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    Student Writing Center and Lesson Library


Here's a place to hang out and receive and share a little inspiration.
The center will be updated monthly with more of your submissions.

Share a Favorite Book

Have you read a book you'd like to share with friends?
Click here and email your brief review.

The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
submitted by JLL

The story of The Rowan, written by Anne McCaffrey, takes place in a future setting on earth after a group of people has slowly started developing psionic talents in telekinesis, teleportation and telepathy. At first society was skeptical, paranoid and even hostile to these strange abilities. Then, an advance in teleportation allowing "talents" to teleport objects long distances, revolutionized the postal industry. This gave "talents" the respect they needed. From there, the opportunities for the "talented" became immense. Stations were set up on each planet or solar system to allow for the transfer of goods between societies and "Primes" were appointed to do the majority of the teleporting. Primes always had talent abilities of one on a scale of one to ten, one being the greatest ability quotient and ten being the least.
The main character of this book is a young girl. The story starts out telling of a small community of people who inhabited the Rowan camp, a mining facility, on one of the many planet colonies of Earth. During a huge and unrelenting downfall, that particular area became dangerous to work in and the people asked that they might evacuate. The directors, who were hundreds of miles away, decided that satellite pictures showed a break in the weather pattern so an evacuation was not necessary. As a result, the entire community was killed the next day in a huge mudslide, save one child who had been in a transport vehicle.
This child was no ordinary child, however. Later, her guardians would find out that she had a talent rating of T-1. As the river of mud carried her down to a ravine, almost all the talented people on that planet could hear her mental wails. Once the Prime found the three-year-old child, she was placed into the care of a nurse named Lusena, where she stayed for the next nine years. When she was twelve, she was once again taken to the Prime who proceeded to teach the Rowan (a name she had given herself after everyone had begun to call her the Rowan child just after she had been rescued).
At the age of eighteen, the Rowan was given her own tower (the headquarters for a Prime) and was designated the Prime of Callisto. It was only a few years after she first settled in that she heard a mental distress call from Jeff Raven, who was also a Prime, claiming that aliens were attacking his home planet, Deneb. In order to defeat the beetle-like species that was trying to wipe out Deneb, the Rowan, Jeff, and many other talents, combined powers and then destroyed the ships. Before long, the Rowan and Jeff fell deeply in love and prepared to spend the rest of their lives together. When Rowan was pregnant with her second child, she and her mother-in-law "sensed" that the aliens were coming back once again. After this had been verified, Rowan and Jeff again destroyed the "hive" ships, supported by the strongest talents in the galaxy.

I thought The Rowan was a wonderful book and would recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy or science fiction. In fact, since I read The Rowan I have also read the three other books that complete the series. I first started to love reading when I discovered the Jam Cansen series in second grade. They were mystery stories with a girl as the main character. From then on, strong female roles and a strong plot developed over multiple books became very important to me when picking out a book to read or deciding whether or not I enjoyed it. By fourth grade I had read, though possibly not understood, all of The Blue Sword and it's prequel, Hero and the Crown. This was a wonderful adventure about a strong young woman who defeats a powerful enemy while developing the unknown power she always had.
Probably the foremost reason I decided to read The Rowan was because I had read many books by Anne McCaffrey and knew that she was a wonderful author. I sincerely believe that the author makes the book. You could have a wonderful plot, but unless the author was as good, the story line would be wasted. I also knew that McCaffrey had created some of the strongest, most believable, female characters I had ever read about before. Not only does she portray women at their strongest, but she also portrays men at their best so there is a great balance between the genders, a quality most books have yet to obtain.
Another reason I decided to read The Rowan was because of my passion for astronomy. This book takes place in a setting and a time where space travel has become common place and contact with extraterrestrial races is not out of the ordinary. My greatest dream is to study other life forms on other planets, although I know that that will never happen in my lifetime because we are not mature enough as a planet. But reading of a people who have abandoned warfare, have an organized, functioning government and who are able to travel faster than the speed of light is purely enlightening.




 Students: Have you written parodies to songs or famous poems?  Send them to us by Email and we will post them on the website. Make sure to include your name and address so we can send a permission form to your parents and a gift to you!

Example: Parody Poetry  \  Song

Twas the night before school starts
and all through the hut
not a creature was smoking
not even one but

The school clothes were hung
by the chimney on a chair
with hopes that by morning
they would disappear

Then all of a sudden
there arose such a clatter
I sprang to my feet
to see what was the matter

I ran to the window
as fast a sprinter
and looked at my feet
and found 17 splinters

  (click here to go to top of next column)

Then what to my wondering
eyes should I see then
but a 525 horse power garbage truck
with 5 miniature garbage men

They said not a word
but went straight to our cans
they hoisted them up with their tired grubby hands

The head driver of the crew
yelled at his men
On Harry, on Benny, on Simon, and Den

And I heard them cry out
as they drove past a bus
You blankety-blanks stay in school
or else you're gonna end up like Us.

