altered fluid writing retreat 2012

For the last five(!) years, my writing group, Altered Fluid, has been going on group retreats to the wilds of New York and Pennsylvania for reflection, relaxation, shared creativity, and and lots of dedicated writing time. We usually have 8-13 writers in one big house for four or five days, which sounds like the perfect setup for a reality TV show. It is, but what happens on the Altered Fluid retreat stays there… we hope.

To my great sorrow, I missed last year’s outing due to Major Life Events, but I was able to make it this weekend, and it was all the more welcome because I don’t get to see these guys all that often anymore, except through the always unreliable magic of Skype and Google Hangout.

It was a great way to celebrate finishing revisions on Quantum Coin last week, but the reward for writing is more writing. I mostly focused on catching up on interview requests, many of which will appear in the coming weeks on an internet near you. Also e-mails, and website updates, and lots of other things. The manuscript for my next book went untouched, but that wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Also, I finally read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and I’m still recovering. It’s terrific, but emotionally exhausting. Fiction rarely elicits such sustained sadness in me, and a book that can affect readers so deeply is a true gift. The unexpected benefit of waiting until after I was done with revisions to read it is that I can’t second guess everything in my own book. I write very different books, so far, but amazing writing does make me more self-conscious about my own.

Anyway, some images from the retreat:

As tradition dictates on our retreats, there was snow. A lot of it.

But we didn’t get trapped this time around, as warmer weather made the snow vanish like some wonderful dream. I have never felt more like I was on Smallville than I did walking toward this barn. If I had heat vision and didn’t want to lose our deposit, I would have burned a giant S into the side.

There were chickens at the barn. We were promised eggs. A lie.

There were also chickens inside the house. Everywhere. We spent a lot of time in this kitchen.

The decor was terrific. Except for this creepy Howdy Doody painting that watches you in one of the bathrooms. His smile! It haunts me still.

Even when you’re writing your work of staggering genius, hygiene is important. This is one of the coolest showers I have ever seen.

This was the shower in my bathroom. Doesn’t it remind you of the Kryptonian chamber in the Fortress of Solitude that robs Superman of his powers in Superman II? Doesn’t it? It’s just me, isn’t it? Okay.

We found these outside. Inspired by Wall*E? Or did someone just leave their boots outside for a really long time?

I emerged from the house after a few days and went on a walk. Here I’m thinking, “What’s that bright thing in the sky?”

As I head back to my day job today, I already miss my friends and am looking forward to next year’s retreat. Do you go on writing retreats? Do you find them productive?

suddenly it’s 2012

December sort of disappeared in a blur of travel, holidays, and writing business–which had little to do with the actual act of writing and, in fact, conspired to prevent me from blogging as much as I’d intended. (More on that in my next post.)

I’m often concerned that if I don’t blog about something in a timely fashion, that the window of relevance (as relevant as any personal blog can be on the internet) closes and then I lose all interest in that particular post. This may be one reason why I have taken to Twitter–144 characters or less and I’ve just about said my piece and moved on; I’m busy, but not so busy that I can’t fire off a tweet or twelve a day. I’ve been keeping a list of topics though, and I will probably go ahead and post about all those things anyway as time allows, even if they seem like mostly filler.

My main reason for being incommunicado for so long probably won’t garner any sympathy either; C and I finally went on our honeymoon, to beautiful Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Where we soon made a new friend:

My favorite part of the trip was not drowning. It’s not so much that I don’t like water, but that it doesn’t like me, at least judging by its repeated attempts to kill me over the years. C enjoyed herself scuba diving and with various water sports, and I was perfectly happy to lie by the beach with a stack of YA novels and a steady supply of island drinks. Bliss. It also was unexpectedly refreshing to be cut off from the internet for a week, like some kind of detox program. As far as I can tell, all of you got along all right without me.

In some ways, the Sandals resort we stayed at reminded me of the Village from The Prisoner crossed with Gilligan’s Island. There was even giant chess.

Other highlights included riding horses through the ocean (perilous!), climbing Dunn’s River Falls (harrowing!), and snorkeling (amazing!) along a reef on the best-named ship ever.

I finally dragged C away from the sand and surf so we could make our flight back home just in time for Christmas. Then I had a few days of work before we flew off again to Jacksonville, Fl. for our friends’ New Year’s Eve wedding. (It was a beautiful ceremony and reception with floating lanterns to send the happy couple off, a la Tangled.)

Anyway, I’m pretty much back now but preoccupied with revising Quantum Coin and spreading the word about Fair Coin and working and reading for the Andre Norton Awards and blogging here and in various other places around the internet. Stay tuned–I have a lot of catching up to do. In the meantime, here’s a bonus picture of Bach, who was clearly very happy to have us home again.

PAX update

I ended up enjoying PAX East quite a lot, mostly because I was in great company. As usual, the Q&A with Mike and Jerry, the warped geniuses behind Penny Arcade, was entertaining and I loved the “Make a Strip” session, where the audience watched–and participated–while Jerry wrote the script and Mike drew a brilliant and bloody comic. With a superfluous pony as an added bonus! I could watch Mike draw all day, really.