address book.  Flipping through the dog-eared pages, my quest for certain addresses vanished when I saw names of my friends and family who had passed on. 

My friend Marisa, who glowed in her favorite color pink (even the stripe of pink in her hair).  We shared our fondness for everything Mother Mary together.  She let me in on her favorite saint – – Saint Rita. 

When my one and only California aunt would call, she’d begin with a rant and I’d say,  “Aunt Dorothy – – ”  Then she’d respond with her hearty, gravelly cigarette one and only laugh and ask, “How’d you know it was me?” 

My mother kept notes by the phone to make sure she’d remember to tell me everything that was on her mind.   We could talk forever and never run out of anything to say.  She’d send me pin-wheel cookies with crisp, buttery goodness, making me crave just one more. 

Once I ate an entire coffee can full of these while talking with Aunt Dorothy.  When my hand reached the bottom of the can, searching for one more, I gasped. 

“Oh no!” I screamed into the phone.

“What happened?” asked Aunt Dorothy.

“You won’t believe what I’ve done.”

I couldn’t hide the crunch on the phone so Aunt Dorothy knew what I was eating.

“You ate that whole can, didn’t you?” she asked.

“How did you know?” I asked.

“Because they go down so easily.  And it’s what I would have done!”

We both exploded into laughter. 

Images flashed through my mind of writer’s group with Marisa, Disneyland with Aunt Dorothy and washing dishes with Mom in my childhood home.    

The address book’s binding  was ripping apart in the middle; only threads were keeping it together.  Why did I insist on keeping it when clearly I needed a new one?  But I knew the answer to this question. 

Each time I opened it, memory movies played in my mind, complete with scents, tastes, dialogue, and feelings.  I’m not ready to give it up yet.  Will I ever? 

Writing Prompts:

1.  Which object do you have which gives you images from your past?  Write about the object and its significance to you.   Write the scene it helps you to recall. 

2.  Choose a character from a project you are currently working on.  What object holds memories for this character?  Why?  How?  Write a back story for the object.  Create a scene which goes along with it. 

3.  You characters need memories.  If you are stuck in a story or plot, it may be because you don’t know your character well enough.  Write your character in scenes you may never need to include in your book, but YOU need to know.  Scenes such as:  What was his favorite childhood cookie moment?  Did she have a quirky aunt or embarrassing relative?  Did he have a best friend who collected something weird? 

4.  Keep a memory diary.  When they occur to you, jot words or images down.  Then when you need an idea to write about, use them as your writing prompt for the day.