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  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S

NaNoWriMo – The World Needs Your Novel


NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is underway!  Maybe you’ve heard, or read, about NaNoWriMo somewhere, but you’re not entirely sure what it means.  Here are the details:

“On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30.” 

In 2012, 341,375 people participated!  NaNoWriMo, and the awesome community of people it encompasses, empowers and encourages creativity.  The NaNoWriMo website allows you to track your progress, get pep talks from authors, earn participant web badges and more, so be sure to check it out.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty is ready to help you achieve your NaNoWriMo goals!  Join them this month for a NaNoWriMo Workshop hosted by The Literary Arts Boom (The LAB, not to be confused with The Labs @ CLP).

Check out the CLP – East Liberty workshops on these dates:

11/14 (Thurs), 4 – 6 pm
11/21 (Thurs), 4 – 6 pm
11/24 (Sun) TBD *Since we will NOT have a session on Thanksgiving, we’ll need to change the day/time/location of our last session.

If you’re interested in attending, please register here.

For more resources, check out the NaNoWriMo blog on Tumblrclpteens on Tumblr and these materials:

Reading & Writing This Week at CLP

I’m sure that by now, Teen Summer Reading (TSR) is old news.  However, if you haven’t signed up yet, I do encourage you to stop by your local library, say hi to your librarian, and sign up!  You can earn nifty prizes and free books, as well as an invitation to your branch’s spectacular End of Summer party just for teens.

If you’d like to share what you’re reading with other teens, look no further than Hazelwood’s Teen Lounge and Book Club on Tuesday, July 2 from 2-3pm.  Bring a book you are reading and share what you loved or hated about it over snacks, crafts and games.  Refreshments and free books are provided.

Reading memehttp://memebase.cheezburger.com/tag/reading

Let’s say you’ve been reading all summer long, and you figure that you’ve already read a fair amount of books by different authors, of varying genres and writing styles.  You figure it’s about time you try your hand at writing something of your own.  Look no further than East Liberty’s Creative Writing for Teens on Saturday, July 6 from 3-4pm.

This special creative writing workshop will feature special guest and YA author Siobhan Vivian, author of The List and Burn for Burn.  Not only do you get to meet this fabulous author, but she will also help you improve your writing!  Registration is required, so register here, or by calling 412-363-8232 or emailing barbert@carnegielibrary.org.

one does not simply write a novelhttp://writerswrite.co.za/writing-truths-16810

Happy reading & writing!

-Amy, CLP-Lawrenceville

Young Authors Give Back Tour Hits Brookline!

As the school year comes to a close I know many minds are roaming to the summertime… to Kennywood and Sandcastle, to staying up late and sleeping later.   You have worked hard and woken up early all year long and you deserve a little relaxation and inspiration!  Because we want you to start off summer the right way we’ve put together an amazing opportunity for any teen who loves to read or write.

young author'sThe Young Authors Give Back Tour is coming to Brookline Library June 6th!

The Young Authors Give Back Tour is your chance to learn from published authors. Thursday at 4:30 you’ll have the chance to talk to four newly published authors about their experiences, and inspirations.   Learn more about the craft of writing from authors who have first-hand experience. You’ll spend 1-2 hrs covering plot, world-building, characters, pacing & point of view, and, most importantly, how to get published once the writing is done? Workshop participants will receive a free book! Open to ages 13-18. Please note registration is required, and space is limited.

In the second half of the event join us for an All Ages Book Signing!
From 6-6:30 you can come meet the authors of the Young Authors Give Back Tour and get your books signed! Signing is open to all ages and registration is not required. Books will be available for purchase, provided by Amazing Books.

~Brooke, South Side

April Means National Poetry Month!

Most people think of April as the month when the cold, blustery, snowy days of winter lapse into warm, sunny spring.  I’m as ready as anyone else for a little vitamin D, but to me April also means something else.  April is National Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month is a huge celebration of poems and poets and there’s no better way to kick things off than by writing a little poetry yourself!

The library has lots of resources to help you get started.  From books of poetry to books on how to write poetry, check out these titles.

The Rose That Grew From Concrete-Tupac Shakur

poetry handbook

To help you get your creative juices flowing, read these group poems by the Eighth Graders at Pittsburgh Classical Academy.

blog poemRemember to check out the writing workshops happening around town at CLP libraries and don’t forget to enter your masterpiece in the Ralph Munn contest!

