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Author Readings and Discussion: I love speaking in classrooms and libraries to any-sized groups of all ages. In an author reading and discussion, I will read a chapter from a book of your choice, answer questions from the audience and discuss the writing process. We will talk about making time to listen to your inner-voice, finding the courage to go public, and most important, discovering authors and books that will inspire your imagination.
Unlocking Your Creative Brain, Breaking through Pandemic Block and Finding Your Voice Again: In this interactive workshop, Marcella will talk about why it can be so difficult to find our creativity especially now in the midst of the Pandemic. We will talk about mental health challenges, finding time to use our imagination away from screens, and how to unlock our stories despite stress and uncertainty. This workshop will give hands-on strategies for overcoming writers’ block and healing from trauma.
Ab(solutely) Normal: According to the CDC, In 2022, 36.7% of all teens age 12-17 reported persistent feelings of hopelessness and sadness. With mental health challenges on the rise in the wake of the COVID, now more than ever, teens who struggle need to know that they are not alone. We need literature that gives honest and brave portrayals of adolescent mental health. In this workshop, Marcella will talk about her own experiences living with OCD and Depression and discuss the characters in each of her four novels who learn how to tell their own stories. This workshop is designed to help participants to tell their own truths and find the bravery to create community with other teens.
Let your Freak Flag Fly: In this celebration of quirkiness and teen voice, we will talk about how writing and reading can help us find our own unique style and be brave enough to speak up about issues that are truly important to us. After all, we are living in an age where students can be heard. They can mobilize. They can lead. I will read and discuss scenes from my books where characters celebrate what makes them unique and we will take a pledge to be our own true selves even when it is difficult.
Keeping a Journal: Journals can provide a regular space when we can unhook ourselves from technology and pay attention to what is going on around us and inside us for a while. This kind of quiet, focused and reflective writing is something that most of us do not practice on a regular basis. The journal is meant to wake us up and open our eyes. If we keep it faithfully, it will remind us, in a very immediate way, that at its center, writing is about noticing the world. It’s about being present and looking closely.
Using Memory to Inspire Fiction: This workshop explores how childhood memories and family stories can become catalysts for powerful fiction. We will take inspiration from Sandra Cisneros and Sherman Alexie whose memories sing through the pages of their novels. Workshop exercises will help us identify our own most important memories and then experiment with creating characters who can help us (and our readers) come to terms with what these memories mean. This workshop will include time for writing, sharing and feedback.
Writing Circles and Critique Groups: For smaller groups of more serious young writers interested in publishing and also in getting and giving feedback. Come with a draft in progress and work as a writing community to help each other take the next step towards finishing, sharing and perhaps, eventual publication. The critique group will work on commenting on specific literary elements such as character development, the “straight arrow” of narrative, the use of imagery and landscape and tension / resolution. Students in critique groups can also request short one on one sessions with the author to talk about works in progress.