Blogger: Wendy Lawton
As this blog goes live the agents and a good portion of the clients of Books & Such Literary Management are attending the fourth biennial retreat at the gorgeous Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa on Cannery Row in Monterey, California. The hotel is built over the sparkling blue waters of the Monterey Bay. Seals and sea otters play right in the surf below our rooms.
Nearly ten years ago, when we first began planning for a unique client retreat, we knew we didn’t want to mimic some of the amazing writer’s conferences that were offered. We wanted to do something different. Why not choose a world class setting, offer intense workshops and training in the morning and then leave the rest of the day for our clients to connect to the other writers, meet with guest editors and spend time with their agents? It’s been the perfect recipe. The first retreat was held at the Sonoma Inn in the beautiful wine country of California. After that we migrated down the coast to Monterey and have been loathe to leave this Forbes four-star setting.
So what are we doing right now? We’ve been having industry updates from Daisy Hutton, fiction publisher at Harper Collins Christian and from Sarah Atkinson, the Tyndale House nonfiction genius. We’re having a presentation by renowned image coach, Jill Swanson, and many of our clients have booked private sessions with her to update their looks. We have a photographer on hand to do fresh head shots and we’re having sessions on social media, the writing craft, and marketing.
Several clients are venturing out on the bay to watch whales, others are bicycling through the town or kayaking in the surf. Some are walking a block down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, others are taking a literary tour of Steinbeck’s stomping grounds. Some groups will be knitting together, others will be plotting new novels. A few plan to retreat to the Plaza’s world class spa for facials or massages.
For lunch today we’re eating on the patio under sun umbrellas and tonight is the Italian Dine Around and Annual Bocce Ball tournament. Tomorrow is our Think Tank Day when we unleash our creative selves to plot and plan and come up with new ideas. Jill Swanson will be ferrying a group to the gigantic outlet mall in Gilroy for a day of personal shopping and working on image.
So that’s what we’re up to. Sound like fun? What would be your dream location for a retreat? What are we missing? I’ll not be able to respond to your comments but will read them all when I come back to the real world.
A peek into a different kind of writer retreat in a world class setting. Click to Tweet
Oooohhh, I could be jealous. Your sessions would attract me, Wendy, even if you were meeting in the concrete jungle or a dark cave. Raised in the hills of the Midwest, I’m lured by the sights and sounds of autumn–the solitude of a cabin in the woods (with hot running water and power for my laptop, of course).
The literary tour intrigues me. Tracing the inspiration behind my favorite authors would be jolly good fun. It would also be humbling–a nice balance.
Lord Jesus, Word Become Flesh, bless this gathering of approved workers who rightly handle your word of truth. Amen.
And AMEN to the entire text of this comment. But especially AMEN and AMEN to the Blessing on this gathering. In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen.
Shirlee, thank you for your compassionate prayer. It brought tears to my eyes because the Lord did indeed bless our gathering.
Wish I were there, just to meet you guys.
But it may not work both ways, as I would have be accompanied by my service dog, Ladron. Ladron is a Red Heeler, which should be sufficient warning.
She is otherwise known as the Tour Guide from Hell. Everything runs on her schedule; she enforces activities (both human, and that of her fellow canines).
She enforces rest by hiding my tools and closing the laptop.
If disobeyed, she has a bark that would but a car alarm to shame.
But were she there, the whole B&S group would be as safe as they could be in this life, because you’d be FAMILY.
And for a Heeler, there is nothing else.
Andrew, Ladron sounds like a wonderful family dog. My son’s Rotty-Bouvier-cross won my heart when she protected me during a dog attack. My late Shih Tzu would simply have been an appetizer for the beast (but I sure miss cuddling him). ❀
A Rottie-Bouvier sounds pretty impressive.
I’m sorry for the loss of you Shih Tzu – I’ve known several. They’re sweet. Except for one that beat the tar out of one of my Pit Bulls, and left him neurotic, but that’s another story. (He did it in a shopping mall, no less!)
Ladron is a great dog; she knew at the age of six weeks to wake me from PTSD nightmares, and she is the ambassador for all the new (and sometimes very scared) arrivals. She also leads the dogs in song a couple of times a day.
She is watching me right now. I wonder if you can feel the intensity of her expression across the miles?
Kristen Joy Wilks
I love hearing about Ladron, Andrew. She sounds wonderful. I did a Bible study written by a blind lady who told the funniest stories about her seeing eye dog. The dog was addicted to junk food and dragged her through the door of McDonalds and jumped onto someone’s table to steal all their food! Too exciting, perhaps. But your story makes me miss our late great Newfoundland Shamu. He was such a great boy, and did drag us through some puddles, streams, lakes, and once yanked me off my feet and pulled me across the park when I was pregnant. He got slower with age, however and I miss him.
Kristen, I hope that in your loss, Shamu has left you with many happy memories. It sounds like he has.
Ladron steals food, too. She loves gluten-free pizza (when I was still well enough to make it), and if I left it on the counter, the crust would be cleaned off in seconds.
As for being dragged…back when I had only five dogs (three Pits, a coonhound and a German Shepherd), I took them all out for a photo-op walk together.
And then they saw a cat.
At the time I was very fit – 5’10″and about 230# – but I was told that the way they pulled me airborne, and then down the street, looked effortless.
As for the cat, it ran a short distance, then decided that enough was enough. It turned back and charged.
The dogs reversed course, running over me in the process and wrapping one of my legs in a leash so they could drag me home backwards.
I lived in San Diego at the time, and what they say about Southern California is true – the neighbors saw nothing unusual in our activities. As I lay bleeding in the street one of them commented that my dogs seemed to enjoy the chance to walk together.
