Have You Earned the Privilege to Write?

This is not the post I intended to write this week. I'll soon be getting up at 5am every morning both to write and to teach, and I had planned to cover the topic of how getting up early can make one more successful. But a good writer is nothing if not flexible, so I … Continue reading Have You Earned the Privilege to Write?



There's always some sign of human beings even in the heaviest of rainstorms. Walking around the house, the gentle rain falling shouldn't be enough to drive people indoors. The drops sometimes make a ping as they ricochet off a loose piece of siding, mocking the streets that absorb the raindrops without comment. The world is … Continue reading Silence

Ask Ceil – Shaken Cake

Dear Ceil, Did you feel that earthquake? Shaken in Saratoga Dear Shaken, No, at the time of the earthquake I was jackhammering up the sidewalk, and also running a backhoe while riding a tractor on my farm (whose produce I will be canning) because I'm building an apocalypse shelter so that I can spend the … Continue reading Ask Ceil – Shaken Cake

Backyards and Baby Steps

Crabgrass is serious business. As my husband and I watched the invasion of our lawn at the start of this summer, we feared that we'd be left with only two choices: A) spend our savings on some professional yard help, or B) call our home "Crabgrass Manor" and hope that we start a new neighborhood … Continue reading Backyards and Baby Steps

Sand and Kites

"If I were Martha, I would have let my lost glasses ruin the day." I had asked Grazina what the overriding theme of the day was. She had started with the words "Having fun, regardless of circumstances"--but the devil's in the details. And the sand. When we went to pick Grazina up at her apartment, … Continue reading Sand and Kites

Ask Ceil – Wii Mash

Dear Ceil, About to hit up my Wii Fit for the first time in months. Is it wrong to fear being judged by a video game? Shamed in Syndey Dear Shamed, No, it's not wrong. It's entirely appropriate to fear your video game. Electronics are in a position to exert an enormous influence over us. … Continue reading Ask Ceil – Wii Mash

If You Can Speak, You Can Write

I wrote about this topic (under the same title) on my own blog last year, but I felt the need to go back and explain a little further exactly what I mean. As I've discovered over and over again through the years, teenagers love to talk. They often come into the classroom full of ideas … Continue reading If You Can Speak, You Can Write

Battling Bookstores (or: Powell’s vs Strand)

Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon and Strand Book Store in New York City are both huge, wonderfully expansive places you can spend an afternoon. I recently had a chance to visit Powell's and finally compare it to what I'd--until last week--considered the best used bookstore in the world. The first exceptional thing I noticed about … Continue reading Battling Bookstores (or: Powell’s vs Strand)

Ask Ceil – Government Puppets

Dear Ceil I just read that there's a Super Congress in Washington now. Is it better than the regular Congress? Feeling Heroic in Helena Dear Heroic, Yes, it is better than the regular Congress, in that there are far fewer politicians in it. Ironically, a Super Congress is smaller than the regular congress, which is … Continue reading Ask Ceil – Government Puppets

The Ins and Outs of Outlining

My college creative writing teacher always said that some things were to be avoided at all costs. We students were not to use exclamation marks ever ("Put tape over that button on your keyboard, people!") and we also learned quite quickly that tired clichés had no place within our work, as they were the fallback … Continue reading The Ins and Outs of Outlining