Friday, November 8, 2013


I have a cool friend. Well, in the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I have LOTS of cool friends, but one of those cool friends inspired this blog post. She's the kind of friend every author dreams of having. She showed up to my house at 7:30 this morning so I could autograph a copy of Alchemy for one of her students, and she didn't take pictures! (I'm not telling you her name so that you can't steal her away!)

This is the cake she had made to
celebrate the release of Alchemy.
That is just one of a million ways she has done everything possible to help me be a successful author. One of her newest ideas is something called Boomwriter. Have you heard of it? It's a program where a guest author writes a first chapter for a class. The kids read the chapter, and then write their own second chapter. All the chapters are read and voted on, and the one with the most votes is adopted as the classes second chapter, and so on, until, by the end of the year, your class has an entire book, which is sold in the Boomwriter's bookstore. (A quick perusal of their site leads me to suspect that the books sell for a flat rate of  9.99).

The website has sample first chapters, some written by published authors and celebrities, or you can use your own, which is where I come in. My friend (hereinafter called "Jess") is having me write the first chapter for her class. In the process, they've learned all about me, and many of them have bought my book. The chapter I write for them must be less than 1000 words.

In addition, this project can pique the interest of the entire community. Jess mentioned that the principal is considering asking the newspaper to do an article about it. I'll keep you posted on that development.

For the most part, I think this is an amazing idea. I have mixed feelings about the competition angle. On the one hand, knowing it is a competition will likely make the students try harder. Competition can be a great thing. But I also think that competition is often not the best way to build confidence or true creativity. I know my children were raised in the "participation trophy" era, and I see the problems inherent in that. Still, writing is a hard enough skill without that added pressure, but I'm sure teachers must be able to tailor the program to their own classroom's individual needs.

So every student writes a chapter, and one gets picked. All those students whose chapters didn't get picked may have had a whole story arc that is now obsolete. I know from experience how frustrating it can be to try and force your brilliant ideas into a space in which they no longer fit. Of course, sometimes those moments create the best new ideas. I know that from experience.

Yes. Boomwriters is an exciting program, and I get to be a part of it!
Do you know of any other programs that encourage writing or that help authors be part of the educational process? Please share!


  1. Wow! What a fascinating idea. (I wonder if any of the kids whose chapters don't make the cut might go on to finish their version anyway...)

    Keep us up-to-date--I'd love to hear how the project turns out.

    BTW, I'm about one third of the way through Alchemy and I'm really enjoying it.

    1. Connie, I am going to allow students to continue their own personal story arcs and finish their own books - I would never want to crush their stories or ideas. I will also keep everyone up to date;however, I am will only be ready to start in January sometime.

      Keep reading Alchemy! It keeps getting better and better!!


  2. What a fun idea. How awesome at the end for a class to have an entire book. I'm wondering how they plot the story. Do they plot together or does each student just run wild with their own ideas? There are probably a million different directions the story could go after the first chapter.

    Congrats on being a part of it. It looks like a fun way to connect with young writers.

    1. The students will all brainstorm their own ideas, but it may lead 1,000 different directions, seeing as it will be written by 5th and 6th graders. =)

  3. I love that woman. Some people are just made of awesome, and she's one of them.

  4. For full disclosure, I love Melanie and would do anything to boost her success! She has an amazing talent and I am in awe of her and her coauthors, Sheena and Sabrina. I also think that writing is so important and if I can get my gifted and talented students excited and motivated to write by bringing in a published author, then I will! I am just happy that she is willing and ready to help me out, as well. However, I am not for sale, trade, or lease, but I am willing to be on loan to Sheena and Sabrina - since I am in awe of them, as well. ;)


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