Tag Archives: writers retreat

Mini Writer’s Retreat

I just got back from a writer’s retreat, but I didn’t actually go anywhere. How is that possible, you may ask? Well, during the course of visiting bloggers during the A to Z Challenge, I came across a writer who talked about how she and another writer from her critique group would take turns going to one another’s house for an overnight writing foray. They’d have quiet writing hours and brainstorming sessions. This struck me as a fabulous idea, so I presented it to my dear friend, fellow writer, and publisher, Kerrie, and we picked a date. With The Husband in India for work, this worked out great, plus, this entire week has been rainy, which always makes me want to hunker down with a mug of tea and paper and pencil. 

Kerrie helped me brainstorm some plot and character ideas for my new novel, I worked on some poetry for a Words and Images workshop I’m taking, and then we hammered out the storyboard for a children’s book we co-wrote and I’ll be illustrating. Even my teenage son offered his ideas when we were discussing the book. But we had potato chips, so I think that lured him.

We accomplished a lot. 

Writing retreats can be quite a financial investment, so something on a smaller scale, and in your own space, is a great option. Having the opportunity to brainstorm ideas, can set you on the writing path if you’re feeling stalled. Plus, it it’s a good excuse to clean house.

Happy Friday, everyone. And if you’re one of those who like a great book for a great deal, you can download Bobbing for Watermelons for half price at Kobo today through Sunday. That’s only $2.99!  (You don’t need a Kobo reader; just download the app.) 
Bobbing for Watermelons by April J. Moore

Have a great weekend and Mothers’ Day!

A Writer’s Retreat a.k.a. Naptime


I just returned from the NCW annual writer’s retreat held at the Shambhala Mountain Center near Red Feather Lakes, CO. Maybe it was the soothing incense wafting about, the 8,000+ feet in altitude, or that the staff and other visitors seemed to peacefully float about with serene expressions on their faces, that I found myself to be rather sleepy on this particular retreat. Despite this, however, I only took one 90-minute snooze, which I chalk up to hours of vigorous writing, part of which, took place outside in the warm mountain air. Although my toasty room, equipped with a comfy bed, may have contributed.

Retreat1This was the first time the retreat had been held at the SMC, but I had visited the center once before. There were some rules to follow . . . one of which, was removing shoes when entering the housing facility. It took me two days, but I finally learned in the end, to strategically plan my outings to ensure the least amount of shoe removal. But up until then, I repeatedly forgot which entrance I left my shoes at. But I survived. The highlight of the center is of course, The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya that stands 108 feet tall and took 13 years to construct. It is considered one of the largest and most significant pieces of sacred Buddhist architecture and said to “promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health and peace.” Sounds good to me.

Retreat2All zenful shenanigans aside; I did get a good amount of writing done. Even though I came there with a 20, 653 word manuscript and left with a 20, 875 word manuscript,  I still accomplished quite a bit: an outline (that otherwise did not exist) and I rewrote the first 4 chapters because originally, they sucked. I came away with a much better WIP and I was able to work out some plot issues so that I could move forward with it. Had I not gone on the retreat, I imagine the only writing-related thing I would have accomplished would have been playing Words with Friends and maybe a kick-ass grocery list, complete with clipped coupons . . . while burning incense. I needed this time away to focus on writing and get re-energized with this book I’m working on. Plus, it never hurts to be around other writers, snacks, and wine…just don’t forget your slippers.

20131109_083348A selfie with the Stupa.

How I Retreated and Came Back with a Story to Tell

A couple of times a year, my husband takes a week off to go fly fishing in Montana. The days, sometimes weeks, leading up to these fish n’ beer excursions, he’s a little on the grumpy side because his mind is on the river and typically, there’s a lot to wrap up at work before taking off. Just a couple of weeks ago, he returned from those healing Montana waters, a new man. Little did I realize, that I myself had begun to morph into Oscar the Grouch the days leading up to my writer’s retreat. With a lot on my plate (not all of it appetizing) I haven’t found much time to write, let alone, relax. I had been struggling with starting a new novel, so the retreat called to me, not unlike the way trout call out to my husband.

original image

This was the third consecutive year I’ve gone on the Northern Colorado Writers retreat up at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, and each time, I made great progress on whatever project I had going. This year, I didn’t have anything in particular to work on since I’m in between projects. For the first hour or so, I sat in my room and stared at the wall. Another one of the attendees suggested I try these story cubes . . .

They may be geared toward kids, but they’re worth a shot. I ended up jotting down some short story ideas from them, but resumed my wall-staring for a while. Then, thanks to a few writing prompts from Writer’s Digest, I hooked into a story. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). I hand wrote several pages of ideas, then  plotted out the structure using the Plot Line Skeleton.

Based on the skeleton plot line, I then wrote a three-page outline. Before I left, I had nearly the first two chapters written. Since I’ve already started the book, I’m obviously not participating in NaNoWriMo, but I’m going to certainly write like I am. My goal is to reach the halfway mark by Christmas. So what’s the moral to this story? If you find yourself wanting rip the heads off kittens, please don’t. Take a time out to recharge and regroup. Your friends and family will thank you, and you’ll most likely end up with a new project that you otherwise wouldn’t have come up with.

It also didn’t hurt that we had plenty of wine to help reduce those high stress levels: