Recharge 2013

Recharge: Winter Writing Retreat - How This Works

Hello and welcome to Recharge: Winter Writing Retreat!  I'm glad you've stopped by and hope that you'll find some valuable information and inspiration here over the next five days.

One of the things I love about writing conferences and workshops is the opportunity to connect with other writers.  When I was in junior high and high school, I spent one week each summer and long weekends during the school year at writing camps.  I made new friends, found inspiration, and learned so much during those sessions.  As an adult, I still look forward to conferences and classes and connecting with writers at all levels.   Although you'll be working on your own this week, I hope that you'll put yourself out there and connect with other participants.

Here's how this writing retreat works:  Each day, we'll focus on a different topic.  We'll start with a daily Icebreaker, and then move on to a discussion about the day's topic, including writing exercises and prompts, as well as suggestions for further study. 

You do not have to complete every single exercise to participate.  Complete the ones that speak to you or which hold the most value for you.  This is a low-pressure week.  We're all busy. We've all got tons on our plates.  Do what you can.  If you want to really immerse yourself each day - awesome!  If you can't participate this week, maybe you'll be able to come back to it in a week, a month, a year - whenever you need a recharge.  

If you tweet about the retreat, please include the hashtag #RechargeWWR.  Find me on twitter @sbiren. Thanks!

So - are you ready?  Make a fresh pot of coffee, sharpen your pencils, and let's do this!


Recharge: Day One - In My Ears and In My Eyes

Hello and welcome to Day One!  It's time to give your writing routine a little jumpstart and get out of your winter rut.  For the basics of Recharge: Winter Writing Retreat, please check out the How This Works post.

  • What is your name?
  • What do you write?
  • How long have you been writing?
  • What location have you chosen for your retreat? 
  • How did you come up with the idea or find inspiration for your current WIP?  
You can go anywhere you like for your retreat, anywhere your imagination can take you.  Perhaps it's a place you've visited before, a place where you've often found inspiration.  Or maybe you'll go somewhere you've always dreamed of going.  The decision is yours. You don't have to worry about flight schedules, conference costs, having your mail held, or finding someone to feed your cat.  Bon voyage!

I'll begin:

My name is Sara Biren.

I write mainly fiction - currently young adult novels, but in the past and for most of my time as a writer, I've written short stories.  I've been writing since about third grade; I started dabbling in young adult fiction in 2006 and have been seriously focusing on it since 2009.  I also write newsletter copy, human resources policies, company procedures manuals, training guides, etc.  I write about children's books and reading for my local Patch, an online newspaper.

My great love, though, is fiction, and I someday hope to leave the business world behind and write fiction full-time.

And because time, money, and season are no object, I've chosen to spend my week at a quaint little cottage in the UK.

I'm currently knee-deep in revisions for my WIP, WAITING FOR THE SUN.  This manuscript began as a project for Camp NaNoWriMo in July of 2011 (but did not end there).  Like with most of my writing, I had found inspiration in real life, partly from the story of a local teen who had been diagnosed with bone cancer.  I wondered about his family and friends, how they were dealing with what would ultimately claim his life.  I'd lost classmates in high school; I wanted to write a story about the ones left behind.  WFTS is written from two perspectives: Luci, whose best friend Trixie has died, and Ben, Trixie's brother.

Now that we've gotten the introductions out of the way, let's move on to our first topic.  We'll ease into it for Day One.

Today's topic:

Writers are lucky.  When we're on top of our games, our powers of observation are impeccable and our imaginations endless.  We find inspiration nearly everywhere.  We are curious, we ask questions, we want to know more.  We make the ordinary extraordinary.  Not only can we find inspiration in our daily lives, but we can reach back into memory and use our experiences and emotions as a guide for creating something new.

