Traveling writer: on the road again.

I'm just back from an amazing trip with two back-to-back talks.

First I went to talk to writers at Hamline University MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. The caliber of the students is incredible at this program. Lots of students have a book or two out, or are well on their way. I was able to hang with my editor, Jill Davis, who is there learning about being on the other side of the desk as a writer. Also lunch with Pete Hautman was terrific. We had a chance to catch up after not seeing each other since we both served on the National Book Award Committee a few years ago.

The professors at Hamline are incredible and give powerful, loaded lectures. If you are thinking about joining this program be prepared: they work their students (and profs) hard! Here I am with Gary Schmidt.

I gave a lecture on "How to Write Kick-Ass Nonfiction." Jacqueline Briggs Martin who teaches there did a really nice run-down of my talk on her blog. And yes, I did get all the way from kick-ass non-fiction to primordial energy. Made sense at the time.

Extra bonus: seeing my son Will in his lab and going for dinner afterward. He just got his Ph.D in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Minnesota.

Then on to Brigham Young University's Symposium on Books for Young Readers. I had a blast. The morning view from my hotel window! No wonder so many artists and photographers and climbers come here.

My minder, Annette Garner, who was fantastic. More mountains.

Our last evening together... below is a picture I took of a few of us (Laurie Halse Anderson, Patty MacLachlan, Glenna and Mike Tunnell, David Shannon) as close to paradise as you can get: Robert Redford's Resort.We drove up together in a van. I had no idea that Patricia MacLachlan is so funny. With David Shannon ripping it up alongside her, I just stared out at the spectacular scenery and laughed. The two of them traded White House storied that went like this: Patty: "George Bush asked me if I would like to sit down and I said, 'no, because I have a run in my stockings on my butt and if I sit down it will go all the way down.'" And David told us how he actually got Barbara to sign his Barbara Bush bobble head doll. (He had a little rogue help from the former Ambassador of Children's Literature, Jon S.)

DaNae Leu did a terrific run-down of the two days on her blog, The Librariest. She even brought me her Battle of the Books T-shirt to sign and took this modest photo of me:

And I thought this sign was so hysterical. It's for the last person in line at the bookstore signing....