Monday, July 13, 2009

Chautauqua, Part One

Cross-posted from the Blue Rose Girls.

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!


Anonymous said...

Hi Alvina,

What an absolute joy to meet you at Chautauqua! You were definitely my favorite person there!

Thanks a million for your incredible edits on my piece of fiction. And thanks for your class on The Mind of an Editor. It was informative, helpful and fun! All of the writers in the class will have a new empathy for editors because you gave us a window into your world.

Here's to birthdays, Bloomabilities and bouquets you can write with,

Sally Miller

Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu said...

One of my favorite memories was when Patti Lee Gauch cuddled her granddaughter after giving her the Teddy bear donated by the Spinellis.

I didn't get to talk to you much but I enjoyed your presentation and the book talk at dinner.

Maybe I'll see you in Tokyo!

Annie (I was the one who deleted the comment above--I negelected to capitalize "Tokyo"--sorry--much ado...)