The Writing Life
--Source of voice in place and memory
--Living in “Negative Capability”
The Craft and the Art
--Choosing point of view
--Getting to the emotional core of character
--Melding the character’s emotional journey with the action of the plot
--Strategies in sentence-making
--Some ideas about poetry—lineation, word choice/placement, and white space
The Teaching Writer
--The process approach to writing
--Can stories save lives and change the world?
Imagination, Revision, and Self-Making
--Goals, themes, and purpose
--Developing a personal Writer’s Statement
--Discovery through revision
--How revision changes the writer
--“Risks to be Taken, Dreams to be Dreamed”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Vermont College of Fine Arts scholarships.
For sixteen-year-old Sissy and her brother Boy, trash is a reminder of one too many sorry foster placements they've endured, a way of life they can't wait to escape. Now on the run in search of their big sister Raynell, ironically they are forced to rely on their trash-picking skills for sustenance and shelter.
Reunited at last with Raynell in St. Louis, Boy and Sissy shed their old identities, reinvent themselves as graffiti artists, and splash their new names on city bridges and walls. But one night's expedition goes horribly wrong, and Sissy looks again to trash, this time as the beginning of something artful and beautiful.
Two teen siblings run from foster life -- and find new expression as graffiti artists -- in a stark but hopeful poetic novel.
12 yrs and up
Grade 7 and up
Junior Library Guild selection; ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers; Finalist, 2007 Oklahoma Book Award
Illustrated by Angela Barrett
Long before Mary Shelley published her Gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein, in 1818, at the age of nineteen, she shared fireside ghost tales at the home of family friends in Scotland. It was there that the headstrong girl - orphaned by her mother, spurned by her stepmother, and sent away by her father - spent two of her happiest teenage years. The brooding Scottish landscape and warm family atmosphere so influenced the author’s life and art that some believe her famous novel took root there.
To illuminate this period in Mary Shelley’s life, Sharon Darrow skillfully spins fiction from fact. Her words are masterfully matched by Angela Barrett’s exquisite, atmospheric, authentically detailed illustrations. The result is a rich tapestry of stories within stories - those told, those written, and more extraordinary, those lived.
Haunting and deeply moving - a beautifully illustrated, fictionalized account of a formative time in the life of the teenage girl who wrote our most enduring horror story.
Junior Library Guild
Candlewick Press, 2003, ISBN: 0-7636-1437-8
Lexieville, Arkansas, can hardly be called a town - it’s just a handful of shotgun houses squatting at the end of a gravel road off the two-lane highway out of Sardis. For many in the Lexie clan, this is the only place they’ve ever been, the only home they’ll ever know. Truly Lexie’s dreams of a better life, if she had them once upon a time, have worn threadbare and frail as an ancient quilt. Her devoted but hapless husband, John, long ago accepted his lot in life but hasn’t given up hope that their two children, Jobe and Pert, might lead the lives they’ve only imagined.
But Jobe has already dropped out of high school and looks to be marrying young. Only Pert still harbors a youthful and fierce determination to get out, and get out as fast as she can. She aims to wipe the detested red dust of Lexieville off her feet and put on a new life like a bright, clean, fresh coat of paint. The weight of history is hard to shrug off, however, and seems to grow heavier as Pert moves closer to independence. With little support and no role models to follow, will she have the strength to fend off generations’ worth of fatalism, and the confidence to defend her dreams?
Sharon Darrow’s harrowing coming-of-age tale, told from the points of view of mother, son, and daughter, is rich with metaphorical significance and - like its small-town heroine - is obstinately, everlastingly hopeful.
14 yrs and up
Grade 9 and up
KLIATT Editors' Choice-Best of the Year YA Fiction list; 2004 Oklahoma Book Award for Young Adult Fiction
DK Ink, Dorling Kindersley, 2000, ISBN: 0-7894-2619-6
Illustrated by Kathryn Brown
Miss Raney reigns triumphant as she grips the reins of her old nag, undaunted by the rain-indeed, the tornado!-which tries in vain to deprive her of a first prize at the County Fair. And therein lies a tale of courage, of never-say-can't, of perseverance that will strike a chord in the heart of every also-ran. Miss Raney simply will have that blue ribbon for her Sooner Biscuits this year!
Disregard the fact that her first batch burned while she was pumping a nice drink from the well; or that the flour bin was empty and black clouds were rolling in as she clamped on her bonnet and dove onto Old Thunder's back to ride to town for more. Forget that every prize-winning neighbor along the way pointed to the sky and warned her to head home. Concentrate on the swirling, whirling funnel that near to killed Miss Raney and Old Thunder, but that also power-sifted the flour so that her biscuits fairly floated from the oven into willing taster Thunder's hungry mouth.
And therein lies the surprise ending, not a hint of which you'll get from me. Brown's watercolor pictures are absolutely perfect in capturing the characters and their country village setting. All in all, a real winner of a book. (Judy Chernak)
Finalist, Western Writers of America Spur Award
YAFI'S FAMILY: AN ETHIOPIAN BOY'S JOURNEY OF LOVE, LOSS, AND ADOPTION
Ghostwritten for Linda Pettitt; Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
This tender story of a six-year-old Ethiopian boy's adoption and family history is a celebration of the all-encompassing love for each child that birth families and adoptive parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters share. (Mom’s Choice Awards)
Filled with tender, vivid illustrations of the many different places and people who filled Yafi's beginning years, "Yafi's Family" projects a powerful message of acceptance that infuses its heart and core. ...is also unique as a first mainstream children's picture book for African/Ethiopian adoption. (Midwest Book Review)
And there is a bonus! Melissa Fay Greene introduces the book with the poignant story of her son Jesse’s first glimpse at a photo of his birthmother. Her insightful words about the importance of birth country, birth family, and the path to wholeness are worth the price of Yafi’s Family. (Adoptive Families Magazine: Rita Radostitz, a communications director at the University of Oregon)
...a tender tale of the power of family that presents a positive example of how to address the topic of birth parents in a reassuring manner. (Kirkus)
2011 Skipping Stones Award; 2011 Mom's Choice Award
Poem: "First Saturday Morning, Beaumont, Texas"