We started meeting in October 1996. Some of us (including me) weren't published. Today we are all published and boast a couple of National Book Award finalists, a Boston-Globe Horn-Book Award, a Caldecott Award, and so many Notable books we've quit counting.
Some years, this is the only time we see one another. We come from all over the country (and Canada) We arrive with stories we're working on, with tales of the year's adventures. We make a stop at the local Trader Joe's so we can stock up on the necessities. We share cooking and clean-up. We spend our days writing in the seacoast quiet. We take breaks and walk to town when we need to. We spend evenings talking into the night about our lives and our hopes and our dreams... and, sometimes, our losses. We have held one another up in the darkest of hours, and we have celebrated our sweetest successes. We understand that those successes are about so much more than publication.
Our children have grown. Husbands have come and gone (so have publishers and editors and more). Hearts have broken and mended. Lives have been transformed.
Some of us are grandparents. We are growing old together, something we never considered 15 years ago. We hold pieces of one another's history. We are part of one another's story. I'm honored to be part of this amazing group of women who know how to laugh, cry, eat (!), tell tales, and write like their fingers were on fire. Long may we meet each October.
Special love today to our compatriot Dian Curtis Regan, above, who took the last two photos in this batch (well, not the one of HER -- she's toasting us with our leftover kitty money this morning). Go gently, good friend. Remember to carry us in your pocket.