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 🙂


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).


Slow, Sunday, slow

12 01 2014

So I slept in longer than I wanted.

I wrote a bit before shopping longer than expected.

I lay about chatting and making tea.

But I did get back into it. I made it to just over 4000 words. The MS is now at 59,000 words. But I haven’t revised my other MS in days. Getting to 5000 generally has been tough and the temptation to socialise -tempting.

I’m cool with it. The story is moving along. I feel I will get to the end of it before we go home.

It’s been a bright sunny day. Warm but not too hot. The sun is making the lake shine with silver ripples. Lovely.

Nicole continues to rule the world with her awesomeness.

Matthew reached 18,000 words on his WIP and came to bed around 2am. We are not existing on the same plane anymore. But Matthew writing makes me happy.

Kylie is making Thai noodle salad. Yum.

Donna’s day one

7 01 2014

Although we arrived yesterday, today is technically day one of the retreat as this is when we start writing.

Last night we polished off a bit of white wine. We need to stock up.  Nicole had some fab news to share so we also drank two bottles of Munn. One of us doesn’t drink at all and the other not much, so that’s a lot. It was fun, hanging together, bagging each other out.

Matthew made fresh pasta, fettuccine, and I made prawn and tomato sauce. We talked and talked of writing and other guff, then we watched a move Cat brought along called The Day the Earth Caught Fire, a retro film, which was interesting. Cat says its a anti nuclear and climate change story.

Russell and Kylie were late as they had a fountain of poo to deal with at their house. Bad timing! (I had to fit the poo talk in here somewhere)

So now I must apply myself. But first some photos of the house. There are heaps more but these were my first impression.

The house wasn’t opened when we arrived so we looked around. Here is the lake at the back of the house- Lake Jindabyne is impressive.


Turning around, you can see the house. There is a little turret thing that Russell inhabits.



Then when we got inside there was this funky lounge room.


Later on we found this huge games room and another lounge. We think there are two bars as well so plenty of drinks fridges (which we need).

Then there is this deer head over the fire place.


This has to be the best place we’ve stayed in so far. We were a bit gobsmacked actually. This is the dining/work area. We usually like two dining rooms, one for work and one for eating but I guess we are going to have to slum it. It think that’s Joanne and Nicole in the kitchen area in the back of the photo.


There is also a tennis court but none of us brought rackets. My knee is injured so I’ll be lucky if I can go for a walk.

Time to work now. Donna

Off to the retreat

6 01 2014

Well it’s all happening here at Dweebenhiem. Not! Matthew is only just up and it’s 11.42. I went upstairs to ask him something and he was back in bed. Hence the goal I wrote for him (see side bar). I’m sort of packed. The next step is to get us and our stuff into the car and on the road. Sigh.

I’m a bit tired. I really haven’t written anything for weeks now. However, retreats usually set me up nicely. My mother was very poorly but she seems to have rallied and that takes a load off my mind  for a bit. I hadn’t made any firm plans but I believe I’ve now decided to finish drafting Into the Dark Glass, which I started as part of my Masters and then I might revise the two other things I have boiling away. Who knows! So much to do. So much writing time. I love it.

I’m really looking forward to hanging with my retreat buddies. I’m sure they’ll keep me on task and not tempt me with too much booze and food. Oh hell, who am I kidding. It wouldn’t be a retreat without that. (hangovers and tummy aches). I’m really looking forward to the location too so stay tuned for photos of the lake and the house.

Now I really must sort myself out and make sure I have everything I need to write and read for two excellent weeks.


The sun is out

13 01 2012

It is truly a glorious day here today, after a bit of rain lashing last night. I err…accidently…that means…not on purpose…drank too much last night. Dinner was the awesome lamb tagine and well I bombed. I was overwhelmed with the quality of wine and went to bed. I felt bad that I didn’t even help clean up. I didn’t write that extra 1000 words or so.  So today, with a more sober outlook, I realise I’m just a one drink woman now. I just can’t cope. I am sure my friends will no longer find me amusing and I probably won’t ever sing to Dancing Queen with the remote control as my mike, but hey I have grow up sometime.

So with the due diligence of one shamed, I was up at 6.30am to write. I did a 1000 words or so and then went outside to get some exercise and to enjoy the sun, while it is there. I took a walk to the waterfall and it is really churning it out now after the heavy rain last night. Then I went to the fern walk and the kauri walk before climbing back up again. Here I was rushing and slipped. No harm done. Then I kept going, a tad too fast, and did one of those wobbly will she won’t she tumbles and saved myself from falling down the slope. I really must pay attention and not think about my characters while walking or climbing. So know I have visited this blog, it is time for me to get working. Trudi and Paul arrive tonight and I’d like to have a few thousand words under my belt so I can kick back and enjoy seeing them again.