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am a gigantic Beatles fan.  (Today, by the way, would have been George's 70th birthday.  We will celebrate at our house tonight with whoopie pies.)  I'm currently reading a book called THE BEATLES WAY: FAB WISDOM FOR EVERYDAY LIFE by Larry Lange, and found this passage on inspiration:
Inspiration All Around You:  The Beatles drew inspiration from their world as it happened to be, each day of their lives: their childhood, co-workers, friends, lovers, relatives -- in short, to paraphrase "Penny Lane," from the sights and sounds "in their ears and in their eyes."  In fact, Penny Lane is a real district in Liverpool, and the barbershop mentioned in the song is where pre-teens John, George, and Paul received monthly haircuts.... The Beatles are master teachers of refining the most mundane events in life into the sublime....
George too took inspiration from his daily activities.  "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" came to him at the time he was being heavily influenced by the I Ching: The Book of Changes, which features the Eastern spiritual concept that everything is relative to everything else, as opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental or random.  "The idea was in my head," said George, "so I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book, as it would be relative to the moment."  He added, "I picked up a book at random, opened it, and saw 'gently weeps.' I then laid the book down again and started the song."
If only it were that easy.


Exercise #1: What sounds and sights are in your ears and in your eyes right now?  If you're sitting in a quiet room, take a walk or go to a coffee shop or grocery store, or think about a recent visit to those places.  Or imagine that you are in your virtual retreat location.  Make a list of everything you experience. 

Exercise #2: Think about a person you've recently observed, either through Exercise #1 or a different occasion. Imagine a life for that person.  Why are they in that place?  Who are they with?  What brings them the most joy?  What is their biggest worry?  What do they want for themselves - and what's standing in their way?

Exercise #3: Open a random book to a random page.  What are the first words that jump out at you?  Write a scene using some or all of the words. Mine are "This is an emergency.  Forget about yourself."

Write a scene that includes the following Beatles lyrics as dialogue:
"Try to see it my way." 
Happy Writing and thanks for stopping by for a recharge!  I hope to see you tomorrow!


Recharge: Day Two - Wish You Were Here

Hello and welcome to Day Two! Let's get right to it.

  • What is your favorite place?  It can be a travel destination, a room in your home, or your favorite used bookstore/coffee shop.  What do you love about it? 
My favorite place is the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota, from Duluth to Grand Marais.  I love the natural beauty, the history of the area, the interesting landscapes and landmarks.  I lived in Duluth for four years and miss it every day.  I am planning a real writing retreat - hopefully sometime in April - and it will be someplace along the North Shore.  It's close, accessible, beautiful, and keeps travel expenses manageable.

Wish you were here!

Yesterday I had you imagine a beautiful and inspiring location for your retreat.  Today, we're going back there.

Today's topic:  

Setting is one of the first things I think about when I sit down to write something new.  I've usually already been inspired by a specific town or location, so it's a matter of putting down the details.  You know, in a logical, lyrical manner without data dump. That's sometimes most times easier said than done.

Your setting must be credible, original, and compelling, whether your story is set in present-day Minneapolis, on a plantation in antebellum Georgia, or District 12 of the (not-so-distant?) future.  Setting impacts other elements of the story and many times can be a character itself.  

Your setting must come alive for your reader.  You know that amazing feeling you get as a writer when you are so lost in your story --  you're so INTO it, you're THERE with your characters, moving through their world -- you forget to shower or answer the phone or feed your children?  Yeah, that.  You want your readers to become lost in that world as well, to believe in your characters and stay with their story through the end.  John Gardner, in his classic guide THE ART OF FICTION, calls this the fictional dream.  A credible setting is a huge part of that.

So how do we get there?  How do we translate that imagined world, that place inside our heads where our characters live and breathe, onto the page?

Shapiro: Whether you're writing travel stories or novels, one of your many strengths is creating a sense of place.  I wonder what you think is most important to create that sense of place.  When we read your books, we know where you are -- we feel it.  What are your keys for doing that?
Allende:  I would say that the most important is to describe it with the senses.  So I describe the smell, the color, the temperature, the texture, how you feel time, because time varies in every place.  If I'm writing a novel, I try to understand the history of the place because the history determines much of the character of the people in that place.
Let's start, then, with sensory details and descriptive passages. Think of some of your favorite books, how the authors have created that sense of place.  Stephanie Perkins doesn't just tell us that Anna went to a French bakery; she brought us into the patisserie and described the pastries behind the glass in such a way that our mouths watered and we would die if we didn't eat a macaron right this minute.  Jane Austen doesn't merely tell us that Pemberley is a majestic estate surrounded by impeccable grounds; we are there with Elizabeth the first time that she lays eyes on the park, the trees, the lake, the exterior and interior of Pemberley House.  We learn every detail along with her.

