'Twas a cold winter's night in Wales at yon writers' retreat
Seven writers eager they did journey there and in joy did they meet.'
After a year of planning and anticipation, so began my sojourn in Criccieth, a seaside resort town on the north-west coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. I, and five other writers, joined Tess Woods (award-winning Harper Collins author of Love at First Flight and Beautiful Messy Love), her husband Paul and teenagers Tom and Lara, at Mynydd-Ednyfed Country House, a luxurious, heritage-listed property.
Enthusiastic greetings, a guided tour of the property and gifts given in welcome, then a week of delicious dishes for every meal and an endless supply of snacks and drinks...Tess and her family ensured we were comfortable. But it was more. We felt very special.
Each morning began with opening a happy pill fortune cookie. With messages like 'step with confidence onto a new path' as inspiration, we gathered together for the daily workshops Tess held. Using her own experiences as an author, she talked of the common elements in page turners, of the mistakes she'd made since becoming an author, and of sex scenes, editing, marketing and the importance of social media.
Free time to write or work on edits followed the workshops. We gathered in the lounge room and focused on our own work. If being together was too distracting and focus turned to talking, our individual rooms provided silence and privacy.
A bonus was the one-on-one professional critique session with Tess to discuss the work we'd sent her prior to the retreat (first 40 pages of our manuscripts). For me that session was the highlight of the week. Two hours spent going over every page, complimented at times and others shown in ways so clear how to make the writing tighter and more powerful.
A second bonus was the session we each had with Tom. Learning our likes and dislikes, he updated or created our websites. And they all look amazing!
From day 1 to day 6 we spent many hours quietly writing and when we weren't writing we joined together for chats, frolicked in the falling snow, explored the gorgeous scenery of Criccieth or the more populated town of Porthmadog, the home of a local pub The Australia. Then day 7 came, the day we said goodbye. So hard to do when we all wanted to stay.
December 9 - 15, 2017. A week when inspiration and encouragement flowed. A week when our writing took a giant leap forward on the path to publication. And a week when seven writers became friends in friendships that will last for life.
If you'd like to know more about the retreat, (and I definitely recommend that you do) watch this video (made by Tess's daughter) of us being interviewed by Tess's husband Paul.
And if you'd like to know more abut Tess Woods, her books and her retreats, visit her website at http://www.tesswoods.com.au