Capital City Young Writers Workshop

Yesterday morning, I got up before 4:00 to drive up to Sacramento and talk to teens at this summer’s Capital City Young Writers workshop. Capital City Young Writers is the magical brain-child of Verna Dreisbach, and I feel incredibly lucky to be getting involved.

I stopped about halfway and rode the rest of the way with the other speaker for the morning, Linda Joy Myers (author of Don’t Call Me Mother and The Power of Memoir, as well as founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers. We had a great drive, got there in time to re-wake up with a bit of coffee, and then joined the kids.

Here’s Linda Joy and me at the workshop. Thanks to Elizabeth Donham for the pic!

What a great morning. I loved hearing Linda Joy’s talk about turning true stories into fiction and watching the kids listen to her and work on their own pieces. After the break, I talked to them about sharing their writing with another author, about how to build the trust that turns the experience into a good one, and I had them practice digging into a sample scene and coming up with some critique feedback. Which they did beautifully.

The biggest surprise–I had set up to do some role-playing, just a bit, and I’d checked with Linda Joy that she’d do back-up and join me up front if the kids didn’t feel comfortable. SO not necessary–there were hands in the air right away, and the kids totally got into it–even hamming it up a bit to get the right emotion into their lines. I couldn’t stop smiling.

The morning was, in so many ways, what I would have loved to be part of when I was a teenager. On the other hand, it’s very possible that, in my shyness, I might not have made it there, even if someone had set up the opportunity. But, see…yesterday, the opportunity was there, and the kids took it. And they seriously rocked.

As does Verna. She has put so much work into this organization; she is always thinking about what else she can do, how she can make something better. The day-long conference I went to in Marin a few weeks ago–that was hers, for the kids, with volunteer authors and speakers coming along to make an incredible event for them to be part of. She’s setting up a literary journal for teen authors this year, with teen editors, as well, who will be picking the material and preparing it for publication. The kids will have mentors who help them learn more about the genre they’re editing and give them pointers about doing their job. And, yes, there’s a new mentor on board: me.

I’ll be mentoring the editors for the Book Reviews category. Am I happy to do this? More than happy. I’ve been looking for a way to work with teens, for the kids and for me, and yesterday it was obvious that I’d stepped into another section of the venn diagram that is my tribe. (Don’t you love how I occasionally sneak in the math?)

Am I still a bit sleep-deprived? Oh, yeah. Was it worth it? Totally.


  1. Becky,
    ENjoyed hearing about your day. Working with teens can be exhilariting- particularly when they are motivated as this group seems to have been. Are you familiar with the book, “The Young Writers Guide to Getting Published”? I suggest it to teens regularly. And if you’re ever in need of more lesson plans to for teens who want to write fiction…I’d love for you to take a look at my book, “Teaching the Story: Fiction wriitng in Grades 4-8”!


    • beckylevine says:

      Carol, I haven’t heard of that first book–I’ll keep an eye out for it. And I will track down yours and take a look, too! 🙂


  2. Thanks, Becky. YOu can find both online- of course!


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