Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday WordPlay: Scary Stories

Image: diamanti
 Happy Halloween!

Today's writing challenge is to get SPOOKY! Write a short story that includes at least one of the following elements:

a creepy old house with a very unusual tenant

a ghostly visitor from another era
an inanimate object that suddenly takes on a life of its own
a trick-or-treat outing gone very, very wrong
Bwa ha ha ha ha!
(Oh, that was my evil laugh. What? You couldn't tell?)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Five Tips for Writing Dialogue

"Dialogue is tricky business," the author said.

"Why?" asked her blog reader. "What makes it so difficult?"

"So many things." The author scratched her head, wondering where to begin. "Here, let me give you some pointers on writing dialogue."

1. Listen to real people talking. Dialogue on the page is a lot different from dialogue you hear in real life, but listening closely will still help you. Notice the cadence (rhythm) of different people's speech. Notice how some people repeat the same words and phrases a lot. What does their word choice tell you about them?

2. Eliminate unneccessary pleasantries. When you run into your friends in real life, you probably say hi every time. You might not need to have your characters do the same. Your scenes will quickly become boring if every conversation begins the same way:


3. Don't overuse character names. "Why not, Kekla? Isn't it a good way to remind the reader who is speaking and who is being spoken to, Kekla?" Well, sure, it can be. But if your characters are constantly using each other's names in dialogue, it won't sound very real.

4. Use beats to break up long passages of dialogue. Beats include tags, like "he said" or "she asked," but they also include actions, thoughts and descriptions that writers insert to break up the dialogue. Tags and beats give the reader more information about the characters.

"Let's go."
"Okay. Where?"
"Same place as usual."


"Let's go," Shawn said. He grabbed his backpack.
Eric picked up his satchel. He was ready for an adventure. "Okay. Where?"
 "Same place as usual." Shawn slid his arm into one strap, and turned toward his friend.
Eric grinned. "Awesome."

Often, if you are using beats well, you don't even need a tag. (Notice, I only use "said" once in the example above.) The reader can usually follow your characters' back-and-forth for a few lines.

5. Stick with straightforward tags. Beginning writers often try to make their characters seem more interesting by jazzing up the bland "he said" tag to something like "he grumbled," or "he muttered," or "he cried." If you do it occasionally, this is okay. But make sure you really, really need it, and don't overdo it! Also, be careful not to use words that don't really mean speech, like "he laughed." It's okay for a character to laugh, choke, or gasp while speaking, but you would punctuate it differently:

"I can't believe you did that," he laughed. (NOT GOOD)
"I can't believe you did that." He laughed. (BETTER)
"I can't believe you did that," he said, laughing. (ALSO OKAY)


"What?" he gasped. (NOT GOOD)
He gasped. "What?" (BETTER)

(Think about it: you can't actually speak while gasping. Really you can only do them one right after the other.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Musings: Who are your favorite authors?

I'm always intimidated by this question, because it seems there are way too many great authors and books to possibly name. I love lots of books, and lots of authors, and now that I know a lot of authors, too, they have become my friends. I don't like to pick and choose.

But, I get this question so very often, that I decided I need to have an answer. So here it is. I will tell you five books that I love, for five very different reasons:

1. The book I read in middle school that stands out most in my mind. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor. It was the first book I read that had black characters in it, and dealt with black history. There are scenes from this book that still come to my mind so vividly it's like they're happening in front of me. This book sparked my interest in writing historical fiction, and looking back on that experience as an adult was part of what made me want to write The Rock and the River.

2. The book I've re-read most often throughout my life. Okay this is cheating, because it's actually a combination of seven books: The Harry Potter series. Probably Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the single volume I've read the most times, but I can't be sure. I discovered the series when the fourth book was still new, and I read the first three in rapid succession, ran out and bought the fourth and then re-read them all again just for fun. Then I re-read them when each movie was coming out, and then I re-read them when each new book was coming out. But at least once I cheated and didn't go all the way back to the beginning, I just started with Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite) because I didn't have time to do the whole series read. But just typing this has made me want to start from the beginning all over again!

