What do you imagine, when you think of a writing retreat? Do you see yourself in a hammock with a notebook and pen, ideas sparking like crazy? Do you imagine yourself in a critique circle, exchanging ideas and learning from each other? Do you see yourself going for long walks, or staying in your PJs all day?
Whether it’s for a week or a weekend, writing retreats can be glorious, productive experiences. For me, it’s a chance to work on a piece without interruption and really hit my groove. I also love the creative buzz that comes from being around other writers, the talks over dinner, and the chance to refill my well by retreating from real life as well. (I took that picture to the right while I was on retreat. Meg and I were writing the sequel to These Broken Stars, and it was glooorious!)
I love heading off on retreat with my fabulous Melbourne-based writing group, and I always come back refreshed, and with heaps of words under my belt. Here are some things to keep in mind to help make your retreat great:
Who goes? Do you want to go on your own, or in a group? Each approach has advantages—if you’re going in a group, how will you decide who attends? Will one person convene it and invite others, or will a group of you draw up a list? How big do you want the retreat to be? My group already meets regularly for dinner, and if someone has an idea about someone new to invite on retreat, they put it to the others, then issue the invite.
What are your goals? I highly recommend having goals for your retreat. We have group members who want to write or edit a short story, finish a novel, complete critique partner duties, write a couple of chapters, outline a novel—it doesn’t matter what you plan, you’re more likely to do it if you’ve thought ahead. If it helps, tell others about your goals, and you can hold them accountable. Knowing what you want to achieve means you can start thinking ahead of time about how to do it, and make sure you have everything you need.
Do you want structure? Do you want to write the whole time, or would you like to have organised critique times? If so, do you want to exchange work first? Do you want excursions to a local park, winery, the beach or to see a movie, or do you want to stay isolated? It’s important to discuss this first and offer options, so people don’t feel their experience is disrupted. My group mostly sticks at the house, but occasionally we might organise a completely optional excursion. This time we’re thinking we might hit the local hot springs one night for a debrief.
What will you eat? My group divides up the meals and we each cook one. This keeps the budget down, and it also means you get fed at the appropriate times, and don’t have to stop working if you’re on a roll! You might want to arrange to go out to a restaurant, or order in pizza. If you’re going down the cooking route, make sure you check for food intolerances, etc.
Where will you stay? We rent a house that has lots of bedrooms and is right by the beach in case anybody needs a walk. Ask around and be creative – somebody might have a vacation place, or know somebody willing to rent one at low cost.
How will your work habits combine? Some people prefer to work with silence, some like music, some like to stop what they’re doing and ask questions, some love the disruptions, other hate them. Be honest with each other about what you need to be productive, and you won’t have a problem coming up with an approach that suits you all. You might decide mornings will be quiet, or there’ll be a quiet working room and a talking working room. Discuss, and you’ll find something that works for you. You’re all writers, so you all understand the need to work in your best environment.
What can you contribute? Anybody who’s ever been a critique partner knows that you learn a lot by helping others. Look for ways to help other people on the retreat. Get your own work done, but don’t be afraid to stop and help someone brainstorm or solve a plot problem, or to read a chapter. By helping others, I guarantee you’ll be helping yourself as well.
And here’s my final advice about retreats: just do it.
Don’t wait until you’re not too busy. Don’t wait until you’re further along in your writing journey. Your writing is important!
Do you have any advice to add? Have you been on retreat, or would you like to?
No drumroll, no build up — we’ve been dying to tell you all and now we can!
These Broken Stars will be published in Australia and New Zealand by Allen & Unwin! Meg and I are over the moon!
To have one incredible publisher in Disney*Hyperion is more than anyone could ask. To have two, and add the publisher of so many wonderful titles to our writing family? Let’s just say Meg and I have perfected our international synchronised flipping out routine. Any judging panel in the world would give us a row of perfect tens.
Every Aussie grows up on Allen & Unwin books, and my shelves are full of them. Allen & Unwin publish some of my writing heroes — I get tongue-tied just trying to talk to these authors (no really, this is an evidence-based assertion), and they publish some of the most amazing up-and-coming authors. They’re home to stories I loved as a kid, and some of my favourite discoveries of recent years.
I can’t believe we’re going to be part of the family! Thank you one thousand times over to the truly lovely Anna McFarlane and all at Allen & Unwin who made it happen, and to our equally wonderful rights gurus at Hyperion!
Now, Aussies, you know what this means, right?
You, me, the book, Melbourne, December: PARTY TIME!
Details to come, and in the meantime, if you don’t want to miss any news, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter by clicking here.
I’m leaving for the USA in a couple of days — I’ll be road-tripping, eating a LOT of fabulous food, visiting many fabulous authors, falling in love with too many fabulous books, and posting pictures and updates on Facebook and Twitter daily if you want to live vicariously!
I have a busy, busy month ahead! Road trips, writing and adventures of all kinds! Meg and I will be appearing at Book Expo America (usually called BEA) at the end of May! Here’s a list of where and when to find us:
May 29th, 4:30pm – 5:30pm: We’ll be at the BEA Bloggers Conference Happy Hour after the closing keynote. If you’ll be there, come and introduce yourself!
May 29th 5:30pm – 7:30pm: BEA Annual Children’s Art Auction and Reception — this year it’s a tribute to Maurice Sendak!
May 30th, 11:30am – 12:30pm: This is the big one! Meg and I will be signing advance reader copies of These Broken Stars at Table 6. Since we live in different countries, this is a rare chance to catch us autographing together! We’d love to see you, so come on by! Aren’t they b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l?
June 1st, 11am – 12:pm: Meg will be signing advance reader copies of Shadowlark in the Lerner booth! Publishers Weekly listed it as a galley to grab, so make sure you don’t miss out!