Here, Harper Lee describes the home of Boo Radley in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  Her choice of words is such that we know the Radley place is dark and dingy and run down, but she doesn't tell us this straight out; we learn it through the details Lee uses:
The Radley place jutted into a sharp curve beyond our house.  Walking south, one faced its porch; the sidewalk turned and ran beside the lot.  The house was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters, but had long ago darkened to the color of the slate-gray yard around it.  Rain-rotted shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda; oak trees kept the sun away.
J.K. Rowling writes of the first time that Harry Potter enters the Great Hall:
Harry had never imagined such a strange and splendid place.  It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting.  These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets.  At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting.  Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them.  The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight.  Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver.  Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars.  He heard Hermione whisper, "It's bewitched to look like the sky outside.  I read about it in Hogwarts, A History."
What are some of your favorite settings?  Go back and re-read some of the descriptive passages in your favorite books.  What aspects really drew you in?


Exercise #1:  Write a paragraph or two describing the view from your real-life desk or writing location.

Exercise #2: Now write a passage describing the view from your virtual, imagined desk at your retreat location.  Use a photograph if you need a little extra inspiration.

Firefly, the Jamaican estate of Noel Coward

What sensory details have you included?  What do you hear, see, smell, touch, and taste?  Did you go even father and access emotion and memory?

Now return to your favorite place from today's Icebreaker.

Exercise #3: Describe your favorite place through the eyes of a character who is visiting for the first time.  How does this place make your character feel?  Think about time as well.  What details have you included to indicate season or time?

Of course, not all of our settings are beautiful and inspiring.  Let's go someplace dark and scary.

Exercise #4: Think of a time that you've been in an unfamiliar place that made you feel uncomfortable or frightened.  Put your character there.  What does your character hear, see, smell, touch, and taste?  Is it day or night?  Summer or winter?  How does your character react in this setting?  

Go to your current WIP or other work for today's final exercise.

Exercise #5: Using sensory details and descriptive passages, either re-write a scene from your WIP or write a new one.

Write a scene with this opening sentence:   
The bell above the door clanged.

  • Almost as much as I love to travel, I love to read travel guides and essays.  Travel writers, of course, write amazing descriptions of place.  Spend some time in the travel section of your local bookstore or library and see if you aren't inspired.

  • Return to your favorite books, read the world-building passages, and see how those authors brought time and place to life.

That's it for today.  Thanks for joining me.  Happy writing and I hope to see you tomorrow!


Recharge: Day Three - You Be Me For a While and I'll Be You

Hello and welcome to Day Three!

So far we've talked about inspiration and placeIf you're stopping by for the first time, read about how this low-key, low-pressure writing retreat works.

Tell us something about yourself that makes you unique - a quirky habit or unusual characteristic.

Here's mine:  I hate socks.  If I could, I would be barefoot all the time.  My #1 choice of footwear is flip flops.  Two things make this problematic: first, I live in Minnesota.  Not exactly practical nine months of the year.  Second, after 12 years of retail management, several broken toes, and three broken feet (I've broken the left one twice), my feet are UGLY.  Hideous.  I hide them in socks and sturdy, functional footwear.  And since my practical shoes are often quite ugly themselves, I like to go a little wacky with my socks - stripes, polka dots, holiday themes, etc.

My Ugly Feet in Cute Flip-Flops
Today's topic:

As readers, we want a book's characters to be unique, dyanmic, memorable, relatable, genuine.  We want to know more than the surface details.  We want to be able to picture the character in our mind's eye, yes, but we need a reason to connect with the character, which requires deeper knowledge -- we want to know their innermost fears, their secrets, their flaws.   And when we connect, we care.  We care about what happens to that character.  We become emotionally invested in the character and their fate.  It's what keeps us turning the pages, biting our nails to find out how it all turns out, hoping for a sequel when we close the book at 2 am.  (And then feeling despondent when you learn the sequel won't be released for a year.)

