Monday, August 8, 2011

The dog ate my blog

Dear blog readers,
I have been remiss about adding to my blog. Most of July I was off the map for a week long writing workshop OCCBWW
and on vacation in Oregon and Arizona. In the meantime I have been revising and editing before going back to the salt mines. (Teachers go back August 19th)

For those of you who write for children and young adults, I highly recommend the OCCBWW conference. Yes, it’s in Oregon, so the airfare will cost you, and yes, even though it’s in July, you will need a winter jacket. The weather in Oceanside, Oregon is schizophrenic: one hour it’s 40 degrees, an hour later the sun comes out and it’s 70. The constant roar of the ocean and the scenery make you forget the weather (for the most part).
This is the first workshop I have attended where the instructors worked harder than the participants. A unique feature is First pages. Participants submit the first page of a manuscript they are working on (anonymously) and these pages are projected on a screen. Each instructor, a panel of editors, agent, and writers, offers his or her expert input on what works and what doesn’t. I like the anonymity and brevity of this exercise. Most manuscript problems occur in the beginning of a work. If the start of a story has issues, an editor is not likely to read beyond page one. My own manuscript had too much back-story on the first page (this is a chronic problem for me.) One instructor likened back- story to “notes for the writer on plot.”
The anonymity enables you not to feel victimized because, unless you show someone your work, nobody else knows who wrote it.

My brother and his family live in Portland so I combined this with a family vacation by renting an ocean view beach house. Each evening a rolling roster of family members (my brother and his wife, niece Erica and her son Micah, and cousin Bob and wife Cheryl from Washington) and I sipped wine on the deck and let the ocean and sunsets entertain us.

I barely got over my jet lag when I jetted off to Tucson to visit an old friend from my overseas days. Leslie and I had been part of a quartet of friends in 7th and 8th grade much like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants girls. It’s an odd phenomena when after 40 years, one can pick up the conversation as if only a day has passed. Leslie (and her sister Barrie who was visiting for part of the time) had a blast. Tucson is a lovewly city and is on my list of places to retire.

Anywhooo, this is a very long excuse for why I have not written. The next few blogs will be discussions of things I learned at OCBWW.
On the first day, as a means of introduction, our host David Greenberg had everyone do a six word memoir:

Born there
City named after me

I know it’s 7 words, but math is not my forte.
To make up for it, I wrote a 5 word bio:

Not from
Except here.

I plan to do this with my AP class on the first day of school as an ice breaker.
My advice to them:

Listen, learn
Outside the box.

Happy Writing.


  1. This was interesting to read even though I knew a lot of it already. Hadn't heard about the anonymous first page critique, nor the 6 word Bio though. Will have to work on mine. :-)

  2. sounds great. love the 5 word bio. I didn't know you taught an AP class. kudos to you, teach! I would love to attend a writer's conference, but being financially embarrassed, it just isn't possible. I am so grateful I could drive to San Francisco from San Diego for Diane's poetry 8 hour drive is do-able! thanks for sharing!