The summing up-Donna

19 01 2014

Well, we’ve eaten a mountain of chips and dip, chocolate and shortbread. We’ve consumed copious amounts of wine, gin and cider. (I lost count after the first night). We’ve worked hard and we’ve laid around and vegged. We’ve hung out and chatted and had billiard wars. But now, the time has come when we are done.

It’s just past five, and Matthew’s been vacuuming and Russell has been sweeping. Food is being organised and rubbish taken out. We are leaving early tomorrow.

All up the retreatees wrote just over 200,000 words in two weeks.

For myself, I’m a little short of target word wise, but I’ve accomplished more than I expected. Into the Dark Glass is at 79,000 words. I’m revising now and rethinking. I need to take time over this MS, but I have finished the story arc, which is what I wanted. I’m not sure it will be the final arc, but for now, I think it works. I wrote 44,000 words over two weeks on this story.

Yesterday, I finished the revision of my paranormal romance, adding 2,500 words to it. It’s not quite done but I’ve sent it out to beta readers so I can go in for the next revision. I seemed to have left out my hero’s pov toward the end. Oops!

At the beginning of the retreat, I revised a short/long story adding 2,500 words. That was totally unplanned. So I’m 1000 words shy of 50,000 words.

Each retreat has it’s own flavour and there is little point, I think, in having expectations. The retreat is a combination of things, the house, the weather, the availability of internet, the other retreatees and your own state of mind. This retreat was fab.

Jo and Cat managed to come for the whole two weeks. Jo was saying to me that it made a big difference to her. She settled in. I noticed she was much more relaxed than the previous time she came along. And she wrote a whole first draft of a YA novel. 61,000 words.

Nicole continues to be the powerhouse at 60,000 words, but she was pipped at the post by Jo.

Matthew managed his best word count yet, doing his stints in the wee hours. Now he says he’s out of alignment with the day. Matt managed around 25,000 words. Knowing Matt as I do they are going to be good.

Russell was working on a edit of his novel and managed 2,000 words of the sequel.

Cat did 20,000 words plus a critique and a review.

Kylie has been refreshing her Indonesian and writing notes and working on her revision. She managed 2,000 words and deflected a lot of teasting.

Ian McHugh dropped in and managed something, around the sort of heavy drinking and partying on Friday night.

The house here is great and the views to the lake and the mountains change on a daily basis. Today, it’s been hazy with smoke from fires, we can’t see the mountains.

I’m very grateful for this time to get away and write with friends. There’s a freedom involved when you are with like minded people and you aren’t fussed about the eight pairs of shoes around the coffee table, or the chocolate wrappers on the floor. You just enjoy being.

This morning, I thought I might have put on a couple of kilos as certain parts of my anatomy don’t fit my clothes anymore.

As the others left this morning, it’s just Matt, me, Russell and Kylie and we are heading out to get dinner. Until next time then.

And it’s done.

18 01 2014

The end of the final full day of the retreat. Tomorrow I head  home with Jo and Cat.

I finish 300 words shy of 60k. I tried, dear Lord I tried to get to 60k but I’ve run out of the brain space to create more story today.

So, a pretty good retreat for me. There’s less than 20k to go on the novel, so I should get it drafted by the end of January, as I wanted.

It’s surprising I got any words done at all. I had one (or two or three) martinis more than I should have last night. Cat, Ian, Matthew and I were up until about 2am, first playing pool, and then sitting out by the lake and nattering. I went for a bit of a wade, it was just gorgeous.

Cat invented this awesome drink that we called the cuntini. Apparently, a drink by that name already exists, but we don’t care. The drink was beautiful. Mango pulp, mango liquer, limencello, gin, tonic water and lime juice. Absolutely delicious. Cat missed her calling – she should have been a bartender.

So yes, I have been feeling a little seedy all day.

Jo and I went to Wild Brumby distellery this morning. They make the most amazing schnapps. After tasting a few, I bought the sour apple and Jo bought the butterscotch.

The distillery is set on a beautiful piece of land off the Alpine Way. There’s some fabulous sculpture in the garden, all made from recycled goods.

2014-01-18 11.03.51 2014-01-18 11.03.33 2014-01-18 11.01.03

We also did a bit of shopping in Jindabyne. Jo rewarded herself for a great writing stint by buying this awesome robot lamp and I got a cool little robot clock. I’ve never really owned anything totally geeky, so this is great.

Tonight, we’re heading off to dinner at a Persian restaurant. It’s going to be our last night together, and we’re all starting to feel it a bit, I think. It’s been very quiet today.

