Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 10 - Graduation

Workshop #5: workshopped Kaden and His Stick - good, honest feedback.

Lecture #1: a brief lecture/discussion on work for hire and other ways to support yourself with your writing.

Graduation of 4th semester students - brief, meaningful, uplifting

All the first semester students had supper together in town. What a wonderful bunch - I love them to pieces! It seems like I've been here for 2 months, not 2 weeks. There is really no other place like VCFA
- I can't wait to get home. I can't wait to start writing.

ps I will blog about - THE SLOG - putting VCFA fab knowledge into practice!!

Day 9 - Hunger Games: Three Perspectives

Grad Lecture #1: The mute character - why cast them in your story? Fascinating look at how a mute character impacts your narrative.
Lecture #1 Amanda Jenkins: Amazing look into the emotional arc in a story with examples of where it fell short in the Hunger Games books.
Lecture #2 Tim Wynne-Jones: How to build tension and surprise into the plot even if your book is not a thriller a-la-Hunger Games.

Lecture #3 Rita Williams-Garcia: Demonstrated the sequel's continueing plot using the Hunger Games as an example (to the tune of James Brown! Get On Down!)
Grad Lecture #2: What does a character need for us to believe he/she is resilient? Turns out only 3 things (and you will have to come to VCFA to find out...)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 8 - Two... No Three... No Four... No More Heads Are Better Than One

Lecture #1 Sharon Darrow - discussed teaching writing and more specifically how the process is frameworked at VCFA. I walked away with a better understanding and appreciation for VCFA's approach. As well, I can see why the freedom inherent in this approach makes me both nervous and excited at the same time.

Workshoped fellow student's picture book stories - it is wonderful to hear other people's pt of view and interpretations.

Grad Lecture #1 - This was a fab grad lecture on practical strategies for depicting character emotion! It was filled with dos and don'ts (my favorite!)

Did you know VCFA offers scholarships? After your first semester, you can submit to any one of the following categories: picture book, middle grade, YA, and/or critical thesis.

Kid Literary Theory discussion continued over dinner with Tobin Anderson. I had to skip the readings tonight - too tired!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 7 - Body and Brain: Cross Country Skiing & Literary Theory

Yay, a morning off!! Cammen and I went cross country skiing at Morse Farm - powdered white fields, quiet forests, groomed trails! What more could a Canadian girl want, eh? (you can rent equipment right there)

Lecture #1 Tobin Anderson: Heavy stuff - literary theory and how it affects and informs our writing
Lecture #2 Shelley Tanaka - Amazing lecture that sampled picture books from around the world offering us a glimpse into how creative and unique they are. The lecture challenged us to educate ourselves on what is being written for kids all around the world - not just in Canada or the States.
Met with Julie one on one. Listened to Grad Assistants, Grads, and student readings - Seriously talented people here (ps: the grad ass. read from their published books!)

Day 6 - Advisors and Night Creatures

Met with Julie Larios (my advisor) and the 4 other students under her care. We discussed Julie's expectations and what the "packets" of work (4 in total, sent out by email every 4 weeks) should contain.
*I was told it would take approx. 25hrs/week to complete the work for these packets (I believe it!)
Lecture #1 - Jane Kurtz: Lively talk about the element of surprise across kid lit genres.
Grad Lecture #2 - addressed the "I've got to find my voice" myth very well.
Pizza with the other wonderful 1rst semesters and a What Goes Bump in the Night Party - complete with scrabble games, dance music, and lots of socializing!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 5 - Wait..Wait..I Can't Possibly Take Notes That Fast...

Grad Lecture #1 - Understanding and Manipulating Time: loved this lecture complete with how to plot your novel across a timeline or by scene speed.
Lecture #1 Coe Booth - Coe is hilarious.. from her getto humour to her back-handed power-pt slide comments. She gave fab advice on how to get through the first draft.

Grace Lin gave a very personal talk on how she got into writing and illustrating picture books, writing middle grade and novels. I was touched by her honesty and openness.

Picture Book Panel - a mad rush of 4 short lectures on pb topics.

