Kristin Sample’s One Square Mile is a collection of short stories set on Long Island.

Lake Highlands neighbor Kristin Sample has already written two novels, but this time she wanted to try something different. One Square Mile, a collection of short stories inspired by her adolescence in a small town on Long Island, was released last month.

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Sample calls One Square Mile deeply personal and says it’s “The House on Mango Street meets, well, my 90’s childhood.” She knows a little something about Long Island after spending so much time there, and she also knows a little something about The House on Mango Street. She was inspired to write her book after meeting the author, Sandra Cisneros, when Cisneros visited Hockaday School. Sample had been teaching the book to students there and loved reading it as a teen.

“It is such a relatable piece of literature that at any age I could encounter it and discover something new in it,” says Sample. “So just hearing her talk about the writing process and about making a career out of writing was inspiring to me.”

Sample now teaches at Parish Episcopal School.

“I really don’t know what I would do without teaching,” she says. “I enjoy seeing the kids every day and it fills my soul to teach them about literature and to help them become better writers. The more I write and have work published, I find that I become a better teacher of writing because I bring more wisdom to the lessons, and I find myself ever more invested in developing young writers.”

Not all of Sample’s students hope to become published authors, but they all need to master writing at some level. She knows a little something about that, too.

“I told my students that what makes for good writing is showing rather than telling. I find that when we are told what’s going on or what the character is like versus being shown what the character is like, we are much less interested.

“I also tell my students that it is very easy to build up conflict and very hard to write resolution and make it feel earned by the reader.  Recently my students wrote short stories and my comment to many of them as we workshopped their stories was ‘this line doesn’t feel earned yet’ or ‘you haven’t earned this yet,’ and it was always when they had told me something about a character or gotten a resolution too quickly or too easily.”

Instead of carving out a writing niche in her home office, Sample says she’s more productive at the local coffee shop or sitting outside on the patio.

“If I’m at home, I will invariably get distracted by some chore or something out of place or a house project that I want to do,” she says. “I find it best if I write in the morning. I do my best thinking in the morning, and I find that if I make myself write for 30 minutes consistently, that time ends up getting expanded to sometimes hours and I get a lot done.”

Sample has high praise for “this amazing community of Lake Highlands” which has supported her creative endeavors over the years.

“My friends here in Lake Highlands have been beta readers for my work. They have posted about my work on their social media pages and evangelized for my work. They’ve connected me with other writers or anyone who they think could help me, mentor me. Now that OSM is out, they have sent countless texts and emails and direct messages on social media telling me that they bought the book, they are reading the book, their favorite lines from the book, etc. My friend Mary even had a launch party for me, and it was the first time I got to read a story aloud to a group of women and hear laughter and reactions in real time. That lunch party is not something I will soon forget.”

Sample is currently working on a memoir about dating. She loves writing about what she knows and says telling a story with Lake Highlands as the backdrop could be in her future.

“I feel like because I am a mother here and a (Moss Haven Elementary) PTA president here and an auction chair here that that story would revolve around something with being a mom or being a middle-aged woman in Lake Highlands.”

Sample’s first novel, North Shore South Shore, which she calls “Gossip Girl meets The Sopranos,” and her second book, Stagecraft, which she calls “Glee meets Heathers,” are also available via Amazon and other sites.