Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Interview with "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Shane P.R. Carlson

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an interview with young writer Shane P.R. Carlson, whose story "Endwise Swan Song" 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.



What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction?  

My name is Shane Paul Rockenstein (yes, that’s what the P.R. stands for) Carlson. I am 14 years old, going into my freshman year of high school, and I live in Camarillo, CA. I have many, many hobbies, some of which are playing piano, playing guitar, playing ukulele, playing harmonica, singing, acting, reading, watching (good) movies, swimming, golfing, playing hockey, and filming short films. In fact, I want to become a (film) director when I grow up.

Describe your piece or pieces that were published in Dancing With The Pen II.

It’s very funny how different my story is now than when I first wrote it. It was initially more of a horror story, but now it’s sort of like the movie “Stand By Me.” I got the idea from a story I heard on the Internet. My initial story was similar to the story on the Internet, and then I changed it and made it my own. My story was about two kids having a sleepover being haunted by someone in the forest nearby. I had to change it since it was a bit too dark. Just a wee bit.

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

I’ve been writing for a very long time. I used to write scripts for movies on my mom’s computer. I actually started writing more-or-less professionally in the fourth grade, when I was 10. I wrote a story about pirates. It was essentially Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl verbatim. I love writing because I love creating characters and stories and worlds. It’s amazing to see a story that I’ve written completed so others can see it and experience my creations.

What does it mean to you to have your piece included in this book? What was it like to get the news? 

This is my very first publication. I am so excited for people to read what I’ve written for the first time. Hopefully there will be many more stories of mine for people to read very soon! Getting the news was great. I was excited. I didn't really have time to do anything to celebrate, though, since I’ve basically been acting in show after show for the past three years.

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

Just keep doing what you’re doing. If someone tells you, “You can’t be in the film industry! Don’t you realize how slim a chance there is for you to get in?” or something like that, just ignore it. Though it’s true that it’s hard to get noticed in an industry like the film industry, don’t let naysayers stop you from achieving your dreams. It’s like my mom says, “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.” Stephen Spielberg, one of the greatest directors of all time, got into the industry by staying in the bathroom during the bathroom stop on the Universal Studios tour (back when they had a bathroom stop). He then toured the lot and got a pass to do so for three days. He toured it all three days, and, when his pass expired, he found another person to give him a new one. He did this every day during the summer, then quit school and got a job at Universal.

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

I’ve been on a Stephen King kick lately. I’ve read tons of his books, my favorite so far being Misery. His books are dark, but I absolutely love horror. I guess you could say he’s my favorite author. To anyone who’s interested in reading his books, I’d recommend Carrie, Salem’s Lot, It, The Stand, and, of course, Misery.

What inspires you?  

Many things inspire me. Most of what inspires me comes from my life, but I combine what comes from my life with genres I’m interested in. My book about a boy who becomes a superhero was inspired by my love of Batman and a girl I liked. (Note: This was back in fifth grade.) Inspiration can come from anywhere, I believe.

What are you working on now? What’s next for you?  

I really want to finish editing my superhero book I mentioned previously soon. I’ve finished my first draft, and I’ve run into some trouble with editing. I’ve lost motivation, I guess. I let the book sit for a while, and now I think I’m getting my motivation back. This publication definitely has helped, as I now want to have more publications. Once I finish this book, I can move on to other projects, like an apocalyptic novel I’ve started.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

To my fellow writers: Keep at it.
To Dallas: Thank you for helping me for the past couple years. Here’s to many more to come.
To my family: Thank you for everything. I love you guys.
To everyone: Look out for my name, 'cause I’m going to be famous very soon. :)

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Shane P.R. Carlson has been writing since he was five. He always has ideas for stories, which he sometimes acts out with his Legos. He loves to write and hopes he can continue to throughout his life. 



