Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I'm still in a bit of a foggy haze after the SCBWI New England Whispering Pines Writers' Retreat this past weekend. So many inspirational ideas, talks, lessons. So many great writer folk and new friends. It's going to take me a while to get everything in order.

When this is what you see upon your arrival, you know you are in for something special.

I didn't take many pictures, because I wanted to absorb everything without the distraction. But I did take this one to send to a friend who isn't the biggest fan of the little critters. It will give you a sense of the rustic feel of the retreat center (and someone's obsession with squirrels.)

So, the only 'con' that I can come up with from the weekend was that I gained 5 lbs due to the delicious food. Among the pros - a great roommate buddy, new friends from a great community of writers, tons of inspiration. Here's some of what I learned, and quotes that spoke to me:

Don't set unreachable goals. Baby steps. "You are a writing day starter." - John Cusick/Greenhouse Literary

I may have been a Journalism major back in the day, but my grammar can still use a little help.

I love exclamation!!!!!! marks too much. Really. Use them only when absolutely necessary!

You don't have to follow trends. "Good books define the market - they change it when they appear." - John Cusick

"You are only a debut once." - Joan Paquette/Erin Murphy Literary Agency 

 Think about what your character wants and needs. And how those things are sometimes at odds with each other. - Kendra Levin/Viking Children's Books

"Your character should change, and their world view should change too, by the end - in response to their journey to get what they want." - Mallory Kass/Scholastic Press

Tension. Drama. Intrigue. These will keep the reader turning pages. - Sylvie Frank/Simon & Schuster

And my favorite takeaway:

Have a conversation with your main character. Or all your characters. Amazing things will happen. 


  1. Happy Dancing! (Necessary exclamation mark)! It seems this retreat may have come at a perfect time for you, am I right? I'm so glad you enjoyed it. These are great nuggets of wisdom. I especially appreciate the ones about character - something I'm working on/struggling with right now. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes! (again, necessary). The critique especially was invaluable at this point.We did a visualization exercise with Kendra Levin that was incredibly helpful. Will tell you more soon. Thanks for following along! (I can't help it.)