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We have a lot going on for teens this summer! Keep reading to find out about summer reading, programs, craft kits, and volunteer activities....

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Anna's Writing Nook: SUMMER PROMPTS

Hi guys! Welcome, welcome to this week's Writer's Nook! I decided to take a little break from rambling at y'all (thank God, right?), so today I've got some prompts for you! And they're summer themed! Yay!

I tried to make them vague enough to leave plenty of room for your imagination to take em and run with em, but also specific enough that they hopefully spark some ideas in your brilliant minds! Have fun!

☀️ Summer Prompts ☀️

Imagine a character who loves the beach, and another who HATES the beach. Now send them to the beach together.

Write about a family vacation that was planned perfectly with absolutely everything in order... and then everything goes wrong (but NOT because of a virus lol).

Write two characters going bathing suit shopping; Character A is a shopaholic, and Character B would rather be literally anywhere else.

Choose one of your favorite summer activities and write a story about it.

We all got together for a cookout, but none of us actually knows how to work a grill. Surely nothing could possibly go wrong!

Road trip!... with a side of car trouble.

Waterpark/amusement park adventure!

Character A hates rollercoasters/is afraid of heights... Character B drags them to the state fair, which is known for... wait for it... its rollercoasters and massive ferris wheel.

Write a stargazing scene! Trying to spot shooting stars, satellites, or even Comet Neowise.

Write a story about camping, hiking, kayaking, or a trip to the lake.

Write a story involving campfires, s'mores, and sparklers.

Write a story about a state fair, a 4th of July festival, or an evening at the drive-in.

Write a scene of a group of friends playing hide and seek at night (or manhunt, as we called it, idk if y'all still call it manhunt lol).

Describe your usual summer adventures and traditions! What is something you look forward to every summer?

If you could go anywhere in the world for the whole summer (without worrying about money or covid), write about where you'd go and who you'd bring and what you'd do there.

Write a summer-themed poem (and no, it doesn't have to rhyme!)

I hope y'all like the prompts! Have fun! Write some great stories! Enter the fanart contest! And comment your ideas, complaints, et cetera :)

Until next week!
😎✌🏻 Anna

First Fanart Contest Entry!!

Hey everyone! I'm so excited to show y'all our very first entry to the fanart contest!
(if you're like "What fanart contest?" you can find all the info about it right here!!

Our first entry is artwork of Kvothe from the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, drawn by Katie M.! She says, "The smaller figure is him, the larger is his reputation."

I'm not familiar with these books, but I'm intrigued! We love magic, we love heroic protagonists! And we love beautiful art! Thanks so much for your entry, Katie!

I can't wait to see more lovely drawings from you all!

~ Anna

Monday, August 3, 2020

Summer Take & Make Craft - PARACORD BRACELET

Each week this summer we have a different Teen craft kit available. They are only available until supplies run out, so stop in early to pick up your kit.

This week: Paracord Bracelets!
Week of 8/3/20

This week's kit includes enough paracord to make a bracelet, along with instructions.  
A copy of the written instructions can also be found here: Paracord Bracelet Instructions. A warning however: the written instructions can be confusing!  I strongly recommend you watch the video tutorial linked below.

In this video, I demonstrate how to make a paracord bracelet using the cobra weave pattern.  It may look complicated at first, but it's actually pretty easy once you get the hang of tying the knots. πŸ‘

I had fun making these bracelets. I hope you do too! 
If you make a bracelet, I'd love to see it. Take a picture and email it to me.

FYI: Join us this Thursday, 8/6/20, for Teen Thursday Online.  This week we are doing a Digital Escape Room!  You do have to sign up in advance so we can send you the link.  Register here: TEEN THURSDAY ONLINE - DIGITAL ESCAPE ROOM

Have you heard about Anna's Fanart contest? Create a piece of fanart to enter to win prizes! Check out all the details here: FANART CONTEST

Check in next week for our next teen craft of the week!


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Anna's Writing Nook: Short & Sweet Short Stories

Hi everyone! Happy Wednesday, aka Writer’s Nook day! I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying your summer. Last week and the week before I threw a lot of stuff at you about worldbuilding, so this week I’ll chill a bit. Let’s talk about short stories! And better than that, let’s write a short story!

