KOD Retreat – Other Posts

In the fun-filled spirit of networking, here’s what a few others have to say about our recent Kiss of Death Retreat at the elegant Portland Regency Hotel:

Now, back to the book!

KOD Retreat – Day 3

The final day of this year’s Kiss of Death Retreat came too soon. It seemed like I’d just arrived then suddenly it was Sunday and only a few hours remained.

We gathered for a breakfast buffet in the Atlantic Room of The Portland Regency. The hotel set out an assortment of pastries, cereals, scrambled eggs, potatoes, French Toast, sausage and bacon. The coffee was hot and strong, much needed after some late nights.

Literary Agent Meg Ruley opened the day’s sessions with a workshop she titled Ask Me Anything. Ms. Ruley pulled up a chair and sat comfortably in front of us. Then, in a wonderfully relaxed manner, she began by sharing her path to publishing – from relishing library smells and reading Victoria Holt and Anya Seton in her early teens, to her rewarding 27 year career with the New York City-based Jane Rotrosen Agency. After her talk, she answered an array of questions, graciously sharing her knowledge and experience in the business of publishing.

Dianna Love presented the last workshop with her highly informative talk on World Building, It’s Not Just a Myth. Following a short wrap-up, we began leaving the hotel, and the 2008 Kiss of Death Retreat. I walked down the steps of The Portland Regency into the brisk autumn air feeling renewed, and oh so anxious to return to my manuscript!

Heartfelt thanks to all involved for a truly sensational weekend!


P. S. According to Lisa Tapp, 2009 Retreat Chair, next year’s retreat will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico the weekend of October 23-25, 2009. Information will be posted next year on the Kiss of Death website.

KOD Retreat – Day 2

Author Mary Buckham started Saturday’s workshops with a session titled Conflict, Driving the Plot. “True conflict,” she said, “cannot be resolved by conversation.” A well-crafted template provided the questions needed to determine if our characters have the true conflict needed to move the story forward. Details from the movie Finding Nemo provided great examples.

In a gripping, and sometimes hysterical, two and a half hour presentation, retired Atlanta Police Lieutenant Danny J. Agan discussed police procedures then guided attendees through the important details of a murder investigation. Kiss of Death members stepped into the various roles of two emotional witnesses, the first officer on the scene, and a police detective, complete with a deerstalker hat.Beanie” (at right, on the floor) played the part of a stabbed and strangled victim.

After a delicious buffet luncheon in the hotel’s Regency Room, we gathered for another session. NY Times Bestselling Author Lisa Gardner spoke on Winning Tips for Romantic Suspense. Here are some of recently contracted author Casey Clifford’s comments on Ms. Gardner’s presentation.

“Saturday afternoon, Portland, ME., I sat listening to Lisa Gardner discuss Romantic Suspense writing. What an informative and interesting speaker! Each moment she spoke I found myself thinking, had I done that, or had I thought about that point in my recent writing project. She gave me so much to mull over on my return flight home.

Perhaps, the most significant point she made was the element of keeping hope alive in your characters, and therefore in your readers, as you ramp up their danger. She hammered home how necessary it is to make our heroes and heroines “not perfect” so readers can relate to them. On the flip side of that Ms. Gardner reminded the audience that memorable villains have a soft human spot and we, as writers, must reflect that in some way to our readers.

This conference has been a creative spark for me. I’m sure the others in attendance have felt the same way. Each speaker brought special expertise to us. I’ve been very fortunate to be here.” ~ Casey Clifford

Thank you, Casey!

At 3:30PM, authors assembled for a booksigning. I enjoyed chatting with all, including authors Hank Phillipi Ryan and Susan Vaughan (on right).

In another room, both published and aspiring authors pitched their books to Literary Agent Meg Ruley of Jane Rotrosen Agency and to Publisher/Managing Editor Raelene Gorlinsky of Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Dinner was on our own. Some of us gathered in The Armory, the Regency’s lounge, for dinner and more conversation.

Tomorrow morning we will meet for a buffet breakfast and final workshops. Check back Monday for a final wrap-up to the 2008 Kiss of Death Retreat.

