I’m riding the high of a wonderful writing retreat I had with a few author friends. We snacked way too much, put together a frustrating 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and talked writing—from stacking ads, soft launching a book, to traditional vs. indie publishing. Of course, we also shared funny stories about our pets, raising kids, and our current life trials… you know—like women do. Put a few women in a room, give them some chocolate and a glass of wine, and as long as everyone respects each other, the conversation will flow as will the laughter.
Women gathering to laugh and share ideas is, in my opinion, one of the true joys of life. Encouraging each other, lifting each other up, accepting our differences and recognizing similarities; you really can’t beat a group of smart, supportive gals. I have many groups of women I feel this way about. If you haven’t cultivated a group of good gals, do so. It’s good for the mind and soul.
My dear and gifted friends, Victorine Lieske and Hope Clark, and I have done this retreat for the past three years. The first year, I hosted at our lake house, and on one day, I invited quite a few other women to join us for a dinner and to stay over. It was a lot of fun and I love the memories, but, it was a lot for me to plan, and the older I get, the harder planning and hosting events becomes.
Writing is the purpose for these retreats, and Hope, Victorine and I feel it’s important to stay focused, so the second year, we kept it to just the three of us. Hope hosted in South Carolina and it was a special and educational event on Lake Murray we’ll all never forget. Hope’s chickens laid fresh eggs for our breakfast each morning, and her home is an absolute joy as is her husband and family.
This year, I hosted and included one guest… hard to pick out of all the great writing friends I have… Nebraska author, Kim Stokely. I just love this gal, not only because she is easy-going, smart, and funny, but because she brings good Scotch, kick-ass gluten-free blueberry coffee cake, knits me the most righteous fingerless gloves, and can do absolutely any accent! The girl is also a seriously good writer and an amazing speaker.
When everyone had gone and the proverbial dust had settled, my husband asked, “What exactly do you do at a writing retreat?” Well, we talk writing. We discussed writing to market, learned about stacking ads to achieve optimum sales rankings to incite Amazon algorithms, we went through the process of showing how to set up accounts to create mailing lists, learned about subscriber magnets, how to use newsletters for promotion… and more. My mind is spinning, and I hope I can remember everything I learned and decipher my notes. I’m thankful I can message these friends to say, “What does this gibberish in my notes mean?” It’s not often one has the opportunity to sit down at length and learn from people who have the kind of knowledge these women do.
I’m the puppy in this pack of big dogs, but I’m honored to soak up their shine. Victorine is a New York Times bestseller and a leader in the Indie Publishing world. This girl is crazy smart when it comes to marketing and writing. Hope Clark is a popular traditionally published Southern Author. She speaks all over the country about writing and publishing and also hosts a website, Funds for Writers, which has been chosen as one of the best writing websites by Writer’s Digest for the last 17 years. No small endorsement by no small resource in the field of writing. Hope is also, clearly, wicked smart!
So, if you’re thinking about having a writer’s retreat, or any kind of women’s retreat, stop thinking and just do it. It feeds the soul. I’d recommend you keep it small, just hang out and enjoy each other, and have a least one bowl of fruit beside the chocolate. Even one slice of orange or a few grapes can really offset the guilt, if not the calories, of a handful of M&M’s.