In 1995, after attending a week-long Highlights Foundation Chautauqua Workshop in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Linda Crotta Brennan hoped to develop a similar program in New England. She envisioned an intensive and intimate weekend-long getaway for dedicated writers. She and Laurie Smith Murphy searched for a venue and found the idyllic Whispering Pines Conference Center, on the University of Rhode Island’s Alton Jones Campus.
Initially, the retreat featured an established author and an editor, and was limited to twenty-five attendees. Each person received a 30-minute in-depth Mentor Meeting. After a few years, an illustrator was added to the faculty.
Over the years, Linda and Laurie continued to stay involved in the retreat, sometimes as coordinators and sometimes as attendees. In 2005, Lynda Mullaly Hunt became involved in the planning, and in 2007, she took responsibility for the event. Lynda directed the event for many years with help from Mary Pierce.
In 2016, Lynda and Mary handed the reins to Julie True Kingsley and Cameron Kelly Rosenblum; Julie and Cameron asked Kristin Russo and Pam Vaughan if they wanted to be the new co-directors for 2017. Kristin and Pam heeded Lynda’s advice and they said, YES!
Due to the growing popularity of the event, 2017 marked the first year that two weekend retreats were offered instead of just one. Because they both filled as quickly as the single event, the WPWR directors plan on keeping the 2-event schedule as long as it continues to draw applicants.
In 2018, due to increased teaching workload and upcoming writing commitments, Kristin stepped down as the co-director, allowing Julia Boyce to take her place alongside Pam.
Today, each of the two retreats routinely draws almost fifty full-time attendees and another handful of one-day participants. The faculty consists of two editors and an agent as well as an established author and author/illustrator, for a total of five dedicated mentors. The 25-minute-long Mentor Meetings provided to each attendee are considered a dialogue and a collaboration of how to improve your work, rather than the ‘right and wrong’ of a traditional critique.
The dates for the 2019 Whispering Pines Writing Retreat are (WPWR-1) March 15-17 and (WPWR-2) April 4-6. For more information, please visit the WPWR home page.
Laurie Smith Murphy, Linda Crotta Brennan2005-2007:
Linda Crotta Brennan, Laurie Smith Murphy, Lynda Mullaly Hunt