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!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Interview with "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Miriam Larson

JOIN US TODAY at 5pm at Mrs. Figs' Bookworm in Camarillo, CA for our Southern California Book Release Party celebrating our young writers! Eleven young authors published in Dancing With The Pen II are scheduled to attend, and will read their work and autograph copies of the book. We would love for you to come out and help us make this a special, unforgettable evening for these amazing young writers! 


Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an interview with young writer Miriam Larson, whose story "Dancing In The Rain" 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.



What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

My name is Miriam Larson. I'm a 17-year-old high school senior who was born in Cambodia but now lives in Ventura, California. I sing and play with my cats when I'm not writing!

Describe your piece that was published in Dancing With The Pen II. How did you get your idea for the piece? 

I wrote a piece titled "Dancing in The Rain" which is abut expectations versus reality. I got the idea from my own personal experience and wrote the piece because I realized it also described some other situations in my life. I always hoped for the best and used to be disappointed when things didn't work out. But from writing "Dancing in The Rain" I've grown and learned.

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

I've been writing since I was very little! I remember when I wrote about a singing dolphin at age seven and won an award from my local fair. Writing is such a huge part of my life. To me, it's like a way to escape, or a way to let some feelings out. But besides that, it also makes me feel happy and I love feeling happy.

What does it mean to you to have your piece included in this book? What was it like to get the news?

I was honestly very surprised! I was just hoping for some feedback on a piece, and to hear it was going to be published made my whole entire year! I'm still in a bit of shock, and when I told my close friends and family, we all were so happy. One of my friends almost cried for me because she knew how important writing was for me.

Do you have any advice for other writers? 

My advice is that I would give is that you shouldn't limit yourself to any specific style. I used to think I was strictly a fiction writer, and I was very stubborn in that. But now, I write non-fiction and poetry too. I was so pleasantly surprised when I realized I had strengths in my writing and this discovery pushed me to try other new things.

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

The first book series I fell in love with was Harry Potter, but the first book I connected with was Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass. All her other books also remain in my top favorites. The book I recommend to everyone is The Abandoned by Paul Gallico. That one made me cry for the first time over a book. I re-read it every year to get different perspectives on it.

What inspires you? 

I'm inspired by people around me and my peers. Everyday things inspire me, like my cats, little experiences, hardships and the fact that writing is the only thing that makes me feel grounded.

What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

I'm currently working on finishing a novel from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and it's so fun. I think next for me would be writing my own songs.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

I'm so happy to be included in this book! My confidence came back and I've written more emotional pieces about myself.

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Miriam Larson is a 17-year-old high school senior in Ventura, California. Besides writing, she also spends time singing and running track.



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!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

New Poem by "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Jothika Puli

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with a special poem by young writer Jothika Puli, whose short story "How Jupiter Got So Big" 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.





Yellow
by Jothika Puli

Yellow is dandelions waving to the sun, saying, "Hello."
Yellow sounds like laughter from happy children,
The sun brightly shining on your warm face.
Yellow smells like the sour lemon zest you smelled the other day
And the bright pollen landing on your itchy nose.
Yellow feels like the bumpy pencil that you were holding,
Or that warm ray of sunlight hitting your face.
Yellow makes me feel cheerful whenever I am sad or grumpy.
Yellow tastes like an ice-cold lemonade on a hot summer afternoon,
Or that tangy mustard on your hot dog sausage.
Yellow is happiness logically filling your head.
Yellow is where fields of yellow tulips bloom,
That sliver of sun in the broad daylight.

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Jothika Puli is ten years old and goes to John Green Elementary, where she is in fifth grade. She plays piano and right now is in Level Five.






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!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sustaining Your Inner Child

“I have inflammation of the imagination.”
Lera Auerbach, Excess of Being


Nervous energy and excitement filled the room. Kids sat at tables with their parents, siblings and family friends. They were all dressed in nice clothes, and while their parents chatted, the kids were laser-focused on reading the bright-covered books they had just received. Soon pizza was served, and everyone filled their plates with slices of pepperoni and cheese, along with rainbow-sprinkled homemade cupcakes. And then it was Showtime.

