A Wicked Excellent Retreat

by Julie, still basking in the glow of hard work, good food, and wonderful friends

A WICKED EXCELLENT RETREATSix years ago Jessie, Barb, Edith and Liz had newly minted contracts, and decided to get together for a weekend to figure out what that meant. The next year Sherry had a contract, and she and I were invited to join the weekend retreat. That weekend the Wickeds were born. We got the blog up a few weeks later, in time for Liz’s release, followed shortly by Edith and Barb.

My contract came through shortly thereafter, and the six of us have been gathering for this 48 hour retreat ever since. Some years have been mostly about writing. This year the focus was on the business of being a Wicked. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t laughter, great food, lots of wine, and fabulous conversations. There was all of that, and more. But five years into this community that we all cherish, we had conversations about how to continue to build, celebrate our successes, support one another through deadlines, and navigate the twists of turns of life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are six very different women, with different points of view. We don’t always agree, but we do always listen to one another. Over these six years we’ve become friends, certainly. We’ve also come to respect one another enormously, respect our paths, and offer advice when asked for it.

This year we helped each other plot, met up with Lea Wait (who’s new book Death and a Pot of Chowder by Cornelia Kidd comes out tomorrow!), talked about an editorial calendar for the blog, had a conversation about the book business that lasted the better part of a morning, shared new skills with each other, created some new work flow for the blog, and wrote down releases and deadlines through 2019. My mind is whirring, but I’m excited about the conversations, and rejuvenated by spending time with my friends. I know you will all love these new ideas, which we’ll be rolling out this summer.

One personal note–as I mentioned earlier, I did not have a contract when I joined the blog. I will forever be grateful to these women for inviting me on board, lifting me up along my journey, and becoming dear friends. We’ve been figuring out the best way to be Wickeds along the way, and are so grateful to you, dear readers, for coming along with us.

Readers, do you go on retreat with friends? Tell us about it in the comments!

Wickeds, what did I miss in my recap?

Wicked New England – The Best Summer Events

IMG_1124Since we have to make the most of summer and extend it as long as we can, here in New England we tend to cram a lot of fun events into the summer months: seafood festivals, outdoor concerts, barbecues, sunflower mazes, lighthouse cruises. As we stare September in the face, let’s remember the very best of our summer days! So Wickeds, what’s your favorite New England-y thing to do in the summer?

Liz: I live in what’s referred to as Mystic Country, which has a whole host of things to do in the summer. One of the really cool offerings are the Sentinels on the Sound lighthouse boat tours. Guests jump on a boat and get a tour of area lighthouses. They have night tours, too, which are way cool – especially the full moon ones!

Jessie: In Ocean Park, ME they host something called Illumination Night. All over the tiny community they light up their houses and yards with fairy lights and candles. The effect is magical. People from all over wander down the narrow streets enjoying the way the shadows play and the lights twinkle.

Edith: In my town they have Amesbury Days at the end of June. There’s a big block party downtown, an annual farmers’ market where I typically sell lots of books at my table, an antique car show, and lots more. But the best part is the fireworks a couple of miles up the Fireworks2015road at the town-owned Woodsom Farm (this year held on July 3). Everybody brings blankets and chairs and spreads out on a huge hillside. The fireworks go off from a field across the way, so the viewing is perfect. They close the road to cars afterwards so what feels like the entire town walks back together. It’s such a cool event I decided to place a murder during the fireworks — in 1888!

IMG_3523_2Julie: Well, I’m a sucker for the many events that happen outside in the Summer. Commonwealth Shakespeare’s King Lear was terrific. Landmarks Orchestra does a bunch of wonderful free concerts, Outside the Box was terrific, and there are festivals all the time in and around Boston/Somerville/Cambridge. There are tons of fun things to do in the summer, but I’ve got to confess, some of the best “summer” events happen in September, just under the summer wire.  I’m talking about the Scallop Festival in Bourne, the Fluff Fest, and (I’ve been told, looking forward to finding out) the Big E.

 

IMG_4233Sherry: There’s a Fluff Fest?! Sign me up! Summer must do’s in New England include a Red Sox game, a drive up the Maine coast for a lobstah roll, and a trip (okay, trips) to Bedford Farms Ice Cream. The picture to the right shows the kiddie size cup of ice cream — you should see the large! Now that we live in Virginia we cram all of those things into every summer trip.

Readers: What’s your favorite summer event, in New England or elsewhere?

Wicked Wednesday: Why we love the Maine Clambake series!

Boiled Over front coverTo celebrate Boiled Over‘s release, we’re talking about all things Maine Clambake series this week. Today, the Wickeds are reflecting on what we love most about Barb’s Agatha-nominated series.

Liz: I’m in love with the setting of this book. I’ve always loved the Maine coastline, and to be able to escape into that small, seaside town with the added bonus of the clambake island is priceless. I also really enjoy Julia Snowden, the main character. I like reading about the inner struggles of people trying to balance family loyalty with independence. I’m looking forward to seeing Julia evolve as the series continues.

Jessie:  I loved the stoic realism of the characters in Clammed Up and I am looking forward to visiting with them again in Boiled Over! I really enjoy reading books that explore family relationships and that feels to me like the heart of this series. In addition, the struggles the Snowden family faces running a challenging business in a challenging economy immediately inspire my support and empathy.

gottsseaEdith: The characters Barb draws intrigue me. They are small-towners, for sure, but they all have depth, and secrets, and quirks. Barb also draws the setting so you can taste the salt air and see the rough but beautiful scenery of the rocky Maine coast. I’ve spent time on a small Maine island in that area and feel like I’m right back on Great Gott’s Island. Can’t wait to read Boiled Over.

Julie: I love the challenges Barb has set up for herself as a writer, and watching her overcome them. A major setting on an island that people need to travel to and from? No problem. Food and recipes as part of the mix? No problem. Creating a world that people like to visit, but that also is affected by our economic times? No problem. Reading Barb’s work is a lesson in craft, and I love trying to figure out how she does it.

Sherry: What’s not to love? Barb can plot, create great characters and dazzle us with her sense of humor. I love Gus and his restaurant and his rules. He’s such a unique character. Gus not only provides humor but also support.

Barb: Aw. You guys! It makes me so happy everyone enjoys hanging out in Busman’s Harbor.