Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Recapping Seekerville's First Semi-Annual Virtual Writer's Retreat!!!

Dude Ranch Ruthy here with a quick re-cap of last weeks' First Semi-Annual Virtual Writers' Retreat.

Okay, you're dying laughing, and probably pointing at me and saying things like, "Listen, sweetheart, don't you GET IT???? VIRTUAL MEANS NOT REAL. GET WITH THE PROGRAM, RUTHY!!!!"

Virtual may not be tangible to touch or smell, but in a writer's world, the presence of mind is half-the-battle. Here's what author Valerie Comer had to say:  The best part of the Seekerville virtual retreat was the virtual food, just like on the Seekerville blog, only more variety, all day long. No, wait, the best part was listening to Jake, the ranch owner, tell tales of his life. Okay, the REAL best part was hanging out with Seekervillains, sharing each other's triumphs and tears, and getting to know one another better. Much better. There's no such thing as too much better, is there?

Physical vacations cost time and money. Not all authors have a limitless supply of either, therefore the premise behind getting away mentally allows us more time to work... think.... reflect.... eat!!!!.... and get to know one another better.

Did we report in what we were doing? Yes, but more importantly we talked about how to do things better... how to handle rejection... how to edit/cut/revise.... how to find or recapture your voice... how to target.... how to maintain a balance of life vs. career vs. day job vs. family, etc. This wasn't like Speedbo where the goal is to produce, produce, produce... a retreat is meant for work, but also for reflection, letting God's hand and the blessing of the Holy Spirit direct your thoughts, your stories, your joy in what you do.

Here's how Ginger Solomon saw the retreat:

What did I get from this week?

·         Writers can love each other.

·         Rejection is not the end of the world.

·         Even well-known names(to me) like Ruth Logan Herne, Jan Drexler, Julie Hilton Steele and others have issues with writing some days.

·         I’d really like to go on a REAL-LIFE retreat to Jake’s ranch, snakes or not.

·         I’m loved, even if I’m not yet published.

·         You gals are a hoot, and have made me laugh multiple times this week.

·         We need to kidnap Mary C. and take her on a ride or to the campfire or maybe throw her in the lake, she’s worked far too hard this week.

·         I, too, wish it didn’t have to end.

We're planning our next one for early January 2014, following our Seekerville Rockin' New Year's Eve Party! Where? Australia, with Jenny Blake as one of our guides!  We'll go Down Under to help jump start our careers in a new year, a great way to kick off post-holiday doldrums!

Here's a rundown of last week:

Over 600 e-mails back and forth, filled with humor, warmth and advice... and some love and laughter tossed in!
Great food, ranch-style.
Inspirational e-mails from ranch owner Jake MacKillian
Short-sheeted beds.
Missing Jelly Beans

Trans-latitudinal and longitudinal romance!!!!!
Sweet stories of forgiveness and second chances.
Cute cowboys.
Pitchfork fried steaks
Grilled asparagus
Did I mention cute cowboys?????
Writing advice and convos offered across the board, no cost, no harm, no foul, just a bunch of people working out the kinks of a tricky business.... And having fun while doing it!

Amber said: I learned so much during this week. From info and pointers on plotting and brainstorming, to tips on character development. It was also just a great time of getting to know other authors and having some good fun and laughs.

Love Inspired author Jan Drexler sent these bullet points:

1) The opportunity to play with Seeker-folks more than we can on the Seekerville blog. It's been great to get to know everyone just a little bit better.

2) Watching people's imaginations feed off each other. Remember when we were little and someone would say "Let's pretend..." and we'd be off and running - playing house, school, cowboys, didn't matter. We were pretending together.

3) Getting WORK done! Two major projects hit milestones this week!

4) No mosquitoes at the campfires. Wasn't that part great?

5) Enjoying the characters you've introduced us to: Jake and his Mariella, Will and the other cowhands, and, of course, Sally May. How would we get along without her?

