If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Seascape "Escape to Write" Writers Retreat

                                         Hallie Ephron, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Roberta Isleib

      I just returned from Seascape, a writers retreat put on by Hallie Ephron and Roberta Isleib. Roberta's invitation to join stated "Devote a weekend to reinvigorating your creativity and revising your manuscript in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. Tune out distractions from the outside world as you spend time brainstorming, critiquing, revising and setting goals with other talented, committed crime fiction writers." And it lived up to the introduction.

It was a rewarding and pleasant weekend at the Guest House Retreat Center in Chester Ct; a large, charming, renovated country inn surrounded by trees in a rural setting. There were comfortable areas to sit and visit with other writers, and our rooms were spacious, airy and clean each with its own bathroom. I had French doors on one wall of my room and a large window on another wall allowing a free flow of fresh air if I wished it. We had Internet access, but no TV in the whole facility to distract us. The only sounds were bird songs and the pleasant conversation and laughter of the guests. There was a grand piano in one room, but I didn't hear anyone play it.

Sixteen of us in addition to Hallie and Roberta attended this retreat workshop. Each of us had to submit the first 20 pages of our manuscript in advance of the members of our group to read before coming. We were divided into two groups. My group consisted of Debra Overton, Carol Lynn, Denise Terry, Marie Constanza, Mary Brookman, Rhonda Lane, Karen Cleveland, Rebecca Butler and myself. Although we mingled with the others in group sessions and meals, I got to know my own group best because of the in depth critique sessions. For our critiques, we were to read straight through the submissions first to get our overall impression of it as a reader. Then we were to go through it again following a list of things to look for and write what we saw were the major strengths and what needed to be worked on.

After our get acquainted session Friday evening, we went to dinner. Oh my, what a delicious meal that was. It was served buffet style with many choices including food for vegans and gluten free offerings. Coffee, hot water for a wide assortment of teas, lemonade, iced water and iced tea were available from early morning until nine or ten at night. Fruit was also always available.

Following dinner was the first of our two critique  sessions. My group met with Hallie and focused on the beginning of each manuscript. Each submission was given ten minutes for input from the others while the author remained silent. They were each to tell if they wanted to read on and why or why not. At the end if the author had any comments or needed to answer any questions, she then had that opportunity. (Left to right, Carol Lynn, Hallie Ephron, Denise Terry, Marie Constanza, and Rhonda Lane.

When it ended at nine, I was ready to go to my room since I'd been up since 4:00 a.m. to catch my plane with very little sleep the night before, and also because of all the information and thoughts I had to absorb. I was so happy to have a comfortable bed to crash in.

After a plentiful breakfast, which I couldn't thoroughly enjoy because I'd slept in, we had our 2nd critique session with Roberta on creating memorable characters. It was another good session with lots of helpful input from Roberta and my group. I've come up with a lot of changes I want to make to improve my beginning from both critique sessions. Between the critique session and lunch there was a session on "Character Driven Plotting" by Roberta. After lunch there was free time to revise, relax, meet with others or have a "One on One" with Hallie if you signed up for one. I think everyone did.

At 3:00 Hank Phillippi Ryan joined us to present "Using Techniques from TV Journalism to Pump Your Novel." It was interesting, informative and at times funny as Hallie would interrupt and correct something Hank had said. It was quite obvious they're good friends. If you've not met Hank, you're missing something. She's quite charming and fun.

Later after dinner everyone met again to present their elevator pitches if they chose to do so, and then there was a practice session for a panel session Hallie, Roberta and Hank are presenting at Bouchercon. It's their take on Family Feud with questions pertaining to mysteries. We were divided into two teams; one side of the room against the other. It was so much fun that there was almost constant laughter.  Our team won.

After breakfast on Sunday there was a session on "Pumping up Suspense" presented by Hallie. I had a "One on One" with Roberta during Hallie's session so I missed it, but I did get her handout. After my time with Roberta, I had to leave for the airport to catch my plane so I also missed the final wrap up and lunch.

Was the weekend worth the expense? Absolutely. I came away with ideas on how to make my manuscript better and I made new friends with people who have the same goal: writing a good mystery.

Have you ever attended any kind of retreat?  Would you like to do so someday?                                                                                                                                                


Linda Rodriguez said...

Great post, Gloria! I've heard such good things about this writer's retreat, but it was wonderful to get an in-depth description of it. glad you had so much fun and it was useful to your work!

Kaye George said...

Thanks for taking us along for the weekend, Gloria. Sounds valuable and fun!

Gloria Alden said...

Maybe you both can go next year. This was my second time there. It's rather expensive since I have to fly, but I thought it was worth it. Most, but not all, of those attending were from New England and drove there.

Kathy Whelan said...

I attended Seascape a couple years ago and found it rewarding in every way. I left with lots of insights as well as renewed enthusiasm for writing and new friends. Glad you had a chance to experience this excellent retreat.

Warren Bull said...

I have never dome a writers' retreat. It sounds like I should.

Patg said...

I have never attended a retreat such as you've described, but I have attended plenty of all day workshops and long sessions requiring sign-ups at genre and writing conventions. They can be rewarding if you can filter the critiques, but you must always be careful of the problem of the blind leading the blind. You had moderators, which is the good part.

Roberta Isleib said...

We so enjoyed having you with us Gloria! Glad you found it worth the time and money. Writing is so hard, and there's so much to learn, I'm a big fan of getting all the good help you can.

We've scheduled our next retreat for September 27-29, 2013. Questions always welcome.

Happy writing Gloria!

Gloria Alden said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, too, Kathy. It was a terrific weekend.

Warren, I think it depends on the retreat. This was definitely worth while.

Pat, our moderators were very professional and kept us in line and on time. They set the tone which was positive and helpful at the same time.

Roberta, I'll be keeping those dates in mind for next year. Thanks for all the help and encouragement you gave me.

E. B. Davis said...

I'd like to go to a retreat like that. But I have a problem sitting still. I work, jump up and do something else, sit down and work, jump up.... I guess I'm really active or something. I'm so glad you had a great time and learned from it.

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. that's the way I am at home, too. They did have a break half way through each critique session, and there was free time in the afternoon to go for a walk, too. I forgot because I didn't check it out, but there was a sauna and a workout room there, too. Also, the main meeting room reserved for us was on the third floor so most of us chose to use the three flights of steps instead of the elevator.

E. B. Davis said...

Okay--sounds like I could handle this retreat. In fact, it sounds lovely. So glad you went.

Valerie said...

It sounds as if you had a good time, Gloria. I'm glad you were able to get away and take a break, but I'll bet your furry friends were glad to see you come home.

Best wishes.

Gloria Alden said...

My furry friends are always glad to have me back, Valerie, no matter how well they're taken care of. Especially, Maggie, my collie. She misses our morning walks in the woods. She doesn't get them when I'm gone.

Maybe I'll see you there next year, E.B.

Rhonda Lane said...

I enjoyed reading your account of our time at Seascape, Gloria, and I enjoyed meeting you, too. If I recall, the goal of Seascape is to take each writer to the next level. Granted, I'm still pretty low on the ladder, but the retreat helped me climb up a rung. Or at least helped me feel as if I'm not going to fall off the ladder and break my neck. (I think I've exhausted the ladder metaphor. ;) :) )