Monday, March 10, 2014

Well, Hello There!

Hi! I haven't blogged on a Monday in awhile. I'd apologize, but Gary would mock me. ;)

I was lucky enough to be able to go on two different kinds of writing retreats this month. I never did tell you about them, did I?

At the beginning of the month, I got to go to the Stanley, a lovely historic hotel in Estes Park, Colorado (bordering Rocky Mountain National Park). It's where Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining, one of my favorite novels of his.

I had just completed a big event that I'd been planning for months. It was a success, but I woke up that morning feeling fairly crappy. By the time I left, my throat and chest hurt, and I was exhausted. I thought it was just from the stress and nerves of putting this event on (did I mention I also MC'd it, and I am nervous talking in front of a crowd?) Come the next morning, however, I was full-on sick. I decided not to cancel my reservations, and headed out, anyway.

It's about a 2-hour drive, so my Jeep and I trekked through the snow toward the mountains. I passed through some of the areas damaged by the flooding this past year, sad to still see some destruction. In fact, I was stopped for awhile due to ongoing cleanup and construction.

Construction, better known as: a little driving break

During that drive, a bald eagle swooped down over my car, then floated on the air currents above me. I've never seen one that wasn't in a zoo. It was amazing. Since I was driving, I wasn't able to get a photo (I like to live).

Right as we pulled into town, the person in front of me hydroplaned on a bridge over Lake Estes. We'd just driven through winding canyon roads, covered in snow and gravel, and it was a puddle that nearly took us out. They didn't go into the lake, though, and we continued on, me leaving them a bit of extra space and being very careful on the standing water. Yeesh.

My bed was super comfy, which is good, because I spent most of the time resting and being sick. I'd gone up with a plan, specific things I'd be getting done, and while I still got some done, I didn't get anywhere near the full list finished. I got an anecdote finished for a friend's book on writing, finished a short story, and edited a flash fiction piece, which I've turned into my critique group. That was all I got done in two days. Still, it's more than nothing, and certainly more than I would have gotten done at home.

By Kelly,

I took time to be a tourist, too, which I paid for later. Totally worth it, though. I walked from the hotel into town, then from one end to the other, checking out shops (it's a small mountain tourist town). I grabbed burgers at a joint that proclaimed they were voted Best Burgers! (They were pretty darned good, I must say). I also spent a small fortune at a privately owned bookstore, then bought a new wallet when my wallet decided it was finally kaput (it had been going downhill for awhile). Later, it was a gourmet meal in the restaurant on-site, then a ghost tour on the premises. A couple who was staying in one of the most haunted room invited those of us on the tour up to their room after 11 so we could seek out ghosties, but I opted to lie in bed and be pitiful instead, while watching The Shining and doing logic puzzles. Yeah, I'm a real party-person when I'm dying.

I'd had plans to go into Rocky Mountain National Park, with the hopes of finally seeing a moose in person and photographing it, intending to do this on the last day. I was sick enough at that point that I chose to go home instead. As I headed back out of town, I got stopped at construction. I'd been expecting it, but this time the guy said they were blasting and that I'd have to sit there for possibly over an hour.

I decided to turn around and go the long way home, which took me through Loveland. It also took me past the still highly damaged canyon where the Big Thompson flooded before. The damage there was far worse than that visible to me on the way in. Missing houses, a massive floodplain, the remains of houses hanging over the river. One house was half gone, with a rope stretched across the opening, furniture leaning against the rope. One thin piece of material held it back from falling into the river. It was like pulling open a dollhouse and looking at the guts. It was a wretched sight. There were signs all along the way asking people not to stop on the road side to gawk. I had no desire to do so, as I remembered all the people who swept through after the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Whoops, I talked way more than I intended to. I'll have to tell you about the other writing retreat next week. The other one was with a group of people, so a vastly different experience. Also, I wasn't sick. Shew. I do still feel my trip up to Estes was worthwhile. Heck, as a mom it was nice to be ill somewhere all by myself where I could lay in bed as much as I wanted and go have someone else make food for me when I needed it. Although, I did desperately want soup, but didn't want to pay room service soup prices.

