powered by your voice
Aug 17
Grace Safford's picture

Author Talk: Highlights

On Aug. 16, the YWP Book club and a few site users sat around a laptop to talk to published author Dan Gemeinhart. He's published YA novels like Some Kind of Courage — the book the book club read — and The Honest Truth. Dan had a lot to say about writing, and we wanted to share with you a few highlights. 
Aug 16
Grace Safford's picture

Live Stream Into the YWP Party

Can't make it to the YWP Party Author Talk with Dan Gemeinhart, author of Some Kind of Courage? Don't worry! You can live stream in to ask the author all of the writing questions you want at 6:00 pm TONIGHT. 

If you can make it down here in person, that would be the BEST (we have food and comfy chairs and a writing activity) — but some of you live over two hours away. Live stream in by using the video service Blue Jeans. Click this link — https://bluejeans.com/377064916 — join as a guest, and choose whether or not you want video and audio or just audio for your call. 

Dan, a published author, is ready to take your questions. Hope to see you all at the YWP Office in Burlington, VT (directions HERE). If you can't make it, we hope to see you virtually. 

Aug 15
in non-fiction 0 Comments challenge: End
Grace Safford's picture

Response to Question Two: Where

Yes, this is my desk at YWP — appropriately messy and homey. This is where I read most of Some Kind of Courage. Perched on my special seat cushion, my feet thrown up on my stool, and the Young Writers Project plastered on my screen, I took one work afternoon to tear through this novel. You know the world is a great place when part of your job is reading a YA novel at your desk.
Aug 11
earleyg's picture

My Friend

I've been watching Girl Meets World, and I love the messages it gives and the metaphores it uses. And while I have watched them before, now that I'm watching them again, I remember my own best friend. I couldn't say that I had a best friend a year ago because I would say that that wouldn't be fair. I care about each of my friends equally. But now that I am looking at another angle, maybe that's not true. Maybe I just hadn't found the right friend then. Maybe no one had ever showed me true friendship so I didn't know how to recognize it until it showed itself to me. And becasue I care about each of my friends differently, in different ways, I could never call one a best friend.
Aug 11

A Quite Lively Friend

There is a tree that stands as tall as my ambitions and there it provides shade. Perhaps it's a maple, maybe an oak, but I've never paid much attention. It simply towers over me and gives off a shadow that is meant to intimidate, but it never does. It only encourages. There in the summertime of childhood past, I would stretch out under the shade of the tree and write, or maybe read. I would lay back in the dewy grass underneath me and watch the ants parade over my knees. Many years past, I would haul out a musty, yellow, and no doubt disgusting, but truly loved blanket. I would throw it out onto the lawn cover up the worn out holes with chairs. A picnic would take place, and most of the time, I only had myself for company. But I think that's how a great writer is formed, in the simplistic state of being alone. Under that tree I would talk to myself, and laugh at my own jokes. As I grew older I stopped talking outloud, but instead, wrote in a pink covered notebook. And I must say, I still fancy myself a quite comical girl. But nevertheless, the tree that tried to cast darkness over my life inspired me to find comfort in the darkness. Now of course, summer doesn't last forever. Fall would eventually come, and that tree would keep trying to make my life difficult. It would shed it's leaves, and being the noble warrior princess I was, I would volunteer to rake up the massive piles of auburn leaves by myself, and with Godspeed at that.
Aug 10
Mackenzie 101's picture

The Ocean

The fresh air,
The salty taste of the ocean,
And the sun setting over the miles of sand,
Is where I feel at peace.
It’s always quiet,
Just the calming hush of the ocean,
And the thoughts waking my mind.
The sand beneath my feet,
Is always hot,
But it makes me feel at rest,
It helps me to let go.
Then when I walk along the coast of the water,
My footprints leaving a mark in the sand,
Then disappearing into the endless ocean.
The best part is the cold rush I get when I start swimming,
It makes me feel alive as I drift away from shore,
Away from the fears of tomorrow,
Now that's when I feel at peace.

