>> Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I just saw that the deadline for the SCBWI-Carolinas Spring Retreat in Chapel Hill, NC is fast approaching, and I wanted to throw in my recommendation to attend for anyone writing for kids who lives close enough to go. I went two years ago (I think?)--the year Martha Mihalik, Sarah Shumway, and Krista Marino attended as editors--and had a great time. You get a personalized critique from a major editor--precious one-on-one time in which you discuss the book sample you submitted in advance--plus group sessions with each instructor, in which you learn writing tips, techniques, and trends. It's like going to the fall conference, only there's just a couple dozen of you there with the editors!
What I really valued most about the experience though was meeting all the other SCBWIers and having dedicated time to work on my manuscript. When not in the general instructional settings, the attendees are free to pull up a rocking chair or a table in some quiet spot and write. It was really inspirational to sit laptop to laptop to laptop with other writers and work, occasionally sharing successes and asking for help with challenging bits. There was a real sense of camaraderie, and I made a great many friends--particularly as I had just moved to North Carolina, and was meeting Carolinas SCBWI members for the first time. (Waves to his fellow attendees.)
The time I was able to spend on my manuscript was super valuable, and the advice I got on it from editors and fellow workshoppers helped me understand where my story was, what it needed, and how to fix it. I can't recommend the experience highly enough--and I would be going again this year but for my trip Japan!
Information about the retreat can be found here, and the registration form and further information about the instructors can be found here (opens as a PDF). If you've got the wherewithal to go this year, it's well worth it. But hurry--the deadline to register is March 1st!