Monday, December 10, 2007

Big Sur

I meant to write about this last Monday, but I had a few travel issues (Cancelled flight, 3+ hour layover, lost luggage...). So, a week late, here's my wrap-up of the Big Sur Children's Writer's Workshop. One of the highlights was the locale, so there are lots of photos below.

Last Friday morning, I drove my rental car down from San Francisco to Big Sur. Highway One was breathtaking, and I couldn't resist getting out of the car a few times to take pictures:

We had a lovely faculty orientation/lunch at the Henry Miller Library. It was great seeing some familiar faces, putting faces to name, and meeting new friends. The weather felt fairly warm to me then, but the temperature would quickly drop--we would be cold all weekend; good thing we had fireplaces in our cabins for heat:
Here is the view of the conference center from my cabin:
I really liked the structure of the conference. Each faculty member would facilitate three separate critique groups of 4-5 attendees. The first group would meet once on Friday, and then again on Sunday, where ideally the author would have revised according to feedback.

Each attendee would also have a one-on-one consultation with a faculty member, meaning each faculty member would have 4 or 5 consultations. One of the biggest draws of the Big Sur conference is the high faculty to attendee ratio--it's truly unlike any other conference I've been to.

One of my one-on-ones was with fellow blogger, Disco Mermaid Eve. The other Mermaids made a surprise visit for dinner Saturday night:

(me, Jay, Eve, and Rovin. I look so little next to them!)

Speaking of blogs, several attendees told me that they read and enjoyed either this blog or bloomabilities, which was nice to hear. If there are any Big Sur attendees reading this, Hello!

Saturday afternoon, most of the faculty escaped for a little R&R while the attendees had some writing time to revise. And yes, perhaps there was just a little talk about the manuscripts we had seen--but don't worry, mostly good things:Saturday evening, the editors spoke on a panel giving some background about our publishing houses, talking about the type of books we edit and what we're looking for for. It was an interesting variety of perspectives, from small publisher to large: Tricycle Press, Chronicle Books, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, and Dutton/Penguin were represented.

The questions asked were quite good, I thought: what a "platform" is for an author, and how important it is (general consensus: it's not crucial, but it sure doesn't hurt!); where to send "sad" books (smaller publishers may be more open to publishing more "niche" books than larger publishers); what type of books we might be seeing too much of (fantasy with Lemony Snicket-type narration, pirate books); and so on.

And after a good-bye lunch on Sunday, we were on our way home, bid farewell by a gorgeous double rainbow:

Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I think both attendees and faculty enjoyed themselves immensely; I highly recommend it.

P.S. I still love my Sony Reader, and couldn't resist showing it around at the conference and sharing the love.


Anna Alter said...

That sounds like an amazing trip! I LOVE Big Sur, if I was going to pick a place for a conference, that would be it!

Christy Raedeke said...

Yes, there’s a Big Sur attendee reading! As a fan of your Bogs (and your work) it was great to meet you in person and get your feedback in our one-on-one.

I’m bummed I missed that double rainbow!

Cheers, Christy Raedeke

Anonymous said...

That was a great weekend. What a terrific opportunity for writers to work on craft! I enjoyed hanging out with you and the other very nice people there.

I'm NOT yawning in that picture. I'm, uh, clapping my hand over my mouth in order not to scream with joy.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Big Sur is the writing workshop to attend! It was great meeting and talking with you at dinner. I enjoyed discussing our fave books and was pleased to learn that you were an "Anne" lover, too.
Too bad about the lost luggage but glad the weekend was worth the trip!

Rita said...

It's awesome you did that drive and stopped to take pictures! I always want to stop and take pictures, too, but, uh, there's always a certain someone in the car with me who won't.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Big Sur was wild all the way around. I didn't get to see
the double rainbow, but did catch
a sunset at Pfeiffer beach, was buzzed by a condor and
wallowed with the elephant seals
going down the coast instead of up
which was all just the icing on a
great gathering writer takeover of the state park wonderful weekend.