Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Favorites: Holiday reads


You know me -- during this season I love to listen to Christmas music, watch Hallmark Christmas movies, and read Christmas-themed fiction. I have four books to recommend, two of which were intended for children (tho they certainly have appeal for adults, as well).

The Children of Green Knowe (1954), by Lucy Boston. Young Tolly is sent to stay with his great-grandmother over Christmas and soon learns that the looming, castle-like house is haunted (!!!). But these child ghosts are long-dead family members, and over the course of the story Tolly learns what happened to them, and eventually must face a dark force that threatens the house. There are more Green Knowe books, and I love the fact that the house is based on a real medieval manor in Cambridgeshire owned and restored by Lucy Boston herself. (It's open to visitors by appointment!) I highly recommend the audiobook with its lovely voice performance from Simon Vance.

Charlotte Fairlie (1954), by D.E. Stevenson (also known as The Enchanted Isle). Ever since enjoying Miss Buncle's Book, I've sought out all the Stevenson books I can find, and this one, with its headmistress heroine who visits a pupil's family castle in remote Scotland, certainly seemed right up my alley! The book is very difficult to find in print, but luckily there is a satisfying and readily available audiobook from Audible.com. I suppose it's a bit of a cheat to include this one--the Christmas bit only comes in toward the end and seems a bit "tacked on"--but it's a beautiful season for bringing everyone together. The romantic impediment strains credulity, but I didn't care! I just enjoyed spending time with these people.

Christmas at High Rising (a collection of stories published in the 30s & 40s), by Angela Thirkell. Only two of the short stories in this collection have anything to do with Christmas, but I especially liked seeing Laura Morland and her son Tony during the holiday season. I also enjoyed the story from Thirkell's own childhood experience of celebrating Christmas at the house of her grandfather, Edward Burne-Jones! If you're interested in reading this anthology, I recommend first reading Thirkell's High Rising, which is linked below (and is set almost entirely during the Christmas/New Year season).

Box of Delights (1935), by John Masefield. Having left boarding school for the Christmas holiday, young Kay Harker comes into possession of a magic box, which he must use to thwart a gang with evil intentions. This story brought to mind many favorites: C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, Edward Eager's Magic series, and Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series. (I wonder if Masefield was as influenced by E. Nesbit as Lewis, Eager, and Cooper were?) The story has been adapted into several BBC radio shows over the years, and also has a 1984 BBC TV adaptation that I'd love to get my hands on (though I shudder to think of the special effects). It's available in a lovely New York Review Children's Litarature edition (see link above) or on audiobook. My favorite thing about Box of Delights is the character Maria, a very young girl who talks tough and acts even tougher, and no one in the book ever asks her to behave like a lady or any of that rot--so refreshing in a book written so long ago! All in all, the story is not quite as magical as those of Lewis, Eager, or Cooper, but it is unique and charming, and from it I finally learned how to make a posset: fill a bowl with hot milk, an egg, a spoonful of treacle, a grating of nutmeg, "and you stir 'em well up, and you get into bed and then you take 'em down hot." Supposed to revive the weary!

Previously featured Christmas reads:
High Rising, by Angela Thirkell
Winter Solstice, by Rosamund Pilcher

How about you? Any Christmas reads to recommend?

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Horror movies for Halloween -- 2015 edition!

Every year around this time I like to recap the past year's spooky movie viewing. Perhaps you'll find something here to enjoy during your Halloween weekend festivities? Please share your own recommendations in the comments!

[All plot blurbs and metacritic scores are from imdb.com.]


It Follows (2014)
A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after getting involved in a sexual encounter.

This indie film seemed to be the darling of many critics -- Entertainment Weekly reminded me of it over and over in the months following its release. I don't think I had unreasonably high expectations, but I was let down. Perhaps I just didn't appreciate the concept of a sexually transmitted ghost/demon. I didn't connect to the characters, so the horror wasn't as effective it could have been. But I have to give it credit for being different. (Available for purchase/rental from various vendors)
Watch the trailer. (Metascore: 83/100)


Crimson Peak (2015)
In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.