Jenny Blake came along as a reader and she had a wonderful time... but MORE IMPORTANTLY, Jenny added to the fun and flair of the retreat with her very own virtual romance with Cowboy Will.... Here's what Jenny has to say about her week at the Green Mountain Dude Ranch in northern Idaho:

"For this reader, hanging out with writers... getting to know you more....having a virtual romance and being in virtual warm weather. Learning more,. and having huge fun, and on this forum you can say more than often on a blog comment."

Each day began with a note from the ranch owner, Jake MacKillian...

(Ruthy note: Jake bore a striking resemblance to George Strait!) 

 Jake set the tone for the day as he told his story in bits and pieces, stringing us along.... and he sent us links to music... he gave us back-door tours of the makings of a ranch like Green Mountain... we met the folks behind the scenes. We got to "see" how Jake has dealt with life, love and loss... and his inspiration made us feel like anything was possible with human hands and God's saving grace.

"I really did pretend I was on a retreat this week. Read Jake’s meditations and listened to the music as my morning devotional.  Spent about seven hours a day outside, on average, pondering and gardening.  I wrote and read when I came back in. Sometimes you need a reason to do things a little differently in order to see things differently."  Julie Hilton Steele

I wish I could print everyone's opinions here, I'd love for you to feel the pervasive fun of our virtual getaway...

Established authors sometimes forget that folks aren't made of money... or that they're too afraid of that "Published Author" title after your name to really speak up... or they're embarrassed to talk about something personal on a professional blog, even a friendly one like Seekerville. But in a virtual retreat, those barriers disappear and folks can gather... talk frankly... work hard or meander... and gain a better understanding of the realities facing each of us, every day. Not everyone's a big talker on retreats!

Here's a note from Mitzi Barkman: I'm the shy one, and though I have been peeking in on you and listening to your conversations and have loved getting to know you all, and Jake and Will as well as Sally and the rest. It's farming weather, no rain (praying for the southern Albertans) thankfully. But the mosquitoes...did you know they are so big here they sit on the trees and bark?

I'm dying laughing at her image of a barking mosquito! LOVE IT!

And Mia Ross summed it up nicely:  Fun way to get away without going anywhere! The airline only loses your virtual luggage, and the weather is always perfect. Best thing of all: the people there with you. We'd never all be able to get together like this in person, but at the Green Mountain Dude Ranch, anything's possible.

Ruthy here: I hated to see it end. We had so much fun and it's a distinct possibility that our beloved GRAMMAR QUEEN might be taking up a more permanent residence with Jake, our widowed ranch owner...

When I left the ranch there was definite canoodlin' going on! I'm never one to push folks (hahahahahahaha!) so I just quietly slipped out and closed the door....

But I expect we'll be hearing more from northern Idaho!

Hey, come on inside and chat about what helps you maintain your focus. I've got a set of three mixed up books from various Seekerville authors to send out to someone.... Make a comment and I'll throw your name in the cat dish!

And to the sixty folks who signed up for the retreat including so many of my wonderful Seeker sisters, Superromance and Montlake author Holly Jacobs, Love Inspired author Mia Ross, and I won't even try to name everyone because I'd leave someone out and hurt feelings : Thank you so much for jumping on board! Talker? Non-talker? You're all welcome to drop by the Seekerville campfires, any time!

This is Jeter, Ruthy's new puppy... Jeter's a black Goldendoodle, don't ask, we don't pretend to understand it!

Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing sweet stories, helping new authors and making fun of her friends in the virtual safety of her online world. She lives in upstate New York with too many cats, two beautiful dogs, a quiet but cute husband, a bunch of chickens, frogs and toads and surrounds herself with small children and young families daily. She then shamelessly exploits those sweet children and small animals to sell more books!  


  1. Ya know...
    Gracious. Some how I missed the whole darned thing!

    And I signed up too!