3. A book I recently discovered and positively devoured. Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A.S. King. My favorite thing about this book is that it includes a talking pagoda. Which is awesome. I'm looking forward to reading much more of her writing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Forum: Scary Stuff

Image: diamanti
In honor of Halloween, store windows around town are decked out with ghouls and goblins, cobwebs and witches.

 In the bookstore, you may find a special table displaying horror titles, creepy mystery fiction and other scary stuff.

The question that's on my mind this week is simply: Do you like to be scared?

What's your pleasure when you want to be petrified? Scary books? Scary movies? Haunted houses?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Teens Writing for Teens

Here's a site to check out: Teens Writing for Teens, a blog managed by two young writers, Rachel "Race" Mercado and Linda Ge.

The bloggers introduce themselves HERE, and their site posts interviews, reviews, reflections and other content about what it's like to be teens who write.

Check it out!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday WordPlay: Start with Setting

Where your story happens matters just as much as who it happens to. Even if a scene seems like it's all about the characters, and it could happen almost anywhere--at school, in a bedroom, on the sidelines at a football game--but the interaction is going to be different if it takes place in these locations.

What sounds do your characters hear? Why are they in that place? Do they want to be there? If not, where would they rather be? What do they see when they look around? How does the air smell? What is the temperature?

Today's challenge is to use a specific environment to create scenes. Choose characters you know, or make up some new ones, and follow them to at least three different places.

Here are some locations to choose from. Write a scene set:
                 in a child's bedroom

                 under the bleachers in the football stadium
                 on the shores of a small lake

                 deep in the woods

                 in a stranger's driveway

                 in an airplane

                 in a foxhole

                 on a cliffside

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top-Five W's (plus an H) krishnan
Surely you've heard of the five W's: who, what, when, where, and why. Reporters make sure to include answers to all of these questions in a news article, so that readers will understand every aspect of what happened. Writers, too, need to be sure they have a handle on the basics in each story.

Ask yourself:

1. WHO? Who is the story happening to? What is your main character's name? If you are writing in first person, have you found a way to let the reader know who "I" really is? What do you know about this person? What does she like? What is he good at? Who are is friends? What does she want more than anything?

2. WHAT? What is going happen to this person? Will it change her life? Will it put his life at risk? What will he or she do next? The nuts and bolts of any story start to develop when you ask yourself what else could go wrong? What would your character do about it?

3. WHEN? Does your story take place in the past, present, or future? What specific year? Who is the president? What are the styles? Be sure to consider small questions, too, like what day of the week it is. What time of day? It will matter for what your characters are doing, what the light is like, if they're out past curfew, or up earlier than usual. Time details matter a great deal when you are describing the world your characters inhabit.

4. WHERE? Does your story take place in a small town? A large city? Outerspace? On an oceanliner? In each scene, are the characters indoors or outdoors? In a place that's familiar or unusual? Try to see the world through your characters' eyes--what do they see and smell and touch?

5. WHY. This is especially important. What is motivating your characters? What makes your hero want to save the world, or rescue the princess, or run into the burning house to retrieve an object? What are his or her defining traits, that make him or her act they way s/he does? What is holding her back? What makes him rush forward, even when he's afraid?

Oh, and about that H. HOW do you use these W's in your writing, you ask? Well, that part's up to you!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Musings: Do you know other authors?

One of the most fun things about being a YA author is getting to meet lots of other authors whose books I've read and enjoyed.

My writer friends are spread all over the country, and all over the world, but I am lucky enough to cross paths with them at conferences, book fairs, writing retreats and all manner of fun book-related events.

The community of people who write for children and young adults is really amazing! Through the wonder of the internet, we can stay connected through blogs and social networks even when we can't see each other in person.

These are just a few of my writer friends, from various genres. If you haven't read their books, you should definitely check them out!

Laurie Calkhoven: Laurie writes the adventure-packed historical fiction series Boys at Wartime, featuring Daniel at the Siege of Boston, Will at the Battle of Gettysburg, and Michael at the Invasion of France.

Helen Frost: Helen is a poet, picture book author and novelist, author of Keesha's House, Hidden, The Braid, Step Gently Out, and more.

Bethany Hegedus: Bethany writes middle grade novels, like Truth with a Capital T and Between Us Baxters. Her first picture book is due out soon, too.

