Diana Allor is a writing coach who pairs a voice of experience with gentle encouragement to form a winning combination. She’s a deep thinker who loves literature and writing.
Truth? Diana is everything she seems to be. When we met at our staff retreat, she exuded calm and generosity. She’s a soft talker, with powerful skills!
Diana is open to considering anything you say to her—taking it in and reflecting carefully on your point, then coming back with her thoughts. She’s the perfect coach to discuss writing and books with your kids.
Listen to what this mom had to say:
Diana was wonderful! Her encouraging comments to my daughter gave her the motivation to write more. Watching Diana slowly pull gold from everyone’s children through the slow process of observation, freewrite, and revision was a revelation!
Diana is also one of the most flexible coaches on our team!
Erin Quinn is one of a kind! Growing up in South East Asia, different languages helped spark her fascination with how words come together to create meaning. She went on to get her degree in English, at the University of Northern Colorado. Well traveled, this gal!
Now as a military family, she moves every couple of years—yet her commitment to Brave Writer families has never wavered. Game to try anything, she quickly became one of our most versatile coaches. She has always adopted the playful spirit of her online classes, adding a sprinkling of her own experience and strong writing style.
Can I just tell you that Erin was the life of the party at our staff retreat? Always smiling, always chatting, always sunny. Life is good when you’ve got Erin in your world! (Our Brave Writer students think so too!) Her genuine interest in our students and parents is delightful. She’s been known to join in with her students in the fun activities in class, inventing her own vocabulary words and sharing a laugh with the kids.
Turns out she can roll with the punches too. Check out this picture of Erin (above) working at the kitchen table to accommodate her husband’s new working-from-home set up! We appreciate your dedication, Erin! Thank you for tirelessly serving our families.
Erin says: “I am working at my kitchen table because my husband moved my desk to our bedroom so he can work from home. The tiny corner I had carved out for myself has been cannibalized to make two work spaces. Behold the chaos of my kitchen/dining room!”
In a world where so many are now working from home, we wanted to show you OUR working-from-home staff! Isolation or no isolation, our coaches are consistently dedicated to partnering with you on your writing journey with your kids.
The Brave Writer “office” is always open—ready to see behind the scenes? We’re so lucky that Kate Foran’s lifelong relationship with homeschooling has included Brave Writer! She’s got it all! A former homeschooled student herself, Kate Foran has been
a freelance writer,
a writing tutor,
an administrator for a homeschool group,
a presenter in writing workshops,
a regular blogger,
and a writer of poetry and essays.
Oh, AND she homeschools her daughter. What!? But what made us first fall in love with Kate is her way with words. Dreamy. Her writing just has that secret sauce. She knows what makes writing TICK. You never want to stop reading.
Even her students think so! Listen to this young man’s endorsement of Kate from an Essay Prep online class:
“[Writing] can be fun, without pressure, giving your imagination time to fly and letting your opinion develop. Thanks for allowing the freedom of submitting work without criticizing and red labeling every. little. thing. The feedback was often fun to read, always helpful and inspiring.” –Noah
See our lovely Kate at home in the photo above! She is gearing up to teach another round of our stress-free revision class: Brave Writer 102.
Thank you, Kate, for being a rockstar in our midst!
Confetti! Bubbly drinks (I’ll take sparkling cider, thank you)!
January marks the 20th anniversary of my little-idea-that-could—when you value a child’s writing voice and collaborate with their abundance of good ideas and quirky linguistic wonderfulness, you see writing growth and pleasure in writing as surely as your sweethearts learned to speak fluent English with you as their chief partner.
Let’s honor the new year with a Top 20 countdown (not in chronological order) of my favorite Brave Writer moments. I’ll share a podcast of the story of Brave Writer soon.
Top 20 Countdown
20.The day I received my first check for $25.00 from a homeschool mother, I took a photograph of it. I thought: “She believes I can help her! I have to help her now.” The little online writing class was conducted by email and sold out—25 families, 40+ kids! Thus was born our online class program that has now served tens of thousands of families.
19.I self-published The Writer’s Jungle in March of 2000. My husband at the time taught himself Pagemaker, just to do our layout (no push-button publishing back then). Cindy Clark (who is my right and left hand team member) and her best friend Paula Horton came to my house to help assemble those books in my dining room for my first convention appearance in June 2000. We sold 45 books and I knew right then that we had something to offer.
18.I discovered that Susan Wise Bauer had listed Brave Writer as a top writing resource for her community in 2002 on her website and nearly fell out of my chair. Just a few years later, Susan and I became friends and colleagues and her support of my work has been filled with integrity and kindness.
17. I read my first “real review” of The Writer’s Jungle on the blog of a favorite children’s author: Melissa Wiley. She wrote that she wished she had written it herself and I thought, “A real author likes my book!” Our ensuing friendship has been deep and one of the most rewarding in my professional life.
16. Classes sell out! For the first several years of our online class program, I didn’t have enough seats for all the interest. I remember selling out our entire set of classes in under 5 minutes for several years. You used to have to be on a waiting list from a previous semester to get a chance to enroll in the next one! Today we offer 80+ writing class sessions per semester and have over 40 types of class offerings.
15. We issued a call for teachers in 2013. How surprised was I to see one of our earliest students among the applicants? Samantha Burtner had already proven her writing skills in class, was included in our program Help for High School as a model of good writing, and now she had returned as an adult to teach for us. Today, she’s one of our most popular high school coaches.
14. The Arrow. What a gem! This product was innovation at its finest. I realized that I didn’t like curriculum that was year-long, in thick textbooks. What would happen if we gave monthly curriculum support focused on a single book at a time, like a magazine subscription? Apparently you agreed because it has been our best-selling product for all 18 years of its existence. And now, monthly subscriptions are commonplace in homeschooling.
