Okay, admittedly I was a little cranky in that first post. I’ll chalk it up to re-circulated hotel air. Here are some of the writing and learning highlights of my weekend.
Sara Zarr‘s keynote in which she referenced and read from Arnold Lobel’s classic Frog and Toad stories was a definite highlight. Sara managed to pull gems about self-discipline, (Frog and Toad make cookies and can’t stop eating them) self aggrandizement, (Toad has a dream in which the better and more impressive he becomes, the smaller and more insignificant Frog becomes) and surprises (Toad loses his “to-do” list and can’t figure out what to do with himself) into a wonderful speech that was both wise and accessible at the same time. So that was good. Plus Sara Zarr is one of my personal writing heroes so I was pretty psyched to just sit and listen to her talk. I also went to her workshop called “Author Charm School” and had her sign my book. *bats eyes, heart flutters*
If you haven’t read her books, I recommend them all. Particularly this one and this one.
Another highlight was a workshop on revision by Kate Messner. This workshop was exactly what a workshop should be; great ideas, intermittent times to try them out in short writing exercises, and chocolate. Kate is a wonderful children’s author and former middle school teacher. Nuff said.
Kate also shared her TED talk with the conference and an incredible resource she’s creating called Kid Sourcing. Kid Sourcing provides ways for kids to get involved solving real-world problems and participating in actual scientific research. Teacher friends pay attention -this could be an excellent classroom resource!
One final highlight was a workshop on developing character using improvisation activities by Jen Nails. This workshop got us up and moving and doing all manner of ridiculous activities. It was a terrific energizer and a good reminder that we humans (writers too) are more than just brains on a stick. Plus I got to sing “It’s a Hard Knock Life” in front of 50 strangers. -You know I hated it 🙂
Lastly, I walked away from the conference with a few good books including Cheryl Klein’s Second Sight. Klein is an Children’s book editor who has compiled her best talks, blog posts and advice into a (so far) fabulous resource.
Best of all, when I got home the kitchen was clean, there was a fire in the woodstove and a wonderful greeting from husband and daughter!