KOD Retreat – Day 1

Twenty Milk Street is elegant, sophisticated, and endowed with traditional charm – a perfect complement to the Portland Regency. Breakfast there was a delight.

As we entered, the waiter seated us next to a front, deep-set window. Small vases of yellow roses adorned the table. The menu held a variety of traditional breakfast foods and regional favorites – Smoked Salmon Plate, Lobster Eggs Benedict, Malted Pancakes with Warm Maple Syrup. A Maine Blueberry Waffle and hot coffee were a perfect start to my day.

The Kiss of Death Retreat officially started with a noon registration. Our speakers, Diane Love (on left) and Mary Buckham (on right), warmly greeted us at the door at today’s Early Bird Workshop. Their talk focused on Power Openings and Power Pacing. Using templates the pair developed for their Break Into Fiction presentation, they guided us through the important opening questions we must ask ourselves when writing our novels. Their superb talk gave more than one of us that all important “Ah-Ha” moment.

After the two-hour workshop, we broke for some “retreat” time. Small groups gathered for dinner. At least three of us went down to DiMillo’s, a floating restaurant on the wharf just a few blocks from the hotel. The restaurant is a converted car ferry that once ran between New Castle, Delaware and Pennsville, New Jersey. Check out their menu by clicking on their site (above). If you are ever able to visit, you must try their New England Clam Chowder – thick and rich with whole clams, and wholesome Maine flavor.

An evening dessert buffet, coffee, tea, and a cash bar allowed attendees an opportunity to socialize. Publisher Raelene Gorlinsky concluded today’s events with her informative talk, An Arranged Marriage: The Editor/Author Relationship as an Arranged Victorian Marriage.

Please check back again tomorrow evening for more happenings at the KOD Annual Retreat.

Thursday in Portland

After a relatively smooth flight, I arrived in Portland, Maine just before noon. The hotel’s shuttle was prompt and the driver friendly. The ride into the city took about 15 minutes.

The Portland Regency is an elegant hotel filled with old-fashioned charm. The organizers for this retreat chose wisely. Described as neo-classic it sits two blocks from the waterfront. It was built in 1885 as an Armory for the National Guard. In addition to its use as an armory, the drill hall served as an auditorium. During World War II the US Navy used the building as a recreation center. In 1962 it was almost razed by the military as surplus property. Fortunately it was saved and served as a warehouse until the mid-1980s when it was purchased for conversion to a hotel. In 1987 the building opened as The Portland Regency Hotel & Spa. (Info courtesy of the Historic Hotels of America.)

Portland weather has been undecided today, varying between sun and rain showers. Incredible cloud patterns. Shortly after unpacking, I took a walk along the brick paved sidewalks in the blocks surrounding the hotel. Lots of shops and restaurants in the area.

My roommate arrived early afternoon and we spent hours catching up, as friends do. This evening the hotel shuttle gave us a lift to the Ri Ra Irish Pub several blocks away. We continued our talk over drinks, crab cakes (superb!), champ (mashed potatoes with scallions), and asparagus. Our four-hour meal ended with a shared slice of sinfully delicious raspberry cheesecake. Both the service and the atmosphere at the Ri Ra were top-rate. More rainfall so we called the hotel for our ride back.

Tomorrow other attendees will arrive and we will begin the 2008 Kiss of Death Writer’s Retreat. Looking forward to it! Please check back in for tomorrow night’s post.

Kiss of Death Retreat

On Thursday morning I leave for Portland, Maine and the Kiss of Death Annual Weekend Retreat. The retreat doesn’t actually start until Friday afternoon, but a good friend and I decided to get an early start.

As you see by the above link, bestselling suspense author (and sensational speaker) Lisa Gardner will speak. So will Homicide Detective Danny Agan, authors Mary Buckham, and Dianna Love Snell. Publisher Raelene Gorlinsky will join us, as will noted agent Meg Ruley.

Attendance was capped at 50. I’m not sure how many actually registered. I’m glad I did. Two friends are flying in from Wisconsin, fellow WisRWA members, and I heard at least one fellow NJRW-ite is attending. The writing life can be lonely, and I’ve always loved Maine. I can barely wait to get on that plane.

I’ll be posting daily so check back late Thursday evening for my first post from Portland – complete with pics!