Monday’s Friend: Jenna Jaxon

Today I am pleased to welcome romance writer Jenna Jaxon to the blog.

Make A Plan, Stan!
Getting the Most Out of Your Writer’s Retreat

By Jenna Jaxon

I’m gearing up, making a list and checking it not twice but three times, making sure I’ve got everything I need. Not clothes and toothpaste (though those come along too, naturally). Writer’s stuff. In just about a month I’m meeting about 25 other writers at a conference center out in the middle of Nowhere, Virginia for four fantastic, uninterrupted days of writing. I’m so psyched with anticipation I feel as if I’m getting ready to leave the country. And in some ways I am.

Laptop, check. Extension cord, check. Paper and pens (in case the lights go out). That’s about it. No! Wait! I’ve got to bring the most important ingredient–ideas. This item is definitely the tops on the list and sometimes the most illusive thing a writer must bring. It’s never been my main concern. My ideas are crammed into my brain so full my biggest problem is deciding which one to work on at the upcoming retreat. Which leads me to the focus of this post: to get the most out of your retreat, make a plan.

Last year was my first retreat and though I loved it, I could have done so much more, had I created a plan and stuck to it. I’m definitely doing that this year and hope to double my productivity. These are some tips you might want to try when preparing for your retreat.

1) Do research. Research the location. Get good directions. One major challenge last year was simply finding the place. I wasted probably two hours trying to find the conference center–and I had directions! So if you know others who are going, caravan. Print out directions from different sites, like Mapquest and Google Maps. If one fails, check the other. And have a phone number handy so you can be talked in (yes, my retreat is that far out in the boonies!)

Also find out the itinerary. Is the retreat offering workshops? Group meals? Will you have to cook? All these things will impact your writing time. Make sure you take them into consideration.

2) Say good-bye to the Internet. My biggest mistake last year was trying to keep up with my emails and blog posts during the retreat. Put your loops on digest. Pre-set your blog posts. Don’t let yourself get distracted from the reason you are there–to write. If you must do research (as I must, because I write historicals and I know you even need to look stuff up for contemporary works), keep it to a minimum. Don’t cheat and go off to visit your emails. They will be there when this is all over.

3) Make a list of what writing projects you want to work on. Don’t wait to get to the site to decide. Arrive knowing that you are going to work on X, Y, and Z with a goal of X amount of words or pages. This will help you focus and keep you on track throughout the weekend. This step may be my biggest challenge this year. I have three WIPs that I want to work on, so I’m having trouble deciding which one to give precedence to. One solution might be to work on one each day, or for a set amount of time. I’m just not sure how well that would work for me. If I get into my “zone” and the words are flowing, I wouldn’t stop and switch gears just because my time was up. But as everyone works differently, these suggestions may well work for others.

Last year I wrote a blog post, an 18 page short story, a detailed outline for a Regency romance, and completed two chapters of my then WIP Victorian romance. In all, about 50 pages. I’m hoping to do so much more this year, once I figure out what I’m going to do.

Have you ever been to a writer’s retreat? What was your experience, good or bad? I’ll giveaway a copy of my contemporary erotic novella, Hog Wild, to two commenters drawn at random.

I want to thank Sara-Jayne for this opportunity to guest on her blog and to tell you about my special request for the month of May.

My contemporary erotic novella, Almost Perfect, is part of Decadent Publishing’s 1Night Stand series and has been chosen as their Read For A Cure book for the month of May. All publisher proceeds from Almost Perfect during the month will be donated to Relay For Life. So if you’re in the market for a short, spicy deserted island love story, consider downloading Almost Perfect in May.

Blurb for ALMOST PERFECT:

Pamela Kimball’s birthday present, a 1Night Stand adventure, promises jump-start her life, put a new man in her bed, and help her forget her past. Unfortunately, movie-buff Pam’s Pirates of the Caribbean fantasy takes an alarming wrong turn when she’s abandoned on a not quite deserted island—with ex-husband Roger Ware.

Forced by hunger to accept Roger’s offer of dinner, Pam realizes the geek she married has transformed into one of the most charming, sexiest men she’s ever met. His newfound confidence—and hot body—re-kindles old fires. A simple kiss leads Roger to challenges her to discover how much his lovemaking skills have improved, leaving Pam torn between self-preservation and burning desire.

With time running out before they’re rescued, Pam must decide if her heart can survive the consequences of becoming Roger’s “almost” perfect 1Night Stand.

