Online Scribblers was created from a love of childhood writing
with the hope of inspiring other young artists.
Josie Balkowski’s love for writing began in elementary school with the submission of her first Young Author’s book in first grade, simply titled “A Day in the Park”. It won a first-place ribbon and sparked her desire to write…and write…and write…
Over time her short stories began to consume all of her time and more than a few 5 subject spiral notebooks. She wrote in the car. She wrote on the beach. She wrote in every spare moment. But it was a defining moment in middle school that changed everything. In 7th grade, her English teacher, Mrs. P., assigned the class a short story to write.
Mrs. P. assigned a 5-10 page short story.
Josie’s short story was 69 pages.
But Mrs. P. was encouraging. She accepted the 69 page story and asked if she could read it over the summer. Like all middle schoolers, it was intimidating to share her writing, but Josie agreed nonetheless. Late in July, the manuscript arrived in a crisp manila envelope, and Josie tore it open. Mrs. P. had left copious notes on every page from punctuation correction to questions about plot and motivations of characters. It was amazing to have her writing taken seriously and she felt the instant pride of a true writer. More importantly, it sparked the beginning of a lifelong writing career.
In 1991, Josie began her studies at La Salle University, with a dual major in Psychology and English with a concentration in writing. She relished her Writing Workshop courses with Justin Cronin, sitting around an oblong table with 6 other young writers hashing out plots and dialogue tags. Ultimately, she became a Writing Fellow at La Salle, collaborating with professors and undergrad and graduate students to submit their best papers.
In 2011, after moving across the country and having 3 children of her own, Josie published her first novel, Scream Out Loud. It had been a labor of love, and she sat back to think about how it had all started….in school…with a Young Author’s program and a dedicated teacher willing to spend her summer reading and critiquing a middle school dream. There weren’t any programs like that for her own children. So, she began tutoring small groups of her children’s friends and then small groups of homeschooled students under the heading of San Diego Scribblers. It was only a matter of time before parents asked if she could tutor online to reach a broader spectrum of students. And so, Online Scribblers was born as a way to bring her same love of writing and creating to all children in an encouraging environment where it was safe to make mistakes and explore the writer’s toolbox.
Since 2013, Online Scribblers has worked with thousands of students, and Josie relishes the potential she sees in young writers across the globe. You can follow her journey as a fiction novelist and writing educator in her weekly blog.
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