Category Archives: Features

Creative Writing Workshops; Wednesday nights from 7-8:30 PM

creativewritinginstagramForget essays and homework; discover what it means to let creativity run wild and write for pleasure at these weekly creative writing workshops. We will read and discuss poetry, fiction, non-fiction, slam poetry, and any other type of writing that strikes our fancy. These workshops offer the opportunity to explore your writing skills in a relaxed, informal environment. Creative Writing Workshops aren’t about getting a good grade or writing a critical analysis, they are about trying new things and creating something exciting to put on a blank page.

313393_283129255049078_100000560186552_1070834_1377457794_nIf you don’t feel like writing, that’s fine too, you are always welcome to just hang out, eat candy, and listen to what others have to say. 

Student writing can be found here.

Like our Facebook page here.

Creative Writing links of interest can be found here.

Contact Katie (workshop facilitator and Young Adult Librarian) here. 

Workshops are open to high school students only

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Wilderness Survival-NEW DATE: Monday, June 15th

Wilderness Survival

New date: Monday, June 15th at 7 PM

Do you think you have what it takes to survive in the wild? Craig Sloan, a Mill Valley Fire Department firefighter, Marine, and all-around awesome human being is going to teach us the essentials of wilderness survival at this hands-on workshop. We will learn how to create a shelter, trap and forage for food, and how to avoid getting eaten by a bear. So if you don’t like being mauled by large animals, you should definitely come to this workshop!

For high school students only. Registration strongly recommended and greatly appreciated. Register here.

Craig’s bio:craig

Craig started his fire service career with the Mill Valley Fire Department after graduating from Tamalpais High School in 2002.  Shortly after graduating, Craig enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served with honor and distinction for 5 years.  Craig was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant and rejoined our department in 2010 as a Firefighter-Trainee.  Craig started his new assignment as a Firefighter on November, 11th, 2011 – Veteran’s Day. 

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Video from the Slam Poetry Competition 2015

Thank you so much to everyone who came out and made the Slam Poetry Competition such an amazing evening! Video of the performances can be found here. Pictures of the event can be found here and the hard copies of the poems are coming soon!

Big thanks to Chinaka Hodge for being our fabulous emcee and for Kate Axelrod, Ryan Kawamoto, and Tamarah Phillips for doing a great job as judges.

Watch the video of the 2014 Slam Poetry Competition here.

See pictures from the 2014 Slam Poetry Competition here.

 

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Creative Writing Links and Wisdom

Thanks to the weekly Creative Writing Workshop for high school students, I do a lot of reading about writing. It seems selfish to keep such a plethora of knowledge to myself. If I find an article/post/cat gif that I, in my totally subjective way, find pertinent to the craft of writing, I will share it here. Generally speaking, I will only post the title and/or first few lines of something, with a link to the full text. If nothing else, this will be a useful repository for me to collect the interesting writing articles I find and usually promptly forget about. There may only be a few pieces to start, but I promise to continue to add more. If you come across something you think should be here, email me or post it to the Facebook page (which pretty much only I read) and I will repost here.  Read/Write on!

~Katiechuckwendig

  • All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.– ERNEST HEMINGWAY

  • I don’t follow Quora much but this showed up in my inbox and if Lois Lowery is talking about the process of writing a novel, I want to read what she has to say.
  • This illustrated version of Charles Bukowski’s “air and light and time and space” is awesome. 
  • I am living by this excerpt from Anne Lamott’s great book on writing, Bird By Bird.
  • I mean, you can be sure I am going to include lots of quotes from my boy Hemingway on this page: 

“When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day next you hit it again.” - ERNEST HEMINGWAY

  • Although this does not bode well for me, as I am actually the least athletic/exercise-y person alive, I am sure what Rebecca Makkai says is true:

“My cures for writer’s block are alarmingly pragmatic and physical. So pragmatic that they arrange themselves in list form! To wit: 1. Get up and walk around. A few years ago, I realized that the solutions to most of my writing problems would come to me in the bathroom. It wasn’t the bathroom itself, of course, that was magic, but the act of getting up from my desk and walking there, getting the blood flowing, and tearing my eyes away from the computer screen. So now, when I’m staring down a huge plot problem, I take a long walk—without a notepad. It’s nearly always solved by the time I get back. 2. Vitamin B. It’s better than caffeine. It makes you both calmer and smarter. I keep a bottle on my desk. 3. If you can, sleep late. That last cycle of sleep is when the weird dreams come, the ones you’ll actually remember. (And how great is it to say, “I have to sleep late for work?”) 4. Yoga. My point with all of these being: Writing isn’t entirely mental. You’re a physical being, and sometimes when your writing is broken, it’s your body that needs attention, not your mind.”
—Rebecca Makkai via The Millions

  • Finished a draft of something? Here are six questions to ask your reader to ensure they give helpful feedback.
  • Failure is Our Muse by Stephen Marche (good, because one of my stories keeps getting rejected and it’s giving me a sad!)
  • “You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.” JOSEPH CAMPBELL

  • What Writers Can Learn from “Goodnight Moon” by Aimee Bender
  • Fiction Writer's Cheat Sheet by RipleyNox

    Fiction Writer’s Cheat Sheet by RipleyNox

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Exclusive Interview with Mallory Ortberg

We are incredibly lucky to have Mallory Ortberg, co-founder of  The Toast, and author of Texts From Jane Eyre speaking at our First Thursday event. You can check out her very serious, scholarly articles like Gleeful Mobs Of Women Murdering Men In Western Art History, How To Tell If You Are In A High Fantasy Novel, and Literary Quotes That Double As Excellent Mantras During A Final Set (Or: Things I Have Whispered Quietly To Myself At The Gym) at the Toast. She was kind enough to sit down with us for an interview.

1. What was your favorite book as a teenager? Are there any books you think all young adults should read?

“The Inimitable Jeeves,” P.G. Wodehouse. I’m so glad I read Wodehouse as a teenager because there was always plenty of fiction encouraging me to Take My Feelings Seriously, but not nearly enough encouraging me to take the world lightly, and I’m grateful for that.

2. What were you like in high school?MalloryOrtberg

AVERAGE. I put forth effort toward things I was naturally good at and avoided things that didn’t come easily to me. I wore a lot of chunky Mary Jane platforms and did a lot of theater. I kissed roughly six people, but I hadn’t kissed anyone at all until the last month of my junior year, so I felt like I had some catching up to do. I played competent tennis. I ran a very slow mile. I took a C in swimming because I was unable to dive. I went to the California State Summer School for the Arts in northern LA county and had the best summer of my life.

3. What is the best thing about (co) running your own website?

Working with Nicole Cliffe, who is my sun, moon and stars.

4. Any advice for aspiring young writers?

Write a great deal, and try to get paid for it. Write more about things that genuinely interest you rather than try to sound like an interesting person.

5. What are you most looking forward to in 2015 (other than coming to the Mill Valley Library, duh)?

The Turner Classic Film festival in LA! I go every year.

6. What do you want to talk about at the MVPL First Thursday event?

I am up for talking about all kinds of things! Being an English major and living a mildly successful life! The Western canon! How to get a book published! Starting your own business! The Brontes!

**For high school students only. Registration required. Register here.

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Personalized Reading Lists (PeRLs)

Not sure what to read next?

Why waste your time reading book description after book description when you could have a librarian (me!) create a personalized reading list for you, based on your preferences? Just contact me and we will set up an interview, either in person or through email. Open to high school students. 

image via: http://bit.ly/1BW4Wv8

image via: http://bit.ly/1BW4Wv8

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Pictures from Dauntless After Dark: After Hours Scavenger Hunt and Capture the Flag

We began the evening with a game of glow in the dark Capture the Flag…on both floors of the Library…

glowsticksDAD1 rules march huh looking2 found scream group
sophieglow

The “flag” had two keys attached to it. Each team broke up into two smaller groups and went in search of the locked boxes that would lead to their next task

DAD15 DAD14

Inside were Soduku puzzles that even the brightest Erudites would have trouble cracking…

DAD13 DAD11 DAD10 DAD16 DAD17 DAD5

 

Correctly answering the Sodoku led each team to a different Dewey Decimal Number…

DAD18

Inside the correct book was an envelope full of paper images…

DAD20 DAD19

DAD27 DAD26 DAD25 DAD28And then it was time to prove the participants were committed to Dauntless…by getting inked!