    It's a mystery, and obviously, was not meant to be.

    Piffle indeed!

    Glad y'all had FUN!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. It was a great time, Ruthy and everyone! For those who weren't sure if my adventures with the bear and the bees were fact or fancy, here's the scoop (thus far) on my blog: A Bear in the Bee Yard!

  3. I missed it. I tried to get there but it didn't work TWICE! Something to do with my yahoo account I guess.

    I was thinking about you really I was.

    Seekerville helps me stay focused on writing, that and having some time to myself to daydream.

  4. A great week of getting to know folks and using our imaginations without the pressure of deadlines or worry about critiques.

    The virtual food was calorie free. The horse rides had no after effects.

    And the knowledge that Grammar Queen now wears cowboy boots? Priceless!

    Thanks again to one and all, especially Ruthy.

    Off to read Val's post.

    Peace, Julie

  5. K.C., join us in January! Nothin' like bein' down under in the height of their summer, and checking the beaches for cute lifeguards! :)

    Valerie, we had fun, didn't we???? It was a good time, and I remember when you first posted about your bear and the bees I had to ask, "Are you pretending? Or is there really a bear in your bee hives????"

    She wasn't pretending, LOL!

  6. Mary, you know what? As long as God gives me breath, we'll make this a regular event and you can join the next one.

    I'm moving next June's back a week to make sure teachers are off through most of the country. So we'll do that one a little later.

    Julie!!!! Glad to see you looking good, my friend, and what a fun participant you were! And I love that Julie carried as much of the retreat lifestyle into her week of "normal". Most of us still had to be "normal" and pretend before jobs, after feeding kids, etc., but Julie had one of those rare weeks where she could embrace the whole idea.

    LOVED IT!!!!

  7. Huge thanks to Ruthy for arranging our marvelous trip to Green Mountain. Looking forward to seeing everyone in Australia!

  8. I had a great time also it was so much fun. I love the virtual world where things are possible.
    Also having been in the states in May it helped to visualize the area also.

  9. Mia, thank you for being there!!! One of the especially nice things about doing a retreat like this, is no one cares about who's talking... published/aspiring, etc., we just talk frankly and openly.

    That's huge because it can be difficult to find authors who'll dish with youse about whatever.

    And the fun thing was you could join in the convo or keep working, your choice. Hey, if anyone connived Sally into giving up the recipe for those ribs, bring it to the Yankee Belle Cafe, okay???


  10. Jenny!

    First, I heard that Will went and got his passport yesterday so it looks like he's Australia-bound!!!!


    And we had a ball, didn't we? LOVE IT! You were such a good sport, and there's a bit of romance writer within you, Jenny Blake!

    But reader or writer, we had a great time. Can you send me some of those leftover jelly beans please???

  11. Oh Ruthy didn't you find a huge packet in your suitcase when you unpacked or are you like me and take awhile to unpack and haven't gotten to the bottom yet.

    Oh so glad he's applied for the passport.

  12. Unpack????


    I hadn't unpacked from Boston the week before! Running upstairs to check my suitcase!!!


    Ladies and gentlemen, a large, toothy grin was spotted reflecting off the waters of Lake Ontario near upstate New York! Please stay tuned for further developments!!!!

  13. I have to say DIGEST works well when you are trying to get a lot done that doesn't include email... but it takes away some of the fun and immediacy. Ruthy and Jake were amazing hosts! And I really enjoyed getting to know more about everyone at the retreat. I have a passport and I will be ready for Australia. Awesome Retreat!

  14. PS love seeing Julie here today, you've had us all worried.

    Ruthy when's the announcement? Jeepers talk about a cliff hanger!

