Creating Writing Workshops and Sharing a Love of Reading
I enjoy sharing my love of reading and writing. Nothing is quite as satisfying as creating lively writing workshops for children and young adults in which participants cultivate awareness, experiment, and share their original “works-in-progress.” With a Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT), I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate craft exploration in a wide range of writing projects—from poetry and dramatic monologues to folk tales and historical narratives. These have included a variety of writers from primary age through early high school. For more than 22 years I served as a creative writing instructor for undergraduate and graduate students at Columbia College of Chicago. I currently work with writing program grad students at Northwestern University and National-Louis University.
My professional background was in journalism. I graduated from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism (BSJ 1975), where I learned a great deal about tracking down sources, gathering and organizing facts, and coming up with a story arc. I also learned how to engage a specific audience, write concisely and clearly, and revise over and over—all helpful skills in creating fiction or nonfiction. Writing for young readers has been a challenging, and rewarding journey. They are among the most demanding readers I know.
Over the years I’ve come to believe that writing cannot be taught directly. Skills and confidence in writing can only be revealed through deep reading of terrific literature and by experimenting with our own ideas. Curiosity, stamina, and a willingness to go deeper into our work and our revisions—these are all qualities writers need no matter what their ages. Being a long-term writer is a little like being a race horse—no matter how much talent you have, you need to have heart to make it to the finish line.
Since 1986, when my first historical novel, Addie Across the Prairie, was published, I have created 41 works of fiction and nonfiction for different ages from the very young to adults. While Addie and the three other books in the series were based on my family’s experience homesteading in Dakota Territory in the 1880s, I have created many other kinds of books for different readers—from picture books for the very young to full-length biographies for young adults and a natural history memoir for adults. I thrive on variety.
Please contact me to ask about having me speak to your school, library, conference, or writers’ group.