QUIRKY QUILL is for and by young writers and readers, hosted and moderated by me, Sharon Kirk Clifton. Welcome!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

13-Year-Old Author Signs with Penguin

      Congratulations to Jake Marcionette, 13, for signing a contract with Penguin Young Readers Group for a two-book series! Read more about it here!

Not having read the book--it releases in early 2014--I cannot recommend it. Nonetheless, I'm pretty excited that someone so young is getting pubbed by a major house. Huzzah, Jake! Write on!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CRASH THE ROADBLOCK! Six Rules for Brainstorming

Most writers run into roadblocks at one time or another, something that keeps their story from moving forward. It may be as simple as trying to come up with a name that's true to the story's era and a character's nature, or it could be more complex, say, a major plot twist that isn't playing out well. At such times, we send out frantic S.O.S. for a little help from our writerly friends. Observing a few simple guidelines can make our idea sessions more productive.

Rule One:  PRAY! Ask the Lord to make your brainstorming fruitful. Also ask Him to give you wisdom to recognize the best choice from many.

Rule Two:  BE SPECIFIC about your purpose for brainstorming. Clearly articulate what your need is. If the group starts chasing rabbits, tactfully draw them back to task. 

Rule Three:  ACCEPT ALL IDEAS AS BEING EQUAL--yours and others'--no matter how random, wild, far-fetched, bizarre, awkward, or exaggerated, without judging them. No put-downs, rolled eyes, or smirks allowed!

Rule Four:  ENCOURAGE PIGGYBACKING! Let one person's idea spark another possible solution. And another. And another. Etc.!

Rule Five:  UNDERSTAND that as a member of the brainstorming team, once you voice an idea, you relinquish ownership of it. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. You've essentially given it to your friend who sought your help.

Rule Six:  In light of Guideline Five, BE COURTEOUS. Someone asked for your help, and you agreed to participate. If your idea turns out to be the accepted solution, congratulations! It is considered rude--not illegal, but definitely rude--to snatch back an idea you've tossed into the brainstorming ring and use it yourself in your own writing. If you really want to use it (in a different way), meet privately with the person for whom you were brainstorming, explain your plan, and ask her permission. Once again The Golden Rule rules!

Brainstorming is a pleasurable, productive way to solve problems with your fellow scribes. Keep it friendly and . . .

Write on!
Because of Jesus,
Miz Sharon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Up a Rutted Road, is available for download through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, Apple, Diesel, Page Foundry, and Baker & Taylor. It is a middle-grade novel set in eastern Kentucky in 1950.

(Notice: Blogger is playing with the fonts again. I apologize for any reading issues that might cause.)

"I often wished I was a bird and could fly away south. I'd dream of running through tall pasture grass with Elsie Blue at my heels."
~Camie McCain, Chapter 1, "Up a Rutted Road"

"Uncle Glen had always told me dogs could smell fear. I wondered if roosters could, too." ~Camie, Chapter 2, "The Rooster"
"I hadn't noticed any bad smells coming from the old hermit. To me, he smelled like the woods—like dampness, old leaves, and fresh air. If he took only two baths a year, wouldn't he stink to high Heaven?" ~Camie, Chapter 3, "The Hermit"
Are the rumors about the old hermit true? Does he live in a barrel out in the woods? Does he bathe only once or twice a year? Are "all manner of vermin" swarming through his clothes and long beard, like Aunt Charlene says?
What ever made Claude become a hermit in the first place? Had some woman jilted him? Did someone hurt his feeling real bad? Had he escaped from jail and come to the mountains to hide out? What if he'd murdered somebody?
Can a channel catfish be taught to play catch ball?
What eternal lesson does Camie learn from a locust (cicada)?
How did Uncle Glen come to be such good friends with Claude?
What's it like to live in a wagon on top of a mountain and go to church three times a day every blessit day for a week?
Does God punish you if you pray the wrong way? Is there a "wrong way"? Can people die because of faulty prayers?
Read Up a Rutted Road for the answers to these and other burning questions. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Just Released: Up a Rutted Road

CAMIE McCAIN had never met a hermit, not until Claude shows up smack-dab in the middle of Aunt Charlene’s old-timey kitchen. Camie reckons Uncle Glen is the recluse’s only friend. Off and on that summer, she spies Claude in the most unlikely places, but he vanishes before she can catch up to talk to him. Does he really live in a barrel in some lonely holler like the kids at church say? Is he on the run from the law? How come he shies away from folks like a skittish colt?

Camie has the summer of her life and one adventure after another. She tames an ornery rooster, helps put by for winter, learns to swim, and goes to camp meetin' with all the mountain folk.

Then one day tragedy strikes the mountain. Camie blames herself. Angry and afraid, she bolts into the mountains where she gets lost in a thunderstorm, tumbles down an incline, wrenches her ankle, and encounters Claude—this time in an abandoned mine. She tells him of the grief that has come to her family and claims it’s her fault. After all, didn’t she pray all wrong? And didn’t she keep a deadly secret?

Up a Rutted Road is available for your e-reader at and

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Now it's your turn. Have you ever had a summer vacation that went wrong? Tell us about it in the "Comments" section. (Feel free to submit as "Anonymous" or use a pseudonym.