If it’s January (and it is) it is time to gather on St. George Island to write, critique, schmooze, and eat some great cooking.
Every year I teach writing workshops, and edit stories-in-progress at Fiction Among Friends, a gathering of intrepid female writers who want to escape from the day-to-day for a while and concentrate on their true passion, writing books (and eating).
Here is a typical gathering to write and discuss exercises in the craft of putting words on paper.
Just as sure as you’ll hear fireworks in your neighborhood every New Year’s Eve you can count on January to be Fiction Among Friends month.
We always welcome new writers to this annual event.
So, check it out. Fiction Among Friends.
Boy, have I been remiss about posting! But things have been pretty darned busy. I’ve been to Salisbury Maryland to celebrate children’s lit and the life of Dr. Ernie Bond, the power behind the festival. Sadly Dr. Ernie recently passed away.
Here I am, doing a public radio spot–look how nicely we cleaned up to be on the radio! To my left is author Jen Cullerton Johnson, then Dr. Patty Dean, Dr. Ernie’s faithful sidekick (she kept saying, what would Ernie do?), and author Shelley Ratner.
We did lots of authorish things, but we also went to Assateague and hung out with the wild ponies–we didn’t impress them, but they sure impressed us!
Apalachicola is a sleepy Florida town famous for oysters and the invention of refrigeration–and a great gathering of authors called “Authors in Apalach.”
(If you live in Apalachicola you shorten it to Apalach).
This is me and my buddy Jan Godown Annino. She is holding up her book, She Sang Promise, the true story of Betty Mae Jumper, the first elected woman leader of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Before becoming chief Betty Mae earned money wrestling alligators. Check it out!
Every January I lead two writer’s retreats for women–I know men write too, but sometimes women have to be free to act silly and eat Oreos while they work on their stories.
Here are the writers in my second group, The Sisters of the Sentences. We are, standing on the deck of Always Awesome, a house overlooking the beach on St. George Island.
See the lady on the far right? That’s Sharon Ketts, a retired teacher. She is writing a book called “The Boys on Mars.” I think you are going to like it.
I forgot to mention…
At NCTE I did quite a bit of singing, including a song I wrote in honor of English teachers and the conference.
Want to hear the song and see the stage full of authors? Click here.
Seated behind me is a bunch of authors you have probably read and loved. To my right is Sharon Draper, to my left is Ibtisam Barakat. The camera also catches quick glimpses of Meg Medina and G. Neri.
Jason Reynolds was there too (I think he was right behind me). eE Charlton-Trujillo was off camera, but definitely there. And my buddy Dr. Joan Kaywell was the moderator.
Bet you can’t tell how scared I was. I was singing for a HUGE CROWD.
Did you notice that there were NO ENGLISH TEACHERS at school for days and days? That’s because they were all in Atlanta meeting authors and trading the secrets they have come up with for getting YOU to write.
See if you can find me, and authors Chris Crowe, Jon Scieszka,and M.T. Anderson in this photo, along with student teachers about to start teaching in a school near you, and Dr. Joan Kaywell, USF professor and champion of YA literature. Hint: I am not the bald guy.
Want to do something book-ish this weekend?
Come on out to the Florida Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine.
I will be presenting from 9-10 on Saturday morning. Lots of other writers will share their books and their stories too!
Click here to get festival details.
I hope to see you there!
Teachers and students, you are either in school with new back packs, sharp pencils and great lesson plans, or shopping last-minute for school supplies and putting away your flip-flops for the sensible shoes that will let you stay on your feet all day.
I have had a summer of flip-flops, and family, and vegetable gardening, and playing lots and lots of music.
And I finished a new novel which has everything but a title.
It is a YA set in Manhattan and on the Wakulla River in North Florida–and it is incredibly romantic. If only I could come up with the right title. So far the only word floating in my brain is “river,” and that is not enough!
I guess all of us are in the season of homework! Mine is just coming up with that title. It’s harder than it looks.
My sister said, would you like a free trip to Italy?
I said yes.
Then she made the same offer to my brother, Chris.
He said yes too, so Claudia took us to Italy for twelve days.
We stayed in Vicenza, which is near Venice. We saw snowy mountains, men skulling gondolas around canals, we ate gelato and more pasta than you can shake a stick at (why would you shake a stick at pasta?).
Claudia and I practiced our very bad Italian. My brother only speaks English and German. Fortunately many Italians speak English and German too. Not to mention Italian.
This photo is one of my favorites from the trip. The stone lions are guarding a fountain in Bergamo. I think the dog is pretending to be a lion too.
If your sister ever says, would you like a free trip to Italy? say yes.
So many of the characters I write about begin as real kids in my real neighborhood. I get to know most of them because of The Front Porch Library, the very local kid’s lending library that now fills all of what was my dad’s house until he passed away.
Our Tallahassee public television station, WFSU, did a piece about the library for their “Local Routes” show. Click here to watch the segment and meet some of our kids and volunteers.