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A Little Work, A Little Play

Well, I dropped by to see who was blogging this morning and found out….it’s me!

How did two weeks fly by so quickly? Jeez, I’m losing time the older I get. Anyone with me here?

Thankfully, this past weekend I had a great adventure with a Plotting Retreat. What’s that, you may ask? Well, it’s the brainchild (or borrowed idea) of a talented Love Inspired author Winnie Griggs who actively writes two-three books a year. And we all know that’s hard to do, so she invited me and a few other working Harlequin writers to join in and form a group with the main goal of plotting out the upcoming years’ books while also talking out our professional goals for that same year. And as you can guess this = awesome! So can you capitalize on this exciting idea? You betcha!

First, we started by examining the best candidates for the group. We needed to be like minded, working at about the same level and speed. Writing the same subject matter is not a must, but being at about or near the same level in production seemed the most crucial to us along with being at the same level in our careers. Once we determined four people to participate, we created a new yahoogroup loop so we could upload files and correspond easily. We chose ABCWriters – ABCW are the first initials of our names so that worked out nicely πŸ™‚

Next we discussed date, time and location. Luckily I have a camp on Caddo Lake, so that solved the place, but trying to get four busy women to find an ideal weekend….next to impossible. But, we set the date and crossed fingers it would work out for all involved.

Next order of business was to think about what each writer needed from the group – high level plotting, specific plot points, series, etc? Once you had an idea of what you needed, you were asked to place in the files section of the loop so the other members could see what you were looking for and give some thought to it before the retreat.

After that – the fun began. We went this past weekend. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer weekend. Crisp cool breeze, warm sunshine and pretty scenery. We divied up dinner, breakfast and lunch for the 24 hour period we’d be together, and trust me, starving wasn’t an option. Once we ate dinner, it was time to get down to brass tacks. Every member received three hours’ time. Whether it was plotting books, career planning, or advice on writing – you decided.

I managed to plot out one full proposal for Superromance with another partially ready (still needs some simmering) and the first part of a ST series I’ve been itching to tackle for the past year. I also talked about my career path. We talked about the market, the epublishing industry, the pros and cons of self-publishing, publishers, family, friends and upcoming conferences…in other words, there was a lot of talking. πŸ™‚

But it worked. I have a plan pretty much meshed out in my head, and after talking to my agent, I’m ready to proceed with a new undertaking (trying my hand at ST) and I feel refreshed and more at ease with myself in facing a rollicking industry that’s riding waves in a whole new world of publishing.

So what do you think? Think you might see a plotting retreat in your future? Do you take time to plan out your writing for the upcoming year?

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10 Responses

  1. Excellent. I think it’s great you have a tight group like that to plot with. Sounds like a wonderful weekend!

  2. I would love to do something like this, Amy. I have CPs, but no one local that I regularly bounce ideas off of, except my younger son. πŸ˜‰

    Good luck with your foray into the single title world!

  3. It was really fun and really productive. I had some pictures that I couldn’t get to load of the hammock, the pier and the beautiful cypress trees changing color on the lake. Dratted wordpress didn’t like me this morning.

    Gwen – it’s worth the effort because they have to listen and help…with unglazed eyes. LOL. You might talk a few friends into going to Nationals a few days early and try the plotting retreat at the hotel. Reward yourself with a spa visit when you’re finished. Would be perfect to have ideas simmering as you’re attending those workshops, right?

  4. I’m not sure such a structured effort is right for me, but I do have some friends I’ve gone on retreat with. We focused on writing, but spent a lot of time talking about the same kinds of things you described, and really just supported each other.

    I think any kind of focused time away like that is tremendous. So glad yours worked out so well for you!

    • Just getting away to think about my writing and where I want to go was part of the delight. I’m so busy that I don’t have time to think much. Scary, isn’t it?

  5. sounds like yall had a blast! and great fun on the upcoming proposals!

    I do a lot of plotting in IM and chat rooms. it’s as close to “inface” that I get. I’m so used to it (and able to reference back!) that in face I’d probably just stare at you and say “what’d you say again??”

  6. What a wonderful trip! Sounds like you guys had a blast and were very productive on top of all the fun. πŸ™‚ I always love talking and brain storming. As for plotting, I cringe at the thought. LOL I did write out a simple outline for my NaNo story, but I’ve already veered off track several times. Is that allowed??

    Good luck with your new adventure!

  7. Paint me a pale green with envy, Liz — the weekend sounds absolutely marvelous. To have a whole weekend to talk about writing and the business of writing AND to have time to do your own work as well — it would be heavenly. At the moment I feel very much like Marley’s ghost in Dickens’ Christmas Story, only instead of cash boxes I’m dragging around family and college responsibilities. If you suddenly look up and see a pale chartreuse apparition floating near the ceiling, do not be concerned. It’s just me.

  8. I’m probably going to drag Keri Ford away one of these weekends for a mini-retreat. We always joke about it. But one day…I’ll just smuggle her out. I’m bigger, I could do it.

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