Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2019 November Self-Editing Workshop

Our fall event was a self-editing workshop focusing on query pitches ran by Katherine Jacobs, a Senior Editor at Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group at St. James Church in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Katherine was engaging, informative and a pleasure to spend the afternoon with.

The first free writing exercise was to describe your work in progress and then using that writing sample, find words or phrases that get to the core of your story. We discussed what is the most important thing your reader needs to know about your story on the first page followed by another writing exercise.

We examined the first page of two published works and discussed the important information that we learned from them. Katherine then explained the written pitches for those two published works, one for a picture book and one for a novel.

Katherine Jacobs
Using information from our prior writing exercises, we worked on our own pitches.

There was a discussion on competitive titles and agents. Everyone left with a handout with more advice for their work in progress. 

We look forward to seeing Katherine again!          

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

2019 June Conference


We were honored to have Alvina Ling, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as our opening keynote speaker. She spoke on her publishing journey and the importance of goal setting. Five steps for attaining your goals: do your research, outline a step by step plan, work hard and preserve, network like crazy and believe and hope in your goal and abilities. As Abe Lincoln said, “A goal properly set is hallway reached.” I love that!

Her workshop session reviewed the basics of novel structure: voice, character, and plot. Voice: Who is the main character? Points of view: multiple or single. Tense, past or present. Prose or verse. Ways of making your character’s voice distinct was discussed. Character: learn about your character through physical descriptions, action, self-discovery and dialogue. Plots: the seven basic plots and three simple plots were explored.

Eve Adler, Senior Editor at Sterling Children’s Books, picture book workshop talked about how to hook your readers with the right voice. Unfortunately, I was not in this workshop. If I find someone who can share their notes, I’ll add to this post.

Kate Brzozowski, Editor at Feiwel & Friends and Swoon Reads, discussed your writing voice in novels. Your writing voice is influenced by your tone, our diction, sentence length and access into the character’s head.

Emma Sector, Literary Agent at Prospect Agency, discussed the difference kinds of chapter books. Some are like graphic novels in the structure and art style, some are episodic with three or four different stories using the same main character and others are one storyline. Usual word count is 10,000 to 12,000 words with ten chapters. For a series potential, you need different secondary characters with a structure that can be repeated. Think Magic Tree House.

Our closing speaker was David Neilsen, storyteller and author of creepy, funny middle grades. He described ways to build the mood so the reader can be scared, why the reader has to identify with the character, and why children want to be scared. He discussed some dos and don’ts when writing to scare young readers. He closed his session by entertaining us with a reading.

We want to thank all of our attendees, without their support our conferences would not be a success! Thanks to our fabulous speakers: Alvina Ling, Eve Adler, Kate Brzozowski, Emma Sector, and David Neilsen. A special thanks to Merritt Bookstore for all their heavy lifting to provide us with a bookstore, Panera for delivering our delicious lunches and finally, to our dedicated CWHV committee members.


For photos, click the pics tab. 

For my live tweets during the conference, search #CWHV.

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