  15. Opted out because too much going on in personal life but Jan. 2014 sounds great. I'm inside a lot, New England winters and all that.
    Interesting point on how to get along with published authors. I'm still working on that, made a couple of huge blunders earlier in career. It's hard to know what's "pushy" and isn't, especially on a site like this where everyone is so friendly. It is a process. There's an article in the new issue of The Writer featuring a children's author who landed first contract through a social media connection. From what I gathered, he rarely mentioned his book. That is a balancing act. But as I've said and heard, it is all about the journey. It has to be.
    Kathy Bailey

  16. LOL -- and the group emails are still fast and furious in my inbox each morning!!!! I enjoyed skirting along the fringes of the campfire and my heart pitter-pattered over the budding romances and flat out stopped over the mention of snakes. And yikes -- Australia has a lot of snakes, doesn't it? Gulp!

    Ruthy, I hope Jake meanders into one of your books soon. And funny -- after reading his emails my hero started developing a decidedly twangy drawl and he's from the north east! More edits. Sheesh!

  17. So fun - if you can come along in January, do it! Ruthy is a fabulous hostess with the most-ess (and fried peach pies) Julie - hope you're OK?

  18. Cowboys and snakes and bears, oh my!

    I'm not going to whine. I'm not going to whine.

    I said I was going to sign up but never did. I hate I missed all the fun! I'm gonna be there next time!

  19. Morning RUTHY, Great retreat. so glad you talked Jake into sharing his digs. It was fun to get on Buttermilk and ride into the sunset every evening.

    I went shopping yesterday at a special store. In Seaside Oregon there is a candy store that has rooms featuring 170 different kinds of salt water taffy and JELLY BEANS JELLY BEANS. Be still my heart.

    So I picked out bags of red, black and white jelly beans. So help yourself everyone. There are plenty.

  20. Ruthy, you are a fabulous retreat organizer! Thanks for putting this together! I had a grandchild visiting and we were on the go day and night so I didn't get to pop in often. Fun to read the wrap up! Looking forward to Australia!!


  21. Drats! I missed it. I have a problem with Yahoo, I can never do anything that involves the dreaded Yahoo.

    Sounds like it was a roaring good time! :-)

    Is there a transcript floating about? That would be fun to have. :-)

  22. The retreat was SO MUCH FUN! Thanks to Ruthy and all! I'm clearing my calendar for next January so I can have plenty of time to explore Australia and soak in that warm weather with all you Seekerville people. Thanks, Jenny, for offering to be our guide (and translator).

    Julie, so glad to see you commenting today. I've been thinking of you.

    Now, back to munching on JELLY BEANS!!!!!!!

  23. The retreat was uber fun. I loved walking on the paths at the ranch with people, and watching writers come alongside and encourage other writers. Such a wonderful time.

    I've always wanted to visit Australia, so I'm looking forward to the January retreat. Right now, I need some brekky (ask Jenny for translation). :)

    Have a great day everyone!

  24. Ruthy! Retreat organizer extraordinaire!

    You found the best place to go - our host was fantastic, Sally May's cooking was to die for, and there was always a strapping cowboy around whenever I needed help. The perfect setting!

    I'm already packing my bags for Australia. I think the best part of that retreat is that I'll fit into my virtual swimsuit with no dieting, even right after the Christmas season!!

    Thanks for the recap - and I love the gratuitous puppy picture! Jeter's curls are darling :)

  25. Ruth, glad you liked my snippet about's actually true ( someday I might let you in on the joke, and since we are on the subject of bears from Val, we have so many bears up here the babies are all born with bear feet!!!!). So much fun, and I got tons of reviews done this week, too. Looking forward to Australia and their accents and cut off sentences. Might have to slip away to see Stephan Meyers and his family one afternoon, tho

  26. Sounds like ya'll had a lot of fun. I wanted to attend. Tried to sign up, but my computer crashed. My security might have done it. Or I'm not familiar with Yahoo. Whatever.

    By Jan, I'll set up a presence in Yahoo so they'll recognize me. I'd love to visit Australia and that's the only chance I'll get.

    Yes, I'd like a chance at a book.

