Nancy: Top Five Favorite Things About Writing Retreats

A writer in desperate need of a retreat.

A writer in desperate need of a retreat.

As Justine told you last week, the 8 ladies converged on Arizona for a writers’ retreat this past weekend. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of writers’ retreats, as I posted here and here. This particular one was super special as I had only met two of the other ladies in person before this week, so this was my chance to meet and hang out with and just generally enjoy the time with the whole 8LW crew (including Michaeline via the magic of the interwebs!). But whether I’m retreating with the ladies or my small critique group  or my larger (former) writing group, wonderful things happen at these get-togethers. Today I’m sharing my favorite ones.

5. Binging on snacks/wine/decadent things of choice. Okay, maybe indulging sounds better, but whatever – this is what happens when you bring together writers and chocolate and coffee and wine in an atmosphere where calories don’t count. Don’t judge us – this writing gig is hard work and we need to fuel our brains. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Continue reading

Kat: The Heart of the Matter


Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ

If you’re wondering why I’m posting today instead of Jilly, the answer is simple. I’ve been road tripping around Arizona with several of the other ladies this week, and put off writing my post (so much to see and do) until it was too late. Thankfully, Jilly bailed my butt out by swapping days with me (THANKS, JILLY!!!).

Still, it wasn’t all breathless Grand Canyon views and inspirational Navajo stories (or love songs). Each stop along the way enhanced some aspect of my story. The trip to the Navajo Nation (Monument Valley) was important to the motivation and characterization of my antagonist (Hawk), as well as to Cheyenne’s return to her cultural and spiritual roots. Our stay at a historic railroad hotel in Winslow, Arizona will play a central role in my next story, and the Grand Canyon was a lesson in the value of quiet reflection.

After each stop, I was sure we had reached the pinnacle of beauty and magic. Surely the next stop on our itinerary would never top the last. And then I walked into Antelope Canyon. Continue reading

Michaeline: February Film Festival

Mary Pickford, 1916, with movie camera. She's terribly cute with a scarf and curls in her long hair.

Here’s looking at you, kid. (Mary Pickford, 1916, Via Wikimedia Commons)

Movie season is here, and one of my goals for February is to watch a film each weekend. I thought I’d use the hive mind at Eight Ladies Writing to help brainstorm a list of good movies.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

1) Something educational. What did it teach you about the craft of writing?
2) Romance is a bonus.
3) Spaceships or ghosts are another bonus.
4) Set in 1899 in New York City and includes a masquerade ball is a triple bonus with ice cream (-:.

Have you seen anything good lately that fulfills any of the above?

Because I’m a traditionalist, I’ll probably start February with Continue reading

Jilly: Learning to Listen

Learning to ListenDo you get good, actionable feedback, on your writing or your career or any other aspect of your life? Do you make the best possible use of it?

I’m writing this post a little ahead of time; by the time you read it I should be comfortably settled at Justine’s house with all the 8 Ladies except Michaeline, who’ll be joining us from Japan via Skype. We’ll be congratulating, commiserating, planning, critiquing, brainstorming, writing, talking about writing, and generally having a fabulous time.

Some of the Ladies will have concrete goals for our writing retreat. I’m taking a looser approach. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot out of my trip to Arizona, and I think I’ll get the most by casting my net as widely as possible. Jeanne and Michaeline have already given me some fantastic feedback on Dealing With McKenzie, and I’ll be squirreling away any other comments, good and bad. I’ll be asking questions and brainstorming Cam and Mary’s story, but I suspect I’ll get my best ideas from talking about the other Ladies’ books. I’m also going on a side trip with Kay and Kat, and who knows what that will bring?

One of the big lessons I learned Continue reading

Kay: The Comfort in Reading

girls japanese readingDuring the holidays, I thought I spotted a common thread in the other Ladies’ posts: every so often, someone would say that after she completed a task, finished a job, or visited the in-laws, she planned to reward herself by reading a book. Or if somebody had suffered a disappointment, she wanted to cheer herself up with a book. If somebody needed a present, she bought a book. Reading, everyone said, is comfort and joy.

Is it just us? I wondered. Or does everybody find happiness in reading?

The Gideons certainly did. In 1908, this group of businessmen started a fund to place a Bible in every American hotel room so travelers could find solace there. Selected passages were described as suitable for “comfort in time of adversity, sorrow, loneliness, suffering.” Continue reading

Elizabeth: Discovering Perspective

Original photo of Cambridge, UK, © Eldridge Photography

Original photo of Cambridge, UK, © Eldridge Photography

This weekend, thanks to a Facebook post by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I found a really fun time sink app that lets you take a photo and make it look like a painting. Apparently there are several apps that do this (who knew?).  The specific app Susan used is Painteresque™, for the Android and iPhone/iPad and, according to its website it:

“. . . makes photographic images more interesting and compelling because it . . . attempts to extract and intensify its most interesting and intelligible features.”

Continue reading

Justine: Writer’s Retreat, A Newbie’s Guide, Part 1

eight ladies writing, justine covington, writer's retreat, writing retreat

Vintage Arizona postcard designed by USA Souvenir and sold on

Well, I’m on the precipice of my first writer’s retreat, and not only is it my first, but I’m hosting.

Nancy has done several writer’s retreats and I’ve talked to other writers who’ve done the same. The take-away is a great weekend of sharing, brainstorming, writing, relaxing, and indulging in every writer’s Magic Three: wine, chocolate, and coffee. Not necessarily in that order.

Although I’ve never attended a writer’s retreat before, I’ve put a lot of thought into what I should do and provide for my guests this weekend, which I’ll outline here.

Next week, I’ll revisit my plans and let you know what worked and what didn’t, so you can plan a stellar writer’s retreat of your own. Continue reading