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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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rabbit Hill Festival

This year's Rabbit Hill Festival in Westport, Connecticut will feature "writers of creative biography and historical events" for middle school students.

I'm not sure what they mean by "creative biography." Is it a genre like creative nonfiction? Or are they just talking about authors being your standard issue creative with their writing of biography?

You will have to go to the festival to find out.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

But It Lasts More Than Three Hours

Becky Levine's post on How to Pick a Writing Conference reminded me that I was going to check out the Wesleyan Writers Conference's One Day Event, because God knows I can't tolerate a whole week of conferencing. (This morning I was talking with some classmates after taekwondo about how I like circuit training--as well as taekwondo--because I can't stand to do one physical activity for a whole hour.) Anyway, the Wesleyan people have a Novel and Short Story component so I should think about doing this, since I just had another short story rejected by a journal today. I need to learn something.

But, geez, all day? And an hour and a half for lunch? I don't know about anyone else, but I can consume an entire week's worth of nourishment in an hour and a half.

Regarding today's rejection: Included in the rejection letter was a special offer to subscribe to the journal for $2.00 less than the standard rate. The discounted rate is offered only to authors whose work has been rejected. I'm cool with rejection, but I'm not at all sure what to make of the sales pitch.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I'm Giving Up

The next NESCBWI Salon is the same weekend as this year's 48-Hour Book Challenge. Two events I love. Fortunately, I don't have to make a choice because I'd already decided to give up trying to do anything work-related on weekends this summer.

During the months of June, July, and August we are overwhelmed here at Chez Gauthier with family events. We even "bundle" celebrations--one birthday and Father's Day for a grandfather are celebrated together in June, for example, and three August/September birthdays are all dealt with at once--to try to make summer less of an endurance test for everyone involved.

This is why I love the dead of winter, by the way.

Work will be far pleasanter and more productive during the week if there are a few moments of rest sometime during the weekend.

This is not to say I won't change my mind if something very booky happens, say, twenty minutes from home. But I haven't heard of anything of that nature yet.

Training Report: Two new segments for the Story Project and a revision of a third! In spite of spending most of the afternoon with an older family member! Could have been much worse, even if I'd been home all day.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Registration Is Open For Readercon

Readercon is coming to Massachusetts on July 9 through 12. Cecil Castellucci and Ellen Klages are among the confirmed guests.

Today's Training Report: Only one and a half pieces completed for the 365 Story Project and one and a half chapters of editing completed on the never-ending story. Did finish that business e-mail and send it out, though.

Mondays are hard because I'm not deep into anything. It's like starting something new. Every single week.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

You Might Not Want To Wait For That Lightning Strike

So, as I mentioned in my last riveting post, yesterday I attended a NESCBWI salon. Nancy Poydar (who used to teach in Concord, Massachusetts--If I'd only known I would have badgered her about Transcendentalists!) and Nancy Werlin (the first National Book Award finalist I've ever eaten lunch with) were the speakers.

The Two Nancies' subject was Building a Career as a Children's Author/Illustrator. What was particularly interesting is that they both discussed whether or not authors should expect to be supporting themselves totally with their writing, and, if so, at what point in their careers that might happen.

There's a lot of misconceptions about the kind of money writers make and what might be considered a successful book. I've heard writers say that we have a right to make a living doing what we want to do. This was discussed quite frequently at a writers' community I once belonged to. I've also read about disappointment over sales that were actually pretty standard, even good. On a more personal level, I've had a guy tell me his wife was planning to write a book to generate some extra income while she was on maternity leave, believing generating extra income with a book would be that quick and easy to do. I also had a friend suggest that my writing was paying for the addition we were building on our house a while back. (No, but I once was able to buy a couch.)

I think, myself, that the belief that writing is a living, forget about a path to riches, probably is a result of the success of writers like Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham in the '80s and, of course, in kidlit, J.K. Rowling in the '90s. It seems as if there are a lot of bestselling authors, but only if you don't realize how many authors are out there. Once you realize that there are supposed to be in excess of a hundred and fifty thousand books being published every year, you begin to understand how many writers there must be and what a small percentage of them become wildly successful. As someone said at lunch, it's much like being struck by lightning. It doesn't happen often.