  27. Great retreat, Ruthy! What fun!

    BTW, Grammar Queen sends her love from Idaho. Jake is taking her out later for a Western riding lesson. She's a bit nervous about the switch from her favored (and more formal) dressage style of riding, but you should see her flaunting those turquoise ostrich-leather boots!

    I did get a lot of work done last week. I might have mistaken a writer's retreat for a retreat for WRITING.

    Clearly I was confused!

  29. I knew you'd never be able to part with all those puppies, Ruthy. Wimp.
    He's a cutie though. Perhaps it's a new breed.
    A blackdoodle. Why not? I think there may be a false advertising issue with golden doodle in baby Jeter's case.

  30. I HAVE to make next year. Note to self... "check the spam folder more often." My invite did come through Ruthy, Hotmail just thought it was junk. Shame on them.

  31. I was a 'lurker' and I had a great time! Thanks for putting that together for us :)

  32. Thanks for the good thoughts. Ruthy is making me state that the retreat had nothing to do with me being in the hospital. Didn't get thrown off a horse, have food poisoning, snake bites or bear mauls.

    However the hospital food made me miss Miss Sally even more.

    Again, thanks for the prayers.

    Peace, Julie

  33. I see I'm not the only one who forgot about the retreat. Well, boo hoo. We certainly missed out on an excellent week of learning and companionship - the same stuff we normally get here - but with the added bonus of cowboys.

    I'm very glad to hear you're going to do another one... I've always wanted to go to Aussieland and Jenny will be a perfect hostess.

    Just keep me away from the snakes, please.

  34. A calorie free time was had by all and I am still waiting for Christina to sneak us her aunt's recipe.

  35. looking tru quickly as have to go with hubby to two doctors this afternoon..
    I am seeing cowboys and chocolate, two of my favorite things..and Jake looks like George Strait, that image.
    I love virtual get togethers and none of the calories just fellowship so sweet..
    Enjoy your day guys.
    Paula O

  36. Deb!!!! Maybe we can go to Australia by way of Maui?????


    You were so much fun on the retreat. And I agree, it's tricky to have your e-mail box fill up with a sudden influx of stuff, so I use a separate one for retreats. That way I'm not overflowing or trying to wade through fun stuff to find out I need to fix something for a coming book... And it keeps me "visually" aligned, which sounds weird but it helps me.

    (I am uniquely challenged!)

    Um, Deb.... am I announcing something today? Am I unexpectedly expecting? Am I going to Jake and Grammar Queen's wedding?

    Am I possibly planning a series about the MacKillians????? :)

    I think that would be great fun, don't you?????

    Now I have to dust off my rusty brain and see what I promised....

  37. Kathy Bailey that's exactly how I felt back when Janet Edgar hosted the first virtual retreat...

    It made me feel like I belonged. And Francine Rivers did too, sending me a note that said "We're all writers, Ruth. E-mail me anytime."

    When someone that famous is that gracious, it's a pay it forward moment.

    So plan on Australia in January, KB! Nothing like long, cold New England days and nights to help you get swept away into fantasy-land!

  38. Kav, it's a hoot, right????

    I think I kind of fell in love with Jake at the retreat, but I'm not telling DAVE... He'd be highly insulted.

    But those MacKillians have a very interesting life... and family!

  39. Tina, you've come to the right place!

    Christina has already received the rights to publish Aunt Edie's recipe and she'll be sharing it at the Yankee Belle Cafe NEXT MONDAY!

    That's July 1st at the Yankee Belle Cafe.

    Don't miss it!

  40. CINDY!!!! Thank you so much, we had such a nice time getting to know each other.

    At a retreat, you can just be yourself. Well, maybe a little bit behaved, but we're not afraid to let down our hair and chill-lax some. So it's less formal than our nonsense here in Seekerville.

    Unless it's Ruthy vs. Mary nonsense, in which case, GLOVES ARE OFF!!!!


