Monday, December 7, 2009

Top 7 Things I Learned At This Weekend's Writing Retreat

So Business first:

1. Don't forget about the The Romantic Times preview of THE DARK DIVINE. Chapter 4 just went up on their blog. If you go over there and read the chapter, leave a comment on the RT blog, and then come back here and tell me about it, I'll enter you in the weekly random grab-bag prize giveaway. Our random winner from last week is: YA Vampire Books
Email me at readbree(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll send you the list of your prizes to choose from.

2. Don't forget about the BIG FRAKKING GIVEAWAY. All you have to do to enter is comment on that post. But creativity in spreading the word about TDD will get you bonus entries. Also, don't forget that the deadline has changed to December 14th.

3. My first two book signings have been scheduled:

The official launch party for TDD will be on January 2nd at 3pm at The King's English in SLC, Utah. I'll be doing a book talk, reading, and signing. I imagine there will also be refreshments and prizes :)

I will also be doing a reading and signing at the West Jordan Barnes & Noble on January 16th at 2pm.

If you'd like me to do a signing in your hometown, then ask your local bookstore to have me come out for an event, or start pestering my publisher @egmontgal on twitter to send me your way. Hey, it's worth a shot right?

Okay, on to the fun stuff:

Top 7 Things I Learned At This Weekend's Writing Retreat

1. If you don't want to be murdered in your bed, fill your house with a bunch of crazy people. And it snows A LOT in Payson, Utah.

Writing buddy Kimberly Webb Reid had her house in Payson to her lonesome this weekend while her hubby went to Vegas with his brother. And since the sleepy little town of Payson, Utah experienced it's first ever murder a couple of weeks ago (I may or may not be making up that statistic) she wasn't too keen on spending the weekend alone. Figuring no one would want to invade a house filled with crazy people, so she invited our critique group out for a weekend of writing at her place--needless to say, we were ready and willing to come protect her. And since it apparently it snows a lot in Payson, we were pretty much stranded there all weekend. (We were able to make one quick trip Walmart for supplies in Valynne's SUV, but after sliding on the roads we dared not make another trip out.)

2. Brodi Ashton is still #1 Crazy.

Awhile ago, our friend James Dashner asked us who was the craziest person in our critique group. Brodi was named #1. (I'm number #3, btw.) Brodi insisted that the vote was unfair since she wasn't present, and has been campaigning for a re-vote ever since. We debated much, and Brodi tried to explain why we were all crazier than she, but ultimately the matter was tabled, so therefore Brodi remains at #1 crazy.

3. Snuggies aren't all they're cracked up to be.

On our supply run to Walmart, Valynne decided to buy a leopard print snuggie. However, the darn thing just kept sliding off everyone's shoulders. Which kind of defeats the entire purpose of the Snuggie in the first place. I think it should be redesigned with a back like a giant fleece poncho. We could call it a "ponchie" or a "ponchet."

4. Writers Love Titles

And not just titles for their books. Valynne Maetani decided that our writing group should finally have an official name, and Emily Wing Smith decided that we should each have an official figurehead title within the group. We debated much and we went through several names such as: The Clique (too cliquish), The Craft (too witchy), Scribble Sisters (not too fond of the S.S. acronym), and BAM (an acronym invented by Brodi Ashton's son that doesn't actually stand for anything.)

We finally settled on "The SIX." We also assigned each person an official figurehead position. Here they are in order of craziest person:

#1 Brodi Ashton: Crap, um, I can't remember her position. Maybe she's just Official #1 Crazy?
#2 Emily Wing Smith: Official Group Scribe
#3 Bree Despain: Official Hair Consultant and Nutritionist (b/c I insist everyone eat a bit of protein at each meal)
#4 Valynne Maetani: Official Bouncer (seriously, don't mess with V)
#5 Kimberly Webb Reid: Official Ledger Keeper (Not sure how this is different from Official Scribe)
#6 Sarah Bolton: Official Sartorial Advice Giver (Because she supplies our group with fashionable yet affordable shoes. Like the yellow ones I'm wearing in this pic. You should check out her online shoe biz here)

5. A Grouper is NOT an Amphibian

Actually, I already knew this. But get a group of slap-happy, sleep deprived, sugar O.D.ed, snuggie wearing writers into a game of Scattagories and anything can happen--like Brodi adamantly trying to convince us all that fish and amphibians are the same thing. And don't you dare try to get a made-up word past Emily. That girl is a walking dictionary and she will tackle you while wearing a leapard print snuggie and wrestle you over a correct definition. I'm not normally a game player, but I have to admit that this was one entertaining board game experience.

6. Being the group's Official Hair Consultant actually has official responsibilities (who knew?)

Earlier this week, Brodi Ashton asked me if I thought she could pull off being a brunette. I said, "Um, No" because she has really light eyebrows. Well, Brodi, being #1 crazy and all, decided that I was saying that being a brunette required special skillz that she does not possess and took this as a challenge to prove me wrong.

So first she went to a professional hair dresser and had her hair dyed. Then she tweeted me this picture and claimed that she was now a brunette:

But then I saw Brodi the very next day at the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES launch party and she looked like this:

(Sara Zarr, Valynne, Emily, Brodi, Me, James Dashner, Kika, Kika's Friend)

Anyone else notice the discrepancies in these two pics? Yeah, I thought so.

I declared that Brodi was indeed NOT A BRUNETTE, so during the retreat she decided to dye her hair AGAIN. This time with a $7 bottle of dye from Target. (Emily and Valynne decided to get in on the action and also wanted to dye their hair.) And since I had just been voted "hair consultant," I was forced to do the actual dying for all three of them (as opposed to just laughing at their antics like I'd originally planned). Em's hair turned out fantastic. Valynne's you really couldn't tell the differnence. And, well, Brodi's . . . still didn't turn out brunette. It was more like dirty, dirty, dirty dishwater blond (Brodi's own words, not mine).

Devastated, Brodi drove in a snow storm to Walmart to buy and box of blond highlights to try to restore her original hair color, but then we somehow decided to use Emily's left-over bottle of dark brown die on her instead. Which means that:

6. Brodi Ashton still can't pull of being a brunette

Yep. Apparently Brodi's hair is resistant to the color brown. After THREE dye jobs, she is now officially a red head. Em's dye had a touch of red in it, and that's all Brodi's hair seemed to care about. (I'd show you a picture but by the time we'd done four dye jobs in Kim's guest bathroom, we were all looking a little worse for wear and nobody would pose for a pic.)

7. I can actually get some work done in a house full of crazy people

Shocking, huh? Despite all the craziness, I actually got a good 23 pages out of the experience. That's a big deal for me. And they're actually 23 pages that I really, really love. I can't wait for the next retreat!

So what did you do over the weekend?


Anonymous said...

Fun post! Glad nobody got murdered in the having of this writing retreat. And I've been admiring those yellow shoes since June. They are awesome. So maybe that means I'll have to go to a shoe party sometime.

Anya said...

haha that sounds awesome! lol

BTW I read the 4th chapter, absolutely LOVED it and commented on the RT Blog

GOD I soo cant wait for the release! <3<3<3

D said...

Love chpt 4. It was just what I needed today!

Glad you survived the blizzard and had a much more productive weekend than I did!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

OMG too funny! Im glad nobody was murdered, also I'm glad no one's hair fell out, that dye stuff can mess with your head! :-)

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you guys had a crazy, fun time! I'm sorry for Brodi's brunette-resistant hair but she looks awesome as a blonde!

Unknown said...

I can't believe you were in Payson! That's where the Literati group is based. :) (Although it's probably a good thing we didn't know, or else you'd have been serenaded with spur-of-the-moment power ballads about Grace and Daniel along with some bouquets of freshly-sharpened pencils and chocolate in an attempt to get past Valynne the Bouncer. These girls are serious about about their love of TDD!)

Sam said...

I am totally creative about spreading the word of TDD. Go Bree!

I love Brodi as a brunette/blond/red head. I have dyed my hair blond, but it ended up turning out gray. Oh well.

No offense to the Six, but I have met you all and it is pretty close to a tie for the craziest.

You guys get all the fun. I can't wait for the Six's spouse retreat. I am bringing the snuggies/slankets! Us guys are going to have a blast.

Jessica said...

I loved chapter 4! i commented on the RT blog & i left a link about it in my blog:

Can't wait till next week!

The Scarlet Tart said...

L.T., you live in Payson? SHUT the front door! I graduated from Payson High School!

Jessy said...

I went to RT and commented. Only 13 more days!!!

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

Jules- I would totally welcome power ballads about Grace and Daniel. And chocolate will always get you past Valynne. It's like the secret code word.

Unknown said...

Hi Bree :)
The Writers Retreat sounds like so much fun. I loved your breakdown of things. I'm still smiling. My dream is to go to one someday.
Thank you very much for sharing.
Happy Holidays,

Nicole said...

Ok is it just me or does anyone else think that "Snuggie" is an unfortunate name for a product... I mean maybe it was a regional vocabulary anomaly, but uh we had snuggies growing up, but they weren't happy little blanket thingys... just sayin'

Anonymous said...

I always LOL when I see snuggies on TV :P
OOO And I read the 4th chapter! It was awesome! I also commented and am awesomely excited to read more and more!

Unknown said...

Oh, and Chapter 4 is wonderfully delicious. I commented on the RT page. What a great way to build the hype for the book. :)

brickhouse79 said...

Sam- that's a fabulous idea! We totally need a retreat too. I'll bring the bon bons. We could call ourselves "The Other Six" and design a logos and T-shirts and everything!

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

Nicole- I agree. Snuggie is a very unfortunate name. I can barely say the word without giggling.

Sam and Brick- You guys totally should become "The Other Six." We'll send you guys on a golf trip while we go on a cruise.

Valynne said...

Dude, chocolate will not get you past me. Not even gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate. It would take LARGE bills and lots of them to get past me. Obviously I take my job very seriously.

I love the idea of "The Other SIX."

brickhouse79 said...

Bree- Sorry. I love golf and everything, but there is no way you are going on a cruise without me. If anything, "The Other Six" will come along and we'll do all the cool excursions while "The Six" chill by the pool and write and stuff. Then we can party together after dinner... or you know... take another vote on who is #1 Crazy. (Frankly I'm surprised you were only #3 :D).

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

Brick- That is a great plan! All except for the crazy revote. Have you met Brodi and Emily?

Let's contact the other SIX members, and The Other Six, about the cruise plan. I'm totally game. Just have to write a book first. . .

Cranberryfries said...

I just saw the rss feed from B&N about doing a reading/signing there. Congrats on getting booked up already. Thats gotta be so great!

I'm impressed that after that huge list of things you guys did you still wrote that much! You're a rockstar!

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Over the weekend, I bundled by the fire in my new place in Salt Lake City and finished my novel...can I just say how very excited I am for yours?!

Brodi Ashton said...


First off, the vote for #1 crazy was tabled, which in my view means it's still up for grabs.

Second, I was ledger-keeper. Not Kim.

Third, Since I am ledger-keeper, you owe me like 42 bucks for all the inaccuracies in your report.

D. Brick and Sam, if you guys have a retreat, who will take care of the kids?

Lastly, 'Nuff Said.

Seriously, we should still consider changing the group name to 'Nuff Said.

Mistie said...

Hi Bree-
still in awe at you and your determination...i cant wait for the release. i am buying one for my mominlaws bday (which is dec 27) and one for myself. I am also putting down your book signing in WJ on my calendar so i dont forget about it. Best of luck and you are my HERO!!

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

Thanks so much Mistie and Melissa!!

Brodi- you were voted ledger keeper?! You mean we willingly put you in charge of money? Hmm . . .

KIKA said...

LOL my oh my! I was unaware of all the hair shenanigans that went on :) too funny