Saturday, March 13, 2010

Going Places And Seeing People

Today I finally made it to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, in spite of the best efforts of my GPS to keep me from getting there. The New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators sponsored an event there called Overcoming Challenges. The morning session covered career challenges, and the afternoon session covered what I would call craft or process challenges.

Panelists: Elise Broach, Lita Judge, Grace Lin, and Sara Pennypacker (She has a website, but I couldn't make it open.)

I had lunch with Karen Pandell. She'll be getting a website sometime in the future.

I heard some thought-provoking stuff. Provoking thought is good.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Retreat News

Yesterday's retreat at Whispering Pines was not as retreaty as the one I do each January. There was no snowshoeing, yoga, or reading in front of a window while night falls over a mountain meadow. But I did get lunch and a thirty-minute walk, so I can't complain.

Cynthia Lord was the author/mentor and the reason I went because she was giving a talk on plotting, which is hell on earth for many writers, myself included. Now, Cynthia Lord has only written three books, and two of them are just coming out this year. Yet she's a very popular speaker at both schools and literary events. Some jaded types might say that happens when your one novel is a Newbery Honor book. I think it's more likely due to the fact that she is a very fine speaker. She was remarkable with both content and presentation. She also made the best use of PowerPoint of anyone I've ever seen. I'm talking both in terms of slides supporting content and ability to use the program.

Now the group critique I took part in during the afternoon was very interesting for a couple of reasons. First, I have to say that the material I heard yesterday was much better than I expected. I was a member of a writers' group for a few years earlier in this decade. That group was made up primarily of unpublished writers, which I suspect was the case yesterday, too. The quality of what I was hearing yesterday was better than what I often heard in my old group. I don't know if this was because there are many more options for beginning writers to learn craft now and I'd see that in any group critique situation or if these were all SCBWI members and, as such, were more likely to avail themselves of such opportunities. Second, these people were also very sophisticated readers and could express themselves confidently. (Probably more so than I did.) I know that at least three of the people there were members of writers' groups and were experienced at giving feedback.

As a result of the discussion of my offering--a few pages from the 365 Story Project--I am going to make some significant changes on Day One, which shouldn't be too difficult to do. I'm also going to change the name from Middle Ridge Road to A Year on Middle Ridge Road. So it was a productive day for me.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I'm Probably The Same Person No Matter What I'm Doing

Today at taekwondo I was training with Gen, who is a lovely woman, very sensitive to others' needs, very caring. She is one of those martial arts students who is always encouraging others during drills and even when sparring. In spite of the fact, by the way, that she is an imposing, if not frightening, sparring partner.

Anyway, I am not any of those things. I am not an imposing, forget about a frightening, sparring partner. I'm also not the kind of martial arts student who encourages others with comments about how well they're doing. I'll offer to stop if I think someone is going to pass out or ask if people are okay if I think they're injured. I'm not a monster. But I'm not the kind of training partner who goes, "Good! Good! You're doing great! Don't forget to breath! Only another half minute! You can do it!" My attitude tends to be, "Breath or not. I don't care. When do we get to do poomse?"

While training with kind and generous Gen this morning, I started worrying that my sucky attitude in the dojang might be representative of how I behave in other parts of my life--say, during group writing critiques. This is significant because this Saturday I'm attending the day program of the Whispering Pines Writers' Retreat, which includes informal group critiques in the afternoon. It's been years since I've been in a group critique. In fact, I haven't done it since I was one of the speakers at Whispering Pines four years ago. I'm very fearful I'll sit there with a mindset that will be the group critique equivalent of "Breath or not. I don't care," and everyone will be able to tell.

I may have to leave early to pick someone up at a train station. That might not be a bad thing.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

How Are Kidlit Conferences Doing?

I can't remember how I found this blog post on dying conferences and conventions, which relates to mystery writers. It did make me wonder how conferences/conventions for kidlit writers and even kidlit conferences in general are doing. It seems to me that over the last decade or so there's been a big increase in these types of things. Is it starting to go the other way?


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Have A Good Time At The NESCBWI Salon

The New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is planning another one of its marvelous salons for September 19th. This one is on school visits and promotion. I will not be there because, assuming everyone is well, I'm supposed to have guests from Canada that week.

But all you other New England members of SCBWI who are published writers with at least one book in print should think about attending.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Almost Like Being There?

