June 15, 2024

October Writing Retreat

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a writer’s workshop at a writersretreattruckwonderful cabin retreat in Stark, KS with three other writers. Our gracious and sweet hostesses were authors Deborah Raney and Deborah Vogts.

Here we are at the entrance to the Murphy’s Landing Hunting Lodge B&B. What a lovely, rustic getaway!

Our arrival on Tuesday morning was a bit impeded by police blockades strung across the highway leading to our cabin, but Portia at the Murphy’s Mercantile and Cafe in Stark invited us in to wait it out over a piece of peanut butter meringue pie and coffee.  You might have gotten a cabinkick out of our *writer imaginations* going wild over what might have been the reason for the blockade! It didn’t help that we’d heard a news bulletin alerting the border communities to be on the watch for three escaped convicts!

Here we are at the cabin! Sadly this pic doesn’t showcase the mirror topped lake directly out from the front porch. Every evening and morning its perfect stillness reflected the sun’s journey atop our sky.

The front porch beckoned and provided a few neat photo ops.

porchretreatThe cabin’s decor was a fantastic blend for both the country cozy and the lodge savvy amongst us! I loved the wood beamed walls and wooden signs scattered around, while my husband would have admired the many taxidermies mounted on railings, mantels and above windows.

Here we are before breakfast on Wednesday. Our weather was grand for this three day getaway–60’s for a high, and 40’s for a low. Pretty chilly in the A.M. !

Our breakfasts were part porchlineuprof the package, so each morning we hit the road to the cafe by 8 o’clock. The omelettes were amazing, especially accompanied by Portia’s biscuits and local honey! Mmm.

Speaking of food…I am planning a recipe post based on our retreat menu. There are some grwriterretreat10eat cooks in the writing community, and I’m not talking about plotting!

We all contributed eats, from veggies, fruits and dips to chicken tortellini soup, lasagna, Mexican pork roast tostadas, sandwich wraps and chicken salad. A favorite of all was Julane’s corn dip! We also had a to-die-for chocolate chip cheesecake and a decadent peaches and cream dessert. And what is a writing workshop without a big bowl of chocolate candy? Groan. I’d hate to see a cumulative weight gain analysis for our little group, because we sure enjoyed stuffing ourselves!


That post will have to wait till Deborah Vogts is past her deadline for book 3 in her Seasons of the Tallgrass series. She’s the queen of hospitality, that gal. In this picture, she is the one behind the bowl of apples, wearing blue.

Behind the open cupboard door was our one and only bathroom, but what a bathroom. Check it out below.

retreatbathroom With six women attending, we scheduled our evening and morning showers. I gladly went last in the evenings to take advantage of soaking in the jacuzzi tub! writersbyouthouse

This out- house was our other option.  Pretty cute, aren’t we?


Here’s a view taken from the loft bedroom which sleeps eight: one double bed, three singles and their trundles.

We spent plenty of fun hours in this living area, brainstorming each others story conflicts, getting feedback on our openings, and learning from the two Debs’ workshops.  Since our group was smallish, size wise, we had some great one-on-one in depth interaction. What a blessing.

writersretreatloftHere’s the sleeping loft I was just describing. Sara got the window bed, and it was a good thing we talked the nights away because that ole full moon kept her blinking! Thus the hot pink post-it notes. Her effort to block the moonlight and get some z’s fell a wee bit short!

We had more than writing to talk about. How exciting that three of us had homeschooling in common as well! Wwritersoutsidecaferiting and homeschooling, now there is another topic altogether!

Here we are on the  last morning, just after breakfast and a book signing for two of our favorite KS authors! The wind about blew us away with the tumbleweeds…

Do check out Deborah Raney’s current series, set in the fictional yet endearing community of Hanover Falls, KS and also Deborah Vogt’s Seasons of the Tallgrass, featuring the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas. I promise you will be captivated!

By the way, creativity aside, DebandDebwe never did find out why the police decided to “delay” our retreat kick-off on Tuesday morning.

Thanks so much to all my new friends who made the time away so special! I’m marking my calendar for next year!

4 thoughts on “October Writing Retreat

  1. Oh, wow! Mary Lynne, can non-writers attend next year? Do you have any non-fiction concepts included? I’d love to write short articles about the Christian life. You know, I have published 3 non-fiction articles…long time ago, but true. Your retreat/conference sounds like it met a lot of needs and provided a lot of fantastic memories! I’m so thankful you could go.

  2. Hey Mary, it was great to spend time with you at the retreat. Thanks so much for blogging about it here. I’m looking forward to reading those recipes & also to the retreat next year! Have a great week!

  3. Hey Mom,
    Afraid it was by invitation as the cabin is too small for a large group. We didn’t discuss non-fiction…but I don’t think you need any help in that department! ;O)

    Deborah, it was a grand time! I’m waiting on you gals to post your recipes!!!

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