Our 3rd Teen Story Slam was AMAZING

A year ago, a few writers and I tried something daring. We asked local teens to come out and read something they’d written to a live audience. It could be a poem, a confession, a chapter from a novel in progress, or a short story. Our only rules: Five minutes of reading, PG content only. We thought we’d have an intimate circle of intrepid readers, and we were cool with that. Well, our literary event, Teen Story Slam, WENT OFF! We packed a giant house wall to wall, on the night of the World Series no less. It was a historic outpouring of enthusiasm for the spoken word. Naturally, the writers begged us to do it again.
todayWith the support of Westside Pizza and the Kitsap Regional Library, we threw another Teen Story Slam and packed the house again. Local high school teacher (and playwright) Noah Barfield was a fabulous emcee. Parents, teachers, and adults lined the back of the restaurant, while every table was packed with teen writers and their friends. The peer support was phenomenal. The stories, poems, chapters and essays read were among the finest we’ve had. Around the room, tears were shed for poignant pieces about gender roles, the loss of love, and facing grief head-on. Conversely, there were comedians among our writers, earning cheers, hoots of laughter, and huge rounds of applause. It was incredible. Each time we present Teen Story Slam, our community of student writers elevates the event beyond our dreams, displaying talent, maturity, insight, and bravery.
We allow each reader to sign his or her name impermanently on a whiteboard with a dry erase marker. Throughout the slam, teens can strike their name, nominate a friend, or move their name higher or lower on the list. With the encouragement of friends and the awesome vibes coming from the audience, a few who’d sworn they wouldn’t read pulled up stories on their phones and took to the mic for an impromptu reading. One made up a fantastic story on the spot, and others read twice! 
Westside Pizza offered half the receipts of the evening in support of our annual Teen Writing Camp Intensive in the summer. Thanks to manager Maureen and her team, 22 teens will attend writing camp next summer.
As a teen writing instructor, I’m so thankful to each student for making this special event happen–again. It gives me a such a warm heart to see these young women and men choose to come out with their parents and friends and share their creativity.
If you’re looking for a fun, community-positive way to raise funds, chat with me about how to host your own Story Slam!
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Reading Opens Minds selects Radio Head as a book club pick!

I’m thrilled to announce that Reading Opens Minds has chosen my novel RADIO HEAD for book club participants, thanks in part to a generous donation from the John Aaroe Group. 

Reading Opens Mindsa non-profit organization, brings the book club experience to at-risk adults and children in the Los Angeles area through county jails, halfway houses, and schools.
The mission of Reading Opens Minds is to promote literacy in at-risk communities through book clubs, empowering individuals, building relationships, and inspiring hope.
Thank you to Colin Kelly and the John Aaroe Group for their generous award! The first club to receive copies of RADIO HEAD was the Sun Valley Magnet School Leadership Book Club. Colin was kind enough to present the award to the Book Club!

 

Designed to reach those most in need, Reading Opens Minds book clubs encourage the shared experience of reading and discussion to nurture self-worth, foster empathy, encourage meaningful communication and increase sense of community. By providing new books and mentors we envision comprehensive literacy as a gateway to success and an opportunity to expand understanding, benefiting individuals and the greater good. Learn more at www.readingopensminds.org.

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Teen Story Slam is back! Write a story, read it aloud, get a prize

TeenStorySlam Oct2017The teen writers asked for it, so we’re bringing it back! On October 25, 2017, the Teen Story Slam returns to Westside Pizza!

Teen creative writers in grades 7-12 are invited to step up to the mic to read their own prose for 5 minutes. Anything goes: a short story, a scene from their novel or screenplay, poetry, or wild and wacky true stories. Just keep it PG, please. Every writer who participates gets a prize! No competition, no memorization, just pure storytelling awesomeness.

In partnership with Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN), the Kitsap Regional Library, and Westside Pizza, benefits from the event will support our Teen Writers Workshop afterschool writing program, and Teen Creative Writing Summer Camp.

Beloved Bainbridge High School English teacher Noah Barfield will serve as master of ceremonies once again. Mr. Barfield is known in the community for his achievements as a playwright, and among his students as a comedian.

At the inaugural Teen Story Slam we had 23 intrepid writers who kept the standing-room-only audience rapt. Teens, sign up now! Registration is encouraged. Family and friends are welcome to come cheer on the writers!

WHEN: Wednesday, October 25, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

WHERE: Westside Pizza, 323 High School Rd NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

SIGN UP at the Reference Desk at the Bainbridge Library, or by calling 206-842-4162

*Can’t wait? Drop in to Teen Writers Workshop–it’s free! Facilitated by me and author Margaret Nevinski, MFA, students in grades 7-12 meet at the library on the 2nd Thursday of every month during the school year, from 3:30-5:00 pm.

