It’s time for our Teachers Write Tuesday Quick-Write, and today’s guest author is Debbi Michiko Florence! Debbi is the author of the Jasmine Toguchi chapter book series, about a Japanese American girl. Book 4 in the series, Jasmine Toguchi, Flamingo Keeper (a Junior Library Guild selection) just came out this month. Before Debbi started writing as a career, she worked at a pet store, volunteered as a raptor rehabilitator, interned as a zookeeper’s aide, taught fifth grade, and was the Associate Curator of Education for the Detroit Zoo. A third generation Japanese American and a native Californian, she was born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles and has called many places home – Michigan, Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, and China. Today, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, a rescue dog named Kiku, a bunny named Aki, and two ducks named Darcy and Lizzy.
My idea for Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen (and subsequently for the rest of the series) sprouted from my memories of family traditions, specifically Japanese traditions related to holidays, such as making mochi for New Year’s and setting up the doll display for Girl’s Day. Using tradition as a jumping off point can help you find your way into a story or help develop a character. Let’s give it a try!
Your Assignment: Set a timer for five minutes. Make a list of family traditions or activities that you remember from your childhood and ones that you do with your family today. These do not have to relate to culture or holidays. When my daughter was young, every last day of summer we had a Mommy and Caitlin Day where we planned fun activities for just the two of us. Museum visits, a carousel ride, treats from the ice cream truck, a hike; we crammed as much fun into one day as possible. And as sad as it was to bid farewell to summer, we both looked forward to Mommy and Catlin Day.
Now that you have a long list, go through it and pick one to expand upon. Set your timer for ten minutes and write as many details about this tradition as you can recall. No detail is too small!
Optional if you have a character you’re developing: Now set your timer again for ten minutes and write about a character experiencing this particular tradition. How do they feel about it? Create details specific to the character and their family/friends.
I hope this gets you jump-started on a new story or helps you learn more about a character. Feel free to share in the comments below! Happy writing! I’m cheering you on!