That time I went to the orchestra and an evil magician showed up

It was a Friday night almost two years ago. I was at the orchestra with my friend Rose, because that's what all the Really Cool People do on Friday nights, and I have always aspired to be a Really Cool Person. Rose and I were reveling in the cheap tickets offered by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's New Generation Initiative, which meant we could actually afford to go to an orchestra concert and still buy groceries for the week.

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Does the princess have to save herself?

When my eighth-grade theater director announced that our spring musical would be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, I nearly exploded with joy. One of my lifelong dreams was about to be realized: I would get to play an Evil Queen. I'd been perfecting my cackle and my claw-like gestures for years. I'd practiced every manner of tyranny on my younger siblings. Malevolence was my middle name. My dream was shattered when I was cast as Snow White.

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Writing Responsibly

My friend Chris recently blogged about comments I made at our monthly writer's group, and how vulnerability in a community leads to deeper honesty in writing. I wanted to return the compliment by pointing out how a question he posed at that same writer's group helped me reflect more deeply on the writer's call. My friend asked: What does it mean to create responsibly?

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Looking for Mermaids

I’m skinny with frizzy red hair that springs all around when I dance. Daddy says I remind him of a scrawny pine tree set afire like Moses’ burning bush. I think I’m more like a bouncy ball that someone hurled down a tunnel. “Be still, Virginia,” Miss Dobson always tells me, but it’s so hard. I am still when she gives back my history test. I fold the paper carefully into a square the size of a caramel and push it into the back of my desk.

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Swallow the Sea

The Warrior-Daughters of Morin have sworn a blood-oath to hunt the dragon that killed their father. They're everything their father dreamed they would be: famous, skillful, beautiful. Fearless. Relentless. Except Nuna. She never wanted to be a warrior. She only arouses the wrath of the dragon-king while trying to work up the nerve to shoot a rabbit.

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Would you rather

Would you rather be a kid or a grown-up?/ Would you rather be a kid or a dragon?/ Would you rather be a grown-up or your whole/ body turn into glitter throwed into the air?/ Would you rather play video games all day with/ having no money, or have all the money/ and work all day, work/ twenty-four/ hours and twenty million/ minutes and all the/ every single/ seconds?/ Would you rather be burnt up by a dragon/ or be a grown-up?

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Sub-Creators Should Be Strange: Tolkien’s Principles of Fantasy #3

Tolkien once attended a New Year’s party dressed as a polar bear. He was not the only ursine guest to crash the event; his friend C.S. Lewis showed up in matching attire. One can imagine a conversation that might have taken place on this occasion between two normally-clad, normally-behaved, normal-minded guests: “Who are those buffoons?”

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Because Eucatastrophe Happens: Tolkien’s Principles of Fantasy #2

This is not about whether all fairy tales should end happily ever after. (Partly because, as J.R.R. Tolkien pointed out, “there is no true end to any fairy tale.”) This is about a distinct, unforgettable, massively powerful human emotion that Tolkien revered so much he invented a new word to adequately describe it.

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