Okay, first of all, disclaimer: short stories are my enemy. I can’t, for the life of me, write anything that could fall under the definition of “short,” which made my four years of being a creative writing major the WORST because of course I couldn’t throw a novel at my professors (even though I wanted to). But don’t get me wrong: I like writing short stories, IN THEORY, because I love writing stories in general, HOWEVER, the short part is where I falter. Because, in case you haven’t noticed by the, uh, everything about me, I like to ramble. A lot. I like to word sprawl. And a lot of times, the ideas I have are best suited for novels because my brain works primarily in big pictures and not so much in zoomed-in scenes. And zoomed-in scenes are exactly what make a short story.

So rest assured, friends of mine, that just because I eternally struggle with writing short stories doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t know how. I do, I just get carried away, hehe.

Anyway, let’s get into it. I’ll start us off with an activity I’m totally stealing from one of my creative writing professors (one of the best I had tbh): story kernels.

If you’re like me and don’t know how to write anything short ever, story kernels will (hopefully) save your life like they saved mine. We’re going to start with an anecdote: a short narrative of something that has happened to you. Just think of a memory -- it can be recent, or from your childhood; it can be sad or funny or weird or even just mundane and normal -- and tell us what happened. Plain and simple. 

As my professor said, “This is the what happened that will allow you to later imagine the what could happen.” The idea is to take one (very small, very short) experience that you had and just write it down. But here’s the catch: don’t make it longer than like, two pages. Yeah, I know. I hate it too. But that’s your absolute limit: two pages. Or if you prefer, 500 words. Single-spacing and tiny fonts count as cheating!

The great thing about the story kernel strategy is that it gives you a really easy start for a story: it starts you off with something you know better than anything – your own life. And it also helps you keep your story zoomed in and specific – because of the length limit and because you’re writing about a snippet of your life. 

All right, guys. Break time. I want you to grab a notebook and pen or your laptop or whatever it is you use to write, set a timer for twenty minutes, and just write. Don’t stop. Twenty minutes. I’ll allow you one (1) snack break. But then back to writing! Write your life-based story kernel. Remember, no more than two pages! And at the end of twenty minutes, stop wherever you are (but, like, you can finish your sentence, that’s fine). If you didn’t get a complete story down in that very short time frame, that’s okay! But hey, you have more words now than you did twenty minutes ago! And that’s an accomplishment!

Now that you’ve got something started, hopefully you want to keep going until you finish it! And if you are motivated and pumped and want to go do that right now, go for it!! I won’t be offended if you stop reading because you just NEED to get some more words down. In fact, I encourage it.

But if you wrote for twenty minutes and are like “Okay that’s quite enough for now,” I feel that, and that’s valid too. In that case, I’ll give you something (hopefully) worth reading up ahead!

If the story kernel is your first step toward a new, original, short (emphasis on short) story, then step two is to shift perspectives a little. Keep using the same story/scene/memory you used for the first kernel, and now write it again – but from a different point of view. If you wrote the first part from your own perspective (which you probably did, since you wrote about your own memory), write it this time from the point of view of someone else in the story. And yes, I’ll let you have a little more wiggle room. You can make it 3-4 pages now (or between 1000 and 1500 words). You’re welcome ;) 

So now that we’re shifting perspectives, your story is moving a little bit more toward fiction. It’s less autobiography, more making things up. Get into another character’s head (even if that character is someone you know in real life). When I did this activity in my class, I wrote the first kernel about going for a walk with my dog in a cemetery, where we saw a few deer. The first one was from my point of view, but I wrote the second one from the deer’s perspective, just to give it a different and interesting twist. So do something like that with yours! Think outside the box, really work your creativity and start to mold your personal memory into a new story.

Short stories can get overwhelming sometimes when you get wrapped up in how much you want to accomplish in such a small space, and then you end up writing a whole novel like me. Again, that’s why the kernels are helpful: they keep you confined to a single scene/event, and that you dig into details more than you would writing longer fiction. Short stories are about zooming in, taking a big world and focusing on something small. And then you make that small thing seem like the only important thing in this big world.

I hope you guys find the kernel method helpful! In my writing class, we went through like four phases of kernels, changing them and lengthening them with each rewrite. It really is a clever way to build a story, so if anyone’s interested I’d be happy to share the further steps. For now, I’ll leave y’all with just the first two, but feel free to reach out if you want more!

