Howdy, Campers and Happy Poetry Friday! (Scroll to the end to find out who's hosting today.)
I have the incredibly cool job of announcing the winner of Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger; read the inspiring interview by Carmela here. The lucky winner is...debut author and blogger Peggy Eddleman--yay, Peggy!
And if that isn't exciting enough, we have ANOTHER book giveaway contest beginning today, you lucky dogs! Entry deadline is March 27th. Details below.
Today I'm excited to introduce you to a dear friend and fab author, teacher and blogger, Michelle Markel.
All of Michelle's books are original, beautifully written, and impeccably researched. Her latest book, and one you will surely want to win, is Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, which received four (!!!!) starred reviews and is a Junior Library Guild selection. It's the inspiring true story of Clara Lemlich, a young immigrant woman who led the biggest strike of women workers in U.S. history in that time. All this IN A PICTURE BOOK!
So, MM...how did you become a Teaching Author?
When my kids were in school, for fun and spare change, I taught poetry classes to children and young adults. As my career progressed, I began teaching adults what I knew about writing children's books and getting them published. I found it to be vastly rewarding. (A little secret is that instructors constantly learn things too). My favorite part of teaching has always been the writing prompts. (You've got lots of terrific ones on this website!) Nothing beats a front row seat to a burst of creativity, especially when the creator is surprised at what she's made.
Many students have problems writing for the picture book audience. They may use irony, abstractions, introspection, a sense of maturity, complex sentences, and cultural references unfamiliar to a young child. They need more exposure to picture book language, and practice on how to read mindfully- which is part of their homework. In class we look at passages from children's books for all different age levels. I ask the students to find what the texts have in common, and how they differ. I discuss the psychological and emotional stages of childhood development. I write awful passages and ask them to correct it, whole group. During workshops we talk about writing that seems too grown up.
I need to take your class, Michelle! Would you share a favorite writing exercise for our readers?.Character and conflict often get the most attention in writing classes. But sometimes the most original and heartfelt writing is inspired by exercises on setting. People have strong feelings and a multitude of sensory memories about places where they've grown up, spent a lot of time, or visited. I was drawn to write about Henri Rousseau in large part because of my love of Paris...
...where I lived while pursuing a BA in French, which later led to an MA, and a visit with my husband and daughter.
Write about two different characters who are placed into a new setting--the desert, the mountains, anywhere. One passage will be from the POV of a character who loves it, and the other from a character who hates it.
This is an opportunity to practice characterization, use of imagery in creating setting, and mood.
The results are often poignant and/or humorous.
Can you share a story about writing or publishing?
I thought my manuscript for Brave Girl might be my toughest one to sell. It's the story of Clara Lemlich, a fearless labor organizer who led garment workers on a long, difficult strike during the winter of 1909. The text was undoubtedly dramatic, but on the other hand, it was gritty, and there hadn't been many picture books published about injustice in the workplace, and none about this woman in particular.
Sometimes you just feel the call--and there's no turning back. I felt that Clara’s heroism--her return to the picket lines after multiple arrests and broken ribs--deserved to be recognized. I tried to capture her fiery spirit in the writing.
Ironically, this manuscript helped me get an agent and not long after, a contract with one of my all-time favorite publishers. I'm fortunate that Melissa Sweet so sensitively brought the story to life, and I'm thrilled that it has been well received by the critics.
Can you see why I'm a firm believer in taking risks, and writing with passion?
Absolutely! Thanks for tackling such an important topic and congratulations on those FOUR starred reviews: School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly--wowza!
Thank you so much for sitting down for a cuppa tea with our readers and for offering an autographed copy of Brave Girl for our book giveaway, Michelle!
"This book has fighting spirit in spades--
you go, Clara!”--Booklist
You must follow our TeachingAuthors blog to enter our drawing. If you're not already a follower, you can sign up now in the sidebar to subscribe to our posts via email, Google Friend Connect, or Facebook Network blogs.
There are two ways to enter:
1) by a comment posted below
2) by sending an email to teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com with "Book Giveaway" in the subject line.
Either way, to qualify, you must:
a) give us your first and last name AND
b) tell us how you follow us AND
c) tell us if you'll keep the book for yourself or give it to someone special.
If you enter via a comment, you MUST include a valid email address (formatted this way: youremail [at] gmail [dot] com).
Contest open only to residents of the United States. Incomplete entries will be discarded. Entry deadline is 11 pm (CST) Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Winners will be announced Friday, March 29. Good luck to all!
And now...take a few minutes and try Michelle's writing prompt before you go. You'll be glad you did.
Poetry Friday is hiding today! It's at Ms Mac's blog, Check it Out, where she gifts us with a BEAUTIFUL poem by J. Patrick Lewis about Martin Luther King. Wow. Thanks for hosting, Jone!
...and do hop over to the 2nd Annual March Madness Poetry Tournament to watch your favorite "authletes" flex their poetic muscles and vote for your favorite poems!