"Hi, everyone!" I exclaimed from the front of the room. "I am so pleased to welcome you to our celebration of these amazing young writers who have just been published in our new book, Dancing With The Pen II!"

Everyone applauded, the young writers blushed, and then it was time for them to strut their stuff. One by one, I called them to the front of the room to read from their pieces that were published in the book. One by one, they shyly made their way to the front of the audience, and read their pieces out loud. As they soaked in the audience's enraptured attention, each young writer seemed to visibly grow in size: postures became straighter, voices became louder and more expressive. When they finished, after the audience cheered and I presented each one with a certificate and the parents became paparazzi taking a barrage of flashing photographs, I watched as each young writer walked proudly back to their seat -- walking a little taller, with much more confidence and joy. So different from the nervous, uncertain people who had walked up to the front of the room minutes before.


That is why I work so hard to publish young writers. That is why I believe it is so crucial to help young people discover their own unique voices, and to give them avenues to share their voices with others. That is why I founded my organization Write On! For Literacy fifteen years ago, and why the work grows even more important to me with each year that passes. Because I have seen firsthand the effect that reading and writing and sharing and growing has on young people. On all of us.

In her article "When Writing is Not a Career" Linda Wilson writes:

A woman I once interviewed for an article told me that astute observers can identify a child's interests and talents as early as four years old. At four, asking people questions came naturally to her son. So she went out and bought him a toy microphone. Unleashed was a blossoming reporter, who carried his microphone with him everywhere, asking people, "What do you do?" and, "Do you have a favorite pet?" When it came time for college she offered to help pay for it, but she struck out. He wasn't interested. What he did do was put himself through broadcasting school and upon completion, got a job as a disc jockey. Later, he went on to become a popular sportscaster. He told her he loved his career so much that he wanted to be buried with his microphone (a real one this time). She concluded the interview by saying, all this because I recognized his interest early-on, and directed him toward it during his early, most informative years.

I'm not saying that all of the young people I work with will make careers as writers. (Although I am proud that many of my students and mentees have gone on to study Journalism or Creative Writing in college!) But I do hope that all of them will continue writing throughout their lives. I hope they keep writing to express their own ideas, to share their thoughts with others -- or even just to share their innermost thoughts and feelings with themselves.


Many of the young writers I am honored to work with do have dreams of forging writing careers. I hope to help them build unshakeable confidence in themselves and their unique gifts, confidence that cannot be torn down by the inevitable rejection letters and criticism and disappointments that will come along the way. With all the writers I work with, of all ages, my utmost goal as a teacher is to do for them what the best teachers in my life have down for me: to help them locate that spark of passion they feel deep inside themselves, and to fan it into a roaring flame that will never die out. As Lera Auerbach writers in Excess of Being, "You can only master something by loving it."

In truth, our pizza launch party for Dancing With The Pen II was not just a celebration of a new book being published. It was more than that: more than just a single day, a single book. It was a celebration of a love affair with writing that each of these young writers has embarked upon, and that hopefully will continue throughout their lives -- sustaining their inner children, nurturing their joy in creating, and keeping their imaginations inflamed and vibrantly alive.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Interview with "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Neel Kanamangala

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an interview with young writer 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.



What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

My name is Neel Kanamangala, and I am eleven years old. I am in the sixth grade, and currently reside in Plano, Texas. I have an interest in science, swimming, and writing. I hope to continue to write throughout my life.

Describe your piece that was published in Dancing With The Pen II

My piece "Technology Every Day" is a poem that shows how deeply technology influences our lives in the short amount of time that we’ve had access to it. I got the idea from a Microsoft writing contest that Dallas pointed me towards. Although I was too young to enter the contest, Dallas encouraged me to continue working on the piece, and I finished with a product that I am happy about.

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

I have been writing for approximately one and a half years. I really enjoy the immersive experience that writing, and literature in general, has to offer. It prompts you to concentrate on creating your masterpiece.