Malinda Lo--Malinda writes exciting fantasy adventures, like Ash (a Cinderella retelling, with a twist!) and it's seequel, Huntress.

Marie Rutkoski: Marie writes exciting fantasy, too. Her newest book is called The Shadow Society.

Eliot Schrefer-- Eliot writes lots of things, but especially YA fiction. I got to read Eliot's new book Endangered, about a girl trying to save bonobos (endangered apes) in the Congo, before it was a book! It'll be out in stores very soon.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Forum: Books vs. Movies

Lately it seems that every successful book (or series) is being turned into a film (or series of films). Books and movies are such different forms of media, and they lend themselves to very different

What do you think about this trend? How do you feel about books being turned into movies? Has it happened to any of your favorites?

Thursday, October 18, 2012


If you're a book lover, you definitely want to check out Goodreads!

Goodreads is a social networking site for readers to share their favorite titles, follow their favorite authors, and post their thoughts about the books they've read recently. It's a virtual version of the real life conversation that happens all the time, just like this:

                    Your friend says, "I just read this awesome book. You have to read it."
                    You answer: "What was it? I'd love to check it out!"

Goodreads says: "Our mission is to help people find and share books they love. Along the way, we plan to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world."

Goodreads has more than 10,000,000 members who have added more than 380,000,000 books to their shelves. WOW!

Things you'll find on the shelves:
  • Space to rate and review your favorite books
  • Reviews by your friends
  • Blog posts by authors you like
  • Fun literary quotes, quizzes and trivia
  • Book clubs and discussion groups
Check it out!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday WordPlay: "I'm so very, very sorry..."

Today's challenge:

Write a scene between two characters where one apologizes to the other.
  • Does the apology come at the beginning, or the end of the scene?
  • Is the apology accepted?
  • Does only one character need to apologize, or do both?
  • How do the characters feel?

You decide!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Top Five Points in Any Story Plot

image: krishnan
Even though every good story seems quite different from every other good story, there are many things that good stories have in common. You just have to look a little deeper.

Even the most intricate plot has a few basic elements to it:

1. Status Quo. How things are, or how things were before the story started. At the beginning of a story, the reader learns at least little bit about what is normal for your character. (For example, at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, we learn that Harry lives under the stairs, in the Dursleys' house, and that he isn't very happy with his life there.)

2. Inciting Incident. Very early in the story, something will happen that changes your character. Perhaps something beyond his control will happen to him, throwing him out of balance and forcing him to react. Or perhaps he'll make a decision to change his status quo by doing something he's never tried before. (The inciting incident for Harry occurs when Hagrid knocks on the door and announces "You're a wizard, Harry." Harry's life is changed forever by that knowledge.)

3. Actions and Obstacles. The rest of your story will unfold as your character reacts to the inciting incident. He will suddenly have a big problem to solve and he will set out to solve it. (Harry has several goals-to survive the year at Hogwarts, to protect the Sorcerer's Stone, and ultimately to defeat Voldemort.)

But it's not so easy to accomplish these tasks. There are many obstacles that get in the way. (Harry must make some friends to help him, sneak around the castle and avoid getting caught by the teachers, learn magic, defeat a troll, figure out where the Stone is hidden, and much more!)

As your character overcomes these smaller challenges, it prepares him for the bigger challenge that is coming.

4. Climax. After all these trials, your character must face the moment of greatest tension, when he has to overcome the biggest obstacle he's ever faced. (For Harry, it is the final showdown over the Sorcerer's Stone, when Voldemort reveals himself.)

5. Resolution. After your character overcomes the problem at the book's climax, you are nearing the end of your story. The resolution occurs as the character celebrates his victory, mourns what he has lost (if anything) and begins to move forward with his life. (Harry gets on the Hogwarts Express, headed home, happy to have survived the year, and glad to be a part of the wizarding world.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Musings: How do you choose your book covers?

It's a very popular misconception that authors get to design our own book covers. Every publishing company has a design department full of artists whose job is to design the covers for other people's books.

How do I feel about this process, you might ask?

On the one hand, it's a little bit hard to give up control of something as important as the book cover. Even though people always say, "You shouldn't judge a book by its cover," it's impossible not to form an opinion about a book based on what you see when you look at it. Waiting to see the first book jacket samples is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the publishing process for an author.

