Poem-based Questions

Some questions you can use in the classroom with the poems on this site:

  1. Which poem do you most connect with? Why?
  2. What is the topic of this poem?
  3. How does the poem’s title relate to its topic?
  4. What can you infer about the author’s point of view? Support your answer with details from the text.
  5. What is most likely the author’s purpose for writing this poem?
  6. How does the poem’s background image and/or layout complement it?
  7. What poetic devices, if any, are used in this poem?
  8. What effect do these poetic devices have on the poem?
  9. What is one question you have for the author of this poem?
  10. Write a poem of your own using images and/or layout to enhance it.

Writer Q & A

A friend of mine recently asked me to answer some writing-related questions for her class. Below is an abbreviated version – I hope you find it helpful!

1. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part of the writing process is brainstorming ideas. It’s fun to think up new characters and worlds and then consider all the things that might happen to them.

2. What is your least favorite part of writing?

My least favorite part is making decisions. There are so many different ways I could write each story, and I want to write the best story possible. I sometimes wish I could write several versions of the same story so I wouldn’t have to choose!

3. What is your favorite piece you have written?

My favorite piece of writing that’s done is my short story, “The Price of Words.” I’m very excited and proud that it got published. My favorite piece in general is the book I’m revising. My goal is to have it done by the end of this year. Stay tuned!

4. What is it like to write on a regular basis?

It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work. I spend time each day brainstorming, researching (yes, even for fiction!), writing, and/or revising. Sometimes I’m in the mood to write and things come easily. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing or can’t think or what to write and it feels like a chore. It’s like anything else – playing an instrument, being on a sports team, creating art, etc. – you need to practice!

5. What do you prefer to write?

I enjoy writing many different things, but my favorite is fiction for children and young adults. I tend to write science fiction and dystopian stories. I like to think about the direction the world is headed when it comes to technology, civil rights, and the environment and consider how we can work together to make it a better place for all people and all living things.

6. How long does it take to get a book/piece published?

For a book, it depends on the publishing track you take. You could self-publish a book online in a short amount of time (once the book is written, I think it’s just a matter of clicks and it’s out there).

If you choose the traditional track (going through a publishing company), it usually takes two to three years. In addition to writing the book, you need to send it to agents (who will try to sell it to a publishing company for you), or you need to send it to publishers yourself (though many only accept manuscripts through agents). They then have you work with an editor to make your story even better. It takes time for them to market the book and get it ready for publication. This is the track I hope to take with the novel I’m revising.

A short story can take a few months to a year. It depends on where you submit it, how long it takes them to get back to you, and how long it takes for them to find an appropriate place for your story in one of their issues.

7. Do you ever get writer’s block?

All the time! I’m a perfectionist, so I sometimes worry my writing isn’t good enough. Sometimes I can’t think of anything to write. Sometimes I have too many ideas and am not sure which one would best move the story forward.

When I worry about not being good enough, I remind myself that many popular, published authors feel this way sometimes, too. I read something I’ve written that I’m proud of, and I remind myself that it’s better to have a piece that’s okay and finished than perfect and not done.

When I can’t think of what to write, I list all sorts of possibilities, no matter how bad I think they might be, and that usually helps. When I can’t decide between ideas, I take them a little bit further, brainstorming how each would work with the story and where they might take me. I then think about what would work best with my story and its theme, and I decide from there.

Reading writing resource books (books that teach you about writing) has helped. Sometimes it’s nice to just take a break or work on a different piece for a while, too.

8. What is the best advice you can give a new writer?

Figure out what works best for you when writing and stick with it. It took me a while to learn that I brainstorm and draft best when using paper/pencil instead of my laptop/tablet. I work best when I brainstorm first and when I make goals based on scenes.

It has also been helpful for me to write short stories. They’ve given me little breaks from my novel (which can feel overwhelming at times), helped me learn about writing stories from beginning to end, and allowed me to feel successful for completing them.