Written by Barry Lane
                        (when he was in 8th grade)



Inspiring Quotes

For more inspiring quotes, check out Shoptalk by Donald Murray, Heinemann books

Send us more inspiring quotes from writers or make up some yourself.  Click HERE and send us your quote via email.  

How can I know what I think till I see what I say?

E.M. Forster

I write to correct life's unfairness.

Verandah Porche

You don't choose a story. It chooses you.

Robert Penn Warren

Memory believes before knowing remembers.

William Faulkner

Inch by inch, the words surprised me.

William Kennedy

I let the fiction, I let the book, boss itself.

Stephen King

The characters always take shape first.  They wander around in my mind looking for something to do.

S.E. Hinton

Poetry is all nouns and verbs.

Marianne Moore

Time to a writer is like play dough in the hands of a toddler.

Barry Lane



Favorite Endings

Have you read a book with a great ending?   What kind of ending is it?
Share it here. We will post it. 
Click HERE and send us your favorite ending via email.  

Loop endings.  They end where they begin.

Barefoot Escape on the Underground Railroad by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Harper Collins, 1998

This picture book about a runaway slave who is helped by animals is told from the animals point of view.  It ends where it begins:

"Silence fell again along the pathway, and the animals slept. But through their dreams the heron's cry again screamed a warning.
Another Barefoot was approaching."

Surprise Endings.  You go, "Oh wow", at the end.

Earthlets by Jeanne Willis
This is a book about babies from the point of view of aliens, only you don't find out till the last page.

Mysterious endings

The Giver by Lois Lowry (young adult)

This book ends with a symbolic sled ride. We don't know where the character is going but we get the feeling it's a place where life will be richer and full of feeling.

"Downward, downward, faster and faster. Suddenly he was aware with certainty and joy that below, ahead, they were waiting for him; and they were waiting, too, for the baby.   For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music.  He heard people singing.  Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too.  But perhaps it was only an


Said is Dead

If you're sick of using the word "said", here's a few verbs to help.
(Send us more)  
Click HERE and send us your favorites via email.  

Verbs for sale


(adapted from a similar list in
The Writer's Workout Book by Art Peterson,
National Writing Project.)



Favorite Leads

The Lead board.

Here's a chance to share your favorite beginnings to stories, books, articles etc.  Just Email and send us a lead to post here.  A lead can be a sentence or several sentences that begin a story.

Big Potato Leads
(you really want to dig up what's going on)

His boot felt empty without the knife in it.       SE Hinton, Taming of the Star Runner

You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning.            Jay McInerney Bright Lights Big City

Snapshot Leads

They say Maniac Magee was born in a dump. They say his stomach was a cereal box and his heart a sofa spring.               Maniac Magee,  Jerry Spinelli

Abraham Lincoln wasn't the sort of man who could lose himself in a crowd.  After all, he stood 6 foot, four inches tall, and to top it off he wore a high silk hat.  His height was mostly in his long bony legs, and when he sat in a chair he seemed no taller than anyone else.  It was only when he stood up that he towered above other men.
                                                              Lincoln: a photobiography, Russell Freedman

Talking Leads

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.             Charlotte's Web

Thinking Leads

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty ad dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."                     Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln

As a boy, I never knew where my mother was from--where she was born,who
her parents were.                The Color of Water, James McBride



Idea Box

When you get stuck what do you do?
Here's a few suggestions from kids.

Click HERE and send us a new one via email.

  Go for a walk

Create a character with a problem you have.

Write a bunch of compelling first leads, then just pick one and start writing.

Write a letter to a favorite author. Tell them why you like their books.

Switch genres. If you always write stories, try writing a poem.

List all the people you've ever known from as far back as you can remember.

Turn a dream you had into a poem or story.



Wacky We-Search


A wacky we-search paper is when you use your research facts to funny purposes. Here are a few examples from Barry's book for kids, 51 Wacky We-search We-ports

Enter our Contest!  Send us your examples of wacky we-search. Winners will get $10.00, plus 2 free copies of the book.

  Click HERE and send us your wacky we-search entry via email. 

 "How To" poems
These poems are a manual for
becoming anything you are studying.

How to be a heart

pump blood
be the strongest muscle in the body
don't stop
Have love in you
Beat fast in rats
and slow in elephants
Don't stop
Don't Stop
Don't stop

How to be Thomas Jefferson

Write like an angel
live in your mind
and have your heart broken many times

Declare all men equal
and never release your 200 slaves

Never finish the house
which years later will appear on the back side of a Nickel.

