Monday, July 28, 2008

Oh, the Places You Will Go!

Okay, I know I promised pictures of ChiLibris and ICRS. And those are still coming. But I was no sooner home that it was up, up, and away again--this time to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to the home of talented suspense writer Brandilyn Collins.

The gorgeous view from Brandilyn's back yard.

I've gone there every year for the past five years for a writers' brainstorming retreat. Eight of the 11 in the group are currently published novelists; all are terrific writers and brainstormers. Sadly, this year only 9 of us could make it. (One of our members, Tricia Goyer, had to go to the Czech Republic, poor thing. You can read the account of her adventure here.) The most important part of this whole thing, though, is that we're all good friends. I've known most of these women for years, so that makes it such fun to get together this way. We always joke that anyone who is honored (as Tamera Alexander was last year and this year, the little over achiever!) only reaches that success because we've carried them for so long.

So here's the group this year:

Left to right, you've got Brandilyn Collins; Brandilyn's mother, whom we all call Mama Ruth; Sunni Jeffers; Gayle DeSalles; yours truly; Sharon Dunn; Janet Ulbright; Tamera Alexander; and Robin Lee Hatcher.

As you can tell, we all have a great time together. We spend the mornings and early afternoon plotting books for each other, and you should see the ideas fly! Robin Hatcher brought along a wonderful tool this year: her flip camera. So rather than having to keep notes, we just video taped the brainstorming sessions. Can't wait to listen to my session! Not just because there were so many great ideas, though there were, but because it will be a blast to hear all the laughter again.

Janet teaching us how to be princesses!

Sharon Dunn getting tickled at a brainstorming session.

Our wonderful hostess, Brandilyn, and Robin Lee Hatcher,
letting the creativity flow!

In addition to the plotting sessions, we play and pray together, and basically enjoy 3 1/2 days of wonderful sisterly fellowship. And then, of course, there's the food.

Oh, yes, my friends. Food aplenty. The most succulent of which is one dinner in particular: Mama Ruth's Southern Fried Chicken, complete with homemade biscuits and gravy. Mama Ruth is a true wonder, and watching her create this repast is magical. I helped her fix the feast last year. This year I tried to stay out of her way!

Tamera, Mama Ruth in her apron, getting ready to fix Southern Fried Chicken,
and moi--getting ready to eat it!

I've blogged before about the blessing of women friends, and this group is sure testament to the truth of that fact. This has become one of my favorite trips of the year, and, God willing, I won't ever miss it. I did try something new this year, though: video tapping one of our walks. of their walks. I'm not exactly a regular among the walkers in our group. But I did manage to go twice this year. On the last walk of the visit, I took my camera and tried video taping. I'll check the video and see if there's anything good enough to post. I hope so. Because we had a great time!

Until then, here are some final pix for you to enjoy.

Tamera Alexander and her favorite author making nice for the camera, just before we... our true selves!

May today bring you the sweet fellowship of trusted friends!


1 comment:

Tracy said...

Hi Karen

I wanted to pop in and say a huge THANK YOU for getting up so early to have a chat with us last night ... this morning... whichever suits!!!!

Our chat was something I had looked forward to all week and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment! I hope you have not suffered from the loss of sleep in your amazingly busy day!

I've just posted my review of 'What Lies Within'. If you have the time and/or are interested you'll find it here:

I know you said the next book won't com out til 2010. I'll try very hard to be patient! I know it'll be fantastic.