One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy Blog-o-versary to Us!

Kissing the Earth is one year old!

We just celebrated our one year blog-o-versary and were blessed to be able to spend it together at a writing retreat in central Oregon with Cindy Faughnan and Sarah Tomp (who are two of our Vermont College of Fine Arts classmates), along with the chair of the VCFA Writing For Children and Young Adults program, the unparalleled Margaret Bechard. We were also fortunate to be joined by the lovely and talented Ellen Howard. We spent five days talking about the craft of writing, taking long walks through the pine forest, eating chocolate, talking about books and, well, eating more chocolate.

The retreat was incredible. (The chocolate was too—how can you go wrong with Vermont and California-made chocolates and Oregon ice cream?!)

The central Oregon landscape was a big change for both of us—high desert with miles of flat prairie grass surrounded by aspen trees, lodgepole and Ponderosa pines. On chilly morning walks, we saw families of mule deer whose enormous ears hint at their name, horses running through the prairie, and blue heron standing tall at the edge of the river. One day we took a trip to a historic lava flow and stood high above a vast valley of black volcanic rock. The valley was surrounded by mountains, some so tall they were lost in the clouds.

This new and strange landscape was the perfect setting to study character, plot, point of view and obstacle/conflict in both middle grade and young adult literature. In specific, we studied those elements in our own works-in-progress. A landscape that offers surprises because it is so new to you is the kind of place that can open you up. Your senses are wide-eyed and fully awake, taking in amazing and unfamiliar sounds and sights and smells—and this carries over into your ms, so you see it from a different perspective, with freshly stimulated senses.

In honor of our blog-o-versary, we ask that you go to a place you have never been before. Feel what it is like to walk in a new landscape, to smell new smells, to hear new sounds. Or go out into your favorite place and find something brand new.

Sharry and Tam