From Warrensburg to Lancaster: She brings encouragement to those who want to write for children
By Jo-Ann Greene, Books Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandy Asher returned to familiar territory earlier this month: Warrensburg, Mo., site of the annual Children's Literature Festival.
It's the event that helped the former Springfield, Mo., resident launch both her career as a children's author decades ago and the Pennsylvania Authors in the Public Library series just this year.
"This is where I learned how important visits between young people and authors could be in encouraging reading, writing and creativity," Asher, now a Lancaster resident, said via email.
The festival lasted three days, featured more than 40 authors (including Asher) and attracted approximately 5,000 young readers, parents, teachers and librarians earlier this month, Asher reported.
"I knew I couldn't manage an extravaganza like this one in Lancaster, but I could do the linear version, hosting one author at a time."
And this time, the Pennsylvania Author in the Public Library is Asher herself.
nA playwright and a prolific writer of books for children of all ages as well as manuals for would-be authors, Asher follows colleagues Jerry and Eileen Spinelli, Donna Jo Napoli and Lee Harper, who've visited in the past three months.
She will be at the Lancaster Public Library from 6:30-8:30 p.m. during the downtown's First Friday festivities to greet readers and sign her books, which will be offered for sale there.
From 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, she will present "A Book From Idea to Publication," focusing on the 100-page chapter book "Teddy Teabury's Fabulous Fact," which evolved from a session in Warrensburg.
"I told a group of kids ... about my daughter's gerbils, one of whom was a masterful -- and very lucky -- escape artist who survived a series of life-threatening adventures. [They] encouraged me to write a book about the gerbils and followed my progress -- or lack of it -- for several years," Asher said
That book is dedicated "to the children of Otterville, Missouri, who asked me to write it and made sure I did." Asher said she was told a copy rests in a case with the schoolchildren's sports trophies.
But because writing for publication isn't all warm fuzzies -- even when it's for children and involves gerbils -- Asher also will explain how to submit work for publication and handle rejections, contracts and editor-driven revisions.
Her 1-2:30 p.m. workshop Saturday will focus on "Perfecting Your Picture Book Story" and draws on material in her book "Writing It Right: How Successful Children's Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories."
That book, she said, allows "people to peek behind the scenes and see what goes on before a book appears, all machine-made and flawless. I was very fortunate to find authors generous enough to share their false starts and seriously flawed early drafts along with their published work."
The session will include exercises that compare early and final drafts.
Asher taught creative writing at Drury University in Springfield and ran a workshop there connected to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Since then, the author of such picture books as "Too Many Frogs!" and "Here Comes Gosling!" has traveled the country offering writing workshops for children and adults.
The Friday and Saturday morning sessions are free. Cost for the Saturday afternoon workshop is $10 for adults; $5 for Friends of the Lancaster Public Library and members of the Lancaster Literary Guild; free for students. To register, visit lancaster.lib.pa.us or call 394-2651.
The library and the guild are both co-sponsors and beneficiaries of Pennsylvania Authors in the Public Library proceeds.n
Even when readers are enthusiastic children and the topic is gerbils, writing isn't all warm fuzzies. Asher's morning workshop will cover how to handle submissions, rejections, contracts and editor-driven revisions.