A gorgeous film dripping with Gothic iconography, Crimson Peak is disturbing, certainly, but a bit too "on the nose" to be scary. I wish del Torro had focused less on ghostly special effects and more on the horror of what we can't see. Still, it's quite a spectacle and, in my opinion, deserves a second viewing. (In theaters now.)
Watch the trailer. (Metascore: 67/100)


Housebound (2014)
Kylie Bucknell is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. However, when she too becomes privy to unsettling whispers & strange bumps in the night, she begins to wonder whether she's inherited her overactive imagination, or if the house is in fact possessed by a hostile spirit who's less than happy about the new living arrangement.

This film from New Zealand is quirky and character-driven, with plenty of humor to balance the horror. It takes risks, and perhaps not all of them pay off, but I appreciate the attempt. (Netflix streaming, also available for purchase/rental from various vendors]
Watch the trailer. (Metascore: 76/100)


The Ring (2002)
A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it.

People have recommended this film to me for years, and now I see why. It's not without its flaws, but the performances are strong (I love Naomi Watts!), and the horror lingers long after the film is over. I particularly enjoyed the film-within-a-film component -- I love stories that involve the close study of clues in a film strip, photograph, or sound clip. STRONG warning for animal horror/violence. (Available for purchase/rental from various vendors.)
Watch the trailer. (Metascore: 57/100 -- surprising since this is considered a horror classic?)


The Babadook (2014)
A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

Anyone wishing to study tension in film should take a look at this Australian/Canadian offering -- at times the tension and dread are almost unbearable. Essie Davis (Miss Fisher!) is brilliant as a single mom struggling with grief and her son's seemingly overactive imagination. One of the best horror films I've seen. [Netflix streaming, also available for purchase/rental from various vendors)
Watch the trailer. (Metascore: 86/100)

Recaps from previous years:
2014 recommendations: Mama, Stoker, and Lake Mungo
2013 recommendations: The Changeling, El Orfanato (The Orphanage), Below, and Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale of Two Sisters)
2012 recommendations: The Pact and The Awakening. Also (each a separate post) Dead of Night, The Uninvited, The Innocents, and The Haunting.

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Friday, August 7, 2015

England 2015 postcards -- Lyme Regis


Yes, I'm very much behind. This trip was two weeks ago! Above you see a view of the beach at Lyme Regis, taken from the Langmoor and Lister gardens. I took this on our first night, when the weather was mild and lovely, and the town seemed to glow with magic. The next day it poured for hours and hours, so we did some shopping, museum visiting, and lots of resting. Saturday was a gorgeous day of hiking through the Undercliff and fossil hunting on Charmouth Beach. A great trip overall, with lots of good follow-up research for a story I'm writing (inspired by last year's trip to Lyme). Yay!

Several days after our return, I dropped my phone and completely wrecked the display. Fortunately, most of my photos had automatically backed up to Flickr, and phone replacement should be covered by our maintenance plan. It's been quite an adjustment. Aside from the disruption to communication, I just like having my phone with me at all times for taking photos. That said, I have enjoyed experiencing Oxfordshire without the phone--it certainly helps one to live in the moment.

This weekend we will pack up for our Monday morning flight home. I love it here, and it's been a great summer, but it's time to get back to my house, my kitty, and my work!

[Cross-posted to Livejournal]

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Tea and a Book

Tea and a Book is back!

(I have to admit, however, that this installment is a bit of a cheat. You'll see what I mean later.)

My favorite read of the summer (so far) is Kimberly Brusker Bradley's The War that Saved My Life.


The story features many of my favorite things: WWII England, child evacuees, cozy villages, horses, and more. The very accessible first-person narration is quite gripping, and the horrors of abuse and war are offset by the protagonist's horsey adventures (yay!) and blossoming friendships with people in her new community. I absolutely devoured this book! I'm sure I'll read it many more times.

