Friday, October 9, 2009

Ah, the Gift of Writing!

Find out about our Teaching Authors Book Giveaway running all this week! Click here for details on how to enter for a chance to win your own autographed copy of S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet. And be sure to try out the related Writing Workout at the end of this post.

Now here's the fifth and last in our series of Q & A posts related to Esther Hershenhorn’s newest book, S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet, an A-to-Z journey through a writer’s life and process.

JoAnn: Each book is a ribboned and bowed gift—for the writer as well as for the reader. What was the surprise for you when you unwrapped this book?

Esther: I’m smiling just thinking about my answer.

My book’s closing Y and Z words and their accompanying entries shout to the world, “Writing is a gift!”

The word story comes from the word history, which means a narrative of events. And history’s story? It comes from the Greek word historia, which means to ask or inquire to learn and know.

“Writing,” I tell my reader, “helps you learn the story behind your story.”

Y is for Your Story
Yours to live and grow,
Of all you do,
And where you’ve been and where you hope to go.

My writer’s story, to date, told of fictional picture books and middle grade novels.

But writing S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet opened all sorts of doors to writing nonfiction.

The learner in me loved researching the bounty of possible supportive details for each of my entries. I was lost in thought, I was in the flow, as one fact led to another.

The wordsmith in me loved the doable concreteness of crafting 180-word pieces; I found the cutting, refining and polishing oddly satisfying.

I was teaching again, via words on paper, as I did when I long ago published for the educational market.

My journalism degree served me daily and well, enabling me to focus on each entry’s important facts.

I was telling my story – my Writer’s story, my Teacher’s story, my Author’s story, my Teaching Author’s story, up close and personally, all in the service of helping young writers tell their stories.

My current project? I’m writing a picture book biography of a little-known slave the world needs to know.

My “Z is for Zorro” entry reminds readers that we need to sign our names beneath our singular stories, maybe with three quick sword-drawn lines, as Zorro did, or with a John Hancock-like bold hand or a telling mark. Perhaps, I suggest, we could use a signature quote, words that tell the world something about us, the way the quotes throughout my book tell something about writing.

Each day brings me new and meaningful quotable words to place beneath my name. For now, though, as I sign off with thanks to my fellow Teaching Authors for their questions and support the past seven days, I choose Milo’s words from The Phantom Toll Booth.

Esther Hershenhorn
“Anything is possible as long as you don’t know it’s impossible.”


Zachary Pullen’s singular, compelling S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet’s illustrations reflect his respect for young writers and writing. Visit Zak’s website to learn more about his work and other books.

My website offers Young Writers Extras – opportunities to write, read and discover, at home, in school, or at the library.

Visit my website’s newest page, Tour, to learn the What, When and Where of my out-and-about book events, signings, school visits, conference engagements, writer presentations, teacher workshops and upcoming October-through November Blog Tour.

Click here for Sleeping Bear Press’s Teacher’s Guide to S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet.

Writing Workout

Many writers today place a famous quotation beneath their names when they sign letters, emails and reports. Such quotations are called signature quotes.

Bartlett’s Book of Familiar Quotations sits on the reference shelf of most libraries.

A Gift of Days: The Greatest Words to Live By (S & S/Atheneum) offers powerful words from 366 artists, writers, political figures and visionaries.

What quote would you choose to write beneath your name to show the world you’re here and just who you are?

Think about your favorite books (Winnie the Pooh, the Harry Potter series), movies, characters, poems, ads, tag lines, song titles and lyrics, sports figures, musicians and games.


Mandy said...

Hi JoAnn,
I often wondered about this series of books. I apologize if you have already answered this question, but can anyone solicite an idea for a book to go with this series? Or do you have to be asked to write one of these?

Michael Shawn Keller said...

Wow, I just stumbled across your blog and love it. I am a first time author and have a LOT to learn, thanks for being here!
Mike Keller

Carmela Martino said...

Hi Mandy,
If you check out the Q&A from Oct. 7, you'll see that Esther submitted a book proposal for her project. Hope that helps.