On the other hand, I think it's wonderful that my book covers are designed by expert artists. They know how to use graphic design programs that use cool fonts, add photo effects and all sorts of digital magic. Their skills make them much better equipped to design a book jacket than I would be. I'm only an expert with words, not with pictures!

Most of my book cover images so far have been "stock photographs." This means the book designer purchased from companies that collect photographs from many different sources, and collect them in a huge library of photos. (Getty Images is an example of a stock photography company.)

Camo Girl (hardcover)
Camo Girl (paperback)
Karin, my book designer for The Rock and the River and Fire in the Streets, chose close-up faces to feature the main characters. She also designed the hardcover jacket of Camo Girl, which is also a photograph of a girl's face, with digital photo treatments to make her face look a bit different.

When Camo Girl came out in paperback, the designers decided to try a different look for the book, and an illustrator named Yuta Onoda drew a cover that features all three main characters.

For my YA novel, 37 Things I Love, the book designer is named April. She could not find a stock photograph that matched the way she wanted the book cover to look. So she hired a photographer and models to create the picture she wanted. It was very exciting for me to learn that they did a special photo shoot for my book cover. Photo shoots are great because the cover photo is perfectly tailored to the book, but they don't happen very often because it can get expensive!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Forum: Lock and Key

Writing can be a very personal and private thing. How do you go about sharing your writing, if you do at all?

Maybe you have never, ever shown anyone anything you have written. Maybe you have a trusted friend or family member or two who you feel comfortable sharing it with. Maybe you love to read aloud, and show people what you are working on. Maybe you never show your first draft, but after you revise and polish a piece, you enjoy sharing it.

There's no right or wrong level of privacy for a writer. It just depends on what makes you comfortable.

How about you? Do you keep your writing a careful secret? Do you like to share?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Teen Read Week

Teen Read Week is coming up!

The Miami-Dade Public Library System invites teens (ages 12-19) to visit their nearest branch library and be a part of Teen Read Week 2012's It Came From the Library ® events from October 15-24.

Teens are asked to read 'Outloud!' from their favorite graphic novel, comic book, book or magazine during one of many Word-a-Thons which are scheduled at various branches throughout the system. (Find a participating branch.) Participants will be awarded community service hours and will receive a T-shirt which was designed by 15-year-old Kevin Zapata, a student at DASH (Design and Architecture Senior High), and the winner of the Teen Read Week T-shirt Design Contest.

Teen Read Week began in 1998 and is an initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). This year's theme is It Came from the Library®. Teen Read Week encourages teens to read graphic novels and other illustrated materials, seek out creative books, or imagine the world through literature, just for the fun of it.

Check out the Miami-Dade Public Library's list of Teen Read Week special events for more information.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday WordPlay: Mix and Match

image: miles
Today's poetry challenge works in any genre you choose: short story, poem, or personal reflection.

When I'm stuck not knowing what to write, I find words inspiring. I'm going to give you a handful of words. Choose one of the words to be the title of your poem or story.

(If you like non-fiction, choose a word that reminds you a of something that really happened to you, and write a journal entry about that experience).

Then, try to find a way to include all the rest of the words as you write the piece.

Here are the words:

            MARCH                SUBTLE             BLACK

                         UNDERNEATH         BRUSH

   PRIVACY               SUNSET                           COWER

          BRUSH                  CULTURE           ANNOY     

MARIGOLD               APOLOGIZE           KEY

Don't know what a word means? Look it up in the dictionary! (Merriam-Webster is one of my favorites online.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top Five Must-Have Books for any Writer

1. Dictionary. Words, words, words! Never doubt the power of words--and words are most powerful when used correctly. Every writer should have a dictionary on hand, even if you're an excellent speller, because there are always new words to learn. And no matter how smart you are, no matter how long you've been writing, every once in a while you will find yourself asking: "Does this word really mean what I think it means?"

2. Thesaurus. A thesaurus allows you to look up words by their meaning, rather than their spelling.  This book is tremendously helpful when you know the meaning of what you want to say, but aren't sure you've found the perfect word. Words are grouped by synonym, so you can easily find less common words to work with.