As writers, it's our job to do all that for our readers.  Our characters are living, breathing people inside our heads and our hearts.  And like with setting, we just need to get what's inside us down on paper.  We need to make these characters -- who have been walking around inside our heads, leaving footprints from their muddy Doc Martens, putting their feet up on the ottomans in our minds -- come alive on the page for our readers.  No big whoop, right?

Writing fully-formed characters who grow and change is a big whoop.  It's a huge whoop.  It's hard.  You must reveal your character slowly and throughout your work in a balanced variety of ways: through physical description; through the characters' actions; through dialogue; through interactions with other characters; and more.

Let's meet Harry Potter.
His aunt was back outside the door.
"Are you up yet?" she demanded.
"Nearly," said Harry.
"Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the bacon.  And don't you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday."
Harry groaned.
"What did you say?" his aunt snapped through the door.
"Nothing, nothing..."
Dudley's birthday -- how could he have forgotten?  Harry got slowly out of bed and started looking for socks.  He found a pair under his bed and, after pulling a spider off one of them, put them on.  Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.
When he was dressed he went down the hall into the kitchen.  The table was almost hidden beneath all of Dudley's birthday presents.  It looked as though Dudley had gotten the new computer he wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike.  Exactly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Harry, as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise -- unless of course it involved punching somebody.  Dudley's favorite punching bag was Harry, but he couldn't often catch him.  Harry didn't look it, but he was very fast.
Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age.  He looked even smaller and skinnier than he really was because all he had to wear were old clothes of Dudley's, and Dudley was about four times bigger than he was.  Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes.  He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose.  The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning.  He had had it as long as he could remember, and the first question he could ever remember asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had gotten it.
"In the car crash when your parents died," she had said.  "And don't ask questions."
Don't ask questions -- that was the first rule for a quiet life with the Dursleys.
Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon.
"Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.
About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over the top of his newspaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut.  Harry must have had more haircuts than the rest of the boys in his class put together, but it made no difference, his hair simply grew that way -- all over the place.
What have we learned about Harry?  We've gotten a thorough physical description, but Rowling has gone beyond the basicsBy adding in details about his relationships with Dudley, Aunt Petunia, and Uncle Vernon -- and how Harry is treated compared to Dudley -- we have a very good understanding of Harry's place in this family.  The Dursleys treat Harry poorly, without regard or respect.  Rowling does not come out and state this; she shows us through interactions and dialogue and Harry's actions.  She is slowly beginning to reveal Harry's character (and that of the Dursleys).

I've put together a few fun exercises to guide you as you get to know your characters better.  Some of it may end up in the text somewhere; some of it may be rubbish and will never be known to anyone but you. Today, just focus on ways to dig deeper.  But a word of caution from Anne Lamott in BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE:
Just don't pretend that you know more about your characters than they do, because you don't.  Stay open to them.  It's teatime and all the dolls are at the table.  Listen.  It's that simple.


Let's really get to know our main characters. I will oftentimes answer a set of questions about my character's personality, likes, dislikes, quirks, etc.  Remember Before Facebook when you would receive chain emails with 30 questions like "What are you drinking right now?" and "What is your favorite movie/song/restaurant?" and if you sent your answers to fifteen people including the person who sent it to you! within 48 hours, you would be showered with good luck?

And then, when you signed up for Facebook, every other day you were tagged on a note like "Name 15 movies/books/songs/guitarists that influenced you in no more than 15 minutes and then tag 15 people including me because I really want to know your 15 movies/books/songs/guitarists?"

You know what I'm talking about.  My favorite Facebook note was 25 Random Facts About Me.

Your MC wants to tell you 25 Random Facts, too.  Ready, Set, Go!

