Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Writers Retreat

I went to a writers’ retreat this past weekend. There were seven of us, all members of Creme de la Crime – which is the name of my writers’ group. A good writers’ group is worth its weight in royalty checks. Mine certainly is. The members have improved my writing tremendously. I am so very grateful to be a member.

The retreat was held in a small pretty town in the steeply-rolling countryside of southeast Minnesota, called Lanesboro. It’s about two hours from the Twin Cities. We stayed at a bed and breakfast and since this is the off-season, we got a nice bargain on the rooms.

We allotted an hour to each member with a fifteen minute break between readings. Our first reader, Friday evening, has been struggling with her first novel for several years, slowly improving. She read a gangbuster segment on Friday; she really seems to have caught on how to do this thing called mystery fiction.

I read second on Saturday, three of the later chapters of Threadbare. They were well received, which was a relief, and other commentary was very helpful, one in particular that should add just a touch of chill to the story, which it needs at that point.

William Kent Kruger is a member of our group, and he read the ending of a “stand alone” novel called Ordinary Grace, that was extremely moving and satisfying with an element of surprise that is appropriate for a mystery novel. Though this book is more like mainstream literature than an ordinary (ha!) mystery. He announced that the book is sold, which is wonderful.

There is a restaurant right across the street from our B&B that specializes in Scandinavian food. We ate dinner there Friday night and were so pleased, we went there again Saturday night. The restaurant is named after the owner, Kari’s, which is also the name of one of the two main characters in Susan Runholt’s lovely young-adult mystery series. I recommend their Swedish meat pie. The crust alone is to die for.

The evening wound up with Michael Kac breaking out his guitar and banjo and giving a short concert of folk and bluegrass music. He is really, really good!

The trip home Sunday wasn’t too pleasant; there was an ice storm going on. It didn’t get hairy until the last third of the journey, but I was driving and I had a backache that night and the next morning from the tension I felt on that trip. Glad to be home.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone


Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Monica, I love and admire William Kent Krueger's work. If any of our readers haven't tried him, they are in for a real treat. I don't know of anyone writing crime fiction today who is better than he is.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience, Monica--except for that ride home. Writers retreats are sounding better to me all the time!

Betty Hechtman said...

Your writers retreat sounds wonderful. You are so brave to face driving in all that bad weather. I'm such a chicken that I don't even like driving in heavy rain.