JFK Library, AWP conference, bloody beating hearts, and Superman

I recently returned from a trip back east which had just about everything in it: two presentations, brainstorming with my publisher at Viking, Ken Wright, over lunch, NYC friends over breakfast, and a long visit with my granddaughter. Perfect!

Sam Rubin and his colleagues at the John F. Kennedy Library put together a cool program, Sources of Inspiration,  with Robert Burleigh, Bryan Collier, and me. The JFK folks did something really helpful: we all met together for dinner the night before and started talking. I was surprised how much it influenced our panel in the morning. We had plunged into a really interesting discussion about exactly what kind of freedoms you have with narrative nonfiction, and we got into more at the panel. Still way more exploration to do, as there are so many shades of opinion on this.

Here's a shot of Robert Burleigh, with the irresistible architecture by I. M. Pei.

Robert Burleigh, with I. M. Pei's amazing architecture. How would you like this to be the hallway you walk through at work?

Robert Burleigh, with I. M. Pei's amazing architecture. How would you like this to be the hallway you walk through at work?

At AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Marina Bhdhos, Marc Aronson, and I did a presentation on: YA Meets the Real: Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction that Takes on the World. As  primarily a nonfiction writer, I was really interested in conveying how to make nonfiction as vivid and intense as it can be, while sticking strictly to the truth. My advice: grab the beating, bloody heart of your subject and squeeze with all you've got.

Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

Ann Matzke, Tracy Maurer, and Carrie Pomeroy

Ann Matzke, Tracy Maurer, and Carrie Pomeroy

I can't finish up without showing you the great t-shirt we were given at JFK. The front had the serious presidential seal. On the back... Superman and a cool, real story about JFK and Superman.

Tom, looking presidential... or maybe Clark Kent-ish.

Tom, looking presidential... or maybe Clark Kent-ish.