Here's the official blurb:

Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother
?

Earlier this week Steve and I enjoyed a day trip to London to visit the Imperial War Museum. My favorite bit was the permanent exhibit entitled The Family in Wartime, partly because it brought back memories of The War that Saved My Life. (click photos to enlarge)


Evacuation propaganda posters.


I took this (terrible) shot while Steve and I were sitting in an Anderson bomb shelter -- Ada, Jamie, and Susan spend some tense moments in one of these!

After our all too brief visit, we made our way to Piccadilly for tea at Fortnum & Mason. And now you see the "cheat" part of this post -- I did not make my own tea, and I do not have any recipes to share. There's no reference to F&M in The War that Saved My Life, but I'd like to believe it would have been one of Susan Smith's favorite places to shop before the war, perhaps with her dear Becky.


The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon had a nice "relaxed posh" feel to it. The young man who brought our tea tray recommended that we put a drop of strawberry jam and lemon curd on our scones and mix it all together. This sounded blasphemous to me, but we figured it was only polite to try. Absolutely scrumptious. So there's a tip for you, gentle reader!

[Cross-posted to Livejournal]

Monday, July 27, 2015

England 2015 postcards -- The Lake District


Catching up on postcards today with some shots from our July 16-19 trip!

Before I talk about the photos, I should mention that we first went to the Lake District many years ago -- to Bowness, in fact, near Windermere -- and it was one of the HOTTEST weekends I've ever experienced in England. This was in the days before smart phones with weather apps, so I packed for cool weather. Argh! It was so sunny that at one point my arms broke out in a heat rash and I felt quite ill. The nights, as you might imagine, were miserably sticky and hot.

THIS visit, to the northern part of the district, was much more to my liking. The skies were gloomy (but nicely dramatic in photographs) and the air was damp and cool. Rain was forecast for the entire weekend, but aside from a few minor sprinkles we only saw it the mornings before breakfast. For me it was perfect hiking weather, and we ended up covering a lot of territory!

Now for the photos -- above you see a shot of Keswick from Hope Park. Steve and I were both so impressed with the town. Certainly there were lots of tourists around, but the place did not feel the least bit overcrowded. Keswick is bigger than I would have predicted -- you'll find just about everything you could ever need -- and yet it manages to stay quaint and charming.


On Friday we decided to walk the perimeter of Derwentwater, which we'd been told was around 13 miles. No problem! It took a good portion of the day, especially because we stopped often and took afternoon tea at a hotel on the opposite side of the lake. I love this shot of the northeast side of the lake with gloomy sky above and Meadowsweet below.


Saturday morning we hiked to the top of Latrigg Fell, which offers gorgeous views of Keswick and the lake.


Then later that day we walked up to the top of Castlehead Wood and took a selfie, ha!

I have many more photos at my Lake District Flickr Album -- I hope you'll take a look!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

England 2015 postcards: Oxford Botanic Garden


Steve and I have always loved the Oxford Botanic Garden, and I've subjected you to many photos of it over the years. Can you bear with me once again? And perhaps help me with flower names? Above you see beautiful pinky purple flowers (I never pay attention to labels, argh) with Magdalen tower in the distance.


This is my favorite doorway in the garden wall -- I tend to take a photo of it every year.


A gorgeous burst of red by a window -- wouldn't it be lovely to have an office with such a view?


I love this riot of color! There are poppies in there, but what else? And what are the blue flowers?

Methinks I need to find a guide to English flora . . .

[Cross-posted to Livejournal]

Thursday, July 9, 2015

England postcards 2015 -- Cornwall


We are back in Oxford for another summer law program at Brasenose College, and I intend to carry on last year's tradition of "postcards." This edition focuses on Cornwall, where Steve and I recently spent time with friends. Above you see a photo of the beach somewhere between Rock and Polzeath, which was taken early in our walk along the SW Coastal path toward Port Isaac. (We didn't quite make it to Port Isaac that day, but we did cover 14 miles!)


