Tag Archives: Loft Literary Center

My ten-year-old’s bucket list

So in the class I’m taking over at The Loft Literary Center, Breaking the Unwritten Rules in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction, we’ve been talking about clichés and tropes, and about all those unwritten rules we might not even realize are holding us back from something original and startling.

We’ve discussed narration and how to balance entertainment with authenticity when writing a middle grade or young adult character. It reminded me of something Kyra said a while back.

One day after school, she mentioned she had something on her “bucket list.” After I got over my internal freak out about my ten-year-old having a bucket list, I asked her what she meant.

Here’s the thing: she’d never heard the phrase “kicking the bucket.” If she saw it in a story (or heard it in a movie) she would probably ask me what it meant if it wasn’t clear from context.

To her (and her friends), a bucket list represented a figurative bucket where they placed all the things that they’d like to do someday.

In Kyra’s case, this list includes:

  • being a scientist
  • traveling the world
  • painting all her pets’ portraits.

So, as writers, we’re told to avoid clichés because they’ve lost their freshness and meaning. But in some cases, all it takes is the next generation to give the old something new.

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Filed under Getting Schooled, Kids, Writing, YA

Write 1/Sub 1 check in: week 6, the one with Girl Scout cookies

Week 6! Despite the 200 hundred boxes of Girl Scout cookies in my living room–that need a home that isn’t my living room–I had a very good writing week. Here’s what I did:


  • It Only Takes a Minute, 247 words, for the Flash Fiction Chronicles String of 10 contest
  • The Weight of Secrets, short story of some length. I wrote it longhand and it’s still in my notebook, so I don’t know the exact word count.


  • It Only Takes a Minute, since I wrote it for the contest, why not actually submit it too?
  • The Madness in King’s End, to a local mystery contest. However, my story is probably more fantasy than mystery, so I’m not holding my breath on this one.


  • None!


  • Payment, that even shorter (25 words) version of Cash or Check received an acceptance from Literary Juice for their Pulp Fiction section, where the story must be exactly 25 words with a one word title. (Now you know why I changed the title.) Oddly enough, it’s a story with a Girl Scout cookie theme.


I also started an online class this week at The Loft Literary Center,  Breaking the Unwritten Rules in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction. I’m all about the rule breaking. The next couple of weeks are going to be very busy, so this Write 1/Sub 1 thing may be more of a challenge. It’s like a cliffhanger–stay tuned to see if I can make it all work. 

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Filed under Promo, Write 1/Sub 1, Writing, YA

Flashing again

So earlier this year, when I wrote The Secret Life of Sleeping Beauty, it reminded me how much I love the short form. Sure, selling it to the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology didn’t hurt either. But the writing and the love came first. And I wondered:

Why did I stop?

Um. I don’t know. Because I can write longer forms and the short forms without my head exploding. So that’s not the issue. Since there doesn’t seem to be a reason, I’ve jumped back onto the short bandwagon with both feet (and a cliché or two in my pocket).

I decided to take In a Flash: Short-shorts, Micro-memoir and Prose Poetry from The Loft Literary Center. (Note: They have a great selection of online classes, so you don’t even need to be local to the Twin Cities to take a class.)

Some ideas really lend themselves to the short form. Maybe they just fit better there, or it’s an idea you want to have a fling with, but don’t want to marry (so to speak).

Sometimes it’s what we don’t know that truly makes the story–how many blanks we need to fill in. Because filling in the blanks can be fun. The ad below is an example of this less is more genius.

Yes, I know I’m not helping my “George Clooney doesn’t live in my blog” cause (see posts here and here), but I can’t help myself.

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Filed under Books, Famous people, Reading, Reading & Writing, Writing, YA