Aah...Green Gulch retreat! I love, no, LOVE this SCBWI writing retreat! It's in this fabulous zen setting—peaceful, quiet, you can hear birds singing in the trees and inhale the wonderful scent of Eucalyptus. I get a lot of writing done here. Over the years, I've written a 10 min. play (which was produced in Ukiah and Los Angeles), worked on my Young Adult novel (still in progress), and revised two picture books, including Goldy Luck and the Three Chans (soon to be published by Tricycle Press/Random House).
This time, I'm working on Cixi, the Dragon Empress (the last empress of China) for Goosebottom Books. It's a non-fiction biography for their The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames series. I've completed the research, and now it's time to pull all the facts together, and write it in such a way that's not a dry, chronology of information—that's the real challenge. I've spent all day writing though, and have made some headway, although it's fairly slow at this point. I think I'll write it chronologically, then figure out how to embellish the interesting details later.
My sister, Shirin Yim Bridges, publisher of Goosebottom Books and my friend, Gretchen Maurer, are also at the retreat. It is inspirational to be all working on the same thing at the same time (books for the Dastardly Dames series). We conducted our own mini-critique group to review each other's work and provide guidance/support. Another big plus at the retreat this time around? Internet access!! When you're writing non-fiction, it makes it so much easier to have that if you need to look up something on the web.
At home, I'm trying to snatch bits and pieces of writing time between running kids to school, fixing lunches, and soccer games, so it's nice to have a chunk of uninterrupted time. Plus, no cooking and cleaning (all vegetarian meals are provided for)—you an't beat that!