Photo Credit: South Bend Tribune/SANTIAGO FLORES

January’s Writing of the Month comes from Ava Tomasula y Garcia of South Bend, Indiana. Ava won a Gold Medal for Short Story in 2011. She can’t imagine not writing because she is fascinated and inspired by the ways that people communicate. Her winning piece, Terra Obscura, was featured in The Best Teen Writing of 2011, a student-edited anthology of prize-winning pieces from The Scholastic Writing Awards that expresses the thoughts and aspirations of our nation’s youth. Ava recently appeared in South Bend Tribune‘s InTheBend.com, where she talked about her work. Check out her short story after the jump!

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Madeline Job, “Undeniable Slice (Your Unrecognized Creations)” Grade 12, Age 18. Art Portfolio Silver Medal with Distinction, Mixed Media.

August’s Writing of the Month, Career Counseling for the Young and Morbid, comes from 2011 high school senior Megan Gallagher. Meghan is a 2011 Writing Portfolio Silver Medalist.

When I was thirteen, I wanted to be a mortician. I’m not sure of the factors leading up to this certain fixation. I’m not even sure that I put all that much conscious thought into it—it just seemed like the right thing to do. But there had to be a starting point. It wasn’t as though I woke up one morning, thinking I want to put makeup on dead people. Or was it? True, one of my favorite toys was a do-it-yourself plastic mummy that could be assembled and wrapped in gauze, its rubbery organs trapped inside miniature Canopic jars. And true, it was looking more and more like I was demon spawn. Read More

American author John Steinbeck found his writing voice during the Great Depression. In this open letter to all aspiring writers, he shares the best writing advice his teacher ever gave him.

Dear Writer:

Although it must be a thousand years ago that I sat in a class in story writing at Stanford, I remember the experience very clearly. I was bright-eyes and bushy-brained and prepared to absorb the secret formula for writing good short stories, even great short stories. This illusion was canceled very quickly. The only way to write a good short story, we were told, is to write a good short story. Only after it is written can it be taken apart to see how it was done. It is a most difficult form, as we were told, and the proof lies in how very few great short stories there are in the world.

The basic rule given us was simple and heartbreaking. Read More