Brooke-CLP, South Side

Ralph Munn Creative Writing Programs

The Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest is an annual contest for high school students (grades 9-12) in Allegheny County.  Submit a piece of creative writing (short prose, poetry, or screenwriting) by the May 1st deadline for a chance to win a first place prize of $250 and to be considered for publication!  Click here to learn more.

If you need inspiration, attend one of the 22 Ralph Munn Creative Writing Workshops offered this month at our branches.  If you live near CLP-Lawrenceville, join us on April 8th from 4:30-5:30 for our Creative Writing Workshop.  If you need even more inspiration, check out these creative writing titles!

Screenwriting for Teens

Spilling Ink

A Teen's Guide to Getting Published

The Poet's Companion

Happy writing!

Amy, CLP-Lawrencevile

So, What’s Your Story? Check Out A Memoir Today.

It’s easy to see why Noah St. John has been showing up all over the internet lately. His story, told with beauty, passion, humor and honesty is the story of Family, whatever its shape or size.  It’s about staying together or breaking apart, and that resonates…
Reading other people’s stories offers a glimpse into their world.  You can see what life was like a hundred years ago and in another country.  And you can marvel at how someone so different can have the same fears and hopes as your own.
Check out this great list of memoirs on the CLP Teensburgh Website, tune in to hear amazing storytellers entertain or stop by your library and grab one of these great memoirs off the shelf.

  never fall

One of the most freeing things anyone can do is tell their story in their own words.  Life stories have been around for as long as there have been people to tell them.  Telling your story as poetry, memoir or disguised as fiction gives you a reason to focus on the events that changed your life and can be incredibly liberating.  You can write your story down in the form of a diary or journal meant just for you, or tell it to the world.   If getting your story out there sounds like an exciting opportunity check out Teen Ink for a really cool venue to publish your work.  Either way writing down your experience is a great way to reflect and remember.

Happy Weekend,

Brooke~CLP, South Side

Pittsburgh: haunted by historical photographs and documentary poetry!!

Have you ever taken a walk down a Pittsburgh street and wondered what wonderful or terrible things may have happened there in years past?  There’s a way to maybe find out.

crazy clown time

Go to Retrographer to see the past overlaid upon the present.  There, over 5,000 historic images of Pittsburgh have been tagged to the locations at which they were taken.  You can see that in 1935, there was a particularly scary Halloween Party  happening in front of the fountain at the Frick Fine Arts building (read: clowns) and that trolley car tracks used to criss-cross Centre Street.  You can check out how bustling East Liberty looked in 1928, and a road crew working in Homewood, around 1910, looking towards some very familiar rowhouses on Hamilton Ave. that I drive past almost every day of my life.

Or maybe you’d like to take a walk and read poems about the streets on which you’re wandering?  Then get yourself over to Public Record, a project done in 2010-11 by Justin Hopper in connection with Encyclopedia Destructica and Deeplocal.

Hopper uses poetry to expose history.  You can download an iPhone app that will show you a map of Pittsburgh and the locations that correspond to the poems, written about what daily life was like in 19th century Pittsburgh.  Or you can download the MP3s for free.

I hope these sites will inspire you to go create your own Pittsburgh-centered creative works.  Find some history there, at the library, or the Heinz History Center Archives, and make it your own. Submit it to the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest. Record it in words, film or music at the Labs.   Find the cutest historical boy from Historic Pittsburgh and send the link to My Daguerreotype Boyfriend.

Happy exploring,

-Tessa, CLP-East Liberty

POW: Censorship Poetry

Welcome to Poetry On Wednesday!

Today I’m going to be self-promoting and share a poem I made by censoring the work of another author — okay, it’s not really censorship, but that sounds more fun than “Selectively-Editing-With-Sharpie Poetry”

I took a page from a withdrawn library book, in this case Dragon’s Egg, by Robert L. Forward, and I selectively edited it using a Sharpie, until it became my own work. Here’s a picture of what it looks like with the text following:


he had been


abandoning the sleds.


he has no idea

The people are behind him,

underleaders, understand

tending crops like laborers.

The astrologer sticks are right

in some way. Disrupting,

hungry, swift, has

this rabble-rouser spell

the powerful east Priest of any blessing.

A sharp ripple, pale, turns, passed

less than half a Temple. As

Empire thronged, finally God held

an eastern orifice

once again.

This is a fun writing exercise because it lends the flavor of the original text to the finished poem. I’d never normally write such a sci-fi piece, but Robert Forward allowed me to go beyond my boundaries and think about the exciting possibilities of the genre. And I really do think it’s a writing exercise, not just an erasing exercise – to make a poem out of a page definitely requires creative thinking as well as grammatical maneuvering.

