Tips From the Front Lines

Right now I’m working through revising a novel I wrote in high school.  It was my first such attempt and I’m very fond of it.  I still think it has a good premise, but looking at it now with nearly a decade of additional writing experience, some of the writing seems laughable. 

I’d like to share a tip every week that I’m gleaning from this process in hopes that others, especially you young writers, will not develop bad habits that will have to be broken later.  
Tip #1: Vary the beginnings of your sentences.  If you’re not careful, your writing can start to sound like a “Tennis match”. 
Hans smiled. “I thought you would say that.” 
Anna scratched her head. “Of course, you can read me like a book.” 
Hans took a step back. “….” 
Anna twitched her nose. “…” 
Person one’s turn, person’s two’s turn…it starts sounding stilted.  Switch things around, put the dialog first sometimes, don’t use dialog tag sometimes, whatever you need to add flavor to your writing.  
Have you seen this in your own writing?  In the writing of others? 

Roy Elementary Author Visit

This week, I had one of the best experiences of my writing career.  I had privilege of visiting Roy Elementary in Roy, UT to get the students excited about writing.  They are putting on a “Young Authors Fair” later this school year, and my visit was to help them prepare for that.

I gave two different assemblies to the school to talk about how I became and author (and how they can too) and then I was off to the classrooms.  Over the course of two days, I visited 21 different classrooms, ranging from Kindergarten to Sixth Grade.  Each teacher had been stressing some part of writing in their classrooms and they had me give one of four presentations about an aspect of writing that they wanted their students to work on.  I was so impressed how well-behaved the students were and how many of them were excited about learning how to write and telling their own stories.

It was a bit of a challenge tailoring my presentations to match the needs and learning levels of such a wide variety of age groups (for example, in Kindergarten, we just talked about ways to use your imagination, while in sixth grade, I could hold a lengthy discussion about the elements of a story), but in the end, I feel that I got the hang of it.

From an author’s point of view, it was a very worthwhile exercise. The principal suggested that I have books on hand for the students to purchase, and through this, I sold 33 books, which is far greater than most events that I hold in bookstores.

As a teacher, the experience was incredibly satisfying, as I saw those young minds light up and ask very intelligent questions about writing and I could tell they were getting excited about it.

I want to make the presentations I used available for use by other writers and by other teachers.  There are four in all, including:

How to Organize Your Writing
Sentence Fluency
Hooking Your Reader

I am going to use this opportunity to explore each of these topics on my blog; once a week for four weeks.  I will prepare a post on this topic and then the PowerPoint presentation file available for free download.

I would love to hear about other opportunities to visit schools.  If you know of any such opportunities, please contact me at