Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Reviews Wanted

Attention young writers! I am looking for more book reviews to publish on the Write On! website:

I want to hear from you! What books are you reading, loving, and recommending to your friends? What books are keeping you awake with flashlights under the covers? What books have enriched your life and opened your mind to new possibilities?

Email your short book reviews (two to four paragraphs long) to Be sure to include the title and author's name.

Here is a sample review of a book I loved:

The I Love To Write Book
by Mary-Lane Kamberg

On November 15, 2002, John Riddle started "I Love To Write Day" – what he describes as "the world's biggest party for writers" – to encourage people across the globe to put pen to paper in some form, whether that be writing a letter or finishing a novel. He says, "I believe that people need to be challenged, and writing is one of the many creative ways to express yourself."

Mary-Lane Kamberg is the author of eleven books and the director of a summer writing camp in Kansas for young writers. Inspired by I Love To Write Day, she wanted to do even more to encourage young people to discover the joy of writing. So she penned The I Love To Write Book as a "practical springboard" for writing enthusiasm.

The book is organized into three sections: Get Started; Write, Write, Write; and Revise, Edit, and Proofread. Each section is broken down into short chapters covering everything from how to get ideas, how to organize “the muddle in the middle,” and how to rewrite using a computer. I loved the inspirational writing quotes sprinkled throughout, like this gem from Ray Bradbury: "We are cups ... constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out."

The final chapter features tips for sending your work out for publication – plus information about nine markets that specifically ask for work by young writers. The I Love to Write Book can also be used as a workbook or a self-motivated creative writing course, because each chapter features multiple "Try This!" activities ranging from writing a haiku to writing a letter to the editor. This book would not only make a great gift for kids, it would also be an interesting read for teachers who want to incorporate more fun writing activities into their lesson plans.

The I Love To Write Book is a practical and tip-filled writing handbook, but even more than that it is a wonderful reminder to embrace the joy, discovery, and fulfillment that comes from expressing yourself through writing. Here’s hoping that in 2010, every day is I Love to Write Day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Welcome, Kathy Stemke!

This month I’d like to welcome author/educator Kathy Stemke. As a freelance writer Kathy has published several articles. She is a contributing editor for The National Writing for Children's Center. Kathy's first children's books came out in 2009: Moving Through All Seven Days, Trouble on Earth Day, and Visual Dance Poetry. Sh, Sh, Sh Will the Baby Sleep? will come out in 2010. She loves to write about relationships, health and fitness, education, antiques, biographical personalities, children's picture books, literature, and biological sciences. But today we're going to focus on her free monthly newsletter, MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM. Here is just a sampling of the exciting activities and teaching tips that you can expect to see in this wonderful newsletter.


Kathy Stemke offers activities that focus on the holiday de jour in each of her monthly newsletters.Here is an example of an Earth Day activity:

Help the Earth Activity

First, discuss with the children how they can help the earth. Then introduce this game. The teacher makes a statement. If the statement is true or a good way to help the earth, the children jump up and down. If the statement is false or an activity that would hurt the earth, the children squat down and touch the floor. Use these questions and add a few of your own.

Donate your old toys to charity. (true)
Fix a leaky faucet. (true)
Let the water run when brushing your teeth. (false)
Sleep with your lights on at night. (false)
Bring old cans to a recycling center. (true)
Join with your friends to collect trash in the neighborhood. (true)
Throw your trash out the window of your car. (false)
Throw the newspaper out every day. (false)
Plant a tree. (true)
Turn the lights off when you leave a room. (true)
Use both sides of a paper. (true)
Catch rain in a bucket to water the garden. (true)
Let helium balloons float up into the sky. (false)
Grow a garden. (true)
Rethink, reuse, recycle. (true)
Fill your bathtub up to the top. (false)

Kathy’s newsletter is bursting with original songs and suggested movements like the following example:


I can be a sunbeam Hands clasped together, arms high,
A sunbeam, a sunbeam, make a large circle like the sun.
I can be a sunbeam,
And I'll shine down on you!

I can be a raindrop, Arms in the air, fingers floating
A raindrop, a raindrop. down like rain
I can be a raindrop,
So here's some rain for you!

I can be a flower, Children in squatting position,
A flower, a flower. slowly 'growing' to stand big and tall
I can be a flower,
Growing just for you!

