As Anna mentioned yesterday, I was able to stop by San Francisco for a quick visit before heading up to Nevada for an SCBWI conference. I was so happy to get to meet little Tilda, who is SO ADORABLE AND SWEET!! Here she is wearing her little blue rose headband:
Alas, it was just a quick trip, and after one night I was on a plane again headed up to Reno, and then a drive to Virginia City for the Nevada SCBWI mentor program retreat. It was held at the St. Mary's Art Center, which was formerly a hospital (and rumored to be haunted by a nun):
I arrived on Thursday evening, because early Friday I was given the opportunity to go on a wild horse tour. Our able tour guide was wild horse photographer Mark Terrell. Check out some of his gorgeous photographs here. And check out my not-so-gorgeous photography below. We saw several bands of horses (herds are made up of many bands), and most had foals. So cute!
And this one features a stallion trying to see if a mare was in heat. She made it very clear that she was not interested:
We even stopped by the Bunny Ranch (yes, that Bunny Ranch) to check out the band of horses that usually hangs out in front.
The retreat began in earnest Friday afternoon with a discussion of social networking:
Emma Dryden and Harold Underdown shared their expertise:
After dinner I introduced myself, shared some of the books I've edited, and told a few stories, starting with my parents' love story. Oh, how I love telling that story!
After my introduction, I met with Emma's group of three mentees. The structure of this mentoring program/retreat is quite unique--this same group of mentors and mentees first met back in October for a Fall retreat. (prospective mentees chose their top two mentors, and of the people who chose them, the mentors then pick their top five choices for mentees, and then out of that every mentor ends up with three.) Mentor and mentee then worked together (via email, mainly) over the six months before meeting again in April. Mentees had to have finished their book over the course of the program (whether it be a novel or picture book). I love that the focus of the program is craft. But the business of publishing (agents, submitting, etc.) is discussed as well.
My role at the retreat was that of "visiting editor"--I was not a mentor, but over the course of the weekend, I met with all of the mentors and their groups of three mentees. We had about 15 minutes to spend on each mentee's work--generally, they would read for 5-10 minutes, and then I would comment and ask and answer questions.
The weekend was quite intensive, but not overly so, and I liked that the schedule allowed for some free time, both so that mentors could meet with their mentees one-on-one throughout the weekend, and also so that we could explore the town and surrounding areas. On Saturday afternoon I took a quick walk/run through town:
|My hiking buddies: Sarah, Harold, Heather, and Lee|
|author Lee Wind and me singing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin (photo from Hazel Mitchell via Facebook)|
|Naomi getting down!|
And I even left with a new friend. Well, actually, I feel that I left with many friends, but only one came home with me, stuffed in my suitcase. Introducing Comstock, the horse I won in a raffle:
Suzanne (Suzy) Williams and Ellen Hopkins. It's a wonderful program that they run every 18 months. I believe applications for the next mentoring period will be accepted in late summer/Fall. If you've been writing for a while and feel that you're "on the brink" but just need a final push/polishing of your work, this could be the perfect conference for you.