Wednesday, December 4, 2013

And We're Off...

At various hours tomorrow morning, after we drop kids at school or start the dishwasher or maybe throw a final kiss at the spouse who will run the house for the next few days, cars will be packed and the trek will be made to Granbury, Texas, for our annual retreat. It's always interesting to see what different stages each of us are in our efforts, what progress is being made, what hopes and dreams seem close or far. This year is no different, although we, as ever, certainly are. Here's a bit of what we each are hoping for from this year's retreat.

I'm approaching this year's retreat with a heavy heart as my mother died one week ago today. I debated attending at all, but decided that four days spent among my close friends could be only balm for my soul. So, I hope to embrace it for the blessing the retreat always is for me and utilize my time wisely--whether it means adding some serious word count to my WIP or outlining the ending that's been keeping itself at arms' length up until now. Perhaps I'll do some journaling to help me through my grief. I do hope we'll enjoy good weather as being able to get outdoors and stretch my legs after long hours at the computer is always a treat. As usual, my favorite part of the day will be getting to listen to the others share what they've so brilliantly composed while we are there. And the food and wine and companionship never disappoint.

My new laptop will make its inaugural appearance at this year’s retreat, and I’m sure my fellow ladies will be thrilled that I don’t yet again hog the prime real estate nearest a power outlet. (My sad old machine would not hold a charge.) I’ll likely write some words on it, but most of what I have planned will be old-school, hard copy: I've printed up the just-shy-of 100K words I've written, and plan to spend most of the weekend shuffling them around, reorganizing them into new order, and call it a manuscript instead of work-in-progress by the time we pull out of town. Which I can then tackle again in the following weeks, and set it aside over Christmas. Come January, I'll read it again, polish it up once more, and get it to Beta readers. Oh, and I hope to eat a lot, walk, and maybe Susan and I will spend an hour or two getting our Ohm on.

Every year, I look forward to our retreat. I can’t believe this will be our fifth year! This time, I’m focusing on the structure for my latest—and hopefully, final—draft of The Angels’ Share. I’m excited about the possibilities ahead of me. A new goal for me this retreat is to start a new poem each morning we’re there, and to flesh out my writing goals for 2014. I’ve learned so much about writing craft and the publishing industry in 2013. I’m hoping that this retreat will be a good time to reflect on this year’s journey and to plan for the months ahead. And a few long walks and some yoga, along with good friends, food, and wine, won’t hurt a bit.

After a few years of revisions and rewrites, I’m finally excited to say I’m working on a new manuscript at this retreat. Characters and scenes are flying at me quicker than I can write them, and in no particular order. Like Kim, I typically hide away in my room or in a quiet spot on the lawn, but I always look forward to walks, evening readings, wine, food, and laughs. I’m constantly amazed and humbled at my luck in finding this group of quirky, brilliant writers, each of whom I bond with in a different way.
I will probably spend most of the retreat holed up in some corner with my brand new laptop. I had intended to try to rack up as much word count as possible on my new manuscript, which is mostly outlined and has even been started. Plans have changed, though. There are rumors of further cuts to my husband’s division at work, and they tend to do layoffs in the spring. On the chance that I end up having to rejoin the working world in a few months, I want to make certain that the edits on my already completed manuscript are done so I can continue submitting it. Agents and beta readers alike agree that I’ll have an easier time marketing the book as upmarket women’s fiction instead of historical or literary fiction, but in order to do that, it must be switched to an all-female point-of-view. I’ve stewed over how this can be done for the last couple of months and it all came to me in a rush. Now the story won’t let me go again. I’ll be getting as much editing done as possible over the retreat.


I'm the person in charge of junk food and general wandering around. So as always, while everyone else is gathering eggs and yogurt and granola and other healthy things, I'll be stopping by Trader Joe's or some other fun store and randomly grabbing whatever looks the tastiest and least healthy, because I try my hardest to corrupt my writing sisters that way. The forecast calls for freezing rain, so I'll make sure we have plenty of hot chocolate, marshmallows, and spiced cider to simmer on the stove. Cider is a fruit, no? And writing? Oh, yeah! I'm counting down the days to the paperback release of Calling Me Home (January 7--one month from the penultimate day of our retreat), and doing random tasks in preparation. But I'm also on the last legs of a revision/rewrite of a manuscript I started a long time ago that hasn't ever let go of my heart. I have big hopes of finishing it by this weekend so I can submit it to my agent. Of course, you know what Robert Burns said (To a Mouse) about the the best laid plans of mice and men...

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
But we are What WOMEN Write, so maybe we'll be lucky and our best-laid plans and schemes will not go awry. We'll let you know how that turns out.


  1. Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful retreat!

    (Pamela, my sincerest condolences for the loss of your mom.)


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