Jennifer and I discovered a lovely little crepe joint in Tempe a few years ago when she had an overnight birthday party at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel (we took a couple crates of craft supplies along and had a giant arts fest between trips to the rooftop swimming pool).
Recently Lizabeth and I headed out on a frosty morning to read our newspapers and enjoy toasty drinks. Liz recalled the lovely artwork and comfy couches at the Mill’s End Café and Creperie on Mill Avenue, so that’s where we headed.
When we got there, a copy of the New Times—strewn with other reading materials atop a two-tiered metal cart near the cash register—grabbed Lizabeth’s attention.
The otherwise stark white cover featured a broken piece of glass covered in blood. A bit jarring for morning reading, but then, sometimes the best reading gives us a jolt. The lead story, by managing editor Amy Silverman, was titled “Suicidal Tendencies.”
Silverman’s story, part of an ongoing series called “Lost Kids,” recounts harrowing tales of youth with serious mental illness within Arizona’s juvenile justice system. (I use the word “justice” here with more than a tad of trepidation.)
Later that day I hit my pile of yet-to-be-read newspapers in search of earlier pieces in Silverman’s series—including “Saving Alex” and “Losing Erica.” They were near the top, and I set about reading them right away.
The series was reading to remember. It was writing that reverberated. It may well be the single best collection of Arizona journalism I’ve read all year. Not surprising, I suppose, when you consider that Silverman has twice been honored as “Journalist of the Year” by the Arizona Press Club.
Work for consideration for the 2009 awards must be submitted per Arizona Press Club guidelines and postmarked no later than Jan. 20th of 2010. Award categories have been modified somewhat to reflect growing trends in journalism such as increased news content on the Internet.
I last saw Silverman at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. She was there with Deborah Sussman Susser, co-instructor for Mothers Who Write—an enterprise that engages writers in developing their craft while sharing feedback on each other’s work.
We’re proud to count one of their alumni—Debra Rich Gettleman—among our fellow writers at Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Gettleman never fails to deliver a lively read, so check the magazine’s online archives when you’re craving a kernel of controversy.
Several of the women who participated in the last Mothers Who Write workshop were at SMOCA with Silverman and Susser to read portions of their work aloud from behind a humble podium located adjacent to a magnificent museum exhibit of Nick Cave “soundsuits.”
Listening to their works conjured memories and musings—of things simple, scary, sentimental and strong—much like a magical night at the symphony or the theater.
Mothers Who Write is a testament to the power of the pen.
Their next 10-week workshop begins Feb. 25th and I must admit that I’m toying with taking part. (First I have to quell the intimidation factor.) Registration for the workshop, which often fills quickly, begins Jan. 4th.
We’re partial to parents who write around here, but equally fond of youth who commit pen to paper—so I’m always on the lookout for events that engage children and teens in reading and/or writing. Here’s one that recently caught my eye…
Changing Hands Bookstore and Hoodlums Music and Movies present “YAllapalooza! 2010” from 4-7pm on Saturday, Jan. 9th. They’re located side by side on the corner of S. McClintock Dr. and E. Guadalupe Rd. in Tempe. (The fact that Wildflower Bread Company is next door is an added bonus—especially when you have a hankering for breakfast on a budget.)
The event is described as “a literary musical extravaganza featuring live bands, pizza, games, prizes, and a chance to mix and mingle with your favorite YA authors and get books signed.” (YA is bookstore speak for “young adult.”)
As the proud parent of an ASU student and “indie-minded” consumer, I often hear of these events firsthand. But it doesn’t hurt that I’m on the e-mail alerts for both Hoodlums and Changing Hands.
The Changing Hands e-newsletter alerted me to several writing-related events scheduled for January—some for grown-ups, some for tweens and teens—covering everything from poetry and journaling to how to get published and how to beat writer’s block.
A teen workshop titled “Indie Mini-Comics” (for ages 13 and up) will take place at Changing Hands on Saturday, Jan. 16th. Check the store’s website for event and registration information.
Every author I’ve ever spoken with offers the same advice to potential writers: The best way to improve your writing is simply to write—and write, and write. The most proficient writers are often the most prolific readers, so blossoming writers do well to have their nose in a book when there’s no pen in their hand.
Anyone witnessing the recent exchange of gifts at our house might suspect that we’re destined to become a writing version of the famous singing von Trapp family (whose story is loosely told in the movie “The Sound of Music”). If you can’t eat it, listen to it or read it, it probably wasn’t on any of our holiday wish lists.
The bookseller to whom I handed Jennifer’s list was especially surprised to see one of Freud’s works on the list. I thought I’d get a good chuckle when I mentioned I had one daughter who planned to give it to another, but no—just a blank stare. He wouldn’t have had any fun celebrating the holidays at our house.
If you want your teen to love reading and writing, expose them early and often to good books and writing opportunities.
Aspiring teen writers can learn a thing or two from “how-to” books like “A Teen’s Guide to Getting Published: Publishing for Profit, Recognition and Academic Success” (Jessica Dunn and Danielle Dunn), “The Young Writer’s Guide to Getting Published” (Kathy Henderson) and “Screen Teen Writers: How Young Screenwriters Can Find Success” (Christina Hamlett).
Still, nothing replaces the acts of reading and writing. When you can share them with others—especially while enjoying crepes and coffee or cocoa together—so much the better.
Note: When last I visited the Stone Soup magazine website, it announced blogging opportunities for creative writing teachers. If you’re interested in learning more, check it out at www.stonesoup.com
Coming soon: The Young Writers Program at ASU, Upcoming community college theater productions, Youth symphonies in the Valley of the Sun