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Lisa Moe e-Portfolio


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Lisa Moe e-Portfolio

  1. 1. A Writer‟s Portfolio by Lisa Moe LL ED 587G: Writing for Children Dr. Susan Campbell Bartoletti Pennsylvania State University Fall 2011 1
  2. 2. ContentsPART ONE: ORIGINAL WORKChapter One ……………………………………………………………………………………………….8Chapter Two ……………………………………………………………………………………………..10Brief Summaries of Remaining Chapters……………………………………………………...14Personal Reflection …………………………………………………………………………………….15PART TWO: CRITIQUESCritiques By Lisa ……………………………………………………………………………………….17Critiques By Colleagues ……………………………………………………………………………..18Personal Philosophy of Children‟s Literature ……………………………………………….19PART THREE: APPENDIXAuthor‟s Note ……..…………………………………………………………………………………….22Biography …………………………………………………………………………………………….…..23Praise for Riding the North Wind ……………………………………………………………….24 2
  3. 3. Part One: Original Work 3
  4. 4. Riding the North Wind Lisa Moe 4
  5. 5. Riding the North Wind Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Moe All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in criticalarticles or reviews. For information address Customer Service, Grand Plain Publishers, 15092 Uplander Street NW, Andover, MN 55304. Cover Illustration: 5
  6. 6. To Tore Torgersdatter Bø,whose courage is my inspiration. I will look for you in the stars. 6
  7. 7. “It is never safe to look into the future with eyes of fear.” -- Edward H. Harriman 7
  8. 8. CHAPTER ONE Gundbransdalen, Norway -- 1694 Mother knelt before the executioner‟s block, hands tied behind her back. Herpiercing blue eyes met mine. Even though the crowd thundered, I heard onlyMother‟s voice in my head. Innocent, it whispered. Wintery clouds gathered overhead and Uncle Amund held me close. Theexecutioner raised his sword and with one swift blow Mother was gone. Her bodytumbled forward and the snowy ground turned scarlet. A wave of nausea washedover me as my knees buckled but Uncle caught me before I fell. The executioner‟s assistant lifted Mother‟s lifeless body from the blood-stained snow and, like the carcass of a slain doe, tossed it on a waiting cart.Onlookers chanted feverishly, eager for more blood. From the corner of my eye, I became aware of a group of men shufflingthrough the snow toward the scaffold. My beloved brother, chained at the anklesand bound at the wrists, led the way. The group stopped before the waitingsheriff. “Simen Torgerson, the court of his majesty, the King of Denmark, hassentenced you to death for the premeditated murder of Martha Jonesdatter,” saidthe sheriff, shouting over the crowd. “May God have mercy on your soul.” “Don‟t pray for me. You‟ll all go to Hell for executing an innocent man,” saidSimen to the sheriff. The bailiffs pushed Simen up the steps and forced him tohis knees. 8
  9. 9. With an aching chest, I closed my eyes and prayed for mercy on Simen but itwas too late. I heard the metallic twing of the sword. The crowd roared again. Iwas afraid to open my eyes. If I opened my eyes, I had to acknowledge thatSimen was dead. The noises of the crowd faded and I could feel the gentle tapping of meltingsnowflakes on my face. “Anna, it‟s over. Come. Don‟t let them see you cry,”Uncle Amund said as he tugged my arm. Even though Uncle pulled me in the opposite direction of the scaffold, Icouldn‟t help but turn and look to where my brother had spoken his last words.Everybody was gone and new snow began to cover the scarlet stains. Withinminutes, it would appear as if it had never happened. In the distance, I saw Simen‟s lifeless feet dangling over the edge of a cart as itbounced down the road. An urge to scream ended with sobs that brought me tomy knees. Silently and effortlessly, Uncle Amund picked me up and carried me tohis sleigh. 9
  10. 10. CHAPTER TWO “Everything with be all right, Anna,” Uncle Amund said. “It will be good foryou to get away from here. People will forget in time.” “You have been a great comfort to me, Uncle, but I‟m not a naïve child. I couldstay away for a hundred years and people would still see me as nothing butthedaughter of a greedy conspirator and sister of a soulless murderer,” I said asangry tears welled up in my eyes.Uncle laid our cloaks on the long wooden table and walked toward me. He placedhis hands on my shoulders and I looked up into his kind face. Uncle Amund said,“You must trust me. I know what it is to lose people you love. Remember, yourmother was my sister.” I nodded. Uncle forced a smile and said, “There, now. You sit over here by thehearth and warm yourself. I‟ll get you a cup of cider.” After guiding me to thechair, Uncle Amund walked to the cupboard and pulled out his cider jug. Hepoured the warming brew into twometal cups and returned, sitting in the chairbeside me. Sipping the cider, I stared into the flameslicking the firebox. “Uncle,” I said hesitantly, “Do you think they‟re in Hell?” “Do I think who is in Hell?” Uncle Amund said with a puzzled look on his face. “Mother and Simen.” “Did you not hear your mother singing the hymn on her way to Gallows Hill?She sang a song of remorse and asked forgiveness,” said Uncle. “What about Simen? I didn‟t hear him ask forgiveness. He damned the sheriffand the executioners.” 10