Here we are -- Dom, me, Bede, and Steve (Ben is taking the photo) -- in Boscastle, a pretty little town on an estuary.


A high point of the trip was our visit to Tintagel. How glorious was the sun!

[The above photos were enhanced with the "HDR" filter from Snapseed.]

See more photos and details in my Cornwall Flickr album. And stay tuned for more!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Favorites: Prince Edward Island

At long last here are a few photos from our trip to Canada. I've wanted to visit PEI since I was a child, and many (many!) years later the dream finally came true. We enjoyed one day in Halifax before driving up to the island. Everywhere we went the locals were unfailingly friendly and helpful. Best of all, we were a little ahead of the tourist season, so we didn't have to fight crowds at all.

Here's a smattering of things we enjoyed:


Beach walks! This is Cavendish beach -- L.M. Montgomery herself must have walked here, right? I took this photo on a cool, windy day, but even later on a hot day, the water was ice-cold. (I could only manage up to my ankles -- how do people throw their whole bodies into that?) We enjoyed watching the Cormorants (I think) swoop down from the red cliffs. When they fly overhead they seem quite intimidating, almost like small dragons.


Wooded walks! Oh how I loved the trees on PEI -- particularly the pine and birch trees. In this photo Steve and I are posing for a selfie along "Lover's Lane" near Green Gables. Here's the quote from the book:

Lover's Lane opened out below the orchard at Green Gables and stretched far up into the woods to the end of the Cuthbert farm. It was the way by which the cows were taken to the back pasture and the wood hauled home in winter. Anne had named it Lover's Lane before she had been a month at Green Gables.

"Not that lovers ever really walk there," she explained to Marilla, "but Diana and I are reading a perfectly magnificent book and there's a Lover's Lane in it. So we want to have one, too. And it's a very pretty name, don't you think? So romantic! We can't imagine the lovers into it, you know. I like that lane because you can think out loud there without people calling you crazy."


By the way, I bought that hat in Halifax, and it is NOT an Anne hat! She wore a boater. Just saying. ;)


Green Gables! We were so lucky to get here before the swarm of tourists descended. Here's a little info from the brochure:

Green Gables has become famous around the world as the inspiration for the setting in Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. In real life, this farm was the home of David Jr. and his sister Margaret, cousin's of Montgomery's grandfather. Although Montgomery never lived at Green Gables, she came to know her cousin's farm through her explorations of the surrounding woodlands.

My favorite part of the L.M. Montgomery experience was visiting the Cavendish (or Macneill) Homestead and crossing through the "Haunted Wood" to Green Gables. I particularly enjoyed the short lecture from Jennie Macneill, whose father-in-law was LMM's first cousin. Here's a little blurb from the website:

Uncle John's grandson, John, still lives on the family property with his wife Jennie Moore Macneill, a retired teacher. John's father, Ernest, was LMM's 1st cousin, "A letter from Myrtle came today, saying Ern Macneill's wife had a son. So perhaps the old place may remain in the Macneill name yet. I hope so anyway" (Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol 4. p. 63).


Lighthouses! This is Pt. Prim lighthouse, the oldest on PEI and the only one we were able to climb to the top. We saw many pretty lighthouses along the way, but this was my favorite.


Delicious seafood! I'm pretty sure Steve ate lobster for every evening meal while we were on PEI. I've never been a fan of this particular crustacean, but I have to admit that the bits he shared with me were fresh and tasty (almost like sweet corn?). We also enjoyed fresh salmon, mussels, crab, and haddock.

I have many more pictures from the trip. If you'd like to see them, please check out my Flickr album. I winnowed the collection down to 33 photos so as not to bore you with endless shots of birch trees!

Happy Friday everyone!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Favorite Reads of May



Oh, the covers for this month are delightful! I chose my favorite L.M. Montgomery cover art as a gift for you, dear reader.

