A few years ago — six to be precise– my slumping career got a loverly boost when I re-connected with Delacorte editor, Michelle Poploff, at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference. In the dark ages, Michelle had published the paperback editions of two of my chapterbooks and we’d kept in touch over the years. When she suggested we go to dinner together, of course I said yes. Over dinner, she asked what I was working on. Nothing she’d be interested in, I told her. Just a historical novel about a young girl who homesteads by herself on the eastern Montana prairie in 1918. She told me to send it to her and the rest, as they say, is history.
What does this have to do with Wordy Wednesday? In my mind, a lot. The Whidbey conference was always a magical place for me — with high-powered speakers like Pam Houston and Elizabeth George and Michelle, but small enough and cozy enough for plenty of casual conversation and even chats over plates of pasta. There was attention paid to marketing, but the bulk of this conference was always about craft. About pulling those words from one’s heart and placing them on the page in such a way that the reader will hesitate to turn the last page, reluctant to leave the world the writer has created. Sadly, the tough economy took a toll on the conference and it’s been on hiatus for the past several years.
But the work of getting the words right is so important to the great folks on Whidbey (now called the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts) that they are working their fingers to the bone to resurrect the conference. Under the leadership of Dot Read, they have raised nearly every penny needed to qualify for a matching grant of $15,000. By July 15, they have to round up 2000 more smackers to meet their goal.
$2000 is all they need to make the island magic happen once again.