That's why very, very successful writers get a lot of press--financial success in writing is rare, making it newsworthy. Again, like being struck by lightning.

A writing career, as both Nancies pointed out, isn't something that will support most writers. It's something most writers are going to need to support with either other kinds of work or help from family members. Writing, I'd like to add, is also a choosen lifestyle. You want books, writing, other writers, study, your writing space--to name a few things--in your life. This is part of what you're supporting.

Writing is not a bad career. You do have to build it, though. You have to support it.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Life And Welcome To It

I am so glad I've finished going on and on about my recent reading. Yes, it was getting old for me, too. I milked that line of thought dry. Besides, today I went out to a New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators salon, so I want to go on and on about that for a while.

Here is why it's good for writers to mingle with their own kind every now and again:

I heard a story today about a writer who was on a train one Sunday and saw something that she could use to fix a problem she was having in the book she was working on. But the next day, she started coming down with something. Since she knew she had a presentation to prepare for the next weekend, she decided she'd better work on that before she became seriously ill. She spent the whole week sick or doing prep work, unable to act on the train material.

I cannot tell you how many times something similar has happened to me. Ideas come from all over, but you just can't get around to doing anything with them.

Then another writer talked about reading professional articles, keeping up with her professional listservs, and finding that a week has passed and she's done little real writing.

Yeah, that could have been me.

A companion at lunch talked about both of her kids finally starting school full-time and how little she finds she's getting done while they're gone.

Yes! Yes! That was me!

One author described writing on a secondary computer that's not connected to the Internet, that's not even in the same room with the Internet computer, in order to control the lure of the Web.

Done that, too.

I don't know why finding out other people have the same problems you do is so satisfying. I know misery is supposed to love company, but don't we all want to be uniquely miserable?

Not me, evidently. I'm much happier knowing that today there was a room full of writers in Massachusetts who do a lot of the same things I do.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Never Too Early To Be Thinking About Next Year

I love the feeling of a new year and am already looking forward to the next one.

Children's writers in New England can look forward to the Whispering Pines Retreat on March 27th and 29th. Note that you have to get your application in by December 31st (that's New Year's Eve) and that they only accept 24 full-time students.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Small Presses

Last week the subject of small presses was covered at the kidlitosphere listserv. And what do you know? Yesterday while I was at a NESCBWI Salon, I heard about two small presses that were new to me.

Linda Crotta Brennan's picture book, The Black Regiment of the American Revolution, has been rereleased by Apprentice Shop Books, located in Bedford, New Hampshire. Apprentice Shop Books "produces high interest history books for children." It publishes both new titles and reprints.

An interesting marketing sidenote--Linda will be speaking soon to a dinner meeting of retired military officers. Now, retired military officers are probably not your traditional market for children's books. However, I've spoken at a couple of League of Women Voters author luncheons. They liked to have a children's author there for parents and grandparents. Military people are as likely to have offspring as LWV members, right? Wouldn't a book about a military regiment be just the gift they'd like to get for the kiddies? Don't we all like to buy books on our interests for our kids? Linda is making exactly the kind of outside-the-box promotional effort all the marketing books tell us we ought to be making.

Jeanne Prevost's first picture book, It's Raining Cats and Cats!, was published by The Gryphon Press of Edina, Minnesota. From The Gryphon Press website: "The Gryphon Press is dedicated to publishing picture books for children that explore the human-animal bond. The books will feature themes of animal advocacy and animal well-being. A portion of our book sales profits will be donated to shelters and animal rescue societies."

The Gryphon Press publisher, Emilie Buchwald, was a founder of Milkweek Editions, a literary publisher.

Notice that both these presses have a specific interest. Instead of trying to publish everything, they're specializing in one area.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Happenings At UConn

I just accidentally discovered that M.T. Anderson will be speaking at The University of Connecticut next week. This almost got by me because I'm on the University Libraries mailing list and none of the libraries is co-sponsoring this.