13. Conferences. It was a joy and privilege to be the keynote speaker at a Muslim homeschool conference, a secular conference, a Christian conference, and an LDS Conference all in the same year. Brave Writer has managed to transcend the usual sectarian divides and offers quality writing instruction to all types of worldviews.
12. I loved starting my podcast with my son Noah. We’ve now had over 1 million downloads of the podcast and have completed 5 seasons of material.
11. Two of my family members teach for Brave Writer: my daughter Johannah and my mother, Karen O’Connor. It is incredible to me that they are able to share in the work Ido and give such rich, varied feedback to our customers. Caitrin, my other daughter, has accompanied me to conferences, including New Zealand which was pure fun! I hope you meet her some day. She’s a hoot!
10. The day Cindy Clark said “yes” to my full time employment offer is a highlight of 2013. I was nervous—Would we have enough work to fill forty hours? Um, yes… and then some.
9. Periscope in 2016 launched Brave Writer into an entirely new stratosphere—so much fun to interact with you every day about stuff that matters. The replays on YouTube have led to over 9000 subscribers and hundreds of thousands of views.
8. The thrill of speaking at Wild + Free events is in my top twenty experiences. My trip to Frisco Texas and taking the stage dancing to “High Hopes” is one of those lifetime memories—what joy in that shared experience with many of you!
7. Our first staff retreat was monumental in 2016. It’s the weekend I realized that I was running a company and what a privilege to do it with this group of talented team members.
6. I was stunned to be awarded Xavier’s highest honor for its MA recipients—The Madges Award for Outstanding Contribution to Society for Brave Writer in 2017.
5. The day my book deal came through for THE BRAVE LEARNER is a day I won’t soon forget. My kids sometimes joke that I built a business so I could write a book. The truth is: there isn’t one without the other. I am grateful for the chance to live out that dream with this team.
4. I still remember how the name Brave Writer came to me. I was speaking at my first convention, saying “We want free writers; we want brave writers!” and I suddenly knew that the company should be called Brave Writer. That was June 2000.
3. I met Dr. Peter Elbow—in person—my mentor in all things writing. He affirmed my work, he invited me to his event and home, and has become a friend. Think: meeting Bono or Bon Jovi, and you’ll know just how mind-blown I am that I count him among the people I can rely on in my life today.
2. I love our Homeschool Alliance—the membership community where our members take life-transforming steps as parents, educators, and awesome adults. It’s the best place on the Internet, in my mind, and I hope it outlives me by 100 years. I’m especially proud of it.
1. The best memory of my 20 years comes from our day-long Cincinnati Brave Learner Conference in July 2019. It felt like a true celebration of everything I believe in, our entire gorgeous community, and a valuing of home learning unlike any I have experienced before. We are the ones we have been waiting for—you are the brave learners!
“Oh my gosh!” Julie rounded the corner with a platter of cookies in hand, looking stunned. “It sounds like a sorority in here! I could hear you laughing from the entrance!”
To which of course, we laughed.
We were sitting in the dining room of the empty retreat center in Cincinnati, the night before the Brave Writer Staff retreat. Yep, we were loud. And only 5 of us had arrived.
The next day our delightful coaches and staff —you know them, those funny, smart, engaged women who interact with you and your kids every day—would begin to trickle in. Some drove with families in tow. Others took a solo journey for the first time since their kids were born. Some coaches traveled together, relishing in the chance to catch up and chat on the way.
Laughter multiplied. Hugs exponentialized. Joy overflowed. We all have a really cool internet friend we wish we could meet in real life—this was like that, except thirty times over! Coaches and staff greeted each other like old friends, despite being the first time they were meeting in person.
But you should know, our coaches and staff didn’t just come for a good time. These women came ready to dig deep! They’d done their homework (literally). They were ready to share and learn and grow.
Since we only had a few days together, we started that very night. We shared our work experiences and the strengths we bring to teaching. We talked about our Brave Families and what they need. (That’s you! We talked about you, the whole time. <3 )
That first night I could already feel the STRETCHING taking place in the room. New connections, new perspectives, new approaches were being shared.
Believe it or not, Saturday took us even deeper. Kirsten Merryman navigated us through practical coaching strategies and how to keep growing in our teaching. We got “on the ground” feedback from coaches about what they see happening in our classrooms (oh, how you and your kids amaze us!). We discussed how to represent ourselves and our values at work in a way that makes our feedback richer, more impactful and helpful. We renewed our dogged determination to bring writing relief to families.
We got to learn from our fearless leader, Julie, as she walked us through Brave Writer history, its evolution to now and through to the future of what she sees ahead. Along this path she showed us again and again how nurturing actually does lead to a college-ready education in writing. We nodded along in mutual commitment to take fledgling writers from uncertainty, resistance, intimidation to pride, power, and proficiency. Our mandate.
There was some down time. There was Graeter’s ice cream. We laughed, we cried. In true Brave Writer fashion, there was freewriting, as well as Poetry Teatime. And sometimes dancing.
Our last morning focused on self-care (do your stretches, ladies!) and how to use our retreat experiences to inspire growth in our “real lives” back home. Reluctant farewells came too soon, as one after another we left for our cars, Julie’s backyard, or the flight rescheduling desk at CVG.
I’m already nostalgic over the whole experience! It’s quite something to have been in the company of a pride of lions, even for a little while. Or maybe we’re more of a bevy of swans, as one coach said. It’s impossible to come up with the proper metaphor here because I have to tell you: these women are ALL that. Strong and fierce. Graceful, eloquent, and kind. Committed and brave. We’re so proud that they work for Brave Writer. And that they spend their days working for YOU.
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