≡ Menu

Day 10 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Jen Hallissy

Jen Hallissy is a former student of mine who went and got herself a book deal. Already an expert, Jen saw a need on the shelves and filled it with her words and professional insights. The result is The Write Start from Trumpeter Books. Please help me welcome, Jen!

Jennifer Hallissy is a mom and a pediatric occupational therapist who has a happy preoccupation with the art and science of child development. She holds a master’s degree in occupational therapy and a bachelor’s degree in English from New York University. A champion of childhood, Jennifer shares her enthusiasm for the big ideas of little people in national parenting magazines and on her blog, thewritestart.typepad.com. She lives in Port Washington, New York with her husband and two little writers-in-residence.

How do you raise children who love to write?

Jennifer Hallissy believes that if you give children a solid foundation of writing basics, they will develop a love of writing that lasts a lifetime. From teaching your child how to hold a pencil and form the letters of the alphabet, to creating writing spaces and meaningful writing rituals at home, The Write Start gives you all of the information and inspiration you need to raise a confident writer. With fifty-two playful activities for all ages and stages, this book is a treasure trove of irresistible ideas that will help you introduce your child to the wonderful world of writing, now, and for years to come.

1.  How has writing impacted your self-confidence?

Writing is a wonderful exercise in finding your own voice. This is something that not only improves your work, but all aspects of your life. There is no better confidence boost than learning to be yourself.

2.   What are three words that describe your creative book-writing process?

“Windows of opportunity.” Writing can fit into tiny little gaps of time throughout your day, and can be done in the unlikeliest of places. Add up all of those little bits and pieces and you can actually write a book. I’m living proof.

3.   What good has your book created in the world?

The Write Start empowers parents to take an active role in supporting young writers, from their first scribbles onward. It reminds them that every child has a story to tell, and that story begins at home.

• • •

Tell us about your write start. What are some of your earliest memories of putting thoughts on paper? What was the experience like for you then? Has your experience of writing changed or is it still the same as it was?

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books). Please read the complete rules at least once!

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Please bring a couple friends next time you come. :)

Like this post? Subscribe to my Feed!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ann May 10, 2011, 10:27 am

    I don’t remember writing as a young child.
    My first memories of writing are as a teenager in school for English literature exams and being told that my style was too concise and not flowing and flowery enough for the examiners – I was better suited for journalism – I took the hint and never looked back
    But I did manage to go ‘against the grain’ and flow and flower a bit just to pass the exams.

  • Sandi Haustein May 10, 2011, 11:48 am

    I remember trying to write a play with my friend, Katharine, during recesses in fourth or fifth grade. We spent every recess sitting in a tunnel on the playground writing down lines for the family surviving a tornado. I also kept a diary around this time with important entries like “Mark D. is annoying!” or “Stacey’s not my best friend any more.”

    Yes, my experience of writing has changed — now I’m writing to truly explore myself and to have an outlet for my creativity. But those early experiences with words and expressing myself gave me my start.

  • Kelly May 10, 2011, 1:08 pm

    What a great idea for a book! I wish that someone had encouraged my writing as a child. As it was, I wrote when I needed to in school–and did just fine at it–but didn’t discover until I was in my 30s that I really enjoy the craft of writing and actually have some natural ability for it. If I knew then what I know now, my education and career path might have been different. I plan to encourage both of my kids to write; it’s such a valuable communication skill to have!

  • Carol J. Alexander May 10, 2011, 1:11 pm

    I remember keeping a
    diary from a very early age…probably 7. I remember writing letters to my sister
    who did not live with us and telling her everything. As I got older, I
    started writing essays and poems. In high school I took creative writing and
    worked on the literary magazine staff. I had poems published in the local
    newspaper. As a child and youth, writing was how I expressed myself. I was
    extremely shy and rarely spoke to anyone—even my parents. As a married adult,
    however, I don’t feel the need to journal everything and will sometimes go a
    year without recording my thoughts and feelings. I’m also a bit more outgoing.
    But I do write every day. Mostly it’s non-fiction how-to. Someday, I hope to
    give fiction a whirl. My answer, I guess, is that my writing evolves with the
    different stages of my life and my needs at that particular stage.