Faculty Readings: Always Entertaining! Alan Cumyn, Sharon Darrow, Mary Quattlebaum

Everyone is a twitter because students will be assigned an advisor tonight at midnight!! I already know my advisor is Julie Larios (yay! Funny, unbelievably creative, and an amazing poet)

Here's to you, Julie:
J ubillant,
U are,
L augh with your eyes.
I am ready to play,
E ase into essay.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 4 - Down To Earth Stars

David Macaulay was in our picture bk workshop today! What a down-to-earth kid's lit star! David showed us sketch books, notes, thumbnails, false starts, and meanderings... Work that is done with such heart and dedication stems from incredible curiousity and when that runs out David relies on his sense of duty.

Attended a Grad lecture on Reconnecting with Poetry - ouuu, those grads are smart. Great exercises offered to awaken the poet within.

Again, faculty readings: Amanda Jenkins, Martine Leavitt, Uma Kishnaswami, and Grace Lin - Enthralling!!

Day 3 - Revision Day

Registered this morning. Attended lecture on How To Write a Critical Essay.
My picture book, Moonlight Ski, was workshoped this morning for 45min. When we got talking about "Picture Bk rules" Julie Larios (my advisor) simply asked "...but does it work here, in this story?" Love this!!
Went back to the dorm and snoozed! It is not possible to take in everything.
Faculty Readings again this evening - Leda Schubert, Margaret Bechard, Julie Larios, and David Macaulay - Brilliant!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

*A Note On What I Can and Can't Say*

In my naivety, I thought I could blog a synopsis of the wealth of information I would hear from both brilliant faculty and students alike, but this is not something VCFA wants... and it makes perfect sense. Intellectual Property. If I told you everything you wouldn't need to come and get the 3D, much richer version! ... and I wouldn't have any fellow classmates!!
So instead, I'm going to give you some of my own reactions and quotes I asked permission to use.

Day 2 - Heartfelt Lectures

Lecture #1 - Laura Kvasnosky: Laura is a soft spoken writer/illustrator with loads of talent. I loved her sketching exercises to enhance/play around with a story you've been working on. Sometimes the writing/rewriting gets a little stale and playing with other media may feel like procrastination, but it can offer you a lot of insight into your story or offer you a clue to why things are not working.
Lecture #2 - Elizabeth Partridge: Betsy, as she is known, lights a fire under you about non-fiction! You can't help but be inspired to try your own hand at a non-fiction piece. However, she doesn't sugar coat things. She makes it clear that such projects require immense work and are truly a labour of love.
Lecture #3 - Alan Cumyn: Wow, did I pick the right semester to hear Alan, or what?! This lecture was the final lecture in a 3 part series. The lecture asked - What part of yourself have you put into your stories? Alan answered this question is a most eloquent, honest way. I was touched, inspired, and informed.
Also today:
Picture bk Workshop - 3 peoples submissions critiqued for 45min each (done with kindness, plenty of emphasis on the good, and concluded with questions and related craft discussions)
Faculty Readings - Readings of works that would blow your mind!!
1rst Semester Readings - YES, I read a piece of my work!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 1 - Am I Oriented Enough??

Yoga started my day - thanks to a fellow-writer who offers a class every morning. Then it was orientation a-la-new-student, then a-la-campus, followed by a-la-library, and finally a-la-faculty! Feeling a little over-oriented by the end of the day, I listened to Katherine Paterson speak - what a treat!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter Wonderland Montpelier

I'm here!! Beautiful drive down from Montreal. Clear roads until just before Montpelier - where it was snowing great, juicy flakes. You know, the kind that probably have a few calories. The campus is a winter wonderland, right down to the skating rink out front of College Hall.

I'm off to bed!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vermont Tommorow

I leave tommorow to drive 4 hrs to VCFA. The prep reading and workshop critiqueing was (and is, I'm afraid I still have much to read...oops) intense! The schedule of lectures, workshops, talks, yoga, and grad proceedings looks wonderfully exhausting. Well... back to work...and a little more packing...and a lot more reading!!
Have a question about VCFA or about a Picture Book problem that has been haunting you? Send it along and I will listen for a possible answer or ask your question of the great brains I encounter!!