That, or the hangovers 🙂


My second last day at the retreat

18 01 2014

Nicole, Jo and Cat leave tomorrow. I get an extra day along with Kylie, Russell and Matt. Technically, I don’t do my final sum up and word count until then.

I finished the story arc (I think) for Into the Dark Glass, but there’s more work to be done. There are chapters full of talking heads that need filling out with stage directions and I need to sit on it before I attempt to revise more fully. But essentially it is done.

I finished the revision of Spirtibound, a paranormal romance and have sent it to beta readers. That was such a fun revision. I hadn’t looked at it since the end of November, and I experienced the emotional ups and downs of the story that I hoped would be there. I can’t wait to hear what my beta readers have to say. I know there’s a bit more to do, but I’m happy with it.

Last night we were going to read some work, but it ended up being a party thing with lots of noise and booze. I sat quietly with Kylie and Jo, reading a Georgette Heyer, which I find hard putting down. I finished A Convenient Bride last night. I’ll have to get on the ibooks tonight.

So for me, this has been a successful retreat in many ways. I’ve hung with people I really enjoy being with, I’ve written and eaten. The house was fab, the lake awesome. Bring on the next retreat.


What I did on the retreat

17 01 2014

As Nicole has noted, last week I finished the edits for Silent Sorrow. After five years I think it is ready to send out. This week has been a little less intense. I’ve been back and forth to Canberra to pick up and drop off Iain, my son. In between excursions I’ve had time to write an introductory chapter to Bitter Harvest, the second book in the series. I can add this to the 55,000 words I’ve already written for this book, words I removed from Silent Sorrow because Ian McHugh didn’t like them.

Speak of the devil, he’s just walked through the door!

I took pictures. Here is one of the storm, and one of some rocks and dead trees:


Trees and Tors


Tonight we celebrate!

17 01 2014

Jo’s finished the draft of her new short novel. Donna’s finished drafting hers and is now revising. I’ve crossed over the 50k mark. Matthew’s done more words than ever at a retreat. Cat’s had a great writing day. Kylie’s been beating the keyboard and Dr K has been – actually, since he finished his edits of his novel last week, I’m not sure WHAT he’s been doing.

We’re having fish and chips for dinner – my shout. Ian will be arriving in the next couple of hours. And there’s so much gin still left, martinis are the order of the day. Although they’re all talking making lychee martinis, which I’m sure are very nice but holy cow, that’s not a real martini. I’ll get myself some vermouth and I’ll show them!

Tomorrow’s the last full day of writing for everyone. Cat, Jo and I leave Sunday morning to return home. Ian will be Sunday arvo/evening. Kylie, Dr K, Donna and Matthew don’t leave until Monday.

So it’s almost done. Another retreat almost over. The sads are starting to approach.



16 01 2014

It’s been a few days since I blogged. So, what’s been going on?

Issues with sleep got to me and I ended up feeling very unwell a couple of days ago. I decided that I was stressing myself out with trying to make this word count and as a result, it was messing with my head.

So for the past couple of days, I’ve been taking it easy. Yesterday I went back and did some worldbuilding and filled a few things in, so it’s currently at 44,387 words. I might get it up to 50k by the time I leave. I might not. The plan now is to have the first draft done by the end of January.

This morning, I wrote a new short story which I’m planning on submitting to the Romance Writers of Australia anthology competition by the end of the month.

Otherwise I’ve been reading, and napping, and dealing with the heat (which is awful – thank goodness for aircon).

Last night, this awesome storm came through. Most of us went out to watch it come in. The wind blew, the temperature dropped and it was wonderful, after the heat, to stand out there and feel that chill against your skin.

Last night, I played Dominion with Matthew, Kylie and Russell’s son Iain, who came up to stay a couple of days. Iain did well, a young man dealing with a house full of crotchetty old women. And Jo 🙂

Kylie and Iain tied to win the first game, I KICKED ARSE on the second game. Toddled off to bed about midnight feeling very relaxed.

Not sure what else I’ll do for the next couple of days. If inspired, I’ll work on my novel. Otherwise, I’ll be turning my sex scene writing course into some blog posts and just faffing around, I guess.

Food wise – Cat cooked her amazing Simon Brown pasta last night. Matthew did kangaroo the night before. Tonight we’re having barbecued teriyaka salmon and tomorrow, I’m shouting everyone to fish and chips.

Man, I’m gonna have soooo much weight to lose when I get home.

