Thursday, May 25, 2017

Presenting THE EMPEROR'S OSTRICH (and a groovy trailer!)

The first creative writing workshops I ever conducted took place at Mindess Elementary School in Ashland, Massachusetts. The students were my guinea pigs. The workshop, now called “Let’s Make a Story,” begins with a brainstorming exercise where we fill a large bubble with oodles of words. Next, we each pick three at random and combine them into a situation. From that situation we choose a main character, secondaries, a setting, an antagonist, and so on, until a pretty detailed story plan is complete and ready to be written. 

I’ve done this presentation hundreds of times since. Each time, the recipe is the same, and each time, the magic is new and the idea fresh.

art by Liz Starin
On a subsequent workshop visit to Mindess on March 15, 2012, the three words I selected from the board were “emperor,” “ostrich,” and “ghoul.” To prove to the kids about silly they had permission to be, I decided the main character of this concoction would be a dairy maid named Begonia, who was searching for her lost cow. Why not? I was so tickled by the idea that I came home and wrote a story beginning. Other deadlines, however, claimed priority, and so the idea floated in my Dropbox cloud for years.

Until now. On June 13, 2017, Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children's Books will release The Emperor’s Ostrich, my next middle grade title novel. To celebrate, I’ve produced a book trailer. Children's illustrator Liz Starin provided the artwork, which I love. Making these trailers is just too much fun, and I will devote a subsequent post to talking about the process of making it, and the amazing talents that made it shine, but for now, voilĂ :

I’m excited to waddle this little ostrich adventure story out to schoolkids, because it gives me an opportunity to say, “See? This workshop stuff we’re doing isn’t just pretend writing. It’s the real deal. This is where ideas come from. It worked for me. Why not you?”

Jayne Entwistle at work
There’s also to be an audiobook, published by Penguin Random House Audio, voiced by the brilliant, the mellifluous, the one-and-only Jayne Entwistle. I love her. Listen to an excerpt here!

Check the events page on my website for a list of launch events as they unfold. Some of these will be in the early fall, to coincide with back-to-school.  
Liz Starin's self-portrait
I’ve had so much fun chasing Begonia, her cow, the emperor, his ostrich, and the rest of this motley crew around the countryside of the empire of Camellion, and so glad that that workshop on the Ides of March, 2012, led to such fertile territory. If you’d like me to lead this workshop for yourschool, library, or book club, just give a squawk! It might just point me toward my next big idea.

The Emperor's Ostrich releases June 13, 2017. Find a copy at your local Indie Bookstore | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Powell's | Amazon.

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