The “Write” Place

2 12 2009

Otherwise known as "Starvation Plantation"

Three years ago, my husband and I were lamenting over how much money we were wasting spending on our family vacations and weekend getaways. We decided to purchase a riverfront lot and build a cabin near our favorite fishing spot and start paying for a retreat that would be ours to keep. Just this week we spent our first holiday in our newly built cabin.

Scott and I argue over what to call it: a vacation home, a fishing cabin, a writer’s retreat. Whatever you call it, it’s an excellent place to clear your mind. No cell phone signal in these woods. No DSL Internet access. The only sounds around the home are the occasional fishing boats humming past and the wildlife after dark. If you don’t think wildlife can be distracting, let me tell ya, you just need to step onto our deck after sunset. Coyote fights, shrieking owls, running deer, whistling foxes, and screeching herons–the woods come alive!

I’m expecting to get lots of writing done here and reading too. I pull up a chair on the deck, my laptop balanced on my lap, and a cup of coffee at my side, and let ‘er rip as the sun rises over the river. My morning view is what you see in the picture to the left. It’s not hard to think romance when you’ve got a 360 degree view. Now if I could keep my hubs from watching satelite TV football games inside the cabin…but that’s another post!!

That’s my favorite new writing place. I don’t get to visit it as often as I’d like, but when I do, it should be magic. Estelle wrote in an earlier post about her retreat. I’d love to hear what retreats you’ve been to or about ones you’d like to visit. Where is your “write” place?





Camp NaNoWriMo

9 11 2009

It’s November, and that means it’s National Novel Writing Month. I’m a huge fan of NaNo. Without it, I wouldn’t have finished my first completed manuscript. Without it, I wouldn’t have met a group of people two years ago who became my local writing group that still meets on a weekly basis all year long. Without it, I wouldn’t have found some of the people who’ve become my best friends. Without it, I wouldn’t have the kick-in-the-pants motivation to start writing again after the hiatus I’ve taken for the last several months.  Without it, I wouldn’t have had an excuse to go on a weekend writing retreat in the mountains with eight other people from the writing group mentioned above.

retreat sign

We truly had a Camp NaNoWriMo this year. We ordered and wore these shirts for the event. You can get your own here.

camp nano pic

I just got back from the retreat yesterday, and I’m still pumped up.  We planned the retreat for the first full weekend in November so it could be a Nano fest, and while there was plenty of laughing, talking, game playing, margarita and pina colada drinking (I took along my trusty Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker)…there was also plenty of writing. I went into the retreat way behind on my word count and still fairly unmotivated. On November 6, I barely had 3k, but I knocked out a little over 10k at the retreat alone!  Today (as of 12:30pm), my word count stands at 13,620 and I haven’t done my daily words yet.

I did almost all my writing at the retreat outside. The house we rented had a huge front porch, and the weather was perfect—breezy and cool without being cold. I had the company of birds, lady bugs, and a ridiculously large number of walking sticks (the insects).

retreat house

I’d never done much writing outside before, so I learned something new about myself—I’m incredibly productive when I write outside. In fact, I’m sitting on my own front porch as I write this. I don’t have the company of any walking sticks, but I am being helped by an incredibly irritated cat who doesn’t understand why I’m holding this electronic device in my lap instead of him.

Nano pushes you to do adventurous things, things you didn’t think you could do, things you never thought you would do. And you do it for yourself. You don’t get an official prize. You may end up with 50k of unusable crap at the end of the month, but if you get into the spirit of it, you discover things about yourself and your writing that you carry with you into less hectic times.  AND, if you’re fortunate enough to have friends who join you in the writing frenzy then you get to make some amazing memories and collect some awesome blackmail worthy photos.

To the outside observer, NaNo seems silly, a colossal waste of time. “So you’re writing all these words really fast and then will probably edit most of them out?” they ask. “Yes,” I reply enthusiastically. When I try to explain it to my non-writing friends and acquaintances they get this look on their faces—a sort of I-don’t-understand-you-I’ll-never-understand-you-have-you-spent-time-in-the-looney-bin type of expression. And that’s okay, because I know what NaNo means to me, and nobody else except my fellow NaNo’ers have to understand.

This year, NaNo has given me a priceless gift:  I’ve fallen in love with my story again, with writing again.

I’ve been messing around with this particular story idea for well over a year—starting, scrapping everything I wrote, starting again, scrapping all that, re-outlining the whole thing.  It’s given me fits.  I had a new, very detailed outline going into November, and I restarted the story AGAIN.  And now I’m rolling with it.  Ask me tomorrow and my attitude may be completely different—isn’t the roller coaster emotions part of what NaNo is all about?—but right now, I feel good. And that makes it all worth it.