Andrew, you have an awesome support system! 🙂 Doggy heaven there. When my neighbor’s dog sneaks over to visit, it makes my day!
Oh, yes. Without the dogs for whom I am responsible, my doctor and wife agree that I would be dead.
Their innocence instills a purpose – to give them kind and loving lives, and to utterly put memories of abuse and abandonment to rest.
And they do take care of me. Ladron and Sylvia (a Pit) will hide tools, and Syl will gently push me away from my drill press if she thinks I’m tired. (She’s the dog who is the ’emblem’ of my blog.)
They also have favorite movies. Syl likes “Saving Private Ryan”,and will pull out the jewel case when she wants to see it.
Ladron likes Hugh Grant. When we see one of his films (her favorite seems to be “Notting Hill”) she will sit very attentively, cocking her head to the side whenever he speaks.
I like Hugh, as well…wish I could channel him. But I come across more like Ken Watanabe on a bad-hair day.
Andrew, one of the kittens we found back in the summer … Hermione … 🙂 … she loves to watch the TV. While the other cats act oblivious to it, she sees the actions and follows objects. It’s hysterical. I don’t know why, but it is. 🙂 I took the funniest video of her.
Those dogs help you and give you something to help in return. Man’s best friend. 🙂
Hermoine? As in Harry Potter’s Hermoine?
The closest I got to a literary name was our most recent Pit Bull…she was originally JezeBull, but it got lengthened to Pitunia JezeBull.
Hope you post the video of Hermoine someday!
One I wish I had was of Atascadero the Coonhound and Hallie the Shepherd barking at a dog on the television. At one point you could see a light go on in Hallie’s head. She walked to the back of the TV, and then turned and looked at Atascadero with such withering canine scorn.
Monterey is pretty wonderful. I’ve only been there once, but I’ve longed to go back ever since! Somewhere in the Colorado mountains would be beautiful, especially this time of year with the trees changing colors. A four-star resort in Beaver Creek would be pretty amazing.
Or, there’s always somewhere in Europe. 🙂
It sounds like you all are having a refreshing time. I love what you ladies planned for your clients. It sounds wonderful!
Europe gets my vote. 🙂
Sounds dreamy to me! I’m captured by the mere description of it all! Missing? What could possibly be missing? 🙂
Have a beautiful time! Praying you all come back refreshed and renewed.
I agree with you Shelli, “What could possibly be missing?” ❀
It sounds like everything a writer could want! Still, I’m going to keep trying to lure you to the east coast. Say to Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC (you know–Mitford). And in autumn? Perfection. http://www.chetola.com
That sounds intriguing. Hope to meet you someday, Sarah.
I am praying everyone has a wonderful time, and certainly for a refreshing in the Lord!
Wendy, the retreat sounds like a sampling of heaven. I’d want to bring a few clones of myself so I could participate in everything (except knitting, since the only purl I know is the pearl on a ring my husband gave me).
Blessings of creativity and joy ~ Wendy Mac ❀
Wendy, it would be so hard to choose among the activities available … and all the wonderful people to experience them with. 🙂
Wendy, you would love the profusion of blooming things I’m sure. 🙂
Jenni, flowers always sound good to me. I like the wall of them you posted on FB. ❀
I am still sad I had to miss this year, but I am already planning and saving for the next one. Everything sounds perfect and I can’t imagine a better location. I’ve been praying for you all every day and I’m sure one day we’ll be reading books that came out of this retreat 🙂 I think it’s completely lovely that you guys do this and I love the family atmosphere at Books and Such. It is truly a gift!
Angela and Kathleen, I can’t imagine having to miss it. But … the invitation alone is worth framing! 🙂 You are blessed!
It is sad to miss, but I know God would have provided a way if I was supposed to go this year. And I saved the invite, it is gorgeous 🙂
Missed seeing you there Angela. But I know we will meet again. 🙂
Is it too early to cry, “Two more years!!”? Love to the Bookie Nation from the outer reaches of Oklahoma. The first retreat was amazing. I shall return!
Kristen Joy Wilks
Ha! I know what you are missing…ME! Really, this in itself is a good reason to query all the agents at Books & Such. Hasn’t worked so far with the YA…but I’ll be back. This month I’m jumping into a middle grade idea…all you guys can say is “No”…again… and I’ve heard that so many times I’m hoping to get immune. Well have fun, it sounds totally awesome.
Can’t wait to hear about your middle grade work, Kristen. 🙂
Just amusing myself debating whether Paul Coughlin is signed up for the knitting or the spa/facials…
I’m having a great time. The classes are inspiring and full of practical content. Thank you for giving your clients this amazing opportunity. We are grateful.
Kristen Joy Wilks
What I can’t wait to see is if it is any good! Got the thing all plotted out…now the hard part begins. Hoping that having 3 middlegradeish boys (6,9, & 10) will help. They already told me that I should include a giant armadillo. I mean, you can’t pay for advice like that! But regardless of the quality of the book, I’m grateful for the encouragement for all you guys. Thank you.
I’m just wondering how much do you need to save to attend this retreat.I might visit this wonderful spot on earth.
What a gift you girls have dreamed up. I’m thanking you for all of your authors who get to participate. Love you image girl. Now that’s smart. Looks, photos are also important.
Santa Fe might be a place you’d want to consider, it is also lauded for being a creative/spiritual place in America. But San Francisco would be great too!
Gary Neal Hansen
So happy for all of you!
Thank you so much, Wendy, and the whole Bookie team. It’s been amazing! I love the sense of family here.
Great to see you again, Julia.
I’ve been seeing the photos on various Facebook pages and am quite envious!
Never fear, Jamie. We will hopefully converge in Pacific Grove next year. 🙂