Aug 09
Grace Safford's picture

Response to Question Three: Horse Picture

This is a photo I took back in 2012 — which now, in 2017, feels like forever ago. Despite the fact that my photo taking abilities have grown since then, I have always liked this photo. You can't see the face of the horse, but you can still see the expressiveness of the horse. You can tell the horse's attention has been caught by something; it's head is turned, the muscles in its neck taught, and it's ears are perked. Yet, you can also tell that this horse has a relaxed personality from the way the hay is dangling out of its mouth, and from the casual way the horse has spread its legs. You know what the horse is expressing, and it's personality, even though you can't see it's face. 

This horse reminds me of Sarah. We know she is kind from the way she nuzzles Joseph, and we know she is a strong-headed horse from the way she has been fighting her captors. We know this animal, even though we can't actually see the animal. The author has given us a complete picture of this horse as a character, even though — just like my horse — you can't see her face. 

I just really enjoyed the little connect I saw between the way people are exposed to this real and fictional horse. Maybe, to be a teacher for a second, this a great example of how even the small details can work to paint a complete picture. 
Aug 09
Grace Safford's picture

Response to Question One: Ah-Kee


I really can't stand that we the readers never got an explanation about what Ah-Kee's little black bird is. I mean, I know it's a sculpture, and I know both Ah-Kee and his father have one, but what does it mean? Why do they both have a bird? What significance does it have to their lives? 

I can understand, to a point, why the author didn't reveal the meaning of the black bird. As Anna P. said in one of our comment conversations, "the mystery of the book helps tie the story together." That air of mystery, the way the author withholds key information, keeps the story moving. Plus, the author uses the lack of information —this mystery — in his benefit to strengthen certain relationships in the novel. The fact that Ah-Kee and Joseph don't always understand one another makes their friendship feel that much stronger. They don't need to know everything to be bonded in the way they are, so why do we need that information. 
Aug 08
Sidney B.'s picture

College Tour Prompts 2: A Fidgety Spinner Gave Me A Prompt

This is being posted later than I wanted, mostly because I'm a procrastinator who was digging through a block at the end of Chapter 14 in my book. Block now gone, I can get back on track with these tour prompts before the memories disappear from my head completely. That's good, because this one's about- oops, preamble first.

So the 'fidgety spinner' in the title is really one of the other students from the college tour I was on two weeks ago, whom I will call 'Foos' for reasons that will become apparent in the not-too-distant future. Anyway, Foos was one of the boys on the tour, and he and I shared some interests. He wants to go into computer science, I might want to go into game coding, they're practically the same thing! That aside, the interest he and I shared much more actively was one in a little game called foosball (It would be better if you Googled it, my explanation would be tiresome to read and rather impotent.). There was a foosball table in the common room of the dorm building at VTC we were staying in, and it was regularly used by the two of us in constant competition. Some games were a blast, others made me want to leave the table, and here's why.
Aug 06
in non-fiction 3 Comments challenge: Listen

The Fiberous Date Bar

The car is packed almost up to the roof with cloths, vibrant plastic beach toys, a fishing net and pole, and a lot of snacks.....

    I lean across my sister's black and gray car seat, stretch my arm to an uncomfortable extent, and just manage to drag up the red snack bag from the depths of the car floor. Inside is an assortment of toddler-food packets, including my sisters favorite oat-banana-raspberry mixture (doesn't sound that bad, actually), and several kinds of granola/energy bars. I hold up a black wrappered one, featuring dark chocolate and dates:  " is this a new kind of bar?" I ask in the general direction of the front seats. "Yes. Be warned, they're really heavy on the dates." is the joint reply of my stepmother and father. I unwrap the bar, which is revealed to be the texture of a fruit leather with chunks of chocolate stuck in it, but much thicker. I take a bite. It's like chewing a hardened tootsie roll. It's bitter, otherwise pretty tasteless, and the only even close comparative would be unsweetened fig-newton filling, solidified with bits of unsweetened backing chocolate. In simpler description: I find it disgusting. I manage I few bites while watching vehicles fly by our car window. Finally, I dispose of the thing, to the garbage and my parents (who are some how able to eat it).