I Blame The Puritans

I just got back from the Leonard Marcus lecture at UConn. He discussed the history of children's fantasy (meaning fairy tales/"make believe") literature vs. realistic literature in the United States. He said the first children's book published in North America was The New England Primer in 1690. This was the Puritan Era, and Marcus says that the Puritans were interested in children's books that prepared children for the afterlife.

Talk about the ultimate in improving children's books.

Personally, I'm thinking Puritan kiddielit was a precursor to the instructive message tales so many of us love to this very day.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Booky Events In Southern New England This Month

Some members of the Class of 2k8 will be presenting a panel discussion called Networking for Writers and Readers, or How Many People Does It Take to Get a Book Written and Sold? at Barnes & Noble Bookstores in Massachusetts and Connecticut this month. The stores involved are the B&Ns in Enfield, Connecticut (Thursday, October 16, at 4 p.m.); Holyoke, Massachusetts (Friday, October 17, at 4 p.m); and Worcester, Massachusetts (Saturday, October 18, at 2 p.m.) All events are free and open to the public. (Info by way of the NESCBWI listserv)

On Wednesday, October 22 Leonard S. Marcus will deliver a talk called Wonder in the Wake of War: The Fantasy Tradition in American Children's Literature from 4 to 5:30 in the Konover Auditorium of the Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Marcus is the author of Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepeneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature. It's also free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception and book signing. (Info from University of Connecticut Libraries)


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh, I So Needed That

What I Did:

Yesterday I attended a New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators event in Massachusetts. It was a three-hour "salon" for published writers and illustrators on the topic of working with booksellers. Three very enthusiastic, professional booksellers discussed making connections with booksellers, bookstore events, and maintaining relationships with booksellers. At the end of the presentation, I was feeling really depressed (a couple of other people I spoke to seemed to be, too) because going up to strange booksellers in their stores for a cold chat, as they all advised, is probably not one of my best skills. But then I ate lunch and felt much better, so maybe it was just low blood sugar.

Who I Saw:

Toni Buzzeo, a children's author and librarian who is active in the NESCBWI. Several years ago, I attended a workshop she conducted on author presentations in schools.

Mary Newell DePalma, who I met nearly a year ago. I had dinner with her, in fact. She was one of the artists for Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure last year.

Melissa Stewart and I had sort of met at an earlier NESCBWI event. I asked her yesterday if she had been published at that time, and she very modestly just said, "Yes." I'll say she's been published. The books' section of her website has to be divided into categories she's published so many.

Who I Met:

Loree Griffin Burns. I sat right next to her. I said, "Gee, your name sounds so familiar." Here's why.

Terry Golson, a food writer whose first children's book, Tillie Lays an Egg, comes out next year from Scholastic. Terry had an unbound galley with her. I didn't get a chance to read the text, but the illustrations are a hoot. They're photographs of chickens posed in tableaux. Terry collected the retro items in the pictures and trained the chickens to pose among them. She has a hen cam with an international following. She says there are troops in Iraq following her hens.

Alison Morris, the children's buyer at Wellesley Booksmith and the Shelftalker. Yes, people! I met another blogger!

Carol Chittenden from Eight Cousins Bookstore. I often see her name on the Association of Booksellers for Children listserv.

I believe a good time was had by all.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Trying Another Field Trip

You may recall that back in July I went to a sci fi conference and left after three hours because that was all the intellectual stimulation I could take. Within days of coming home, days, I'd signed up for another event. Tomorrow's the big day.

The beauty of this thing tomorrow is that it only lasts three hours. Which, you will recall from having read the preceding paragraph, may be all I can take of being with other people.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Connecticut Events

Registration is now open for the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature. The Festival will be held in Westport, Connecticut on October 23, 24, and 25. This year the Rabbit Hill folks are focusing on picture books. Registration is on-line.