  • Robin Paulsen May 10, 2011, 1:27 pm

    My earliest writing memory is of a “tall-tale” assignment in 4th grade. We read a tall tale and then were instructed to write our own. I cut my paper in half lenght wise and taped it together and wrote my tale….tall!
    My silly story was about a basketball who was bounced on its nose and lost it. The ball then went in search of its nose.
    I don’t know what on earth prompted me to write about that!

    I love the idea of “the write start.” I have a 7th grade daughter who can turn a science project into a writing project…..and a 4th grader who tries to do that!

  • Lara May 10, 2011, 1:44 pm

    @font-face {
    font-family: “Cambria”;
    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1;
    I remember writing my first “book” when I was in first or
    second grade. It was about my school and the wacky pastor who broadcast the
    weekly school announcements over the PA. That book stands out in my mind
    because when it was complete I was so pleased with myself that I decided I wanted
    to be a writer when I grew up. That goal never left my mind (even through my
    college years when I studied business at my father’s urging). And now I’m
    living it. Because of that, I always take my kids seriously when they dream
    about what they want to be as adults. I’m fully supporting my first grade
    Lego-loving daughter who has decided she wants to be an architect. I can’t wait
    to see that happen!

  • Renee May 10, 2011, 3:21 pm

    I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, even back
    when I could barely spell! I’ve always expressed myself so much better through
    the written word, as I tend to keep feelings and emotions bottled up inside,
    even as an adult. In middle school, I had notebooks full of original song
    lyrics and poems. In high school, I loved critiquing literature in my English
    classes. I further fueled my writing by co-editing the yearbook and going on to
    major in communications in college, working on the campus newspaper. My writing
    is the same from my earlier years in that I like to get the words down on paper
    and be done. I despise the editing and revising process. My 7-year-old daughter
    struggles with putting her thoughts on paper, and it saddens me sometimes. I
    think this book would be an excellent way to get her over the fear of writing.

  • Pattie May 10, 2011, 4:00 pm

    The first memory I have of writing was in my
    diary in the fifth grade after I started reading Anne Frank’s diary. The first
    story I ever wrote was “The Adventures of Whitey Gumball.” Ah, memories. I’ve
    been keeping a journal on and off since the age of 10, and I still write
    stories (although not about gumballs!). It’s been a very long journey, and
    while I’d like to say I love writing everything, it’s not true. Some things I
    write because I have to, not because I love to. But there was, and is still,
    such joy in writing.

  • Dianna Nicolai May 10, 2011, 4:05 pm

    The first thing I remember writing was a note to my mother when I was barely old enough to print. With the note, in which I apologized for giving her so many headaches, I included a small tin of Bayer aspirin.

  • Maribeth May 10, 2011, 5:14 pm

    I recall changing lyrics to songs. I would write down my own. From there I went on to poems then eventually short stories. My oldest daughter loves to write and I like to think I had something to do with that.

  • Malia Jacobson May 10, 2011, 5:22 pm

    My earliest writing memory involves a blank journal that I
    turned into my own illustrated novel, titled (no joke) the Puce Goose. I think
    I was 8. It had chapters and everything. My mom still has it, and it’s a hilarious
    reminder of my natural passion for the written word.

  • Judy May 10, 2011, 5:22 pm

    My earliest memories of writing are of stories I wrote in grade school. I “published” my first magazine in 8th grade. Exceptionally introverted as a child, I remember feeling creative and “heard” by others. I was nervous about writing as an adult, and it took me years to dive in and do it. I have found that I am indeed heard and respected for my voice. I have gained great confidence, focus, enjoyment, and employment from writing.

