Each January for the past ten years, a small group of writers has gathered at the home of Nancy Moser for a brainstorming retreat. At right is our annual "staircase picture." From top going left to right: Stephanie Grace Whitson, Nancy Moser, Judy Miller, Deb Raney, Colleen Coble, Rene Gutteridge and Doris Elain 'Till' Fell. The beautiful dog, Maggie, is sitting in for Cheryl and Mel Hodde who write as Hannah Alexander and couldn't be with us this year. Over the years, we’ve developed a routine that has worked well, so we don’t deviate much. We gather on Friday afternoon at Nancy’s beautiful home and then head out to the Elephant Bar for dinner. That's our dinner picture on the left--we only managed to get Steph's arm at the lower left. This year I had orange chicken with wild rice and a nice salad followed by mud pie for dessert. Before you groan, Nancy and I shared the entire meal and dessert. I figure by sharing it was only about five thousand calories. After dinner we return to begin our brainstorming session. Each person is given forty-five minutes to tell a little about their story, what they need to brainstorm and then the fun begins.
As you can see from this picture, Rene was showing Nancy how she could impale a victim with an antler in order to kill off the antagonist in her story. We’re willing to go to the extreme to make certain things will work. Just glad Nancy didn’t make an unexpected move during that session. We usually complete two sessions on Friday night before ending the evening with visiting. Glad Nancy lived to complete the session!
Saturday morning begins with breakfast and the next two plotting sessions. Then we have our lunch break—we always have to keep the nourishment going. And each year Dave Coble (Colleen’s husband) heads off to Starbucks to bring special caffeinated drinks to everyone so we don’t end up in a mid-afternoon snooze before we complete the final brainstorming sessions. This year we ended early enough to enjoy watching a movie—research into a bit of espionage for one of the books we’d help plot. As you can see at left, we were getting prepared for the movie to begin.
Each year we all gather in the kitchen to cook dinner together. Nancy always tries new recipes—this year it was Greek chicken and baklava for dessert! That's a picture of the baklava below left--didn't Nancy do a beautiful job? It tasted as good as it looks. After dinner it’s more visiting, some speed Scrabble for the wordsmiths. We all depart for our various homes on Sunday morning. Each year we gather with unbridled enthusiasm, and unless Nancy screams “NO MORE,” we’ll look forward to descending upon her home once again next January.
I know I’ve said this before, but gathering with other Christian authors is a special gift. Writing is solitary work, so whether it’s for a mini-retreat, a brainstorming weekend, a huge conference or a research trip, I am truly blessed when I can come together with other Christian writers.
May you find joy as you enjoy the fellowship of fellow Christians in your life. ~Judy