Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat 2009


Once again, I had the good fortune of going to the Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat at the Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich, RI. It’s not far from me, but a world away. The setting is more like something out of Maine.


Before anything happens there is food.

SCBWI’s Marilyn Salerno, editor mentor Sarah Shumway from Harper Collins, Barb Johansen-Newman, and author-illustrator mentor Maryann Cocca-Leffler.

The food is literally amazing here, and there’s plenty of it.
After dinner, Lynda gets the ball rolling with a First Pages panel.


Excellent readers!

The mentors: Author Ellen Wittlinger, Agent Anna Webman, Editor Jennifer Rees, and editor Sarah Shumway.

Here you can see the cozy fireplace room.


The girls sent me some mascots to keep me company over the weekend.


The next morning began with special helper awards.

Helper Sally Riley gets her trophy from Chief Organizer Lynda Hunt.

Laurie Murphy is at a loss for words…

Jan Kozlowski receives her very special award.

Jennifer Rees shared her editing process with us, and showed us some great examples of recent books from Scholastic.


Author Ellen Wittlinger read us some inspiring passages from well-written books, and at least 3 important points to think about in our writing!


Here is Sarah Shumway at her very cool podium giving us the lo-down about working at Harper Collins.


Laura’s trying to decide which way to go.

The view from the porch.

Mentor books for sale!

Another fabulous dinner! Honestly, it’s consistently the best food ever to be had at events like these.

Pictured here: Laura Fry, Laurie Murphy, Debra Wainwright, Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Lynda Mulally Hunt, Barb Johansen Newman, Jan Kozlowski, Mary Pierce.

After dinner, it was time for another rollicking session of First Pages!



The official mentor lineup shot!

Jennifer Rees, Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Anna Webman, Sarah Shumway, Ellen Wittlinger.

After hours fun at Laurel! Here’s Jan doing her best Vanna White impression with a fine array of themed baskets to be raffled off.


Cheers! Somehow there are always colorful beverages involved in the evening’s events.


Mary brought along Cadbury Creme Eggs. Not just the smaller, wimpier American ones, but the bigger, better British ones! This finally laid to rest the mystery of the incredible shrinking Cadbury Eggs. Americans should protest. Bring back the original sized eggs! Thanks to Mary for all the spare British ones…we’re loving them!


After another night of late-night chatting, the next day started with Barb introducing Maryann Cocca-Leffler.
Maryann has channeled all of her life experiences into her stories, and has used her winning personality and chutzpah to successfully navigate the minefield known as children’s publishing. Very inspiring.


New to the festivities this year: Children’s Book Jeopardy!

Lynda Trebek shot out the questions, and teams had only 15 seconds to guess them. Not easy!

Team 4 gets it right!

Anna Webman from the Curtis Brown Agency spoke next, shedding some light on what agents do.


Maryann signs her books for lucky children (and adults)!

The last of the themed baskets were raffled off, signifying the end of another fabulous retreat.

Basket cases!

A final look at the Whispering Pines:


See you next year!
If you’re nostalgic for retreats from previous years, follow the links:

Whispering Pines 2007

Whispering Pines 2008

7 comments on “Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat 2009

  • on Monday, March 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm, Caroline said:

    Wow! What a pretty setting! Glad you had a good time =)

    P.s. and double wow! I can’t believe Cadbury eggs haven’t been reduced in size EVERYWHERE. That is so unfair!

  • on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 7:50 am, Mary Cronin said:

    Hi Liz,
    Great report! It was two years ago that I attended Whispering Pines, and I remember having some nice conversations with you. Glad to hear the retreat went so well this year!

  • on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 10:18 am, Nandini said:

    What great pictures! But it’s terrible knowing what I missed by not attending the full weekend (though Saturday was awesome too). Cadbury chocolates, cozy fireside gatherings, first pages, mentor critiques … next year I’m so there!
    It was nice meeting you!

  • on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 2:54 pm, Audrey said:

    Mmm… cadbury creme eggs 😀

  • on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 6:56 pm, kathy weller said:

    Liz, what an awesome post. Thanks for taking us into the retreat. Looks like so much fun. Your new blog design is really great, too!! Love it!

  • on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 5:27 pm, Sea Pony said:

    I see you didn’t loose that breezie’s crown!

  • on Friday, April 10, 2009 at 5:44 pm, Mary Beth said:

    Hmmm, there is something wrong with my google blog reader. According to it, you haven’t made a blog post since Nov. 17. So you can imagine my surprise when I went to your blog today and found all your new posts!

    Looks like you had a fun time in the woods!!

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