I will say, in the interest of giving a "progress report," that I left the second retreat with several finished short stories. I submitted three stories to three different magazines a few days ago. I've gotten back one rejection (I love how fast Clarkesworld gets back to you). So until I find a different market to send that one to, I've got three total subs out right now (I had previously sent one out before all this). Fingers crossed! By next week, my goal is to have re-subbed the rejected one.

Have you been on a solo writing retreat? Ever seen a bald eagle? How about a moose? Stop your bragging! Any submissions out? Do tell!

May you find your Muse.


  1. I did enjoy reading of your time away, It's always interesting to know what different things people do whilst they;re away,
    A great post and very interesting to read.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience! It sounds like you made the best of it, and that's all you can do.

    Good luck on the subs. I've got two stories out for Write 1 Sub 1 this month, and I'm working on my A-Z posts.

  3. I did go on a writing retreat once, and it looked similar to the one you've described above. I went into Manitou Springs, and stayed at the Cliff House Hotel. It was right after my husband came home from a deployment, so he owed me at least one night to myself. Besides writing, I took a bath in the huge spa tub, ordered room service, and got an incredibly bad headache.

  4. Stanley is on my to-go-to list! I love the Estes area but have not been through there since all the flood damage this past year. Your post reminds me that I need to take a long weekend in a quiet cabin somewhere soon.

    Also, I've had eagles swoop at the car. When they do that, you realize how HUGE they are! I've even ducked before as one flew over!

  5. Sorry you were sick for it, but seeing that Bald Eagle probably made up for it. Glad you didn't go sliding off into the water either.

  6. I've never gone on a retreat. My little office is so cozy and I get lots of private time now that the kiddos are in college.
    Here in central PA, we have bald eagles. I sometimes see them flying high above. They're so distinctive. No moose.

  7. Sounds like you had fun despite having the flu. Hope you're all better.

  8. Sounds like you had fun despite having the flu. Hope you're all better.

  9. What's a writing retreat?
    Never retreat! Never... um, something or other.

    I have some pics of a baldy on my blog somewhere, I think?

  10. I've never been on a writing retreat, but I have seen bald eagles and peregrine falcons. And moose. And bears. All in my back yard. Not at the same time, though.

  11. What a great trip. I have seen a bald eagle, but only at a bird sanctuary. I imagine seeing one in the wild would be fabulous.

  12. I have gone on Women's Christian Retreats, which I used to be alone in the pines.

    See many eagles, 1 moose with her baby, and she seemed really irritated by our tour bus.

    Hope you are better.

  13. Going on a writing retreat is on my list of things to do and yes! We see bald eagles fairly often around here - well, okay, my son sees them since he's always looking and he's got great eyesight. I see them when he points them out to me :)

  14. That's so awesome! I'd love to go to Stanley. I've never been on a writing retreat of any kind. Nor have I seen a moose or bald eagle. Not for lack of looking, though! Good luck with your stories. I submitted seven shorts last week, and I already have one acceptance. :)

  15. I'm jealous. I've wanted to go to The Stanley Hotel for a really long time. If you took any pictures, you need to share!

  16. Yes to both the bald eagle and the moose. Eagles are prominent in the Vancouver area, with all the lofty perches. We saw an eagle fishing in a local lake in the city. We get herons, hawks, and orcas that come into the Vancouver harbor looking for seals.

    I admire your tenacity in driving when sick. Glad you got back home safely.

  17. Well, you probably already knew this from that old post of ours, but I'm pals with an endangered hawk who's in love with me. So... you know, there's that.

    Alright, mindless bragging aside, Estes is a place that both of us hold near and dear to our hearts. In the same vein as King, an afternoon up there always helps stir up the creative inspiration. Brandon went about 2 weeks ago. I plan on going some time next month.

    I'm just looking forward to hearing about the people retreat. With everyone all giggling about it over Facebook, I've heard so many inside jokes that probably need some kind of explanation.