Kindling Words is a retreat designed for children’s book professionals. We strive to create a warm, supportive, non-competitive environment, where everyone feels part of the group. We have been holding Kindling Words retreats for more than 20 years. The retreat was started by Mary Lee Donovan and Alison James, who were both fresh from grad school at Simmons. They wanted to create an environment where peers could gather and be inspired creatively.
For many years, Kindling Words was held at Silver Bay, in Lake George, New York. It was rustic and gorgeous—and cold. So cold, in fact, that there came a time when heating the place just for our retreat was no longer an option. So we went looking for a new home! That was about 9 years ago, and coincided with Alison about to embark on a long trip to Taiwan. Mary Lee was (and is) still very much a part of KW, but had also become a busy editor. So Tanya Lee Stone joined forces with Alison, finding Kindling Words a new home at the Essex, in Essex, Vermont. When they discovered that—on top of the amazing food, beautiful spaces, and welcoming atmosphere of the Essex—it also had a BONFIRE to continue the Lake George tradition—they knew Kindling Words had found its new home. I mean, what would Kindling Words BE without the kindling??
Over the years, the size of Kindling Words has grown from 10 to 20 to 40—and now our annual winter weekend caps at over 75. Kindling Words has continued to evolve in other ways, as well, with then-East Registrar Marnie Brooks taking on Kindling Words West as her heartfelt project with Alison, adding a new dimension to our ever-growing organization. Now led by Anne Hunt and Alison, and held at Whidbey Island Institute, Kindling Words West is a week-long retreat, with silent retreat time after the morning workshop. For our 20th anniversary, we celebrated with KW-UK in the Lake District, and in 2018, we had Kindling Words in a castle in Scotland!
Please browse the photos and comments for East, West, and UK. If you have a memory, anecdote, or photo you would like to share, please email us, with Subject Line: Kindling Words History, so we can continue to add to these pages!
Love, Alison James & Tanya Lee Stone, Kindling Words Co-Directors