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My latest on HuffPo: How Sharing Stories Helps Kids (To Help Other Kids)

Storybooth Worksheet

Want to write your own storybooth.com story? Here is the memoir lesson handout used at the creative writers’ camp for teens.

Please read my latest article on Huffington Post:

storybooth: How Sharing Stories Helps Kids (To Help Other Kids)

Seventh-grade student Carissa carried a painful memory around with her, but it wasn’t a secret. There were plenty of kids who witnessed (her now ex) boyfriend humiliate and verbally abuse her in the hallway at school. While the scene replayed in her head every day for the next year, she wouldn’t talk about it openly with anyone.

Carissa does have a secret, however. She’s a talented writer, and she explores her thoughts and personal challenges through short stories. This summer, she attended a free creative writers’ camp for teens at her local library. Every day, the students were provided writing prompts and mini lessons to create stories, poems, and scenes for novels-in-progress. This year, the students were introduced to storybooth (storybooth.com), a website that collects real stories from kids in their own words and brings them to life through animation. Kids of all ages are welcome to record their own personal experiences that made a lasting impact on their lives, whether positive, negative, or downright hilarious. It’s free, easy, and has the power to relieve a weighty burden – something that no other platforms for young people are doing. The act of recording a story is an effective means of letting it go, and not only that, the kids have a supportive community behind them.

The team at storybooth looks for stories that will make viewers laugh, think, and feel, and has a way of showing us how we are all connected through our shared stories. The award-winning site has over 100 million views, with multi-ethnic, compassionate and often humorous animations. But the most significant part of storybooth is the community response. As a digital platform unlike other social media sites, storybooth is an overwhelmingly supportive and safe place for kids to share their personal journeys. The peer comments are encouraging, understanding and uplifting.

When participants in the teen writing camp viewed several stories and took part in a short lesson on memoir writing, several felt empowered to put their own experiences into words. One student wrote about her family moving several times throughout her life and how difficult it is to say goodbye. Another talked about crashing a car through the family’s garage on his first day of driving school. (He’s still afraid to test for his license.) Carissa dared to read her story about the very public embarrassment that haunted her for months, discovering a sense of peace by dissolving the memory of its power. When kids reveal their authentic feelings, it can help other kids gain a fresh perspective on their own struggles.

What makes a good storybooth story?

  • The storyteller allows him or herself to be vulnerable. They’re not afraid to go into the details of an experience.
  • The storyteller looks at him or herself honestly. They expose their own truth, knowing they are anonymous and no one is judging.
  • The storyteller takes the fear out of telling their story because they know it will help others.
  • The storyteller comes across naturally. They are authentic, have dignity in owning their own mistakes, and just let themselves go.

For teens who are interested in visiting storybooth.com and sharing the story that’s been replaying through their head, simply visit storybooth.com, hit “record” – and then let it go. Those looking for some extra guidance can consider writing out the story ahead of time – the memoir writing exercise developed by the creative writers’ camp for teens is available here. If the story is chosen by the storybooth team, it’ll be animated and posted to the website. Other kids will have a chance to see the story and comment, and perhaps be inspired to write and record their own story.

See the article here!

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Book Release Day! Lisa Manterfield’s new novel The Smallest Thing

One of the most exciting parts of living a creative life is finding kindred souls along the journey. I had the good fortune of meeting author Lisa Manterfield several years ago at the UCLA Writer’s Studio, and I quickly discovered I’d found a both a talented writer and cherished friend. Lisa’s writing is a marriage of science and emotion. An accomplished writer of both fiction and nonfiction, Lisa is unafraid to venture along the dark and curving paths of human experience (or climb onto high, precarious ledges). She invites her readers to the call of the wild while awakening a sense of timelessness and gravity, united with both the earth and beyond. Wherever Lisa takes her reader, you can be certain it’s new territory and you wouldn’t want to be there without her as a guide.

Lisa Manterfield is the award-winning author of A Strange Companion and I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat.

Her newest book releases today! I’m honored to be among the first to announce Lisa Manterfield’s latest novel, The Smallest Thing. In celebration, you can ENTER TO WIN a lovely swag box that includes a signed copy of The Smallest Thing and some fabulous gifts. We chatted about her experience researching and writing the story, and why her protagonists’ fathers tend to figure so prominently. I got the inside scoop on how published authors can find effective book marketing techniques that work for their readerships.

Ok, let’s begin! First, tell us what The Smallest Thing is about.

lisa manterfield authorpic

LM: When 17-year-old Emmott finds herself trapped in her tiny English village by a government-imposed quarantine, she must choose between saving herself at all costs or doing what’s right for the people she loves the most.