  11. 11. “Enough, Anna! It‟s not for us to look into their souls. They must make theirown peace or suffer for it,” Uncle Amund said impatiently before calming himself.“I‟m sorry. I didn‟t mean to shout at you. We have a long journey ahead of ustomorrow. It‟s best that you get some rest.” “Yes, Uncle,” I said and rose to kiss his cheek. “Goodnight.” “Goodnight, child,” Uncle said as he looked up at me, his eyes glassy withtears.The stairs creaked as I made my way up to the room Uncle Amund‟s servantprepared for me. The cold winter wind was howling outside. I opened the doorto my bedroom and entered.All of my belongings rested in a neat pile in a corner of the room. I unpacked mynightgown and put it on. Standing at the window, I looked to the stars twinklingin the new evening sky. They were a sea of blinking eyes and I thought thatmaybe Mother and Simen were looking down upon me. There was a knock at the door and Uncle Amund entered. “Is there anythingyou need?” he said. “I guess I‟d like my favorite quilt, if it‟s here,” I said with hope in my voice. “May I?” Uncle Amund said as hemotioned to my trunk. “Yes, please,” I said with a smile. Uncle searched through the trunk and pulled out the feather quilt. “Is this it?”he said as he walked over and handedit to me. I pulled the quilt toward me andsomething fell to the floor with a thump. Uncle Amund bent over and picked upthe object. “It‟s a nisse. I haven‟t seen this since I was a young boy,” Uncle saidwith a laugh.“This belonged to your mother.” He handed the object to me. 11
  12. 12. I laid the quilt on the bed and took the doll. “It‟s ugly,” I said with a scowl as Iturned it over and examined its features. The bearded doll with pointed earswore farmer‟s clothing and had only four fingers on each hand. “Why wouldMother have such a hideous thing?” “Ancient people believed the nisse protected the farmer‟s home and childrenfrom misfortune. When we were young, Marta regarded it as her good luckcharm,” Uncle said.I said with resignation, “If it belonged to Mother then I will take good care of it,even if it is the ugliest doll I‟ve ever seen.” “Good,” said Uncle Amund with a laugh. “Now say your prayers and crawl intobed. I will wake you for an early breakfast.” He walked toward the doorway andpaused for a moment as if he were remembering something. Uncle Amundturned and flashed an awkward smile as he grabbed the latch and closed the doorbehind him. After tossing the doll into my trunk, I closed the lid and walked to my bedsidewhere I knelt and said my evening prayer. I blew out the candle and crawled intobed, spreading the feather quilt over me. It felt good to have something fromhome.Exhausted, I quickly fell asleep but my rest did not last. Nightmarish visions ofthe day‟s events repeated in my dreams until I awoke, my heart pounding.Thump, thump, thump. But it wasn‟t the pounding of my heart that was makingthe noise. The thumping was coming from the trunk. 12
  13. 13. Brief Summary of Remaining Chapters Anna believes her major conflict is overcoming the aftermath of the deaths ofher mother and brother. What she doesn‟t realize is that the nisse will wreakmore havoc than she could ever imagine. As a guest on Harildstad Farm, Anna will be blamed for the antics of the nisse.Over time, she will come to realize that she must get rid of the devious creaturebut not until she uncovers the truth behind the murder of Martha Jonesdatter.Only then will she be able to leave the past behind her and embrace her future,but at what price? 13
