Monday, July 13, 2009

Chautauqua, Part One

First things first: Anna is now married! Her wedding on Saturday was absolutely beautiful, so touching, perfect. She and Bruno wrote their own vows, and I swear--there wasn't a dry eye in the place. So romantic and joyous. I'm sure there will be pictures later...(I have yet to upload mine).

I apologize for the late post, but after a travel day on Sunday that started at 2:30 in the morning and ended with a 12:30 pm arrival (10 hours!), I'm now in Chautauqua, NY for the Highlights Writers Workshop. It's a week-long program at the Chautauqua Institute, and even though I've only been here a day an a half so far, I absolutely love it. It's such a idyllic setting. My hotel room overlooks the lake, and this morning I woke up early enough to see the sun rising over the water. It's a gated, walking community with lots of amphitheaters and parks and gardens. There are little brown bats flying around eating all the bugs (as opposed to Little, Brown editors), and most of all, there are passionate, friendly, and excited children's book enthusiasts.

Sunday afternoon Jerry and Eileen Spinelli gave a fun, playful talk at a chicken cook-out--they basically interviewed each other. Some little tidbits I learned was that Eileen consistently beats Jerry in Scrabble, and that Jerry's slippers at home are 20-years-old. These are things about authors that we need to know!

This morning Peter Jacobi gave a detailed informative speech about how our work need to soar. His mantra that we repeated after him at the end:

Fly, Oh Thought of Mine, on Golden Wings.

I met with four authors one-on-one for 30 minutes, going over pages I had read and critiqued ahead of time, and in the afternoon, after sitting in on Patricia Lee Gauch's workshop on Conflict and Tension, and then Stephen Roxburgh's on Plot, I gave my first of two talks, From Slush to Contract. It's a talk I've given several times before, but as usual I tweaked and specialized it for the audience. I think it was well-received...

And tonight I've just returned from a lovely dinner where Candace Fleming told her own Chautauqua success story. She first came as an attendee 16 years ago, and has now published 22 books with more on the way.

I'm absolutely loving this conference, and so far, would highly recommend it to authors. I believe it's pricey, but they do offer scholarships and grants. And people come from all over the world--so far I've met writers from Ecuador, Turkey, Japan, and Israel.

Tomorrow morning the legendary Patricia Lee Gauch is giving a keynote, and then I meet with my remaining three authors. Everyone meets with their faculty member twice during the week, which I think is a great format.

And so, with that, I bid you all good night. More next week!


Fran Cannon Slayton said...

Oh, Chautauqua!!! Dreams do come true there. I went in 2006, met the legendary Patti Gauch, and my book just came out with her as my editor last month! Best wishes to everyone there!

Donna Jones Koppelman said...

Thank you so much for your post on Chautauqua. I've been pining for it all week while scouring the internet for a blog post on it! What an amazing experience it is. I KNOW you had a great week. Thanks, again, for sharing a bit of it for others.