Monday, August 1, 2016

Week of Writing Recap

by Leslie Colin Tribble

Groggers at WOW - Janie Reinart, Sherri Jones Rivers, Suzy Leopold, and me in the back.

And the GROG is back after a little summer recess.

Several of us used our summer break to attend the Week of Writing (WOW) Retreat in Helen, Georgia. One of us, Sherri Jones Rivers has attended all three of the WOW retreats, while others have been at least twice. This was my second year at WOW and it was just that, WOW!

The conference is held at Unicoi State Park, which sits at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains. Rolling hills covered in green stretch as far as you can see. Coming from sparsely vegetated Wyoming, Georgia always feels like a foreign land. Unicoi is a great facility - the lodge where the sessions are held is comfortable and our rooms are just a short walk away. There are hiking trails, and this year we had the option of taking the shuttle into the nearby town of Helen, a Bavarian village in the heart of Georgia.

A Georgia peach morning.

Kristen Fulton organizes a fabulous retreat, and this year was no exception. The faculty was outstanding, the round tables were intimate and we had plenty of time for writing.

The food is always great as well.

Yes, you read those menu plates correctly!

Faculty included authors/illustrators Lisa Amstutz, Anna Crespo, Jill Esbaum, Barb Rosenstock, Linda Skeers, Don Tate and Duncan Tonatiuh. They spoke on writing for the educational market, how to get editors to read past the fourth word, inserting humor, looking at your stories from an illustrator's point of view, and how to be the best writer you can be. We were treated to a bonus Thursday evening when attendee and new author, Nancy Churnin (The William Hoy Story), gave a great after dinner talk about marketing your book.

The agents and editors were all very personable and approachable.They included Sally Apokedak, Silvie Frank, Clelia Gore, Kathy Landwehr, Victoria Selvaggio, Tamar Mays, Kelly Barrales-Saylor, and Essie White.

Author Panel

One of the changes at WOW this year was the roundtable format. Last year we had four or five attendees, plus a faculty member. The larger groups meant you had less time for comments after your story was read. This year it was two attendees plus a faculty member and you had an entire 20 minutes for a read and critique. That was very helpful - you could really delve into your story and see what wasn't working and why.

Author/Illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh

Another change was having much more time to write. Most days we were finished with sessions by 2:00, with roundtables following. The rest of the afternoon and evening were free for hanging out or revision work. Last year I was so brain dead by the day's end I couldn't even think about rewriting. This year with my head full of incredible knowledge, I raced back to my room and really got some great revision work done.

If you haven't been to an extended writing workshop, I encourage you to find one. Being able to write without the normal distractions of work, family, pets, etc. is a gift, and being around encouraging, helpful, fun writers just makes it all that much better.

Besides the valuable sessions, roundtables, and the opportunity of being able to purchase paid critiques, WOW offers writers the chance to connect with like-minded individuals. Evenings on the porch of the lodge, watching gorgeous sunsets, and getting to know the other attendees is really what makes WOW special. You can talk to people on every rung of the writing ladder in a non-threatening, inclusive atmosphere. It's never the exact same group every night with folks flowing in and out depending upon their mood. Some great friendships have formed at WOW, which I think is very special.

What made WOW valuable for me? Putting into practice what I learned during the day. Being able to spend an entire week immersed in writing was incredibly beneficial. I spent a lot of time revising the three manuscripts I took and am really excited about how they're shaping up. If you're struggling to find quality writing time, maybe WOW is exactly what you need.

The theme for next year's WOW 2017 retreat is Rock'n Roll'n and Writ'n. More details will be available August 1 at

We'll have more posts about WOW by other Groggers throughout August. Enjoy!

The Friday night party is always a blast.


  1. Thanks for sharing your pics and experiences. This would be a blast!

  2. Wow, Leslie, what a great recap of the week. Thank you for sharing your photos, as well.

  3. Love this recap and all the GROGgers who went to WOW 2016. Some great reasons to attend a week-long retreat, Leslie.

  4. Thanks for the recap from this year. Though I didn't go this year, I agree it's a great opportunity to meet other writers and hone the craft.

  5. Great recap, Leslie . . .so fun to see you all again! Love the 'Georgia Peach' morning photo. 😊

  6. I missed everyone this year! Thank you, Leslie, for filling me in on a great adventure in writing.

  7. So pleased for the opportunity to be in attendance at the WOW Retreat 2016 and hug on you Leslie, Janie and Sherri. Together we rocked, learned and grew.

  8. What fun! I missed being with you all at the conference. So glad it was a supportive, informative, and productive time!

  9. Hello Leslie.
    So excited for your continuing attendance reports from WOW.
    It sounds yummy! (luv the plate photos - could make a funny postcard!)