Tag Archives: writing retreat

Welcome 2013!

Hiddey-Ho – J Monkeys, here.  As Suze said, she, Katy Lee and I are typing away during the final hours of our retreat.  It’s been so productive, I’m borrowing Suze’s laptop while she reads my brandy-new 15 page synopsis of my WIP.  I’m giddy waiting for feedback.  But for today’s post: Welcome 2013!  Over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how 2012 went for me and what I want 2013 to look like.  Last week, I gave you my 2012 report card; this week let me set up for the new year.

 Here are my 2013 goals:

  1.) Finish all that 2012 stuff that didn’t get crossed T’s or dotted I’s last year.   (PS: our mini retreat this week has given me a HUGE jump on this goal already!)

  2.) Find a better balance between my variety of responsibilities – motherly and writerly.

  3.) Develop a plan and work the plan.  Whether those are marketing plans or the daily get-stuff-done plans, either way, I’m going to be crossing LOTS of stuff off my lists this year.

  4.) Master social media.  Right now, I’m just a guppy when it comes to this whole social media stuff.  I can barely tweet.  I ignore Facebook entirely too much.  Goodreads seems to have WAY more functionality than I know about.  And I’m not very Linkedin, either. 

  5.) Market books.  2013 is going to be the Year of Marketing for J Monkeys – I can tell you that much.  I produced a ton of product in 2012, not that you’d know it because I have done a terrible job of marketing it.  I’ll update you all of my marketing results as each quarter goes by.

  6.) Write two novels.  I’ve got one well underway and plan to have it written by the end of March.  That’ll give me nine months to plot and write the other one by year’s end.

  7.) Either stop dreaming about Alexandar Skarsgard or write a hero who looks a LOT like him.  Alex and I have adventures two nights a week.  Not those kinds of adventures, get your mind out of the gutter!  But we fall in love, save the world and have lunch pretty often.  I’m a visual person and I need to be able to see my hero.  The hero for my current book is based on actor Owain Yeoman (Wayne Rigsby on The Mentalist) and even though I think to myself every night before I go to bed “Dream about Hayden,” I still dream about Mr. S.   

Today’s Secret: I love to have goals.  Even if I don’t achieve them, I like to have something concrete to shoot for, something to measure against later on.

Today’s Question: What about you?  Do you like to have goals?  Do you go back and look at the goals you’ve set for yourself and see how you did?

Starting the New Year … In Retreat!

Happy New Year, everyone! Suze here.

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? That’s what I’m doing for the next few days with a couple of my Sister Scribes—J Monkeys and Katy Lee. We’re in a time share out in the very cold and snowy Berkshires, complete with comfy living quarters and a fully stocked kitchen. Plenty of snacks, hot tea, and wine, and no Wi-Fi!

I’ve got two short projects I want to finish while I’m here (synopses for two to-be-written books), and one longer one that I don’t expect to finish, but will make huge progress on (revisions on a story I’ve had gathering dust for a long time). What a great way to start the New Year!

So here are the top three reasons a writer should go on a retreat:

IMG_20130102_211507You get to work in your pajamas. Check out these Betty Boop fuzzy lounge pants my mom got me for Christmas.  Trust me: I could live in these things, and I will be doing so pretty much for the duration.

Distractions can be kept to a minimum. Without Wi-Fi, there’s no ability to waste time surfing the web. We’re keeping the television off, and our e-readers holstered. There’s nothing to do but write! Unless, that is, I decide to pop out to a Redbox later–wouldn’t a viewing of Magic Mike be the perfect reward for three writers who’ve been working hard all day?

You can spend quality time with other like-minded peeps. This one is priceless. I get that not everyone can work with other people nearby. Personally, I love it. Just hearing someone else’s keys a-clacking and knowing that stories are being created around me motivates me to press on with my own work. Stuck on a plot point or can’t think of the perfect word? You’ve got other writers at your beck and call, ready to assist you. Or to force-feed you Reese’s Pieces and/or mini pizzas when you’ve been writing long enough and need to take a break.

What about you? Have you ever been on a retreat, either a formal, organized one, or a casual one like I’m on now? How did it work out?

Retreat Recap

Tuesday’s Scribe, PJ Sharon here. I had the great pleasure of joining several CTRWA members this past weekend at the lovely Guest House Retreat Center in Chester, CT. We’ve been planning this weekend retreat for months, and no one was more excited than me to get away and share some quality writing time with my pals. I thought you all might like to hear about the highlights.

After checking in at 3:00 on Friday afternoon, we were all treated to a wonderful dinner and dessert before settling in for an evening of critiquing. We divided up into small groups, and each had the opportunity to share the first five pages of our WIP. This was immensely helpful to me personally, as my fabulous critique partners, Jane Haertel and Tracy Costa, convinced me yet again, that my short story prequel to my trilogy, to be released as part of the WG2E October Anthology, called SOUL REDEMPTION, actually started in chapter two. (Read my previous post about “The story starts here.”) I’m not sure why I haven’t quite mastered the art of where to start a story, but they were absolutely right and it will now read so much better.

Saturday morning, I rousted eight of my fellow writer friends out of their beds to join me in a 6:00 a.m. yoga class. I’ve been teaching yoga for about seven years now, and I love sharing a gentle, restorative practice with newbies and experienced yogis alike. Relaxed, refreshed, and energized, we had a hearty breakfast and then spent the next few hours working on our individual WIP’s in the comfort and solitude of the many nooks scattered about the quaint old inn.

After lunch—and I have to say here, that the food was simply outstanding—we gathered for an interactive debate with authors Kevin Symmons and Arlene Kay, who shared their humorous and spirited take on setting vs.character. Then we had more alone time before supper, where most of us made another dent in our weekend word count. I was able to finish all of my edits for WANING MOON, and I heard from Melanie Meadors that she broke her record of 5,000 words in a weekend. WTG Melanie!

Saturday night after a tasty Salmon dinner and blueberry cobbler—seriously, did anyone else gain five pounds this weekend—we got together for a fun-filled evening of Plotting Playoffs with our hostess diva, Jamie Pope, aka. Sugar Jamison. Our illustrious Prez, Jennifer Fusco won the big honor of the night and was rewarded with the coveted tierra, boa, and pink girly gloves—not to mention the best writer on earth certificate.

I’d like to personally thank the brilliant Jane Haertel, aka Suze Hardy, for helping me plot out Book Two of my trilogy, WESTERN DESERT. It’s going to be awesome, but I may need another retreat in the spring!

Much wine was consumed, laughs were shared, and in my opinion, the best line of the weekend came from Jennifer Yakely, another CTRWA contracted and soon-to-be published author, who said, “Historical romances are all about balls and Duke screwing.” I love writers! Don’t you?