Thursday, July 28, 2011

Winner! And Retreat Pictures.

First things first, the winner of the SUPERNATURALLY Prize Pack of Awesome is:

My Life With Books - Jennifer K Jovus!

Congrats, Jennifer! Please email me at natalie(at)nataliewhipple(dot)com to discuss your prizes and such. If you don't reach me within a week, I will draw another name.

Alrighty, on to the retreat! I hate to rub it in, but there really is nothing like a writers retreat. This one in particular wasn't put together by any fancy host or anything—it was just me and a bunch of my friends, one of which happens to have access to a cabin. We planned the food and travel, everything. Basically, it was just a bunch of friends getting together.

The Friends: Michelle Argyle, Renee Collins, Candice Kennington, Jenn Johannson, Kasie West, Sara Raasch, and me.

Though we've known each other for a couple years if not more, the internet is what originally brought us all together (well, except for Candi and Kasie, but they're special). People say you don't necessarily need a blog (which is true), but if it weren't for mine I would have never met some of the best friends I've ever had in my life. Maybe blogging won't affect my sales in the long run, but it has affected my writing—it has improved my writing by connecting me with information and crit partners and a venue in which to practice.

We had another retreat like this two years ago, and it is amazing to see how far we've come. At the first retreat, there were two writers with agents, and one close to signing with an agent. This year? Three writers had book deals, three were on submission, and one was querying. It felt like we've come so far in two years. In truth, we have, and I can't imagine what the next year or two will hold for us. Probably a lot of struggling AND fun, like the last two years. Funny, how those go together.

So what do writers do on a retreat?

We eat at old school drive-ins on the way down to the cabin (okay, and on the way home), because that's what makes for a good road trip and we're all about authentic experiences.

And of course we take pictures of us eating, because it's FUN and the memories must be captured.

And we cook a lot. Michelle, Renee, and I did a lot of cooking, and everyone else did a lot of dish washing (It was the best set up ever!). I think I enjoyed the cooking almost as much as the writing!

We also talk A LOT.

Most of the time, we talked about books and stories and all that good stuff. There is nothing like that face-to-face discussion of writing. It's kind of magical, how things come together in a group like that. We read our stories aloud. We discussed the business. We spent time brainstorming and troubleshooting and, yes, marveling at how much everyone has grown as writers.

Seriously, my friends are amazing writers! There is truth to that whole "you grow together" thing. We may write alone, but having partners in that journey makes it not only easier, but richer and more productive. I am so blessed to have so many friends who've watched out for me.

On writers retreats, there's also a large consumption of caffeine, so we can stay up and talk MORE. Sleeping is for after the retreat.

Let's not forget the considerable amount of non-writing fun, such a four-wheeling and swimming in desert rivers amongst red rocks and sucker fish. There's also campfires and, of course, stories around them, both funny and scary ones.

There may even be the occasional quiet moment, when we're working on those creative things we tend to gravitate to. I think Sara pwned the writing count, but there was also drawing and game playing and reading between the louder moments.

And there was plenty of "Oh holy crap, that's pretty."

Some "Whoa, Utah doesn't get enough credit for its beauty."

Even just plain O_O.

And the best part? Right here:
I got to spend the entire weekend with my little sister, who I love so much I get a little teary every time I see this picture. I was fifteen when she was born—how in the world did she grow up so fast? She reminded me every moment why I write. For her. For the smart, amazing, vibrant youth of this world. (Love you, Pika!)

Best. Retreat. Ever.


  1. That sounds like so much fun. I'm glad you had a good time.

  2. Sweet! And how awesome that you brought your sister. That's great. So, where in Utah did you go? Southern? My Mom-in-laws friend owns a cabin up at Bear Lake, I should totally mooch, huh? =)Truth is, I hate actually going TO the lake because it is SOO windy and way too crowded (I shy away from crowds) amongst other things, but the view from the cabin was AMAZING! So gorgeous. And to think I used to hate Utah *ducks flying objects* (but after living in Europe can you really blame me?) =)

  3. Awesome pictures! It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun, and I'm really glad you got to spend the time with your sister! I have a niece who's turning 13 this year, and I think about her a lot while I write (and read!)

  4. Yep. Crit groups are essential...and now so is Utah sky. Sarah xx

  5. Oh my goodness I just did a happy dance! Thank you Natalie. :) It looks like you had a fun and productive retreat. (I am sure you are the coolest big sister any girl could ask for)

    FOLDINGFIELD: I have only traveled from Mexico to Canada but out of all the wonderful places - Utah has the bluest skies. I hope you get to see it someday.

  6. Holy wow! That. Looks. Awesome! I seriously need to do something like that with my writer friends. LOL! We've been talking about it, but just haven't DONE it yet.

    Great to pop onto your blog again! *grin*


  7. I think I'm dripping with jealousy. :) Sounds like it was an amazing experience. I've never done a writing retreat, but someday I hope to do one as cool as yours sounds.

  8. Thanks for posting this! I've never heard of writing retreats before, so I'm glad you told us about yours and how to have one. I'm gonna put this on my to-do list.

  9. Wow! That sounds like such a fun trip. Someday I hope to be able to have writing retreats with my writing friends!!

  10. Sounds like the best time! Thanks for sharing! :)

  11. It sounds like you had an amazing time. The scenery is beautiful.

  12. OMGosh! That looks like an awesome amazing trip!!!! The photos are so incredible and I will admit that my fave is the one of you and your sister cause the love you have for each other is evident. Oh and the fact that she's wearing a Beatles shirt makes her like insanely cool! :D

    Glad you had a great time!

  13. Your sister is gorgeous! And that looks like soooooo much fun. I am very very very jealous. Very.

  14. Awww, seeing these pics bring such great memories. Good times.

    P.S. Tell your sis I still have her creepy "The Ring" picture as my desktop wallpaper. ;)

  15. That sounds like it was so much fun! Someday I hope to go on a writing retreat with my snarky friends. :D

  16. Yay!!!! It was so much fun. I miss you all already. We can't wait two years before we do the next one. I like the annual retreat plan. :) It is sooo crazy that we all met online and we're such good friends. How does *that* happen? I'm so glad you have a blog because we would've never found each other. Love ya!

  17. Wow that sounds AMAZING. Thanks for sharing all the great photos and the awesome activities. I'm glad you had so much fun! :D

  18. Sounds like a blast! :)

  19. I already need another Reed's meal. And another weekend away. I'm so weak! I miss everyone already!