For many years the Retreat took place at Hilltop House in Harpers Ferry, but the hotel closed about five years ago and we’ve been searching for a place to replace it, a place where we can truly gather together and share the whole experience. This Best Western worked beautifully in that way. Its conference center had plenty of meeting rooms, a dining room, and a bar and great room that created plenty of togetherness.
Our dinner speaker was Elizabeth Boyle, who started a trend that lasted throughout the Retreat of telling the color of one’s underwear. Needless to say she was a very entertaining speaker and a lot of fun. There also was an agent/editor panel where the agents and editors answered questions. They discussed the appeal of Fifty Shades of Grey, one of those phenomena that make Romance acceptable to the general readership. The agents and editors said that it is more important to write a book you are passionate about than to write to whatever is the latest trend. I thought that was good advice.
We had a treat for the opening workshop. Kathy Gilles Seidel was joined by her former graduate school colleague, Pamela Regis, to talk about the Ritual Death in Romance fiction, what we talk about as the Black Moment, that place in the book where it looks as if all is lost. The first hour of this workshop, these two Ph.D’s lectured, but in the second hour they organized questions for discussion that allowed us to apply to our own works in progress. Loved it.
Later we had American Author, modeled after TV’s American Idol. Attendees submit the first page of their manuscripts and editors discuss their impressions. One of the points that stuck with me was that they often see books that are fine, but they are looking for books that wow them.
The evening was for Romance Jeopardy, the game based on the TV version. This raucous affair is run by Kathy Gilles Seidel, editor Jennifer Enderlin, Karen Smith and Keely Thrall. I was actually on the winning team, but mostly because of my friend Julie Halperson, who is a master of trivia, and Michelle Butler, almost as good. The only question I answered I got wrong…
The fabulous Kimberly Kincaid started the morning with a wonderful yoga lesson, the best I’ve ever taken. I ended it feeling fabulous, which was a very good thing. Cathy Maxwell, who was our “Final Word” speaker could not attend and a replacement was needed.
It was me.
I’m not a public speaker and the last thing I wanted was to read a speech, so I just wrote an outline. I told my story, my journey to publication. I did get a bit mixed up and had to backtrack, so it was not a smooth job, but I managed to get through it. It was a friendly audience, as well.
When I was speaking, it amazed me how many connections I had in my “story” to WRW members and events. And the Retreat. Each Retreat I’ve attended since 1995 has been woven into the fabric of my writing life. This year’s added more, I’m sure. I just don’t know quite what yet.
At the very end of the Retreat we do the WRW Raffle. I was involved in a bunch of baskets or raffle items this year. Here’s one of them, done with my pals, Julie, Helen, and Virginia:
I do know that I treasure this time In The Company Of Writers, my lovely WRW friends. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.