We finally did it! We finally had our first chapter retreat. After talking about having a writers retreat for a few years now, we did one, and boy it was fun! I suggested the retreat in Ocean Grove, New Jersey because I find it to be one of the lovelier places along the Jersey Shore, close enough to New York City, and yet with that “far away” feel. It’s a setting I have used in two stories I am working on, and I had spent time there on day trips and an artists’ group retreat a few years ago.
After scouting around for a bed and breakfast, I came across The Inn at Ocean Grove, a restored Victorian within a block of the boardwalk, and I visited the inn back in July. A colleague of mine spent a retreat weekend with her church group back in the springtime, and she had nothing but praise for the B&B, so I decided to check it out. I came back with pictures and a good feel for the place.
I reserved seven rooms; most had private bathrooms, showers, and refrigerators. We had places to lounge, read, write, or chat including a balcony, a patio, and the downstairs living room area. In addition, the inn had a Jacuzzi and a grill which we were welcome to use.
Someone asked about a program, and I said there was none. To me a retreat is what you make of it. For writers who find there’s not enough time, there are too many distractions, and there are other demands on us, I thought a retreat could provide us with an opportunity to spend time with our muse, share with one another about our works in progress or those momentary creative blocks, and explore something different. We did find two attractions nearby. The Lilligaard Bed and Breakfast, a much larger establishment, offered the Victorian Tea Room; the Paranormal Books and Curiosities offered a Ghosts and Legends Walking Tour. In addition, the downtown featured a host of boutiques, the famous Nagle’s Restaurant which has my favorite homemade ice cream, and a number of antique shops. Then there’s the famous Asbury Park with its convention hall, the old Paramount Theater, and the Stone Pony which helped launch the career of Bruce Springsteen. I walked the boardwalk from Ocean Grove to Asbury Park, enjoyed the vista, the ocean breeze, and a Nathan’s hot dog. I also got inspired to revise and edit a women’s fiction book I had started to give up on.
Oksana, the inn keeper, did an unbelievable job of making us feel welcome and comfortable. She even baked cookies. The rooms had charm and personality. I think everyone felt satisfied with their stay.
Most of what I got from this retreat; however, was camaraderie, being with other authors in a more relaxed atmosphere. We chatted to the wee hours over craft, the business of writing, and caught up with each other.
Hopefully, this first chapter retreat will lead to more retreats in the future. Some asked why hold it in October? Well, it’s off-season for one thing. As you can imagine, rates at the shore skyrocket in the summer and it gets more crowded. For another, it took awhile to get this going, and we had a mini-
conference in August, the Golden Apple in September, and then we have the holidays. There’s always springtime for another such retreat. If anyone has ideas, please let the incoming board and our chapter know. It truly is a remarkable experience. ♥
Sibylle and Irene
Writers at Tea
A break at the beach.
The Jersey Shore
Time for Farewells.
Our hostess, Oksana, in center.
See You next year!
Photos by Maria Ferrer