The idea to use Guild talent to benefit beginning writers was first proposed by Mary Childs during her 1982-83 tenure as president of the Guild, and in October of 1983, Larry Callen took up the ball and met with Mary, Joanne Gartenmann, and Milton Lomask, to discuss a general structure and time for the seminar. Planning continued through the fall and early spring, with more than a dozen additional Guild members assisting.

The first seminar on writing for children to be sponsored by the Guild was held on April 11, 1984. The site was the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Silver Spring. Fifty-five beginning writers attended the seminar, and its success encouraged Guild leaders to consider sponsoring a similar event in the near future. The program offered a full day of discussion on the writing of fiction, nonfiction, the picture book, and marketing. Mary Childs acted as Mistress of Ceremonies.

The fiction panel included Phyllis Naylor (mood and plotting), Larry Callen (the creative voice and the writer's block), and Colby Rodowsky (where characters come from). The nonfiction panel consisted of Marjorie Fribourg (defining aims and organizing materials), Delia Goetz (uncovering areas of need), and Peggy Thomson (research). Gloria Kamen and Nancy Patz teamed up to discuss the art of writing and illustrating the picture book. All panelists participated in a question-and-answer discussion on marketing.

Many other Guild members helped assure the success of the day. Gene Namovicz developed a list of recommended books, which was a part of the workshop package given to participants. Pat Strickland coordinated all food activities. Helen Jacob developed the list of courses in writing available in the metropolitan area and handled seminar registration. Caroline Levine assisted with the development of the program and with food purchases. Claudia Mills and Brenda Seabrooke handled the book sales. Mary June Roggenbuck assisted wherever needed.

Written comments from seminar participants at the end of the day were extremely favorable:

  • Very well organized and professionally run; a nearly perfect blend of speakers, questions and answers, and informal discussion.

  • Presentations had a one-to-one quality, personalized, that was welcome and warming.

  • I felt that the panel members gave good, specific information, instead of dealing in generalities.

  • So kind of those of you who have made it to look back and help us struggling on the foothills. I was really energized today. Got a lot of ideas for my own work.

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