Just Wait! A short story rejected in grade school becomes a cause of action

In elementary school, back in the 1950s, we were never given writing assignments, and I never imagined there were any living authors. I pictured a cemetery filled with tombstones of my favorite writers with their last names first, like card catalogs in the library: Baum, L. Frank 1856-1919. Writing – the pleasure of articulating interior worlds sensed but not seen – was something I did on my own. I was in eighth grade before I got a chance to write a story for school. My eighth-grade English teacher, Mr. Mortem, was a malevolent-looking man with a low brow and small beady eyes. We joked that he moonlighted as an axe murderer. But he was even scarier as an English teacher. He terrorized us with menacing-sounding exams called “evaluations,” which turned out to be ordinary multiple-choice tests. But he was the first teacher to give us an assignment to write a short story. “Remember,” Mr. Mortem called as we filed out of class, “no stories from TV!” I hardly heard him. I was … Read on

I’m Not Panicking – This is Just My Writing Process!

Little Elfie One by Pamela Jane

Years ago I took a weekend seminar with renowned screenwriting teacher, Bob McKee.  The large auditorium was packed.  Screenwriters, novelists, children’s authors, and editors of all genres had come to hear McKee talk about the art of writing and storytelling.  I could hardly wait for the seminar to start. McKee walked out on stage and stood for a moment, looking out at the audience.  Everyone was silent, waiting for him to begin. “Writing,” he said finally, his intense gaze scanning the audience, “is not about the words.” Yes! I thought, someone finally said it!  I had always felt that words were merely messengers of a deeper truth concealed behind or beneath them. Writing, McKee went on to say, is about characters, meaning, and emotional impact.  Recently I rediscovered the truth of McKee’s statement when I sat down to write Little Elfie One, a Christmas sequel to my rhyming Halloween book Little Goblins Ten, which had been published the year before.  … Read on