Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The weekend! The water!

It could have gone badly. Very, very badly. The first omen was the premature death of my car battery in the ferry line in Edmonds. Panic, and much running up and down the dock ensued. Thankfully, I received a portable jump-start from a genial ferry employee in a screaming yellow vest. Covered in a sheen of stress sweat, I kept my engine running the entire way over to Kingston, hoping not to be chastised by a yellow-vested person on the boat.

I didn't. My luck changed from then on.
The Inn at Port Ludlow.
The weekend's water
This year's Weekend on the Water retreat was a dizzying, yet blissful, opportunity to rub shoulders (and brains) with two stellar mentors, middle-grade author Linda Urban and editrix Patti Lee Gauch. Needless, to say, much transpired.
The "Weekend on the Water" cocktail

First, however, the Queen of Retreats, Jolie Stekly, welcomed one and all with the weekend's signature cocktail, a locally produced sparking hard cider with a pour of locally produced pear brandy. (Yes, I said Pear Brandy.) The Friday noshing hour brought everyone together for a chance to meet, greet, and eat.

Patti Gauch
The energetic sessions with Patti focused on, you guessed it: ENERGY. She had it, and then some! She willingly and sharply shared her wealth of knowledge. Her opinions were cultivated over years of experience in the children's book industry, and she delivered her impassioned declarations with a twinkle in her eye and a self-effacing humor. Patti doesn't mince her words, but she communicated her devotion to children's books with an eagerness and excitement for language at its very foundation––the voice, the sentence, the word.

Linda Urban
Linda was effervescent. She dazzled us all with her Point of View workshops, and shared many passages from beloved and important examples. (If you haven't read the entire Gary D. Schmidt oeuvre, get thee to your nearest indie bookstore, stat!) Linda invited people to read their weekend exercise assignments in fireside conversations late on Saturday, and her warmth and enthusiasm, as well as her careful attention to people's work, won everyone over.
Food, glorious food!

In between filling your head with all sorts of NoTaW (Nuggets of Truth and Wisdom), a person gets hungry. The buffet offerings kept us going, and they were excellently stocked for those of us (ahem) whose eyes were larger than their tummies. There was plenty of free time scheduled, for writing or walking or socializing. The Inn staff was gracious and helpful, and those of us who arrived as individuals departed as a cohesive and grateful unit.
Jolie Stekly
There really are no words for how incredibly Jolie Stekly took care of everyone, mentors and attendees alike, and allowed us all to focus on the experience of crafting and thinking about our own work. This is really her retreat, and I felt lucky to share in it. (Not to mention the chance to step away from the roles of Mom and Spouse for a couple of days.)

And my car? Unfortunately, I think I'm looking at a new battery in my near future, but it got me home––a refreshed and inspired version of my former self. And a writer with a lot of food for thought. (Did I mention the food?)
Here's a collection of faces and folks from the 2013 Weekend on the Water Retreat. Cheers, all!

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