Dear Parents!

Thank you to the many parents who've written inquiring about the Writers Studio workshops. While I wasn't planning to teach this summer, your enthusiasm has been the impetus to put some workshops together! I am truly touched.


The most popular workshops are Aspiring Authors, Aspiring Tweens and Little Shakespeare. The course I teach in each time slot will be determined by the majority number of requests for it, by specific age groups. So if I get the most requests from parents of 7 year olds for Session A, it will become a Little Shakespeare class. Unless parents have a group in Lisle, the workshops will be in the Glen Ellyn North/ Glendale Heights area or at Wheaton Library.

Besides working with older students on college essays, I am also working online with Middle School, High School and Adult writers who have a novel in the making.


There will only be 3 workshops this summer. I've expanded them to 1.5 hours per day within a M-Th. framework, for a total of 6 hours. Students will write as much as possible during our session, rather than at home. As always, qualifying stories that have been completed, proofread and typed up, will be submitted for possible publication.


Aliya Husain, a writer I've worked with, is now an author on Amazon. She has sold almost 100 copies in pre-orders and since its release on Amazon, last week. I encourage you to check out Neither This Nor That by Aliya Husain. My daughter, Taskeen, too won 1st place in a National Writing Competition this year and can be read at Writers Studio and at Writers Slate, page 28. All WS students whose work qualified, can be read at here.

Feel free to write me with any questions. Since there are only limited sessions, Sign up Today!



(630) 915-8654

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Glen Ellyn, IL - As reported in Trib Local, “Taskeen Khan, 12, a sixth grader at Hadley Junior High, Glen Ellyn, won first place in Expository Category in the Writing Conference Inc., a national writing contest. Her entry, “Courage,” tells the story of woman named Ahlam who came to the U.S. because of persecution in her home country. Taskeen recounts Ahlam’s courage in speaking out, building a new life for herself, and helping others to do the same. Taskeen has been invited to the National Awards Ceremony on April 21 in Kansas, where the winning pieces will be acted out by high school students. Her piece will also be published in the Writers Slate, an online journal.”

Taskeen has been published twice in Chicago Parent magazine, the first time being at age six. Her other wins include the “Writing We Love Competition” in Chicago, and won 2nd place in the Dunham International Memorial Poetry Competition, at age 9. Her poetry has also been chosen for publication in the 2010 Poetic Power anthology.

Below is her winning submission.

“Courage. When people hear that word they think of famous heroes. Soldiers, cancer survivors and civil rights activists also come to mind. I think of all those people but there are a few more on my list such as a lady named Ahlam. She had to come from a different country all alone because in her country, women did not have equal rights. Ahlam spoke out against this and was persecuted by her government. She had to flee as an asylee to the US. I don’t know if I would have been able to speak out, knowing those consequences. It’s not always easy to settle in to a new country like she did. You may have to learn a new language, meet new people, make new friends, and get used to a new culture. Those are only a few of the many hurdles new immigrants face.
Ahlam could have stayed in her country despite its unequal treatment of women and done nothing. However, she spoke out against the government risking her own life. It takes plenty of courage to do what you think is right even if your life is on the line. Doing this and knowing you will face challenges is even harder. It’s similar to standing up to a bully at school.
The other challenge was leaving her personal comfort zone to come to America. One of the first issues Ahlam faced in a new country was finding an inexpensive place to stay. Ahlam knew that there were probably many social service organizations willing to help people in her situation from her work in public policy in her own country. She called organization after organization. What made this especially hard was that she knew very few words of English. It takes courage to ask people you don’t know at all for help.
Another problem Ahlam faced was learning a new language. Week after week she collected money for English classes by doing jobs that didn’t require much talking, such as house cleaning. She found these jobs through a lady at one of the social service organizations that had befriended her. It’s courageous to do jobs that are below your qualifications because you feel degraded. Ahlam did it because she knew it was her lifeline. After her first session of classes, Ahlam could understand the language and say a few words of English. This was progress but the cleaning jobs soon become few and far between. So she got on the phone again. She found a program called RAP (Refugee Assistance Programs) that could help people from other countries find jobs that they were suitable for. After a quick interview, they found she was passionate about cooking. This was important because she didn’t need to be fluent in English and could still hold onto a piece of her culture. They helped her start a catering business from her home that helped her raise more money for English lessons. At first there were very few orders but as word spread and RAP organized public tastings, her business grew. At the end of 2009, two years after she had arrived, Ahlam was fluent in English and had her own business up and running.
Ahlam was now settled into the US because of the help of many people and her original courage to leave her home. She had now seen how many hands make light work and wanted to make it happen for others. Ahlam knew her first problem had been finding an inexpensive house and learning a language. So she started low fee English lessons for people who were new to America. She also used her catering business as a stable job people could participate in till they found other work. The extra money often helped these individuals pay for rent and food. All these good things happened because of one woman’s courage to leave home and start a new life.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gimme 5 with Bailey Bystery, 11, Winner of River of Words 2008 Contest