  41. Donna, yes, come in January!!!

    It's fun, it's informative, and it feeds the writerly soul.

    It's like a virtual Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul, with Seeker advantages of having all kinds of published and aspiring or self-pubbed authors on board.

    So it's a great cross section of how-to's and free advice and info sharing.

    Great food and cute cowboys rock, too! And we kept adding pics of what we "spotted" along the way, and that was a riot.

    Except that Val's bear story was TRUE!!!!

  42. didn't have the opportunity to join in the fun *sigh* been a tad busy with the 3 year old ("no touch 'Puter, Momma!)

    i do have four Seeker caricature head shots done though and the fifth well on the way... who knew finding computer time would be so tough????

    will definitely work to find time when the Aussie retreat rolls around. gotta love the accents there - so friendly sounding.

  43. Sandra, you and Buttermilk were wonderful together! And I loved having you stop by as you checked out the mountain trails!

    Hey, candy stores = Ruthy's Diet Ruination but YES!!!! Pass those jelly beans, schnookums, I'm ready!

    And Sally's crepes?????

    Oh. My. Stars.

    I'm just sayin'.... :)

  44. Janet, my pleasure, and that's the fun of a virtual retreat. People come and go as they're able, and some will be easier than others to take part in, but we had a blast with "Dandy Dean".... :) Love that cowboy handle, Ms. Dean!

  45. Mary Hicks I think we're heading toward 700 e-mails now, and yes, you can still join the virtual retreat group! That way you're ready for January....

    Just go there and subscribe and we'll send out notices... AND you can look at all the fun e-mails!

    So yes, I guess there IS a transcript, LOL!

  46. You are so creative, Ruthy! I want your imagination and your energy.


    Do you clone?

    Such a fun retreat! Loved Jake. In a very platonic way, of course! :)

    Julie HS, so glad you're home and feeling better. We were all covering you with prayers!

  47. Sherida, you're so welcome!!! It was great fun and on my end, and I'm sure I'm speaking for the other authors on board, it's just so much fun to connect with other writers and talk biz... nonsense...

    And horses, cattle, birthin's and campfires just add to the fun!

  48. Sounds like a smashing success. I couldn't go because I had to start summer school, but that time in January will be perfect--no school in session! I look forward to Australia. I hope there will be an opal mine excursion in there somewhere....


  49. Jeanne, I totally got out of the habit of cooking last week, LOL! I loved being waited on, having food ready, not worrying about feeding others.



    And that nice camaraderie with other authors is a great inside glimpse.

    We'll see if some more would like to join us in Australia, but some of these authors will be ENTRENCHED IN THE HOTTIES ON THE BEACH, Jeanne...

    Unlike me who is unmoved by cute guys (Hugh Jackman), sweet smiles (Bryan Brown) horseman skills (Tom Burlinson).... I'll always stay true to the retreat!


  50. Oh terrific Jan!! Thanks for the heads up!!

  51. Oh, Ruthy, it sounds like you guys all had a BLAST and I am sorry I missed it. Hopefully my schedule will allow me to attend the January retreat, which I could realllllly use right about now ... :|


  52. Hey, Ruthy,

    Dandy Dean sounds citified for a cowgirl, but I've got saddle sores to prove I wasn't a total wimp.


  53. Marianne, you cracked me up with your mosquito story... Just that quick, dry humor.... Still laughing!

    And Elaine next time!!! And I'll look to see if we can wing it a little differently... I'll talk to Tina (tech-brain) and see what I can find for a more picture-friendly atmosphere... We've got five months and I can create a lot of damage in five months, LOL!

  54. MYRA!!!! Did she buy the boots or...


    Did Jake give her the boots??? I saw them in the western wear store but they looked so much better with GQ's blue eyes.

    Mine are just a shade too gray, more's the pity!

    I did find a brand new box of SEE'S CANDY in my luggage!!! Thank you whomever tucked that in there!

