Archive for the ‘Alumni’ Category

Growing Up with Brave Writer

Kyriana 6

My mom discovered Brave Writer almost ten years ago, back in 2005. Since then, I have stumbled and soared through pretty much every aspect of the Brave Writer lifestyle.

We’ve had Tuesday Teatime as a family. (And, yes, we’ve been featured on the blog. Here’s the somewhat embarrassing post). My English prof in freshman year of college scoffed at the idea, but I’m pretty sure he was inwardly envious of growing up drinking tea, reading poetry, and eating cucumber sandwiches.

I’ve had screams of frustration and tears of rage with dictation and copywork from Arrow and Boomerang—though there were days when I did enjoy it, I promise!

Later, I took pretty much every online Brave Writer class that was offered, from The Writer’s Jungle Online to the SAT/ACT essay class. My favorite by far was Passion for Fiction. I still use the writer’s notebook I created in that class!

And, of course, every Friday, I did a Friday Freewrite.

Kyriana 7

Looking back today, one of my treasured possessions from growing up with Brave Writer is my Friday Freewrite notebook. On the outside, it’s an unassuming yellow checked notebook. Inside, it contains scribbles dating back to 2005, some of which were rather brilliant and most…less so. As I flip through it, I can find all of the following and more:

  • A schedule of my “ideal homeschool week”
  • Designs for my “dream summer cloths [sic]”
  • An entry beginning “I love having to do all the laundry”
  • An impassioned argument that Winston Churchill was totally boring
  • Moans of “When will this be over? In one minute. Yippee!!!!”
  • A book report on Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • A five-page-long story of three kids and a magical creature in Venice

The very last entry I wrote in my freewrite notebook is a poem entitled “Brave.” I actually submitted it to the Brave Writer Blog, and you can read it here. The poem provides a glimpse of my growth as both a person and a writer. I learned that true courage lies in love. If I love something enough, whether it be writing or any other endeavor, then fear cannot stop me. That’s a lesson I’ve carried with me ever since.

So there you have it—my own personal journey growing up with Brave Writer. It’s had plenty of ups and downs (and, really, whose childhood hasn’t?). Still, I can safely say that I now write with courage, confidence, and joy, thanks to Brave Writer.

Kyriana Lynch is a writer, poet, and photographer. She was born in Japan, where she lived until age twelve. Her hobbies include reading Medieval literature, traveling around the world, and doodling in watercolor. She blogs on Christian Fantasy under her pseudonym Sienna North. Her debut novel, Red Sun Blue Earth (affiliate link), the story of a teen girl who survives Japan’s 2011 tsunami, was published March 2013.

Gabrielle Linnell (The WJ Adventuring Maid!)

is published in the new edition of the Chicken Soup books: “Chicken Soup: Extraordinary Teens.” She’s been published over 30 times and will attend Wellesley College in the fall. I’m so proud of her! Her first published writing at age 8 is in our very own The Writer’s Jungle (pages 118-119). From there, she’s been writing for publication and heading up all kinds of great teen writing projects. It’s no surprise, really, that she’s been scooped up into the Chicken Soup vortex!

What I love about Brave Writer is the way so many of our students have found meaningful outlets for their passion for writing. Congratulations to Gabrielle! Look for her book in your local book store.

Good news, good news

I never get tired of hearing how Brave Writer students fare in college composition classes. Just yesterday, I ran into one of my local friends. I helped her son write his college admissions essay. He also took Kidswrite Basic back in junior high when I taught it. This is not a kid who I remember for his writing. He struck me as a typical boy writer who simply needed some coaxing to discover that the thoughts in his head deserved to be recorded in writing. He is more than able to tell a good story about himself and his experiences given the right set of questions and time to develop his thoughts. In working with him on the admissions essay, it was very enjoyable for me to see him develop insight into his experiences (more than merely reporting them).

So when I ran into his mom, she stopped me to say, “Dan got his first essay back in English Comp 101 at Miami of Ohio.”

“Oh?” I said. “How’d he do?” I expected her to tell me he had done well, earning an A or B (figuring she wouldn’t stop me to tell me he failed).

“Well, he not only got an A on his paper, the professor asked him to sign a permissions notice so that the department could publish his essay in the English department journal as an example of what a well-written essay should look like for incoming freshmen.”

“Nuh-uh,” I replied articulately.

“Yuh-huh,” she countered. And we both cracked up. Dan – her son, not her naturally-gifted writing daughters.

There’s something about those opening hooks, the ease with which Brave Writer kids learn to express themselves combined with their confidence in applying their writing voices to academic formats. Their writing wins over their professors. It keeps happening.

If you have a story to tell, please share it here!

Thank you note

Dear Bogart Family,

Thank you for the money. I would most like to thank you for the help with my college (application) essay. With my grades and ACT scores, it may be all that got me to college.


This “graduation gift thank you” note cracked me up so much, I saved it in my “favorite notes from former students” file. Dan was a wonderful student with good grades and more than adequate ACT scores. But I sure appreciated his enthusiasm for his essay. It turned out to be a favorite with me. He wrote about how his experience on a high school football team taught him, a white kid in a majority black school, the importance of diversity and the power of friendship to transcend racial differences. Terrific little essay that I had the privilege of coaxing and editing.