Tag Archives: Ruth Horowitz

Come Play in My Sandbox Writing Retreat 2014

Come Play in My Sandbox Retreat 2014

Come Play in My Sandbox Retreat 2014

You know that phrase from the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come”? Well, that’s what happened this past weekend. I sent out an email to my clients a few months ago, vetting interest in a client retreat. There was a resounding “Yes!” Although everyone couldn’t make it, this past weekend I hosted a 3 day party for some of my very talented, very smart, very funny clients. I haven’t laughed so much in quite a long time. I also haven’t sat around talking writing for 3 days with such talented writers. Maybe ever.

And I learned so much this weekend! First of all, I confirmed something that I kind of already knew: I’m a very lucky agent. I also learned that Manhattans are to be stirred 100 times, not shaken; and that it’s really ok to call gin & olive juice shaken with ice & garnished with olives a “Martini,” even if there’s no vermouth to be found. I learned some 18th century Caribbean history. I learned that in Alabama it is still a criminal offense to sell sex toys. I learned that keeping a flip chart  and some markers in the same room as 9 sassy writers is asking for trouble (and is a sure-fire way to laugh until I cry). I learned the most effective way to lure my wavy/curly hair to the curly side. And I learned a lot about how different people’s writing process goes.

One of my clients has to write, even just a little, every day. It feels like a need, like breathing or eating, and unfathomable that it could be any other way for anyone. One of my clients saves it all up for times when there’s uninterrupted, childless, day-job-less time, taking a week here and there, or a whole month in the summer, to do nothing, nothing, nothing but write… until the offspring return. Another client writes from 9-5, Monday – Friday. After all, it’s a job. Yet another client has worked out a day-job work week of just 4 days, and does nothing but write on that 5th day. And then there are variations of all of these ways, and sneaking writing in to busy lives full of other commitments. Is there a right way? Does one way indicate more commitment and drive? Is one person more of a writer than the others? I think not.

We discussed storyboarding picture books. We discussed manuscripts that spawn manuscripts that spawn manuscripts. We discussed whether you need to know the end of your story when you start. We discussed how to be on Facebook yet hide from your relatives and high school classmates. We discussed what it means to be called a Pirate, whether it can be just a mindset or needs to include the act of piracy (i.e. stealing things). We workshopped works in progress, giving and getting criticism. We showed and telled. And we shared  finished work, just for the fuck of it. We played with a new way of goal setting, working backwards from the future. We ate a lot. We drank some. We took an already funny “plot device,” made it into a joke, and then beat it like a dead horse the whole weekend. We barely stopped laughing.

My clients thanked me over and over for hosting this retreat, but I can’t stop feeling like I’m the lucky one. Besides having a great weekend, besides laughing my ass off, besides feeling their admiration, I feel so honored to be entrusted with the task of getting their work published. They all know how committed I am to achieving that goal, and how I’m busting my butt to get the job done. But it sure was nice to take a weekend off and just hang out with these fine folk.

 

 

 

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Open to Picture Books! Tentatively.

imgresIn case you missed the news back in 2013, I have two clients coming out with picture books in the next year! Ruth Horowitz, award winning author of Crab Moon and a bunch of other books for young readers, has a picture book coming out with Scholastic about Abel and Beatrice, two friends who raise apple trees and bees,  who get in an argument that escalates (in very silly ways), tentatively titled BEES IN THE TREES.

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Debut author Joe McGee has a picture book coming out with Abrams, about a zombie who would rather eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than brains, tentatively titled PEANUT BUTTER AND BRAINS.

Both tentatively titled… yes, titles do change and sometimes it takes a while for publishers to commit to a title. And, apparently minds change, too. I’ve repeatedly said, “I don’t do picture books. I don’t do picture books. I don’t do picture books.” The problem is, when a project comes along that I LOVE, I have a hard time saying no. So….. I would like to tentatively declare that I am now open to picture books submissions.

BUT (and this is a big but!) please be aware that I am only interested in quirky, funny, off-beat, or high concept picture books. Do NOT send me your sweet, sappy, life lesson picture book manuscript. Do NOT send me your cute, saccharine, didactic issue-based picture book. If you’re not an illustrator, do NOT send me pictures (although I’m very interested in author/illustrator submissions).

And please know what a picture book manuscript should look like. That is to say, way less than 1000 words and only put in illustrator notes if they are integral to understanding your story.

There. I’ve said it.

Any questions?

 

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Shelfie: Rhode Island Writer

head for cookingHead for Cooking is in my living room. It holds about about one third of our cookbooks, a couple of reference books, and a very small sample of my collection of disembodied doll parts. Also a gorgeous handmade wooden bowl from Vermont. It was a gift for my 50th birthday, and I haven’t had the nerve to use it.

 

desk with a viewDesk with a View. When I sit at my desk in my third-floor office, I can either look left, out the window at Narragansett Bay, or straight ahead, to my books. This is where I keep books for adults (the kids’ books are in a different book case). Most of these are fiction, but these shelves also include books about fiction (analyses of James Joyce’s Ulysses from that great seminar I took in college, collections of letters by Flannery O’Connor, E.B. White and Eudora Welty, and essays (John Updike, Marilynne Robinson,Philip Levine). Needless to say, they’re arranged alphabetically, by author. On the wall above: art by my daughter, by my best friend from childhood, and by my sister’s high school boyfriend; a sentimental print from my grandmother’s apartment of a man instructing a boy in the use of tefillin; and a painted carving of an eagle holding a banner that says, “Don’t give up the ship.” It hung in my parents’ living room — a gift from my (other) grandmother when the union my father belonged to at the New York Times was on strike.

~Ruth Horowitz~

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