Thursday, January 24, 2008

2nd Annual Writers Retreat, Dead Lake, Perham, MN

Those of us fool-hearty souls who make our home in Minnesota are always at the mercy of Mother Nature, especially in the dead of winter. This was especially true last weekend when Julie Saffrin hosted her second annual writers retreat in mid-January, roughly 200 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Her cabin is situated on a beautiful piece of property facing Dead Lake, west of Perham, Minnesota, with a panoramic view of the lake. True to January being the coldest month of the year, the temperatures plunged to -24 degrees below zero at night, with wind chills running a steady -40 below. One might think our brains would freeze in such circumstances and nothing would get accomplished!

On the contrary, inside the cozy cabin the warmth and creativity of those present sparked an energy level that defied the frozen conditions on the other side of the glass. I propped my table in front of a south-facing window and welcomed the sun's ray's in my face each day. God's beauty came to life in the simplistic setting of a snow covered prairie and frozen lake laid out before me. For three days I transferred notes from my last interview into the framework of the next several chapters for Seeds of Salton, relying on tiny seeds of imagination and artistry in my unique setting to help create new scenes.

The hearty Minnesota writers in attendance were: Julie Saffrin, Janelle Huston, DeAnna Brandt, Sheri Jacobs, Laurie Quinlan, Nancy Willette Jobe, and myself. Several different genres of writing were represented...children's books, non-fiction, short story, essay, and fiction. During the day we mainly spent time working individually on our projects. In the evening we came together around the dining table, sharing not only a wonderful meal but an abundance of ideas.

A writer's retreat is time well spent, an investment in our dreams and whatever the future may bring. As our hostess Julie made the retreat everything it was meant to be...and then some. Thank you, Julie!

Our challenge now is to bring that sense of inspiration home and continue the writing...despite the winter chill just outside our door on these cold January days!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A new year...a new project!

Here it is January already...sometimes I have to ask myself how time seems to stand still in one sense and yet fly in another. Another one of life's mysteries, I suppose!

Most of my time this past year was devoted to promoting Hidden Heritage. I loved getting out and meeting people, many who were fans of Paul's music and loved the book already. I enjoyed the traveling, the variety of different events, some with Paul and his band, some on my own. One thing I discovered during that time, however, is that I missed writing. There's something uniquely fulfilling to my soul when I can spend time simply writing. This fall I started a brand new project titled Seeds of Salton. Based on a true story, this family drama recounts a gripping story of forgiveness between a son and his father. It is set in the rugged terrain of eastern Montana and begins in the 1970s. It's a story with many layers...a mother's love, a broken heart, anger and rage, rebellion, a father's redemption, true love, forgiveness, healing, God's saving grace.

Last week I read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and I was really inspired by her style of writing. I felt her poetic and beautiful prose call out to me, challenging me to go deeper within myself in regards to my own writing. In order to write a book like Seeds of Salton, I know I will need to do that. My first chance will take place later this month. I've been invited to a writer's retreat in Perham, Minnesota, hosted by my good writing friend and mentor, Julie Saffrin, at her cabin on Dead Lake.

As Julie shared with us, according to Judy Reeves, author of The Writer's Retreat Kit, there are 20 reasons to go on a writer's retreat:
1. To renew your creative spirit
2. To connect with your inner voice
3. To being a project
4. To complete a project
5. To focus your attention
6. To change your perspective
7. To unkink the coils of your brain
8. To find connections
9. To cross-fertilize
10. To fill your empty cup
11. To set a place for the Muse
12. To have time to simply be
13. To rest
14. To read
15. To renew
16. To reward yourself
17. To be in solitude
18. To be with other writers
19. To honor yourself as writer
20. To write

I hope I experience every single one of them!

Blessings to you this new year,