ANWA (American Night Writers Association) writing retreat. I was introduced to ANWA at the LDS Storymakers Conference over the summer and signed up to become a member. It is not an open group, you must be an LDS (Mormon) woman writer.
Their mission statement says it all, "The American Night Writers Association, Inc is a unique network for Latter-Day Saint women interested in writing. Formed in 1986, the purpose of the organization is to encourage, assist, educate and motivate members to write, and if they desire, to publish their work."
Out here in Seattle, I am part of the Northwest Region and every year they have a writer's retreat in the fall. It was amazing. We had two keynote speakers, Angela Morrison- YA author and Ramona Zabriskie- Non-Fiction author. There were also optional workshops or alone writing time. The most important part though was the bonding. I left this retreat feeling as if I'd made several amazing friends.
One of the events that was fun was a book exchange, but this one had a twist and was very useful for writers. The game works like your typical gift exchange game. All the wrapped books are numbered and placed in the middle of the floor. Each person gets a number and you go in order either opening a wrapped book or stealing someone else's. A book can only be stolen twice. Now, here is the catch. Each person is given a card with all the numbers of the books listed. When a person first unwraps a book, they tell everyone its number and then read the first 5 sentences of the book. Then, you write down whether you would continue reading the book from those 5 sentences. Scores are 1-5, 1 being no and 5 being definitely. Afterwards the numbers are tallied and you see which books had the best openers.
I was happy to walk away with a copy of Al Capone Does My Shirts by Choldenko. I can't wait for next year! In the meantime there is an annual conference coming up Feb. 20-22, 2014 in Mesa, Arizona. The conference is open to the public. Check out the ANWA website for more.