Today I want to share my experience of attending this retreat for the first time in April, 2013. It was a lot of fun, and I intend to go to it this year as well, and hopefully, this will encourage you to go too!
To begin with, I need to tell you a little bit about me.
1) I’m an introvert
2) I have a hearing disability
3) I have a speech impediment
Other things about me, I’m not comfortable in large groups because of my hearing disability, and I tend to plop myself down at one place and stay there like a bump on the log. It takes a while for me to get involve with a group and interact with folks.
I became a member of Romance Writers of America in February, 2013, and at my husband’s insistent, I also became a member of the local Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America. My past experience of joining associations has not been very successful for me, and I have found that the local associations can be less than beneficial. People tend to stick together like glue, and rarely open up to new visitors or members. However, that was not the case with the Mid-Michigan RWA.
I joined Mid-Michigan RWA because I needed knowledge. I needed to understand how the writing works, how the publishing work, I also wanted to know if anything that I write is even good enough to be submitted to a publisher, or should I self-publish? All these questions and no definitive answers.
I was pleasantly surprised at the first Mid-Michigan RWA meeting that I attended. It seemed that people went out of the way to come up and introduce themselves to me and talk with me about everything. At the end of the meeting, the person in charge of the retreat introduced herself and shared with me the flyer for the 2013 Escape from harsh reality retreat, encouraging me to sign up. (Uh… I don’t know about that!)
After going back and forth with my husband, who practically insisted that I attend the retreat, I finally signed up to go. Now mind you, I’m not sure I’m going to like this and the thought of sleeping in a strange bed and being stuck there from Friday night to Sunday afternoon made me cringe on the inside. But I did go, and I can honestly say, to my surprise, I had a great time.
First, I have to tell you, I got lost when I arrived in Augusta. I got all turned around, and my husband had to back track for me and guide me to the right road. Did I mention I get lost easily? Not a good way to start a retreat. . . .
Of course, we had the usual with a guest speaker to help fire us up and give us advice on how to improve our writing. Apart from that, it was all the other activities that made it fun and eventful.
Friday night was what I call a “getting to know you” evening. Our guest for the weekend was Christie Ridgway, and although there were times when I could not hear her, I did manage to get her notes that she spoke off of and her notes really helped me by filling in the gaps. Next time, I think I’ll sit a little closer to the front of the room!
Some of the folks brought in snacks such as diet cookies, diet candies, diet pop, diet wine, diet beer. . . .(uh huh. I’ll never tell.) There was plenty of food, and the meals were really good. Saturday was devoted mostly to our guest speaker. We also had Kalamazoo Books there selling books, and yea, they got into my pocketbook too. The evening we spent recognizing those who accomplished something through the year – a sort of a ‘rewards’ ceremony. It was great to see authors get rewarded for things they accomplished. That inspired me a lot to improve my writing and maybe someday I would get that recognition from my peers.
Saturday night, we were passing the bottle around, (Sparkling water! Honestly!) and everyone was asked what goal they have set for themselves for the next year, and when it got to me, I said I’d like to get one book published, and low and behold, in August, I signed a contract with BeachWalk Press Inc. to publish my first book!
I was thankful, that throughout the entire weekend, two very special ladies allowed me to tag along with them most of the time. We always seemed to be the first ones at the conference center in the mornings and so we ate breakfast together. I enjoyed talking with them about the good and bad of self-publishing.
Sunday morning, Christie spoke one last time after a leisurely breakfast, and then we had the raffles. I have to admit, I went a little crazy on buying the raffle tickets. There were about 25 to 30 baskets that had various things in them, but mostly books. Books were what I was after. I wanted to read what others wrote. I needed some help with my writing, and having other author’s books and reading them, I thought, would help me tremendously. There were also baskets where you bid on; I even put a basket in with stuff from Body Works! However, I had my eye on one basket in particular by a favorite author of mine. Another bidder and I had a bidding war going on, and I finally won! Yay! Interesting enough, my name got pulled out for four raffle baskets. Out of the five baskets, I got 3 bottles of wine! Some might say, “oh she just wanted the wine!” Uh huh. I could tell no one was going to believe me that I wanted the baskets for the books. Right. If the person who sat next to me got 5 baskets with 3 bottles of wine, I’d be suspect too, so no sense in denying it, right?
When I went home and brought all the stuff in, with the wine, my husband took one look at it all, giving me the critical eye and asked, “Did you learn anything at all there or did you guys just drink all weekend?” I just smiled and walked away, because, after all, what happens there. . . . stays there!