Diamond State Romance Authors

Lessons From A Writers’ Retreat

Last month I ditched my husband and three small kiddos and headed to Hot Springs, AR, for a two-night retreat with my fellow members of the Diamond State Romance Authors group. I am a new author; fairly new to the group, and I knew that this bunch got a lot of work done on retreats. What I didn’t know was how much I would learn just by being in their presence.

1. These bitches be serious!
I am a firm believer in the ‘work hard, play hard’ model of life, but these ladies hit the ground running Friday night, and steady typed away all weekend long.  I was impressed, not to mention thoroughly inspired. We worked until at least 9:00 each night, only stopping for meals or a quick dip in the pool to clear the head. That’s right, I said pool. An infinity one at that. Inspiring, right? Can’t you just picture yourself on one of the many covered decks with a laptop and a cup of coffee?? Bliss.

2. There is a lot I don’t know. A lot.
Did I say there’s a lot I don’t know? Some of the group free time wasn’t always free time, at least not for the more experienced writers because a handful of new authors like myself barraged them with questions. They were kind and forthcoming about their experiences in publishing, at various conventions, and with the bountiful list of social media outlets. I mean, I had never heard of NetGalley. And the extensive options for distributors and digital publishing. AH! And of course self publishing is a deep water to wade all in itself. Luckily, I took notes on my iPhone and came right home to look it all up. I know enough to know that there will always be more to learn, but I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

3. Scrivener!
So, I didn’t know about Scrivener, either.  One look at a colleague’s document, though, and I was hooked. At 9 p.m. Friday night I downloaded the free trial version and haven’t looked back. You know how some places or some software or certain computer platforms just seem right to your brain? Lowes, for example, makes my little organized brain so happy when compared to Home Depot. And I remember the first time I worked on an Apple. If my brain could have talked it would have said, “ahhhh.”   It’s the same with Scrivener.  Every chapter, every brainstorm has its own place and I like that.  This writing software is the bizzomb, and I’m so glad that I learned about it. Worth the trip right there.

4. I’m a plotter
There was extensive discussion on whether each of the 12 authors present were “plotters” or “pantsers.” Pantsers, of course, write by the seats of their pants! These people dive right in and the story just comes to them AS they write.  Pantsers’ counterparts, then, are plotters. Plotters plan through brainstorming and outlines and generally know at least the jist of a story in advance of actually writing it.  I tried to be a pantser, I really did. But the truth is, I’m just a plotter through and through.  Whatever works!

5. Headphones are very important
Trying to concentrate in a houseful of 12 imaginative women is just about as hard as it sounds. The solution? Earbuds.
Luckily, my partners in crime were very forgiving of my compulsive whistling and singing. Hey, we all have something we need to work on.

6. Camaraderie and support are so very important
I got to know my DSRA colleagues a whole lot better over the weekend, and the result was a substantial dose of self confidence, and a real kick in the pants. These two rock stars, in particular, are fairly new to the writing world, as well, and were so supportive and informative. Megan Mitcham (left) just released The Base Branch series, a thrilling romantic suspense.  Lindsay Cross is working on her first romantic suspense series now.