Friday, April 04, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 14

Seabird Couple ~ Phillip Island
Take A Writing Retreat means go where the brain and heart can slow a little... and draw deeper into the creative well.

I've filled my diary with humble Phillip Island writing escapes since 2010. My first retreat came thanks to my Beloved’s generosity and in the form of a birthday gift voucher. 

Go and write. It said. 

So I went. And wrote. And I’ve done this over the years in the deep of winter and the snap of spring and even during the slow turn of autumn. (Summer is reserved for reading on the beach ~ a different and much needed retreat)

I know why a writing retreat is the author’s best birthday present.

It’s time. 

And space. 

To unwind, immerse in the story and pick up the threads which hang, just where the busyness of life keeps them. Dangling and waiting to be grabbed. 

Each time I’ve run away by myself to the very island where my stories are set. Phillip Island and the secluded beach of Red Rocks, where our family beach house sits just up the track in Ventnor. But for this author challenge, I invited my dear friend, Heartsong author Narelle Atkins to join me.

Who better to share the writing table and sea view than someone also in the thick of her own romance writing? 

Dorothy Adamek, Narelle Atkins and Rel Mollet
Day 1 found us playing tourist. We stopped in at the home of gorgeous Australian reveiwer Rel Mollet for a quick
afternoon tea, and then headed to Victoria’s top tourist attraction, Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade. I’m so sorry we were not allowed to take photos. If only I could share them here. The well protected Little Penguins could not get cuter or more intriguing, and our view of each surf-drenched waddle (yes, their packs are called waddles on land and rafts at sea) emerged more dignified with each fresh wave. 

I’d seen the Penguin Parade many times before, but this was Narelle’s first visit. She loved the way the penguins waited in the surf to cross the sand to their burrows. Their instinct to proceed only when dusk covered the beach in shadows. Their adorable hustle to the safety of the moonlit grasslands.

My highlight was the brilliant Southern Cross, beaming like it had been taken out of a box for the first time and hung in the sky just for us. 

By evening’s end our hearts brimmed with the majesty of God’s ocean, it’s creatures and the lavish expanse of sky overhead. 

Essential Stop ~ Harry's On the Esplanade
Day 2 delivered a writing agenda with a difference. Instead of banging at the keys, I took hold of the opportunity to re-read a project I’m unpacking after some time. While Narelle worked on her own story, I fell back into mine. By late afternoon we were ready for a coffee, a snoop around the shops and dinner at Harry's on the Esplanade overlooking the main swimming beach, Cowes. 

Pottering around the antique store didn’t fail to deliver a new book to add to my library, but walking the pier and showing Narelle where my characters push and fight and discover the cost of love, brought them to life for me afresh. That's a thrill that matches any book buying. I pointed out the path they’d take to walk along the shore from what would have been a village in 1875 to the location where I’ve set my hero’s farm. We squinted against the same colours of the sunset I’ve painted into my scenes. 

Two happy authors, chatting about characters as if they were real people who’d followed us around all day. And in a way, they had.

By midnight, I stood in the doorway of Narelle’s room, nutting out the complexities of conflict, backstory and subplot and only when the clock struck 2 did we figure it was time to put our stories to sleep and steal some ourselves. 

The shallows at Red Rocks Beach
Day 3 took us to the back beach where some of my characters find their lives tipped upside down. We walked the expanse of sand, with hardly a fellow sunlover in sight, except for the fishermen who tried to impress us with a catch that got away and two seabirds, very much the inseparable couple. 

To our right, the beach stage for my book 1. To our left, the sandy setting for my book 2. In the distance, the broad stretch of water from which all my displaced protagonists sail and sink into deeper trouble before they’re rescued and find love. 

Do I love writing about this island and her people as I imagine them in the late 1870s? You bet I do.

I’ve shared snippets of Phillip Island with Ink Dots readers over the years. And now I can add to that, the slow walk through the shallows with a dear friend who didn't mind listening to the gentle percolating of my stories, right where I imagine them. 

Author Selfie ~ Red Rocks Beach

Have you been to Australia's Phillip Island? 
Heard of the Penguin Parade? 

If not, I hope it won't be long before you get to explore this beautiful part of Australia's southern coastline. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,