Writer Wednesday – Solo Retreat

In the fall I take an annual writing retreat and I find that it replenishes my soul.  This past weekend I treated myself to a Solo Retreat.  I didn’t travel to an exotic location or rent a rustic cabin, or even leave my house.

DH was gone most of the day on Saturday with a flight student, so I had the house to myself.  I set some goals for myself, to do classwork and write. I was taking two classes simultaneously – The Artist’s Way at Writer Zen Garden and Writing and Resistance: Overcoming Our Blocks to Success by MM Pollard at RWA Online.

My Retreat went like this:

  1. Slept in – I’m retreating so working on my own timetable.
  2. Coffee – I’m a bear without my coffee.
  3. Morning Pages – It’s part of the Artist’s Way
  4. Class Work – Basically Log on and do homework. However long that took.
  5. Lunch – On my lunch break I watched the latest YouTube videos by First Draught and Jenna Moreci.   I find this a great way take a break and learn.
  6. Meditate – I used the 12-minute Focus Meditation on Calm.
  7. Write for 60 minutes – I’ve been using the help of the 90-day novel by Alan Watt to help flesh out my current WIP.
  8. Read for 30 minutes- Along with Artist’s Way for class.  I’m reading The Art of Working by Jeff Goins that I checked out from my Library.
  9. Write for 60 minutes
  10. Read for 30 minutes
  11. Repeated Steps 8 and 9 until DH came home and we had dinner.

I accomplished my goal and was able to enjoy my One Day Solo Retreat.

Can you do this?  Sure you can.  It might be easier for me because I live on a farm and don’t have a day job, but this is doable for anyone.

Some recommendations.   Pick some goals.  Are you burned out?  Maybe you need to build more Meditation and Yoga into your retreat than I did.  How about a luxurious bubble-bath or painting your toes, etc.

I often listen to Pandora on the farm.  I choose stations based on mood.  I recommend outdoor time if weather permits.  I avoided the snowy sub-zero temps…hence some meditation planned into my day.

Regarding Food – If you love to cook, incorporate this into your retreat.  Plan a favorite meal to prepare.  If you live in a large city consider delivery so you can enjoy the experience and maybe treat yourself.  I like to cook, but I wanted to keep the time to myself so I picked up some fancier microwavable meals.  I picked up beverages I like, chocolates, and some snacks I love.

If you have other passions like painting, drawing, knitting, scrapbooking, or other creative pursuits into your retreat…especially if you have more than one day.  This is a chance to fill your creative well.  Who knows, maybe while you are coloring in a color book…that writer’s block will finally release.

I would caution against spending the day binging TV shows or even reading for pleasure. Not because these things are bad, but because they distract you from yourself. If you want to watch that movie you’ve never seen, or read a book, do it in the evening or maybe only for a couple of hours.

Ultimately a Solo retreat is what you make it.

Happy Retreating!

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines-Day-Books-1I thought I’d share a few of my top Ten favorite Romance Novelists. There is a pattern here.  Most of them write historical and are either on my auto-buy list or I re-read them over and over.   They are however in no particular order.

Johanna Lindsey – I have a few Johanna Lindsey books I read over and over. “Defy Not the Heart”, “say you Love Me” and “Love me Forever”  I had to purchase Nook versions because I’d worn out the covers so bad.

Catherine Coulter – I cut my teeth on Ms. Coulter’s Regencies.  I’m not as much of a fan of her FBI series, because hey I like Historicals.  A few of my favorites are “Sherbrooke Bride” and “Midsummer Magic”.

KY BrideHannah Howell – I binged and have purchased the Entire Murray Clan Series, but my truly favorite Hannah Howell book remain’s “Kentucky Bride”.

 

 

 

Cathy MaxwelCathy Maxwell – Cathy Maxwell makes me cry in the very best way.  She has some stories where such sacrifices are made you can feel it.  Hence the crying.  I don’t have a particular favorite and have read them over and over, all I can say is keep them coming Ms. Maxwell, keep them coming.

 

 

indexTessa Dare – The first book I picked up by Tessa Dare was “When a Scot Ties a Knot”. Loved it, and was then forced to play catch up when it was the 3rd book in her “Castles Ever After Series” which lead me back to her “Spinster Cove Series”.  Ms. Dare has the right amount of heat in her stories that make me search out Mr. Holland.  So he’s a fan as well.  🙂

Maddy Barone – Maddy Barone writes a post-apocalyptic werewolf series, “After the Crash” which I  adore.  A few of my Read over and overs are “Wolf Tracker”, “Wolf’s Oath” and “Wolf’s Vengence”.  Thank god I have digital copies of these.

 

Kristen Callihan – I remember I was traveling for work and I was looking for something to read in my hotel room and purchased “Firelight” for 99cents.  Then began my binging of her “Darkest London” series.

 

Bec McMasterBec McMaster – I was waiting for the next Kristen Callihan book to come out when  I noticed on my Nook, people who bought “Firelight” bought “Kiss of Steel”, so I did and then proceeded to binge read her “Steampunk London” series.

