Monday, July 25, 2016

Making Magic in Vermont!

Today’s post marks my official return to and I am smiling.
Both the timing and the blog’s current “Summer Doings” theme couldn’t be better.
I’ve been dying to share news of the Vermont Manuscript Workshop I was lucky enough to facilitate July 10-15 at the Landgrove Inn in Landgrove, Vermont.
It was truly a “Wish you were here!” postcard waiting to be written.

The Workshop’s location in the Green Mountains was something to write home about.
Non-stop green everywhere you looked, up, down and all around.
Crayola Sky Blue skies.  Puffs of cheery white clouds.
Crystal-clear brooks. 
Rolling hills and peaks.
Wooden bridges.
Think: a Currier & Ives print of Vermont Summer come to life, sound-tracked by bird songs that stopped you in your tracks.

More noteworthy, though, were my five talented, committed, smart and personable picture book writers – (pictured, from left to write) Dorothy Wiese, Shelley Smithson, Jean Horrigan, Donna Brown and Becky Hohensee.

Their travel to Vermont from, respectively, Hampshire, Illinois, East Lansing, Michigan, Baltimore, Maryland, Rutland, Vermont and Houma, Louisiana, paled against the staggering metaphorical distance they traveled in coming to know their stories, honing their craft and readying their manuscripts for readers.

They became a supportive, caring Writers Group abracadabra, just like that.

Speaking of which, Magic of all sorts filled our days and nights.
Mornings we gathered after breakfast in the Inn’s sunlit Studio up on the hill to focus on character, plot, writer choices, revision and reader considerations.
Most afternoons after lunch writers worked independently and/or worked one-on-one with me on a bench by the pond.
Evenings after dinner were reserved for reading-aloud the day’s work.
Author/editor/teacher Barbara Seuling, who founded the Vermont Manuscript Workshop 23 years ago (!), gifted us one afternoon with her insights and experience.
SplashingCowBooks Publisher Gordon MacClellan, who happened to live 20 minutes down the road in Manchester, stopped by to acquaint us with his publishing company as well as his new venture in marketing and distributing independently-published children’s books (DartFrog) and the New England Children’s Review.

At our opening Meet-and-Greet, I’d gifted each writer with her very own magic wand.  P. L. Travers’ words graced each writer’s folder.

“We are all looking for magic…..But indeed we have to wave the wand for ourself.”

I’d toasted to a week of magic when we’d first gathered and raised our glasses and that toast proved prophetic.
Watching these talented writers discover their magic as well as the magic in their stories was nothing short of magic for me.
Each connected with her world, her story, herself, ensuring readers connect as well.

Though I surely do not excel at iPhone picture-taking, the Good News about the photos that follow is: there are no pictures of my index finger!

Here’s our very own Landgrove Inn Round Table at which we dined 3 times a day on gourmet meals cooked by (to my surprise) the Cubs-hat wearing Chef Joe Kapitanski.
(My favorites included blueberry pancakes with Sugar Bob’s maple syrup, shrimp salad, flat iron steak and Chilean bass, mouth-watering rolls, scalloped potatoes, apple crisp, key lime pie and brownies and chocolate chip cookies baked daily.)
Note the Cubs cup  in the middle of the table which held writers’ favorite inspirational quotes extracted daily.

Here’s a photo of Gordon and me, showcasing the final art for the cover of my Missouri writer Joe Lawson’s mg novel TACKLING TIRES, out next month.

 Here’s that gorgeous pond and bench beside the Studio.
How could we NOT stop working late one afternoon to visit and sample our way through the Vermont Country Store?

And how could I NOT bring chocolate to our Studio gatherings?  (We’re writers, right?)

I pinched myself for 6 days straight, so grateful for the opportunity Barbara Seuling afforded me in inviting me to continue her Vermont Manuscript Workshop, for the support and hospitality Innkeepers Maureen and Tom Checchia  showed me and best of all, for the five writers  whose stories claimed my Hard Drive and Heart Drive.

And I’ve been pinching myself ever since.
Next year’s dates are now on the calendar: July 9-14, 2017!
I’m counting down the days to again making magic in the magical Green Mountains.
I’m wishing you ’ll be there!

Esther Hershenhorn


Shirin said...

OH Esther! I wish I could join you next year! I need to work on my manuscripts, to get them off the ground, so they will be good enough to be seen by other eyes ;)
This will be my motivation- Vermont 2017!!!
Thank you for this amazing blog.


Carla Killough McClafferty said...

This sounds so wonderful, Esther. I know everyone there grew as a writer under your kind encouragement.