DAD29

DAD30 DAD31

The final challenge was a test of balance and speed….

DAD40 DAD34 DAD35 DAD33 DAD36And the first team to complete all the challenges took first place!

27DAD44DAD46

 

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How to Access Shmoop.com’s Premium Content

You may be familiar with Shmoop.com’s free study tools, which are endlessly helpful for shmoopeverything from algebra to statistics. With your Mill Valley Library card, though, you can access Shmoop’s Premium content–including test prep for any AP Exam you can think of as well as SAT, ACT, and all of those other fun times standardized tests (scroll to the bottom of the page to see their complete course catalog). There’s also business and career info, writing help and much, MUCH more.

To get started…

1) Just click here

2) You will see something that looks like this:

shmoopgo

 

 

 

 

3) Click “Let’s Go” and you will be taken to a page that looks like this:

shmooplogin

 

 

4) Where it asks you for a “Magic Word,” enter your Library Card Number (starts with 211110)

5) Create a Username and Password

6) Click “CREATE”

After creating your account, you can log into shmoop.com with your username and password and click on “My Passes” to see your test prep!

*Don’t have a Library Card? Maybe you lost it sometime in the 5th grade? No worries. Just fill out the online application below and stop by the Library to pick up your (free!) card.

Online Library Card Application

What, exactly, do you get with Shmoop’s premium content? Oh, just this:

COMPLETE COURSE CATALOG

Health, Physical Education, and Counseling
Technology and Computer Science
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Pictures from First Thursday: The Art of Screen Printing Workshop

Huge thanks to Sam, Nina, and James from Chromaculture Screen Printing and Design for spending their Thursday evening showing us how to make our own screens, press, and design and print our own clothes!

Sam, Nina, and James explain the wonderful world of screen printing

Sam, Nina, and James explain the wonderful world of screen printing

James demonstrates a very easy, DIY way to make a screen

James demonstrates a very easy, DIY way to make a screen…and how to look uber hip whilst doing it…

We check out what fancier screens look like...

We check out what fancier screens look like…

James reads from "Damn Good Advice"

James reads from “Damn Good Advice”

Pay attention!

Pay attention!

Picking out shirts...

Picking out shirts…

Sam demonstrates the process...

Sam demonstrates the process…

step2step3step4

And now it's our turn

And now it’s our turn

Hey, they match!

Hey, they match!

Having three printing stations allowed us to have twice the printing experience!

Having three printing stations allowed us to have twice the printing experience!

 

Out of all the designs, how could this not be my favorite?

Out of all the designs, how could this not be my favorite?

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Stars by Clem Grace

We turn to the stars
for comfort
We think those bright little pin pricks
those holes in the atmosphere
can somehow steer us
in the right direction

Because stars surely know
up from down
stars must realize they’re
suspended, indefinitely,
light-years away from each
desperate pair
of searching eyes

They must realize how
superior they are
to us inferior beings
us creatures who succumb
to the force of gravity

Stars never touch ground
just float
effortlessly, tauntingly, above us,
above our heads

So at times
when our head space seems
too expansive
for the minuscule reality
which is our existence

We turn to the stars
because at least they know
their place in the universe

But the truth is
even stars know no directional boundaries

Because if Pythagoras was right,
if the world is truly round,
suspended in dark infinity,
suspended in a blanket of sky,
then what lives above our heads
must also live below our feet

The high and mighty stars, therefore, surround us
that glittering blackness
encompasses us
We search for meaning so high
above our realities
when perhaps we could just be
peering over the edge of the earth.

And I don’t know if the
surrounding constellations,
the sometimes supernovas,
are a comfort or a warning

A protective shield
from galaxies unknown
or a reminder
that our lives are ultimately insignificant

But I know that some stars
are 100 times more powerful
than the sun
the most powerful thing we know
in this not quite geocentric universe
So if the stars know their place
We must know our place as well,
a place within them
a place within the stars.

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