What does it mean to you to have your piece included in this book? 

I was really excited to receive news of my poem’s acceptance to the book. I thought of this book as a great way to get feedback, and expand my writing career. I did in fact celebrate by going out to Olive Garden with my parents and brother.

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

If you want to get better at writing, I think that you should definitely ask for feedback from peers or teachers. Also, I would throw variety into my routine. For example, I may write a few poems, and then write a essay or story. If you want to follow your dreams, make sure that you are constantly making progress. Never procrastinate or give up. You should always be proactive and persistent.

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

My favorite authors have to be J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan. I absolutely adore the Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson series. My favorite books are probably The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, and Fallout by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen.

What inspires you? 

I am inspired by the overachievers of the world. All the great athletes, physical or mental, provide me with a sense of reason and hope. I always try to work just as hard as those people to achieve my goals.

What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

I am currently working on another rhyming poem about friendship. It is specifically about my best friend, my dear brother. After I finish that, I plan on composing a short story about ancient mythology, most likely Norse.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

I would like to share a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I feel that this is true because you have to take responsibility for your actions and your dreams to actually make the world change to be a better place.

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Neel Kanamangala is eleven years old and just finished the sixth 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!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bonus Essay by "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Ryan Wu

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an exclusive extra essay by young writer Ryan Wu, whose short story "How Earth Came to Be" 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.



My Awesome Experience With TRACK3R 
 By Ryan Wu 

When I got to my friend Shawn’s house, I was already excited because Shawn had some really cool things at his house to do. When he showed me his TRACK3R, it took my excitement to a whole new level.

It all started when we ate dinner with Shawn’s family. I asked my mom if we could go to Shawn’s house. She said, “Yes, but you have to check with Shawn’s mom.”

So I asked Shawn’s mom. She replied, “Sure!”

I was so happy, my head almost exploded. I love Shawn’s house because it’s spacious, and Shawn has tons of fun stuff to do, such as video games and Monopoly.

After dinner, we went to Shawn’s house. Shawn said, “I have something to show you.”

Shawn is eleven years old, and he is tall and likes cello and basketball. I followed him upstairs to his room. The first thing I noticed was the big obstacle course mat.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“You’ll see,” replied my friend, pointing at the shelf.

On the top shelf was a brand-new Lego Mindstorms EV3 TRACK3R. It was white with gray and red plating, with tech-looking graphics. It looked like a Mars Rover with treads. The main computer was in the center with right, left, up, and down buttons. A motor controlled the attachments, and wires were woven everywhere.

Trying not to leave my jaw hanging I said, “Oh my gosh! Where did you get that!?”

Shawn explained it was a birthday gift from his parents. He had done nearly every program, and demoed them for me. There was a rotating blade, a claw arm, and a ball shooter. I was fascinated. He said there was one more program left to do, and asked me to help. I never turn down an offer to try something new, so I said yes.

The new program had a hammer attached to the motor. The TRACK3R randomly hits while shakily driving in a circle until it detects movement behind it, turns around, and hits pretty hard behind it. We programmed on Shawn’s laptop using a programming website he downloaded, built the attachment, and plugged in a USB cord connecting Shawn’s laptop and TRACK3R to download the program into the robot. We tested it and we were successful!

“Yeah!” cried Shawn. We then played with it for a while. Later, we went downstairs and played Mario Kart for hours until I had to leave for home. Best day of my life!

I believe that every kid should get the chance to experiment using a TRACK3R so they can learn the art of programming and have fun. I personally liked the experience because it engaged my curious nature. I first got hooked on computers and programming when I went to the Maker Fair, a fair of tech that travels around the globe. I got so hooked I started down my path of coding and programming. My main goal is to become an inventor and patent my own creations. I want to create inventions that help people in their everyday lives.

---------------

Ryan Wu lives in Pleasanton, California with his parents and younger brother. He is ten years old and enjoys playing soccer and four-square, building Legos, camping, skiing, and drawing. He also plays the piano and violin, and loves technology. Ryan has traveled all over the world.