The Penderwicks in Spring, the fourth in a series from Jeannie Birdsall (with whom I share an editor!) features an enormous cast of characters, but sensitive young Batty is the central focus. As usual with these books, I enjoyed a very cathartic cry toward the end. There are many parallels to Little Women, and one fraught relationship in Penderwicks prompted me to rethink my attitude toward Jo and Laurie. (I suppose it really isn't romantic to watch a young man try to make someone love him.)

Anne of Green Gables (love this cover from the Nook edition) -- this re-read launched my pre-PEI celebration of Lucy Maud Montgomery. It goes without saying that I adore Anne, and during this reading I got so tickled with some of her melodramatic sayings ("The iron has entered into my soul" or "You harrow up my very soul" -- I really need to use these in conversation). After finishing the book I watched the TV adaptation, which was wonderful as ever, but I had to stop before the sad Matthew part because I didn't think my heart could take it.

Emily of New Moon (the Virago edition) -- What a delight! Perhaps even more delightful than Anne of Green Gables? The only shadow on my pleasure during this reading was the introduction of Dean Priest. He gets creepier every time I read this book. ("The happiest countries, like the happiest women, have no history." Ugh. Is that why you start wooing them when they're 11, Creepy Dean?)

Pat of Silver Bush (the link takes you to the Sourcebooks edition, but the cover featured above is from a French edition) -- I'm pretty sure the Pat books were my mom's favorites growing up, and I always think of her when I read them. They are probably the least dramatic of LMM's stories, but they are so warm and cozy to read.

In case you missed it, follow the link for my thoughts on Jane of Lantern Hill (in short, WONDERFUL).

Stay tuned for my Prince Edward Island recap -- coming soon!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Friday, May 22, 2015

Read or Write Anywhere!

Hey guys! I’ve teamed up with the YA Chicks and many participating authors on a global campaign to encourage readers, writers, students, and teachers to share pictures of the places -- both ordinary and extraordinary -- where they are reading and writing. This is open to all readers/writers of both middle grade and young adult books!

You can also take part in A MONSTER GIVEAWAY!

I’m giving away a signed hardcover copy of:


At the turn of the twentieth century, Spiritualism and séances are all the rage—even in the scholarly town of Cambridge, England. While mediums dupe the grief-stricken, a group of local fringe scientists seeks to bridge the gap to the spirit world by investigating the dark corners of the human mind.

Each running from a shadowed past, Kate, Asher, and Elsie take refuge within the walls of Summerfield College. But their peace is soon shattered by the discovery of a dead body nearby. Is this the work of a flesh-and-blood villain, or is something otherworldly at play? This unlikely trio must illuminate what the scientists have not, and open a window to secrets taken to the grave—or risk joining the spirit world themselves.


[Learn more about The Dark Between HERE]




Every author participating in this campaign is giving away books, critiques, swag and/or Skype visits. I addition to my book giveaway, I will be offering a free Skype visit as part of the Classroom giveaway pack!

So are you ready?



Can you guess where I am? Here are some clues:

-- It was built for a World's Fair

-- For 41 years it was the tallest man-made structure in the world

-- It sparkles at night

-- You could have (a hideously expensive) dinner here

-- It was featured in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (and in the Duran Duran video for the theme song)

Easy, right? Don't write the answer in the comments. Instead, head over to the YA Chicks site and:

--Officially enter the giveaway by inputting each author’s name and your guesses about our locations. Every author location you guess correctly increases your chances to win.

--For even more chances, post a picture of yourself reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).


For writer prize packs:
--Post pictures of yourself writing in a fun location on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere. Then follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway to let us know you did it.
--For even more chances, gather your writer friends together and post a group shot with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). And hey, since you're already together, why not host a write-a-thon?

For teacher prize packs:
--Post pictures of your class reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).
--Then let us know you did it when you enter the Rafflecopter. If you don't have a Twitter or Instagram, you can email your picture directly with the picture pasted directly into the email (no attachments--we won't open them) AND the subject, “Read or Write Anywhere.”

