Dianne has novels for sale (go buy them!), and Adam has a short story out (get that here), but I've seen unpublished works from all three and, trust me, you'll want to read them when they're published.
The Idea Was Simple
Gather online to amp up our creativity. This was not a time to talk about the industry, or publishing, or critique a particular manuscript. It was a chance to pick the brilliant minds of our fellow authors for help in identifying our creative "veins of gold" and tackling our worst writing problems. And cross-pollinate by simply bending our minds to a common task.
It. Was. Awesome.
The Execution Was Even Better
Originally I thought that something like Skysa would be best to host our get together - online chat, whiteboarding, a way to share documents, etc. Plus, I'll admit - I'm a video phobe. I'll Skype, but only under duress, and I find it often glitchy, not conducive to natural conversation. However, we started out the retreat using Google+ Hangout (video chat) and it was FABULOUS. We never did use Skysa, because the Hangout was like chatting around a table eventhough two of us were in the US, one in Hawaii, and the last in Thailand.
We made up our own. I organized, polling each person to see what they were looking for up front and directing some of the activities, but mostly we self-directed during the retreat. We also exchanged a chapter and introductions before-hand, just to get a feel for each other's work.
FIRST HOUR: An activity where we brought a list of 5-10 books or films in the genre of our current WiP that we loved, or that really moved us (I first discovered this exercise in a workshop given by the amazing Kat Falls, author of Dark Life (buy it; it's awesome). The idea: figure out what these stories have in common and how we can enhance those commonalities in our current work. Whatever we love about these works, that is our "vein of gold" creatively speaking that we should be mining for our best work.
SECOND HOUR: Discussion: what is your most vexing writing problem at the moment? Each member brought a problem and the group discussed it, making suggestions, brainstorming how to tackle it. Some were specific to a craft issue, others were broadly related to a current WiP obstacle.
THIRD HOUR: Go where the pain is; go where the pleasure is. - Anne Rice What stories are you dying to write? What stories are you afraid to write? Why? We didn't get through all four of us with this one, because of time, but this was the most personally helpful of the discussions for me. Fear is always my personal demon, the one I'm fighting to move forward, and having face-to-face discussions about it with my fellow (incredibly talented and helpful) writers was invaluable.
I encourage you give yourself the gift of a Creative Retreat! Design your own, fit it to meet your needs, find the right people. It was well worth the time invested, and I can't wait until we have a chance to do it again.