    A few days later..... 
Aug 05

Angel With Green Eyes

The golden days raced ahead of my heavy heart, their glow distant on the horizon as I walk through fog. Their hand is outretched, their arms open and welcoming, but when I reach out to touch, they are always dancing just to too far from my fingers. So I watch the light slip away. My chest is tight with tears but my eyes are as dry as paper flowers. My tongue is slick with cries for help but my lips are sewed shut. I used to search for a helping hand to hold, but in fear of squeezing the fingers so hard that they broke, I pulled away into my own self. I had lost hope, my dear. But you fought through my haze without me noticing. You tapped my shoulder until I turned around. Your smile, your simplicity, your sweet broken sentences made me breathe a little easier. You stayed with me until I smiled. You lead me to the light and brought me back to the golden days. But short days make short weeks and all good friends must say goodbye. But through mountains and seas and lands, I hold your hand without the fear of squeezing too hard, because I know that you will always squeeze back harder.
Aug 04

Response to Question 3


   My favorite character right now would have to be Ah-Kee for several reasons. Firstly, I love him for his mysteriousness. Even though we can't understand what he is saying, I feel like I can on some sort of level. His actions are also mysterious, but he does things like, for example, hitting Mr. Bishop in the face with a shovel, at the right times. I think it makes the book have that enjoyment factor. That brings me to my second reason. He just makes the book 10 times better. I often picture this book with just Joseph, and him going on these adventures alone, but I feel like that would be really boring. So, in saying that, I think Ah-Kee is a big part in this book, like the glue that sticks it all together and makes it really good. Lastly, I just love Ah-Kee's personality. The tiny detail that the author adds to this, like when he smiles, or when he is worried about something, I can picture it perfectly in my head. Especially when he is happy, I can just picture this scrawny Chinese boy, with an adorable smile and little dimples, jumping up and down. I think the author describes him perfectly, with enough mystery to make it awesome.
Aug 02
Grace Safford's picture

Response to Question One: Age

Despite everything he has been through, I really don't think Joseph acts like a twelve-year-old.

I know that experiences such as death and personal loss can age a person quickly. My cousin lost his mother at the age of eleven, and almost lost his father a year later. When I spoke to him this Easter — right as he was Joseph's age — he had an older way about him. He seemed to put more consideration into what people said to him, and he mulled over his answers longer than he used to. He kept his eyes lower than he used to. When he was just a few years younger, he would brashly look into your eyes as he spoke. Now, he watched your mouth, or he watched the floor. 

Yet, despite everything, he was still very much a kid. He wanted to play games; he was bored by our adult conversations and small talk. He still looked for entertainment, and he still wanted the company of an adult constantly. He was an odd mix, a hybrid of sorts between the occasional thoughtfulness of a teen, and the playfulness of someone who still hadn't lost the baby fat in his cheeks. 
Aug 01
Sidney B.'s picture

Writer's Block

I can't decide which one to start with...
Jul 31
Fiona Ella's picture


sometimes i walk through graveyards, and i think of how sad it is that i'll never be able to look at my own gravestone. 

that might sound peculiar—it probably is peculiar. i am a bit of a peculiar person. but i live directly adjacent to a graveyard, and they make neat places for bicycling and getting some privacy to hang out with friends, and the like. i like to look at the names on the graves. usually i share the name with whomever i happen to be walking with, if it's interesting—you find some lovely names in graveyards—but at more sentimental moments i wonder about their lives. 

look, those two are both still alive but there their grave is, with their names and their dates of birth. do you think they're suicidal or just really, really prepared? who would want their personal information on a stone before they were too far gone to care? 

then i wonder whether it was even their choice. some book of "would-you-believes" once tried to convince me that in france it was illegal to die without having purchased your funeral plot. i never fact-checked it but i'm 99% sure it's rubbish. still, maybe some relative of the living couple with their names already on their gravestone convinced them it was best to be prepared.