Links: 

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

Please take a few seconds to "follow" Dallas on Amazon! And, 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!

Discounted bulk orders are available at the Write On! website: www.writeonbooks.org.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Interview with "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Hope Bolinger

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an interview with young writer Hope Bolinger, whose poem "Her Eyes Breathe Life" 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.



What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

I am a nineteen year old sophomore at Taylor University. I major in Professional Writing and Philosophy. I am from Hudson, Ohio. When I'm not writing or going crazy, I like to sing in choir, do theater, copyedit our school newspaper, and play tennis. I am a Shakespeare nerd and have read every one of his plays.

Describe your piece or pieces that were published in Dancing With The Pen II

Dancing With The Pen published my poem "A Paragon of the 21st Century." The poem describes my mother through uses of sensory imagery. The line "her eyes breathe life" repeats several times, indicating even the breaths I take I owe to my mom. I got the idea for the piece from a Carol Shields quote. She states, “Write the book you want to read.” I altered it slightly to declare, “Write the poem you want to read.” I wanted to read a poem about mothers which engages all of the senses. My writing process most often begins with a little spark that ignites in my mind. No matter what I do, I can’t stop thinking about it. The idea can take the form of a psychological situation or a character with an odd quirk. No matter what shape it encompasses, I must, must, must write. Writer Bob Hostetler would describe me as a “pants-er,” or I ride by the seat of my pants when I write. I often let the characters take me where they want to go. I let them speak their mind for the first draft. Then, my editor speaks even louder for the next draft.

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

I have written for nearly as long as I could read. In first grade, I would write three to four page stories. In middle school, I experimented with stage plays and had one I wrote performed during my eighth grade year. During my sophomore year of high school, however, I decided to tackle a different kind of giant. My close friend wrote novels, and I would often exclaim, “How in the world can you sit down and write 300-some pages? I don’t have that kind of patience!” The next week, I started my first novel.

To answer the second question requires words that do not exist. I like writing because it helps me explore realms I could never encounter. Words place me in the shoes of characters quite unlike myself. Writing gives me a chance to mold sentences with my hands and swirl bits of the unknown between my fingertips. Most of all, I like writing because I need it almost as much as I need to breathe.

What does it mean to you to have your piece included in this book? 

To have my piece included in this book means I get the honor of joining hands with brilliant wordsmiths. Getting in the news certainly thrilled me, and as my Professional writing professor states, “[I] have been bitten by the writing bug.” The chance to take part in a Dancing With The Pen book gives me the verve to keep writing. I don’t recall doing anything to celebrate, but I do remember the poem evoked tears from my mother. She wrapped me in a hug when she read Dancing With The Pen had published it.

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

Never, never, never quit writing. Even if you receive a thousand rejection slips, defiantly force your fingertips onto that keyboard and type. Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird states, “Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Do not deprive the world of your words. They are your words. No one can tell your story quite like you.

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

Anything by Shakespeare (The Comedy of Errors is my favorite), The Great Gatsby, The Book Thief, and Redeeming Love.

What inspires you? 

People often inspire me. Those who use their weaknesses as strengths or those who laugh in the face of fire. I also owe a thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus for the ability to write. He is the ultimate Author, and I am grateful He has given me the skills to craft words.

What are you working on now? What’s next? 

Currently, I am editing my latest novel, Lukewarm. In one sentence: In a dream, an indecisive teenager must decide which of his friends lives and which one dies. I also have two other books and a play I plan to write when I finish editing. I want to do a nonfiction piece on ancient philosophers and a contemporary retelling of the book of Daniel. The play will feature the psychological phenomenon known as the chameleon effect.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

Thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to seeing what the young generations of writers create! For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/therosewoman/

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Hope Bolinger has had her work published in two anthologies for Creative Communications and also participates in theater, choir, the school newspaper, and tennis.





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!