Donna is the most awesome woman in the world!


Reflecting on what I have acheived so far

16 01 2014

Today is a bit of a catch up day. I felt very unmotivated yesterday and today I’m going to kick back a bit and take the pressure off. I have another short novel to revise and some admin type stuff to catch up.

So far on this retreat I’ve blown my data allowance on my iphone. I got a 1 G top up and somehow that has blown too. Not sure how as I’ve been using Russell’s wifi.

I signed up for an iPad Air (incorrigible)

I’ve eaten too much chocolate, chips, dip and sweets.

I’ve eaten some fantastic food. These guys are great cooks.

My alcohol consumption has been low to moderate.

My diet is not quite as abysmal as I think. My reflux symptoms are controlled.

I’ve watched something Troll Hunter, Contagion and Logan’s Run. We also watched Sherlock. I can’t wait to buy season three.

On the writing side, I’m almost at 40,000 words added to Into the Dark Glass. I’m almost done but have heaps to do regarding revisions, but the story arc is done. It’s time for reflection too. I currently think it’s crap, but I’ll get over that–maybe. This is the most challenging novel I’ve tried to write. It needs hard work to make it shine.

I revised a short story, fleshed it out. Added 2500 words on my first day.

I submitted some short stories, four including the above.

Most importantly I made it to payday without blowing the limit on my credit card. Oh, and I still think Nicole is awesome.



Wine O’clock

15 01 2014

Wine O’clock is always a fun time on our writers’ retreats. There is usually some kind of sinful food-chips and dip, chips, lollies and booze.

I made a batch of corn relish dip. Nicole and Jo are drinking wine and Kylie is partaking of some gin. Cat’s in the kitchen cooking pasta. Matthew is her trusty assistant making up a batch of fresh pasta.

There is usually ribbing, sometimes talk about what’s been written that day, or other industry stuff.

It’s been hot here and I feel slow roasted. I managed just over 4000 words. I don’t know how as I was a bit uninspired. There is tomorrow though for going back over and the night for thinking things through.

This morning, Kylie and I paddled in the lake. It was already hot then.

I best get back to the chips before Nicole eats them all!



The writing slog

14 01 2014

I’m still on my writing retreat.

Writing,writing, trying to write. I can escape if I want to but that’s counter productive. I’ve been looking forward to this retreat, the time to dedicate myself to writing and hanging with other writers who are very cool and who I count as friends. I’m not going to slack off no matter how tempting.

But sometimes focussing is hard. Sometimes writing without stuffing one’s face with chocolate, lollies and shortbread seems impossible, no matter how upset the stomach gets later. I’m doing it though. Writing and stuffing my face with junk.

I have to rest my wrist though and dab on the anti inflammatory cream. I certainly don’t want a dose of acute RSI back.

It’s currently hot across all of southern Australia, even here in the mountains at 35.2 degrees C. We’ve shut the door and put on the aircon to help us through the day.

I was hoping to push through to 70,000 words today. I may make it. I’m nearly at 67,000 words. If I do, I may break out the knitters loom and warp it up.

Catch us on the FWOR blog.

Donna! Oops wrong blog. I’ll repost on me.

Measuring half way

14 01 2014

So it’s Tuesday morning, we’ve been here 8 days but we usually don’t count the settling in day so it’s half way.

Checking my word count, I’m at 30,000 words for the retreat so just over my half way goal of 25,000 words (full goal is 50,000). The MS has just clocked 65,000. I’m so tempted to head for 70,000 words today. I’m not sure I can manage such a big word count in one day.My 10,000 words days are behind me.  But I’m heading into the climax of the story and sometimes, it pays to run with that and just keep going.

I had a lazy day yesterday with just 2500 words, but we did do an excursion. I planned to work in the evening to catch up, but Nicole, Russell, Cat and Matthew went to pay pool. A bit of drinking was involved. And that left Kylie, Joanne and I to talk the evening away, sipping some 21 year old port. We had a fab time all round. We all relaxed and just went with it. Dinner too was a bit casual. There were salad makings and cold meats and help yourself.

Nicole opened the fridge this morning exclaiming there was a full chicken there. She didn’t see it the night before. I’m amazed her awesomeness could even find her way to the fridge let alone identify the contents.

Matthew is cooking dinner tonight, but he put it in the slow cooker last nigh so we had roo smells permeating the house all evening, particularly in the bedroom. At least we know what we are eating, except for the vegetarians (their food is yet to be decided upon).