If you know me or have read my earlier blog posts, you know one of the highlights in my life is getting together with a small group of my favorite YA authors in beautiful Swan Valley, Idaho for 5 days of writing, catching up, sharing, celebrating, and bonding. The summer of 2014 marked our first-ever retreat, and Kristin Harmel (who also writes as Kiki Sullivan), Aprilynne Pike, Linda Gerber, Allison Van Diepen, Emily Wing Smith, and Jay Asher joined me at my family’s hunting lodge in Swan Valley, Idaho, representing 4 U.S. states as well as Japan and Canada. Lo and behold, they must have loved it as much as I did, because ALL of them wanted to do it again. Sadly, Jay and Aprilynne had things come up at the last minute that ultimately prevented them from coming. They were sorely missed!
This summer, Alyson Noel, one of my first and favorite writing friends, was able to come. She was the perfect addition, and I knew everyone would adore her (patting myself on the back). Though many of the things that went on during the retreat fall under the “What happens in Swan Valley stays in Swan Valley” code of secrecy, I can tell you we played a mean game of “Sex in the City” trivia, brought way too much food (again!), didn’t let wet firewood stop us from having s’mores, and learned NEVER to get on Em-dawg’s bad side.
One of the highlights for me was getting to hear a few pages from everyone’s recently published book or work in progress. I can honestly say the readers of the world are in for some mighty amazing novels, thanks to this bunch of crazy-talented (and just plain crazy at times) authors.
Getting to write in a serene setting is a huge benefit of a writing retreat, as is getting to network with like-minded and like-souled people. Many writers get so immersed in their projects that they don’t network. As with many (all?) careers, networking can make a huge difference. In a recent interview with Once Upon A Fan, the one bit of advice I gave to writers was to network. (You can read the interview HERE.) If you haven’t already guessed by now, one of my favorite ways to network is the writers’ retreat. Some retreats are pretty pricey and extravagant, but if you can find a place to have it for free (as my dear husband’s family provided us) or for a good deal, you, too, can host a retreat that your author friends will want to come back for time and time again.