Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Packing for VT

Tens days and counting! My body is still in CA but my mind is in VT.

I've finished all of the manuscripts for my workshop group (wow, some pretty great writing!). I mailed myself a CARE package for my stay in the dorms. Today I received one more book I want to read before the rez begins so I'll dive into that tonight. And I've got a three-page list of all I need to do and pack before I leave--ahh, don't you just love making lists?

I'm hoping I'll have the time to make posts during the rez, but until I'm there and living through it, I won't know. Folks say it's exhilarating, educational and exhausting, so we'll see what the schedule allows.

Until then...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Eighteen days and counting... (okay, is this too much? Am I overdoing the countdown?).

I've finished the "required" reading for the rez and am now turning to the "optional" reading. I'm also fully focused on the manuscript critiques for my workshop group. I've done about 1/4 of them and I must say, WOW! The quality of writing is amazing and definitely makes me second guess what I had submitted! (you know how we writers like to doubt ourselves).

I'm also starting to think about the details of housing and life in the dorms. Not being a "spring chicken" anymore, I don't travel quite as lightly as I used to. It amazes me that I used to be happy spending my nights in a sleeping bag on the ground with a pile of clothes for a pillow and an occassional mouse darting over my legs (from my backpacking days).

For the rez I'm going to ship a box of "comfort" goodies to VC--soft sheets, towels, pillow, coat hangers, maybe a coffee maker, etc.). Not that these things aren't supplied by VC--they are! (well, not the coffee maker), but if you don't like scratchy sheets and small, threadbare towels, then they recommend you bring your own. But at least they'll hold your package for you so it's all there when you arrive. Nothing like the comforts of home to make a long stay somewhere more enjoyable!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vermont College: More Preps

Twenty-four days and counting to VC!

I've been busy organizing my thoughts, making a ka-zillion lists, doing the suggested reading, and yesterday I received a lovely packet of twenty-four picture book manuscripts that I'll need to critique before my arrival. The manuscripts are all written by the nine other people in my workshop group for the residency (which I'll call "the rez" from now on, to expedite typing). I'm so excited to read them and get a sense of the other writers I'll be working with. Five of the students have just finished the Picture Book Semester and the other five are those who will be doing it this fall (including myself). Talk about hanging out with like-minded folks!

And fun of all fun, last weekend I went to Staples to buy new school supplies. Yep, I'm just THAT big of a nerd that I get excited over buying new school and office supplies :-}.

Monday, June 8, 2009

More on Preparing for the VC Experience...

A few weeks after my acceptance to Vermont College of Fine Arts, I had to start thinking about what I wanted to do in the fall. You see, there is the regular program and there's the Picture Book Concentration / Certificate Program, which is a one-semester intensive Picture Book concentration. Students can enroll in this as a single-semester certificate program, or the MFA students can do this as one of their four semesters in the program. I was definitely interested, as I love to write this genre, but first I wanted to know who was teaching it.

Well, when I heard that Kathi Appelt was scheduled to teach it, I jumped at the opportunity! Only after waiting to hear if she indeed would be teaching it (there was some concern that she might not--apparently, writing a Newbery Honor Book puts some demands on one's schedule ;-). But she was teaching it, so I put in my request for a spot and submitted a sample ms. After a few weeks, I received news that I’d been accepted! Wow, I was--no AM-- so stoked! To study under Kathi will be amazing! I've always admired her work (she's a master of rhyming PBs and targeting the preschool audience). I can't wait to meet her and work together.

In the meantime, I've also submitted housing forms for the dorms, arranged my travel plans, and submitted two mss for the summer residency "workshop" (critique session). And there's the reading list--I'm on the first of many books we have to read for book discussions at "the rez." Speaking of which, I should be doing that now!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Last week I read a delightful blog post on Family Briefs: A Few Briefs Along the Parenting Journey sharing how the reading of Blackberry Banquet actually saved a blackberry bush from sure death (a near tragedy, for sure).

Apparently, the encroaching bush was merely doing what all blackberry bushes do, taking over everything around it, which included the blogger's family garden. Mom was prepared to get rid of the bush, but through the insistence of her children and their desire to see if Mouse, Bird and the rest of the characters in Blackberry Banquet really were right about the delicious nature of blackberries, the bush was spared (but it doesn't sound like Mom was too thrilled ;-).

In my mind, I envisioned Mom heading towards the bush with an axe, the children at her side, begging her to stop (yes, a bit like Fern trying to save poor Wilbur).

For a sweet chuckle, and the full read, click HERE.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back from Ventura and Easy Reader Workshop

I had a great time giving my workshop on The ABCs of Writing EZ Readers. We had a nice turnout and everyone was eager to learn about this often overlooked, but oh-so-important genre. I always welcome the opportunity to share my views on easy readers with folks.

I can't say enough about how important it is to write beginning readers that kids can actually READ with MINIMAL FRUSTRATION. It's so important to challenge young readers but not so much that it turns them off to reading.

So, a big thanks to the Ventura/Santa Barbara SCBWI for inviting me to present the workshop. And an especially big thanks to Kathryn Hunley, Joan Bransfield Graham, and Jody Fickes Shapiro for making it a fabulous day (oh--and Yuki Yoshino for helping out with book sales!).