Exercise #1: List 25 Random Facts about your MC


Exercise #2: Answer as many of these questions about your MC as you would like:
  • What is one goal your MC would like to accomplish during their lifetime?
  • When your MC was little, who was their favorite super hero and why?
  • Who is their hero? (a parent, a celebrity, an influential person in one’s life)
  • If your MC could visit any place in the world, where would they choose to go and why?
  • What’s the ideal dream job for your MC?
  • Is your MC a morning or a night person?
  • What are your MC’s favorite hobbies?
  • What are your MC’s pet peeves?
  • What does your MC dislike about themselves?
  • What’s the weirdest thing your MC has ever eaten?
  • Name one of your MC’s favorite things about someone in their family.
  • Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of your MC.
  • If your MC had to describe themselves using three words, they would be…
  • What does your MC think is/was the most difficult part of growing up and why?
  • What is the one item in your MC’s closet that they can’t live without?
  • What is the one item in your MC's closet they can't bear to part with, even though it's too small/out of fashion/full of holes?
  • What does your MC love doing most?
  • Who or what makes your MC laugh the most? 
  • Tell about the most embarrassing incident of your MC’s life.
  • What was the funniest or stupidest thing your MC ever did in their life?
  • Describe your MC’s worst date.
  • Describe your MC’s best date.
  • Describe your MC’s dream date.
  • If your MC were an animal, what would they be and why?
  • If your MC were a cartoon, which one would they be?
  • What’s the worst thing your MC did as a kid?
(These questions were adapted from a list of Icebreakers found here.)

Exercise #3: Imagine a character who is shopping at the flea market in this photo.  Who are they?  Did they come here intentionally or just happen upon it?  Write a paragraph or two to describe your character and what they purchase.   For an additional exercise, write about the person who sells the item to your character.  What is the story behind the item?  Why are they selling it?

Exercise #4: Make a list of 10 of your favorite characters. These can be from books, TV shows,  movies, etc..  What do you love about those characters?  Why are you so drawn to them? What makes them memorable?

Exercise #5: Go to your WIP.  Find a passage where you describe your MC.  Is it straight physical description?  Could you rewrite this information into a scene and reveal details about your character through dialogue and interaction as well as physical description?  Give it a shot!

She couldn't wait any longer.


Happy Writing and thanks for stopping by.  I hope you've had a chance to visit other retreat attendees.  :)  See you soon!


You be me for a while, and I'll be you.

Recharge: Day Four - Hey, Hey, Hey - One Break, Coming Up!

Hello and welcome to Day Four!  Thanks for sticking with me this week.  Today is going to be a little less intensive.  We all need time to pause, think, read, and dream -- even at a writing retreat.  While there won't be as many writing exercises, I'll give you some food for thought and an "assignment" that you can complete over time.

Today is the last day of February.  It's not a Leap Year, but I recently watched Leap Year, the movie with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.  In the movie, Declan asks Anna what she would grab if she had sixty seconds to escape a burning building.

I'd like to know what book you would grab in your sixty seconds -- assuming your family, pets, and manuscripts are safe, of course.

This is a tough question, I admit.  Most of my books could easily be replaced.  I considered my antique books, the books that are out of print, books signed by the authors.  I own at least a dozen hardcover copies of GONE WITH THE WIND -  many of them from the late 30s and early 40s (none from 1936, sadly, although I haven't given up hope that I'll find one for sale at a garage sale someday).  I have books that belonged to my grandparents and my parents.  There are the literary journals that include a few of my short stories and that horrible independent study "publication" from high school (actually, that can burn).  How to decide?

I would grab as many of my Betsy-Tacy books as I could carry.  Those books were my first loves, the ones gave me the idea that I could grow up to be a writer.  I've read them dozens of times over the years -- library discards from my childhood, used copies found at musty old bookstores, beautifully designed new editions.  I would have to save them all.

And now on to today's topic.  It's sort of difficult to label with one word, but here goes:

What do I mean by stretch?  I mean moving outside the parameters of your usual routine as a writer.  We get inspired, we write like mad, we read a lot, we blog, we tweet, we revise. we read some more.  Since I typically write contemporary YA, I read a lot of contemporary YA.  Every now and then, I shake things up a bit and read a dystopian or paranormal YA or an adult novel.

