Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Writers Retreat, More

This past weekend was our twice-yearly Writers Retreat, held by Creme de la Crime, my writers group. Sometimes we go away but this year we held it in two of our homes. Eight of us attended. Saturday we met at Carl’s house, and he made coffee and his famous cinnamon buns for breakfast – I brought bagels, grapes, bananas and hard-boiled eggs. We had sandwiches, soft drinks, wine and four (!) kinds of chips for lunch with cookies and brownies for dessert. We were going to order pizza for supper, but we’d continued to snack all afternoon and no one was hungry by supper, so we all just went home. Sunday was my turn, we used the really nice party room in my apartment building. We had pretty much the same menu, except Susan brought the ingredients so each of us could build a terrific salad, too.

We each get a chance to read large chunks of what we’re working on at these retreats, with solid critiques after each reading. The readings were particularly fine this year, which gave the commentators a little less to do than usual. Between sessions we talked writing, publishing, books and movies. It was wonderful, total immersion. Tomorrow, Wednesday, we go right back to our weekly meetings, where just one or two people read.

I’ve been asked by Father Paul of St. George’s to give a talk between services on January 15. We met at a local coffee shop to discuss the topic and decided on: “What’s A Story For?” We are agreed that there is a difference between a story that’s true and a story that’s factual, and while all the stories in the Bible are true, not all of them are historical fact. They are lessons in how to – and how not to – act in relation to God. Father Paul also wants me to talk about how and why I write mystery fiction. My stories are less true, though I sometimes get something off my chest in a story. I do try hard not to let the ax I am grinding get in the way of a good story.

And Then You Dye is moving along pretty well now. It’s interesting watching some of the returning characters complicate their lives – sometimes when writing a story a character will step up all by herself or himself and surprise an author with an idea. Betsy is finding this a tough puzzle, but she’ll figure it out. I did have to drop a significant coincidence into the mix to aim her at a clue, but I allow one of those per novel, and I don’t think my readers will mind.

Threadbare will be in bookstores December 10, just four more days from now. I’m excited about it, and looking forward to hearing what you think of it.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear about your progress with AND THEN YOU DYE.

Did you read my previous comment on your last week's post? About Betsy's first husband's child from his second marriage needing Betsy's help?

Dee W said...

Threadbare was in my local B&N yesterday. And it came home with me, but I partied last night with my EGA cronies, so didn't get it started. All that food tends to make us sleepy in our old age. Can't wait to start - But I know it'll be awesome! Merry Christmas.

Linda O. Johnston said...

The Writers Retreat sounds like fun, Monica--and I love the name "Creme de la Crime"!

Monica Ferris said...

Dear Anonymous: I did read your comment and tried to reply directly to you. I don't remember you giving me the suggestion earlier, but I think it's a gangbuster idea! I'm storing it away in my file of Titles and Ideas. Thank you.

Oh, Dee, you have the book already? Let me know what you think. Thanks.

A good writers' group is worth its weight in rubies to a writer like me, Linda.

Betty Hechtman said...

Congrats on Threadbare. I'm glad to hear And Then You Dye is coming along now. I was in the same spot with If Hooks Could Kill.