Pocono? Pocoyes!

(Forgive the subject line; my brain's a little scattered.)

Home now from the Eastern Pennsylvania SCBWI conference in the Pocono Mountains, tired but pleased by a weekend well spent. I met many nice writers (including some who have posted comments here -- hi Kelly, Mindy, and Pamela!) and twice gave my talk "Muddles, Morals, and Making It Through; or, Plots and Popularity," which features lots of thinking about outsiders and survival alongside my hilariously awkward fifth-grade school picture.

Suzanne Fisher Staples gave an amazing keynote speech Saturday morning. Besides being the author of Shabanu and Under the Persimmon Tree, among other fine novels, she served as a UPI reporter in Asia for ten years and took the first pictures of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan! Jose Aruego had us all laughing in the afternoon with his clever and surprising cartoons. Mary Lee Donovan of Candlewick, Mark McVeigh from Dutton, Julie Romeis from Bloomsbury, and Heather Delabre from an educational publisher rounded out the presenters; we all did individual presentations on Saturday, and joined together for a First Pages panel and Q&A Sunday.

I came back with a renewed determination to get stuff up on the website, so watch out for the "Morals, Muddles" talk, a "What I'm Looking For," revised submission guidelines, and maybe even that long-promised FAQ in the next few weeks. (I know I still need to post my Aristotle plot talk from Asilomar, but I'm going to be giving it again in Kansas City at the end of April, so I don't think I'll put it up till I incorporate the revisions I'm sure to make there.)

Lastly, on a purely hedonistic note, we were staying at a pretty, old-fashioned resort called the Sterling Inn. Thus my weekend included massive quantities of delicious food, "Love and Death" on cable, Scrabble with three very kind writers (I won, but barely), and soaking in a Jacuzzi while sipping wine (the wine courtesy of the generous Ms. Fineman). All the traveling and socializing left me a little tired, so I took a long restorative walk through Prospect Park after my return to Brooklyn this afternoon. Only at the end did I realize the irony: I spent the entire weekend in the Poconos, and then went for a nature walk in New York City!