Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


A "First" Conference

I've been to some conferences over the years, and I'm always amazed by the great people I meet. I just got returned home today from NCTE/ALAN in Orlando, where I had a fabulous time. At NCTE I got to listen to some great speakers like Gary Paulsen, Jack Gantos, and David Weisner. I did a signing at the Macmillan booth and was pleasantly surprised that we had to run over the time because of all the people. Kirby Larson even stopped in, which was so fun, because I hadn't seen her since my Whidbey Island MFA days.

ALAN started on Monday and I spoke on Tuesday to this audience:

I was so fortunate that Macmillan had me at a luncheon where I "hosted" a table of educators and they each got a copy of The Gardener. I also did a dinner this way with authors Alyson Noel and George O'Connor, and we switched tables after each course so we got to spend time with everyone. Here are George, Alyson, and myself with our fabulous Macmillan crew, after watching the Disney fireworks show from the 15th floor catwalk of the Contemporary Resort Hotel.

This was my first trip to NCTE/ALAN and I truly hope it won't be my last.


3 Reasons to Attend a Conference

I have attended perhaps a half-dozen conferences in the last few years. I paid the fees, took time out from my family life, and traveled to these conferences for three primary reasons.

First, I’m always looking to work on my craft. Many conferences offer sessions that meet this need, whether it be discussions of character or plot or even the nuts and bolts of the narrative craft.

Second, conferences never fail to inspire me. Gathering with others to talk about literature and writing always renews my drive to continue pursuing my own artistic dreams.

Third, I need to network more with agents, editors, and other writers. By their very definition, conferences always provide plenty of opportunities for confabbing and schmoozing – the only obstacle has been overcoming my own reticence to reach out and socialize with others. To help with this, I always remember the “ice-breaker” I learned at my first conference, when others introduced themselves and then invariably asked, “What are you working on?” For a socially-challenged person such as myself, learning that one line was worth the price of the conference!


New Ideas...

I feel as if I went to a conference yesterday when I visited a school that was hosting four authors. Amongst the four were Tim Egan, Mary Ann Frazer and Amy Goldman. Watching them work their magic with the students was so much fun. Questions ranging from: "Will you adopt me?," "How old are you?," and "But how does the princess climb up into her bed at night?" (spoken of a very tall bed in the shape of a swan), made me laugh and think and remember how much fun it is to speak to kids. The authors all were artists too, and they amazed the students with their inclusive art and "cooking" projects (how to cook a story - ingredients included a tablespoon of characters, a dash of problems, and a quarter cup of setting - or something like that!).

What I walked away with is a renewed desire to attend conferences again. I've spoken at a few, which I love doing, but I also like sitting in the audience and being entertained. There are so many great ideas out there, and so much to learn. I think I'll check out what SCBWI is offering in the near future!
The photo is of my son's second grade teacher, Mrs. Hodges, escorting me around Mariposa School when I was a guest speaker. She graciously offered to carry all of my stuff for me, and I agreed for this photo op. They treated me so well that I'm always eager to go back!