Saturday, July 25, 2009

More Photos: Fall '09 Picture Book Semester Class

What? You mean we were there to learn something? ;-)

Here are some of the picture book lovin' crowd.

Fall '09 Picture Book Semester students: Meredith, Me, Mary, Kathi (our advisor), Abby, Barbara.

Me and Kathi Appelt, advisor extraordinaire.

VC Pictures: Batch #2

Now that you've seen the landscape of VCFA, here are a few of it's residents...

"First semesters" at the Mexican restaurant in Montpelier (Meg, Anna, Me, Hannah, Katherine).

Escaping to the great outdoors for dinner.

"First semesters" big night out to Barre, to see Harry Potter.

Dinner at Positive Pie (thats' Sue and Anna).

Helen, Katherine, Me, Caroline at Positive Pie.

Pix from the VC Rez

I'm doing this a little backwards by posting pictures after the rez, but dang it, I couldn't figure out how to download them from my camera (new camera) to the laptop. Oh well! Here they are, by the batch.

Dewey Hall, the VCFA "Hilton" and home to fine dining. That's me and my son in front.

My dorm room. Only hit my head on the block wall twice the first night. :-\

Other side of my room.

Majestic College Hall, home to sore knees (they put the admin offices on the fourth floor).

The brand new VCFA bookstore. It has everything from aspirin to clothing to a wide assortment of books.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Writing Tip on Tales from the Rushmore Kid

Last week Tina Nichols Coury posted a writing tip of mine on her blog, Tales from the Rushmore Kid. The post before mine, she shared an interview with award-winning author Kathi Appelt, my VC advisor for this semester. How serendipitous! Hop on over for a look!

All My Bags Are Packed...I'm Ready to Go

The 2009 summer residency is officially over, yet I'm still here. Why? Well, with flights such as they are, I thought it would be much more enjoyable to hang out here, rather than an airport. Sooo, I don't leave for the aiport until later this morning. I really wish I COULD leave sooner, but it just didn't work out.

This morning I was so excited that I woke up at 5:00. Couldn't get back to sleep, so I finally crawled out of bed at 6:00. Praddled around a bit and had my leftover coffee drink from yesterday. Then I walked my "dorm box" of "stuff" that I'd mailed to myself here, back over to the VC mailroom to ship it back to myself at home.

I ran down to the cafeteria for some juice. Couldn't stomach eating anything. Couldn't bear to go into the dining room. Just the smell made me want to leave. It's not that the food here is always bad, it's just that it's bad often enough to cause one to tire of it quickly. And really, even if it were delicious, how often can one eat off a plastic tray and stand in a chow line without it becoming a bit old? I was reminded of the infamous scenes from M*A*S*H when Hawkeye and BJ would sniff the food followed by some hilariouis comment about the cuisine.

Anyway, I'm eager to get home, unpack, hug my family and get to work. My head is spinning with ideas so I want to get to it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

VC Residency: Day ??? Oh Jeeze, I have no idea anymore...

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of my first residency at VCFA. It's been quite an experience thus far, with the rez definitely taking on a life of its own. It got quite intense there for a while, but then yesterday was the Good vs. Evil Symposium, where we had guest lecturers speak (Margo Lanagan, Deborah Noyes and Nancy Werlin) and some special activities. It also seems that in the past couple of days, there were a few more chances to grab some time to head into Montpelier for a meal, steal some library time or grab a catnap. Or blog.

On Friday, Kathi Appelt gave a lecture titled, Blurred Lines. I wish the world could hear this lecture. It was so moving. Like a piece of well-crafted writing, her talk pulled me in, made me laugh, touched my heart and mind, and all tied together beautifully in the end. If you ever have a chance to hear this lecture, GO. You won't regret it.

Let's see, what else? I've turned in my study plan, which is basically the work that my advisor and I agree that I will do for the upcoming semester. Write 12 picture books? No problem. (gulp). Critical essays? Sure! Love 'em to death. (gulp, gulp). Bibliographies? Heck, I read all the time anyway, why not add a few more titles to my regular reading regiment and annotate them while I'm at it. (gulp, gulp, gulp). When I was a kid, I loved the Matterhorn roller coaster ride at Disneyland. I'd wait in that far-stretching line, inching-inching, hearing the screams, knowing I was going to be terrified but yet I couldn't help myself from trying. This feels the way. Yeah. It's a little like that.

Two days and counting until I get to climb onto the bobsled...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

VC Residency: Day 7

Semester study plan looming.


