Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

The countdown begins


The calendar says July. Seriously? What happened to June? In a week, the summer will be half over.

If we’re into July, that means the reunion with my Writing Sisters is coming up. I can’t wait!

Wait, I’ve got to get 20 pages ready to send around before the reunion. Hoo boy.

One of my fellow bloggers asked about my writing sisters (B, has the baby arrived yet?), and I’ve mentioned them before, so I’ll give y’all a brief history of my fantabulous WS and some ideas on how you can find your own awesome writing group.

It was a dark and stormy night… Er, wait, wrong story. Give me a minute *shuffles papers* Here it is.

It was June, 2012. I’d learned (through my Writers’ Digest subscription, I think) about a writing retreat in Madison, WI, a six-and-a-half hour drive–super close when considering most writing retreats are in the Pacific Northwest, or out East, or someplace like Italy or Iceland (that one’s on my wish list πŸ˜€ ). I was at the point in my writing journey where I felt ready for something intense, like a week of writing by a lake. I’d heard wonderful things about the novel Master Class at Write-By-The-Lake, so I closed my eyes and jumped in.

There were only six slots, and the instructor had to accept you. Gulp. She did (woo-hoo!). We started slow, as people do when meeting strangers for the first time, and especially when we’re all writers, and the point of the class is to critique each other’s work so we could improve it.

We had different genres (YA, mystery, women’s historical, SF/dystopian), and had taken different journeys to get to where we were. But we clicked. And to seal the deal, one of our classmates invited us over for dinner one evening.

The Writing Sisters were born. Not with the name, not yet, but we had a bond. We had stories to share. And we had fellow writers to encourage us, critique our work, and offer ideas.

After our week was up, we kept in touch. We reunited the following spring at the Writers’ Institute in Madison. And afterward, we started our annual reunion tradition. Every year since that week of writing by the lake we’ve gotten together, even if some couldn’t make it. We’ve had sisters move away and return. We’ve adopted a new sister who fits into the group like she was in our Master Class with the rest of us.

Of the seven of us (not counting our mentor), three have published novels (two through publishing houses, one self-published), one has an agent shopping a manuscript, and three are within spitting distance of getting books published. Our beloved mentor continues to guide us, challenge us, and encourage us.

We’ve become more than a writing group. We’ve become good friends.

I promised some ideas on how you can try to find your own “writing sisters” (or brothers, or whatever). The most important step (in my opinion) is to get out of the house (yes, I know we’re all introverts, but you can do it). Go to conferences, classes, or writing retreats. Meet other writers face to face.Β Talk to them (Yes, I know, the whole introvert thing. Take a deep breath and do it anyway. They’re just as anxious about it as you are.). You can meet other writers to bond with online, but somehow meeting in person seems more “real”.

You won’t always “click” with the writers you meet. In fact, you might cross paths with some you can’t stand to be around. The important thing is to try. Be open and welcoming.

Regular writers’ groups are a good place to meet other writers, but sometimes there isn’t a group near you that “feels” comfortable. I highly recommend going to writing conferences. They are great opportunities not only to learn more about the craft, but also to spend more than an hour or two with fellow writers. Often there are critique group sign-ups with the added benefit of meeting other writers who may end up in your group.

If you can attend a writing retreat, do it. Not only for the time you can focus on actual writing, but for the time you will spend with other writers. A learning/teaching retreat, as opposed to one that offers only time and space to write, encourages you to get to know fellow writers and get a “feel” for how you get along.

At some point, you will run across other writers you can form bonds with. It might be just one or two, or it might be half a dozen. You might meet in real life at the local coffee shop, or you might never see each other in the flesh. In any case, finding one or more writers you can collaborate with, bounce ideas off of, or learn from is valuable.

Another weekend of butt-in-chair-staring-at-the-computer-screen. I think I’ve got a few things figured out, though, so I’m hoping–no, planning more productivity this weekend than I’ve had lately. Bonus: the kids are staying with my SIL until Sunday night. Woo-hoo!

Have a great weekend, and WRITE!


Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, seven chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

13 thoughts on “The countdown begins

  1. What a cool story of how the Writing Sisters formed. Years (actually, decades) ago I was part of a writing group. There were six of us, plus 1 or 2 who fluctuated. Of that group, three of us really hit it off and would often get together for write-a-thons, critiquing and talking craft. It was a wonderful experience I’ll always cherish. Eventually, the larger group disbanded and one of the members of the smaller group moved away.

    You’ve got something really special going with the WS, and I know you’re going to have a blast. Plus, I can feel your creative energy surging through the screen πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya about members moving away. We’re pretty scattered as it is, with members living in four different states, so we treasure our reunions. We’ve had members move away and move back. There’s always video chatting, which helps us keep in touch. And with the reunion on specific date(s) every year (first weekend in Aug), it’s easier to plan for the time and travel. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful encouragement, Julie. You’ve inspired me to see what’s in my area that’s not too pricey (always a factor). I love getting together with other writers. There’s always a rush of excitement for the projects and shared experiences that only other writers understand. Have fun at your retreat. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes about the cost of writers’ conferences, etc. I saved up for the retreat by the lake, and I don’t go to the Writers’ Institute every year not because it’s too expensive (it’s actually very reasonable) but because my budget can only accommodate it every few years. There’s something energizing about being with so many other people who love the same thing you do: writing. I’m so looking forward to the retreat! We’ve been staying at B&Bs for our retreats, and this year the B&B looks exceptional: out in the country, trails to walk, and a nice house to take over (we reserve the whole house since there are so many of us). Can’t wait!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie, your bubbling enthusiasm is inspiring and smiling! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ How wonderful that you met and kept in contact with the writers from your retreat – I can tell how much you enjoy and have how positive a force these yearly meets are for you and your friends! I had to laugh at the push or gentle nudge you give us to get out of the house, meet other writers and talk!! Gulp indeed! A whole weeks retreat with strangers sounds terrifying but also I’m sorely sorely tempted…or can I do a retreat of one!? πŸ˜€ Wishing you many happy writing hours this weekend – does this comment count for me? Preparing to go out for a party later so doing those rare things of painting nails and trying to glam up! Warmest wishes ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Enjoy your party, Annika! A gal’s got to dress up every so often, right πŸ˜€ And if a week’s retreat sounds like too much to start out with, try a writers’ conference. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it, or at least how much creative energy is called forth by it. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So I had to read that one particular sentence out loud to my husband and say, “That’s me! I’m B. She’s talking about me!” It’s so thrilling to be mentioned. πŸ™‚ And no, still no baby. Officially a week late now. I’ve done worse.
    Thanks for this neat information. I’m so glad for you. And, wow, writing by a lake sounds so lovely. (Assuming the mosquitoes weren’t swarming.) I hope this post inspires people to do as you’ve suggested. I’m not exactly at the right place in life to do it myself, but maybe some day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I knew you’d see that πŸ™‚ Some day you’ll have to check out a writing retreat. It’s an incredible experience! And we had no mosquitos, thank goodness. The retreat was on the edge of the UW-Madison campus on the shore of Lake Mendota, and our classroom looked out over the lake. We even watched sailboats on the lake one day. Beautiful!

      Ugh, a week overdue? I remember that last month, impatient for things to move along. I was induced on my son’s due date (due to gestational diabetes and first baby, so size… well, you know). My daughter, on the other hand, decided to make a month-early arrival. Crossing fingers for you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, lady! Hopefully the next time we “talk” I’ll have my body to myself again. πŸ˜‰ Well, it still won’t feel like it, but I’ll be carrying him with my arms. Right now he’s hands-free, like a bluetooth baby!

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! Bluetooth baby–love it! There’s something nice about the “bluetooth” baby: no diapers, no feedings, no carrying “equipment” around in a huge bag everywhere. ‘Course, you don’t get to enjoy that “new baby smell” (the good one, not the poopy one πŸ˜€ ) !


      • It’s true. Pros and cons both ways. I think the biggest concern is that this is my first boy. It won’t be the poop that I’ll be concerned about. You know what I mean…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: A Tribute | Facets of a Muse

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