Friday, November 4, 2016

Interview with Young Author Rosalie Chiang

Rosalie Chiang is a talented young writer with two stories featured in Dancing With The Pen II. On top of that, she has recently published her own book, A is for Albatross: Birds A to Z. This beautifully written and illustrated collection of poetry is as fun as it is informative. Children of all ages -- and adults, too! -- will love this book. You can order it on Amazon here. Read on for Rosalie's thoughts about reading, finding inspiration, and the writing process!



Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

My name is Rosalie Chiang. I am ten years old, in sixth grade, and I live in Fremont, California. I love reading, gardening, cooking, and of course writing poetry. I am homeschooled and have won 2nd place once and 3rd place twice in two national level poetry contests for homeschoolers.

Describe your book and how you got the idea to create it. Take us through your writing process.

Last year, I got an idea of finding birds for each letter of the alphabet. I wrote a quatrain with a rhyme scheme of AABB for each bird, plus a short paragraph about it. Then my dad drew each bird and I painted them. Finally we put them all together and published it on Amazon.com. The whole process took about a year.

Have you been writing for a long time? What do you like about writing? 

I have been writing since I was five. I especially enjoy writing poetry that rhymes! I also like writing stories because it lets your imagination flow.

Do you have any advice for other writers, or for other young people going after their dreams? 

Write about what you enjoy.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

I generally like classics. Some of my favorite books are C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Roald Dahl’s The BFG. My favorite poets are Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. They are fun to read and listen to. I also like Shakespeare.

What inspires you? 

I love animals and nature. I enjoy doing things with my hands like cooking, planting and science experiments. My parents give me many opportunities to try anything I desire.

What are you working on now? 

I am working on an A to Z book of freshwater fish.

Thank you so much, Rosalie, for taking the time to be with us today!


Links:
- Order A is for Albatross: Birds A to Z on Amazon here.
- Read Rosalie's award-winning poems here and her honorable mention essay here.
- Order Dancing With The Pen II on Amazon here; personalized copies are available here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New poem: "Fall" by Molly Barkis

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an exclusive extra poem by young writer Molly Barkis, whose poem "Dear Mr. Leon" is featured in the book. Order a personalized copy of Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's youth writing here or on Amazon here.



fall

by Molly Barkis


spices and sweets,
tricks and treats

pumpkins, and patches
and color all around

rain smells, sweaters,
an eerie feel

only the demons will tell,
of the horrors of halloween

spices and secrets,
tricks and teases

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Molly Barkis is fourteen years old and loves to write! She finds inspiration in traveling, cooking, and music. 



Links: 

Order Dancing With The Pen I & Dancing With The Pen II directly (personalized copies available!) or via Amazon.

If you have a few minutes and could write a review on Amazon, that would be fantastic!

You can also follow Dancing With The Pen on Facebook. We're featured on Goodreads, too!

Monday, October 31, 2016

"Witches have Sweet Teeth" by Kanchan Naik

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! Today we continue our special Halloween feature on the blog! In the past few days we have been featuring poetry on this topic, from the spooky to the light-hearted. We hope these pieces help you get into the Halloween spirit!


Our third and final piece comes from young writer Kanchan Naik, whose poetry is featured in the Write On! Books online literary journal Word Smorgasbord.

 
Witches have Sweet Teeth 

(Note from the author: This is based off of the darker themes behind fairy tales. Most of the plot of this poem is told from the witch’s perspective in Hansel and Gretel. The underlying moral of the poem regards how things that are sweet can be much deadlier than what seems frightening on the outside. It speaks of how evil can show up in the people we least expect it to.)   

A trickle of rosy frosting dribbles down
Bronze valleys and cocoa pools of
Cookies left with lace napkins signed by
Death himself in lilac and baby blue

Every blotch of tawny sweetness
Freckled with flecks of perfect poison
Globs of acetone tucked in flour, just for you

Hold your breath and open wide
I can spoon-feed every bite, saying
Jack fell down and lost his crown
Kill you slowly with a nursery rhyme

Longer, longer I can wait
My cuckoo clock keeps ticking
Never stopping; dread that deadly chime?

Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard
Pulled out a pie made with newborn blackbirds
Quickly, quickly spread the frosting; I’ve been trying
Recipes you taste only once, feathers in the crust

Syrup is sweeter with a pinch of powder
Trust me, there’s space in your tummy
Unless you’ll try this one; just think of it as
Vanilla mixed with pixie dust

We live in a house of gummy bears
Xenophic of wolves behind that tree outside
Yet darling, witches have sweet tooths
Zest for life disappears in the sugar

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About Kanchan (in her own words):
 
Ever since I was little, my only goal was to find something exciting to write about. When I stayed up late reading baffling mystery novels or hoisting a flashlight to make sense of poetry, I found another world rich and exciting, where anything and everything was possible. But what I realize now is that there’s always a mystery or an adventure in our ordinary, everyday life; so when I look for inspiration, I look for a spark in events that are completely real. Other than that, I’m a Potterhead, a whistler, and a complete sap for Disney movies and their happy endings. I like to feel, whether it is feeling the emotions of the characters in the books or feeling the surface of the rocks while climbing blindfolded… It’s like nothing else exists except perhaps my whistling to the wind.

Friday, October 28, 2016

On Setting a High Bar

Whenever I read a rough draft by a young writer, or when I look over a business plan from a student asking me for feedback, or when I am pitched an idea for a collaboration or project, I think of a woman named Cynthia. I don't even know her last name, but she had a profound impact on me.

I was a sophomore in high school, attending a writing conference for the first time. It was the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and it was a wonderful, energizing smorgasbord of resources, lectures, writing workshops, speakers, and information.

However, I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed.

The youngest one in attendance by at least a decade, to say I was "out of my comfort zone" that week would be putting it mildly. Shy by nature, I was desperately homesick and felt like I did not belong. I remember those first few meals in the dining hall, looking around for somewhere to sit, feeling like the little kid asking to eat at the grown-up table.


Then I met Cynthia, in a workshop called "Writing for Children." I summoned the courage to share a story I had written with other members of the workshop, and they responded with heartfelt encouragement. Cynthia, with no-nonsense energy and a warm smile, came up to me after class ended and asked if she could read a copy of my entire story. "You're talented," she said. "I want to help you get published." Not only did I have a friend to sit with in the dining hall the rest of the week, but I also had a writing buddy -- someone who treated me like a peer and took my work seriously.

Later that summer, I received a package in the mail with my story pages, generously written all over with comments, suggestions and edits in blue pen. Out of the goodness of her heart, Cynthia took the time (a lot of time, I know now, from commenting on student manuscripts myself) to painstakingly read through the pages of my story and help me become better. She invested time in me because she believed in me. In setting a high standard -- in treating me like a fellow professional writer, even though I was still a high school student -- she inspired me to treat myself like a professional, too.

I think of Cynthia's gift to me whenever I encounter work by a young person. I make a point to never talk down to my students or brush their dreams off, for "someday later" when they are older or wiser or more experienced. I know the truth: they have all the experience they need, right in this moment, to create the best work they are able to right now. Because we are always growing and evolving and changing, all of us, no matter how old. We are always learning and becoming better. But this marvelous and important growth does not happen when we patronize our young people. So, like Cynthia did for me, I set the bar high for my students -- and then, I delight in watching them rise and surpass those high expectations.


I thought about all of this when listening to a recent Innovate Podcast interview with Liz Maw, CEO of the nonprofit organization Net Impact. At the heart of Net Impact's mission is a passion to empower a new generation to use their careers to "drive transformational change in the workplace and the world." This struck me as incredibly innovative -- and yet also, familiar. It made me think of the way Cynthia treated me. Indeed, when I listened to Net Impact's mission, I found it refreshing that they are not aiming to connect with the established "old guard" to spur change that transforms the world. Nope -- they are reaching out to a community of students and recent graduates who are just starting out in their careers. Rather than dismissing young people as too inexperienced or not influential enough, Liz Maw and Net Impact set a high bar for these students as capable of making big positive change. And what an effect they have had! Net Impact’s community now includes more than 60,000 student and professional leaders from more than 300 volunteer-led chapters around the globe, working together for a sustainable future.

How are you setting a high bar, for others and for yourself? Who has set a high bar for you in your life, and what impact has this had on where you are now?

Cynthia, if you ever read this, I want to say, THANK YOU.


"October" by Ryan Lee

Today we continue our special Halloween feature on the blog! In the next few days leading up to Halloween, we will be featuring poetry on this topic, from the spooky to the light-hearted. We hope these pieces help you get into the Halloween spirit!