  • Bethany Dykman May 10, 2011, 5:23 pm

    I love the idea of this book. As a homeschooler, I’m always looking for ways to make writing fun and inviting for my kids.

    I have never been a consistent writer, and this was never more evident to me than when my dad brought me some boxes of things saved from my childhood. Encased in the boxes were quite a few journals I wrote as a kid, well, started, anyway. I would write about 10 or 15 pages and then quit until someone gave me a new one to start on. I must say, not much has changed as an adult. I write in fits and starts.

  • Crystal Bevers May 10, 2011, 6:16 pm

    I still have a journal that begins (in very large block print), “My name is Crystal and I am 5 1/2 years old.” My son (9 years old) gets a kick out of reading it! I would say journaling was my earliest and most important writing memory. It became a habit I continue, now, into my mid-30s. The journal is the private place where you learn to be honest in your writing, to communicate the deepest (and most important) things in your heart and mind that children often won’t confide to anyone else.

  • Tebbertrevalee May 10, 2011, 6:18 pm

    My first writing attempts were thank you notes. I remember writing them for everything. Big spidery letters on my mother’s stationery for every blooming gift received for Christmas and my birthday and even the occasional “state visit” to one of my grandparents’ homes. This should have left me passionately opposed to writing; it was always done under duress. My mother wouldn’t allow playing with the Barbie or wearing the dress until I had properly thanked the giver with that handwritten note. But for some reason I still love the physical act of writing with pen on paper and I love stationery. Funny how that ended up.

    @ChristinaKatz:disqus , if I win a weekly book drawing, I’ll certainly write you or the author, @JenniferHallissey:disqus a handwritten thank you note.

  • Kate Hayes May 10, 2011, 6:19 pm

    I have been writing stories literally ever since I can remember. My parents still have my first “book,” which I wrote at age four. It was called “Good Mike Cat, Bad Jim Dog.” I have vague memories of crafting this masterpiece, which was creatively limited to words that I could actually spell at the time. It was inspired by two of my uncles (Mike and Jim), one of whom I adored, and the other…well, you can probably guess. He wasn’t my favorite. Every time my folks pull this out, it always makes me laugh. We all have to start somewhere! P.S. – I later became a television news journalist, and am currently a professional marketing writer, freelancer, and aspiring children’s book author.

  • Kiakiali May 10, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Ah, my favorite question as a writer! It was very early, in the 2nd grade and we were handed a sheet of paper with a drawing of a child on a sled coming down a snow bank. The prompt was to write about a day we had in the snow. Ha! I was born in Los Angeles and at that point had not been in any snow. But, I was one of those students who had to do well so I couldn’t NOT write something. I suddenly created a cast of characters and wrote a very sci fi story which had everything you ever see about snow – snowball fights, building snowmen, sledding and hot cocoa. That was the first in what became a series of short short stories that year. Whenever we had a writing assignment I used my characters; Maze, Ruby & Me, three little girls living on another planet.

  • Christen May 10, 2011, 6:33 pm

    My dad and I used to write progressive stories in church (I was too young to really pay attention). He’d write some, then pass it to me, and I’d write some, and so on. We also would play with words, making up Tom Swifties, riddles, silly titles and authors, etc. In fifth grade, my teacher made me a special notebook with all kinds of writing exercises. Around Middle School I lost my voice and my love for writing, except for journaling. Now as an adult, I am reclaiming my voice, my writing, and all those fun games!

  • Diane J. May 10, 2011, 6:34 pm

    Oh this so embarrassing to admit. I’ve always been self-conscious. Afraid I would never measure up to any task. My earliest memory is sitting at a desk and scribbling lines, I couldn’t write cursive and I wanted to more than anything. I was 7, I believe.

    My sister made fun of my squiggles and I thought she understood what I wrote. I was always afraid to share anything or leave any writings where they would be found for fear I would get teased. Understand, this is my own issue, my sister is the most supportive and caring person ever. We were kids, sibling rivalry at it’s best.

