Writer’s Retreat 1

I’m positive you are all biting your nails, wondering about the writer’s retreat. Beth Shope and Tara Parker have apparently been talking about this for some time. Last year, at Surrey, they discussed it again. Several of us agreed it would be great.

So, Beth and Tara decided this is the year. Several people were invited. I’m not sure what the criterion was for inclusion, but I assume, female writers who get along was somewhere at the top of the list. Beth found a house on the beach and made arrangements. Six bedroom, lovely home with balconies overlooking the ocean and the street, depending on which room we got.

The list of attendees was: Jo Bourne, Beth Shope, Tara Parker, Jen Hendren, Jenny Meyer, Donna Rubino and Carrie Murgitroyd who stayed for the weekend.

Everyone agreed our focus would be on writing and not much of a schedule, though we did want to do readings one night.

Jen Hendren, Jenny Meyer and I flew in on Friday and Tara picked us up at the airport so we could spend the night with her. Since Destructo is young and an early riser, Jenny opted to take the upstairs bedroom next to his because she is a heavy sleeper. Jenny and I slept in the den surrounded by books. It was awesome. I hadn’t had any sleep for two days so I took my sleeping pills and zonked. Jen said I was snoring by the time she got back from washing her face. This illustrates two things: I was really tired and I snore. It’s no wonder I can’t keep a man.

Friday was Tara’s birthday so I bought her a Texas cookbook for her birthday and a thank you gift for allowing us to stay with her.

Tara doesn’t cook. Cory is a chef. Tara, does serve wonderful cereal and pretzels, however. Cory cooked dinner for us Friday night and it was delicious. Saturday morning, Tara served breakfast. She apologized for just having organic milk, but that’s all Destructo will drink. I was fine with it. Until I tasted it. Then I was ecstatic. I ranted and raved about how good it was, how rich and creamy and it tasted like farm milk. I think Jenny finally got tired of my milk-induced euphoria and asked me what I drank at home.

“Skim milk, why?”

“This is whole milk, Julie. That’s why it tastes like farm milk.”

Saturday morning, Beth came by Tara’s house. We all load up and head to the airport to get Donna. The airport pickups were great. Each one was more exciting as we gathered more people in our group on each successive run. Lots of squealing and hugging.

I could no longer contain myself on the last run and asked why the designers used barrier posts that look like male body parts. The others agreed with me, though they had never thought about it until I brought it up. We spent several minutes in philosophical discussion about this.

Beth has GPS and is unerringly responsible. Tara has a lead foot and should have been a fighter pilot. Tara is following Beth. Tara later remarked that was the longest seven-hour drive ever. Raleigh is 193 miles from Myrtle Beach.

The advertisement for the house said they only rent to responsible adults, but when Beth got the contract, it said families only. We are all sisters. Which reminds me of the joke about the woman who is registering her seven children for school. The startled clerk finally says, “Ma’am, do any of your children share the same father?”

“Well, I think the twins might.”

So, the game plan is for Beth to go into the realty office and we will hide out in the cars so no one asks questions. Ask me no questions I’ll tell you no lies and all that. Those of us in Beth’s car even scrunched down a bit.

Tara gets out of her SUV and says something. I try to open the door so I can hear her. The alarm goes off. Here we are, hiding out in a car with a very loud horn going off every few seconds. My ninja skills leave a bit to be desired. Jenny finally goes into the office to get Beth’s keys so she can turn it off. Jenny bears a bit of a resemblance to Beth, so we’re still sticking to the family story. Although, one of us is apparently a special needs sister.

We get to the beach and Tara and Jen flip for the last bedroom overlooking the beach. We lose. Tara and I will be upstairs, overlooking the street.

Remember my angst about finding the perfect bathrobe and pajamas for my trip? Yeah, I forgot to pack pajamas, so I am sleeping in sweats.

We compile grocery list and head to the store. Note, don’t send four hungry women to the store. Two-hundred and forty-nine dollars later we return from the hunt wildly successful, stocked with food, beer, wine and margarita fixings. Tara and I decided we could start out with a twenty pack and see how long that lasts. Donna is stocked up with three bottles of wine. We have the essentials for writing.