RL: What is the category and genre? Did you plan to write for this audience, or did the story dictate its own voice?

LM: The book is contemporary YA with a strong cross-over into Adult. I didn’t set out to write YA. I tend to write for a slightly older reader, but I needed to tell this story and my main character dictated the category. She was pretty adamant about telling it her way.

RL: This has been a very big year for you as an author! You’ve released not one, but two books, A Strange Companion and The Smallest Thing. How are they similar, and how are they different?

LM: They are both stories that demanded to be told and stuck with me until I wrote them. They’re both set in Northern England, in surroundings that are very familiar to me, and they both have young female protagonists who don’t always behave well. Both Kat and Em make some poor choices in their stories and don’t always treat people as well as they know they should, but in the process, they both learn a lot about who they really are. In both stories, there is a romance element, a struggle with family dynamics, and of course, death. Love, loss, and family always seem to crop up in my work.

Beyond that, my first novel, A Strange Companion, is a coming-of-age love story with paranormal elements. The Smallest Thing is a big mash-up of adventure, thriller, sci-fi, and romance. At their cores, though, they are still stories of young women figuring out who they are in the world.

RL: The Smallest Thing is loosely based on a true story about Eyam, “The Plague Village,” in Derbyshire, England. Can you tell us a little about the historical facts that inspired your novel?

LM: I grew up not far from Eyam and have always been fascinated by the story of self-sacrifice. The Great Plague was raging in London in 1665 and found its way to Eyam, some 150 miles away, when a local tailor brought in a bolt of cloth containing fleas (probably not unusual at that time.) When people in Eyam began succumbing to the plague, the villagers, led by the local vicar, made the decision to quarantine their village to prevent the spread of the disease to surrounding villages and to the thriving market town of Sheffield, my hometown. That decision saved untold thousands of lives, but cost the village dearly. All told, 260 of the 350 villagers lost their lives.

One of the personal stories that stayed with me is that of Emmott Syddall, a young woman whose fiancé lived outside the quarantine zone. It’s rumored they continued their courtship at a safe distance across the village boundary. Rowland Torre was reportedly one of the first to enter the village when the quarantine was lifted. Only then did he learn that Emmott had not survived. I took a great many liberties with the facts in my contemporary version, but the themes of love, self-sacrifice, and community are still what drives the story.

RL: You and I share the trait of writing young characters with dead or absent fathers. What is the significance of this in your stories?

LM: Ah yes. My dad died suddenly when I was 15. Thirty years later, I am still trying to work my way through that in my fiction. While neither of my novels is a fictionalized version of my personal story, there are elements of me in there. Like Kat, I was not prepared for the loss of my dad and, also like Kat, it took me a long time to work through my grief and move on. I suppose with Em, I was exploring what it might have been like to try to break away from my dad’s expectations for me, and be my own person. I imagine it would have been just as contentious as Em’s battle for independence, but hopefully not in such a terrible environment.

RL: Your protagonist Emmott is separated from her boyfriend when her village is quarantined. Under the same circumstances, how do you think you’d fare if your wonderful husband Mr. Fab and your devoted kitty Felicity were across Cucklett Delf?

LM: Astute readers will notice that there are no pets in the village. I made a deliberate choice to exclude them. I had no trouble writing terrible deaths for people, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it to the pets.

But, as you’re forcing me to imagine this scenario, I think I would be very grateful that Felicity and Mr. Fab were out of harm’s way. And then I would get down to the business of self-preservation. I’d like to think that I would also be a good citizen and try to be helpful to those trapped with me. We never really know how we’ll respond in crisis until it happens. Generally, I’m pretty cool under pressure, but who knows how I’d act if my life were truly in danger.

RL: Your biweekly inspiring blog posts have attracted a wonderful community of newsletter subscribers. Do you have any book marketing advice for indie authors?

LM: There are mountains of really solid information out there from authors who are insanely successful and have more information than I could offer. The problem is, there is SO much information and much of it is conflicting. It can be completely overwhelming for a new author. So my advice would be to read voraciously, gather information from several sources, and then walk away and think about what kind of author you are and what exactly you want from your career. Then pick the tools that will support that, take a deep breath, and do something that feels right. It may take some trial and error to find your groove, but it will end up being a lot more effective than hurling yourself into someone else’s best practice only to find it’s a poor fit.

RL: Do you maintain complete control over your characters or do they ever take the proverbial wheel?

