Nov 28, 2018

On a writer’s retreat – Kandy Shepherd

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a wonderful romance writer’s retreat in the beautiful countryside near Berry, on the New South Wales south coast. There were seven of us—sadly no other LoveCats—all members of Romance Writers of Australia, all multi-published authors, all female. (Oh, and a dog!) We shared a particularly lovely house, beautifully furnished and set in acres of lush farmland.

A retreat is even more fun with a dog!
A retreat is meant to be a withdrawal from everyday life, to rest and rejuvenate. Our retreat focused—of course—on writing. The aim was to discuss our current works in progress, brainstorm new plots, discuss ways to fix problems, and share information about the publishing industry. Non-stop talk was interspersed with quiet reflection and frantic bursts of writing—especially from those of us on deadline!

Inspiration all round for rural romance writers!

We managed to fit in time for walking—so important for writers who spend so much time sitting. There were also opportunities to simply admire the beautiful views across rolling hills to the sea. The Shoalhaven area is, I believe, one of the loveliest parts of NSW.

What a place to contemplate new ideas - that's the sea in the distance!

We shared the cooking and the tidying up—and between us ate very well indeed!

Did I feel inspired and refreshed? I most certainly did! In fact I dreamed the entire plot of a story as if I were living it. And, yes, I actually remembered in the morning and wrote it down. Proof that my “muse” had kicked into gear. When I’ll get the chance to actually write that story, heaven knows!

When it rained it was cosy inside - just the spot for brainstorming.
When writers talk writing, we also talk reading. Recommendations for favourite new books were rapidly scribbled down; promises to loan a must-read book made. A few of us mentioned that with our lives so busy, we didn’t have time to persevere with a book that for one reason or another didn’t engage our attention. I used to find it difficult to give up on a book, these days I’m more ruthless. Although of course there’s always that book where perseverance pays off and you’re so glad you pushed through.

What about you? When do you give up on a book? Or do you persevere? Have you ever enjoyed a retreat to follow a special interest? Is there a retreat you’d love to go to? We’d love to read your comments!


  1. I dont give it much more than 3 chapters, Kandy!

  2. I've never been to Berry, Kandy, but it looks gorgeous.

    In terms of abandoning books, I'm like Amy -- if a book hasn't snagged me by the end of the third chapter I move onto something else. Life's too short.

    1. Berry and surrounding areas are beautiful Michelle. Really worth visiting.
      Those first three chapters are so important to hook a reader into a book, aren't they? I know we as writers are very aware of that!

  3. Hi Kandy

    Your retreat sounds fabulous and I am sure there will be lots of new books from you all maybe with Denzel in one of them :)

    I very rarely abandon a book if it isn't pulling me in I might start to skim a bit and then it usually kicks in for me I tend to persevere, I heard someone say once that if a book doesn't grab you after reading your age + 10 pages you should give it up :)

    I have been on a few weekends around Berry on romance reader retreats and boy have they been fun, Berry is beautiful

    Have Fun


    1. Yes, there were some wonderful ideas from fabulous writers tossed around at that retreat, Helen! I hadn't heard that theory about you age + 10 pages! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. The moment I realize I am not impressed, I finish that and the following chapter (to give it another chance), then go to the final chapter to read their HEA (and Epilogue, if available). I write this on my author card and refuse to read another book by that author again. This has happened over a dozen times in the past decade or so, simply because I am reading a LOT of new authors-to-me with eBooks....
    In the olden days, before I kept track of such things, I used to swear and then physically throw the book across the room. This happened maybe three times in the past 40 years.

    1. Hi Laney, I think your process is much the same as mine! If I'm certain I'm going to give up, I often flick to the end. I don't think I've ever actually thrown a book at the wall, though I've wanted to!

  5. I love a retreat! This one sounds so lovely - and so productive! I'm so envious. We used to do retreats in my home - my family would go visit grandparents, and writers would descend, but now my kids are older, with loads on over weekends and after school, so we can't do it. I have retreat withdrawals.

    1. It was beautiful, Shannon. But I realised our group had either grown up kids or no kids and that's why we had the time free! It sounds such a cliche to say the kids grow up and away so fast but they do. Then you'll have plenty of time for retreats. And I hope to be on one with you!