Do you NaNo? Do you have any stories about your experiences? Love it? Hate it? Why? Comment and tell me.

Remember that we’re giving away a copy of Hanna’s debut novel Widow’s Peak and a copy of Delilah Marvelle’s Lord of Pleasure at the end of the month. Comment on this post or any of our other November posts throughout the month to be entered to win!





Contest Extended!

3 11 2009

Good news, everyone!

I’m extending the deadline to enter to win a copy of J.D.’s Christmas Wish. My computer crashed today, so I have no way to send the winner the promised “release-day” copy. (I’m on a borrowed computer now.) I’m soooo sorry! So what I’m going to do is extend the contest deadline to Monday, Nov. 9, at midnight. HOPEFULLY, I’ll have my computer back by then!  *crosses fingers* You can either enter a comment on this post or the “Keeping it Together” post.

Good Luck & Happy Reading!

~Staci Culver

jdschristmaswish_w3033_200x300JD’S Christmas Wish
Staci Culver
Last Rose of Summer Miniature Rose
Release Date: 11-4-2009

JD McAaden is scared. His parents fight all the time. As JD writes his letter to Santa, he realizes that he’ll give up everything if only his family can be saved. With the heart-rending innocence of a child, JD pins his faith on elves and the spirit of Christmas.

A mysterious invitation to visit North Pole Village for the holidays is all that is keeping Faith and Taylor McAaden’s marriage together. Faith has promised to give her son one last special outing before she sues for divorce. But in the magic atmosphere of hope, Faith and Taylor learn that love lurks even in the darkest hours and that with JD’s Christmas Wish their family can be made whole again.





Keeping it Together

2 11 2009

As the whirlwind season for family get-togethers nears, I can’t help but sit back and dread—uh, I mean ponder—how I’m going to manage to keep up all my obligations, both for my writing career and for my family. The balancing act isn’t easy during the best of times, but the holidays…man, talk about Stress-Fest Extreme!

Writing is, for the most part, a solitary art. Yes, it takes an entire team to actually polish and publish a book, but the creative part, where stories are formed and crafted, is a single-person exercise in fruition and frustration. Mostly frustration. =) I’m lucky to have a spouse who supports me in my writing dream and who watches the kiddos so I can have time to go deep into my mind, to the place where stories hatch.

But just because he supports me, that doesn’t mean we don’t get into fights about it. Sometimes, I want more time to write on days that “aren’t” mine. Sometimes, he wants to go on a last-minute motorcycle cruise with his friends on one of “my” days. Still, we work through it…some situations more easily than other, lol.

Not all couples, however, are so lucky. In my November 4, release, J.D.’s Christmas Wish, Faith and Taylor McAden have let their careers and desire for advance in the workplace get in the way of their relationship. The one most affected…their son J.D. A marriage that was once rock-solid is running on its last gallon of gas and all because no one bothered to stop and refill the tank. Everyone loses.

Yes, I know these are fictional characters, but their story is an all-too familiar one these days, and as we barrel into the New Year, maybe we should all take the time to slow down and reevaluate what’s really important. Ya know…like winning free books!  =)

To kick things off this month, I’m giving away a copy ofJ.D.’s Christmas Wish. All you have to do is comment on THIS blog post by midnight tomorrow (Nov 3), and I’ll pick a winner to receive a release-day copy of my debut novella! In addition, at the end of the month, we’re going to give away a copy of Hanna’s debut novel Widdow’s Peak and Delilah Marvelle’s Lord of Pleasure. As always, to be entered, just make a comment on any of our November posts.

Good luck!

~Staci Culver

JDsChristmasWishJD’S Christmas Wish
Staci Culver
Last Rose of Summer Miniature Rose
Release Date: 11-4-2009

JD McAaden is scared. His parents fight all the time. As JD writes his letter to Santa, he realizes that he’ll give up everything if only his family can be saved. With the heart-rending innocence of a child, JD pins his faith on elves and the spirit of Christmas.

A mysterious invitation to visit North Pole Village for the holidays is all that is keeping Faith and Taylor McAaden’s marriage together. Faith has promised to give her son one last special outing before she sues for divorce. But in the magic atmosphere of hope, Faith and Taylor learn that love lurks even in the darkest hours and that with JD’s Christmas Wish their family can be made whole again.