As long as I'm talking about Connecticut kidlit events, The Connecticut Children's Book Fair will be held on November 8 and 9 on the University of Connecticut campus. This is a fair, so you just drop-in without pre-registering. Check the schedule to see who will be where, when.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Aren't You Just Dying To Hear My Story?

Okay, so I'm back in town with weekend junk heaped up all around me and even further behind in life than I was last week. But I always have time to pass on my experiences, so here's the Readercon story I promised you Saturday:

So, I was attending this panel discussion during which the panelists were all going to discuss this book on different types of fantasy. The moderator immediately announces that the book is just wonderful. "You must have this book," he told us and said it would be offered for sale later and we mustn't leave Readercon without it. Then he asks the panelists to introduce themselves. It sounds as if most of them know the author of the book because they all refer to her by her first name.

The last panelist to speak concludes with, "I must say, this is the most poorly edited book I've read in years. It reads as if it had been edited with spellcheck. Be forewarned" and other things of that nature.

Then the moderator acts as if nothing had happened and goes on. He was well prepared and commented on various aspects of the book after which he asked the panelists to respond. Every single time, this same panelist would say something like, "I wish _____ had covered such-and-such a thing" or "I wish_________ hadn't been so judgmental" or "I wish__________ had covered humor."

She wasn't getting a lot of support from the other panelists, but no one was arguing with her, either. Though I have to admit that there was this one guy who I think was some kind of critic, as in Critic, and I couldn't understand eighty percent of what he was saying. He seemed extremely nice, though, so he might have been arguing with Ms. Negativity, and I just couldn't understand him.

I'm finding this all rather odd and uncomfortable making. I start looking around at other members of the audience to see if others are squirming in their seats. I was sitting in the fourth row from the front, so I couldn't see everybody by any means. Still, no one seemed to be laughing nervously or looking shocked.

Finally, the panelist from Hell starts in about how she wished_________ had covered something or other. A voice comes out from the audience, "It was in the section on ___________, Marie!" And the panelist backed right down.

Marie is not her real name by the way.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, the audience member who finally stood up to her was none other than the author, herself. I know this because I turned to look (figuring that since I didn't know anybody there, it didn't matter if every single one of them thought I was rude, which, yes, was just awful of me), caught a glimpse of her, and saw her and her name tag a couple of hours later out in the hallway.

I found this whole episode rather disturbing. First off, I've never seen a public pounding like this at any of the kidlit events I've attended. Or any of the other literary events I've dropped in on. I know I don't get out much, but still. The second thing that freaks me out about this is that no one else seemed to think anything at all unusual was going on. When I have told this story to acquaintances, they are quite taken aback. Well, except for the people this past weekend who were bored. I've googled this subject and checked other blogs. Lots of references to Readercon, one from a person who attended the same panel, but no one even mentioned this particular situation.

So I wonder if this kind of thing goes on all the time at some types of conferences, and the more experienced Readercon attendees thought nothing of it. Or, perhaps this is the kind of thing that a gentlewoman should pretend she didn't notice, and here I am spilling the unsavory story for the whole world to see.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

That Didn't Take Long

I went to Readercon yesterday because every now and then I have an overwhelming need to seek some intellectual stimulation. I just don't need very much. After sitting through three panel discussions, I began to feel as if I was listening in on conversations among people I didn't know, some of whom I'd never heard of. So I got up and went home.

This isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened to me. I've gone to a lot of literary-type events, been all excited in the morning, and by afternoon been counting the minutes until I could leave. In fact, I once went to a weekend retreat at which I was one of the speakers. In the afternoon while I had a few minutes free I went for a walk instead of networking. I wasn't being totally anti-social because if I would have let people go with me, if they'd wanted to. Though I can't remember if I asked.

Anyway, this probably takes care of my evidently quite meagre need for stimulation. Last month the Wesleyan Writers' Conference offered a one-day option "for those of you who can only join us for one day." If they do that again next year, maybe I'll go. God knows, I'd never be able to last a whole week.