There’s a whole literature of erasure out there, conveniently profiled in this article, “Absent Things As If They Were Present” from the January 2012 issue of The Believer (and unconveniently not available in full online, but check out the library for a copy).  Jonathan Safran Foer, famous for writing Everything is Illuminated & Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, just made a whole new book out of one of his favorite books, and had it published in an amazing edition where all the words he didn’t use were cut out of the original work.  Thus, The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz becomes Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Want to try your hand at this stuff?  It’s one of the activities available at tonight’s Teen Open Mic Poetry Slam at The Zone in Lawrenceville. Join us from 4-6 pm to read work, hear others read, and hang out.  More info is at the  previous link, or read about the Zone here.

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

Writerly Writing Habits

If you’ve ever obsessed over an unfinished story or spent hours trying to perfect a poem or English class essay, you know how tricky and tedious the writing process can be. To master the craft, many professional writers develop their own quirky working strategies to help them stay productive and keep their ideas flowing.  Readers have always been curious about the physical process behind great works of literature. When it comes to the development of your own unique writing habits, you might want to take some tips from the pros.

Some writers work during very specific hours, and others simply wait until inspiration strikes. Stephen King gives himself a strict daily output requirement—ten pages every day, even on holidays. Then there are writers like James Joyce, author of mind-boggling 20th century novels like Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, who often worked for hours just to complete a sentence or two. John Green (who wrote An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska, and other awesome YA books) has confessed that he ends up deleting about 90% of everything he writes.

Ernest Hemingway at his standing desk.

Do you sit at a desk when you write? Ernest Hemingway preferred to stand. He perched his typewriter on top of a high shelf and eventually designed a standing desk for himself. Then there was Truman Capote, the eccentric writer of the infamous true crime novel In Cold Blood, who said “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down.” He preferred to work from bed.

Some writers need peace and quiet; others can’t think without music playing. When Junot Diaz is working on a particularly tricky passage, he locks himself in the bathroom and sits on the edge of the bathtub. Author Jonathan Franzen believes the Internet is the most productivity-killing distraction of all, so he writes on an old laptop with no wireless card and has actually destroyed his Ethernet port so he will never be tempted to connect to the web. When J.K. Rowling was finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she checked into a hotel room so she could write for days without distraction.

Nowadays, most writers use a computer, though some still prefer to draft their work on paper, from college-ruled notebooks to multi-colored moleskines. Vladimir Nabokov wrote his novels in fragments on index cards, in no. 2 pencil. He liked to shuffle the cards around to decide what order worked best. Legendary Beat generation writer Jack Kerouac glued pages and pages of paper together into long winding scrolls and fed them through his typewriter so he never had to stop writing to change the paper. And don’t forget the necessary refreshments. Coffee, tea, Code Red Mountain Dew, beef jerky…whatever keeps the words flowing.

Maybe you only write between the hours of 4:00 and 5:00 o’clock in the morning, in a special writing fort, on Post-It notes, with your eyes closed, while spinning around in circles. No matter the method, it’s the work that counts! Don’t forget to submit your original poetry, short fiction, or creative blog post to the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest. The deadline is May 7th, so there’s still plenty of time to hone your writing process and get to work. And be sure to check out one of the teen writing workshops happening at various CLP locations this month—you can find all the dates & times here.

Happy writing!

The Write Idea: The Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest and You

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot

Did you ever have a wish to become some famous writer?  You’ve just finished reading a fantastic book that made you just itching to grab a pen and start scribbling — or maybe a keyboard to hammer out some crazy idea that is just bursting to get out?  Sometimes watching a movie or even listening to a particular song can urge me to spit out some sweet story that sounds just as impressive as the ever so popular Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; or my all-time favorite, The Host by Stephenie Meyer.

Well, you now have that chance.  On May 7th, you, my dear writer, have an opportunity to grab that dream and make it come true.  Perhaps you have heard of it before and maybe not, but Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is once again providing you the opportunity to participate in the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest.  There will also be workshops that you can attend to get some tips on writing and a chance for others to critique your work.  As William Faulkner says, “Get it down. Take chances.  It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”

Need some inspiration?  Somewhere to start?  Check out these books:

“Make everybody fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with.” – Nancy Ann Dibble

Hmmm… kinda reminds me of the screenplay from LOST

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