If you like poetry, I would also recommend picking up a Rhyming Dictionary. It's kind of like a thesaurus, but instead of grouping words by definition, it groups them by sound. Especially helpful when you're looking for a rhyme for "orange."

3. Encyclopedia. The encyclopedia is a fabulous resource for a writer, because the encyclopedia's goal is to provide a little bit of information about as many things as possible. The content is ordered alphabetically by subject, and you can look up everything from biographies of notable world figures, to the history of a particular animal species, or a description of how a technological invention actually works, and much more. There are almost always photos that go along with these short articles, too.

4. Almanac. All kinds of interesting facts and tidbits are contained in this book. Flip through an almanac sometime, and you'll see what I mean. You never know when you will get a story answer. Almanacs are especially useful if you write about historical time periods--you can easily look up the birth and death dates of historical figures, and what they were known for, in addition to plenty of pop culture trivia, like which movies were popular in a given year, or what were the most popular baby names, or what was the market price of different products, or when major brand name companies came into existence. And so much more!

5. Craft Books. Okay, this is not just one book, but a type of book. There are hundreds of books that have been written about how to write well. (Some of them are better written than others.) Here are a few I recommend:
  • What's Your Story? A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer
  • The I Love to Write Book by Mary-Lane Kamberg
  • The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner
  • Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook by Ellen Potter, Anne Mazer and Matt Phelan

***By the this day and age, you can find a lot of these resources online, too. It's nice to have a physical book ou can flip through, because you never know what you will find, but definitely also check out online dictionaries, thesauri, and encyclopedias. (Wikipedia does not count, friends! You also need to look for sites that contain published, edited content.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Musings: "Why do you write for teens?"

Umm...because teens are awesome?? Need I say more?

Apparently I need to say more.

Simply stated, I write for teens because most of my stories are about young people. Who's to say why, really? I would never try to alter or suppress my creative instincts, and these are the stories and characters that come to me first.

But as far as the underlying WHY of it, I do have a few guesses. First, I'm a relatively young writer, so a lot of the life experiences I draw upon when I write are about younger people go through. Writing teachers often tell sutdents to "write what you know," and I do.

I also like the feeling of writing for teen readers. I imagine I can have more impact as a writer with young readers, especially because a lot of the issues I care about and write about are particularly meaningful to explore when you're young: like finding true friendship, relating to your family, and discovering your identity; in other words--figuring out who you are in relation to the world!

In fairness, I have readers of all ages, and you never outgrow these explorations, but it changes over time. I want to inspire young people to think about these things early--the more you know yourself, the more confident you can be as you move through all the challenges that life has in store for you.

In the regular grown-up world, the concept of writing for young people seems to be something you either get, or you don't. Most people who meet me think my job seems cool. Every once in a while, I meet someone who just doesn't get it, and they tend to ask me things like:
  • "Are you ever going to write a real adult novel?"
  • "Writing for children must be easier. Is that why you do it?"
  • "Do you illustrate your own books?"
The answers are:
  • Yes, probably. I have some adult book ideas, but, by the way, novels for children are perfectly "real."
  • No, it's not easier, and that's not why I do it.
  • No. In the first place, I've never published a picture book, only novels. In the second place, I'm not a visual artist. If I ever write a picture book, it'll be illustrated by a professional!
No matter what else happens, I plan to keep writing for children and teens!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Forum: What challenges you?

Some days writing comes easy, and some times it is very hard work. Every writer is different--some of us have more easy days and some of us have more hard ones.  What about you? Do you find writing easy or difficult most of the time?

For you, what is the most challenging thing about being a writer?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reading in Color

Here is a wonderful teen book blog: Reading in Color.

The blogger, who is a teen herself, started posting reviews of YA and middle grade books about people of color because she felt there wasn't enough of that going on. (She introduces herself and her blog HERE.)

She posts amazing reviews, and definitely has her finger on the pulse of multicultural YA literature.

She's even won awards for her blog, like 2011 BEST TEEN BLOG in the Black Weblog Awards.

Check it out!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday WordPlay: Emotions

Today's challenge: Write based on emotions.

