Monday, November 25, 2013

Registration Now Open for My NYU Editing Class

I'm pleased to announce that registration is now open for "Book Manuscript Editing Workshop: Editing Children's and YA Novels," the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies course I'll be teaching next spring. (This is an in-person course, not online.) You can find the listing here.

The course description seems to have gotten a bit smushed in the system, so here it is in full:

Calibrating a characterization. Structuring a plot. Developing a theme. Polishing the prose. And bringing all of these elements into perfect balance to help a book become what it should be. In this six-week course, we’ll learn how to practice these editorial skills, with special attention to the particular requirements of the child and young-adult audiences, and discuss how to create the right public image for a book through its flap copy, cover image, and editorial presentations.
I'm finalizing the syllabus now and just having a heck of a great time thinking about all the things I want the students to read and do. I am going to have everyone read Second Sight, which, on the one hand, I feel vaguely abashed about -- isn't that the classic egotistical-professor move, making everyone read your book? On the other -- well, most of the grand principles of my editorial philosophy and knowledge are right there, so if we can cover those theories in the reading, we can get down to the practicalities in class. And the practicalities and particularities of an individual manuscript are where the fun is, always.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


So, a couple of months ago, I started a Tumblr. I did it mostly because I see neat things on Tumblr and I wanted a place to keep them -- hence the lack of announcement here, because it felt sort of private. But I also like reblogging and commenting on them, which makes me public, which means I might as well make it official! Voila:

It's the Brooklyn Arden Companionway ("a stairway on a ship that connects one deck to another," per Merriam-Webster) because I think of it as a companion and waystation to this blog much more than as my new deck. (I like longform writing too much and I have too much history here to commit to such a visual and new platform. Blogger Forever!*)

* This seems like a dangerous declaration in tech terms....

While I am talking Tumblr, you should also check out:

  • Trent Reedy, author of the forthcoming kickass DIVIDED WE FALL
  • Penbitten, by my dear friend and HP fan extraordinaire Melissa Anelli
  • Scattershotsilly, by a wonderful former AALB intern
  • Super_Christina, by Christina McTighe, another wonderful ex-intern (and now an awesome librarian-in-training)
  • The excellent-in-all-media Cleolinda Jones.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Scholastic Spring 2014 Librarian Preview

I'm proud to have edited three great novels that span ALL OF TIME in the Scholastic Spring Librarian Preview, which you can see here:

  • The Great Greene Heist, by Varian Johnson, at 6:48 in the middle-grade section:  A contemporary Ocean's 11 set in a middle school, with a sweet romance, a sharp sense of humor, and a wonderful diverse cast.
  • Divided We Fall, by Trent Reedy, at 5:54 in the YA presentation:  In this novel set in the not-too-distant future, Danny Wright finds himself caught between his state and his country, his governor and his president -- and soon enough, in a second American civil war.
  • Curses and Smoke, by Vicky Alvear Shecter, at 6:54 in YA: In 79 AD, a rich girl and a rebellious slave fall in love in the shadows of Pompeii.  
If you're a book blogger, a teacher, or a librarian, please look out for galleys of all of these at upcoming conferences or on NetGalley. Thanks! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Valediction, Forbidding Strolling

Let us sing a sad goodbye
To my beloved shoes!
Bought at Brown's in the year four,
In them I loved to cruise
'cross Spanish ramblas, Oxford stones,
And every Brooklyn block,
As secure as a iron safe,
As steady as a clock.

Let us sing a sad goodbye
To my dark chocolate loafers:
An elegy for voice and lyre
And drum and flute and shofars.
How they've borne me, how we rambled!
Oh, the stories we could tell!
How they always felt like heaven
While I wore them all to hell.

Let us sing a sad goodbye
To Danskos, old and proud: 
Their cracking toe box, shaved-down heel,
And leather worn to shroud.
I know that we shall meet again
In that great shoe store in the sky,
And I bless you for your service:
Good friends, good shoes; good-bye.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Silent Auction Opportunity: Win an Hour of Editorial Time with Me

As longtime readers of the blog may know, I attend a lovely, lovely church here in Brooklyn, where every Sunday, "we, the people of Park Slope United Methodist Church -- black and white, straight and gay, old and young, rich and poor -- unite in a loving community with God and the Creation. Summoned by our faith in Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves to the humanization of urban life, and to physical and spiritual growth" (our creed). People in the church do all kinds of great stuff -- we have a soup kitchen, and small groups, and work in the Reconciling movement -- and I find it a wonderfully steady source of comfort, community, service, challenge, and inspiration.

Now one of our biggest fundraisers of the year is coming up: our Hollyberry Craft Fair and silent auction. If you are in New York, you should totally come out and see the craft fair, which attracts great vendors from across the tristate area: Saturday, November 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Camp Friendship, just below 6th Avenue and 8th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.   

But even if you are NOT in Brooklyn, you have the opportunity to support the church through our silent auction. I am again donating an hour of editorial services here, in whatever form is useful to the winning writer. The listing runs:

Professional book editor will help you with developmental editing, line-editing, copyediting, proofreading, copywriting, query letter or publishing advice -- whatever you and your project require!* Minimum bid $40. 
And we are opening this up to the wider public through e-mail bidding. If you'd like to participate in the auction, please send an e-mail to hollyberry[dot]psumc[at]gmail[dot]com with your bid and contact information. Someone will get back to you with information on the current bid level. The auction starts now and will run through the end of the Hollyberry Fair itself on November 16. Thank you for your interest, and your support of the church.
* (To anticipate a question I get often with things like this:  I consider this more my opportunity to help the church and help one individual writer than it is an opportunity for a writer to submit to me. In practice, if I like the project I'm seeing, I might ask to see more of it; but it's better for bidders to think of it as an opportunity to get editorial feedback, a la a critique, than as a manuscript submission, as that's not what this is meant to be.)

Sunday, November 03, 2013

New Webinar! "Creating Characters Agents Love and Editors Publish: For Middle Grade and YA Novels"

I'm teaching a webinar next week through Writers' Digest University. It's called "Creating Characters Agents Love and Editors Publish." Here's the pitch:

Readers may buy novels for their storylines—the facts that they can learn from the flap copy or an Internet blurb. But readers love books for their characters, because compelling characters bring feeling and meaning to what would otherwise be a mere list of events (also known as the plot). And if you’re trying to hook an agent or editor, nothing will make your opening chapters stand out more than truly distinctive characters:  fictional people, whom you have made real, who compel that agent or editor to want to find out what happens next. 

In this live webinar, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic executive editor Cheryl Klein will teach you multiple strategies for getting readers interested and invested in your characters. She’ll draw on examples from popular middle-grade and YA novels to show you how successful authors work their magic, and provide a solid, actionable list of techniques that can be applied singly or in combination to strengthen your characterizations, from your protagonist and villain down to your supporting cast. By the end of the webinar, you’ll be well equipped to create characters who make agents and editors want to read more of your work, and eventually keep all readers turning the pages. 

Full disclosure:  This is an adaptation of a talk I've given at SCBWI-Hawaii and Hollins University, and some of the material in it is rooted in material from Second Sight and my Plot Master Class, though more of it is new or expressed newly. I actually keep this list of techniques written on a Post-It on my bulletin board at work, and when I feel like a character who should be interesting me isn't, I'll lean over and look through them:  New? Yes! Kind. No. Rather, whiny--oy. Etc.

The webinar will be delivered live on November 14, and available for purchase/replay later. If you're interested, please click over to the Writers' Digest University website here and check it out. And thank you!