I do have a very interesting Readercon story to share, but it will have to wait until later this week because I'm getting ready to leave town.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Getting Out Of The House

Next weekend I'll be visiting Readercon, a conference on imaginative literature, for one day. I'm going primarily because I can. I like to go to something professional once in a while, but I don't want to have to hop a plane to do it. Even driving an hour to the train station, riding the rails for two hours more or less, and then hailing a cab to reach my final destination seems like an awful lot of work to me. So just the fact that I can get to this place relatively easily was my original motivation.

The Readercon people recently posted the program guides, though, (scroll to bottom of of the page), and I'm much more enthused. I'm not even all that into sci-fi and fantasy, and I still think this stuff sounds great.

Who's going to be at Readercon who the kidlit world might be interested in? Ellen Kushner. She had a Cybils nominee a couple of years ago. Holly Black. Sarah Beth Durst. (I wasn't aware that her work was fantasy or scifi.) Kelly Link. I read her collection of short stories Magic for Beginners, and she has a YA collection coming out this fall. Nancy Werlin. I'm sure there are more. The list of writers attending is rather lengthy. (I am, in fact, reading a kidlit book by a Readercon author, which I hope to be blogging about in a couple of days.)

In honor of my upcoming scifi/fantasy excursion to Readercon at the end of the week, I'll be trying to focus on scifi and fantasy here at Original Content for the next few days.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Forget About Summer Vacation And Start Planning For Fall

If you're a resident of that area vaguely known as southern New England, you might want to mark your calendars so you won't miss the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature in Westport, Connecticut on October 23, 24, and 25. This year the Festival will feature picture book authors, including Grace Lin and Mo Willems.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Doesn't This Sound Great?

I heard about a Writing and Yoga Retreat through one of my listservs. I think it sounds fantastic. I must admit that I have family members who believe I work so little that my life is pretty much a retreat, anyway.

I don't have a professional chef, though.


Monday, November 12, 2007

A Meet And Greet

I spent yesterday afternoon at the Massachusetts School Library Association Author Fest, which was part of the organization's conference. We were in the vendor's hall, which was like a trade show for librarians. In addition to a cash bar, which is always greatly appreciated, this group also had a live band. A good time was had by all.

I learned that The Hero of Ticonderoga has been on some reading lists in Massachusetts, which was very good news, and that A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat is making its way into a number of libraries. Happy Kid! is also known by Massachusetts librarians. So I am a happy author today.

I also met a bunch of people. Many librarians, of course, but some writers, too.

First and foremost (and first, really, because she was the first person to greet me when I arrived--we both still had our coats on), was the kidlitosphere's own Mitali Perkins. Mitali and I kind of know each other in that weird way we have here on the Internet of knowing people we've never actually met in the flesh. But it turns out that knowing someone in cyberspace really is knowing someone because Mitali and I were just off and running as if we talk together all the time.

Seated in front of me at the cute little author tables was Beatrice Gormley who does a lot of nonfiction but also has a new historical novel out. I also met Marcella Pixley who has just published her first book, Freak.

At dinner I sat next to the very neat author/illustrators Mary Newell DePalma and Anna Alter. As it turns out, Anna is one of the Blue Rose Girls. She has also designed a snowflake for Robert's Snow: For Cancer's Cure that was featured at The Longstockings on November 3. Mary has also done a Robert's Snowflake, and, as luck would have it, it will be featured at Wild Rose Reader this Thursday.

These women were great to eat dinner with. Illustration is a really interesting topic for dinner conversation. I'll be repeating a lot of what they had to say to my sister-in-law during Thanksgiving dinner.

Actually, my entire MSLA experience will probably be my subject for social conversation right through the holidays. Thank God I was invited.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Another Author Appearance

Laini Taylor has an excellent post on an appearance by Markus Zusak at a high school in her area. Among the juiciest bits:

Zusak says that there were many writing students who were better than he was when he was in college, but he doesn't think any of them are still writing. Laini says she's had a similar experience as an art student. I've often wondered, myself, if perhaps the finest, most talented writers in the world were never published simply because they gave up. Laini describes the perseverance that keeps some people going while others quit as motivation or vocation. I've always liked the expression fire in the belly.

