The Storm Before the Calm: Countdown to the First Annual Swan Valley Writers’ Retreat

Being an author is rewarding. I love hearing that my words, whether written or spoken, have made a difference in somebody’s life. I love when a teen reader is shocked to meet me in person because I’m not a teenager (in other words, I’m an old lady). I love being told by a mom that her daughter has read one of my books countless times and the whole family is sick of hearing “every little detail and then some” about my characters. I love having a reader exclaim with wonderment, “But I thought I was the only one going through [whatever fiasco one of my characters has to trudge through]!” All of these things melt me to mush.

It’s also rewarding because authors, in general, are really cool people. I’ve met some of my best friends in the whole world at author gatherings. I’ve also met some pretty darn amazing people by contacting authors when I’m on their turf and asking if they’d like to grab a coffee or something. This might sound weird and maybe even stalkerish; but so far, it’s worked for me!

Writing can be a lonely profession, so getting together with other authors is beneficial not only for networking and learning/sharing about the industry; it helps get and keep the creativity flowing. That’s why I love having writing dates with local authors. Lucky for me, Utah is chock-full of YA authors!

For those of you who read my posts, you might recall my story about how–thanks to the extraordinary, hear-me-roar, I-won’t-take-no-for-an-answer Two Rivers High School English teacher, Cassie Cox–a fabulous group of teachers, librarians, and authors (Jay Asher, who was visiting from CA; and Sara Zarr, who drove up from Salt Lake City with her husband) got together at my home for dinner last September. At one point, Cassie mentioned that a couple of the authors she’d invited were unable to attend because they were at a writers’ retreat.

I’ve always wanted to go to a writers’ retreat. It’s the perfect situation: a pretty place, plus a group of likeminded individuals, plus a designated chunk of time away from everyday distractions. I’ve heard many a tale of authors fresh off a retreat–how they got so much done on their WIP (work-in-progress), how their creativity surged, how they made lifetime friends (aaaahhhh!), and how glad they are that they went. However, the retreats I’ve been invited to, heard of, or found via search engine cost over and beyond my “money spent on authorly stuff must be covered by my writing/editing/tutoring earnings” budget. So, what to do?

Host my own, of course!

Next week marks the First Annual Swan Valley Writers’ Retreat. A small group of YA author-friends will be joining me at my (husband’s) family ranch in the quaint Idaho town, where we will write, revel in the gorgeous scenery, consume delectable food, O.D. on coffee, and bond over subjects that I’m guessing only writer-types can fully appreciate. As you can imagine, putting it all together has been quite a storm, but I am so looking forward to my first-ever writers’ retreat.

Have you ever been to a writers’ retreat? If so, what made it memorable and worthwhile?

“A masterly retreat is in itself a victory.”
― Norman Vincent Peale


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