I suspect Gail’s guitar is still weeping over our 40th red door retreat this past weekend. As regular blog visitors probably know, we sequester ourselves behind the Red Door for two days four times a year. At our annual December gathering, Gail brings her guitar. Usually on the second night, after working all day and fortifying ourselves with food and drink, we sing. Christmas carols, folk songs, whatever comes to mind.

Correction: Gail sings. Her voice is simply stunning; there really is no other word. What the rest of us do can kindly be described as caterwauling. (It is a wonder the neighbors didn’t call 911 fearing someone was being put down.)

But they didn’t. We were left alone to let off steam after a full day of work. Because that’s what these retreats are about. Sure, there’s laughter and camaraderie (and singing in December) but we come together to talk about the business of publishing and the craft of writing.

The first order of business this time around was discussion about It Happened at Midnight, our soon to be released group anthology of short stories. Now that they’ve been independently edited, we’re moving forward with cover art but we needed some short ‘blurbs’ to describe what each of the stories is about. After spending some time on those, we moved on to the practicalities of release venues and dates. We’re aiming to have the anthology available for download from Amazon early in the New Year. Watch this blog for more details.

A couple of us needed brainstorming sessions so we spent time discussing characters and motivations and plot points. This is one of my favorite aspects of the red door. I find it energizing and helpful to look at all aspects of story, whether it’s mine or someone else’s.

After a long walk to stretch our legs, Vanessa pulled out some whack cards to stretch our creative muscles in new directions. And then we turned back to an issue we all struggle with at various times in our careers – boosting our productivity.

EC pointed out a blog she’s found helpful – Rachel Aaron’s Pretentious Title site – http://thisblogisaploy.blogspot.com
The five of us quickly pulled up her entry for Wednesday, June 8th, 2011. Aaron writes about how she went from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day. It was an eye opener. She focuses on three things: knowledge, time, and enthusiasm. If this subject matters to you, go read it. You won’t be sorry. She also has another entry describing how she plots. We glanced at it but didn’t have time to explore it in detail. It’s on my list of things to read before we gather for the next red door in March.

For that one, Gail’s guitar stays home. I’m sure the neighbors will be pleased. But come to think of it, there may be caterwauling anyway. You just never know.

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