Monday, February 20, 2017

Don't Miss This Manuscript Workshop! ~ by Patricia Toht

Children's writers, DON'T MISS THIS!

A Manuscript Workshop -

in Vermont -

in July -
Photo by Bill Toenjes

with brilliant writing coach Esther Hershenhorn!

Esther Hershenhorn

Esther is an author, a writing teacher, and blogger. She's a writing coach who helps authors achieve their dreams of turning manuscripts into books. I first met Esther when she was regional advisor of SCBWI-IL, and I can attest that she is one of the loveliest, talented, and most encouraging people in the kidlit world.

Recently, I sat down with Esther to ask her about the 2017 Vermont Manuscript Workshop that she will be leading. It will be held at the Landgrove Inn in Vermont on July 9-14.

Q: The Manuscript Workshop was founded by children's author Barbara Seuling. How did she impact your career as a writer, teacher, and coach?

Barbara Seuling
Esther: I am beyond honored to be continuing my mentor Barbara Seuling's venerable Manuscript Workshop, especially now that she is no longer with us. Simply put: Barbara's life as an author, editor, and teacher was pure Show, Don't Tell. She believed - in children's books, in children, and in each children's book writer's capacity to become. She held the bar high; children deserve only the best. "Only the best" was also what her readers and writers received - not only from her Manuscript Workshop but from her
GET IT PUBLISHED, both of which launched the careers of countless children's book creators. I feel so lucky to have known Barbara as a friend, to have learned from her as a writer, to have watched a true teacher at work. Last summer's attendees were lucky, too; her afternoon session was the icing on the cake. I'm already at work planning ways Barbara's affirming, caring spirit will continue to make itself known and breathe life into the Manuscript Workshop.

Q: Who do you feel will benefit most from this workshop - budding writers or more experienced ones?

Esther: The Manuscript Workshop is all about seeding and feeding children's book writers, giving each attendee what he or she needs (1) to grow his or her stories so they resound in readers' hearts and (2) to grow as a writer. There's the story the writer is telling, and there's the writer's story that the writer is living every day.
Attendees at last year's Manuscript Workshop
Writers need only: 
• a working manuscript on which to focus; 
• a want and a need to take that manuscript to the necessary Next Level, whatever that might be; and 
• a willingness to "only connect,' as P.L. Travers advised - with their world, their story, themselves.

All formats and genres for readers of all ages are welcomed!

Like Barbara, I do my best to make sure that any writer seeking the time, space, place, focus, insights, and care to make his or her story the best it can be will benefit from the Manuscript Workshop.

Q: How is leading this workshop different from coaching clients?

Tranquility in Vermont 
Esther: Barbara and I used to tease each other that we do things "the old-fashioned way - i.e. up close and personal," so when it comes to my coaching, the "care" mentioned in my answer above stands front and center. It's my job to not simply teach writers how to write for children, though I want my writers and students leaving with Major Writing Truths and Insights they can bring to each and every manuscript that follows; it's my job to make sure the writer continues to move forward on his/her plot line believing in his/her story and believing in himself/herself as the perfect person to tell that story. Think: teacher, facilitator, resource, cheerleader, travel guide, colleague and Jewish Mother. I'm happy to say that somehow all of those roles instinctively come into play when I teach a class, coach a writer, and/or facilitate a workshop.

Q: What is your favorite part of this workshop?

Esther: Last summer was my first time visiting Vermont's Green Mountains and the outstanding (and historic) Landgrove Inn that offered award-winning cuisine three times a day! 
Vermont's Green Mountains
Photo by Compass Points Media
My writers and I loved how GREEN everything was, the BLUE of the skies, the quiet of the day, except for the spirit-lifting bird songs. They were free to live inside their stories, free from everyday responsibilities, to go deep and true, yet free to share them with their fellow writers. Coming to know each writer - her connection to the story she was telling, her writer's journey, her wants/needs/wishes, and seeing the progress each made during the week, as always gladdened my heart. Seeing them come together throughout the week, however, to help one another - even now, seven months later as an online writers' group named The Vermonters - took my coaching to a Team Level that would have made Barbara Seuling happy. Like Roald Dahl's Matilda, when she discover the book in the library for the very first time, each writer realized she was not alone.

As I said earlier, if you are a writer, DON'T MISS THIS!

For more information about this year's Manuscript Workshop, or to discover more about Esther's work with students and writers, visit Esther's website HERE and HERE.

Please note that Tom Checchia is offering a 10% room discount at the Landgrove Inn for writers who register by Feb. 28th! Connect with the Landgrove Inn HERE.

Read Esther's blog about last year's Manuscript Workshop in Esther's blog post "Making Magic in Vermont."

Esther also reflects on the passing of the wonderful Barbara Seuling in "Barbara as Mentor" HERE. 


  1. Oh, sounds like a fab experience. TY, Patty, for sharing this w/us.

  2. Swooon! I met Esther at the SCBWI Europolitan in 2015 in Amsterdam, and she was just amazing, divine, lovely, fantastic, wonderful! A total Esther-love-fest was happening over the weekend for some of us. Go on this retreat if you can! You won't regret it.

  3. Oh, how I wish I could attend this. Vermont is heavenly and it sounds like a life-changing retreat. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sounds like a slice of Shangri La and am envious of those who are able to attend. Interesting post and appreciate you sharing the information!

  5. Wish I could attend the workshop-"seeding and feeding the writer." Enjoy Patricia! Thank you for sharing this delightful interview and upcoming event :)

  6. Sounds like a neat class to take! Are you going? I read Barbara S.'s book a long time ago.

    1. Barbara Seuling's book was the very first one that I read when I took up writing for kids, Tina. I'm not able to go to Esther's workshop this year, but I have taken her classes at the Newberry Library in Chicago. She's fabulous!

  7. Patricia, have you participated in this workshop before? I'll be back east during those dates, so I'm very attempted to apply. It sounds magical. -- Heather Preusser

    1. I haven't taken this workshop, Heather, but I've taken Esther's classes in Chicago and can't recommend them highly enough. The Vermont workshop sounds magical indeed, but I can't do it this year. I hope you can make it!

  8. Many fantastic opportunities to learn and grow as a writer. Thank you, Patty.