Vermont Writing Retreat

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking at the 8th Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College. What a great group of writers and what a perfect setting. Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Vermont College campus

This is one of the main buildings on the campus. We didn’t actually use this one, but I couldn’t resist the way the light was illuminating the top of the building. Vermont’s campus is small and cozy, and I appreciated the fact that I didn’t need a map to get around.

Tim Wynne-Jones

Here’s Tim Wynne-Jones, author of many fabulous books, but his newest one is Blink & Caution. He’s giving his amazing talk on dialogue. So insightful. Just yesterday I found myself thinking of his talk as I wrote a scene. Tim was a pleasure to listen to, both in this talk and at his book signing party at Bear Pond Books where he talked about the writing of his newest novel.


Here I am reading an excerpt from Fat Kid Rules the World to illustrate the idea of creating distinct voices in secondary characters. Voice was a fun topic to explore with this group because they were already so knowledgeable. I also had the privilege of sharing (with permission) a project from the Kansas City Star magazine where teens are interviewed about the way they see themselves and the way others see them. Jill Toyoshiba and Laura Bauer assembled a beautiful collection of photos, articles, and video.

I encourage everyone to check this project out at: and


These are some of the teen pictures up on the big screen. I seldom use any kind of technology during my presentations. I mean, really, isn’t public speaking enough to worry about? But it was so fun to share this with the participants and for all of us to have a chance to listen to the voices of real teens. Thanks to Cindy for helping me get everything up and running!


Claudia Gabel, senior editor at Katherine Tegen Books (center) was such a fun addition to the conference. She spoke about plot, and it’s possible she may have even inspired me to try outlining. Maybe. She definitely inspired me to look at plot in a new way.


Kudos to Sarah Aronson (right) for organizing such a warm, intelligent, friendly gathering!


Here are some of the participants, working hard.

This conference is held each year. Participation is limited to twenty-five people, so the time spent is quite in-depth. I highly recommend it. If you’re interested in finding out more you can contact Sarah at

Before I sign off, I want to mention that of course, I learned as much as the participants did. Isn’t that always the way when you’re supposed to be “teaching”? One of the many ways this retreat inspired me was to renew my commitment to reading for pleasure. Since my son was born, that’s fallen by the wayside, but every writer knows it’s a necessity if you want to write good books. The opening night of the conference, by way of introduction, everyone gave their name and then told about a favorite book they’d recommend to the group. It was so amazing to hear people speak so passionately about their chosen books. A list was compiled of all the titles, and I have resolved to read them all. Not only that, but I have also resolved to e-mail every author whose book I fall in love with. So, perhaps there will be some new book blogging to come.


Vermont Writing Retreat — 3 Comments

  1. Kelly, it sounds like a wonderful workshop. Thanks for the inspiring summary.

  2. Wow! This looks fantastic! And I need to thank you for supplying me with research. In my WIP, one of my characters is speaking at a fictitious writing conference in Vermont…

    So nice to see Fat Kid again – I love that book!

  3. Sounds like a great time! Any chance you can share that list of recommended books? And does this count as an “email” to MY favorite author? You rock! I love your writing! Come make a movie in Seattle, okay? 🙂

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