Our second piece comes from Dancing With The Pen II contributor Ryan Lee, whose story "The World's Record of the Greatest Battle" is featured in the book. Order a personalized copy of Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's youth writing here or on Amazon here.


October 


Outside playing four-square and wall-ball
Cool air against my face
Trick-or-treat at the end of the month
Or stay home and wait for people to ring your doorbell
Brisk winds encircle you
Everlasting time of leaves falling
Remember the fun of October

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Ryan Lee is a third-grader in northern California. He learned to read at a very young age, and he enjoys writing a lot. Hero stories are his favorite. Although he likes to read and write, his favorite subject in school is math. Ryan also likes swimming and skiing. He enjoys listening to music, singing karaoke with his dad, doing Snap Circuit projects and assembling remote-controlled robots.




Links: 

Order Dancing With The Pen I & Dancing With The Pen II directly (personalized copies available!) or via Amazon.

If you have a few minutes and could write a review on Amazon, that would be fantastic!

You can also follow Dancing With The Pen on Facebook. We're featured on Goodreads, too!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Predators and Prey" by Neel Kanamangala


Today we kick off a special Halloween feature on the blog! In the next few days leading up to Halloween, we will be featuring poetry on this topic, from the spooky to the light-hearted. We hope these pieces help you get into the Halloween spirit!



Our first piece comes from Dancing With The Pen II contributor Neel Kanamangala, whose poem "Technology Every Day" is featured in the book. Order a personalized copy of Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's youth writing here or on Amazon here.



Predators and Prey 


When the moon is full, and the sun has set
Dig deep, fly high, let nothing cause you to fret
Beware, beware, the coming of the one
Or else he will appear, and cause your blood to run 

Beware, beware, the falling to the deep
In darkness dwells and secrets keep
For he walks alone in fading light
As he goes hunting through the night

Monsters lurk in the trees
Death is a calm breeze
I am not afraid of thee
The strongest monster in the forest, is me

His blades are sharp, his aim is keen
So beware, beware, the coming of the unseen
His victims are slain, one by one
A prayer to those below, the hunt has now begun

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Neel Kanamangala is eleven years old and in the seventh grade. He spends his free time playing games, reading and swimming.




Links: 

Order Dancing With The Pen I & Dancing With The Pen II directly (personalized copies available!) or via Amazon.

If you have a few minutes and could write a review on Amazon, that would be fantastic!

You can also follow Dancing With The Pen on Facebook. We're featured on Goodreads, too!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New story by "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Nicole Ham

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an exclusive extra story by young writer Nicole Ham, whose short story "Winter Wonderland?" is featured in the book. Order a personalized copy of Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's youth writing here or on Amazon here.





The Elephant Who Could Fly

by Nicole Ham

Once there was an elephant. He was an average-looking elephant. Some might have even called him boring. Suddenly, the strangest thing happened. The elephant grew wings! Therefore, he could fly!

However, all the other elephants laughed at him, thinking that there was no way an elephant could actually fly into the air because elephants weigh so much.

Surprisingly, though, this elephant's wings grew and grew and grew until they could lift the elephant up into the sky!

(Did I mention his name? If I didn't, his name was Flippers. Funny name, huh?)

Flippers flew to all sorts of places. People couldn't believe their eyes. "A flying elephant!" they said. "I never imagined such a thing was possible!"

Unfortunately, one man in Madagascar said that it was all a hoax. "It's all false, I tell you!" he shouted. "That elephant is a loser!"

Flippers the elephant heard this man's insults and grew angry. I'll teach him a lesson, he thought.

So Flippers the flying elephant flew over the man and dropped honey onto his head. Ka-plat! The man was a sticky, gooey mess. Flies and bees buzzed around his head, attracted to the honey.

The next morning, when Flippers woke up, his wings had disappeared.

"Awe!" he sighed. So he returned to his normal life as a ground-based elephant.

original drawing by Nicole Ham

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Nicole Ham is eleven years old. She likes art and especially animals. Her favorite sport is gymnastics. Her family loves to play board games. 




Links: 

Order Dancing With The Pen I & Dancing With The Pen II directly (personalized copies available!) or via Amazon.

If you have a few minutes and could write a review on Amazon, that would be fantastic!

You can also follow Dancing With The Pen on Facebook. We're featured on Goodreads, too!