    I didn’t write where anyone could see, unless it was a list. I loved having a paper and pen in my hand and wrote many lists over the years, LOL. Finally, I was encouraged by some friends and the rest is history. Although I still have a minor panic attack before hitting send on anything.

  • L. Catharine May 10, 2011, 6:40 pm

    When I was 7, I wrote and illustrated a series of
    books starring “Lisa”, a cute little blonde girl. I modeled her after the
    prettiest girl in my 2nd grade class, Lisa Michael Common (yes, I
    still remember her name). First was “Lisa Goes on a Picnic”, followed by “Lisa
    Get a New Puppy” and “Lisa Goes to the Hospital”. The plots were
    self-explanatory. I used thick, cream-colored drawing paper, folding several
    pages in half to form an actual book. I put the words on top and drew
    corresponding pictures below. Let’s just say, it’s a good thing I didn’t have
    my heart set on art school. I showed them to my mother, who showed them to
    everyone else, including my pediatrician. Dr. Fugal (God rest his soul) told
    her that she should keep them and encourage me to continue writing. In my grade
    school brain, that meant I was obviously destined for greatness. Well,
    greatness hasn’t happened (yet), but I still have those first books. I showed
    them to my daughter, also a budding writer. I’ve already started saving her
    stories for her and plan to bring them to her first book signing.

  • Jane Wells May 10, 2011, 6:52 pm

    I was a writer before I could write, mimicking my mother’s cursive on my fogged up bedroom window. I remember wishing the loops, zigzags and curlicues carried the same sort of meaning my mother was recording in her letter to my grandmother downstairs.
    My mother will tell you that she knew conclusively when I was in first grade that writing was my calling. The poem I wrote was all about the adorableness of puppies, with the hook-line at the end, “I wish I had a puppy.”
    She fed that inborn gift with a consistent diet of books, whatever interested me at the time, and paper. Reams and reams of paper. To this day she is my first and favorite audience. And I watch my sons as their inborn storytelling skills delight me to the core, thrilled to pass along the gift of words.

  • Mjcwriter May 10, 2011, 7:54 pm

    My love of writing actually emerged from raw anger. Anger at the unfairness of being the oldest in a family of five and always being the fall-guy for the messiest chores. I had a huge argument with my Nonna about doing the dishes and as I ran away from her, she grabbed me, and fell from her chair. I was mortified and scared and hurt, but still angry. I hid in my room, until a knock on the door. My mom, without spoken word handed me a spiral notebook which she had written on the inside cover “For you to express all those emotions! Write!” And I did. And I have. I write much better from a place of pure emotion – no matter if it’s anger, joy, jealousy, despair. And my characters spring alive from the pages, too! I have so many uses for this book! (146)

  • Liz May 10, 2011, 7:59 pm

    One of the first stories I wrote was when I was seven or eight; it was an illustrated story called Roller & Skate. Guess what it was about? Yes, two friends who were roller skates. (Hmmm…wonder what was “big” in my world then.)

  • Watch The Writer May 10, 2011, 8:18 pm

    The first time I crafted my very own story I was 11 years old. My friends and I had grown dreadfully bored over the summer (this was in the days before cable and the internet, mind you) so we decided to write out own plays and act them out. Mine was a rather bizarre tale of a young girl who stumbles across a hidden treasure on her way home from school. While that story was no great shakes, it unlocked something inside me that burst to the surface and proclaimed: I am a writer! Since then I have done some work in TV news and freelance writing, and still keep putting pen to paper in the fiction world as well. Oh, to be published!

  • Telders May 10, 2011, 8:52 pm

    I’ve published hundreds of articles and stories over a long life…but I got addicted to writing for publication when I spied my byline on a short piece in the Portland Oregonian’s children’s page when I was eight. I wrote about why “Dandelion Cottage” was my favorite book…reread it last year and still love it. And still love to see “by Terri Elders” in print.