I can be a buzzing bee, ‘Buzz' around like a bee
A buzzing bee, a buzzing bee.
I can be a buzzing bee,
With honey sweet for you!

There are also great math games in every newsletter like the one below:

Math Game

Tub of geometric shapes
Ramp made of blocks and mat board. Build the ramp with a long piece of mat board and blocks
Hula Hoops
Word cards - Slide, roll, slide and roll

• Work with small groups of about ten students.
• Give each child a 3D shape.
• Have each child take a turn to see if their object slides or rolls down the ramp or does both. Let them try a few times.
• Put two Hula Hoops on the carpet that are intersected like a Venn diagram.
* Place the word cards in the hoops at the appropriate places.
• Students place objects that roll on one side, objects that slide on the other and objects that do both in the middle.
• Count how many objects in each category and record the number on a paper.
• Talk about which side has fewer and which side has more. Ask children why some did not roll or did not slide.

Kathy likes to feature one children's author each newsletter. If you write children's books and would like to be featured in Kathy's newsletter, email her at

Here is an example of a spot about Shari Lyle-Soffe.

Meet Shari Lyle-Soffe author of The Rooter and Snuffle Series, Nothing Stops Noah, A Horse Of Course. Shari lives in the woods of Southern Oregon where she writes about the animals she sees in her yard. The animals tend to act like children and have to solve the same problems. Her work has been published in many of the leading children's magazines.

For great teacher resources and to learn more about these books go to

WELCOME TO GRANDPA'S PET SHOP! Noah wants to earn some money for something special, but who would hire a boy so young? Nothing stops Noah! He quickly finds someone who will give him a job and he goes to work right away. Counting is required for the job and Noah can only count to ten. Counting to ten leads to a lot of mishaps and misunderstandings, but no matter what happens Nothing Stops Noah! Chaos breaks out in the pet store. Will Noah get everything back together before the owner returns? Will Noah get paid? What is the something special Noah wants to buy?

If you write children’s books or teacher activity books and would like to be part of Kathy’s newsletter, just email her at:

To find out more about Kathy’s blog, books and newsletter go here:

Moving Through all Seven Days link:

Follow Kathy on twitter:

Follow Kathy on Facebook:!/kathymarescomatthews.stemke?ref=profile

Friday, April 16, 2010

Magazines Looking for Kid & Teen Writers!

KidSpirit Magazine is a unique, unaffiliated spiritual magazine written by and for 11-to-15-year-olds. Their goal is to foster dialogue and understanding among kids of diverse backgrounds and traditions about values, spirituality and life's big questions. Free of advertising, KidSpirit empowers today's youth to explore deep issues and mankind's search for meaning in a spirit of openness. Upcoming themes include "The Body in Balance" and "Find Your Spirit in Art."

Guidelines are available for submitting online and by snail-mail:

* * *

Polyphony H.S. is a student-run national literary magazine for high-school writers. The title is a combination of the Greek term meaning many voices, and the abbreviation for High School.

Polyphony H.S. was co-founded by Paige Holtzman (Latin School of Chicago ’06) and Billy Lombardo in August 2004. At that time, there was no other magazine like it in the country; that is, a professional quality, national literary magazine for high school writers, edited by high school students from public, private, and parochial schools; and there is still nothing like it in the world. Not only do the editors invite high school writers to submit their work for professional publication, but they also give editorial feedback to every author who submits a manuscript. This extends to continuing a dialogue with accepted authors in an effort to strengthen each piece.

When the first edition was published in the spring of 2005, they had received 156 submissions from 361 schools across the country and 23 published pieces. Submissions have grown steadily. In 2009 they received nearly a thousand submissions and published just 51 pieces. Submissions come from nearly all fifty states and and ten foreign countries, including Canada, the Czech Republic, England, Kenya, Pakistan, Russia, and South Korea.

Find submission guidelines (and extensive, helpful advice!) at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Featured on

I was recently interviewed by Girls' Life magazine about my career as a writer!

Here's the beginning of the interview:

Author and Write On! For Literacy founder Dallas Woodburn knows what it’s like to have one little event change her life.

When she was in fifth grade, her writing was published in the November/December ‘98 issue of Girls’ Life. Pretty cool, huh? Since then, Dallas has established Write On! For Literacy, a program that makes writing fun for kids. She teaches tons of workshops through her program and she just completed another novel that she hopes to get published.