_____ways of looking at _____

Wallace Stevens wrote a poem called 13 ways of looking at a Blackbird. Here's a new version. Create some ____ways poems of your own and send them to us.

3 ways of Looking at Christopher Columbus
1-- Great Explorer
2-- Bad Map Reader
3-- Mass Murderer

World's Thinnest Books
A thin book is a book the author has no business writing. The title is only funny if you know the research. Send us some thin books by clicking here.

The Redmeat Cookbook by Mahatma Ghandi
Fear of Flying by Wilbur and Orville Wright
Why I Hate Science by M. Curie
The Art of Diplomacy by Ghengis Khan

Top Ten Lists
David Letterman made this we-port famous. Move 10 to 1 and mix serious facts with funny ones. Have fun. Click here to send us one.

Top Ten Reasons Why you Don't need to Graduate High school

10   2 sets of senior pictures
9     Cafeteria food is so good
8     School limits my cigarette habit
7     Teachers will miss me
6     Time to complete pencil collection
5     New administrator needs breaking in\
4     Want to be in same class with baby sister
3     Will soon be able to date that cute math teacher
2     Can recycle homework

                 and the number one reason not to graduate high school is...
                      Who needs that extra quarter million bucks anyway??



Student's Instant Excuse Letter
(A Mad Lib for Students Only)


Didn't finish your homework on time?
Trying to think up an excuse to tell your teacher?
No problemo!  Barry has an
you can create in a few minutes!

Just Click HERE



Recycled Fairy Tale Contest

Attention Students of all Ages

Enter the Recycled Fairy Tale contest!

Re--tell a fairy tale from a different point of view and get a  chance
to receive a free tape of Barry's Fairy Tale songs ($10.00 value) plus a
chance to win $10.00 and have your work featured in a new book.

    The first 100 applicants will receive a copy of Barry Lane's
Recycled Fairy Tales Songs.  All applicants will get chance to have your
work collected in a book.

    Click HERE and send us your Recycled Fairy Tale entry via email,
or send your entry via regular mail to

Fairy Tale Contest
PO Box 264
Shoreham, VT 05770



Submit Your Work


Barry Lane and the Discover Writing Press are interested in outstanding student writing to feature either on this web site or in one of Barry's future books.  If you have an interesting piece of writing you would like to share with us ( and the world ), we'd like to see it.

The rules are simple:  The work should be completely original and written by you.  It's OK to have your teacher or parents look it over ( if you wish ) and even make helpful suggestions to improve it, but it should be your work.

Depending on your age, we may need your parents' permission to publish it.

We prefer to have the work submitted electronically by sending it as a word file attached to an email.  Be sure to include your parents' name and address, and your home telephone number so we can contact them for permission to publish it if you are one of the winners.

If you are a student or a teacher you can submit your writing for possible publication in a future Barry Lane book.  Teachers please include the following:

1.  Your student's age
2.  Student's complete home address
3.  Student's home phone number

Students should include:

1.  Your age
2.  Your complete home address
3.  Your phone number

Submission format:  We can convert from some word processing programs, but not every one.  Thus, it would be best that you send your submission in the form of an email.  Try cutting and pasting from your word processing software into your email program before completely re-writing your submission.  Thanks!

Example of a "Student" Submission

Homework in the night
sung to "Strangers in the Night"

Homework in the night
we get it everyday
just homework in the night
There's no more time for play
just homework in the night
please, not another day for me.

Homework in the night
my teachers full of it
just homework in the night
I'll get the pull of it
but homework in the night
is not the thing for me.

Homework in the night
its even worse then school
just homework in the night
I'll turn into a ghoul
just homework in the night
homework in the night...

I would like to watch TV...
but spelling lists keep taunting me with...

Homework in the night
I'm getting sick of it
just homework in the night
I'm gonna pick at it but
homework in the night
is not the thing for me...

                          by Barry Lane
             (when he was in sixth grade)  


  Click HERE and send us your submission via email. 




Students, Parents and Teachers Please Note:

Children should NEVER give their names, addresses, or phone numbers out to strangers in chat rooms or on unfamiliar web sites they may visit.  Always do enough "homework" as needed to determine that the folks you are giving information to are legitimate.

Please note our web site PRIVACY POLICY.

And, if you have any remaining questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-613-8055  8-5 EST or contact us by snail mail at

PO Box 264
Shoreham, VT 05770

Just use the email link below to submit your writing... it's never too early to become famous!


Barry Lane and the Discover Writing Company


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Design by James A. Peden
Copyright   2004 by
Middlebury Networks
Other Content Copyright   2004 by
Discover Writing Company
All rights reserved.
Revised: February 04, 2014