The changover

12 01 2012

Today Ian McHugh left to return back to Australia. Tomorrow Trudi Canavan and Paul Ewins arrive. So we decided we would have a cleaning day today.

As Ian was leaving, the gang decided we would have an evening reading from our WIPs. So we gathered around on the sofa and took turns. Ian wowed us with a newly drafted short story, which let me feeling in awe. Mind you Ian’s stories normally make me feel that way. We also gave him some critique on his story, which was actually quite good (for all of us, including Ian).  Nicole read from her reworked Battle for Odana and again we talked about it, the feminist overtones etc. Nicole continues to amaze me with her ability to write fast and write well. Russell read from his next novel and delighted us with his first sex scene. The character view point he read from is an utter bastard and that came through loud and clear. Kylie read from her Indonesian fantasy, which she has deconstructed. She received lots of positive feedback on it. Such a rich tapestry for the setting. Matthew read from a new tiein novel that he is thinking of pitching. It was short as he had only just drafted it and we all called him a bastard. Yeah it was that good. Me I read from Emerald Fire, the first chapter. Lots of manners and tea drinking. I think the guys liked it. It was a really good reading session. We are all impressed with each others’ work. Pity, Buffy the dog, chose to let off the most amazing fart while I was reading. I nearly choked and we spent a few minutes describing the stink and laughing. The dog let go another one.

We said our goodbyes.

As I mentioned today was cleaning day. We all stuck in on the bathrooms, the laundry, vacuuming, moping and kitchen. It was all done before lunch time. Mind you I’ve been taking it easy and only started back on Emerald Fire this afternoon. I probably have gained more calories on this retreat than I have word count. The amount of chocolate, lollies, fudge, cheese, crisps we consume here and then there are the meals.  Tonight Kylie is cooking a lamb tagine. This is pretty amazing because she’s a vegetarian and won’t be eating it. Right now I’ve had some blue brie and crackers and I’m drinking some lovely pinot gris.

One of the things I like about a retreat or about having writer friends is the critique. Kylie read the beginning of Dragon Wine for me. I’d recently hacked about 40 ooo words out of it and I was interested in what it did to the flow. She pointed out some things and made me question stuff. So this afternoon I trimmed a bit more in line with her comments. I’m still going to print it out and read it myself before I send it anywhere. However, I’m pretty pleased I have two novels ready to do the rounds in 2012.

I’m normally very focussed on writing during a retreat. This time I’m much more relaxed and it is interesting. It is more like a writing holiday this time. I’m writing but I’m not driven, if that makes any sense.

So as we have to share the internet connection and we are all having withdrawals, I will finish up this post so that someone else can webveg for a bit.


One Arrives, One Goes

13 01 2010

Well, my time at the retreat is over. I wish I could say I’d been productive, word count-wise, but my output for the week is small. But I have helped set up this blog, provided an insight into the FWOR experience through photos and posts, cooked a kick-ass apple, pear and berry crumble, chicken casserole and muffins, and started learning to play the ukulele.

My biggest regret leaving now is that I’ll miss out on chatting, hanging and drinking with Cat. I know she’ll liven things up here.

Have fun, Cat, and may you get the writing done that you intend to.

More Progress

12 01 2010

Better hurry up, Cat.

Not quite margaritas…

11 01 2010

What do you call margaritas with a splash of orange juice in them (not enough lime juice), apart from YUMMY! of course. I’m thinking Jaffaritas, although there isn’t any chocolate involved…

Ah, the delights of watching friends get uproariously drunk on just ONE drink. Well, they are strong enough that Russell just smelt the jug and declared the hairs had been ripped from his nasal cavity. Yes, there are photos, and even video. No, they shall not be posted, unless required under blackmailing laws. Under Chatham House rules, I will say just one thing – crabs.

Last night was the retreat special meal – Russell’s lamb roast. The man does a mean bit of lamb. I will now pause for you all to get the obligatory New Zealand and sheep jokes out of your system. I think the best bit of last night’s meal was actually the semi-frozen then baked pumpkin – it was sweet and melted in your mouth. Tres fantastico!

To add to the laughs, last night we watched The Castle and a couple of episodes of Flight of the Conchords. A nice way to end the day.

In official news, I’m now more than 100 pages into the edit of book two. In the process, I’ve chopped an entire chapter but as I’ve got at least two entirely new scenes to write during the book, the word count is sure to be okay. I have big plans to have the edit done by the end of this week, so I can spend the last couple of weeks of January polishing before sending it to HarperCollins.

– Nicole