  14. 14. Personal Reflection While the majority of this work is fiction, its major conflict is grounded inreality. The character of Anna was inspired by one of my Norwegian ancestorswho, like Anna, lost her mother and brother to the executioner‟s sword in 1694.Translated documents indicate that the condemned confessed to plotting andcommitting the murder, but nobody in the court asked why. It remains a mysteryto this day. I often wondered how Anna coped with her loss and with her likely feelings ofembarrassment. Was she afraid that she, too, might be capable of such violence?My hope is that young adult readers might find sympathy for youth like Anna. Itis also my desire that young readers understand there is hope, even in the darkestof moments. It was a challenge to portray Anna as strong and resourceful when myromantic sensibilities wanted her to be rescued by a handsome young man.While it makes for a good romance, it does not help today‟s female better hersituation. The truth is that most of us have never been, nor will we be, rescued bya handsome prince. And really, do we want to be? 14
  15. 15. Part Two: Critiques 15
  16. 16. Critiques By LisaFollowing Dr. Bartoletti’s critique format was essential in givingeffectivefeedback. During various writing workshops, I struggled to decidewhere to begin in my critique. At times, I found it difficult to find flaws withwritten pieces. Sometimes I struggled to find anything positive to say because Idid not care for the subject matter or the style. We all have our personal tastesand we are all at different places with our writing. The given format helped memeet writers where they were and offer them insights of substance that mightnot have been possible without it.Critique 1: Paula White (6.4) Sometimes you desperately need change. You wish the earth could slip in itsrotation and even jerk in protest like a car that revolts and grinds when it misses agear and abruptly catches. You sense your own disgruntled disapproval of all that isrevolving around you, and you want to jump off the edge of the earth. You want torun anywhere- far away where no one knows you so you can reconstruct life and itsexpectations. This was Jai Edrich‟s plight; except, she hadn‟t managed to run away.She had been charged. Paradigm Shift Paula White The morning tardy bell sounded just as Jai rounded the nurse‟s station andturned the corner to unlock her classroom. Every morning students unwillinglystood in the line outside the nurse‟s station while waiting to take their medication. Why must the nurse’s station be next to the high school English department?Jai thought. “Here David. Quick. It‟s Marcy Odell,(Who is she? Why would he 16
  17. 17. care?)and you don‟t want her seeing that on your face,” she said offering him aKleenex to wipe the morning‟s jelly donut off his chin. And why do David’s parentsinsist on feeding him donuts and soda for breakfast? She tried to dismiss herthinking rationalizing that 7:45 A.M. was simply too early to take on the world‟sissues. “Thanks, Ms. Edrich. You need some help with your bags? Are you coming totonight‟s game?” David asked.So true. They always ask, don’t they? “Oh, doubtful. I‟ve got some grading to do,” she responded. It was enough toput in a 50 hour week. A Friday night football was hardly her idea of spending anevening. The weekends away from students were her only opportunity to recharge.And she needed recharging now. Jai Edrich reached into her purse and pulled outher key to unlock her classroom. She never intended to use it, but she made theappearance. Staring at the door alone would unlock it, but David Danes was nowstanding too close beside her. “Thanks, David. I‟ve got it. Have a good day. I hope you play well tonight,”she said. By Friday she would always ask herself the same question. Why had sheeven pursued an education degree? The Chargers hadn‟t made her chooseeducation, she chose it. Yet, her patience for understanding the educational system‟sideology was thinning with every year of teaching. Every day as she stared back intotheir faces she was reminded of the answers she was seeking. How can anyone bemeant to sit for eight hours and listen to a “talking head?” she wondered. All shewas certain of now was what she saw in front of her every day, and that was their 17
  18. 18. spirits; floating, yearning, hoping, wishing, worrying and wanting more than thepromised diploma that awaited their submitted selves at graduation. She saw theirsouls fading into the laminated wooden desks, the smeared whiteboards and caulkyblackboards. She saw their eyes roll from excessive lectures on gruesome wars,grouchy grammatical and mindboggling mathematical wars while the sinister schoolclock marked and mocked their imprisonment of yet another day at school. Jai tried hard to remember Hemingway‟s recharging counsel last weekend.She heard him in her ears reminding her to “… watch people, observe, try to putyourself in somebody else‟s head. If two men argue, don‟t just think who is right andwho is wrong. Think what both their sides are. As a man, you know who is right andwho is wrong; you have to judge. As a writer, you should not judge, you shouldunderstand” (An Afternoon 71). As