For four days each year, from Thursday through Sunday, my writer’s group, the Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers, travel far from home and gather for a writer’s retreat. This year was my second time for the retreat. It was great. Better than last year. This year I knew what to expect; hours of no interruptions.
Last year kind of spooked me. I wasn’t used to being able to sit and write for hours at a time. At home there is always a dog to let in or out, a cat to feed, laundry, housework, unending requests from the grand-twins, checking on the Weather Channel to see if thunderstorms are near. This year my mind was prepared for uninterrupted work. It was great.
We have a hall to ourselves. Many of us prop open our doors so people can wander in and talk, or just so we can hear the laughter coming from other rooms. When we don’t want to be disturbed, we close our door. After I unpacked and set up my laptop, I got to work. NOT! I had driven fours hours and I did not want to sit anytime soon. So I walked around.
Our rooms have large windows that we can open. All rooms have three beds, two doubles and one single. I always elect to be private. AC if we need it. No TV. A clock radio and lots of lighting and lots of space to spread out our stuff.
It’s very peaceful there. Out in the country, lots of birds doing a lot of talking. There is a friendly dog there, too. Two white swans and at least one huge goldfish. Lots of paths to wander. I usually saw a wandering monk each day.
Breakfast is from 8-9:00. Lunch 12-1:00. Supper 5-6:00. No exceptions. Wonderful food and plenty to choose from. They were good about my gluten-free diet. They remembered.
We did have our own conference room, and it was in there we put the snacks we brought to share with everyone else. If we got hungry we could wander down and get a little something. But really, by Saturday, we could barely find the room to eat our scheduled meals.
Friday night was our cocktail party night. Tiny bottles of liquor and wine, big bottles of liquor and wine, everything in-between or plain water. Lots of laughter. Always lots of laughter with this group.
Saturday after lunch we had our group photo taken with our new tie-dye shirts. Each year we are given a t-shirt with our group name, and AUTHOR on the back.
A funny story. After dinner on Saturday, I was walking outside and a car stopped and a man asked if I knew where the birthday party was. I did. I’d seen a sign that said BIRTHDAY PARTY and an arrow, and explained how to get there. I decided that if I hadn’t been clear about where to turn and which steps to take, he and his family might get lost. Plus, I could show them a short-cut. So I waited for them, and led them though the hallways and pointed where they needed to go. The man started to go down and then stopped and turned to me. “I’m sorry, that I thought you worked here.” I think I raised my brows. “We saw all these people wearing tie-dye shirts and just thought all of you were staff.” I laughed and allowed that yes, I could see that. So that was my funny story.
Saturday night is the game night. This year we were given two index cards and instructed to write down our name and then one sentence from two of our works in progress. We handed those in and when the one sentence was read out loud, we had to guess who among us had written it. It was fun, and again, much laughter. There were also prizes, the top prize being a free retreat for the next year. Other prizes included note pads, insulated cups with a straw (one of the neatest things to have for retreat), memory sticks, bags, pens, and things of that nature. From the moment we arrives, we are given good swag. To earn the prizes, we are given tickets. As we collect more and more tickets-they are given out at random times, daily, or we find them under our door or on our desks-we write our name on the back and put it in a paper bag. There were five gifts we could have won. One ticket is drawn from the bag nearest the gift offered as prize.
I didn’t win a prize this year. It’s okay. I had a great time and accomplished more than I expected I would.
There is an ice machine on our hall, and the cafe was not too far away. Free coffee and tea all day.
The chapel is on the way to the cafe, we are not allowed inside the chapel, so I had to take the picture from above. This photo really doesn’t do it justice. There is also a museum and library at this facility.
I worked on two projects while there. My novella, THE FANGED ELEGANTS. It is the novella between MIND YOUR FANGS and A WILD-BLOODED CHRISTMAS-WITH FANGS, and tells the story of what happened in the spring of 1819 when some Sunshine Vampires decided they should be allowed to drink blood.
Also worked on is THE WAY OF THINGS, the book that comes after FOR LOVE OF GWYNNETH. This is Lord Eric and Lady Arian’s story of love. Also includes a couple of people from the future. A set up for the next book after this. And another.
Very pleased with what I accomplished. Made me wonder how much I could get done if I had two retreats a year. Or five days instead of the four. Oh, well.
Sunday came and I had to leave. Until next year.