The Wickeds Retreat to Maine – Again!

IMG_20150614_110459_990The Wickeds adjourned to Old Orchard Beach again for three days of powow – schmoozing, discussing the publishing industry and the blog, and ignoring each other to churn out word count. This is the fourth Wicked Cozy retreat for some of us, the third for others. Here’s how the weekend shaped up!

Edith: I didn’t have a super productive word count weekend, but I made steady progress on the book and mapped out a number of future scenes. I loved hanging with the other Wickeds, though. And our wide-ranging discussions of how to  manage our blog, where to take our careers, and OOBeachnew trends in the industry were really valuable. Liz and I squeezed in a long walk on the beach, too, and used part of it to talk through our plots. So many thanks to Jessie for hosting us year after year.

IMG_4076IMG_4043Barb: Excuse the gushing, but our annual retreat has become one of the highlights of my year. Jessie pointed out how much things have changed since that first one. There were only four of us, for one thing, and the big problem on all our minds was–can I complete a commercial-quality, novel-length piece of fiction on a deadline? Since then we’ve all learned so much about writing and about this crazy business. It never ceases to amaze me how we’re all writing in the same genre and the same length, but our processes are so different, and yet we all support one another. I was proofing, not writing, but got plenty of that done, plus help with the plot for my forthcoming holiday novella, the next writing task on my plate.

IMG_4065Julie: I do not take these five women for granted, at all. They are my cheerleaders, my teachers, my shoulders to cry on, and my kicks in the ass when needed. I had a good word count weekend–book #2 is due July 15, so I am in the home stretch. But I also had naps, talked through launch strategies, and helped brainstorm a few ideas. I also ate well, drank a lot of coffee, and laughed. A lot. We are all in different places in our careers, but all there for one another. Plus, the location is great, and the host could write a book.

IMG_4071Sherry: The weekend started on Thursday night doing a panel with the Wickeds (we missed you Jessie) and Ray Daniel at the New England Mobile Book Fair, dinner after (we have a funny story about following the wrong car — thankfully they didn’t call the police on us), a night at Barb’s house, and then on to Jessie’s lovely home in Old Orchard Beach. I got help with plot ideas for my proposal. I started reading Plot Perfect by Paula Munier. But the best part was staying up until 2 am two nights in a row, talking about everything. And the food — it was delicious! I always cry when it’s over — maybe I’m overly emotional from lack of sleep or maybe it’s the large number of carbohydrates that I consumed — no it’s just that I love these women and live too far away.

Edith’s fish enchiladas – yum!

IMG_4091Jessie: The weather was utterly delightful which meant we spent a great deal of time gathered around the patio table talking. I’m not entirely sure the neighbors will ever recover if they overheard any of our conversations, especially those concerning plotting.  Most people within IMG_4066earshot would have thought us completely nuts.  But that’s one of the benefits the retreat bestows, the gift of complete understanding. I hope all of our blog  readers have places and groups where they feel as connected and as understood.

Is Liz showing us her latest dance moves?

Liz: Just for the record, I don’t dance! But I did, like everyone else, have a fabulous time. This retreat really rejuvenates me every year – the food, the writing, but especially, the friendship. Love all of these ladies so much.

Readers, do you have people with whom you like to close the door on the world and just get away for awhile? Do you have creative work you find a way to carve out time to pursue?

19 Thoughts

  1. I do have those people, but they live so far away now… so my current mind project is to point myself in their direction as I live where I am right now. I very much enjoyed reading this post today, because seeing a little bit of what you manage to do together is for me an invitation to hope and continue on my way. The invitation I sense is to think about community as a flexible thing we can create with a small number of people in such a way that it doesn’t absorb the individual. Yeah. I like that.

    1. I like that with our current means of communication allow us to include in our community people like you Reine, who live far away but we’ve been able to get to know! In the not to distant past that wouldn’t have been possible.

      1. Sherry, in many dear and moving ways, you are like family. I hold you all close to my heart. xoxox

  2. My life these days consists of wild swings between sitting alone in my house, in front of my laptop, talking to the cats, and major events in different places where I try to talk to as many friends as possible in the short time allowed. But conferences are a great way to recharge the batteries and come away excited about writing–even if they are exhausting.

    I do genealogy when I need to clear my head. Somehow that kind of research uses a different part of my brain, and shoves me back toward thinking in a more linear, logical way (which happens to be good for writing too). And there’s always the thrill of the hunt–“gotcha, you sneaky seven-times great-grandmother! And you thought you could hide from me!”

    1. Sheila, yes. I do the same thing. I was sucked down the genealogy rabbit hole while in graduate school. Hey, the genealogists of Salt Lake City put their database online. Who can write a diss when stuff like that is going on in the ether? One day i’m getting reams of those illegible print-outs from family historians—the kind with pages all connected and things down the edges you had to peel off. We were living in caves back then! The next day I can write my great-grandmother’s name in a box on the Family Search page, and I am the only person to know her real name. It wasn’t Clara. It was Clarisse. She wasn’t adopted. She was “farmed out.” She and her line, and my great-grandfather’s line, settled and lived that gorgeous and somewhat scary, and now place of art, where Louise Penny set A Long Way Home. Who can write anything while all this is there in front of you? But when I was able to set it aside, because it was like a vacation in my head, I could focus on my research. And I could write papers.

      1. Yes, they kind of sneaked it in while we weren’t looking, then Blam! All that information, right there. I feel extraordinarily lucky that I can borrow so many of the family stories I’ve collected over the years and use them in my books. Although I still don’t know who my grandmother’s parents were.

    2. Sheila, have you accessed the resources of Ireland Reaching Out (to the diaspora) ? They are Irish volunteers reaching out to those who were separated from their roots in Ireland. They live and work there, know the resources, and they enjoy helping to reconnect. It is a volunteer effort, so much depends on who might have known anything about your families, but I have found my Harrington connections in areas I never expected. Shhh… my aunts kept pushing me back to Clon, when actually the family mostly lived on down the Bandon Road. That one clue from an Irish volunteer found three generations that connected in some ways through my Harrington aunts’ collective memory.

    1. Funny. I go down too many rabbit holes as it is. I know if I got started on genealogy, well, I’d have to renege on all of my contracts!

  3. Well, I carve out my hour each morning. Woe to he (it’s always a he) who tries to interfere.
    You all look like you had a great time. Beach retreat! The best.
    I am feeding a neighbor’s fish this week while they are away. The note with feeding instructions invited me to stay and write a while if I needed some peace. So, it may have taken me 6 hours to feed their fish yesterday…..

  4. What fun, and what a lovely place in which to work and rejuvenate. Do you all know how lucky you are? (I’m sure the answer is “yes!”)

    While it’s not in any way productive, and we missed doing it this year, for the last several years I’ve joined three other friends in Scottsdale, Arizona for what we call “Girl Camp”. One former Cincinnatian now lives there at her boyfriend’s compound, and when he goes away every winter our friend hosts her oldest gal pals for a few days. We also take turns cooking and serving as one another’s sous chefs, and we use the hot tub, make roaring fires (it gets cold there in January), go to spas and museums and gardens, and in general relax and enjoy one another. We’ve all been friends for more than 30 years, and knew each other before we had kids, etc. It’s lovely, and I always treasure our time together, especially since two of our friends have overcome breast cancer and other serious health issues.

  5. I’ve got to admit, my last group of friends like you guys have aren’t getting together as much any more. Life changes, unfortunately. I’m sure I’ll find another such group soon.

    Sounds like another fabulous retreat. Glad you all had fun.

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