Inspiring Hope and Creativity

ABOVE: Teaching at Highlights Foundation with Leslie Helakoski.

My friend, Carol says that I’m a born teacher. “You can’t help yourself,” she says with a laugh. “You have to teach.”

I agree.

When I learn something new, my first instinct is to figure out how to teach it to others. Usually that means a simpler way of describing it so that it’s easier to understand. I like to make things visual. Much of that found its way to my blog, Fiction Notes at

My Shrunken Manuscript Revision strategy is an example of making something visual. Early in my career, a friend asked me to critique her story. I was poor. I didn’t have money to spend printing out her story. So, I shrank it. I took out white space, reduced the font to 8pt, single spaced, and printed that.

Suddenly, an entire chapter was just a single page. An entire novel could be shrunken to just 30 pages, something the eye can understand at a glance. Suddenly, the shape of the novel was there to see. Your weaknesses and your strengths are made visible. See this video for a full demonstration of Darcy Pattison’s Shrunken Manuscript .

For years, the Shrunken Manuscript was the cornerstone of my Novel Revision retreat. To attend, you had to have a full draft of a novel. We spent a weekend talking about how to revise the novel to become the book you dreamed it could be. One writer attended, then went home to revise. Her story sold in 11 days flat and went on to win a Newbery Honor: Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. Kirby wrote the Foreword for my book about novel revision, NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS: Uncommon Ways to Revise.

When I started publishing independently, I created blog where I write about my experiences, opinions, strategies, and changing landscape of the indie publishing world. I am a contributor to the SCBWI’s guide to self-publishing, The Essential Guide to Self-Publishing Books by Children, written by Karen P. Inglis and Orna A. Ross, with Darcy Pattison and Michael Hale.

I also speak at conferences, webinars, and workshops about writing for children, self-publishing, revising novels, and more.

Hope and Creativity

I’ve always been very clear with myself: when I teach, my main goal is to peddle hope. Writers are constantly told that we aren’t good enough. I wanted to combat that negativity with hope. I back up that hope with a tool chest of writing strategies that strengthens and deepens the writer’s work. But hope comes first. Without hope, we stop writing. We must not stop telling our stories! Else those lost in the dark will never find their way home.