2.28.2011

5 Things I Learned at Asilomar

1. BEST. CONFERENCE. EVER.
The 2011 Golden Gate Conference at Asilomar was such a great experience. From the gorgeous, wooded setting near the ocean in Pacific Grove, to the relatively intimate size of the conference itself, the whole weekend was ideal for soaking up vital information, gaining inspiration, networking and making friends. The spirit of the event was so positive, I felt very fortunate to be there. I also learned how volunteering can enhance one's experience...

2. FRED FARR
One of my volunteer duties was to create printed materials, like the schedule. As I was laying out the conference program, the name Fred Farr kept popping up on nearly every event. "I gotta meet this Fred Farr guy," I thought. I figured he was a respected author I'd never heard of who was designated as the emcee, or an organizer from Asilomar who would announce the speakers. I didn't ask because I am an idiot. So, I walk up to the meeting hall on day one of the conference, and there's Fred Farr. Not the person. The building. All those Fred Farrs in the schedule were location listings. (In case you're wondering, Fred Farr was a California State Senator in the 1950's and 60's.)

3. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE APPS
Rick Richter from Ruckus Media Group gave a fascinating keynote on the future of picture books. With the new wave of tablets and smart phones, the advent of highly interactive picture books is here. Don't fret. There will always be a place for good old-fashioned books, but book apps are quickly making their way into the mix. Will the app suffer the same fate as the CD-Rom? Doubtful. It's time to start thinking about how your next book will work on an iPad.

4. DAVID WIESNER IS THE MAN
David Wiesner gave a jaw-dropping behind the scenes look at his process as an illustrator and storyteller. All I can say is, go check out Flotsam, Tuesday and Art & Max. These books are the ultimate combination of artistry, wit and weirdness. Totally cool stuff. Totally genius.

5. FOOD FOR THE MIND AND SOUL
The whole weekend added up to a greater understanding, appreciation and reverence for storytelling. Josh Adams of Adams Literary Agency gave the clearest, most useful explanation of the agent-writer relationship I've ever heard. Writer-Illustrator Gianna Marino inspired us to mine material from our darkest nightmares. Pixar's Mark Holmes deftly opened our eyes to the cinematic methodology of storytelling. Author Alexandria LaFaye gave a veritable master class on a "method acting" approach to writing. And Cynthia Lord brought us to tears with her keynote on the rewards and drawbacks of writing stories based on our own life experiences. After such a wonderful weekend, I can only hope I'll be fortunate enough to return to Asilomar next year and catch up with my good friend, Fred Farr.