We unload all the groceries, take stock of the utensils, decide we can be snowed in for days and be all right. Then we decide where we are going to eat that night.

We head to the whatever it is where the Hard Rock Café is and they have an hour waiting line so we wander around until we find Amici’s. The menu looks good, the skies look pregnant with rain and wind and we make up our mind.

I chose the Amici lovers pizza. Cherise, our waitress corrects my pronunciation of amici and explains it means friends. So, I am ordering a friend’s lovers pizza. I try to think platonic thoughts.

She brings us our drinks. I order beer. For that price, I could have bought another six-pack. Ah, well.

The food is delicious. The skies have opened up and the streets between the shops are flooded. Two ducks appear. Kind of like when it rains and all the frogs appear from nowhere. Two ducks. They are knee deep in water. Not sure if ducks have knees but if bees have knees, surely ducks do. I’m very concerned about them drowning, but everyone assures me they are perfectly happy out there with rain beating down on them. Another duck appears. It has to be some kind of phenomenon only in Myrtle Beach. Maybe, instead of raining cats and dogs, it was raining ducks.

“High winds expected tonight with heavy thunderstorms and intermittent ducks.”

Our food arrives and Cherise, who is an excellent waitress, asks if she can bring us anything else. Donna says, “A male dancer.”

Cherise laughs.

A few minutes later, an exquisitely handsome young waiter shows up at our table and says, “Cherise said you ladies needed some help?”

Oh, yeah. I get out my wallet and start looking for dollar bills.

Donna raises her glass of wine and says, “Yes, we requested a male dancer. Start dancing.”

Our exquisitely handsome waiter is a few shades darker, which contrasts nicely with the brilliant white teeth in his nervous grin. He backs away slowly from the table with the rowdy women, whooping it up and twirling napkins and dollar bills.

Beth, being the practical one, keeps checking her phone and getting weather reports. I order a canola. If I’m going to drown, I want to try something new first. It was awesome.

We get our food in doggie boxes and make a break for it as soon as the rain lets up a little and Beth tells us this is the only let up they are predicting.

Beth’s GPS reminds me distinctly of the Space Odyssey 2001. Hal, in this case is a woman, but we expect any minute to hear her start warning Beth about taking a wrong turn and taking corrective action.

Saturday, most of us stayed up. Beth, being the practical one, goes to sleep at a normal hour, but has to get up later and calm down the pajama party. I, being a good girl, am working diligently on Paladin and drinking beer.
Tomorrow, we will learn all about Medieval Times!


  1. Julie,

    If I get fired for snorting tea all over my monitor and keyboard, Destructo and I will be living with YOU. (g)

    Too damn funny!

    (Although, I was under the impression that it was Jo who ordered the male dancer – but sitting at the ass-end of the table, who knows.)

  2. Ah. Well, I couldn’t hear anything but giggling from your end of the table. (g)

    And yes, it was a great weekend.

    Hey, did you get pictures of the Mad Boar?

  3. Tara, if you could get more pictures, that would be great. I was so happy to be included in this bunch. As you know, I nearly didn’t go, but I am so glad I did.

    Do you mind if I post the picture of Destructo in your suitcase?

  4. ROFL. Oh, I so wish I could’ve gone. This sounds like such a blast! One thing you should learn from this: pack pajamas first. {snicker} Next time on the West Coast, maybe?

  5. I did pack underwear first this time. Yay!

    We had so much fun. It was a good getaway for all of us and I think it recharged some batteries. Tara had a fascinating concept on a famous murder.

    Beth got through a road block. I got several chapters revised. We may have convinced Jo to keep the rabbit opening for her next book.

    I really hope Dominion is ready to go for Surrey or at least close.

    We’ve got a supremely talented group of writers.

  6. Julie! LOL – What a great time. It sounds like you’ve got a great group of writerly friends.

    It also sounds like we’re packing kindred spirits. I once went home from college for my month-long Christmas break without underwear. Oops.

    And the car alarm thing? It could happen to anyone…

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