Breath of Life

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Breath of Life

This past weekend I spent roughly 48 hours at a writers’ retreat at the Breath of Life Retreat House in the beautiful forested mountains of Pine, AZ. I’ve written about the Arizona Dream Weavers’ retreats before (see here and here). You may want to see the previous two articles about Breath of Life to get a complete picture of what a special place this is. I’m sharing the photos I took this year (plus one the proprietor took).

This is the view outside the gate. The retreat house is literally surrounded by forest.

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This view from the yard shows the mountains in the distance.

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Here are some views of the main house. This shot from the back shows the entrance to the frame workshop. Notice the birdhouse–there are birdhouses everywhere. It’s kind of a trademark.

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This porch extends from the dining hall.

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A large patio in the back of the house. There are several patios.

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Speaking of birdhouses (click on a picture to enlarge):

There’s a lot of statuary outside, including angels (lots of angels).

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Gardens–rock garden with a waterfall (at right):

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Vegetable garden:

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Pretty things are tucked in everywhere. The facility is a feast for the eyes.

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Outdoor fireplace on the main patio:

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The awesomest bench ever:

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One of many outdoor seating areas:

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On the walls of one of the patio areas:

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A visitors from the neighborhood:

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And an uninvited guest:

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Moving indoors, here is the meeting room:

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The snack room, also used for the buffet line at meal time. The food was fabulous! We all ate too much. And there were several varieties of coffee always available…

 

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…as well as ceramic mugs to use, and lots of different kinds of tea bags and creamers.

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Beautiful artwork throughout the house, this painting in the stairway:

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There’s also a chapel. This was the no-talking zone for the writers.

 

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In the hallway:

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The dining hall. Our thirteen participants fit along this table nicely.

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Shonna and Sara, don’t kill me. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of you concentrating so hard at work on your next novels.

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And this is the whole group of writers who attended, all from the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, many of whom have published books or books under contract. I’m second from the left on the bottom row (with my eyes closed).

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On the retreat, I made good progress on The Unicornologist, including transferring it from Word to Scrivener and writing “index cards” for each scene. I found a serious inconsistency, and I still have plot holes, but I have some ideas about what I need to do.

I spent most of my time writing/revising, when not taking pictures with my iPad. I attended some of the group sessions, and also enjoyed the socializing and sharing at meals.

What I learned at the retreat:

  • SCBWI is hosting a regional conference in Mesa, AZ, in September.
  • Several of the participants have collaborated on books with partners. Two ways to do this: for a short book like a picture book, both sit down at the same computer and pound it out together; for a two-character book, each writes from one character’s POV and alternate chapters.
  • If you do a signing at a bookstore, they can set you up with author visits at schools. You do it for free, but the bookstore handles the sales, and they require the school to order number of books (these count as reported sales).

I look forward to next year’s retreat, but as of this writing, we have no location. And here’s where my ulterior motive comes in. The Breath of Life Retreat House is for sale. If you’ve ever thought you might like to own a B&B or a retreat house up in the mountains, here’s your chance. The sooner you can take over, the better–the busy summer retreat season has begun, with lots of people wanting to get out of sweltering Phoenix. And Jim and Candy, the current proprietors, are willing to help you learn the business and pass on all their repeat customers, all of whom can’t wait to book their next retreat. On the Breath of Life website is a link to their Zillow listing.

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