LoonSong 2017



The Lodge is nearly empty. Trips to the airport have been made. There are a few of us hangers on, but the LoonSong children’s writers retreat is done for another year.

And what a year it was! M. T. Anderson, Gary Schmidt, Candice Fleming, Eric Rohmann, Julie Berry,  Marion Dane Bauer, agent Faye Bender and Candlewick editor Liz Bicknell. Thanks to all of you for making this weekend so special. You’ve given us much to think about. And I, for one, have lots of reading to do–books I’ve never read, or that I need to reread with your thoughts in mind.

LoonSong was born four years ago when Debby Dahl Edwardson emailed me from her small island in Elbow Lake in Northern Minnesota. “This would be a great place for a retreat,” she said. “Don’t you think?” I told her I’d need to see the place before I could offer an opinion. And so I flew in from my home in Massachusetts, and met her here along with Marion Dane Bauer who drove up from her Twin-Cities home.

It was love at first sight. Elbow Lake Lodge is a writer’s heaven! The rustic beauty, the water, the trees. And the loons!

We were riding across the lake in Debby’s boat and wondering what we should call this retreat of ours. We paused for a bit in the middle of the lake to soak in the beauty. While we sat there, the waves lapping against the side of the boat, a loon popped up beside us. A sign!

So LoonSong it was!

We returned to Debby’s cabin the next year for more planning. Who would would invite? We dreamed big. And everyone we asked said yes! Katherine Paterson, Kathi Appelt, Kekla Magoon, Will Alexander, agent Rubin Pfeffer and Charlesbridge editor Yolanda Scott.

Next we had to get the word out. We worked with Winding Oaks to put up a website, and enlisted the support of Vermont College of Fine Arts. Lo and behold, people started signing up!

Our first retreat, held in 2016, was more amazing than we even dreamed. We kept shaking our heads. After two years of planning, our retreat was actually happening. And it was spectacular! Could 2017 live up? You bet!

More than forty incredible writers made their way to the North Woods to hang out in the middle of nowhere with limited cell phone and internet access. We listened to inspiring talks and engaged in conversation about craft and books. We paddled in kayaks, we looked for the Northern Lights (though most of us missed them!), we sang songs by the campfire. The weather was perfect, the loons chorused, the water, lapping against the shore, lulled us to sleep at night.

We are already planning next year’s retreat. You won’t believe who’s coming! We’ll post the details here as soon as we can. Registration will begin in December! I hope to see you here!


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