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Retreat: An Editor’s Strategies for Reaching Fabulous Final Drafts

January 16-18, 2015

Deborah Halverson, CenCal Writers Retreat 2015 2

Instructor Deborah Halverson

The 2015 Writers Retreat Victors and their trophies.-4

Retreat Victors: left to right Carina Camamile, Stephanie Olivieri, Heide Boyden, Andrea Custer, Judith Roth, Owen Burgess, and Erik Talkin

Robin LaFevers Workshop in SLO

MortalHeartCover RobinFaceShot

We at SCBWI CenCal are over the moon about bringing Robin LaFevers to San Luis Obispo to work with us on voice from 9:00 to 4:00 February 28, 2015 at the San Luis Obispo Art Center. Her teen fantasy/historical fiction trilogy His Fair Assassin is getting rave reviews for good reason, enough to inspire Publishers Weekly to interview her upon the release of the third book, Mortal Heart (check out the interview here). Who wouldn’t love the idea of assassin nuns?

Before bringing us The Sisters of Saint Mortain, Robin offered younger readers wonderful romping tales with her Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series and her Theodosia series. Her work is rich, fascinating, and meticulously researched. Robin analyzes story and character in more ways than a devoted assassin nun could quietly take out someone unfortunate enough to offend the Saint of Death.

We’re grateful that while promoting Mortal Heart, she squeezed in time to answer some questions.

SCBWI CenCal: Many authors find themselves pitting their own will with the wills of their characters. You’ve created some very strong-willed characters. Do they ever give you a hard time, and if so, would you give us an example?

Robin: YES. Constantly! My characters are very opinionated and do not like it when I try to order them around to suit the story rather than let them lead the way. Probably the most notable run-in I had was with Sybella when she first showed up in Grave Mercy. She was so damaged and flawed and such a strong personality that she threatened to run away with the book. After a number of fruitless attempts at the scene, she and I finally had to have a talk wherein I acknowledged the need to tell her story, but she would have to wait her turn. After much eye rolling and hair tossing, she finally agreed. Perhaps not surprisingly, Beast was another character who just about ran away with the book when he first showed up. He and I had to have a similar talk, but he was much more of a gentleman about waiting his turn for his story to be told.

 SCBWI CenCal: Elucidate a world-building challenge you’ve faced and how you resolved it.

Robin: Probably one of the greatest challenges was creating assassins with a strong moral center and underpinning. I knew that I wanted to wrestle with issues of life and death—with not only lives but entire kingdoms hanging in the balance—but how to do that without having my characters be a bunch of sociopaths or serial killers? The answer was found in the research I did on the middle ages and the fact that some noblewomen preferred joining a convent because it gave them far more freedom and autonomy than their other societal roles. That tidbit coupled with Brittany’s folklore surrounding a death figure called the Ankou allowed me to create an authentic-feeling convent that served Death.

SCBWI CenCal: The SLO children’s writing community is really looking forward to your February 28 workshop. What are a couple of ideas or tools you hope we will all take home?

Robin: The longer I am involved in this writing gig, the more I come to realize that there are stories only we can tell—but finding those can be hard because they’re not the stories we think will sell or that we think others will want to hear. Sometimes, our own strongest stories are cut off from our more conscious story-telling selves. I hope that attendees of this workshop will end up with a stronger connection to those core stories that burn deep inside them—the stories that no one else on this earth can tell but them—and will find renewed passion for telling those stories as well as a better understanding of their most compelling voice and how to use it to best advantage.

Thank you Robin! Give yourself a well-deserved kick in your writerly patoot. Join us for Robin’s workshop, “Rediscovering Your True Voice,” and learn from one of the best. February 28, 9:00-4:00 at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Find details and register at http://cencal.scbwi.org//lafeversworkshop. For additional questions contact SidonieWiedenkeller at doniew@aol.com or Charlie Perryess at csperryess@kcbx.net.

A Day to Remember: Writers’ Day, October 25, 2014


 Spotlight Speakers (left to right) Catherine Linka, Allison Crozier Kimmel, Judith Janda Presnall, Tracy Holczer, and Joan Bransfield Graham

1st Pages

 First Pages Panel (left to right) Fiona Kenshole, Carolyn Yoder, Taylor Norman, and Annie Nybo

CenCal Rocks

CenCal Rocks with a Sing-a-Long

Writers’ Day 2014 Contest Winners



Our Talented Winners (left to right) Lori Anaya, Bryan Hilson, Erik Talkin, Janice Yuwiler, Heather Banis, and Robin Yardi