I was writing when this picture was taken, so some kind person photo-shopped me in.
I'm on the very far right, about three rows up.
American Night Writers Association (ANWA) is a unique professional organizations for LDS writers. ANWA helps writers of all levels and genres, published and unpublished. They host a Conference, workshops, and retreats.
I chose to go to the one in the Pacific Northwest so I could retreat and visit my aging dad all on one trip. It was pretty fabulous. I met some wonderful people. Jordan McCollum, the keynote speaker, gave three amazing addresses. I attended two workshops on marketing. I wish I could share my notes, but sadly, I lost my notebook. Since this notebook also had my outline for my work in progress and my marketing plan for the next 18 months, I'm doubly sad. But all things happen for a reason, and I've since retooled my marketing plan, making it leaner and meaner. Fortunately, while at the retreat I was able to blast out an amazing fifteen thousand words--a record for any three consecutive days for me. I came home with a nearly completed manuscript, making the outline unnecessary.
The location was drop dead gorgeous. However, I knew this going in. The center is adjacent to Bowman Bay state park near Anacortes, Washington, a place of many Dickson family gatherings. And there was So. Much. Food.
Aside from the lovely people I met, the most important take away for me was learning how amazingly wonderful it was to be in a place and situation where nothing could distract me from my story. Even my meals were provided. I tried to go running one morning, but it was too dark, so my exercise routine went out the window. I had my own room so I could stay up late writing, or wake up early to write without worrying about disturbing anyone. As you can see from the my pictures, it was pretty much heaven.
I left the retreat in a happy daze and got to spend the remainder of my time in Seattle with one of my favorite people, my sister-in-law. We went to the Seattle Center where there was a Day of the Dead Celebration. This video pretty much sums up how I feel about my trip.
While there, I met a new friend who was a writing a book about a terrible accident where she nearly severed her hand. I decided to use this in my book. (With her permission.) Here's a snippet from my soon-to-be-released novel, Melange (second book in the Menagerie series.)
FROM CHAPTER 10
Ten days and four surgeries later, Gloria was allowed to go home. Declan helped her into a wheelchair, loaded the many flower bouquets onto her lap, and rolled his mom down the hall and out the door to her waiting Mercedes. A nurse carrying even more flowers and Gloria’s bags followed. He held open the door and waited for her climb in. Gloria looked tired although it wasn’t even noon.
“Would you like to stop for lunch?” he asked before starting the car.
“If you want to pick something up, that’s fine.” Gloria wouldn’t meet his eye.
He’d witnessed her attempts at feeding herself with her left hand, and it wasn’t pretty. “Mom, you have to eat.” Declan put the car in gear and headed for downtown.
“Not right this instant, I don’t.”
Declan drove in a tight-lipped silence.
“Where are we going?” Gloria asked. “This isn’t the way home.”
“I thought we’d go to Marciano’s to celebrate.” He slid her a worried glance.
“Celebrate what?” She sounded bitter.
“You’re coming home!”
She made an ugly snorting sound.
“About that…I hope you don’t mind, but I wondered if I could move in,” Declan said.
“Why?” She skated him a glance.
“You don’t sound pleased. If you don’t want me to…”
“Declan, turn this car around right now. I’m not going to Marciano’s and you’re not going to move in unless…You know you are always welcome at my house. I’ve begged you for years to move in, but now, I’m afraid, the answer is no.”
“You are not going to take care of me.”
“Mom! That’s not what this is about.” Although it totally was.
“The hell you say.”
“Mom!” As far as he could remember, his mom had never sworn in front of him before.
“You are not going to be my housemaid!”
“Of course not. After all, I’m starting school in a few weeks.”
She bit her lip and tears welled in her eyes.
He reached over and patted her leg. “I want to stay with you. Dad is…dating Daugherty and it’s weird.”
“How are things with you and Lizbet?”
“Even weirder.” He pulled up in front of Marciano’s.
“Sweetie, I really don’t want to be here. I don’t have any makeup on, my hair looks like a rat’s nest…”
“No one will care. You know that Lorenzo will be happy to see you.”
“I care. And if you love me, you’ll stop babying me.”
Declan swallowed hard. “How about we try again in a few days?”
“See? This is what I mean!”
Declan put the car in gear and pulled out of the restaurant’s parking lot. “I’m not following you.”
Gloria jabbed her finger into his arm. “You’re the kid.” She pointed at herself. “I’m the mom.”
He chuckled. “Believe me, I get that.”
“I don’t think you do. Since my accident, you’ve been acting like you wear the britches.”
“Mom, stop. I don’t want your britches.”
She folded her arms and settled back against the seat, looking cross. “You bet your sweet bippy you don’t.”
“Do I have a bippy?”
“Everyone has a bippy.”
“Sounds like a girl thing.”
“See, you don’t know everything.”