Excerpt:

She inched into the lapping surf, searching for movement. Reflection off the water made this task harder than expected. Wasn’t the Caribbean supposed to be teeming with fish? Now that’s something she’d had a lot of instruction in. Almost every marooned-on-an-island movie had a scene where the heroine learned to catch fish. Six Days, Father Goose, Blue Lagoon. All you needed was your hands and patience. She could do this.

Pam waded out further then stopped just before the water hit her now dry shorts. “Not gonna to have a damp crotch all night.” The words reminded her of exactly what she had hoped for tonight. “But not from wet shorts!” She headed back to shore to remove and drape them next to her shirt. The bandeau was a different story. Still damp, even after several hours, and uncomfortable. Might dry better if not next to her skin anyway. “Screw it! Live dangerously.”

Standing as good as naked on the deserted beach, Pam smiled as the warm breeze caressed her bare body. The sense of being slightly naughty added to her delight in the sensual feel of the air as it dried her breasts. Her nipples peaked as the wind cooled them. She strutted down to the water’s edge to sink her toes in the sand, the salty tang in the air adding to the perfect moment.

“If you’re skinny dipping, you forgot to remove one very important piece of clothing.”

Pam whirled around. Roger stood on the beach behind her, a green bottle of Perrier in one hand. His gaze played up and down her naked torso and his salacious grin widened. “Mind if I join you?”

Buy ALMOST PERFECT from the following places (please buy in May to benefit Relay for Life):

Decadent Publishing

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

All Romance E-Books

* * * *

Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance who has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own writing.

Jenna lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

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19 comments so far

  1. Patricia Green on

    Before I worked at fiction writing full-time, I went to retreats and found them useful, especially the kind with optional seminars. I learned some good tips that way. Networking counts, but I’ve found conventions are better for that — people at retreats want to write, not chat! Good luck at your retreat this year, Jenna!

    • Jenna Jaxon on

      I’m envious of your “full-time retreat” status, Patricia. 🙂 But I’ll take once a year. You’re right, the people at my retreat just wanted to write. One workshop was cancelled because no one wanted to stop and attend! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. Daryl Devore on

    Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo jealous. One of these days I’ll go to a writer’s retreat. And I’ll keep your advice in mind. Great post.

    • Jenna Jaxon on

      I really hope you get to experience one, Daryl. I’m sure you’d be super productive! Thanks for commenting today.

  3. Neecy Kelly on

    Great info, Jenna!
    I wish you all the best with Almost Perfect!!
    Neecy

  4. Neecy Kelly on

    Great Info, Jenna.
    I wish you all the best with “Almost Perfect”.
    Neecy

    • Jenna Jaxon on

      Thank you, Neecy! Hope the info helps. 🙂

  5. D'Ann Lindun on

    A long time ago, my old RWA group used to hold retreats in Glenwood Springs, CO. I always wanted to go so bad, but I was too shy. Dumb.

    • Jenna Jaxon on

      Somehow I’ve never thought of you as shy, D’Ann! But I’m sorry you didn’t go. You would have loved it, I’m sure. Probably would have written another novel there. 🙂 Thanks for coming by the blog today.

  6. caseamajor on

    A retreat for writing sounds so nice. Have fun.

    • Jenna Jaxon on

      Thanks, Casea. Does your RWA chapter hold them? You’d have a blast, I’m sure. Thanks for coming by!

  7. Jennifer Lowery on

    Great advice, Jenna! Loved the excerpt too!

    • Jenna Jaxon on

      Thanks, Jennifer! Glad you liked it. 🙂

  8. Farrah Joceline on

    Thank Jenna.I will definitely look into one! sound like it could a lot of fun

    • Jenna Jaxon on

      Thanks for coming by, today, Farrah. If you don’t get a lot of dedicated time to write, a retreat is an oasis. Last year’s was a blast!

  9. Brenda on

    Have a fun, relaxing time.
    And congratulations on Almost Perfect being chosen for Read For A Cure.
    I’ve read and loved Almost Perfect!

    • Jenna Jaxon on

      Thank you, Brenda! I’m really excited about Read For A Cure. I just hope we can make a difference to cancer research. I think Decadent’s idea is fantastic!

  10. Melissa Limoges on

    Have a great time! Awesome post!

  11. authortonikelly on

    Wow Jenna, this sounds like heaven. Never have been on a retreat. Went to Nationals a few years ago and loved it but I think I’m due for some kind of writing retreat or vacation within the next year. Have fun!


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