Where to go, what to do?

I’ve been thinking about SiWC a little because it’s been four whole months (really!), since I was there soaking up inspiration and writing-life camaraderie and I’m already looking forward to the 2012 conference.

Friends that I meet up with at the conference every year have often commented that it’d be really great if we could do some sort of Pro-D weekend twice a year, not just the once . . . and as spring approaches (Please!), I’ve been thinking that sounds like a better and better idea.

So how about it . . . any suggestions of conferences or workshops that you highly recommend?  From local writers’ group seasonal offerings, to self-guided mini retreats, or the extravagant Maui Writers’ conference . . . I’d just like to hear what you’ve taken part in—or what your dream writing related getaway would be. Of course, if you’ve had any bad experiences and have some strong “Stay away” warnings, those would be helpful too.

And now I’ve updated my website (√) and written a blog post for this week (√). It’s back to my W.I.P. for me. Please respond to my queries above. I’d love the fodder for daydreaming and future planning.

🙂 Cheers and happy writing!

12 thoughts on “Where to go, what to do?

  1. I agree Ev, that the boost of hanging around people who want to talk writing non-stop is a huge rush. I go to a readers weekend called “Words on the Water” in Campbell River most years. It is mostly for readers, the writers present their work to the audience and there are discussions. Very fun, especially they are mostly BC authors. It would be nice though to go to a writers group: the RWA is great for that and they also have online groups and workshops that help. Not as good as Surrey. There are quite a few conferences around but I’ve looked at them and wondered just how worth while they are. Don’t know how to tell either.


  2. Hi Ev, I think my ideal writing retreat would be a weekend all alone with a deadline due at the end to help me focus! I have done a week alone at a cabin (Wow, no kids!), a weekend with a writing friend (the wine was good), and currently each week I meet with friends to do “hour stories,” or write for one hour with cards as prompts (we usually get a draft chapter in on our novels). Other friends do “write -ins” at the library, just keeping each other company as they write. Another friend house-sits and gets writing done then. As I write this I realize, each of these things is good in different ways, so I would encourage you to experiment with something new. Keep your ears open for opportunity. If you see a seat sale to somewhere, take advantage of it…especially if it’s to Hawaii!


  3. Dear Barb, thanks for responding!

    Words on Water sounds great (maybe if I ever live on the Island I’ll partake in it sometime) and you know I’m jealous of your RWA meetings. They seem very inspiring and practical.

    Re: “hanging around people who want to talk writing non-stop is a huge rush”–yes, it really is. 🙂

    It’s tricky to find out the truth about conferences because of course the conference will rave about itself and post good reviews, not any negatives (if there are any). Then again, perhaps all writing conferences ARE good–you probably take away positive things (not the least of which is that feeling of connection and kinship) from most of them.


  4. Dear Susan,

    LOL–yes, I think I may have to take advantage of a deal that sees me in Hawaii some time. I’ve already planned to add a week of holidaying onto the end if I ever attend Maui Writers.

    That dream on hold for a bit, I LOVED the “write-ins” and “story-hour” you ideas you shared. Very cool–and would be simple and low organization to pull off. I think I’m going to try those.

    And re: dream writing retreat. I’d love solo getaways too. I’ve had quite a few “writing retreats for one” just at my house when my husband and kids have gone away for the weekend (they’re all involved with the cadet program). Very effective–and more so if there’s a tangible deadline (always a problem for me–the lack of an external deadline that sometimes lets me fiddle and play around instead of getting down to work).

    Thanks for your feedback. I’ll let you know if I try the write-in and how it goes. 🙂


  5. Unfortunately, the Maui conference went bankrupt over a year ago. It is no more. 😦 I’ve been too nervous to gamble on any other conference in the States, as apparently when they go bust (as several have), the writers can’t get their deposit back. However, my friend Liz from the Surrey conference recommends the one in San Francisco.

    I loved Surrey, but I really wish they would mix things up a bit more. It always seems to have the same workshops, same presenters, same writers and agents, etc.


  6. Dear Holli,

    Ah, no! Now I’ll have to go to Maui just to holiday. 🙂 In all seriousness though, that really is too bad.

    San Francisco, eh? I’ve always wanted to visit there and combining it with a conference would be awesome, me thinks. I’ll have to look into it. And re: other conferences in the states, Boucheron always sounds pretty amazing and one year I’d love to go to ThrillerFest.

    Surrey does have some returning authors year after year (the “big” names), but they always have new ones too. I relish the familiar faces and feeling of community, yet always find new classes to take that I get a lot out of. “The Intersection of Puppetry and Speculative Fiction,” with Mary Robinette-Kowal, was the highlight for me this year. It was beyond amazing–super entertaining, but crazily practical–and a totally new (to me) information. Robert Wiersma (another speculative fiction author) was also stellar.

    I guess that’s why it’s pretty hard to make any promises about how good a conference or retreat will be. Every writer has different things he/she is looking for or expecting. Do you have any immediate plans for another retreat or anything?


  7. Hi Ev,

    I’m glad Surrey is still working for you. I loved getting together with you and Jan, but when I realized that was by far the best part of the conference for me, I thought that I should just go and visit you both, which would be considerably cheaper. (But have I done that yet? No.)

    Honestly, the best writing retreat for me would be what Susan describes above…going to a cabin with no internet access. When I go to a conference or a structured writing retreat, the focus always ends up being on the social aspect, which is GREAT…but I don’t get a lot (or any) writing done. So I won’t be going to a retreat again, but I might try another conference at some point.

    Take care,


  8. A visit from you would be great! I’m hoping to relocate to Vancouver Island in about 3 years, so if you could visit both Jan and I in one fell swoop. And speaking of Jan, JAN! It’s been forever since she and I last chatted. Are you still in touch with her? Please give her a very warm hello for me, if yes.

    Susan’s ideal retreat does sound . . . ideal. I can imagine that a retreat with other people would just turn into a social event, which is good if that’s what you’re needing, not so good if what you wanted was some extreme word counts. 🙂 How is your writing going, btw?


  9. That would be much more convenient for me! 🙂 Yes, still in touch with Jan–got a message from her this morning, as a matter of fact. She just got back from a month in New Zealand, and has her first grandbaby. She is doing very well. I’ll pass on your message.

    I’m in the middle of my rewrite of Dragonfly Summer–novel #3 since I “met” you. My goal is to be finished by the end of March, and I’m on track for that. Then my second group of readers will have their say; I’ll make their changes, should I agree with them, and then have everything ready to submit in the fall. Having a writer’s group that sets goals has really helped keep me on track.

    How is yours going? What are you working on these days?


  10. Your progress is great, Holli. Congrats!

    We sound like we’re in similar places. I have three full novels finished (the third is in only in second draft though), plus a couple of novellas. Right now I’m working on an Inspirational romance novelette, and in April plan to start a fantasy.

    It’s wonderful you have such a supportive, good-fit writing group.

    Here’s to meeting on the Island someday!

    p.s. And Jan is a grandma. Wow and fun! 😉


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