LM: I tend to let them run wild and free in the first draft. I have an idea of what I’d like to happen, but I try to stay open to possibilities. The “mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit” in this novel was not in my original idea. He came out of a writing prompt, but the second he appeared, I knew he had to stay. His creation dramatically changed the course of the novel for the better.

RL: Do you miss the company of your characters when you finish writing a book?

LM: It took me ten years to write my first novel, A Strange Companion, largely because I couldn’t let go and call the book finished. Perhaps one of the hardest skills to master is finding that sweet spot between revising a book until it’s as good as it can be and knowing you’ve reached a point that there’s nothing more you can do and that more twiddling will only make the book worse. At that point, it’s time to move on.

When I’m working on a book, I am in that world with those characters. I wake up thinking about them and I talk to other people, not about the book as a whole, but about the characters by name. Once a book is finally finished, though, I go through a brief period of mourning, and then I let it go. And I’m a fickle lover; I’m already deep in a relationship with a whole new set of characters.

RL: Thank you, Lisa! I look forward to meeting your new characters and continuing our travels together on the journey of writing. Best of luck, wherever your creativity takes you.

The Smallest Thing is available now! (non-affiliate links)

 

Enter to WIN 

a lovely swag box that includes a signed copy of The Smallest Thing and some fabulous gifts! 

Click HERE to enter.

More about the book…

The Smallest Thing

By Lisa Manterfield

thesmallestthing coverThe very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back.

But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit?

Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy.

ISBN:           978-0-9986969-2-8
Category:      Upper Young Adult Fiction
Publication:   July 18, 2017
Pages:          286
Size:             5.25 x 8.00 in.
Price:            $15.95
Binding:        Perfect Bound
Publisher:     Steel Rose Press

Stay in touch with Lisa Manterfield!

http://www.LisaManterfield.com

Facebook: AuthorLisaManterfield

Instagram: @lmanterfield

Twitter: @lisamanterfield

Goodreads: LisaManterfield

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Sign up for Teen Writing Camp on Bainbridge Island!

We’re so excited for the 2017 Teen Writing Camp at KRL’s Bainbridge Island branch!

Calling all Kitsap area teens in grades 7-12! Join me and author Margaret Nevinski for a jam-packed week building your work-in-progress, creating new characters and stories, and strengthening your writing muscles. Every day, we’ll provide writing prompts and activities to stretch your creativity and range. We even have a special camp theme: Character motivation. (Why do our characters act, talk and behave the way they do? Let’s explore!) We’ll sharpen dialogue, delve into interactive memoir using Storybooth, and venture into ekphrastic writing with an art expert at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA). (Bonus points if you know what “ekphrastic” means!)Starting the week  in a dramatic setting, we’ll take over the auditorium at BIMA on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, we’ll meet up at our traditional writing headquarters at KRL’s Bainbridge Island Community Room, where we will be among the very first to use the refreshed and renovated space! Prepare to be impressed and writing in comfort and style:)

Wait, there’s more! Margaret and I will provide one-on-one consultation each day, campers will share their prose in The Writers’ Circle, and we will produce our own Literary Magazine. If that isn’t enough, we’re also hosting a A Reading and Celebration of the Teen Writing Camp at BARN! The Friday evening celebration will feature our own intimate Spoken Word event for all camp participants. Invite your family and friends to hear your stories, chapters, poems, and/or essays. Dessert will be served. 

Our teen librarian Stefanie Reddy will provide yummy snacks daily. Your work-in-progress will thank you, and that shiny new journal will love the smell of fresh ink. We can’t wait to write with you!

Registration:

Cost: FREE, thanks to KRL Bainbridge Island
Where: Bainbridge Island
When: Monday, July 17, 2017 –
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Repeats every day 5 times, and then again on:
FRIDAY EVENING FROM 7 TO 8:30 PM
A Reading and Celebration of the Teen Writing Camp at BARN

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An introspective chat about my work, with author Lisa Manterfield

Sometimes we receive unexpected treats. An author interview allows us to pause a moment and consider why we’re doing the work we are, and what we’re really trying to say in our novels. Every time I’ve sat in the spotlight as interviewee, I’ve come away with a surprise insight about my journey, or an “aha!” moment about an issue I’d been struggling with. Recently, I Author-Love-Rebecca-J.-Lacko-by-Lisa-Manterfield-lisamanterfield.com_-768x384had the indulgent pleasure of being interviewed by a trusted confidante I hold in high esteem: Lisa Manterfield, author of the paranormal romance A Strange Companion.

Please check it out to learn

How (and where!) Lisa and I first met
Why music plays such a big role in my novels
A discussion about dead daddies and the protagonists who love them
What I love about working teen writers
What I’m writing RIGHT NOW.

Read the entire post here.

today

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