Zusak also described how many times he rewrote the first 90 pages of The Book Thief and how at the 250 page point he realized something was wrong, fixed it, and rewrote the whole thing again. For those of us who have trouble getting through a first draft without all kinds of stops and starts, reading that was very comforting.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gail Leaves The Office, Part III

Sorry, folks, but I'm not quite finished purging my file on Rabbit Hill. This post ought to do it.

In addition to the morning panel, I attended two afternoon programs conducted by individual authors.

Rick Riordan is a superstar in kidlit. He's not quite a phenomenon like You Know Who, just a superstar who has a few million books in print. I suspect he was the big draw for the kids in Saturday morning's audience. A number of them were at his presentation in the afternoon. In fact, it appeared that a lot of unregistered walk-ins showed up because one of the Festival administrators tried to thin out the crowd before the show got underway. Nonetheless, people ended up sitting on the floor and some of us stood for the whole thing.

Riordan's presentation was all questions and answers. What was particularly interesting about it was the amount of meaty information the questions generated. For instance, from his answers, you could definitely see how Riordan's life as a teacher has had an impact on his work. He also explained that he only writes about three hours a day. I was delighted to hear that because that's usually the case for me, too. Of course, the rest of the day, Riordan spends doing things like talking to his publisher and arranging speaking engagements while I spend the rest of my day surfing the net and checking my e-mail. But other than that, I can believe I work like a superstar.

Gail Carson Levine's afternoon session of questions and answers revealed that she spent ten years writing before she could get anything published. During that time, she took writing courses, which I believe she only recently stopped doing (Some of the people I had lunch with know her either through a class where they too were students.), and formed critique groups. I've run into a lot of people over the years who wanted to write, but prior to this past weekend I've only known a couple who were willing to work that hard in order to do so. I suspect a lot of them may not have even realized that they needed to be studying or critiquing in order to write and get published.

Levine is also a star in kidlit, yet she volunteers every summer teaching writing to kids in her town. I came away a bit chagrined because I'm not doing more right now.

Final thoughts on the whole thing. The press loves stories of early success, which, I think, gives many of us the impression that it should come early and fast. High school students are shepherded into writing conferences and encouraged to enter writing contests. Elementary students "publish" their work. People barely out of college teach workshops on how to get a novel published. Yet here are the kinds of things I was hearing Saturday from very, very highly regarded and popular writers:

"I wasn't a good student."

"I couldn't finish anything I wrote."

"I wanted to write, but I didn't really have anything to write about."

"I read below grade level."

"I submitted to everyone."

I'm thinking these writers' experiences say something about the value of perseverance.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Gail Leaves The Office, Part II

Lunch!: On Saturday while at the Rabbit Hill Festival, I met Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti. Susan had to cut out after the morning panel discussion but she knows a large portion of the Connecticut population, and before she left, she introduced me to Sari Bodi who then invited me to have lunch with her and her writing group who were attending the festival.

These women blew me away. They are so much more sophisticated about their work than I was at the same point in my career. (Quite honestly, they are more sophisticated than I am now.) These women study writing with a published author, their writing group meets every week (I've been a writing group member a couple of times--every week seems like a big chunk of time to me), and some of them take writing classes in New York City. One woman sitting at our table goes into New York City every week to meet with her writing group.

In my part of Connecticut, it's generally believed that getting into New York City requires a passport. When I was living in Vermont, we knew it couldn't be done without a spaceship.

Oh, and one of those writers has met Fuse in the flesh, not in that pretend, alternative world way that I've sort of met her. I feel very cool now, because I ate lunch with someone who has met Fuse.

What did we talk about at that lunch? Why, we talked about bloggers! For a few minutes there I was the center of attention because I could name names of blogs.