1) What was it like winning the River of Words Competition, especially considering you were amongst the top 100 out of 20,000 entries ?
Surreal. I still giggle every time I Google myself =)
2) What do you love most about writing at the Writers Studio ?
No rubric! I can write anything I want. Also, it's like reading a book; you watch it all come together into a story.
3) What did all the media attention feel like ?
( Hehe) it was fun! I went to school and I was like, "I'm in the newspaper!" Some people even gave me the articles (about) me because they had seen me in the paper (but probably their parents made them do it). But everyone was really thrilled for me. At lunch they were all like, "Let me see it! Let me see it!"
4) What projects and goals are you working on currently at the Writers Studio?
I want to publish a novel =D And, I'm working on a 100 - page story for a contest.
5) How do you feel about the workshops and how have they contributed to your writing ?
Honestly, I just wouldn't write. That's why I keep telling my mom to sign me up; it keeps me motivated.
6) Has that win, and the subsequent Glen Ellyn Library win, changed you or your perspective?
I guess it told me that I really am a good writer.
7) What advice do you have for other writers ?
Umm... I'd say just write what's in your heart (haha that was sappy). And write what you would enjoy reading, because that's probably what others want to read too.

Select Writers Studio Accomplishments - Click to Enlarge

Friday, October 3, 2008

Click To Enlarge

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Writing Section Related to 2006 SAT Scores' Biggest Drop in 31 years

2006, two years ago, was the first year writing was introduced to the SAT and the section included a much-dreaded essay question, amongst other segments. Writing comprised one third of the total score, and according to a press release announcing the SAT scores for the class of '06, scores fell 7 points — the biggest drop in 31 years — for the high school class of 2006, the first to take the new version of the test.

SAT FACTS - Essay Subscores

* Fewer than 1 percent of students scored a 12.
* Average score was 7.2 out of 12.
* Only 8 percent of essays were identified as using the typical five-paragraph essays.
* Half of all essays were written in the first-person voice and received an average score of 6.9 versus 7.2 for all others.

*15 percent of essays were written in cursive, while the other 85 percent were printed. Essays written in cursive received a slightly higher score (7.2 for cursive, compared to 7.0 for those printed).

Fastfoward to 2007. According to The Nation's Report Card for 2007 while writing scores have improved, only one-third of U.S. 8th graders and 25 percent of its high school seniors are proficient writers. Further, the scores for boys were lower than girls.


SAT scores in 2006, showed that girls had an average score of 502 vs. 491 for boys out of a possible 800 on the writing portion, which included multiple choice questions and an essay. Females scored an average of 7.4 and males an average of 7.1 Girls again outscored boys on the ACT college entrance exam essay, also introduced in 2006.


What Does This Mean for Your Child and Writers Studio?

Writing proficiency not only gives a child a competitive edge in school but definitely opens doors at the university level. That coupled with the Writers Studio's commitment to having kids submit their work for publication, and compete in contests, adds much to a child's self-confidence and his or her accomplishments. Regular practice and learning the tricks of the trade will take your child a long way! The earlier a child gets habituated to writing well, the fewer bad habits they have to break, and the easier it is to internalize rules and guidelines. As a professional writer, who was first published at 14 and has been writing since, my goal at Writers Studio is working with children to get them into that 25% percent of proficient writers and keeping them there. Disappointments are also part and parcel of the publishing process, and are an equally important tool in learning perseverance and tenacity, which are keys to success. And to make it all happen, parental involvement and encouragement is vital! Writing is like playing a sport. The more you write, the more confident and facile, or 'natural' you become at it. Writers Studio is the place to begin that journey!


Writing Materials - Note books/ laptops / folders with two pockets and prongs. Students must be able to keep various versions of their writing without losing them.

Sold at the Workshop on the first day of class: Organizers for Submissions - $ 7 each. Please bring cash or checks.


First Day: An object of sentimental value.
Second Day: Any object with a smell or a scent from teddy bears to perfumes and books.
Third Day: Any object that has a taste
Fourth Day: Any object with a texture ranging from a tooth brush to a comb to a sea shell.
Fifth Day: Any object that makes a sound ranging from baby rattle to a pencil.
Sixth Day: Any visual including photo, magazine ad, painting.

Required Texts

  1. For The Pulitzer & Aspiring Author: The Earth Speaks by Steve Van Matre
  2. For Little Shakespeare & Child Prodigy: A Child's Garden Of Verse by R. L. Stevenson
  3. All Students: 2008 River of Words Anthology River of Words: The Natural World as Viewed by Young People