Day 3 at the Retreat

It continues to rain making walks difficult, but writing easier.

I thought I’d share some of the inside of the lodge.



Spring Writer’s Retreat 2018

After a harrowing drive over “the hump” and zigzagging around Cameron Lake I arrived at our retreat in Riverside Lodge, in Port Alberni. It’s absolutely beautiful. Here are some pictures:


If You Want to Laugh Take a Writer’s Retreat #Mondayblogs

I haven’t laughed so hard in years. I don’t mean giggle, guffaw or snicker. I mean full belly laughs with tears flowing down my cheeks.

That is to say – Writers tell good stories.

Last week I went on a retreat with the WIP group from Qualicum Beach. Ten of us gathered at the Vancouver Island Mountain Center, a modern, west-coast lodge, on the top of Mount Washington. The group, diverse in gender, age, background and writing interests, has one thing in common —  the love of story.

And laughter.

Where is Mount Washington?

The hiking trails are easy and the scenery is amazing.

The home of the Vancouver Island marmot, one of the most endangered species on the planet, Mount Washington is a year-round recreation area. It is stunningly, breath-takingly, jaw-droppingly beautiful.

And yes, they have marmot crossings on the road.

Sitting on the front deck at dawn.



Located on the eastern edge of Vancouver Island Mountain Ranges. The  Mount Washington Alpine Resort  is about 16 miles (25K) from the Comox Valley.

In the summer, there are many trails for mountain bikers, and hikers. You can even take a chair lift to the top.

Imagine: cool mountain air, pre-dawn light shimmering over distant mountians, blood-red sunsets, moving clouds, mists, sushine … 

There’s a reason monks go to the top of the mountain.

What does one do on a writer’s retreat?

The main writing room.

We spent hours writing. Many of us worked in the main room, while others worked in their private rooms. One dictated his words as he hiked around.

We cooked our own meals and gathered around the table to chat informally about our manuscripts and the writing life.

At nine o`clock each night we met to discuss our progess and our goals for the next day. This led to a lot of laughter.

We went for daily walks.

The Marmota vancouverensis (Vancouver Island marmot) is a large rodent related to the squirrel. They are about the size of a large house cat. The good news is that the number have rose from 30 (2003) to 200 (in 2016). (Marmot Recovery Operation)

Sex, Apps and the Use of Idioms

I know you want to know what I was busting my gut over, but I’m reluctant to betray my scribbling friends.

Let’s just say the development of motivational apps and sex assists were discussed. Even in poetic form. The dreaded monster called marketing was tackled from many directions and a discussion of reverse harems and the freedom of writing under pseudonyms had many of us thinking.

That’s all I’m saying. I want to be invited again.

Did I get anything done?

A small pond I found as I walked along the Alpine Meadows trail.

Yes. I finished two read-throughs of the first draft of my current WIP (50 thousand words) filling plot holes, or at least making them smaller, and strengthening the heroine’s arc along the way. I played with a Christmas mystery short inspired by Agatha Christie’s  And Then There Were None, but it may go back in the drawer for another year as I have a lot of work on my table.

I met new people and I breathed in the mountain air. Rocky Mountain high.

When people who have a shared passion gather together there is a synchronicity of creativity. 

I can’t thank my fellow authors enough for sharing the space and the time with me. It was in one word: wonderful.

Special thanks to Poul Bensen for organizing the event, Mark Desvaux for shairing the nine o’clock meetings, Jim Miller for his inspirational Quotes, Shannon Mayer for generously sharing her insights and last but never least, Mimi Barbour for introducing me to the group.

I can’t wait for the next retreat.

How about you? Do you find retreating from your regular life to pursuit your creativity helpful?







Gabriola Island Writer’s Retreat (April 2016)

Last weekend eight ladies gathered at my cabin on Gabriola, the most southern of the Gulf Islands, situated in the middle of the Salish Sea between Vancouver on the mainland and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We came together  to write. My big plan, as the hostess, was to have no plan.


While we have many differences (i.e., ages, backgrounds, writing styles and interests) we are united in our love for writing.


We gathered in my house on Friday night, feasted on lasagna, drank wine and talked writing. The next day we rose early and went about our own morning routines. Marion-Ann went for a run, Jacqui went for a long walk. I meditated. Others chatted over coffee and tea. Then we sunk into our writing projects. There seemed to be a natural rhythm to the day.


At ten most of us went to a local coffee shop, Mad Rona’s, to soak in the WIFI and have a look around. A few stayed back and did some more writing.

We returned to the house for a delicious pot-luck lunch of Greek Salad, Lentil Soup and Dolomades at noon and then returned to our writing.


Just before dinner we watched a Michael Hague tape on writing scenes, which was both informative and inspirational. At six we went out to dinner at the Woodfire Pizza and Grill. Three husbands joined in the fun.

After dinner we sunk into the wrap around sofa and watched a fun romantic flick, which we of course dissected.


My cabin on Gabriola is comfortable, but rustic. We managed eight women with one biffy and two beds, but none of that mattered. I had a fantastic time. I spent hours writing was inspired by our discussions on writing. The wine and chocolate were good too:)  But of course the best part– the very best part– was being with other writers.

Writing retreats foster creative synchronicity. I can’t wait till the next one:)

left to right: Jenny Nelson, Judith Hudson, Daniela Hewson, me, Pat Amsden, Jacqui Nelson, Marion Ann Berry

Photo Credits: Jacqui Nelson and Marion Ann Berry