a Charger she had to understand their souls andhelp them. That was every week‟s problem. They were in her head, and she could seetheir souls. By Friday she had exhausted a week‟s tricks for scaffolding techniquesthat camouflaged her ability. But tonight was Virginia‟s turn to mentor, and Jailooked forward to the recharging.She became a student of her student‟s character asVirginia Woolf had admonished her.She perceived, listened, observed, andempathized. And she took notes, careful notes that kept telling her that theirperceived significance was fading due to regulation. So she longed to shift theuniverse for their sake. This was what she wanted to fix; to shift their worlds fromthe mandated x and y axis and to silence the ticking of the regulated, pontificated,exasperated education system. Yet, she was their teacher. 18
  19. 19. “Stay with me, Cory. Stay with me!” she exhorted as she explained theSchaffer writing method. “You must support your claim. This is what they will lookfor on your college essays.” “I‟m trying Ms. Edrich. But, we have a game tonight against Trinity Valley.Ms. Edrich, did you know my parents were getting a divorce?” retorted Cory Staden. “Oh, I‟m sorry dear. If there‟s anything I can…” Jai sensed her circuit‟sweakness. “I‟ve got some bagels and crème cheese,” she prompted. But as soon asshe said it, she realized that bagels and crème cheese was what she offered theCharge, not a football player. “Okay, do you follow me on supporting your claim?You‟ve got to support your thesis. Cory, are you okay?” questioned Ms. Edrich. Sheknew she was losing her charge. “Thanks” replied Cory. “I don‟t think Zamboni‟s gonna play tonight. He‟s in aboot. Have you seen him?” “Yeah, I saw him in the hall. Will the line hold?” Ms. Edrich questioned. “I don‟t know. I feel sick. Can I call my dad? Ms. Edrich, I can‟t talk. I just feelsick. I think I‟m fine „til I start thinkin‟ „bout my parents. I think my dad is seeingsomeone. Oh my God, another vocab test tomorrow? Really? Where‟s the trash? I‟mgonna be sick” said Cory. “Garret, grab the bin. Class, remember your introductory paragraphs are duetomorrow.” Ms. Edrich addressed her class as she put away her notes. “Cory, whydon‟t you excuse yourself to the bathroom? Garrett will you get his notes?” 19
  20. 20. “Thanks Ms. Edrich. I‟ll be okay,” said Cory. Ms. Edrich‟s eyes followed Cory out of the class. She knew that he wouldn‟tbe okay. She even worried about his playing; the defensive line wouldn‟t hold.Trinity Valley was tough, and he needed to be mentally present to play well. Hewasn‟t mentally present, and the game was going to be a catastrophe. She‟d have togo to the game for him. She‟d have to risk taking her charger with her.Works Cited: “An Afternoon with Hemingway” Writer‟s Digest Oct. 2007. pg. 71To: PaulaFrom: Lisa MoeYellow = areas for showing not telling/seems weakPurple = phrases that are confusingBlue = images/phrasing I especially enjoyed 1. Summary of what I think the story is about:This story seems to be about a caring teacher with magical powers. 2. Discussing its strengths -- writers should look for the moments of genius, because those moments show the height that the author is truly capable of reaching:From the beginning, it is clear that this story is in the fantasy genre. It‟s alsoclear that Jai is your main character and I can easily identify her major conflict. 20
  21. 21. Your dialogue also seems realistic in terms of what high school students wouldactually say. Your characters aren‟t speaking simply for the sake of includingdialogue.Fantasy seems so challenging and I like where your story is going. I can‟t wait toread more!  3. Discuss the weaknesses, pointing out the places where they were confused or didnt understand or found a shift in point of view etc.:Who is your intended audience? The story seems to be focused on the adultteacher in a high school setting. What if the speaker was a student of Jai‟s.Maybe this student knows her secret but doesn‟t hint at knowing – the student isjust observing out of interest because the student has the same talents? Perhapsthis student is mature and intuitive or has a parent who‟s a teacher and has“inside knowledge” of the struggles Jai faces as a teacher?The phrase “nurse‟s station” feels repetitive because there are just two lines in thefirst paragraph. What if you combined the students standing there and isolatedthe scene where Jai is unlocking the classroom?David seems to appear out of nowhere. How did he get there? In this part of thestory, you seem to be hinting that Jai has some type of magical power but it‟s alittle confusing. I wonder what would happen if you eliminated the “She neverintended to use it…” line?In the paragraph beginning with “Jai tried hard to remember….”: It seems thatthis paragraph could be split up into at least three parts. Perhaps a separationbetween what‟s happening in class, what her abilities are, and what she wants todo would create more of an emphasis?As a reader, I feel like I need some sort of transition from “Yet, she was theirteacher” to the part where Cory is introduced.In a piece of fiction, there wouldn‟t be a “Works Cited.” What would happen ifyou worked in the reference instead? If I‟ve never read “An Afternoon WithHemingway,” could you provide me with some kind of discussion about it?My Conclusion:While Paula bravely attempted a story within the fantasy genre, there was anissue with audience. In summarizing what I, as the reader, thought the storywas about, I was able to clearly describe that the story was about a teacher and 21
  22. 22. not a teen. The intended audience drives the story and without the appropriatefocus, Paula might have spent long hours of writing only to discover thatpublishers of teen fantasy novels would have likely rejected her story.After critiquing Paula’s piece, I paid close attention to identifying and focusingon my intended audience while writing. It can be difficult to step back into themind of our child selves, especially if we have never experienced the conflicts ofour characters.Critique 2: Jennifer Fliss (4.7)Write a poem or picture book that is a “hello” or “goodbye” poem.Use details from a child-centric landscape.Goodbye, Summer!Goodbye, Summer. I am so sad to see you go.I will miss all the fun we had while school was out and I was free.Goodbye, swimming pool. I will miss splashing in your warm water and makinggigantic waves!Goodbye, green grass and blue skies. I will miss relaxing on your soft blanket ofgreen and watching your puffy clouds that make shapes of horses and dragonsand teddy bears, too.Goodbye, amusement parks. I will miss riding your thrilling roller coasters andwater rides and the cotton candy I eat until my tummy hurts!Goodbye, fireworks. I will miss watching your exciting explosions in the sky thatmake me scream!Goodbye, fireflies. I will miss running around my backyard at night, mayonnaisejar in hand, seeing how many of you I can catch!Goodbye, rainstorms. I will miss the mud puddles you leave that I jump in tomommy‟s delight!Goodbye, creek. I will miss searching for crayfish under your rocks as your coldwater trickles over my toes. 22
  23. 23. Goodbye, swings. I will miss pumping my legs higher and higher, trying to reachthe sun with each stretch.Goodbye, Summer. I can‟t wait to see you next year.Provide a brief neutral description and/or interpretation of the workthat answers the question: What do you think this work is about?This seems to be a poem/picturebook where the school-aged child is the speakerand is saying goodbye to summer because school is about to begin.Discuss the strengths of the work. Specify the strength(s) and explainas well as you can why it worked. Try to stick to craft. Comment on thevoice, the characterization, the language. This is not a time to relatepersonal information. Remember that a piece of writing is not aboutyou; its about the work.I really like this detail: “mayonnaise jar in hand”It‟s neat how you personify Summer in the beginning and end.This text has a nice rhythm about it and I like the absence of rhyme. It seemsnatural, the way a child would speak.Discuss the areas that confused you. Here, too, you might questionsome technical aspects of the story, such as point of view, characters,plot, dialogue, language, etc. Again, specify the weakness and try asbest you can to pinpoint why it didnt work or confused you.I wonder what it would sound like if you replaced “I will miss…” with “We…” as inthings “we” did? (Personifying summer, the swimming pool, rainstorms, etc.)Are there places where you could add some sounds, like the “pop” of fireworks?How about at the amusement park?Summer is full of smells. Is the neighbor grilling? Did somebody just cut thegrass? How about a favorite aromatic flower or shrub? Maybe the speakerbrushes up against something scented when catching fireflies? Are those firefliesblinking in the blackness?Write a concluding, wrap-up sentence or two.The absence of rhyme works well in this text. The listing allows the child readerto predict some of what‟s coming next, and that‟s something that young readersreally enjoy. 23
