Do you want to learn more about writing, including receiving marketing tips and tricks, deals on valuable workshops and retreats, and time management hacks? Join the VIP Writer’s Club! You’ll receive free VIP access to an online novel-writing course just for signing up and can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.Become a VIP Reader!
Interested in free books, exclusive bonus content, and VIP early access to Jess’ upcoming projects? Then sign up here to become a VIP Reader. You’ll immediately receive a free copy of May Day, the first in the Mira James comic caper mysteries, just for signing up!
March 29, 2019
Hello, folks! If you haven't heard, I'm leading two writing retreats for women this year, a writing retreat in France this June and a writing retreat in Lake Tahoe this August, with the Lake Tahoe retreat offering a seminar on how to publish your book. I realize a writing retreat is an investment in time and money, so my co-leader Allison and I wrote this article that discusses why we think writing retreats are THE BEST.
Top Five Reasons to Go on a Writing Retreat
You’ve always wanted to be a writer. You have a head or notebook full of ideas, you read stories or watch movies and feel inspired, maybe you’ve even started your own article, short story, novel, or memoir. But then you get stopped somewhere short of your dream. You tell yourself you don’t have the skill or the time, and that maybe someday…
Or possibly you’ve never seriously considered being an author, but you know you want more creativity in your life, more balance. You want to see the world and join a community of like-minded women interested in laughter, personal growth, and good food. Plus, you suspect you’ve got some stories to tell but aren’t quite sure if anyone else would be interested in them…
If either of these resonates with you, here’s why signing up for a writer’s retreat might be just what the Fates ordered:
You’ll refine your writing craft – Any good writing retreat will meet each participant where they’re at as a writer and take them to the next level. Whether you’re a beginner or have several publications under your belt, there is much to learn about writing, and we can’t learn it all at once. At any one point, we are at different places with refining our story, whether conceptualizing it, writing it, editing it or polishing it. In short, we all have stuff to learn about writing.
You’ll explore the world on an intelligent vacation – A writing retreat is a fabulous way to visit a new location that’s been chosen for its inspirational setting. A well-curated writing retreat guides you to connect with your surroundings on a deep level, to draw nourishment and creativity from them, and to take that sense of exploration and peace home with you. Plus, you’ll get to stay in glorious villas that you may not otherwise be able to.
You’ll make serious progress on your writing project – Writing a book requires dedicated mental space and a container of time. A writing retreat will give you a structured place to write so that your project will advance and all those exciting storylines will be created. Also, not only will the writing retreats leader(s) give you great feedback on your storyline, the other participants will be hearing about your writing project and offer you assistance as well.
You’ll have new writing buddies to champion you – Face it: writing can be a lonely business. However, at a writing retreat, most of the participants will be on the same wavelength as you, interested in making serious progress on their project. You’ll share a lot with these new friends, praising or complaining about the lodging, food and writing instruction, discussing the innermost secrets of your characters, working through plot snarls. This intense bonding means that many of you will stay in contact for years.
A writing retreat is an investment, one that will pay you dividends for the rest of your life. We still have a few spots available in our writing retreat in France this June as well as our writing retreat in California this August! The California writing retreat offers a special session on how to publish your book. Register today to hold your seat.
January 9, 2019
I've been working with Thomas & Mercer, Amazon's crime fiction imprint, for only a few weeks, but the experience has been whirlwind fabulous. My two editors, Jessica and Charlotte, are insightful, hilarious, helpful, and quick. We're already on the second round of edits for The Devil in the Dirt Basement, which is where my latest news comes in. Turns out T & M's marketing department thought my title was too much of a mouthful.
After a private, brief but spectacular temper tantrum (I'm terrible at titles normally, but The Devil in the Dirt Basement came to me whole and perfect), I reached out to some mystery-writing friends for alternate title ideas. They generated a great list, which I sent to Jessica at T & M, and she and the marketing department selected my favorite: UNSPEAKABLE THINGS.
That's the name of my upcoming book! Thank you to Lori Rader-Day (her novels are great--wish she'd write faster) for the title, and to T & M for wanting this book to soar. And honestly, the title is growing on me. It hits all the right notes. It's sticky, scary, suspenseful, just like the book.
In celebration of the new and official title of my first suspense novel with Thomas & Mercer (release date 11.1.2019), I'm posting below an early version of the author's note that will appear in the book's front matter.
I was one of a few hundred kids to come of age in Paynesville, Minnesota, in the 1980s. I grew up thinking every small town had a curfew siren that warned the children indoors each night at 9:00 pm, that Chester the Molester was a common nickname for the bogey man, that Peeping Toms were not unusual. I had my own problems at home, some childish and others much more serious, and the rumors of a bad man hunting children became a backbeat of my preteen and teen years.
I graduated high school in 1988 and moved to Minneapolis.
When Jacob Wetterling was abducted on October 22, 1989, from St. Joseph, Minnesota, thirty miles up the road from Paynesville, I was preparing to drop out of my second year of college. Some of those rumors from my early years (don’t go out at night or Chester will get you) came into focus.
Pictures of Jacob were everywhere. People joined together to search for that sweet-faced 11-year-old who’d been abducted by a masked man with a gun. Days passed into weeks into years, and Jacob was never found. Not until a local blogger began writing about the potential connection between Jacob’s disappearance and the abduction and release of eight local boys in and around Paynesville in the 80s was Jacob’s abductor arrested, twenty-seven years later. He led authorities to Jacob’s remains.
The experience has haunted me. It’s haunted many of us in the Midwest, upending what we thought we know about rural communities and the safety of children. The true version of events has been told very well in other places, most notably in Season One of the “In the Dark” podcast. It was the emotional reverberations of those events that I wanted to give voice to. I needed to create coherence out of my memories of growing up under a constant, unnamed fear. When Cassie McDowell, the fictional heroine of this story, came to me and begged for her story to be told, I saw my chance.
While Unspeakable Things is inspired by real people and events, it is entirely fictional. However, it’s my hope that in the character of Gabriel, I was able to capture and honor the sweetness stolen from all nine of those boys.
Thank you for reading.