About five years ago, I signed up for an online class in writing for children at Gotham. I'd never taken an online class before. I was especially nervous about (gasp) "the Booth."
The class ended up being a blast; my fears about "the Booth" (memories from The Phantom Tollbooth? John Wilkes Booth?) were unfounded. I can remember reading and rereading Deborah Perlberg's written lectures, and I can still remember some of the stories other participants wrote.
In that online class, I ended up meeting Chris Woodworth and John J. Bonk, my present critique group members. After Gotham, we critiqued each other's work online for a couple of years, and worked out a nice weekly schedule. Once a week, one of us would submit a chapter. We weren't allowed to submit unless we were up-to-date on our critiques. And once a week, just as in the Gotham workshop, we'd get online and “chatâ? for an hour-about how to deepen character, how to tweak a plot, or, frankly, about American Idol, our kids, or our cats! The chat helped us become close, though we'd never met face-to-face.
We met for the first time at the New York SCBWI meeting one winter. We joked that, since we'd never seen each other, we'd be wearing red carnations. I was so excited to meet Chris and John in person, after getting to know and love them, through their writing, online.
All of us have books now...John J. Bonk is the author of the hilarious Dustin Grubbs, One-Man Show and Dustin Grubbs: Take Two! both published by Little, Brown. Chris Woodworth is the author of the award-winning When Ratboy Lived Next Door, Georgie's Moon, and Double-Click for Trouble, all published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. I am the author of Eleanor Hill and The Princesses of Atlantis, published by Cricket Books, and Write Before Your Eyes, just out from Delacorte Press.
Of course we're proud of the books, but the best thing that has come out of this has been the deep friendship that has developed as we have read and appreciated each other's stories over the years. Thanks for bringing us together, Gotham!
Lisa Williams Kline