Sunday, June 29, 2008

Awesome Austin Writers' Workshop

So. It's eight o'clock at night and the house feels oddly quiet. (For one thing, Cynthia is asleep :-)). For the past three days, the place has been overflowing with energy, excitement, and creativity. This past weekend, Cynthia and I had the privilege of hosting a workshop for advanced writers in our house.

It was the culmination of a month-long process that started when twenty-seven Austin area children's authors submitted up to ten pages of manuscripts to be read and critiqued by every other participant and Cynthia, who moderated the forty minute sessions.

Participants included Brian Anderson, Varsha Bajaj, Chris Barton, Gene Brenek, Shana Burg, Anne Bustard, Tim Crow, Betty X. Davis, Meredith Davis, Alison Dellenbaugh, Erin Edwards, Debbie Gonzales, Helen Hemphill, P.J. Hoover, Varian Johnson, Julie Lake, Lindsey Lane, April Lurie, Mark Mitchell, Jane Peddicord, Liz Garton Scanlon, Jo Whittemore, Phil Yates, and Jennie Ziegler. (Brian Yansky and Frances Hill submitted manuscripts but unfortunately had to drop out at the last minute).

The manuscripts were amazing, fresh, and fun. The level of discourse was extraordinary - thoughtful and spirited, but never mean-spirited.

Carmen Oliver and Donna Bratton worked as "pages," arranging and picking up breakfasts, fresh fruit, soft drinks, ice, snacks, and generally performing all those indispensable behind-the-scenes tasks without which an event of this scale could not possibly happen. They were tireless, thoughtful, diligent, and performed above and beyond with a wonderful verve, aplomb, and humor.

Julie helped collate and deliver packets; Brian and Frances, Gene, Tim, and Shana provided extra chairs; Tim additionally provided serving platters, ice, and coolers; Meredith ran invaluable errands; and Helen opened up her condo for the Saturday night party. Many thanks to everyone for their help (and please forgive me if I haven't specifically mentioned a contribution).

The weekend on site began early Friday morning with a continental breakfast of kolaches, fresh fruit, and yogurt. We then kicked off the work part of the workshop with five sessions of forty minutes each, with five minute breaks in between each session.

We then sent the group out for lunch, and followed up with another five sessions to end the day. Delighted and exhausted after the first days' work, a number of us then went out to dinner and margaritas at Maudie's, Too.

The next morning, the pages arrived early with bagels and muffins from Einstein Brothers. followed by another days' worth of sessions and discourse.

That evening, we headed over to Helen's for the party. She and her husband, Neil, were extremely gracious and generous hosts. Many thanks for their hospitality! (Catering was through Pascal's [fantastic!] and included shrimp, empenadas, stuffed mushrooms, crab cakes, beef canapes, salmon cups, and small pastries).

Donna and Carmen dived into the final day of the workshop by arriving in style (and in costume - I'll let you go to Cynthia's blog to see) and with breakfast tacos (also from Lone Star Kolaches). And by this point, everyone was feeling a bit punchy... :-).

Finally, at noon, after our last five sessions, the pages surprised us by presenting us (!) with a gift basket of delicacies. And then, Jane Peddicord and the rest of the participants presented Cynthia and me with some extraordinarily gracious words, a library bird house, and a gift certificate to Book People.

To the pages and participants: We are incredibly humbled by this generosity. Thank you for everything and for your roles in making this weekend a success.

Now get back to writing. :-).

UPDATE: See Cynsations, with more pictures, for Cyn's account.


PJ Hoover said...

Thank you guys for everything! I thought it was terrific :)

Anonymous said...

What a weekend! Thanks so much.

Alison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison said...

It was fabulous in every way! Thank you so much for a truly "awesome" experience.

Anonymous said...

LOVE that picture of all those pages...
Thanks for an amazing time!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that Cyn got some sleep! Wrangling two dozen authors has got to wear one out!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cyn and Greg for an amazing weekend! I love reliving it through both your blogs!

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