  24. 24. My Conclusion:Jenn’s child-centered goodbye poem to summer resonated with me as I just saidgoodbye to summer. Her imagery was so strong that I could imagine myselfturning the pages of a picturebook and encountering the characteristics ofsummer for which a child longs. Her age-level use of vocabulary strengthenedmy belief that a child – not an adult -- was saying goodbye to summer.Without the critique format, I might have fallen into reminiscing about summerinstead of looking closely at what could make the piece even better. Myrecommendations included the addition of sensory details other than visuals. Itruly believed they would change her piece from great to spectacular. 24
  25. 25. Critiques By ColleaguesIn this section, I focus on critiques that I believe helped – or will help – meimprove my drafts. We all have our weak moments when our feedback isn’tthat helpful because it is superficial, but through this experience I amencouraged to ask evaluators for more information when I feel I need it. Whata great experience before I go out into the world of critiques by those outside thesafety of the course!Courtney’s Critique of 3.7 Untitled Chapter 1 “Not many people know this, but there used to be a town at the bottom ofthat lake. Right over there.” I point out the locations of where Mr. Bergstrom‟shardware store and Lena Miller‟s High-Hat Beauty Salon used to be. “Rumorhad(or has?) it that Lena was completely bald and that she wore a wig fashionedfrom the leftover pieces she collected from her clients. Or should I say victims?”It seems you suddenly bring up a person named “Lena” to the listener, eventhough the reader has read who she is in the unspoken line. Maybe herintroduction should be included in the dialogue? Bobby Gustafson said he once saw Lena stuff a fist full of curly brown hair intoher smock pockets. The next day in church, brown curls peeked out from theback bottom of her already too-tight perm. As she click-clacked down thesidewalk on her way to Sunday dinner, a clump of curls fell out and a cardinalcarried it off to its nest. But Bobby has been known to tell a tale or two. Are you 25
  26. 26. speaking here? Maybe quotation marks? I‟m not sure how that works for long-winded dialogue! I haven‟t seen Bobby for over two years. Not since his older brother Dave diedin that accident at the grain elevator. His family moved away, taking Dave‟sashes with them. Too many memories, I guess. It was just as well. And as odd asI think cremation is, it was the smart thing to do. It was quite a sight watching the men move the cemetery. This seems to comeout-of-the-blue. I know you mentioned Dave‟s family taking his ashes, but thatwould not include graves and the entire cemetery. I think some sort of transitionis needed even if you don‟t want to give too much away. The county arranged it soall the graves would be relocated while the children were in school. I guess theydidn‟t want to traumatize us. Especially fragile girls like me. But I showed themjust how fragile I amor was? when I played “sick” with my younger brother Joethat day. When one child in the family appears to be sick, it makes perfect sensethat the other could have the same illness. Grown-ups are so gullible. Dad worked at the window factory in Blackwell, which was a good hour‟s drivefrom town. Since he carpooled with Tad Johnson and Mike Rogers, we knewthere was no way he‟d show back up at home until his regular time. He couldn‟tafford it. Nobody could. Dr. Peters was the crankiest old dentist I‟d ever met and Mom was hisreceptionist in Millville, an hour‟s drive in the opposite direction that Dadtraveled. Dr. Peters was the kind of box who never allowed a person to call in sickor go home early. His lectures about responsibility and sacrifice weren‟t worth 26
  27. 27. the effort. MonMom? said it was just easier to go to work, even if she had to pukein the wastebasket under her desk from time to time. Even though it seemed like my parents were always traveling in oppositedirections, they were very close. I don‟t ever recall an argument between them. Ithink they were pretty good at reading one another. When Mom would sense that Dad was in a foul mood, she‟d usher him over tohis favorite chair and sing, “Guess who‟s getting his favorite drink?” Then she‟dwhip up a peanut butter and banana smoothie. If Dad was looking particularlyhandsome that night, she‟d sprinkle on some coconut flakes and pineappletidbits. A few sips of this magical concoction always set Dad right and he wasequally skilled at healing whatever ailed Mom. But those days are gone. They disappeared the day that Mayor Hodgkinsannounced that the county was planning to blow Clarks Grove clear off the map.When I was about nine years old, I remember standing on an observation deckat the end of a long boardwalk. Stunned by its beauty and solitude, I stood onthe deck and peered out onto