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Photo by P. Rickrode

Photo by P. Rickrode

My local Sacramento chapter of Romance Writers of America hosts a retreat every other year and this year we were so blessed to be able to have our retreat at the Stanford-Sierra Conference Center at Fallen Leaf Lake in Lake Tahoe.

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Photo by P. Rickrode

Crystal clear Fallen Leaf Lake is protected on all sides by the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and sits at 6,300 feet in elevation. It is completely surrounded by two indigenous species of conifers; Jeffrey and White pine. Just a short walk from the lodge, civilization ends and desolation begins. Desolation Wilderness offers nearly endless hiking and breathtaking views throughout its 63,960 acres of federally protected land.

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Fallen Leaf Lake
Photo by P. Rickrode

The lodge and cabins at The Camp date back to the turn of the century with some staff housing still sitting on original foundations constructed in the 1920’s. One of the famous staffers at Stanford-Sierra was John Steinbeck who worked at the camp in 1925 and helped construct many of the staff cabins. He was a popular figure at The Camp and was known to spend his down time hiking, fishing and writing by the light of his lantern at night.

Sacramento Valley Rose was honored to have Margie Lawson as our guest speaker. Margie filled our Friday night with fun and our Saturday with valuable knowledge, tips and other information to make our manuscripts sparkle and shine in a way that would capture the attention of an agent or editor.

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Margie Lawson, SVR Retreat, May 2013
Photo by P. Rickrode

After a long day of learning and a mouth-watering feast Saturday night, it was time to let our hair down and have some fun. We played our own special convoluted version of Wheel of Fortune, minus Vanna White and lovely prizes. Much belly-laughing ensued.

Anna "AJ" Stewart, Janina Henderson and Judy Ashley Photo by P. Rickrode

Anna “AJ” Stewart, Janina Henderson and Judy Ashley
Photo by P. Rickrode

We did what writers do best with limited letters.

Kendra DeSantolo Photo by P. Rickrode

Kendra DeSantolo
Photo by P. Rickrode

Patricia Rickrode aka Jansen Schmidt Photo by Anonymous

Patricia Rickrode aka Jansen Schmidt
Photo by Anonymous

As the night progressed (and more wine was consumed), things got a little more raunchy.

Anna "AJ" Stewart showing us her extensive vocabulary. Photo by P. Rickrode

Anna “AJ” Stewart showing us her extensive vocabulary.
Photo by P. Rickrode

Once the tone had been set, there was no going back and it got easier to guess the words.

Suzanne Pitner aka Suzanne Lilly Photo by P. Rickrode

Suzanne Pitner aka Suzanne Lilly
Photo by P. Rickrode

Or not. Turns out, the laugh was on us. Suzanne’s a cunning fox that way.

Suzanne Pitner aka Suzanne Lilly (aka The Trickster) Photo by P. Rickrode

Suzanne Pitner aka Suzanne Lilly (aka The Trickster)
Photo by P. Rickrode

Despite the building-shaking thunder and brilliant flashes of lightning on Saturday night and the lack of cell phone communications, a good time was had by all. The staff at the Stanford-Sierra Camp were simply the best greeting each request with a smile and offering assistance over and above what we expected. The weekend couldn’t have been more perfect.

So tell me readers, where have you experienced a little bit of writing heaven? Where have you attended a retreat that made a lasting impression on you?

Word of the day: Xebec (have fun with this one Colleen)

Fun fact about me: I used to change my own oil and filter in my car.

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