What I’m Writing: Since July is coming to an end it’s also the end of Camp NaNoWriMo! I’ve mentioned NaNo a few times before because I just love it, and this month I’ve been unusually productive. I started the month with a goal to write 80,000 words, and with two days to go I’m almost there – only 3000 words left! I’ve made a ton of progress on my fantasy book called The Oracle Stone, and I’m very excited to be done with it so I can look into self-publishing (and so I can go write something else).

What I’m Reading: I’m in the midst of The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski, and I’m enjoying it a lot! It’s an intriguing story with awesome characters and a really well-built world. I’m interested to see how everything will turn out; I love fantasy with a touch of mystery!

That’s about all I’ve got for y’all today! Try out the story kernels! Let me know how it goes! Tell me about the stories you write! And stop by the library to say hi :D

Oh! And one more thing: don’t forget to enter the Fanart Contest!!! You can find information about it here on the blog (right here!) or ask about it at the library.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Summer Take & Make Craft - MINI ZEN GARDEN!

Stop by the library this week to pick your Take & Make Craft Kit of the week - Mini Zen Gardens!  These are only available until supplies run out and they are going fast, so stop by soon.


This week's kit contains all the supplies you need to make your own mini zen garden.  It comes with a plain metal tin which you can choose to decorate any way you want. I decided to decorate two of the tins. One I painted with acrylic paint and the other I used a decoupage technique with paper and glue.  I love how they came out! 
Check out the video below where I tell you how I decorated my mini zen gardens, and demonstrate an easy decoupage technique.  

Did you make a mini zen garden? Did you decorate it? Let us know in the comments how it turned out. 

Reminder: there is still time to sign up for Teen Thursday Online this week, Thursday 7/30 at 4pm.  This week we are having FUN WITH QUIZZES! You do have to sign up in advance so we can send you the meeting link.  Sign up here:

Check back next week for the. Next Teen Craft of the Week!  

Hope to see you soon!  
- Dori 😍

Summer Take & Make Craft - Mini Cereal Box Notebooks!

Each week this summer, pick up a new Teen Take & Make Craft Kit! Each kit will have supplies to make a craft at home. 

Week 4: Mini Cereal Box Notebooks
Week of 7/20/20

Stop by the library M - F, 10 AM - 6 PM, to pick up a kit. Kits available while supplies last.

In the video below I demonstrate making one of the notebooks.

Check back each week for information on the teen craft of the week! 

In case you haven't heard - the library is now OPEN! YAY!  We are currently open 10-6, Monday - Friday. We ask you to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and limit your time in the library to 30 minutes or less.

Did you make a mini cereal box notebook?  Let us know how it went in the comments.

Thursday, July 23, 2020


Show off your art skills and enter in a chance to win a YA book bundle from the library! 

Do you love to read? Do you love to draw? Do you love to DRAW the things you READ? If you answered yes to any or all of the above, read on! This little challenge is for you!

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to conjure up the prettiest piece of book fanart you can possibly create. It can be inspired by any book you want; you can draw your favorite characters, a scene or object from the book, your own rendition of the cover (or an alternate cover!) – literally anything.

Submit your entry to me at acallari@pls-net.org and your art will be featured on the blog! With your submission, tell me your name (it can just be your first name and last initial, or whatever you feel comfortable with) and about the art: who/what you drew, what book it’s from, and why you picked that particular thing to draw. I can’t wait to see the things you create!

Every submitted artwork will be posted on the VFL Teens blog, and your drawing will enter you in a contest to win a bundle of books and a VFL “Imagine Your Story” t-shirt that you can pick up at the library. It’ll also come with a neat certificate (designed by yours truly) that you can hang up on your wall or in your locker to brag to all your friends that you won a super awesome contest.

Before you go run off to draw, let’s lay down a few rules:

  1. The artwork you submit must be your own, and not copied or traced from another artwork.

  2. Your art should be inspired by an already-published book and feature something/someone recognizable from that book.

  3. Artwork must be submitted to me (acallari@pls-net.org) to be featured on the blog and counted as an entry toward the book bundle prize.

  4. One entry per person, please!

Entries are due by 11:59pm on August 23, but you can send them anytime between now and then. I can’t wait to see what you’ll create!