SOLA’s 2nd Annual Writers’ Retreat at Nottoway Plantation in July 2009
The SOLA Writers Retreat at Nottoway was founded by Rhoda Fort, SOLA’s president in 2007. The search committee selected the historic Nottoway Plantation in White Castle, because it had an atmosphere conducive to writing romance and other genres.
The Nottoway venue was so popular that the retreat planning committee again chose to hold its 2nd Annual Writers Retreat there on Friday, October 24 and Saturday October 25, 2008. However, Hurricane Gustav had severely damaged the facility and the planning committee cancelled that retreat.
With renovations making Nottoway Plantation larger and better than before Hurricane Gustav, SOLA chose to hold the 2nd Annual Writers Retreat on Friday July 10 and Saturday July 11, 2009 at the welcoming plantation.
SOLA members who attended the retreat were Jaimie Bergeron, Dee Boling, Ann Cantrell, Marika Christian, Nick Genovese, Marie Goodwin, Sarabeth Gordon, Pamela Kopfler, Janet Lococo, Debra Maas, Ann Morris, Lou Reese, Kasey Richard, and Betty Weil. Heartla members attending the retreat were Pat Juelg, Chere Coen, Eleanor Cocreham, and Elaine Grant.
Retreaters enjoyed a tour of the plantation by an expert guide, followed by a social hour at the Ramsay Mansion Restaurant and Bar. Many took sips of the signature Mint Juleps. Nick Genovese, Retreat Coordinator, presented a keynote address after dinner to officially commence the retreat.
Also at the Friday night dinner, The Cajun Queen, Janet Lococo, entertained retreaters with outrageously funny Cajun jokes that had everyone rolling on the floor. Janet can really tell a joke.
The second day of the retreat began with an 8am breakfast in the Ramsay Mansion Restaurant. The day’s programs commenced with an interesting and exciting presentation by Lou Reese, a weapons and ammunitions expert, entitled Magnolias, Mint Juleps, and Murder!!! Lou discussed the many different implements on the plantation premises that could serve as devices to commit murder. It was an excellent presentation for the romance mystery writers in the group. At the conclusion of his presentation, Lou gave everyone a .44 caliber lead pistol ball.
A frequent request from the first retreat was to have a free style session, and the attendees broke into groups at various sites on the premises to do whatever they pleased to do. Most wrote or plotted or networked with their fellow writers.
Sarabeth Gordon gave an excellent after lunch presentation entitled Avoiding the White Box. Get the most out of your setting by giving it character. It was a hands on workshop in which everyone practiced giving their settings character.
Finally, the day’s program ended with Anonymous Critiques where first page entries are read out loud by moderators. The audience responded with constructive criticism. Many writers are enlightened by hearing their words spoken and are always fascinated by how others view their writing.
Retreat Evaluations solicited at the end of the retreat were unanimous in stating that the atmosphere, the food, the drinks, and the courteous treatment by the Nottoway staff were excellent for retreat purposes. Everyone stated that they enjoyed themselves and would return for SOLA’s 3rd Annual Writers Retreat.
SOLA is now preparing its 3rd Annual Writers Retreat for August 13th and 14th, 2010.