The Story Tree brings new and wonderful stories from children’s book authors to kids–and anyone who loves a good story. Each narrated by our very own alumna, voice artist, author, and producer Nina Bricko. This month they are featuring a book I edited of short stories by young authors, kids in fact.

When Nina reached out to me, I sent her a story called “The Three Little Ogres,” from when I was a student at Hamline back in 2010. Something I wrote in my family’s oral tradition, but probably not suited for a picture book format. I’ve been working every day to become a children’s book writer since I was thirteen. Just the idea that people were going to hear one of my folk stories for the first time-after two decades of labor-was a truly incredibly healing experience! Sometimes we need to know someone is listening for our creativity to open doors to our next project.

I opened up a contest to kids who write stories because I was inspired by another alumna, Naomi Kinsman Downing, and Society of Young Inklings which pairs adult writing mentors with young student writers to learn creativity and imagination. I wanted the fun, courage, and success these young writers experience for my writing peers to enjoy. Most of my writing peers have given up and stopped writing. I’ve never had a writing group for kid lit authors that lasted more than a few weeks, and I’ve started more than eight of them. I think it’s simply because creativity dries up without the promise of a listening ear.

Nina B. and I were on the same page, “There are so many important and beautiful narratives that don’t reach an audience,” she writes. For many of us, that might be because we have some work in our oral or folk tradition. Maybe we write local interest stories or cultural tales that don’t fit the traditional publishing market. Audio producing is one of Nina’s unique ways to share this work through podcasts. I have done the same thing with paperback and ebook collections of short stories. Working together has been simply inspiring. I’m sure you’ll see more collaborations in the future.

“Tales from the Wish Zone” is a collection of stories for kids by kids from ages seven to eleven. I started a traditional and trademarked press, Flying Ketchup Press, in 2018 to help others enjoy sharing their work with an audience. Flying Ketchup Press released this Christmas Eve 2019. This collection features winning stories from children from across the globe and boasts all the greats: elves, dragons, detectives, and school principals. These young heroes who not only share their creative writing with you, they share their “Wish for the World.” Read work by the next-gen and catch their vision for the future. Included are nine writers prompts for young writers and a place for them to make their wish and write their story. You, too, can enter your story or poetry collections online through our website or submittable. Or if you have another idea, let me know.

Polly Alice McCann, author, and artist, is an adjunct writing professor and creative consultant. She is also the founder and managing editor of Flying Ketchup Press. She credits much of her creative work from her research on the subconscious writing process that gained her the 2014 Ernest Hartmann award from the International Association for the Study of Dreams from Berkeley, CA. A graduate of Messiah College with a degree in Studio Art, and her MA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline University, her art and poetry have been published internationally in various journals. You can find her three books of narrative free verse, Kinlight, Tea with Alice, and Puss ‘N Boötes on Amazon. Coming soon, her first picture book, a folktale about cooking up true love, “Tomie Q. Barbeque” illustrated by Mary Hendrix. Polly’s favorite thing is to tell stories– other people’s, her own– maybe yours.