Friday, May 29, 2020

Keeping Calm and Writing On

First, a reminder that today, May 29th,  is the last day to enter to win an author-and-illustrator-autographed copy of Amy Alznauer's book, The Boy Who Dreamed of InfinityThe book has received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly! Go to Esther's post and scroll to the end for directions on how to enter.

As April reminded us, Teaching Authors  posts Writing Workouts on Wednesdays, but we figure everyone is blurry-eyed and zoomhausted. Some of you may be desperately looking for a ready-to-go writing exercise for yourself, your kids or your classroom, offering GRAB 'N GO WRITING EXERCISES. 

But I’m still too blurry-eyed. Try as I might, I’ve been having a hard time getting into the mood myself. It’s hard to settle my thoughts, and keep my butt in chair, to concentrate on my writing. You know what I mean.

So, I did the next best thing. I’ve long sang the praises of my favorite workshops offered by my honored friend, the Gandalf-esque Harold Underdown (in partnership with another master-editor, Eileen Robinson), including their KBR Webinars and Workshops.  I’m currently taking their Graduate Novel Revision Workshop. Their exercises and discussions, now more than ever, keep my head in the game.

And this week, I indulged in taking another webinar, this one hosted by Writing Blueprints, a creation of Children's Book Insider. 

This class, it turns out, was exactly what I needed at this very moment. HOW TO GRAB & HOLD THE ATTENTION OF AN AGENT OR EDITOR, a webinar by the indomitable, legendary editor Emma D. Dryden, owner of drydenbks. Everyone knows about her thirty-year career in publishing, working with Margaret K. McElderry, becoming Vice President/Editorial Director then Vice President/ Publisher of Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. She brings all of that experience to each and every one of her workshops.

I was a longtime admirer (who isn't?) of Emma before I became her client some years ago. As her client, I called her Dumbledore, because she always said what I needed to hear at the moment I needed to hear it. I didn’t always want to hear it, true enough, but in listening to her wisdoms, I became a much better writer, and much better informed in navigating the business of writing. And now, I am privileged to call her a friend.

 This webinar is available as a recording, and includes the best handouts ever! While the focus is on YA and younger audiences, the information is applicable to every genre, and to every writer. Eleven handouts filled with resources and exercises will keep your head in the game, too.

I include this little exercise from the workshop, in which Emma helped us to clarify the important elements of our story -- the heart of the story --  in preparation for writing our agent query. We filled in the blanks using only a couple of sentences: 

  1. My manuscript is about (external plot):
  2. Underneath that, my manuscript is really about (internal plot):
  3. I have to write this story because:

"Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic." says Dumbledore, in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

So, how do you find your magical words?

“Keep going,” says Emma D. Dryden.

Keeping calm and writing on. Safe journeys!

--Bobbi Miller


Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks for sharing what YOU have been up to, Bobbi, as well as Emma's Right-to-the-Heart-of-Your-Story Exercise!

Yvonne Ventresca said...

Thanks for sharing!

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank YOU, Esther and Yvonne!!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Bobbi ~ Emma shared this exercise at a breakout session of SCBWI's summer conference last year. Thanks for reminding me!