Tag Archives: retreat

A break from the maelstrom

As much as I love the crazy, complicated chaos that is the internet, there comes a time every year when I sign out of Facebook, stop tweeting, and push the power button on all my devices.

Now is that time.

I will miss (at least a little bit) Lenny Kravitz’s wardrobe malfunctions and cats-vs-roomba and the latest kerfuffle in the YA community. I will miss (much more) the sharp insights and biting wit of my colleagues.

And I will miss you (a lot).


But I will be listening to pebbles and sliding through water on wings of my own flesh and feeling the smooth wood of a paddle shaft under my palms. The smell of wood smoke will curl through my dreams, and when I wake early, and the mist is still rising, I will crush a leaf of sweet gale between my thumb and forefinger and breathe deep.

It is time.


When I see you next, my dears, I will be more me and less maelstrom.

The kindness of book people

IMG_4920This weekend, I was lucky enough to spend three days in beautiful Dumas Bay with book people. I woke today wondering how to capture the SCBWI-WWA retreat in a blog post.

Bald eagles.
A run in the rain.
Cookies and whisky.
Feeling like a giantess in my tiny convent room.
Hilarity and sand dollars.
Open hearts.

How could I give this to you, I wondered, in a wrapping of words that captured falling leaves and infinite mud flats and the way sound carries over water?

Then my writer friend, Kiersi, posted an article about what makes relationships last.

The answer? It is so simple. Kindness. Walking toward the outstretched hand and taking it. Holding out your own.

In one of the sessions this weekend, Sara Crowe, talked about the characteristics of career authors. One of them was to be kind, to reach out your hand to the editors and the assistants, to the published and the not-yet-published, to all you meet along the way. And while he might not have realized it, Andrew Karre reminded us to be kind to ourselves, to shut out the noise of reviews and the market, the expectations of genre, and the general cacophony that gets in the way of turning the multitude of wonders in our cupboard into story.

So this is what I want to tell you about my weekend: It was replete with kindess.

  • The kindness of Sara and Andrew when they talked about their authors and their books written and unwritten.
  • The kindness of critique partners who saw strength in the craft of others and named it.
  • The kindness of writers who shared the stories of their hearts with me and who, in turn, listened to my own. 
  • The kindness of laughing together (and leaving no one behind on the mud flats).
  • The kindness of every moment that honored both the gifts and challenges of this thing we do, this thing we share, the way we strive to bring forth the story only we know.

Thank you, Andrew and Sarah. Thank you, Allyson and Lois. Thank you, compatriots. It was a beautiful weekend.

Writing retreats are serious business even in bikinis

I spent Saturday and Sunday at Cannon Beach in a rented house with the Viva Scrivas on retreat.  Lest you think it was all cocktails and bon bons and Scrabble, let me tell you a little story…

Saturday was the kind of day that happens once or twice a year on the north Oregon coast.  75 degrees.  Clear sky.  No wind.  A day for bikinis.  Seriously!

And we worked, wrote our fingers to the bone.  When I paid our bill at the rental office, the woman said, “I saw you all working away yesterday.  How did you do it?  The day was too nice for work.”

How did we do it?  One word at a time…  Some of us are on deadline (yikes).  Others making good use of the time away from demanding jobs and small children.  Another getting back to writing after a long absence.

Our group tries to get away 2-3 times a year for writing binges followed by those aforementioned cocktails and bonbons.  It’s a great way to be together and make major accelerations in our writing progress.  I wrote nearly 5,000 words to give me nearly 45,000 words written in my newest novel.  I’m into the last 1/3 and let me tell you… IT FEELS GREAT!