Monday, April 20, 2009

WRW Writer’s Retreat

Whew, I just got back from the annual WRW Writer’s Retreat in DC. Fun, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. I go every year and it is without a doubt one of the best conferences (I hate to call it that because it is so much more) I have ever attended.

Day 1

Driving, driving and more driving
Although Richmond is only 2.5 hours away from Leesburg, anyone who’s ever driven around DC knows you have to factor in an extra week just to get from point A to point B. My critique partner Liz and I spend the time brainstorming ways to kill off the stepmother in her latest WIP.

Arrive at Carrodoc Hall, Leesburg
It’s a Holiday Inn connected to a 1747 mansion, complete with scarred plank floors, intricate woodwork and I’m sure a ghost or two (although they didn’t make themselves known when I was around). Not as atmospheric as the 19th century Hilltop House in Harpers Ferry (the old Retreat location) but still nice. I help Liz set up for the multitude of gorgeous gift baskets that will be raffled off at the end of the retreat then it’s time for…

Cocktails on the Veranda
The moment I step outside with chilled chardonnay in hand, I’m pulled into conversation with none other than Meg Ruley and Carla Neggers. What fabulous ladies. We chat about everything from black ice and broken bones to kids and flat tires. Then it’s on to…

Carla Neggers gives a great speech. If you ever meet her, ask her about the rubber chicken and airport security. Hilarious.

Agent-Editor Panel
Author Kathy Seidel poses audience questions to the editors and agents. Who knew Jennifer Enderlin was secretly a flight attendant?

More Cocktails on the Veranda
The weather is too perfect so we hang out on the veranda again, chatting and laughing and getting to know each other again since it’s been a year since I’ve seen some of these people (so far, no singing but it will come, I’m sure). After one or two adult beverages it’s off to bed. The next day starts early.

Day 2

Editor/Agent Interviews
My first is with Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks. She’s not interested in my WWII paranormal *pout* but loves, loves, loves the premise of my dragon book and the other books in the series. She asks for the full of DRAGON and mini-synopses on the next 3. Yeah! But before I send it she wants me to cut 15-20K out of my ms. *Argh!* I’ve already cut 10K. But I promise to try and wonder how the hell I’m gonna do it. Next is my interview with Meg Ruley. We chat a bit but when I mention dragons she stops me right there. She loves medieval, likes time-travel, but doesn’t do dragons. *pout* But she says it sounds like something fellow Jane Rotrosen agent Annelise Robey would like and to pitch it to her with her referral. Meg also promised to put me in touch with an ex-editor turned independent editor who might be able to help me trim down my wordy ms – again. She also recommends I pitch to Helen Breitwieser who’s also doing interviews at the Retreat. Since I’m spending the morning helping keep the other editor/agent interviews on schedule, I’m there when Helen comes out for air. I give her the 30 second elevator pitch:
Her: What do you have?
Me: Medieval time-travel.
Her: Love medievals. Love time-travels.
Me: It’s got a dragon-knight hero.
Her: Great. I love dragons.
Me: There’s other books in the series that involve the gryphon, unicorn and other bestiary characters.
Her: Sounds fabulous. Send me the partial and be sure to put ‘dragons’ in the subject line. I’ll be looking out for it.
And she’s gone. Quickest and easiest pitch I’ve ever done. *G*

After lunch with Deb Werksman (nice to chat casually with her again) and several other authors, I finally make it to some workshops. PC Cast talked about creating YA characters (that is one funny woman!), Carla Neggers discussed work vs. play in your writing, then Katy Hershberger (publicist for St. Martins) talked about Romancing the Media. All very entertaining and informative.

Dinner and Ding Dongs
More drinks on the veranda followed by dinner. Keynote speaker PC Cast enlightens us on centaurs and double genitalia -- it cracks me up every time I recall her speech. The poor bartender was just dying. Then comes the highlight of the evening…

Romance Jeopardy
Picture Jennifer Enderlin, Kathy Seidel and Karen Smith in poodle skirts singing most of the questions (or is it answers?) Tracy Farrell, Carla Neggers, Beth Harbison and Meg Ruley were among the members on my team. We lost royally. There are no words to describe it, except to say “This game is NOT fair.” You had to be there to understand that. Suffice it to say, great quantities of wine were consumed by all. My roommate and I stumble into bed sometime around 1 am.

Day 3

Skip the early morning workshop to have a leisurely breakfast and chat with others who straggle into the banquet room, then go to an author panel on well endowed heroes. Since this is a PG site, I won’t go into details on that one. *G*

I help my critique partner draw names and hand out baskets. I win Rebecca York’s wolf basket. Yeah! (my daughter loves wolves)

After many, many hugs all around, we head home exhausted and reinvigorated. If you’ve never gone to the WRW Writer’s Retreat, you should. There’s not another one like it.


  1. Oh, the centaur genitals. My stomach hurt laughing at that.

  2. Man, that sounds so fabulous. Our member retreat is a lot more low key.

  3. Liz S sent me here. I wish I'd been there! It sounds like a blast.

  4. Wow!

    Sounds like you had a fabulous time.