Good luck on your writing and whatever other aspirations you might have!

“The Price of Words” Questions

Some questions to contemplate or use in a classroom setting with my short story, “The Price of Words”:

  1. Pick two words used in the story and determine their meanings. Use reference materials as needed.
  2. What are some of your favorite words? What do they mean and what makes them important to you?
  3. What is something you’d take risks for? Why?
  4. Describe the main character.
  5. What name would you choose for the main character? What do you think she would look like?
  6. Why might the author have avoided naming the character and describing her physical appearance?
  7. What can you infer from the end of the story? Support your answer with details from the story.
  8. Was the main character right in her actions? Support your answer with details from the story.
  9. Was Jace right in his actions? Support your answer with details from the story.
  10. Compare and contrast the main character and Jace.
  11. Find two examples of figurative language in the story.
  12. What is the theme of this story? Support your answer with details from the story.
  13. How does the author’s use of language relate to the story’s theme?
  14. How does “The Price of Words” relate to current events?
  15. Write a continuation of the story.
  16. Describe how three images and/or songs from “The Price of Words” extras relate to the story.

“The Price of Words” Extras

If you liked my short story, The Price of Words,” check out the extras below!

Pinterest board with images that remind me of “Price”:

Playlist with songs that remind me of “Price”:

Two music videos feature girls wearing white while singing by the ocean, and two feature random people busting moves. This was unintentional, but it kind of makes me happy!

It’s the lyrics in the songs, not the music videos, that I connect to my story, so listen closely! =)

“You shout it out
But I can’t hear a word you say
I’m talking loud not saying much…”

“Do you ever wonder what happens to the words that we send
Do they bend, do they break from the flight that they take
And come back together again with a whole new meaning
In a brand new sense, completely unrelated to the one I sent…”

“Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out…”

“And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?”

“I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet…”

Okay, so the lyrics to this song don’t fit like the others do, but I imagine the main character feeling the way this song makes me feel at the end of the story. And…it’s Justin Timberlake. 😉

I ordered these songs in a way that I feel fits the emotional arc of the main character (how she feels from the beginning to the end of the plot). Hope you enjoy!

*Please preview these if you plan to use them in a classroom setting. It may be best to play some of the songs using audio only instead of showing the music videos. Extension questions coming soon!

Goal-setting for Writers

‘Tis the season for new starts and New Year’s resolutions!

Instead of trying to do a million things, I’ve decided to stick with one. This is the year I’m going to finish my novel. And by finish, I don’t just mean draft. I mean query letter-complete, on its way to potential agents done.

How am I going to accomplish this? you might ask. Instead of overanalyzing what works for everyone else, I’m going to focus on what works for me.

I know that many authors set word count goals or write at the same time each day. This doesn’t work for me. I end up counting words or counting minutes and it makes writing feel like a chore. Lately, when working on short stories, I’ve focused on getting through a scene (or a specific portion of a scene), and I’ve found this to work much better.

To focus on scenes, I need an idea of what I’m going to write. If I don’t, I put off writing because I worry I won’t be able to come up with ideas or the ideas won’t be good enough. To combat this perfectionistic procrastination, I’m going to brainstorm first. Brainstorming is the most fun for me, and it often transitions into rough writing anyway. It takes the pressure off and gets me excited to see where the scene will take me.

I’ve found paper-pencil to be the best medium for my ideas to flow when brainstorming and drafting, so that’s what I’ll use. Later in the day, I’ll type what I’ve written and check/track the number of words.

So, my daily schedule (on weekdays, at least) will look like this:

  1. brainstorm scene
  2. write scene
  3. choice (revise past scenes, work on other projects, build writing platform, etc.)
  4. type scene

I’ve found the following sites to be helpful and hope you like them, too!

General Goal-setting:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm

Goal-setting for Writers:

http://goinswriter.com/tiny-goals/

Happy New Year, happy goal-setting, and good luck!