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Blake – I love the “People who bought” feature on my Nook.  While waiting for the Baba Yaganext Kristen Callihan book or maybe it was the next Bec McMaster Book, I found Deborah Blake’s “Baba Yaga” series.  And subsequently fell in love with her “Broken Riders”

 

 

 

13273736Beverly Jenkins – I picked up Beverly Jenkins up at the Library on Audio Book and listened to “Indigo” on my daily commute.  Now I read her books as they come out. 🙂  It’s funny but I really dug the historical knowledge she put in her books, and found myself telling people, “Did you know the underground railroad did this and this.” Thank you, Ms. Beverly, for reminding me why I fell in love with the Historical Romance Genre.

Happy Valentine’sDay!  I hope you have a wonderful and teriffic day and curl up with a good romance.   I know I will.

Writer Wednesday – Put a Fork in my novel, I’m done.

when-im-done-im-done-and-today-is-the-day-i-have-made-that-decision-bc8b7There comes a time when you have to quit editing and declare a project done.  Move on to the next one.  I’ve reached that point with Courtesan.

I’ve done all I can with the novel.

I’ve layered and cut producing a novel of 54,333 words.

Does it mean there aren’t corrections to make?  Of Course not but I need another set of eyes at this point.  I’ve asked for some BETA help, to get that big picture feel, but I can’t continue edits without wrecking voice.

The good news.  This is ready to get looked at by an agent or editor.  In my opinion, any changes that need to be made will be to satisfy the readership, not me.  And that’s okay, I’m used to working with editors to make appropriate changes.    That’s part of meeting reader expectation.

Now its time to move on to Book 2: The Alchemists of Archangel.

Hopefully, The Courtesan of Constantinople doesn’t sit too long on my virtual shelf, trying to find a home.~Tina

 

 

Writer Wednesday – Editing

book-editingI’m not talking about dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s here, or finding spelling mistakes, although those are important.

I’m talking about looking at your work as a whole and saying to yourself – is this working or why isn’t this working.

I’ve finished up my 2nd round of layering and usually when I do the layering I find other issues.  And I’ve found some frivolous plot lines that need to be dealt with.  I can still use them, but they don’t make sense so I need to dig deeper.

I need to make these plot points stronger to thread through this series on a bigger level.  I have a lot of side notes like “Needs to be more significant” or “what are you trying to say”

This is an interesting process – I have to be objective looking at these items and I’ve been fortunate that I’m usually willing to change plot lines if necessary and I think this is necessary.

I’m off to it.  ~Tina

Writing Wednesday – Goal Setting

Welcome to the new year! I, like many people, have set resolutions for the new year.   In coming up with this year’s goals, I found a theme – Exploration.

Since I lost my day job, I’ve decided to explore my creative side.   There will be some definate focus on writing, but I want to try new things like:

  1. Acting – either in local Theatre or Narration.
  2. Sewing – I love the idea of making clothes
  3. Baking – I’m a passable cook, but haven’t really mastered the baking of breads, pies, cakes, cookies, desserts, etc.

These are just a few things I want to Explore, and I feel they will help me grow as a writer as well as a person.

And of course I have writer and personal goals as well, but I’m still fine tuning those.

Writer Wednesday – The Holidays

X-mas WritingI’ve returned from a holiday  in early December and now Christmas is fast approaching.   I’ve gotten most of my shopping done, and need to mail presents.

My goals for the month of December were small.  I knew with NANOWRIMO behind me and Thanksgiving being the sign that Christmas was fast approaching, I would feel the rush of the season.

So I put my submissions to agents on hold until the new year. When I do my goal setting for next year, I’ll review whether I still want an agent or if I want to navigate on my own.  I’ve been slowly writing during the season to maintain momentum.   But if all I do is my Morning Pages, so be it.

I also set a goal to read during the season.   I’m a fairly avid reader anyway, but I wanted to look at the season as well…holidays.  I’d lost my job and I didn’t want to stress about writing when I might be blocked because of stresses I hadn’t anticipated.

My goal – to keep the season simple and enjoyable.

Tina

Writer Wednesday – Time

writing-timeWhen I first started in this business over 15 years ago.   A common thought was that you needed to quit your job and write full-time in order to be successful (i.e. make money).

Granted the Romance Industry is full of female writers, who maybe started out as a stay at home mom’s and wrote on the side.   I believe this is where the myth of full-time writing started.  I think of authors like Nora Roberts and Heather Graham whose mythology stories contain elements for writing from home.  If any of you think they were successful because they didn’t have a job, you’d be wrong.  Motherhood is a full-time job in itself, regardless of whether you work outside the home or not.

I read recently that John Grisham wrote A Time to Kill over three years while still working as a lawyer.

What makes these authors successful is not whether or not they wrote full-time, but that they wrote in every spare moment.

A book I’ve found helpful in carving out time is The Chunky Method Handbook by Allie Pleiter.  She breaks writing blocks down so that even the slowest writers among us can create a schedule.

What makes this so relevant to me is that as of December 1st of this year, I’m no longer employed with a company I’d worked with for 21 years.  I was released as a series of layoffs.

While my job took time away from writing, if I had made time for it I would’ve been more successful (i.e. written more books).  As I head into the new year, I’ll be looking at some serious goal setting.    For me it will be evaluating what Success looks like to me – Finishing Books.   I feel like everything else will fall into place as long as I just keep writing.

~Tina