One person at the table asked what I thought was a good question. She wanted to know if there were any kidlit blogs that dealt with writing process. That interested me because for the last four or five months I've been trying to test out writers' blogs looking for that kind of information. Because I'm so haphazard about nearly everything I do, I don't have a good list of writing process blogs, but it seems as if it would be a good idea for someone to pull one together.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gail Leaves The Office, Part I

I would have said "Gail Leaves The Cellar," because that's where my office is but office sounds less creepy.

So I made it to the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature even though my GPS tried to get me to leave the highway 10 exits early. I was too wily for it.

An over all impression: The last time I went to the Rabbit Hill Festival was probably five years ago. At that time, the audience was made up primarily of women of a certain age. This time I saw younger women, men, younger men, and kids. According to one of the speakers for the event, they had entire families sign up to attend.

I was impressed.

The lack of graphics for this post: I wussed out and didn't take pictures. I mean, photographs of well-known authors standing at a podium wouldn't be anything you hadn't seen before, and candids of them drinking coffee (I almost took one of Jeanne DuPrau doing that) fall into that creepy sphere I'm trying so hard to avoid. So use your imagination.

Speaking of Jeanne DuPrau: I actually went up and spoke to her during the break because I had something fannish to say that made a good excuse to bother her. I told her about a family member who was a big fan of The City of Ember on CD because he's a civil engineer and loved the breakdown of the underground infrastructure. I was trying to think of a way to tell her that he'd really like her to do a book about how the city was built, when she told me that she gets a lot of e-mails and letters asking her to do a book about how the city got there. She appears to have a techie fan following.

Then she looked at my nametag and said, "Do I know you?" I thought, Uh-oh. She found out I wasn't crazy for The Prophet of Yonwood. So I'm standing there going, "Aaaaaah...." Then she said, "Are you on the child_lit listserv?" "Yes! Yes! That's it!"

Andrea Davis Pinkney: Andrea Davis Pinkney started her talk with an exercise she says she uses before she starts writing. You have to place your feet on the floor, straighten your back, close your eyes, and search for the light that is within each person. (Search for your own, not someone else's.) Then after you find the light, let it transport you to your imagined world (meaning the imagined world you're writing about.)

I am sure many of you are thinking, Oh, Gail's going to have a zinger for this. Not at all. I can get into exercises like this, and I got into this one. My light took me directly to the house in Vermont where I left the Durand cousins yesterday while they were dealing with the red-haired man. Here's the thing, though--it was a big, white explosive kind of light that hit me full in the body and blew me to the house. Very out of control. Not at all conducive to watching a scene.

Whoops. There I go. Getting into the creepy sphere again.

I will try this exercise again on Monday. Oh, who am I kidding. I'll have forgotten about it by then.

Neal Shusterman: Shusterman's morning presentation was a lesson in why it pays to be witty and charming and present yourself well. I, personally, had mixed feelings about his book The Schwa Was Here and haven't read anything of his since. But after being charmed by his witty presentation, I almost certainly will.

I will have to give the rest of the details of my day tomorrow. I had to be nice for many, many hours today. It was a whole lot like work, and I'm exhausted. Plus, I really want to wring a couple of posts out of this event.


Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm Getting Out Of The House This Weekend!

I'm all set to go to the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature tomorrow. This is exciting news for you as well as for me because it means that at least once this weekend I'll be writing about something other than what goes on in my head. I will try to take pictures, too. I'm not one to have my picture taken with others, so what I may do is, say, take a picture of Rick Riordan, and then get my computer guy to photoshop me in next to him. That would be fun in a stalker kind of way.

Oh, look! Rick Riordan blogged about the first day of the festival.

Check in for tomorrow's symposium is at 8:00 AM. Yeah. That's going to happen. Since it doesn't take me any hour to check-in and look at my small group assignment, and I don't drink coffee, I'm shooting for getting there a lot closer to when things actually start to happen at 9:00. I have two different sets of written travel instructions, plus I've already programmed the car's GPS, so I'm very confident I should get there at least in time for lunch.


Friday, September 14, 2007

More Literary Happenings This Weekend

Burlington isn't the only spot with a lit festival this weekend. Boston will be the setting for the Boston Globe Children's Book Festival.