I have just returned from the most glorious SCBWI retreat held at the Old Mission in Santa Barbara, organized by Alexis O’Neill, our tireless leader, whose dedication to children’s writers has fostered a community of storytellers. The weekend offered opportunities to work on manuscripts, meet new people, and visit with old friends in a relaxed and serene environment. I was one of forty writers who shared our work with each other as well as three (yes, three!) editors, including Stacy Cantor from Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, Alexandra Cooper from Walker Books for Young Readers, and Kristin Daly from HarperCollins Children’s Books. These lovely young women read and critiqued manuscripts until their eyes were bleary.
Throughout the weekend, participants supported and encouraged each other, with the unspoken knowledge of how precious each manuscript is to its writer. This generosity of spirit and sense of kinship have given me the inspiration I need to do my best work, and I am deeply grateful. I’m looking forward to the months ahead as I continue to post interviews, write book reviews, revise manuscripts, and begin my work as a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.