I’m still jet-lagged from my cross-country flight home from Savannah, Georgia, but the afterglow of our eighth Books & Such Retreat has not begun to ebb. What is it about spending time with those who understand what our life is like as writers?
Several years ago we explored the idea of creating a special retreat for our clients– not like a typical writing conference. We wanted a blend of pampering, fabulous locations, good food, connecting our clients with each other and, of course, encouragement and state of the art content. Because we only do this every two or three years, it is an event our clients wait for with great anticipation.
I thought I would share a bit about it.
We try to pick a retreat location rich with history and offering lots to see and do. In the past we’ve visited Sonoma Wine Country (close to home of the Books & Such main offices). Monterey and the luxe Plaza Hotel has been a favorite and we’ve retreated there three times. It’s right on the water. In fact many rooms cantilever over the beach and water. Seals barking and gulls screeching, it’s only a couple blocks from the famous Monterey Aquarium. The time before this we chose Charleston, for its beauty and history and were able to take excursions to the only tea plantation in the United States. But this one may have topped them all. Savannah was exquisite this time of year with the magnolias in bloom and the weather perfect. Our boutique hotel, The Mansion on Forsyth Park, was an historic mansion that we learned had once been used as a mortuary. The owner of the hotel was an art aficionado and his collection of sculpture, paintings and even ladies hats through the ages were lavishly displayed throughout. The best thing for us was that we had our biggest group yet and took over the entire property.
We always invite industry guests. This year we has Al Hsu from IVP, Katara Patton from Our Daily Bread, Caleb Peavy (our marketing guru) from Immutable and Elizabeth Jackson from Tyndale. They took appointments and each gave an excellent workshop. Katara even participated in Karaoke with her fabulous voice. How’s that for above-and-beyond? They were all were stellar.
Workshops and Keynotes
We enjoyed retreat workshops from the agents and guests along with a superb opening talk from Gwenfair Adams, a Books & Such client and professor at Gordon Conwell on the intersection of faith and art. Another highlight was the unforgettable lunchtime keynote from Tessa Afshar. Devotions each morning were a perfect way to start the day. Because we are adamant about keeping the education to the morning only, leaving the afternoons free for exploring, connecting, shopping or lounging, our workshops were only thirty minutes long and we had a stopwatch and a time-keeper. Despite that, we covered what makes an effective book launch, how to make social media reels (which many of the attendees practice over the following days), presenting yourself correctly for speaking and interviews, what kind of side hustles will help you sell books, and how to sense your calling to write among so many other great topics. Oh yes, at our last evening we had a raucous Karaoke DJ and great performances while the more literary among us did Book Charades, which lasted long into the night.
The Real Magic
The best part? Our clients. As soon as they began to arrive the warmth and encouragement came with them. Maybe it was because we longed for connection after the pandemic but I’m still feeling the love that filled that place. I was chatting with fellow agent Cynthia just before I wrote this and we agreed that as much fun as we had, that mansion was a holy place for the time we were there. How good it feels to laugh together and hug each other once again. I will never forget it.