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Category: Events

Writing Retreat

I’ve recently returned from my annual writing retreat — that’s a time away (in our case almost a week) with a group of writer friends, working. We’re all multi-published writers, but even so there’s an emphasis on professional development as well as producing words on the page.

This is our tenth anniversary as a writing retreat (I reported on the first one here  and over the years we’ve refined the process into one that works for us. Here’s the post I wrote while I was away on our 10th retreat.

I’ve had enquiries from time to time asking for more detail about how we run ours, so here’s my view of things.

Location
The first retreat, and all but one of our retreats have been beside the sea. There’s something about the sea and the salt air, the interface of land and water and sky, the constantly changing view and the endless rhythmic pounding of the waves, hypnotic and soothing and inspiring — it feeds our muse.

Another requirement for us is a range of affordable and varied places to eat nearby. We can cook our own meals, but a lot of people prefer to grab take-aways — Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Greek etc — or eat out in a group.

A room of our own
From the very first retreat, we decided this was important, as each of us needed a private space to write in. That’s not actually true for all of us, we’ve discovered — some write in bed, some in cafes, but for some a table and a private space is vital, so that was a priority.

Planning
In the weeks leading up to the retreat we start to toss around ideas for professional development. From craft-of-writing exercises (because we can all do with refreshing and honing our craft) to “the state-of-publishing” discussions, to discussions of books or movies, and the sharing of good writing books — we brainstorm ideas, come up with a schedule, and assign people to lead each session.  The leader doesn’t have to be an expert — just do a little preparation and lead the discussion.

Schedule
On the first night together we grab fish and chips and champagne (it’s now a tradition), and we plan the week.

Mornings are the most creative time for most of us, so the majority of us stay in our rooms, writing until lunchtime. Some go out for breakfast, some make it in their room (we have cooking facilities), some go for an early morning swim or a dawn walk, but we don’t meet as a group until lunchtime. And if anyone wants to keep working, they skip the lunchtime meeting.

We bring our own lunch to the meeting room and the first professional development session takes place.

Then it’s back to our rooms for more writing — or in some cases, shopping, swimming, walks, naps, whatever. 

In the evening we meet again for dinner — sometimes we go out as a group, but mostly we bring take-away or home-cooked and there’s another professional development session. And after that there’s wine and chocolate and lots of fun.

Some sessions/discussions we’ve had — in no particular order:
*  The changing face of publishing — always something new to discuss there.
*  Contracts and business matters
*  Theme
*  Subtext 
*  E-publishing
*  Movie watching and discussion
*  Plotting — sharing and discussing individual methods
*  Book discussions — of fiction, and of non-fiction writing books
*  Story collage
*  Our processes — how we each approach writing, and deal with problems that arise
*  Brainstorming – we brainstorm plots, story problems, and titles
*  Dealing with revisions —the approaches vary considerably.
*  Keeping the magic alive
*  Paramedic, medical and midwifery advice for use in books
*  How to keep the muse fresh and bubbling
*  Writing the back cover blurb
*  Tips for writing faster/better
*  Dealing with perfectionism
*  Dealing with editors
*  Visibility
*  Learning Styles
*  Meditation and exercises for writing health
*  Promotion and publicity — what works what doesn’t, what we like/hate
*  Planning a series
*  To blog or not?
And much more . . . .

We came together as an experiment — at the first retreat half of us had never met — but now we’re all good friends. We’ve gone down different pathways in publishing and it’s a constant journey of discovery and rediscovery.
We’ve already booked for next year’s retreat. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

PS — I would have included more photos, but for some reason WordPress won’t let me upload them, even though they’re all under 30kbs. sigh.

The ARRA Awards

Australian Romance Readers Convention on the weekend, catching up with reader and writer friends and meeting new people. And, as it turned out, receiving awards, because at the ARRA Annual Awards dinner, I was pretty much blown away when I walked (tottered?) away with five awards. 

Members’ Choice awards:

  • Favourite Heroine:  Daisy Chance in The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie.
  • Favourite Couple: the winner was Daisy and Flynn in The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie.
  • Favourite Historical Romance 2016 is The Summer Bride by Anne
    Gracie. 

  • Favourite Continuing Romance Series 2016 is the Chance Sisters
     series by Anne Gracie. 

  • Favourite Australian Romance Author 2016 is Anne Gracie. 

    As you can imagine, I was utterly thrilled. Thanks to the readers, the ARRA organisers (all volunteers) and to the sponsors for making the night such a fantastic one. And congratulations to ALL the winners and finalists.

    Thanks also to Kylie Scott who, as I was accepting the 5th award, and had completely run out of speech-style things to say, asked me a question about my red cowboy boots. :)

    The full list of winners is here:
    https://australianromancereaders.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/2016-awards-winners/

Australian Romance Readers Awards

 The Australian Romance Readers Award (ARRA) finalists have been announced and I’m delighted to report that  The Summer Bride, Daisy’s story, is a finalist in the following categories: 
Favourite Historical Romance 
Favourite Continuing Romance Series (The Chance sister series) 
Favourite Heroine from a romance published in 2016
and Favourite Couple from a romance published in 2016 (Flynn and Daisy).
As well I’m a finalist in Favourite Australian Romance Author 2016 
Read the full list of ARRA finalists here. 

The ARRA awards will be announced at the ARRA convention in Melbourne on Saturday 25 February.  In the meantime, thank you to ARRA and all the members who nominated and voted for my book. I’m hugely honoured.
Find Out More about the Summer Bride here.   Or Buy it here

2017 will see the start of a new series for me— Marry In Haste comes out in May 2017.  I’ll put out more information on it soon. You can pre-order it here.