What do you hope to learn here? Do you mean because I do not write stories or novels ?

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Sipping from steaming cups of mushroom soup, my friend Hennie and I sat in her front room re-capping the past week, as we often do when I stop to visit with her on my way home from Zumba class on Tuesday evenings. She knew I was planning to drive up to Lakeside, just past the Sandusky Bay, for a writer’s workshop called The Word Lovers Retreat, hosted and moderated by local author, Claudia Taller, the previous weekend. An avid reader of mysteries and thrillers, she was anxious to hear all about it, What did you learn, Rosemarie?

Sitting back in the comfortable chair, I remembered aloud the assortment of attendees, some I’ve met on previous retreats and we greeted each other with smiles and good wishes, updates on work in progress and our lives. Others were new to this experience but brought their own tales and introduced us to their interests. Kathleen Calby does a program she calls Singing Bowls which she was kind enough to perform for us on the first evening of the gathering, after dinner. Her stage was the floor where she sat, Japanese style, knees folded under her body while she sat erect. She placed beautiful crystal and metal bowls onto a mat in front of her in a specific order and with a wooden mallet which she firmly but gently moved around the outside rim of each bowl to attain a beautiful sound. By the end of the concert, the audience was completely mesmerized.

Mary Harrison, a poet and writer of 100 word stories, par excellence, came. She read a few of her stories and left us wishing for more.

The first guest speaker was Cinda Williams Chima, established author of young adult high fantasy did a workshop detailing the how-to of organizing the material for writing a novel. She talked about the difference between a screenplay and a novel and how to engage the reader. One of the important suggestions is to avoid the as you know, Bob syndrome.  She spoke of the importance of story structure and the purpose to every scene.

We broke off into smaller groups and took walks down to the lake and felt the wind cutting past us. At night I heard the crusty leaves skittering down the street. All the bits and pieces of new information were clamoring in my head for assimilation into my mental file cabinet.

There was no campfire, but we sat around the gathering room and talked and laughed and shared stories of trips to the zoo. Sharron was very quick at looking topics up on her tiny device filled with the internet and the wide world of data and images. Oh my, and the giant tortoise couple, not only coupling, but the resource also provided the sound effects which sent us into fits of giggles and the hope we did not all dream of turtles.

I learned that a pejorative term for a trashy romance novel is Bodice Buster which I’d never heard before but found amusing to ponder exactly how the description came to be.

The last guest speaker was Peter Jedick, a life-long journalist and free-lance writer who also wrote two books on Cleveland history: LEAGUE PARK, and CLEVELAND: Where the East Coast Meets the Midwest.  He has also written two novels: HIPPIES and The West Tech Terrorist. We laughed as he told stories about his mistakes as he started up the ladder of writing as a career.

Once again, armed with new ideas and acquaintances we bid each other farewell and got underway to return to the task of sharing our thoughts with the world.

Soup cups grown cold and the hour growing late, Hennie and I chuckled and parted on her door step for another week.

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