SOLSC: SCBWI-Oregon Writing Retreat

Silver Star

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for a place to share a slice of life each week.

This past weekend I was at the Silver Falls Conference Center within Silver Falls State Park, Oregon.

This is a fabulous place for a conference. Other than the time in the 1980’s when there was snow and lots of it, it was cold! How cold? Nights were 27-28 degrees. There are four nice lodges with rooms and wood stoves. There are also several cabins with own bathroom. HOWEVER, these are clearly summer cabins… heated with a SMALL Cadet in wall heater. No heat turned on until I arrived about five PM. I cranked it to 80 degrees. That night I slept in double socks, fleece pajamas (thanks goodness I brought them) and my shawl wrapped around my head (I forgot a hat). Seriously, I think the cabin was in the upper 30’s-40’s. The toilet seat was a real experience. The food was gourmet. I have the two fabulous Co-Region Directors of SCBWI_Oregon, Judy and Sue to thank for organizing such a great conference.

However, the speakers at the retreat were amazing! It was synchronicity at it’s best. Some of my favorites from each speaker:
Christine Krone, Editorial Assistant, Houghton Mifflin.:
“Good picture books are comparable to good poetry.”
“If it’s quality, it will be published.”
Marietta Zacker, Agent, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency.:
This is paraphrased: Let’s say you are on a hike, you reach a summit and are having a snack. You turn and see another summit and you know you must reach that summit.”
“An Agent’s job is to sell your work.”
Dani Young, Assistant Editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Atheneum Books for Young Readers.:
Dani asked a lot of questions:
~What makes your characters unique?
~What’s your character’s favorite saying?
“Spend quality time with your characters.”
Jennifer Rofé, Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency , “The So-What Factor”:
“Everything in your plot leads to the next plot point.” Jen used the movie “Dirty Dancing” to show us how the “so-what” factor worked. We didn’t actually watch the whole movie but the way she presented it, you felt like you needed to get the movie once again.
“Put your characters in difficult situations.”
Marsha Qualey, Author:
“Power + Belonging= Quality”
“Take power away and give power back”
We were lead through a series of exercises that I will be using with my characters.
Deb Lund, Author:
Deb was our ‘Fiction Magician’. She has designed a fabulous card set to deepen your work. Some cards ask/tell you to:
Form an Unlikely Alliance
Break a Promise
Lose a Prized Possession
Speak the Unspeakable Truth
Hopefully they will be for sale soon. And we all got magic wands which will be useful in an emergency.

I have a lot of work in re-visioning my novel. I am exactly where Marietta Zacker said: I have reached one summit but there’s another I must reach.
I must do this to reach what Ellen Hopkins said to me two years ago, “This is an important story and you must make it more important.”

Now I need a writing retreat to go do some writing.

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4 Responses to SOLSC: SCBWI-Oregon Writing Retreat

  1. Deb Lund says:

    Lovely, Jone. And lovely to see you again. Yes, a retreat to write! Best wishes on that next summit. If anyone can scale it, it’s you.

  2. Linda Baie says:

    This sounds wonderful, Jone, except for the toilet seat! I love the words you shared, will print them out & tape them into my notebook-will be helpful to re-look often! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Ellen Spears says:

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful tidbits from your retreat.

  4. Dana Murphy says:

    Wow, this sounds so inspirational! I just started playing around with a picture book idea. I’ll bookmark your post to return to when I get a little further along!

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