We’re home again after a weekend spent at the SCBWI Whispering Pines retreat in Rhode Island, sponsored by the New England regional chapter. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. BH got to go (which doesn’t happen very often, sadly) and both of us snow-blinded, cabin-fevered kids had a blast.
Real editors, as promised. They walk! They talk! They critique! Meet editors Liz Waniewski, from Dial Books, on the left, and Lisa Chang, from McElderry Books, on the right. They were extremely kind and generous to everyone and are probably home sick right now because they are so exhausted.
This retreat is deliberately kept very small – there were about 25 people who stayed for the weekend, and another 25 or so who came just for Saturday’s activities. It is rare and quite cozy to have such a small group. Friday night we all gathered in the lodge and listened to “First Pages” read aloud. These were literal first pages from submitted manuscripts, read by a stranger. We did not know who wrote them. After the page was read, the guest editors talked about if they would continue reading the manuscript and what the author might consider to make the piece stronger. I chimed in with a couple of craft points, too.
Saturday was the real workhorse day. Editor Liz gave her presentation, and then I got up and blabbed.
In the afternoon, we met one-on-one with conference-goers who had submitted manuscripts for private critiquing ahead of time. For those not have private meeting, there were small-group critique sessions.
Saturday night we had a Q&A with the editors and me in front of a roaring fire, and then a rather cheerful after-hours party that involved vats of Cosmos and very interesting discussions. We stayed up much too late and loved every second of it.
This poem was in our room. How perfect, no?
Thank you, thank you to everyone who made the conference so much fun for us, especially Jan and Lynda.
And now it’s back to work.
It is snowing again.