Thinking about WIFYR (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers)

I’m going to be teaching at a week-long writers conference in June. This is a special writers conference to me for a lot of reasons. Link to WIFYR homepage

  1. It was the first writing conference I went to as a hopeful writer. It was held in Hawaii. (The amazing Chris Crowe set it up.) Orson Scott Card was my teacher and I learned a ton from him, even though I didn’t always agree with him. That’s where I first met members of the writing tribe. Also of note–at the time I was in no position financially to fly off to Hawaii for a vacation let alone a conference. I saw the announcement for the conference, and with a wistful sigh, thought what a shame it was that I couldn’t go. My husband saw the announcement and told me I should go. I’ve been lucky that he’s always been so supportive.
  2. I’ve taught some amazing writers there. I hate to start mentioning people who’ve taken my class because I will forget some, but ones who have published are Ally Condie, Erin Summerill, Julie Ann Donaldson, Sarah Larsen, and of course there are many more who were great writers and I’m still waiting for them to finish their books and send them out. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Kristi Bevan Stevens.) I’ve made friendships that will last for my entire life there.
  3. I recently went to Boston for a family reunion. I lived there when I was three but don’t remember much about it. My oldest sister remembers more. She said being in Boston reminded her of our mother, who passed away when I was six. I had known my mother wanted to be a writer. I remember seeing her sitting at the typewriter typing. (I was forbidden to touch the typewriter because I couldn’t refrain from pounding on the keys and thus tangling them into a mess.) I had even read some of her short stories, but I hadn’t known until two months ago that she went to a week-long writers conference while she lived in Boston. My sister told me how she would come home every day, excited about the things she’d learned.

I have been thinking about that ever since. Decades ago, writers who I’ll never know helped my mother. She came home energized and happy because of the things she’d learned. Thank you, whoever you were. I hope I can do the same for others.


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