the lake and the surrounding marshlands. My dadthen told me a story about a town that used to exist in the middle of the lake.Only the “old-timers” seemed to remember it. Long ago, state and countyofficials decided that the area should be designated a wildlife refuge, that thetown should be moved, and that the land should be flooded to provide thenecessary wetlands for wildlife. I wondered what that must have been like forthose people. And I wondered if the story could possibly be true. -- LisaLisa, this is a very neat story! It‟s unique and you have definitely developed avoice for it! I love the characters‟ names and their personality quirks. You have somany vivid details. Honestly, the story and the tone pulled me right in. I‟m socurious about these folks… keep writing it! Plus, I remember being fascinated by 27
  28. 28. “ghost towns” and abandoned houses when I was a child. This would definitelyhave been a story that would have interested me back then (and now!).My Conclusion:This was the first middle grade novel beginning I attempted to write. Courtneywas not afraid to identify major areas of weaknesses, which was exactly what Iwanted. We all want to be polite, but we can be polite and give constructivecriticism at the same time.Courtney identified several areas of confusion. Without her insight andcourage, I truly feel the piece would fail to pull in its target reader. Middlegrade readers who are confused on the first page often close the book and neverreturn. In addition to confusions, Courtney told me precisely what I was doingwell. It’s important to hook the reader early on, and I needed to know that someof my “hooks” were working.Jenn’s Critique of 5.7Ma wrapped his tiny body in the patchwork quilt she‟d stitched for his secondChristmas. The long days and nights of patting his forehead with a cool dampcloth were over. “Go and dump out that water and hang the rag on the post,Josie. We‟ll need to boil some fresh water so we can prepare Noel for his journeyHome,” Ma sobbed. THIS IS SO TOUCHING. RIGHT AWAY, I KNEW WHATYOU MEANT WITHOUT YOU SCREAMING THAT NOEL PASSED AWAY.NICELY (AND TASTEFULLY) DONE. I opened the door at the back of our small lean-to kitchen and tossed the waterfrom the porcelain bowl over the marigolds Ma and I had planted last spring. Shesaid they would help keep the mice out of the house. Even though it was earlyNovember, the blooms still held, almost as if they‟d been waiting for Noel.I AMCONFUSED AS TO WHAT THE MARIGOLDS ARE WAITING FOR - ARE THEYWAITING FOR NOEL TO GET BETTER SO HE CAN SMELL THEM AGAIN ORIS THIS WHERE HE IS GOING TO BE BURIED?? I THINK THIS NEEDSCLARIFICATION. The muddy ground was hard with frost as I walked over to the fence post andlaid the tiny wet rag over it. Off in the distance, clumps of black dirt lined thefurrows of the field where Pa planted his corn crop just months earlier. I 28
  29. 29. remembered how Noel giggled when he scampered through the meadow as wemade our way to the field to bring Pa his lunch. His fine blonde hair danced inthe breeze as his arms busied themselves with brushing aside the wildflowers thattickled his bare legs. Even though he had four sons, Pa‟s eyes always lit up when he saw Noel. Inthe evenings when it was dark and the work was done, Noel would climb ontoPa‟s lap as he rocked next to the fire and read the Bible. Nuzzled in the crook ofhis arm, Noel would close his eyes and seem to listen to the beating of Pa‟s heart. As I walked back toward the house, I wondered if Pa‟s heart wouldn‟tbreak.NICE TRANSITION FROM THE EARLIER MENTION OF NOAHLISTENING TO PAS HEART. He‟d been in the barn praying for the last threehours. When the kitchen door swung open and Ma stepped out, I headed for thebucket resting by the pump. The pump handle squeaked loudly in the silence ofthe early morning and the sun coming up over the trees warmed my face. When the bucket was full of fresh water, I let go the pump handle. The barndoor clunked softly in the distance as Ma closed it behind her and a painful lumprose up in my throat. She was going to tell Pa about Noel.I REALLY GOT INTO THIS PIECE. I AM INTERESTED TO LEARN MOREABOUT MA AND PA AND JOSIE AS THEIR STORY CONTINUES. YOU DID ANICE JOB OF BRINGING EMOTIONS INTO THIS WITHOUT MAKING ITOVERWHELMING. I THOUGHT YOU DID A VERY TASTEFUL JOB.My Conclusion:Jenn verified that I was not overwhelming my reader with the story of Noel’sdeath. The death of a young child is dark but it was a reality for many ruralfamilies in the 1800s. Jenn also paid attention to my transitions, which I hadnot done well in previous writings.In this story beginning, I attempted to connect the health of the flowers to thehealth of Noel. Jenn was not afraid to let me know it flopped. She could haveskipped over this criticism and moved on with her reading but she didn’t. I feltit was very important for her to identify this weakness. If she doesn’tunderstand what I’m trying to do with the flowers, a middle grade reader willnot. This puts my story at risk. Will the reader lose trust in me as a storyteller?Will the reader incorrectly assume that s/he cannot read very well because thetext presented is confusing? The last thing I want to do is alienate my reader.Jenn helped me avoid it in this piece. 29