You can also check out the YA Chicks Read or Write Anywhere lesson plan, available on their site.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!

#ReadOrWriteAnywhere

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The GHOSTLIGHT jacket and a GIVEAWAY

GHOSTLIGHT releases in exactly three months, so this seems a fine time to share the final jacket design!

(click the image for a larger view)


If you are on Goodreads, you can enter for a chance to win an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of Ghostlight. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.:



Goodreads Book Giveaway


Ghostlight by Sonia Gensler

Ghostlight

by Sonia Gensler


Giveaway ends May 14, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter to Win


Or feel free to pre-order the finished copy at these retailers. (Pre-orders are MAGICAL.)


I can't wait to share this book with you! Please stay tuned for more updates, book trailer reveals, and additional GIVEAWAYS.

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Favorite Reads of March and April



"Tea and a Book" was great fun, but it will go on hiatus for a bit. In its place I'll share a brief list of interesting reads for each month. Obviously I am playing catch-up with a two month report, but it's still rather short. (which distresses me!)

How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life, by Ruth Goodman. A wonderful resource for reenactors or writers of historical fiction, this book is written in such an engaging way that anyone with a passing interest in the period would find it a fascinating read. Goodman is a reenactor who has participated in the BBC's Victorian Farm and Victorian Pharmacy. Learn more by reading this New York Times review.

August Folly, by Angela Thirkell. I've been devouring every Thirkell novel I can get my hands on, and this one seemed quite promising with its "village puts on a Greek play" premise. Though it had a slow start with characters behaving in tedious ways, soon enough the humor broke through and interesting things began to happen. Not my favorite Thirkell, but still quite good.

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin. I'm not usually one for fairy stories, but this clever tale inspired by Scarborough Fair makes an outlandish situation very gripping with its deft characterization. Highly recommended!

The Mirk and Midnight Hour, by Jane Nickerson. A unique and atmospheric Southern Gothic inspired by the Ballad of Tam Lin. I've never read anything quite like this book, and I look forward to more from Nickerson.

These were my favorites from the last couple of months -- I sincerely hope to ramp up my reading in May. Any recommendations?

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Favorites: Writing Retreats


A couple of days ago I returned from a seven night Kindling Words West retreat in Marble Falls, TX. The Retreat at Balcones Springs offered cozy cabins and beautiful scenery, and our workshop leaders Nancy Werlin and Karen Romano Young provided guidance on how to find "unseen visuals" in our stories that could help transform our writing.


The goal for our morning workshops was to work on visual poems and other graphic representations of our stories, but Nancy and Karen encouraged us to follow our own path as much as we liked. As it turned out, I got caught up in this (not great) watercolor painting. I started with a random tree, added to it each day, and ended up understanding so much more about my protagonist and her relationship with nature. (Also, I got to live inside her brain in a new way, for she is an artist who works with pencil and watercolor.)


The bulk of each day was spent in silent retreat, and this was my main work station from 10am-5pm. Working on a bed is a little unorthodox, I know, but it turned out to be a good shift for my brain and body. (And strangely enough, I never napped!)


We didn't spend all our time working. Each morning we had the option of yoga, and during the day there were always opportunities for long walks. We encountered bluebonnets and other wildflowers, live oak and mesquite trees, insects, snakes, lizards, and for one group, a herd of wild boars! I really, really need to remember that when I'm blocked, a good walk can shake things up nicely. (I'll steer clear of the boars, however.)

I so appreciated all the time for writing (without the usual distractions), and I treasured the opportunities for communion with other writers. You artistic types out there -- give yourself the gift of a retreat! It doesn't have to be Kindling Words (though I strongly recommend it). You could take a day alone, or gather with friends for a weekend or longer. No matter how or with whom you arrange it, I really urge you to set aside silent work time.

For those who make a regular habit of retreating, what sort of activities, formats, locations, etc., inspired you?

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]