Last week I had the honor of serving as an Author-in-Residence at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Needless to say, I had an unforgettable experience.
When I got off of the plane in Vermont, I was greeted by my escort, YA author and VCFA grad Nicole Griffin. Nicole was a true sweetheart who welcomed and schooled me about our days ahead. Nicole was also so very humble. Not once did she mention her new book, The Whole Stupid Way We Are, that’s receiving such very exciting buzz! I learned of Nicole’s rising star through other faculty members.
On Sunday evening in the College Hall Chapel, authors Tim Wynne-Jones, Garret Freymann-Weyr, and myself, performed readings from our books. The readings were impassioned, humorous, poignant and lively. I read from a book that I illustrated, BLACK ALL AROUND and told the story about THE TORTOISE AND THE LONELY HUNTER. When I finished, folks in the back of the room chanted more-more-more! That was cool. Afterwards I signed books for enthusiastic students and faculty.
On Monday afternoon, I delivered my lecture to the entire student body. Everyone seemed to enjoy my talk, and I received nice kudos from students and faculty. Later I joined famed author Kathi Appelt and students in an Intensive Picture Book workshop. I discussed my process of illustrating picture books, and I shared a few picture book dummies in process.
One of the highlights of my three day visit was hearing author Rita Williams-Garcia read and discuss her book PS Be Eleven. Rita is smart and funny and just a joy to be around. She even shared hand written notes from her daily writings. Author Coe Booth also delivered an informative lecture on using Scrivener, a project management and writing tool. While at the time I didn’t think the program was for me, I’ve now changed my mind. It’s probably a program more for writing a novel, however it’s exactly what I need for a nonfiction picture book that I am writing that involves lots of online research that needs to be stored with the document. Hm.
Another highlight was when Kathi Appelt and I conducted our workshop. It’s not everyday I get a chance to work alongside someone like Kathi, so I served as a teacher and an undercover student. I took notes and asked questions, as well as offering my own input and critique of manuscripts.
Austin did a fine job of representin’ at the summer residency. While there, I ran into friends Shelley Ann Jackson, Jeff Crosby, Debbie Gonzales, Sean Petrie.
Again, I had a wonderful time and can’t wait to be invited back.