Read on to find out more about her program and see what advice she has for girls who are just starting to write!

GL: What was it like to be published in fifth grade?

Dallas: It all started when I got a $50 grant from my elementary school to do something creative. I loved writing, so I put some of my poems and short stories together in a book. Then I printed out copies of the book and sold them to pay back the grant that I had received in school. They sold out in a couple of days. I was just over the moon.

That’s amazing how something so simple could start such a movement in your life.

It’s so true! And I just think what if I didn’t have the support? My whole life would be different now. I learned so many lessons through writing that have helped me in different areas of my life. Things like dealing with rejection and having confidence. I sent my book out to anywhere that I thought would be interested, including GL. I still remember getting the phone call from the editor and I was just so excited. And then after it was published, getting letters from other girls all over was such a neat experience.

Read the rest (and leave comments!) at

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Interview on Mrs. Magoo Reads

Mrs. Magoo was kind enough to interview me on her popular YA blog! Read my interview here:

Also, to get in the running to win an autographed copy of my collection of short stories 3 a.m., leave a comment on this post AND also on the Mrs. Magoo blog post. The winner will be announced May 12th.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Insights from Simon Van Booy, author of "The Secret Lives of People in Love"

I just finished reading a phenomenal collection of short stories: The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy. My favorite story, "Snow Falls and Then Disappears," is alone worth the $13.99 paperback price. It's one of those stories that curls up inside you and becomes a part of you.

The stories themselves are beautiful, and the book has an extra gift at the end: a "P.S." section with "insights from the author." This section is a goldmine. I love reading about writers' processes, curiosities, loves, and inspirations. I love reading about writers' journeys to become writers.

Here is a gem from Van Booy's section "History of Stories":

"One of my first assignments as an MFA student was to write a short story for discussion in a workshop. I sat at my desk looking into the shallow woods beyond. And then it began to snow. I began to write.

"After two paragraphs I knew something was different. It felt effortless, but required almost an impossible presence of mind -- a poise, a balance of feeling. I wrote 'Snow Falls and Then Disappears' in a few hours. ...

"When you find your voice, it will be obvious to you. The voice isn't just a choice of words but the sense of rhythm and, perhaps most important, the tone. This is why I could never be the sort of writer who is competitive. Everyone has their own style; no two writers are alike, even if they pretend to be."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Guest Post by Wendy Graham: Make Money Writing Online Until You Make It Big

*Note: this article contains the opinion of the writer, Wendy Graham. Online degrees are a great option to consider, but the links mentioned are not endorsed by Dallas or Write On!

According to some studies, there are twice as many wanna-be writers as there are readers, but do not let that deter you. We all knew that writing was a competitive field, and though they may not want to admit it, that competition is at least part of the reason some writers were attracted to the field in the first place. Though every writer has to suffer through what seems like an endless stream of rejections, it only serves to make that first acceptance letter that much sweeter. Of course, you have to support yourself somehow until that big break comes, and you can't afford to take a job that commands all your time, leaving you none in which to write. So how can you make money doing something you love, as well as honing your skills, until you finally make it big in the industry?

There are actually a wealth of opportunities for the budding writer on the Internet. From ad copy to ghostwriting to web content provider, there are numerous jobs which pay real cash, money; there are also jobs for the writer who prefers the entrepreneurial route: professional blogger, independent blogger, even webmaster. Many of these can be undertaken while attending classes, or working toward getting your online writing degree.

You can work at getting an online writing degree or online English degree while working a menial job outside the home, but writing online is so much more satisfying. Not only are you doing what you love to do, you are making money at the same time! While there are many online writing opportunities, the fields are no less competitive than their print counterparts, but – just like those – do not let rejection get you down. An online writing degree will give you the edge you need in both worlds.

There are many ways to make money on the Internet until you make it big as a writer, and many involve writing – ad copy, content provider, professional blogger, and more - but getting an online English degree or online writing degree will give you the edge over your competition. In fact, many young writers work regular jobs, then use the money they make writing online to pay for the education they receive online. Getting a college degree online is easier than going the traditional route, and allows you more time for everything else. Though few online writing gigs offer bylines, they do pay money, and allow you to improve your craft at the same time.

This guest article was written by Wendy Graham who regularly writes about college related topics for, an online college degree guide.