Thinking about how your character experiences different emotions is very useful for fiction writers. Pick an emotion from the list below (or another of your choosing!) and write from your character's perspective as if s/he feels that way.

If you prefer, you could use this as a journaling prompt, and write a brief reflection about a time you personally experienced this emotion.

You could also choose to create a poem that conveys this emotion.

Here are some emotions to work with:










If you're up for an extra special challenge, now try writing a scene (or poem) in which the main character (or the speaker, in a poem) transitions from:




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Top Five Ways to Create Compelling Characters

The heart of any good novel or short story is its characters. Think about it: When you pick up a novel, you are about to spend a number of hours, days, or even weeks moving through the world alongside these fictional people. Don't you want them to be interesting? Don't you want to feel glad you met them?

So do your readers!

When you pick up a short story, you may only be in their world a short while, but it still needs to feel worth your time to meet these people, even in passing. So, how do writers create characters who are compelling enough for readers to care about?

1. Get to know your characters, inside and out. Physical descriptions are helpful, but it's not quite enough to just describe what your main character looks like. Your reader needs to know who s/he is, inside.  What does s/he like? What is s/he afraid of? What does s/he want most, deep down in his or her heart? Who are his or her friends?

2. Look at the world through your characters' eyes. No two people see the world in the same way, even when they're looking at exactly the same thing. The things your character notices about the world depend on his/her personality and interests. A character who loves fashion will probably notice what everyone is wearing. One who works out a lot might notice whether other people are well-toned. A photographer will likely think in visual snapshots, while a sculptor may notice the shapes and textures of things.

This is true for actions (and reactions) as well. For example, what if I held up a red apple in a roomful of people? A hungry person might lick her lips and lean forward. A fearful person might raise up his arms as if I'm going to throw it. A person who just failed her driver's license test might flash back to the red stoplight she almost ran. And so on.

3. Embody your character. The paper you write on may be flat, but your characters should feel so well-rounded that they are bursting off the page. Go to a quiet room and try walking like your character might walk. How does s/he hold her head? Does s/he swing her arms, or keep them tight at her sides? Does s/he have a long stride, or a short one? Try to speak in his or her voice. (If it feels a bit silly, you're on the right track!)

4. Celebrate your characters' imperfections. No one is perfect. Sometimes we write down our fantasy characters, giving them all the best characteristics we can imagine--we make them courageous, good looking, honorable, talented, self-confident and more. Don't forget It's okay for literary characters to be larger than life, but not flawless. Readers won't believe your character is flawless. Plus, a character without a weakness or two is not going to be able to grow and change and make us worry if s/he will survive.

5. Give your characters unique challenges to overcome. Let who your character is determine what his or her story is going to be. Lots of books are written about romance, for example, yet no two romances are exactly the same because the personalities of the characters give each story a special flavor. Your character may face problems that many other people have faced before him or her--but how s/he responds to those challenges is what makes your story interesting and different.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Musings: "Did you always want to be a writer?"

I often get asked if I have wanted to be a writer since I was a child. The short answer is NO.

If you had asked me (and people did!) back in elementary school what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer would definitely not have been "writer." Not even for a minute. I even remember telling a friend that I thought creative writing was boring!

I wanted to be a lot of different things when I was younger: a teacher, a doctor, a health educator, a professional ballroom dancer, a summer camp director, a non-profit worker, and probably lots more things, too. I even tried some of them out:
  • I was a summer camp counselor for a few years.
  • I took pre-med courses for a year and a half in college.
  • I performed with a ballroom dance team.
  • I became a grantwriter for a non-profit organization.
Today, I'm very glad that I didn't know exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being unsure helped me keep an open mind, and allowed me to try new things. It allowed me to have some great adventures while I was figuring out who and what I was going to become.

I admire people who know what they want from a very young age and pursue their goals for many years. I even remember being a little bit jealous of people like that--people who knew exactly what they wanted their future to look like, and exactly what they needed to do to make it happen. It takes a lot of dedication, persistence and strength to go after what you want most.

It took me a lot longer than some people to figure out my real career goals, but once I discovered how much I love writing, it became a lot easier to focus. I am grateful for all the different hats i've worn in my life, because I know that all of my past experiences are helping me make good stories!