Guest Post–Heather Wright

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome author Heather Wright to my blog. I’ve asked Heather to tell us a little bit about how she came up with the idea for her how-to writing books for teens and pre-teens.

Heather is a busy freelancer and children’s writer. As a freelancer, Heather has worked for educational publishers, non-profits and agencies. Her feature articles, profiles and promotional copy have appeared in local and national publications.  Her books for middle readers and teens include Sherlock Holmes and the Orphanage Mystery (for Caramel Tree Publishing), Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens, The Dragon’s Pearl, and The Dragon’s Revenge, all available at on-line bookstores. In late September, with co-writer Jean Mills, Heather launched an anthology of stories for middle school boys called Dude! Heather enjoys working with young writers and loves visiting classrooms to teach writing skills and to talk about the writer’s life. She runs teen writing workshops at her local library and at art camps, and has also created presentations for teachers’ conferences. Her website, http://wrightingwords.com, hosts resources for teen and pre-teen writers and their teachers.

 

IMG_4467.HeatherwrightWhen I was a kid, what I wanted to be more than anything else was a writer (Nancy Drew has a lot to answer for.) Later, when I taught middle school and high school English, I met students with the same dream. What I noticed, though, was a lack of creative writing resources for pre-teens and teens–resources that treated them like writers and not like students.

Around the same time, I got the opportunity to write a how-to-write column for a national magazine for teens called, What If? Canada’s Creative Magazine for Teens. By the time I had finished my four-year run creating a bi-monthly column, I had a lot of material that begged to be made into a book. So I wrote one.

Now there are other writing books out there for teens, but I wanted mine to be different. First, it had to be short. I’d taught enough creative kids to know that what they want is to be given the main framework for a concept or technique, and then go and run with it themselves. I also wrote my book writer-to-writer, not teacher-to-student. My book explains what published writers do to keep their readers turning the pages, and shows young writers how to make their own writing better. My book has no end-of-chapter homework questions or assignments, but there are 50 writing prompts included to help my readers get started if they don’t have an idea for a story.

Once I’d written Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, my writer and teacher friends said that I needed to write a book for pre-BookCoverImageteens, too. That book, Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens was published at the end of July, 2014.

Reaching out to young writers and their teachers has been a passion of mine for a long time, and my website is dedicated to finding and creating resources for them to use. I want young writers to write the stories they want to write. I hope that, with good resources, they’ll learn how to write better stories every time they try. Because of my books, I get to visit classrooms and conferences, and I also run free writing workshops for teens at my local library. I’m definitely in my happy place—and that’s why I write what I write.

Thank you, Heather. How wonderful it would have been if such books existed when we were teens and pre-teens!

Listed below are some links where you can learn more about Heather and just where her books are available.

Heather’s website:http://wrightingwords.com

Amazon.ca link to Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens Second Edition http://www.amazon.ca/Writing-Fiction-Hands–Guide-Second-ebook/dp/B00I2MXH8U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406810173&sr=8-1&keywords=Writing+fiction+a+hands+on+guide+for+teens+second

Amazon.ca link to Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens: http://www.amazon.ca/Writing-Fiction-A-Guide-Pre-Teens-ebook/dp/B00M3HFDFA/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_11

 

Reviews for first edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens are here:

Review of Canadian Materials (University of Manitoba) http://umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol17/no5/writingfiction.html

Canadian Teacher Magazine – the PDF of this review is no longer available (darn,) but a quote from the review follows:

“This guide to writing fiction speaks directly to young writers and provides tools to help them become successful in their writing endeavours and to have fun doing so … The author’s love of writing and enthusiasm for sharing her expertise with young writers shines through this guidebook, making it a wonderful resource for young writers.”

CANADIAN TEACHER magazine

This is an excerpt from Review of Canadian Materials (University of Manitoba) review for Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens:

Writing Fiction: A Guide for Pre-Teens follows in the footsteps of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens and attempts to provide the same sort of how-to-write assistance, but for a slightly younger audience. Longer than the first resource guide—this one comes in at 66 pages, covering primarily the same ground from goal setting and tapping ideas to character-building and writers’ block. Wright’s explanations are clear, concise, and illuminating, without talking down to the user. The guide would be a useful resource even for adults.”

 

 

Reflection

The sudden passing of a friend in February kind of threw me for a loop. For a few days I withdrew into my thoughts to contemplate the things I would miss with this friend no longer here, and to honour the memories I had of her. Whenever we lose someone in our life it causes us to reflect upon so many things—the frailty of life being one of them, our own mortality as well as the mortality of those closest to us, the things we haven’t yet accomplished that we’d like to, the relationships we forge and so, so much more.

When we get to a certain age, we begin to understand that life doesn’t always make sense. Good things happen, bad things happen, and we have no idea why. We can become angry and bitter over the things we deem senseless in this world and yet delight when good things happen that also don’t make sense. (If that makes sense!)

I’m not sure that life is supposed to make sense. If it did make sense all the time, I think we’d lose a little of the wonder and the magic that exists in the world. And without the wonder and the magic what would that do to our hopes and dreams and wishes? Without magic I’m almost certain all those things wouldn’t exist. Why would we ever wish for something or allow our hopes to propel us into some crazy new direction, why would set our dreams on anything other than the reality we now have if there wasn’t some force out there capable of making our hopes, dreams and wishes come true? Wouldn’t we simply go through our days and wait for life to happen? How drab, how utterly mundane and ordinary, how sad.

Truthfully, I’m glad to live in a world that doesn’t always make sense, where strange, out of the ordinary things sometimes happen, where people overcome insurmountable odds, a world that fills us with delight and yes, sometimes, sorrow. My friend once sent me a link to a site about fairy homes. There are those who might say that a site like that doesn’t make any sense, and maybe it doesn’t, but so what?

If I was looking for things to always make sense I might have said a long time ago there’s no sense in trying to get published. I might have said it’s too hard to a thing to accomplish. I might have looked at the stats from some of the literary magazines I submitted to (we receive over 1200 submissions a year and publish 5%) and said the odds are not in my favour. I might have said, I have no one to show me the way. I might have counted the rejections (I had a few file folders filled) and said it isn’t meant to be. I might have said I’ve never once taken a writing course. I might have said I don’t know one single solitary writer in the entire world. But I didn’t say those things. I kept doing what I was doing even though there were times that it didn’t make sense to be doing it. (Seriously, some of my friends worried about the postage I was spending and if it was actually “paying off”) I kept wishing and hoping and dreaming…and writing.

And for those people who think life makes perfect sense, that if we dig deep enough we’ll find out exactly why things happen, I feel a little sad. I might be a Pollyanna, I might set my sights on things that seem an impossibility, but I’d rather live in a world of magic and wonder than a world that just is.

R.I.P my friend–the next time I find a fairy house in the woods I’ll think of you.

Do you believe in magic and wonder or in a world that always makes sense?
(Please drop in next time when author Heather Wright will be a guest on my blog. Heather will be telling us about her new book : Writing Fiction: A Guide for Preteens.”

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