Monday, May 16, 2011

Wrap-up of last week's travels

The retreat

I got to see my lovely Aunt Martha twice last week, once Thursday, when she came up to see her new stove and to join us for lunch (grilled cheese - NOM!), and again on Friday when she and my Uncle Jim came up for the weekend, arriving before we'd skipped out. It's always lovely to see both of them, since they are terrifically kind people and (as I remind Aunt Martha), true patrons of the arts. Not only do they allow us the use of their marvelously gorgeous space, but they ask questions about our work and are terrifically encouraging about it. *happy sigh*

The new stove did indeed arrive, although not Wednesday afternoon (as initially promised) nor Thursday morning (second promise). Still, once it was there, it was spectacular. And not just because it works - it has five burners on top and a cobalt-blue-on-the-inside oven.

All told, the retreat was a productive time for everyone. I can't report amounts for Jenn Hubbard () and Angela De Groot (), really, but I can say that Jenn finished the first draft of the novel she'd brought with her, after which she did a celebratory shimmy-shake all the way around the kitchen island to much applause from Angela and me. And then wrote thousands of words on a new project, plus working on revisions of some flash fiction pieces. And that Angela drafted two new picture books, worked on an ongoing nonfiction project and wrote at least two chapters of her sekrit project.

As for me, I wrote quite a number of new words for my ya romance novel - hundreds interspersed earlier in the book, and nearly five thousand at the end of my in-progress manuscript. There were a few unforeseen elements - places where the characters up and did (or said) something I hadn't known about beforehand - but I think I like them. It's interesting what your characters will decide to cough up when it comes time to write a scene - sometimes it's far more than I bargained for, but still . . . interesting.

The NESCBWI Conference

Goodness, but I love the NESCBWI Conference. I always meet friends there - both the kind I already know in person and the kind I've only met online so far. I love how friendly the folks in New England are. And how going to that conference feels a bit like homecoming for me, even though I'm not a native New Englander.

And this year, I loved how three of the workshops I'd selected went together exceptionally well, even though I hadn't really planned it that way. I'd picked J.L. Bell's workshop on plot because I will quite honestly take pretty much anything he teaches, that's how much I like being in his workshops. I think it's because he breaks things down in ways that are similar to mine, although he's talking about topics that are different from what I bother to break down. (Inside my head this makes perfect sense - not sure it makes sense to anyone else, however.) And I picked Sarah Aronson's workshop on subplots because I thought it might have application for my novel. And I picked Erin Dionne's workshop because I didn't read the description all that carefully, and I think I thought it was on humor, only it was on making minor characters more memorable, and it dovetailed well with Sarah's. Taken together, they gave me lots and lots to think about and work with, both for my own writing and for my critiques of other people's works.

I enjoyed my other breakout sessions as well - Loree Griffin Burns on research (mostly for nonfiction, although it has application when writing fiction as well) and Stacy Whitman's on worldbuilding, which was excellent.

And I really enjoyed the time spent talking with friends, be it during lunch, in between sessions, at dinner or hanging out in the lobby (where alcohol may or may not have been in play).

Now I'm beat - so I'll tell you about tonight's poetry reading tomorrow. (Will I ever catch up?)

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