Oct 10, 2009

ANWA of the North

By Christine Thackeray

I just spent a fabulous weekend surrounded by the ANWA sisters of the Northwest. Liz Adair set up an incredible retreat at Silver Lake in Whatcom County, Washington where about thirty of us spent our time writing, laughing and generally enjoying the comraderie of realizing we aren't the only crazy women in the world that love to play with words and storylines.

Marsha Ward began the festivities as the keynote speaker. She gave us a test to see how efficient we were with our time. Out of a possible 32, I got -4. I think I was the only negative.

We ended the first night stretching with Lara which turned out to be a fun and relaxing. The next day Julia Wagner spoke about "Ninja Writing"- using your environment in your narrative. We all began with the same sentence "Michael sat in the road and cried." After adding sight, sound, smell, taste and feel, each story had taken a life of its own. Anna Arnet had Micheal as a little toddler with a soggy diaper, while another writer (I'm embarrassed I don't remember who) had Micheal smelling and crying and suddenly tasting a tinge of copper because he bit his lip.

At the end of our Ninja experience, we put on Ninja masks and took a picture which I'm sure you will see soon enough.

Next we had a mock critique group which I led. The only bummer was every selection was so clean most of our comments were praise. Still, it was a great exercise. Unfortunately we were having such a good time we weren't able to cover everyone, and I still owe Kami and Terry complete critiques. I've also got to say that Connie Wolf's writing is vivid and, well, pretty! Wendy Jones had a children's book called "A Cat Called Mom" which totally got me. It was adorable!

That night ended with Kersten Campbell, author of "Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother" who spoke to us about humor. She used great examples, such as defining "trim tram" with was everything from "public transportation which takes one to the gym" to "a conveyence for hedge clippings."

We topped off the night screening Anna Arnett's son's latest documentary of "Baby Boomerang." I was hesitant to watch it because I'm not that hip on war and don't care for documentaries that much either, but it had me clutching my sides with laughter. Her son is so insightful and witty. It really twisted the concept to more of a comedy about a son trying to make fun of his father and ending up admiring him tremendously. I'm going to force all my boys to watch it the first time but I bet they'll watch it many times after that on their own. I LOVED IT!!!!

The last morning ended with Liz presenting an overview of creating a media presence. She did an incredible job. After a group picture, sans masks, we reluctantly bid all our dear friends good-bye until next year and began the six hour drive home.

I need to thank Terry for her great grammar classes and Ann Acton for the tremendous job she did of picking the door prizes (a very important job.) My roommate Wendy Kraus, who organized the kitchen food, is one of the hardest working women I know. AND Monique joined us Friday with a three week old baby who is the spitting image of her mother... or is that splitting image? Anyway, it was glorious and I'm jazzed to get back at it and finish my WIP so that next year I can go back with bragging rights.

THANK YOU ANWA for being here!!!!!


  1. Well, you make me wish I could have been there! Sounds like it turned out well...and I expect to see some great books as a result!!

  2. Wow Christine you make me want to be there.

  3. Sounds wonderful! It would be great to attend someday and meet with all of you amazing sisters! (Some of the Arizonans you mentioned we are priviliged to know!)

    And Marsha, I need to take that time management test!

  4. Loved the insight of the WA Retreat. I sure wish I could have been there. Oh well, maybe next year.

  5. Thanks for the picture. Now I am really sad I couldn't make it. The site looks beautiful and the sisters, wow!

  6. Wow! Look at all those sisters! Can you imagine if we ever managed a truly ALL ANWA retreat? :-)


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