  • JJ Haugen May 11, 2011, 12:45 am

    My mother started a journal for me when I was two-and-a-half. My earliest memories are dictating entries to her about my day (riveting informatoin, like spotting a turtle in our driveway…). This was my artistic foundation; it was what I looked forward to each day, helped me develop early memories, and provided a priceless keepsake. Although I sensor myself now more as an adult, writing is still a way to make daily discoveries!

  • landguppy May 11, 2011, 1:09 am

    My first book was “My Life” when I was eight years old. I stapled the pages together and put it in my second grade desk. Where it remained. Blank. Then there was the book I wrote called, “Bad Words I Have Said,” also in second grade. Also stowed in the desk. If you know me, you won’t be surprised that the book wasn’t blank. It wasn’t full, but it surely wasn’t blank. But my pride and joy is my first journalistic effort at age 9, a newspaper for our neighborhood, hand typed for each “subscriber”. Here’s a link to it (hard to read, but still): http://landguppy.com/images/originalAttempt.jpg

  • Beth K. Vogt May 11, 2011, 3:02 am

    Oh, as the mother of a 10 y.o. daughter who loves to write, I think Jennifer’s book sounds wonderful!
    I started writing stories in 7th & 8th grade. I also remember a poem I wrote about catching a cold–try rhyming something with the word “sneeze!” My 8th grade English teacher agreed to read one of my (obviously plagiarized) short stories. She ignored the bad and complimented me, giving me the encouragement I needed to keep writing.

  • Rebecca Cherba May 11, 2011, 6:12 am

    This is a really neat question. I started writing stories when I was in grade school, and they started out very simplistically. But as I grew older, I was often baffled by the behavior of my peers, especially on the playground. I couldn’t easily understand why some kids were picked on, some were popular, or where I fit into the broader picture. I soon began to tackle these kinds of questions by writing stories, often in fantasy settings. The first serious one I attempted was in middle school (it’s never been finished, but is surprisingly salvageable even now… with a LOT of changes, of course). But writing quickly became my way of coping with the world, with trying to understand others’ behavior and maybe learning something new I could do the next time a certain situation came up. Of course, I wasn’t totally aware I was driven to write for these reasons, not till I was much older. But it’s been one of the foundations of my life, and the words give me the power to express myself.

  • Mar Junge May 11, 2011, 7:19 am

    I was about nine years old when I started writing stories. We had just moved from Pennsylvania to California. Everything was so different out West. I’d never eaten a taco or seen the ocean or played tetherball. I didn’t fit in. Since it was April; my classmates weren’t interested in getting to know the shy, weird kid with the funny accent. We lived on a busy street with no other kids for blocks. My siblings were 4, 3 and 18 months – too young to be any fun. Since I had no friends, I made up my own. Writing was my escape. It didn’t matter who I was or what I looked like. I became my characters. That hasn’t changed. When I write fiction, I transcend reality. I can write for five or six hours at a time without noticing the passage of time or anything around me. Great therapy. Cheaper than alcohol and drugs.

  • Cara Holman May 14, 2011, 6:48 pm

    I do remember my early writing efforts! I must have been about 11 or
    12 years old, and had just finished reading Edward Eager’s “Half Magic”,
    and remember thinking, I’d like to write something like that.
    So I did. I produced a little book entitled “Then Came Magic”, complete
    with illustrations. Unfortunately it also bore a remarkable resemblance
    to “Half Magic”, so its distribution was limited to my brother (who was
    one of two key characters in it) and me (who was the other key
    character). I attempted two more fiction works, and some poetry and
    haiku, before turning to journaling. By my early twenties, I had given
    up writing altogether.

    When I started writing again four years ago, I found it much easier
    than I had when I was younger, probably because I have more life
    experience to tap into. These days, I mostly write creative non-fiction,
    free form poetry, and especially haiku, but haven’t given up on the
    idea of writing fiction altogether. And I fully understand the rules
    about plagiarism now.