Monday, July 20, 2015

One Writer's Nuggets from Her Summer...So Far

Chicago’s June through July rains and cold temps marked Summer as it’s supposed to be a Very Late Arrival.
Still, I found sunshine aplenty to keep me on task in the golden opportunities that kept me writing, reading and connecting.

So first, the writing.
I was honored to be invited to contribute 3 blog posts to the Newsletter of the American Writers Museum – a national museum celebrating American writers, opening in Chicago in 2016.
Early word about this museum quickly captured my attention.  You can read all about it here.
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the home page so you can subscribe to the Newsletter and learn about its soon-to-be-announced location.
I chose to focus my blogs on Chicago children’s book authors.
My first, titled “Somewhere, Over Lake Michigan,” shares L. Frank Baum’s Chicago connection to THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ.
Few know the author wrote the book while living on the northwest side of Chicago – and – that his visits in 1893 to the Columbian Exposition’s White City led to his imagining the Emerald City.
Next on deck:  a blog about Chicago-born Shel Silverstein’s sidewalks and attics.

As for my reading, this summer, thanks to my Newberry Library’s “Write Place” workshop students, I’ve been checking out all sorts of early chapter books and all sorts of relevant Kidlitosphere blogs, especially those that present diverse cultures.
Here are 4 blogs I found eye-openingly insightful:

As always, my best connecting opportunities arrived courtesy of SCBWI, THE Connection Vehicle for children’s book creators.  

In June I was lucky enough to hear Andrea Brown Literary Agent Kelly Sonnack present to the Illinois SCBWI Chapter’s City Network on How to Write a Query Letter.
Kelly recommends a 3-paragraph query: the first paragraph is personal, sharing why the writer seeks representation from the particular agent and the second paragraph offers an overview of the story, comparisons to similar titles and never gives away the ending. It was Kelly’s suggestion for the third paragraph that struck me as brilliant: the inspiration for the writer’s work!  Just how and why did this book come to be?
What a clever way to get a true sense of the writer.
Kelly represents illustrators and writers for all age groups within children’s literature, though she is currently not accepting queries.
Alas, I’m unable to attend the July 31-August 3 44th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, at least in Real Time.
I do plan to attend vicariously via SCBWI's Team Blog.
Click here so you can attend too.  Be sure to read the pre-conference interviews and learn  about the 25 editors and agents, the Golden Kite Winners and a host of authors who’ll be presenting workshops. 

Of course, besides writing, reading and connecting, writers dream.
This summer, I began each workshop session with the inspirational words of ALA-award-winning authors.
My students took heart and hope from Sid Fleishman, Christopher Paul Curtis, Greg Pizzoli and John Green via their past acceptance speeches. 
They were also able to do the same via the June, 2015 acceptance speeches of Newbery medalist Kwame Alexander, Coretta Scott King medalist Jaclyn Woodson and Pura Belpre medalist Marjorie Algosin. (Click on each name to read his or her speech.)
FYI: The Horn Book Magazine publishes a special July/August 2015 Special Awards issue that includes the above speeches in print.

Confidentially, I love getting lost in these speechifying moments. 
Whenever despair descended upon my very first Writer’s Group, we’d take turns sharing what we planned to wear when we accepted our particular awards, be they Newbery, Dr. Gesell, Prinz or Sibert.
I’m not so sure now about that navy blue gab pencil skirt with the front slit, or even the white silk blouse, long-sleeved, Georgette neckline.  My ankle-strapped heels are still in the running, though. J

Here’s hoping the golden nuggets I shared from my Summer so far will keep you writing, reading, connecting and dreaming.

Esther Hershenhorn


JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thank you for all the nuggets, Esther! I'll keep busy catching up!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Oh, Esther--thank you, as always, for opening so many summer doors!

Your last paragraph grabbed my imaginings. If I couldn't wear something from Lady Gaga's closet, I'm thinkin' I'd be barefoot, in a swirly rainbow-colored skirt, wearing a crown of daisies.

I'll walk up to the podium arm-in-arm with you in your ankle-strapped heels ~

jan godown annino said...

Wow, Esther! So many uplifting eyedears & links to return to enjoy in the summer.
Your students were/are fortunate to be within your orbit.

I'll attend wearing a very Florida outfit - maybe tropical flowers a la vintage Lily Pulitzer. Sandals, too.
Love April's plan.
I envision you in a tunic top, over skirt (long or short) or slacks, with the tunic a soft fabric in a big print like great engravings of swirly ink pens ink wells or other classy literature tools. Just a thot!

The national SCBWI conference blog is the best ticket from far away, I agree.

Summer salutations & appreciations for the sunshine.

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

Esther, what a great post-as usual. Of course I was fascinated by the nugget of Baum's inspiration for the Emerald City! Love it.
Carla Killough McClafferty

Carmela Martino said...

I, too, am intrigued by the L. Frank Baum backstory, Esther. I had no idea!
Thanks for all the great info.

mary ann rodman said...

I thought I was the only one with those award-winning fantasies. They used to include lots of red velvet...until I realized the ceremonies are now in summer. However, whatever the season, you can never go wrong with a tiara.

Brenda Barrera said...

Esther - thanks for all of this summer inspirational nuggets. I'll also admit, it makes me a little bit homesick for Chicago.