Wednesday, April 06, 2011

SCBWI Nevada retreat

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):

It was a lovely, intimate location. I had my own room, but we all shared bathrooms. Nothing says "editors are people, too!" than having one brush her teeth next to you!

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!
I managed to take two fairly interesting videos. This one features a little foal standing up:

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.
Apparently, the girls feed them. One came up closer to say hi (and probably looking for a treat. Sorry, horse!):

The retreat began in earnest Friday afternoon with a discussion of social networking:
Editors and mentors Emma Dryden and Harold Underdown shared their expertise:
(while drinking wine, of course. 'cuz that's how they roll in Nevada!)

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:

 Sunday morning, I went on a hike with a few others on a nearby Comstock Trail (the Comstock Lode was the first major discovery of silver ore, and found under what is now Virginia City). We hiked about 4 miles (2 there and back) and beheld gorgeous views:
My hiking buddies: Sarah, Harold, Heather, and Lee
Saturday night there may have been a little Karaoke...
author Lee Wind and me singing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin (photo from Hazel Mitchell via Facebook)
Naomi getting down!
group song!
All-in-all, it was a wonderful, productive, and fun weekend with a group of warm, passionate, and talented writers and illustrators. Here's a group shot (courtesy of Tracy Clark via Facebook):

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:
Thanks for a wonderful weekend, everyone! And special thanks to co-regional advisers 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.


Naomi Canale said...

What a fun post and great summary of a great weekend. Thank you for sharing. Tilda IS adorable, and those pictures…oh so cute! Glad your weekend went great. And that Naomi person sure looks like she does know how to get down for sure…

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Great summary, Alvina. It is a remarkable program and so glad you're spreading the word about it! (And I'll duet with you anytime...)

Unknown said...

What a terrific wrap up of a memorable weekend! Thanks so much for sharing your time and thoughts with us! Your talk was a real highlight--what a pleasure to meet you!

Libby Koponen said...

What a great picture of Tilda -- are her eyes BLUE? They look it! Will that last?

Also I loved seeing the foal and all the horses, too. It makes me want to go to Nevada!

Nikki Shannon Smith said...

Thanks for this description of the SCBWI Nevada Mentor Program, Alvina. I already knew I wanted to participate, but this "inside peek" was helpful. (And I want to see the horses!) Now to get my funding together before applications come out!

And Tilda...what a cutie. She should be the BRG mascot: the blue rose bud.

Terri Farley said...

Best ever answer to 2 questions --
a) what do you DO at those writers conferences in Virginia City?
b)who cares about wild horses?

Thanks for both!

Hazel Mitchell said...

Great post ... no Lady Gaga pictures??