Face-2-Face…a group grant recipient reports back

It doesn’t have to be fiction.

Writing dreams can come true.

We know they do.

A fitting motto for our writing retreat, we thought.

Just over 12 months after our inaugural meeting (March 2010) the eight members of 4 Points Author Network held their first weekend retreat during April 8-10, 2011. Our retreat was made possible through the support of RWA’s Group Grants Scheme and we thank the Executive.

About our retreat:

Our logo depicts the large geographical spread we cover and the journey we are taking together, finding our way and charting a course for that elusive place called ‘success’.

With our original retreat destination (Smokey Cape Lighthouse) no longer an option (they closed for 6 months for renovations) the group used our compass to find Bellingen, coinciding our first retreat with the inaugural Bellingen Writer’s and Reader’s Festival.

L to R – Kerri Williams, Jenn J McLeod, Diane Curran, Browyn Parry, Suzanne Brandyn, Fiona McArthur, Karly Lane

Our retreat aim:

To further foster excellence in romantic fiction, whatever the genre, by bringing aspiring writers and published authors together in a nurturing and meaningful way to share, learn and further develop and promote their writing careers.

How we did this:

A consultation process engaged all members in planning a program to meet individual needs, and at the same time ensure a balance of activities, including:

  • · tools for rejuvenation/quiet reflection
  • · social networking
  • · workshopping/discussion/brainstorming
  • · dedicated writing time/words on paper

As a whole the retreat worked well, although we didn’t exactly stick to the program. We had all agreed that we needed to take time out for individual writing time as the mood hit. So a flexible program better met members’ needs.

Anyone who attended a festival session had to report back to the group.

The venue brought some problems – ie a country hotel on a Friday and Saturday night (although a couple of members took advantage this and did some country research!!!!!)

In conclusion:

The 4PAN members felt the activity was incredibly valuable, both from a bonding and development aspect. Following the retreat we established a blog site and wrote a letter of congratulations to the Festival organisers requesting 4PAN be involved in a formal/presentation capacity.

 In summary we:

  • ·      Discussed online branding for authors
  • ·      Learned how to Tweet – the pros and cons
  • ·      PLR
  • ·      Brainstormed plots, conflicts, writing emotion
  • ·      Celebrated a contract (Kerri Williams received an email on the Saturday offering her a contract.)
  • ·      Celebrated the first week excitement of Karly’s first A&U release
  • ·      Diane shared her WIP (extract) with Festival patrons
  • ·      Fiona attended two festival events and reported back to the group
  • ·      Attended a book launch
  • ·      Met (informal) with Curtis Brown agent – Pippa Masson
  • ·      Managed some personal writing time and relaxation
  • ·      Shared good food, great company (oh and few wines and giggles!)

 Our evaluation:

Following the retreat, each member was asked to complete a formal evaluation (using an online poll) to determine the effectiveness of the retreat, identify improvements for future.

 Members were asked the following questions

  1. Did the retreat meet your expectations?  (YES, 100%)
  2. To what degree did the retreat meet your objectives? (VERY WELL, 85.71% 
    – PARTIALLY, 14.29%) 
  3. Would you be interested in another retreat (one that takes into account suggestions for improvement)?  (YES 100%)
  4. Would you recommend the same venue?  (NO, 28.57% – DON’T MIND ABOUT VENUE, 71.43%)
  5. Did the retreat impact on your relationship positively (ie did you find the retreat a bonding experience)? YES, 85.71% – SORT OF, 14.29% 

 The 4 points Author network thanks RWA for the opportunity to obtain a grant for this retreat.

 

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2 Comments

  1. We certainly do Jenn. It was a fabulous weekend.

    Suz 🙂

    Reply
  2. Hey Suzanne (and other 4 Points members!).

    Last weekend the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild held our annual retreat. They take quite a bit of organising, but as you’ve experienced, they are well worth the effort.

    Interesting you mention bonding, because that’s one of my favourite parts of our retreats. Of course the workshops are great too. (LOL)

    Finding the right venue can be a major issue, especially as we generally have 13+ attendees. I hope you manage to find somewhere you can go to each year. Unfortunately the venue we’ve used for several years is now unavailable, but we found an equally good, if not better venue.

    Sounds like you’ll be doing it all again next year!

    Reply

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