My webstats have been down the last few days. Perhaps because of BEA? Those of us who don't venture far from home can try to catch up on what's going on at this year's BEA in LA by reading ShelfTalker for the next few days. Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont are guest blogging there, and they are at BEA. Which makes me wonder who's minding the store.

Speaking of not venturing far from home, I'm considering attending part of this year's Readercon, a conference on imaginative literature. In part because I do have some interest in the subject, but mainly because I can.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Registration Time

It's registration time. No, not for school. It's time to start registering for The Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature on October 25, 26, and 27 in Westport, Connecticut.

I just registered for the Saturday Symposium. What's more, you can register on-line.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Kidlit News For Southern Connecticut

The Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature (note that the website isn't totally updated yet) will be held October 25 to 27 this year with the following authors in attendance: Jeanne DuPrau, Gail Carson Levine, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Rick Riordan, and Neil Shusterman.

Yes, BDT, if you're reading this. I said Rick Riordan.

Registration begins in August.

There will be a dinner with the authors on Friday night and a symposium on Saturday. I am not one to venture far afield, but even I can get to Westport. And I did so, back in 2002 when I attended that year's symposium.

I'm going to make sure the Festival people still have me on their mailing list.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Familiar Names At SCBWI Conference

I just received the announcement for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators summer conference. A number of familiar names appear on the faculty list: Kelly Herold, Gina Ruiz, and Cynthia Leitch Smith. In addition, Tamora Pierce and Tony Abbott, two authors whose work I read for the first time this past year, will be serving as faculty. And Ellen Wittlinger, who I heard speak at I'm a Reading Fool's library, will be there, too.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

March Events In New England

A number of things are happening in Connecticut and Massachusetts at the end of March.

The Connecticticut Writing Project (at the University of Connecticut) will be conducting its Fifth Student and Teacher Writer Conference (follow the hyperlink to the brochure) at the RHAM Middle School in Hebron, Connecticut on March 27th.

The School of Education at The University of Massachusetts will hold its 37th Perspectives in Children's Literature Conference on March 31st on the Amherst Campus.

And, as I've mentioned before, The New England Roundtable of Teen and Children's Librarians will be conducting a program entitled Leave 'em Laughin'- Humor in Children's and Teen Literature on March 23 at Worcester State College. I am one of the speakers at that one, and I am busily working away at my speech. Which may be accompanied by slides. I haven't decided.


Monday, March 25, 2002

Another Day, Another Conference

On Saturday I attended the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature in Westport, Connecticut. The festival, in its second year, was named for the home of Robert Lawson. Now, if you're like me, you've never heard of Robert Lawson. However, like me, you've probably heard of some of his books--The Story of Ferdinand, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and Ben and Me. He's the only author/illustrator to win both the Caldecott and Newbery Medals. He lived in the first half of the last century, back in the days when people (at least people in Westport) named their homes. (For years I've been trying to think of a name for my raised ranch. They only things I can come up with wouldn't look very nice engraved on stationery.)

Anyway, the festival's theme was "Authors of Historical Fiction." The festival began on Thursday night with an opening address, which I missed. On Friday the guest authors visited public schools in Westport. There was a dinner with the authors on Friday night, which I didn't manage to get to. On Sunday there was a puppet show. I think I was visiting relatives that day. However, on Saturday morning the Festival organizers held a symposium on writing historical fiction for young people, and that's what drew me to Paul Newman's home town. Joseph Bruchac spoke on turning to oral tradition for inspiration in writing history and talked about 'lost history' of such people as his own Abenaki ancestors. Patricia MacLachlan explained that the story behind Sarah, Plain and Tall came from her great-grandmother's experience and her own early life living on the prairie. Richard Peck suggested curriculum changes for public schools. The keynote address was given by Katherine Paterson. She explained that, though she writes historical fiction, current events have an impact on her choice of time periods to write about.

In the afternoon, the authors led workshops. I attended one led by
Patricia Reilly Giff, whose advice to writers was to take a character, put him in a situation, and give him a problem.

The really interesting thing about this symposium was that the authors were all really fine speakers. Some of them even had marvelous sounding voices.

I stumbled upon a Web site called All About Patricia Reilly Giff by "Amanda." She says that Ms. Giff's hobbies are "sitting on the beach, wearing her bathrobe, and reading in the bathtub." Those are my hobbies, too! Except for sitting on the beach.