Author Archives: Michele Weber Hurwitz

Writing and Yoga

Last month, I took a one-night workshop on yoga and writing with middle grade author Jenny Meyerhoff. Jenny is an avid yogi and says her practice has helped immensely with her writing. I was intrigued (which is why I went) but I admit, also a little skeptical. Breathing and stretching? How could that help with my writing?

But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the concept! During the workshop, we did yoga poses and breathing exercises for stress relief, creativity, and focus. We also did some poses to relieve back strain from constant butts in chairs!

When I got home, I looked up ‘yoga and writing’ online and thousands of matches came up! I didn’t know this was a thing, but there are countless yoga retreats, classes, and groups specifically meant for writers.

The philosophy behind the connection makes great sense, actually — that the stillness and calm (hopefully) achieved during yoga can help writers quiet the noise and tune in to their inner clarity and thoughts. While in a yoga pose, breathing, or meditating, you concentrate on clearing away worries of what’s on your to-do list or the pile on your desk, allowing your mind to be open to ideas and inspiration. This is essential for the dig-deep kind of writing, where you’re truly “in” the work.

There are many times I’ve shoved my overfilled calendar into a drawer and put my phone on silent, yet I still find my mind drifting to those nagging little tasks while I’m writing. Since the workshop, I’ve been trying to practice yoga breathing when that happens, and I’ve found it does help bring me back to the work.

Another benefit and connection between yoga and writing is learning to take things at your own pace. And not compare! In yoga, it’s not important what the person next to you is doing (even if it’s the most amazing eagle pose you’ve ever seen), you just focus on what you can do.  Same goes for writing. When you compare yourself to another (undoubtedly more successful) writer, we all know that never turns out well.

Yoga also can help writers learn to move on when a manuscript needs to be put aside or doesn’t sell, as the practice teaches acceptance.

Yoga also perfects your posture, increases your blood flow, and improves balance. On top of all that, it boosts creativity! Hard to argue with those benefits for us writerly people who often sit for hours, wracking our brains and wrecking our backs 🙂

I plan to incorporate yoga into my writing this summer, and I’m excited to see what happens. Wish me luck. Namaste!

Celebrating National Pi Day with books about PIE!

Unless you live on another planet, you probably know that tomorrow, March 14 — 3/14 — is National Pi Day. The Greek letter Pi is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

Since I don’t understand that very well, I choose to celebrate National Pi Day by eating pie and reading books about pie. What a delicious way to spend the day!

The first book that comes to mind is Pie by Sarah Weeks. When Alice’s Aunt Polly passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world famous pie crust recipe. Except in her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her fat, disagreeable cat, Lardo, and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness — friendship, family, and doing something for the right reason. A delightfully scrumptious book!

Another yummy pie book on my list is a just-published novel by Kat Yeh, The Truth About Twinkie Pie. Two opposite sisters, a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest, and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to Long Island, NY — that’s the recipe for this novel about family and friendship. Sprinkled with recipes and down-home commentary, the characters are endearing and true to life.

Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass has to do with a boy who is bored with his job of delivering pies. The plot is a little confusing, since it takes place in The Realms, located inside dark matter. When something goes terribly wrong, main character Joss is bored no more and has the monumental task of rebuilding Earth. Lots of interesting facts about physics and the universe.

Next on my list is Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick. A favorite among teachers and young readers, this is the story of Steven, who plays drums in a band, has a huge crush on a hot girl, and is constantly annoyed by his younger brother Jeffrey. When Jeffrey gets sick, Steven’s world is turned upside down. You’ll have to read the book to find out what Dangerous Pie is!

Pies & Prejudice (how clever is that?) is part of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick. The club reads Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and in their continuing adventures, the girls hold a bake sale then suddenly have a thriving business to contend with.

And while we’re discussing pies, we can’t forget kids’ cookbooks! Two of my favorites are Baking With Kids by Leah Brooks and American Girl Baking, published in conjunction with Williams-Sonoma. Both cookbooks have colorful photos, step-by-step easy to follow instructions, and have recipes for not only pies and pie crusts, but also cookies, cakes, muffins, scones, and other treats.

Enjoy your Pi and Pie Day!

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of the upcoming novel, Ethan Marcus Stands Up (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, August 2017), as well as The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days and Calli Be Gold (both Penguin Random House). Visit her at micheleweberhurwitz.com.

 

 

Inside Copy Editing

How exciting! You’ve received a book contract and soon after, you begin the editing process. As you probably know, a book can go through any number of revisions with your editor. My first middle grade novel went through seven revisions, but my third novel, only two. Just when you think you’ve done everything you can possibly do with your manuscript, next comes the copy editing phase.

When I was a newbie author, I wasn’t quite prepared for the intense round of copy editing where everything from commas to style to hyphenation is checked and scrutinized. But there’s a reason for the madness, I assure you! And I’ve come to realize that the copy editor is my way-smarter-than-me BFF. Here are the issues that the all-important copy editor is responsible for:

1. Spelling and punctuation. Copy editors know their stuff, like when to use a comma to modify clauses or set off words such as “like” and “luckily.” This of course provides consistency throughout the novel and makes the author look like she knew what she was doing all along.

2. Hyphenation. I always seem to do it wrong, so thank goodness my copy editor is on top of whether or not to hyphenate half-baked, gross-looking, or sky blue. I’ve learned that hyphenation sometimes has to do with a noun or verb in the sentence. Who knew!

3. Capitalization is also carefully checked, such as language arts (lower case) but PE for physical ed. Numbers are a whole ‘nother section in regards to how to write time, ages, percents, heights, etc.

4. Copy editors also watch for the uniform use of specific types of text like italics for unspoken dialogue and thought, as well as the style for text messages, foreign words, sounds, and mouthed dialogue.

5. Grammar in general. The all-important “who” and “that,” the use of “then,” plus correct adverbs, verbs of utterance vs. gestures, and pronouns. And more grammatical goodies than you ever realized existed!

6. Fact checking. If you’ve written a historical novel and you’re describing an article of clothing for example, the copy editor will check that detail and may ask for more information from you. Copy eds will look at everything in the book to make sure it’s accurate and makes sense with the story.

Copy editors often create a “style sheet” with a list of characters and places mentioned in the book, as well as commonly used words and phrases, so everything remains consistent and is spelled the same throughout.

The majority of copy editing is done electronically on a document using comments (each person has a different color) and the track changes feature. It can sometimes be challenging to work with but it’s much better than the ol’ paper and pencil version. And once you’re done, you’re on the way to seeing page proofs and galleys, where your book starts to look like a book!

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of the upcoming middle grade novel, Ethan Marcus Stands Up, publishing August 2017 from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, and The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days and Calli Be Gold, both from Penguin Random House. Find her online at micheleweberhurwitz.com.