The Writing Retreat
I have travelled a great deal in my life, lived in Zambia, Kenya and Botswana and all over the Middle East, and taken holidays in Europe and America
These days, the thought of facing an airport gives me the shivers. The queues, the delays, the total chaos that one wrong digit in a computer can bring down on the travelling public. These days I do my holidaying at home and there are a lot of wonderful places in the UK that are still on my bucket list.
I'm hoping to cross off Whitby next year. Not sure I'll make the steps up to the Abbey with my dodgy knees, but I might find the perfect pair of jet earrings.
This year I'll be boarding an intercity train with friends and heading for Penrith in the Lake District for our annual writing retreat. That's to say, the tickets have been booked and we're keeping our fingers crossed that's what we'll be doing.
Last year our train was cancelled and we had to drive. It's a very long way so we went the day before and stayed overnight in Stafford. Despite the fact that the roads were crowded the following day, we were going to be very early to book into the manor house where we stay so we took a detour to look at a National Trust castle.
Needless to say, we got lost, never found the castle and instead of speeding along on the motorway, we found ourselves taking a detour across country through some truly spectacular scenery.
Getting lost is not always a bad thing.
This is the manor house that will be our writing home for a week. Seven writers – romance, history, crime, time travel, vampires – will be writing from dawn to dusk, piling up the words. With the occasional break for a walk, or to sit outside with a cup of coffee and watch the cows wandering past on the lane.
Last year we kicked off the week with the Champagne I brought with me to toast the signing of a three-book contract with Joffe Books for my new crime series, the Maybridge Murder Mysteries.
The first book, Murder Among the Roses, was in production (it now has over 800 5* reviews on Amazon) and while on retreat I wrote just over 10,000 words in six days on the second book, Murder Under the Mistletoe, which for me is fast! I'm hoping to repeat that feat this year for the third book – working title Murder in the Potting Shed– or maybe even better it.
In the evenings we get together over dinner and a glass or two of wine – sometimes in the nearby pub.
We talk about writing. Seven writers brainstorming a plot problem that's not their own, can work magic.
We talk about the books we've read and pick up a long list of titles that we really want to read.
It's a wonderful recharging break away from the distractions of familiar surroundings. Away, mostly, from the insistent pull of the internet.
Last year, we were there when the news bulletins were filled with the arrival of the royal family at Queen Elizabeth's bedside and we waited together for the news that Her Majesty had died.
It was an evening spent in reflection (some of us could remember her coronation) and thoughts for the future and, as we drove into London the following day, all the roadside advertising hoardings were filled with pictures of Her Majesty smiling down at us.