    I'm so psyched. See's For Supper!!!

  55. RUTHY -- Please, please, pretty please leave the loop open until I can catch up. I no sooner visited for the first time than ... well, you name it ... it intervened.

    It sounds like all of you had a wonderful time. I'm looking forward to reading all about it.

    Wait. Did I just say I'm looking forward to reading 300+ messages??????????

    Thank you for ramrodding the retreat, Ruthy.

    Nancy C

  56. Waving from Idaho!!! Oh, what a delightful trail ride Jake and I had today!

    Yes, Ruthy, the boots were a gift from that sweet, sweet man. I'm not sure how well they go with my tan jodhpurs, however. One change at a time . . .

    Oh, and Jake said to tell you to go easy on the See's.

  57. Ruthy, I enjoyed my brief time at the ranch with youse. Had fun listening in, learning and laughing with everyone. Even this lurker managed to speak up a few time. I appreciate the time away from household chores and meals cooked by someone else. But more important the understanding and helpful comments for improving my writing. Thanks again.

  58. I missed out on the fun and I really needed a vacation too! Darn!

    That Jeter is one cute pup, lucky you Ruthy!

    I can't wait to party again in January. I had fun this year with that! :-)

  59. What fun!!! I'm so sorry I never really was able to get involved. I definitely plan to in January, though!

  60. Emerging from end-of-school-year oblivion to say sorry I missed the retreat. Sounds like you all had a rip-roaring time. I should have taken all the records I had to shred and added them to the bonfire instead.

  61. I'm so sorry I missed the First Semi-Annual Virtual Writer's Retreat. I signed up but with our loss last week I spent most my time trying to locate another miniature poodle. Hopefully I can attend the next one.

    Thank you again for all your prayers and condolences.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  62. I'll try it again in January!

    I did get the digests but aside from food and jelly beans, bugs and campfires, Jake and wilderness and descriptions of the countryside which was lovely, I wasn't really sure what was going on..

    But that's me. Never really sure what the heck is going on!

    A fun sort of virtual vacation where we spend time imagining ourselves around the campfire...? OMMMMMM. OMMMMMMM. OMMMMMMM.

    Yes, very relaxed now. Off to a real camping trip in a ghost town in a few days. SO exciting! Of course, there will be writing on this vacation. Jake would have kittens. But so it goes.

  63. I can't be the only one who caught this...

    "Okay, the REAL best part was hanging out with Seekervillains, sharing each other's triumphs and tears, and getting to know one another better."

    Read it carefully, proofreading eye on the alert. Let me know if you catch it... (I might have caught it because I thought about it during one of Julie's FB posts earlier today.)

    Anyhoo, I'd signed up for the retreat then backed out because I had a panic attack at the virtual airport and made my hubby bring me back home. Next time I'll just have him come along, too, because I've never been on a plane and I hate heights. (I've said for years that the only time I will get on a plane is to go to Scotland while holding DH's hand the entire way.)

    I read a lot of the retreat e-mails, and imaginations were fired up big-time! Glad you all had such a great time! I might get into it next year; we'll see. ;-)

    Would love my name tossed in to the cat dish for the books! But "mixed up books"? Are they printed upside-down and backwards? Maybe have the pages totally mixed up so you're constantly flipping pages to see where to go next? Chapter One comes after Chapter Nine?

    I've discovered that the more I hang around Seekers, the punchier I get. Not sure exactly who to blame this on, but late last night I was writing back and forth on FB with one I-guess-she-should-remain-nameless person (but her initials on FB are MVM and on here are VCM). *grin*

    Blessings! And good night!

  64. It all sounds like so much fun. Virtual chocolate is the best - empty calories in every way.

    If you are planning on turning up in Australia, I'll have the kettle on to welcome you.

  65. Mary Preston, we're coming your way!!!! :)

    Yes, turn the kettle on or fire up the beaches because we're Aussie-bound in January!

