Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jul 26, 2014 / 0 comments

Writing is both a creative and a solitary endeavor. Sometimes, we write furiously, racing to wring every last beautiful word out of our mind before we forget. At other times, it can be difficult to think of the words you want to write. For the latter, I've found a wonderful writer's notebook that inspires - and allows your brain to roam free in search of memories, words, ideas. It's called Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook, by writer and educator Coleen Murtagh Paratore. In this notebook, you'll find colors, spaces, words, and plenty of ideas for writing. Love it!


Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook


We were lucky enough to catch up with Coleen, to get the backstory, inspiration, and more about Fireflies. Here's what she had to say...


Please tell us about your new book, Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook...

FIREFLIES is the invitation and gift of encouragement I wish I could offer every person on the planet to show up on the page and write out into the light what's inside your own mind and heart. Write when the muse-- the fireflies --spark, write what you know about, write what you care about, write yourself right where you want to go in life.


Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook


What inspired you to create Fireflies?

Ever since my first book for young readers was published in 2004, I've been visiting schools spreading the joy of reading and writing. First paying homage to reading, I hold up my library card and say "I am a writer because I was a reader." I talk about how we learn to write by soaking in great books. We "book talk" for a bit, then I transition to talking about writing. I hold up a jar and ask if anyone's ever caught a firefly on a dark summer night. Many shout out that they have. "It's just that way with ideas," I say.  "You never know when one will spark. We must catch them -- write them down -- as fast as we can, before they fly away." In 2006, at a school in upstate New York, a 3rd grade boy ran up to me after the assembly and shouted quite excitedly: "You should write about the fireflies!" He said it with such conviction -- it was as if he was giving me an assignment. I asked him to write his name on a slip of paper so I'd remember. All these years later, I completed my assignment and I thank that boy in the acknowledgements.


Creativity is so important - how can writers best utilize Fireflies to spark their writing?

Write when something sparks in you -- a feeling, a memory, a questions, a connection, a sign in nature, a conversation, a wish, a worry, a wondering -- whenever you sense, "hmm....I should write about that." Do it. Write. Write, write, write.


From Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook


How can writers move past the dreaded writer's block?

Put that piece away and move where your energy is taking you. Try some of the "spark starters" in FIREFLIES.  Smile.


From Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook


What's up next for you?

I have a book for adult readers coming out in the fall called WRITING US RIGHT, an inspirational memoir about the healing power of writing, and then will devote my full attention to the writing of a new spin-off series for Little Pickle Press based on Willa Havisham, the star of my long-running popular middle-grade series which began with my 1-2million selling debut novel, The Wedding Planner's Daughter. I am so excited to be writing more Willa books!! The first will be out May 2015. I just love this character and so do fans who've been writing and asking "when's the next Willa book coming out?"


Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

Enjoy the writing, especially the surprise of it. Show up on the page and see what comes out. Toss aside worries and fears and rules -- trust that the work knows more than you do. It's a fascinating, free, and endless delight. Almost as much fun as reading. Smile.


From Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook


How can readers find Fireflies?

You can purchase FIREFLIES at your local bookstore (always my first choice). I have a link to the independent booksellers list on my website It's also available through Amazon and directly from the publisher, Little Pickle Press (super publisher!). Schools are offered a 25% discount, 50% for Title 1 schools, at sales[at] Invite me to your school for an author visit -- I'd love to write and share with you!  
Learn more at



Note: We received a review copy of Fireflies from the publisher - thank you!