Author Archives: donalynm

right word September 16

The Right Word by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet, Reviewed by Donalyn Miller

  “Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne   I learned the power of words early. Whining, breaking my things, interrupting me while I was reading, my little sisters were […]

evergreen August 24

Access Point by Donalyn Miller

My husband remembers the book he picked from the RIF bus. It was about this kid who was a troubled youth, and he winds up working for this guy to pay off a debt. The guy marks out his yard in a 7X7 grid of squares and has the kid examine the contents of each […]

Hit Pause by Donalyn Miller

Shifting books around, I realized that I have started five books, but not finished them. No, I won’t tell you their titles. These books sit on my nightstand–with bookmarks sticking out of them—reminders of interrupted stories. I feel guilty about not finishing them. Daniel Pennac gave us the “right to not finish a book,” but […]

Family Stories by Donalyn Miller

  I began the morning with goodbyes. The conference was over and it was time for all of us to go. After a quick hug from my friend, Katherine, she left for a writing retreat and I left for the next leg on a two-week trip. My friend, Paul offered to drive me to the […]

Zombie_#3,_coming June 12

Teachers, Embrace Your Inner Zombie by James Preller

These days, kids are crazy about zombies. That’s just a plain fact. Not every kid, of course, but a lot of them. And I’m here to say: Go with it. Particularly when it comes to student writing. Some girls wants to write a story about a zombie apocalypse? Here’s a pen and paper. Do it. […]

FireHorseGirl_CV-2 June 01

Seeing People, Not Differences by Kay Honeyman

When I first started writing The Fire Horse Girl, I obsessed over getting all the details right. The book opens on Chinese New Year, and I combed through every New Year tradition I could find and jammed most of them into the first chapter (don’t worry, Cheryl Klein, editor extraordinaire, saved readers from that monstrosity). […]

The Sixth Annual Book-a-Day Challenge

New guests to our house always say the same thing when walking into our living room for the first time, “Wow, you’ve got a lot of books.” With thirteen bookcases—most double-stacked—and a custom built-in wall unit crammed with books, the principal decorations at the Miller Ranch are book spines. Anna Quindlen said, “I would be […]

boys of blur May 14

Of Stanks, Swamps, Cane, and Courage: Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson; Reviewed by Teri S. Lesesne

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested…” Sir Francis Bacon The prologue opens with this sentence: “When the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, look for the boys who are quicker than flame.” And ends with this: “There’s quick and there’s dead.” From […]

boys of blur May 13

Reclaimed Story by N.D. Wilson

I love reclaimed wood. The wall of my office is lined with planks from an old mill that stood for decades not far from the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. I hate the industry of reclaimed wood. Courtesy of hugely expensive furniture in high-end catalogs, farmers are now incentivized to tear down old […]

the princess bride April 24

So Last Season by Michael Guevara

Sometimes I worry that I’m not book hip enough, that I haven’t kept up with the latest must-reads, that my books are so last season. Others recommend new book after new book they’ve read while my Amazon Wish list grows like the epiphyseal plates of a teenage boy. The co-opted cliché, “So many books, so […]