Monday, July 13, 2009

VC Residency: Day 5

Okay, this place is awesome, and awe-inspiring. I had my first workshop session yesterday and I was blown away at the insightful comments on the work being critiqued by the students and advisor, Uma Krishaswami. Uma has a calming energy along with keen eye and amazing insight into picture books. I was totally floored by our workshop session. Tomorrow is my turn for getting my two stories critiqued, and Kathi Appelt should be there as well, which I'm really looking forward to.

I've seen six faculty/graduating student lectures thus far, on a variety of topics. Very interesting and packed with information.

The dining experience has been...hit and tonight, when my fellow first semester students opted to go into Montpelier for dinner, I jumped on the chance. It was kind of funny--it felt like we were breaking out of the big house or something (not that VCFA feels like a prison at all, but we've just been confined to the program for five days now and all felt the need for a little break...out). And even though it wasn't quite like the Mexican food I'm used to in CA, it was still good.

Tomorrow AM I hope to walk into Montepelier and get some real coffee (not the cafeteria stuff). I'm craving a decent cup of coffee like you wouldn't believe!

Until then...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

VC Residency: Day 3

Unbelievably, I have a few mins. of spare time so I thought I'd squeeze in a quick post. It's the morning of day 3 here at the rez and this is when I feel the real work begins. Today we have our first "workshop" (group critique session). I'm super-excited about this as we'll be immersing ourselves in our picture book manuscripts. I'm also eager to meet and work with Uma Krishniswami, last semester's PB semester advisor (Kathi Appelt won't be here today, as she's at ALA receiving her Newbery Honor Medal for The Underneath). I've heard fabulous things about Uma so it'll be a pleasure to meet and work with her.

Today I also will hear three faculty lectures. Much to my disappointment, I had to miss last night's opening faculty lecture because I had a migraine. It killed me to miss out on hearing Tim Wynne-Jones, but I knew I needed to take care of myself in order to prevent the headache from worsening.

Friday evening and yesterday involved a lot of orientation (how many times can one state their name, where they're from, and an interesting tidbit about themselves?). We were flooded with info on using the library's vast amount of resources for research (a good thing--but wow--so much to absorb at once) and finally in the late afternoon joined the returning students and faculty. Yes, I slept well. Exhaustion will do that to you.

Two frustrating things thus far are that I can't seem to access my email very often (very hit and miss), and I can't seem to figure out how to download photos to put on my blog. That might have to wait until I return home.

But so far, so very good! I can't wait to get started with today's events. I'll keep you posted...

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm Here!

I've checked into the VC dorms and will soon begin my MFA adventure. My son and daughter-in-law drove me up and helped bring my bags to my room. Yes, life is full of ironies--the son drops his mom off at college. He even warned me, "It's okay to experiment in college, just don't make it a habit." ;-) Hmm...experiment with writing--sounds like a good plan to me. And if it works, I'll definitely make it a habit!

The dorms are...uh...sparse? Yes, sparse, that's a good word to describe it. But that's okay. This isn't a vacation and my focus is on the writing program, not feeling pampered. The room definitely has an institutional feel to it, but it has the basics (even a big fan, which feels very nice right now considering the warm temps today). Because of my potential for migraines, I'm in a single room, which is fabulous because I can spread my "stuff" all over.

Today the new students check in; tomorrow the returning students arrive then we let the games begin!

I couldn't sleep last night, a million thoughts swirling in my mind, so I'm looking forward to getting a good night's sleep tonight. It may be my last for a while!

Monday, July 6, 2009

In New England

I'm in New England now, enjoying a little family time before I start my first VCFA rez. You know, since I've been here, I've noticed a couple of differences between Rhode Island and California. First, the drivers. Folks here don't seem to honor traffic lights and signs as much as those do on the west coast, so I've found that I have to watch carefully before crossing any streets! (yep, hold hands and look both ways).

Second, people here don't use Bluetooths or other hands-free cell phone devices. This morning I strolled down to a local coffee house and bought a drink, some freshly ground coffee for home use, and a muffin. I was talking to my husband on my cell phone and realized that I didn't have enough hands to carry everything plus the cell phone, so I put on my Bluetooth. As I was sitting in the park chatting with him, and later walking home while continuing our conversation, I received many a raised eyebrow from passers by. They must have thought I was talking to myself. One person even purposefully avoided me, giving me a wide berth as he walked past, staring at me like I was crazy!

I also received the schedule for the residency, which begins in four days. My initial reaction was, "Holy cow, don't those people EVER sleep?" It's a ten-day packed schedule of interesting lectures, activities, workshops and social events. Kind of like an SCBWI national conference on steroids--but longer! Today I'm going to sit down with the schedule and prioritize the "must-see" events, the "really want to see" events, and the "if I have any energy left" events. And I still need to re-read all of the mss from my workshop group to refresh my memory, and finish one book from the recommended reading lecture list.