Somebody stop me!
Back in the old days (graduate school) when I was formally learning how to write, I read everything.  I complained a lot about the poetry, but in hindsight, reading all that narrative non-fiction and poetry helped me write better fiction.

Here's your assignment: Stretch.  Go outside your usual reading routine.  Haven't read the classics?  Read THE GREAT GATSBY before you see the upcoming Baz Luhrman film.  Read some poetry.  Read a play (I recommend Our Town or anything by Arthur Miller).

But mostly, I'd like to recommend that you read short stories.

I learned how to write by reading short fiction.  Writing short fiction is hard.  Not that word choice doesn't matter in a novel, but when you are dealing with the constraints of a short story, every single word counts.  A short story does not require resolution at the end, but change must occur and the main character must transform in some way, just like in novel.  You still need all the stuff you need for a novel, it's just, you know, compacted.

It's like engraving the Lord's Prayer on a dime.

Since 1989, my parents have given me the BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES anthology for Christmas -- still, to this day.  And even though my focus has been on young adult novels for the last few years, settling in to read one of these books is like settling into a comfortable old chair with worn upholstery.  Like coming home.

Bookmark on left handmade by Elizabeth Berg

Read these, read literary journals, read the classics.  You can't go wrong with a Norton Anthology.  Read the short stories of Anton Chekhov, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Carver.

If you've never read Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," you must, today.  James Baldwin, "Sonny's Blues."  James Joyce, "The Dead."  Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour."  Tim O'Brien, "The Lives of the Dead."

(I am filled with nostalgia; I feel the weight of that dense Norton Anthology in my hand, with its tissue-thin paper and margins filled with notes.  Oh, to read "Hills Like White Elephants" for the first time once again.)

This is my challenge to you.  Read something you wouldn't normally include on your TBR.  See if an Annie Dillard essay inspires you, see if you're moved by the poetry of Li Young Lee.

If you want to take it a step further, challenge yourself to write part of your WIP as a scene in a play, a poem, or a short story.  Look at your manuscript from a different angle.  Stretch.  See where it takes you.

Be sure to stop back tomorrow for a wrap-up and a giveaway!


Recharge: Day Five - Homeward Bound

When I was in high school and attended week-long summer writing workshops, by the last day I was exhausted and exhilarated, sad to leave friends and the open, creative environment but anxious to go home to sleep in my own bed and snuggle with my cats.  I returned home inspired and motivated and took with me journals filled with new words and new ideas.

My hope is that you depart this virtual writing retreat with a journal (real or virtual) filled with new words and new ideas, or that you've been inspired to return to these exercises at some point. 

Hosting Recharge has been wonderful.  It's been hard work, yes, but it's been so worth it.  If I've inspired just one person in some way, I've done my job.  I love to share what I know; I love to help others, and it means so very much to me that you came along for the ride.  Thank you.

It's time to pack up our bags and say goodbye.

As promised, I have a giveaway!  There will be three winners, chosen at random from everyone who participated in the retreat with a comment on the Recharge posts from Monday, February 25 to Friday, March 1 or who wrote about the topics on their blogs during that timeframe -- one entry for each comment or post.  If you did either of those two things and tweeted about it as well, you'll receive an extra entry. 

  • A copy of Our Town by Thornton Wilder
  • A critique of the first 30 pages of your manuscript
  • A bottle of OPI Nail Color in I Saw... U Saw... We Saw...Warsaw (because I love blue nail polish - see photo of Ugly Feet from Day 3)
You have until midnight (Central Time) tonight to be included in the drawing, so it's not too late to participate in some way and comment or blog or tweet.  :)  Winners will be announced on Monday morning.  Apologies to all my international friends - Prizes 1 & 3 are only open to those in the US or Canada.  Prize 2 is open internationally. 

I'd love to post some of your work here.  I plan to publish a small "anthology" with examples of your writing from this week on Monday, March 18.  If you would like to be included in this, please email me: crowriverwriter (at)

I cannot thank you enough for lurking, reading, writing, blogging, tweeting, commenting, shouting from the rooftops.  I am so grateful for my growing network of supporters.  Look for another Recharge: Winter Writing Retreat coming your way in February of 2014!