And you know what else we’re bringing to BEA with us? This:
What’s in that little bag, you ask? You’ll have to come find us and see!
Before BEA, though, I’ve got all kinds of adventures planned! I’ll be hanging out with writer friends in LA, visiting my big brother in Vegas, then road tripping through the South with friends and checking out everything from Graceland to Smokey Mountains National Park! Many miles and many delicious barbecued foodstuffs lie ahead of me. If there’s anything we mustn’t miss on the road through Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville and on through Asheville to Charlotte, be sure to let me know!
Finally, our first newsletter goes out on Monday, and it contains exclusive material you won’t see ANYWHERE else! If you want in, click here to sign up!
It’s newsletter time–and GIVEAWAY time! My lovely co-author Meagan Spooner and I are launching a joint newsletter, offering all the latest news on our books, as well as information about upcoming signings and events, writing advice and tips, exclusive contests, and sneak peeks at secret upcoming projects! What’s more, by signing up for our newsletter in the next two weeks, you can also enter to win our TOTALLY awesome contest. In the process, you can let us know what YOU want out of your newsletter, and get extra entries!
Because we want to hear from YOU, we’re offering a prize pack of swag and books from over TWENTY authors! The winner will receive a package full of swag (including bookmarks, postcards, temporary tattoos, jewelry, tea, buttons, author business cards, book plates, magnets, and stickers) signed by over twenty authors, as well as FIVE advance reader copies from our collection, which the winner will be able to choose. (If you’re an international, you’ll win everything but the books — sorry, but international postage on those things is brutal!)
Click the link below to subscribe, then be sure to come back here in order to enter the contest and tell us what you want in a newsletter!
Enter to win all our awesome prizes, and let us know what you’d like to see in a newsletter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
It’s here! The big day is finally here! I am beyond excited! Today we get to share our gorgeous cover with all of you, and we’re doing it in style!
Visit each of the six blogs below for six different chances to win an ARC of These Broken Stars. Each blog also has a piece of exclusive content, if you’d like to know that little bit more about the book!
Cuddlebuggery: See what the cover COULD have looked like, plus a live interview with Amie and Meg!
The Book Smugglers: This is all well and good, but what do the authors REALLY think about their cover?
The Midnight Garden: Where did the title come from?
Pub(lishing) Crawl: Check out this exclusive interview from cover designer Whitney Manger!
Mundie Moms: Want to know more about the characters on the cover? Click for more about Lilac!
Supernatural Snark: Want to know more about the characters on the cover? Click for more about Tarver!
In other exciting news, These Broken Stars is now available for pre-order, with more online options to come!
So, what are you waiting for? Go check out the cover! What do you think?
What a year it’s been! Here are twelve(ish) cool things that happened in twenty-twelve.
Writing on retreat in North Carolina
We finalised our edits on These Broken Stars and had our first glimpse of a cover shoot!
We finished our first draft of the sequel to These Broken Stars, which we’ll be sending to our editor next week!
I became a contributor to Pub(lishing) Crawl, a blog about books and writing by a group of authors, editors, literary agents and booksellers!
I blogged about how to write a book and researching your story.
I wrote about a teacher and a book that influenced my writing, and how I find time to write.
My amazing co-author, Meg, saw the launch of her debut novel, Skylark, and I wrote about that.
Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner and Beth Revis, geeking out about books
I hit up North Carolina, New York, Washington DC, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane (in some cases repeatedly), hauling my laptop with me all the way.
I went on a writing retreat with some of my favourite authors, Sarah, Erin and Sooz. We climbed mountains, braved the wilderness and wrote a ton of words.
GenreCon: The Pistols and Parasols Ball
I attended the fantastic GenreCon, a conference for Australian genre writers, and had a ball.
In 2013, we’ll edit our sequel and draft book #3. I’ll visit the US again, this time to celebrate the launch of These Broken Stars! As for what else the year will hold, we’ll all have to wait and see. My friends, family, husband, critique partners, writing friends, publisher and literary agents have been an amazing support as I get my feet under me and learn more about this authoring gig. I’m really looking forward to finding out what 2013 has in store!
November was a busy month! A year ago, These Broken Stars was at auction, and Meg and I were biting our nails and wondering where the journey would take us. Fast forward a year, and we’ve just finished with our first pass pages. FPPs are a PDF showing the layout of your book as it will appear when it’s printed–it means that we’re done with all our editing, and it’s time to do those final checks for missing words and tiny mistakes that crept in during edits. (We found some.) To the right is a picture of how I spent my birthday: first pass pages and some treats as well!
We’ve been working hard on drafting the sequel, and we’re nearly finished with the first draft–it will be done in time for Christmas! I can’t wait for a week off once we send it in to our editor.
We’ve got some other fun news to share soon, but for now, here’s what else I’ve been up to around the internet….
I was a guest blogger over at The League of Extraordinary Writers on thinking outside the box when attending writing conventions.
I blogged at Pub(lishing) Crawl on 3 Ways to Improve Your Critique Using Conflict Communication, discussing the crossover between my work as a mediator and my work as an author, and the places they meet.
And now, back to the keyboard. More words to write before we’re done!
Since September 1st, my feet have barely touched the ground! I’ve been in North Carolina, New York, Washington DC, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Melbourne and Sydney.Rather than writing the world’s longest blog post, here’s a quick summary in pictures. Look closely and you’ll spot… Meagan Spooner, Beth Revis, Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, Erin Bowman, a Hero Squad writing retreat hike, Bangkok street food, writing on a train, writing by a pool, writing by a lake, Meg writing in a chocolate cafe(!), an island in Thailand, an apartment in Brooklyn and a steampunk costume at a convention. Click on any of them for a larger image.
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