"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Whole Lot of AAWWesome!

This year I helped organize and plan the Awesome Austin Writing Workshop (AAWW) along with Debbie Gonzales and Meredith Davis. Though pared down to one day from last year's three, it was made of total awesome.

Awesome included:

The following wonderful authors in attendance:
Brian Anderson
Varsha Bajaj
Chris Barton
Donna Bratton
Gene Brenek
Shana Burg
Meredith Davis
Alison Dellenbaugh
Debbie Gonzales
Helen Hemphill
PJ Hoover (me)
Julie Lake
Greg Leitich Smith
Carmen Oliver
Lyn Seippel
Andy Sherrod
Don Tate
Brian Yansky
Frances Hill Yansky
Jenny Ziegler

A whole lot of in depth critiquing:
We divided into groups (my group was THE WILD THINGS. Others included THE RAMONAS, THE OUTSIDERS, and THE FROGS AND TOADS), read ten pages of each other's work ahead of time, and came prepared to talk for an hour about each piece. If you think an hour is too long, think again. But then again, we are a chatty bunch.

Everyone got a name tag with their group.

Shop Talk at Lunch:
Our catered lunch included conversation topics covering publicity, marketing, Twitter, Facebook, small press, large press, and getting rid of pesky parents.

A First Page Reading (complete with wine):
Chris Barton and I alternated reading first pages of everyone in the group (submitted anonymously). It was a blast trying to guess whose was whose. Some generated laughter that lasted for minutes. Others brought goose bumps to my arms. It's amazing how enjoyable first pages can be, especially when you know the people writing them.

Jenny Ziegler, Chris Barton, and Varsha Bajaj chilling during lunch.

Dinner at the Ski Shores restaurant afterward:
We were joined by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Mark Mitchell afterward along with a scattering of spouses (and even my daughter). She tried to convince various people to dip their feet in the lake with her, but no one was game.

Jenny Ziegler and Brian Anderson by the gorgeous view!

Greg Leitich Smith, Alison Dellenbaugh, Meredith Davis, Donna Bratton, and Shana Burg and her husband wanting the writing talk to go on forever!

Meredith Davis was wonderful enough to allow us to have the event at her amazing home. I could go on and on about the place, but I think the Narnia room sums it up the best.
This innocent wardrobe...

...opens up into the actual world of Narnia inside.

(complete with Varsha Bajaj and Frances Hill Yansky hiding inside.

So for all you at SCBWI Nationals, we Austinites had a blast (and a ton of productivity) back here in town.


AAWW 2009


Christine M said...

What a blast! It makes me want to move to Austin!

PJ Hoover said...

You need to move here, Chris! Shall we start house hunting?

Christine M said...

Tempting, Tricia, so tempting!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Are you telling me Narnia is really inside the wardrobe???? Austin is way too cool.

Danyelle said...

*is very green*

This looked wonderful! I love the Narnia room!

PJ Hoover said...

Great, Chris! It's a plan then!

Narnia WAS inside the wardrobe. It was an amazing mural painting in a large closet-sized play area.

It was so much fun, Danyelle! Meredith's house was creative in so many ways.

Jim Danielson said...

Narnia room.....WOW!!!


beth said...


PJ Hoover said...

I know, Jim! So cool. Wish you had been here!

Beth, you NEED the Narnia room. You totally can get your husband to build you one. He did make the desk after all.

Miriam S.Forster said...

I'm so jealous!!

But I'm VERY glad that you had such a good time. It looks awesome!

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Miriam! I'm sending out all the awesome vibes I can so everyone can enjoy!

T. Anne said...

Oh wow!!!! Thanx for sharing. Lucky you! I loooove the Narnia wardrobe! Now if I only had a spare bedroom...

PJ Hoover said...

And a spare cut-out closet behind it, right T. Anne! It is amazing!

Don Tate II said...

I can't wait to do it again!

C.R. Evers said...

Wow! Sounds and looks awsome!!!

Wish I were there. :0(

Tess said...

that sounds soooo much fun! isn't it great how a good conference can give you such a boost? At least they do for me :)

Glad you had fun!

Trisha Pearson said...

Wow! It sounds like Austin writers are way cool. I want a Narnia wardrobe too! I'm glad you all had such an AAWWesome weekend.

Solvang Sherrie said...

It looks like put on a great event!

I just met an amazing person from Austin today at SCBWI--Paige Britt. She represents your city well =)

Keri Mikulski said...

Looks like you guys had a blast!! :) Wish I lived in Austin. :)

PJ Hoover said...

Me, too, Don! I'm ready to plan next year, but I figure we should give people a breather :)

Wish you were there, too, Christy! It was wonderful!

Writing workshops really do that boost effect, don't they, Tess! It's always such an inspiring time.

PJ Hoover said...

Austin is a great place to be a writer, Trisha! There is so much support around here!

Very cool you met an Austinite, Sherrie! We are everywhere! And I've seen you mentioned a ton of places about the conference.

Me, too, Keri! You can more here with Chris.

Have a great week, everyone!

B.J. Anderson said...

Looks like it was so much fun! And that Narnia thing is just cool. :)

Kelly said...

That sounds like an amazing night! What a cool Narnia room!!

MG Higgins said...

Fun fun fun. And you've got the pictures prove it!

PJ Hoover said...

The whole house was just cool like that, B.J. I want to move in!

It was so much fun, Kelly! Writing is a blast and not always solitary!

I wish I'd taken more picture, MG! Next time...

Kelly H-Y said...

Goodness, I've heard so many great things about Austin, in general ... but what you don't hear in the news and magazines is the incredibly amazing writing community you have as well!!! A hotbed of talent!!! Looks like a FABULOUS day!!!

Danyelle said...


Now I'm even greener! I want a house like that. For Christmas. O:)

PJ Hoover said...

I love living here, Kelly! There are so many talented people, it's a bit intimidating!

Me, too, Danyelle!

Jennifer said...

Soooo fun! Thanks for all your hard work and awesomeness. I had a wonderful time. And I enjoyed getting to know your lovely little girl, too! ~JZ

Barrie said...

PJ, were your ears burning? By sheer serendipity, I sat by Jessica Anderson at lunch yesterday!

Vivian said...

Somehow it doesn't seem fair that Austin writers have all the fun! If only it weren't so hot there, I'd be very tempted...

Thanks for sharing all this good stuff and making us all drool!

PJ Hoover said...

I'm so glad you came, Jenny! Thank you! And my daughter certainly thought you were pretty cool!

That is excellent serendipity, Barrie! Two of my favorite people next to each other at lunch!

It is hot, Vivian! There is just no denying that. Winters in Austin are the best :)

C.R. Evers said...

Wow! looks awesome!

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Christy!

Christina Farley said...

This is such a great idea! I'm jealous. Very jealous.