    Julie, glad the retreat isn't about to be sued for our virtual bank account!!! :) And super glad you're feeling better.

    Grammar Queen!!!! I'm so darned excited for you. I have to say I thought you'd have a hard time roughing it on the retreat, but the minute I saw your eyes meet Jakes...

    I knew.

    I think we all KNEW, because romance writers know this kind of stuff. Hey, we invent it, daily!

    So it was fun to watch things "blossom" between you! And tell Jake I tucked the "See's" in the freezer, but thank him for me! That was such a cowboy-nice thing to do!

    Melanie, we used to use "Seekervillains" all the time but Seekervillagers won out because it made us all look nice...

    Nicer than "villains", LOL!

    The nice thing about a virtual retreat...

    And yes, I'll leave it live until we're ready to go to Australia because why not?????

    Is that you don't have to engage a lot of time if you don't have it.

    That's the "virtual" aspect. If you're short on time, you can stop by and tease folks...

    Make fun of me!!!!

    Eat pretend food....

    Wiggle your toes in the beaches off the coast of Australia.

    So whatever you do, whatever time you have, even just getting the inspirational messages is a warm fuzzy for a week because our hearts and souls go into our words, and that can be a hard balance.

    The goal of the retreat is to make that balance easier to maintain.

  66. Oh that was so much fun! Totally looking forward to January when we go "down unda mayte!" I'm practicing my accent, can you tell? ;)

    I totally second what Cindy said, if you can make the January retreat, MAKE IT! Or, you could just not come and I'll horde all these wonderful seekervillagers all to myself. bwahaha.

    If I could put in a little prayer request, I'm going on BlogTalk radio tonight with my publisher to talk about my book that is releasing tonight. I'm REALLY nervous! Even had a bad dream that the whole thing went KA-PLOP! Prayers would be appreciated.

    Ruthy, your puppy is so cute! We breed labs, but I like labradoodles better. :)

  67. I had a blast at the retreat... Can't wait for January! :)

  68. The few times I was able to be on the ranch, I had a blast! Looking forward to January!

  69. Yesterday, the discussion centered around opening hooks. I have an inspirational ms with a great opening hook about a priest who dies and becomes an angel to grant miracles to deserving souls.

    Here are the opening paragraphs:

    “Heavenly Father, please, connect with me for just one moment, feel my need and grant the miracle I pray for.”

    A hand lightly touched her shoulder and spread an electric charge throughout her entire body. She felt light and weak kneed and collapsed backward into the arms of the man behind her. She raised her wrist to her brow and rubbed her forehead. She turned her head and looked into the eyes of the man who had caught her. She couldn’t believe what stood there-the most beautiful man God could ever create. She thought she heard a harp and a chorus of a hundred voices humming somewhere in the background and assumed the choir had begun a rehearsal in the choir loft.

    She felt an impulse to run her hands through his black wavy hair that glistened in the dim candle light of the church. She looked into his dark eyes and felt as though she could become lost in their depths. The smile on his face was the warmest most amicable she had ever seen on a man. The arms that held her were strong and reassuring. She tried to speak but for the moment she was spellbound and her mouth just wouldn’t cooperate.

    He spoke first and said, “Hello Erin. I’m here to answer your prayer.”

  70. Ah, Ruthy... you were a fabulous hostess! I wish I could have left my room more often to socialize with everyone, but you know how it is. Sometimes there are things that have to get done and the only way is to hunker down and work. Mary Connealy understands. I sure enjoyed the evening campfires, anyway.

    January in Australia sounds wonderful although I don't like a lot of heat and humidity so hope our rooms are going to be air conditioned. This time I'll bring my own supply of jelly beans so you won't have to worry about hiding yours from me. My favourites are Jelly Belly pear and watermelon flavours!

    Now I'm going to go check my digest messages one last time before getting back to work.