  30. 30. Personal Philosophy of Children’s LiteratureIn the beginning of the course, my personal philosophy of childrens literaturewas that it should be a place for children to marvel at new and excitingexperiences. I identified children‟s literature as a place where children maydiscover who they are and where they fit in the world. I asserted that whilechildrens literature is written for children, it also serves a personal purpose forthe author who has some observation about the world and has a profound desireto share it.It was my thought that my philosophy might guide me in the stories I want to tellby demanding that I remember what I needed and desired as a child and thenmeeting those needs in texts for children. In addition, I believed my philosophywould require me to view children as consultants as my remembrances ofchildhood experiences have probably become distorted over the passage of time.I wouldn‟t say that my personal philosophy has changed all that much, but I mustadd that children‟s literature should be a place where readers may examine issuesat a safe distance and from the points of view of different characters. In addition,I discovered that meeting the needs of child readers is much more complex thanone might realize. There are so many layers within a solid piece of writing thatthe task might appear unmanageable. The Voices caution the writer againsttaking the challenge and all at once the Muse‟s life is in jeopardy. 30
  31. 31. How does my work read against my early philosophy? The work produced in thiscourse was a combination of singing along with the Muse and struggling to hear itwhile attempting to choke the lives out of the voices of discouragement. Whilewriting most pieces, I considered a child audience and attempted to create aspeaker in the voice of a child. Most pieces contain conflicts that focus onauthentic concerns of children. What I did not expect were the long periods of time I consumed consideringthe usability of simple words or phrases. Also unexpected was the range of voiceswith which I experimented. At the beginning of the course, I believed I had nodesire to write for age levels below the middle grade. This course encouraged meto branch out and take risks. 31
  32. 32. Part Three: Appendix 32
  33. 33. Author’s Note I wrote down several roads as I shaped Anna‟s story. In one version, she wasthe unsuspecting victim of a villainous uncle. But that was not how the characterof Uncle Amund felt to me. No matter how hard I tried, I could not corrupt hisgentle spirit. Anna would have to take another hero‟s journey to meet her destiny– the one she creates. That‟s how it is with writing. We plot our story and envision the events thatmight unfold. Page after page is written only to discover that the Muse has takenover the story and is steering it in a different direction. My only advice is tosurrender and join the Muse on her journey into the unknown. -- Lisa Moe 33
  34. 34. BiographyLisa Moe lives in Andover, Minnesota with her husband, two children, andYorkie. After teaching middle and high school for fifteen years, she began asecond career as a freelance writer.She holds a B.A. in English from Concordia University in St. Paul and an M. Curriculum & Instruction: Children‟s Literature from Pennsylvania StateUniversity. 34
  35. 35. Praise for Riding the North Wind“Anticipation mixed with sorrow and fear for what was and what willbe for Anna.” -- Jill M., author of WBRD: Bird Radio“A fascinating look into the hardships endured by our ancestors.”– Barb P., Assistant Editor, The Good Norwegian’s Guidebook“I can’t wait to read what happens next!”–Cynthia N., author of A LittleLunch Is a Good Thing.“The reader will feel Anna’s complete helplessness and heartache asshe witnesses the slaughter of her mother and brother. With thestrength of her uncle, will Anna be able to overcome such horrificlosses?” -- Erika N., Editor, The Daily Prophet“I felt like I was standing in the snow next to Anna. I’m on the edge ofmy seat, eagerly awaiting the next morsel.” –Steve B., Executive Producer,The Happy Fisherman Show. 35