FWOR – Fantasy Writers On Retreat – from Alan

8 01 2011

NB: This is a cross post from my own blog, so apologies for the statings of the obvious.

I’ve just got back from a very productive few days at a writers retreat. It’s the first time I’ve done such a thing, and I like it. I was kindly invited by the existing FWOR (pronounced fwooooaaaarrrr!) group of Cat Sparks, Donna Hanson, Nicole Murphy, Russell Kirkpatrick, Matthew Farrer and Kylie Seluka. Other FWOR writers include Joanne Anderton, Ian McHugh and Trudi Canavan. Joanne will be joining the this retreat next week and Ian and Trudi can’t make it this time, but you can see the awesome company and imagine why I was so honoured to have been invited along. Sadly I could only manage a few days of the two weeks, given other commitments (damn you, real life!), but I made good use of the time I did have.

The retreat basically consists of hiring a big house in the middle of nowhere and sitting around writing all day, then playing games, watching movies and drinking all evening. Yes, it’s a kind of heaven.

I needed to drastically rewrite the first three chapters of the novel I’m working on and then run a solid edit over the whole thing. I got the rewrite done and half the book edited in the time I was there. Others did great work while I was there too, especially Russell, who spent two days working diligently on a map that turned out to be a vagina. Outstanding effort.

In the evenings we drank, gamed and watched some sterling films, including Hot Fuzz and a BBC production called Cruise Of The Gods. If you’ve ever been to a con, you HAVE to see Cruise Of The Gods. It’s brilliant. Cat and Russell also had several more rounds in their ongoing Ping Pong War. Cat spent a lot of time before the retreat telling Russell that his arse was toast this time around. When I left, the score was 5-3 to Russell, so Cat’s got some work to do. Matthew introduced me to a game called Dominion, which I enjoyed immensely and will now have to buy.

The place we stayed was called Stone Hedge, about 10km outside Oberon and it’s a pretty cool house. It has a pool table, ping pong table, air hockey table and many deer. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t stay longer as I was getting such a lot of work done and having a top time. Maybe next time I’ll get to stay longer. If I get invited back, that is. Hopefully the massive chili con carne I cooked up the other night has bribed them all into letting me come again.

There’s an official FWOR blog here – https://fantasywritersonretreat.wordpress.com/, which I’m supposed to be posting on. However, I’ve had a bit of trouble accessing that. I’ll cross post this entry when that gets sorted out. In the meantime, here are a few pics from my time there:

The FWOR: (l to r) Russell, Kylie, Alan, Donna, Matthew, Nicole, Cat (and the raven)


Stone Hedge


The Workspace


Matthew’s space


Cat feeding the local deer


Russell murdering a roast lamb dinner


Me murdering Russell at pool (I got lucky)


Russell giving Cat the only arsetoast she’s going to get (according to him)

(The photos above were taken by myself and Cat Sparks)


First home cooked retreat dinner

7 01 2010

After much faffing about, writing lists and menus, four of us went shopping in Nowra. Today food bill for the day is around $470. That food should last for four or five days. Then after asking the all important question because I was first up on the cooking roster ie what time do you want dinner. Trudi says she normally eats around six to six thirty. That meant I had to start cooking the seafood risotto. I made the biggest rissotto ever, with prawns, nile perch and baby spinach. The base was vegeta stock, prawn stock (made on the go) and some Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Nicole came to the rescue and put the salad together.

Speaking of Nicole. She finished her copy edit and celebrated by sharing some Moet with us. Much laughter ensued afterwards. I heard talk of gin and tonics. I am here using the internet on Matthew’s computer because the darn mobile broadband doesn’t work on my spanking new laptop.

I have more work to do so I am leaving these guys with Alien and grog. That’s because I am a chicken and a saint. None can gainsay me, but they will anyway.


Food Fugue

7 01 2010

Past experience with these guys is that we have fallen over ourselves to cook meals, fighting each other over what food to buy and what to make. Well something has changed. We must have gotten over each other. Just now we girls (grrrrr) sat down and forced ourselves to think about a menu and a corresponding shopping list. It was like pulling teeth. Either we are not over Christmas and New Year or we aren’t hungry. So we groaned and pulled our hair. One of us drew diagrams of what revenge on men looked like (no helpful comments or suggestions from the male residents here), which made the others laugh. I am not owning up to that.

It seems the only planning we did do well was the booze. Okay I brought the bread mix and Matthew thought of the bread and pasta maker. So writing.

I’ve managed a few hundred words this morning before I deviated on a revision to a story. I have another revision to do so I may as well do that so I can get on with it. Otherwise I will be behind on my word count stakes. The headache that wiped me yesterday has faded now so it should be clear running from here on in.

I appear to have a technical problem though. My Telstra broadband USB isn’t being recognised by my new laptop, which uses Windows 7. It thinks it is a cdrom and keeps asking for a disc. So I had to snaffle Matthew’s computer to write a post. Darn it. I won’t be able to skype my lovely daughter, Beans.

– Donna