Whispering Pines is a fabulous 3600-acre property in W. Greenwich, RI- and every year there is a NESCBWI Writer’s Retreat on the site. This is the first year I have been able to go. I was also the illustrator mentor, which meant that I had to talk about my illustrating and stuff. What a weekend! Scroll down for pictures and impressions of a wonderful event, the kind that truly leaves you ready to create upon your re-entry to civilization.
Here is the entry to the main lodge. The setting is stunning- seemingly untouched wilderness right here in RI, but for a smallish group of rustic conference rooms clustered in one area, connected by paths.
This is the view from the main lodge.
We had a first pages panel with writer Laurie Halse Anderson and editors Lisa Cheng (McElderry Books, Simon and Schuster) and Liz Waniewski (Dial books, Penguin Group). It was fun to hear off-the-cuff comments on everyone’s first pages- the panel did amazingly well under the pressure! The caliber of the writing was good, too, so that made it all the more interesting.
The FOOD at Whispering Pines is top-notch. I have never seen so many good choices at a conference- unusual New England stuff, too- johnny cakes, clam cakes, lobster bisque, prime rib…sigh. Easy to get used to, hard to leave!
Here are Liz Waniewski and Lisa Cheng, the two delightful editor mentors. I personally have full confidence in their abilities to choose good things- because they are both big fans of The Office (a.k.a. the best show on TV now)! But seriously- they are both very good at what they do, and it was cool to hear each of their presentations on how they work, and how publishers work in general.
Here is Laurie Halse Anderson worrying about her latest book release, and signing a book for me. I admit it, I don’t read a lot of YA, and I hadn’t ever read any of her books before coming to the retreat. But Laurie is one of the best speakers I have ever heard, I mean- like EVER. I think she really set the tone for artistic openess during the weekend. Beyond her speech, she is enthusiastic, outspoken and DAMN good at getting each person to face their own artistic demons and/or angels. She’s like an author/therapist…in a good way. Her new book due out soon is called Twisted.
Following is an attractive montage of people, places and things from the retreat. You can see what my room looked like, and also Barb playing with one of her cowgirl alter egos. Don’t worry, the dolls had a good time, too!
After a very late night of scintillating discussions and little sleep, I had to give my talk the next morning.
Everyone says it went well, but it was nerve-wracking- I forgot a whole bunch of things I was going to talk about! It was the first time for me to speak to adults- and they were a great bunch to speak to.
I won a Mystery Box in the raffle- score!
You can see what was inside- I am going to need a bigger YA shelf.
All in all an amazing weekend- I loved meeting everyone there, and would go again to this in a heartbeat!
Thanks Lynda and Jan and everyone for a truly memorable experience!