Shannon here: Janalyn Voigt shares about her recent solo writing retreat along with a recipe for Homemade Mac & Cheese with Brocolli, and a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card. Comment or answer the question in any post dated Dec 7th – 29th to enter the drawing. Deadline: Dec 7th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Janalyn:
Holding On and Letting Go: a Lesson in Love:
My husband John gave me a sad look. “I want to go with you.”
I nodded. “I feel the same way, but then it wouldn’t be a solo writing retreat.”
He looked unconvinced.
“it’s not a vacation.” I emphasized the words as if that could help him understand. With three of my books releasing within four months, I had four guest posts to write, a Facebook party to prepare for, and materials to send the publicists in charge of three upcoming blog tours. That’s not even counting the book I need to finish editing. I desperately needed a break from routine in order to accomplish everything. “I’m pretty boring on a writing retreat,” I tacked on hopefully. “All I do is work.”
There were several compelling reasons for retreating alone. I wanted to fill a gap at my blog for writers. It contained posts about undertaking a writing retreat with other writers but nothing on going alone. I also needed to confront my reluctance to go on a solo writing retreat. Fear of the unknown seemed the culprit, but something told me that a deep-seated issue was involved. I refuse to live in fear, which was all the more reason to ignore my hesitancy.
My husband’s reaction baffled me. John has always supported my leaving him to attend conferences, speaking events, or writing retreats. This was the first time he’d raised an objection. I set aside my confusion and tried to understand.
John’s needs are important to me, just as mine are to him. The strength of our marriage is that we compromise with one another. Each of us is most interested in what is best for us as a couple. Having our own way comes second to that. Love is about mutual respect, and this is one way we show it. John and I decided that I would spend the first three days alone, and then he would join me for another three. While I worked, he would study a course he needed to complete for his work. After my husband arrived, I decided to adopt a more relaxed writing schedule. He wouldn’t ask it of me, but I knew he would appreciate a little time to relax as a couple.
I booked into a condo with a kitchen at Washington State’s Discovery Bay. Ignoring my uneasiness as the day of departure neared, I prepared for the trip. I made lists, packed suitcases, watered plants, and filled an ice chest with food for the trip. The condo at Discovery Bay was a bit remote, which was part of its appeal. To save both money and time, I needed to cook all our meals ahead or take ingredients to make them there. Although rushed, I managed to bake a homemade macaroni and cheese casserole. I took a portion with me and left the rest in the refrigerator at home. If you’ve never tasted homemade macaroni and cheese, you’re missing out. The addition of chopped broccoli really elevates this humble casserole. I’ve included my recipe, below.
The morning of my departure, a gray cloud darkened the sky. The sooner I set out, the better. It took far too long to finish packing and load the car. The bank machine recorded my withdrawal of cash for the trip but gave me no money. It only took a few minutes to sort that out inside the bank, but it felt like forever. Fretting to be on my way, I forgot to check my navigator. Sometimes I program it to ‘avoid freeways.’ Since it immediately directed me to the freeway, I figured all was well. I didn’t guess until it was too late to turn back that it was also set to ‘avoid ferries.’ Crossing an inlet of the Puget Sound on a ferry would have saved me a long drive by land. The journey went on endlessly. Three accidents snarled traffic, slowing my progress.
Hours later, all I wanted to do was reach my destination, but I remembered a couple of food items I’d forgotten. This necessitated a grocery store stop and further bump my arrival time. Worse, I would have to pass through a wilderness area after dark, something I’d wanted to avoid. I traveled through the area without mishap and reached the resort where I was staying, finally.
Why did I feel the need to explain to the front desk clerk that my husband planned to join me in a couple of days? All the clerk wanted from me was identification, after all, not proof that I wasn’t completely alone in the world. Unfortunately, my wallet seemed to be missing. A sick sensation jolted through me. I thought I’d heard something drop in the grocery store parking lot, more than an hour away. Maybe I’d overlooked my wallet and left it lying there.
I went out to the car to search. Right when I was about to panic, I spotted my wallet in the grocery bag. A short while later, I let myself into my unit and heaved a sigh of relief. The first day of my retreat hadn’t gone well, and I hoped that didn’t foreshadow things to come.
To be continued…
Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli
4 cups macaroni, cooked
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups grated cheddar
1 cup grated cheddar (for topping)
1 cube salted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Set the oven to bake at 350 degrees.
Prepare all the vegetables, grate the cheese, and measure all the ingredients.
Put the cooked macaroni in a casserole dish.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan and saute the broccoli and onion.
Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute.
Remove the vegetables to the casserole dish with a slotted spoon. Mix with the macaroni.
Sprinkle the flour over the butter, stir to combine, and cook one minute.
Whisk in the milk. The mixture will look lumpy at first but should smooth out.
Add the grated cheese and whisk until it melts into the sauce.
Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and vegetables in the casserole dish. Stir to coat the macaroni and vegetables.
Top with the additional cup of grated cheese.
Bake until the cheese on top browns, approximately 30-45 minutes.
About Janalyn: Janalyn Voigt fell in love with literature at an early age when her father read classics to her as bedtime stories. When Janalyn grew older, she put herself to sleep with her own made-up tales. Her sixth-grade teacher noticed her love of storytelling and encouraged her to become a writer. Today Janalyn is a multi-genre author. Janalyn writes the kind of novels she likes to read – epic adventures brimming with romance, mystery, history, and whimsy. She is praised for her unpredictable plots and the lyrical, descriptive prose that transports readers into breathtaking storyworlds. Janalyn Voigt is represented by Wordserve Literary. Learn more about Janalyn and her books: http://janalynvoigt.com.
About the book – The Forever Sky: Can a young widow with no faith in love hope for a future with the man who broke her heart?
Maisey isn’t about to give Rob another chance to reject her love. Why should she believe that the man who left town without a backward glance three years ago cares about her? Life had taught her all about broken dreams, and she didn’t want to hope again. If only her young daughter would stop adopting Rob as a father, ignoring him–and her own emotions–would be a whole lot easier.
Thoughts of the woman he’d left behind haunted Rob for three long years. It wouldn’t have been fair to ask Maisey to wait while he mined a gold claim. After making his fortune, he’s returned to his family in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Rob is ready to settle down, and he’d rather do so with Maisey. But after their first encounter, it’s clear that he’s lost her forever.
Circumstances force Maisey and Rob into one another’s company. They learn, through hardship and loss, that the only way to one another is to surrender first to God’s love.
Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, The Forever Sky explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.
About the series – Montana Gold: Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, the Montana Gold series explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.
Get your copies now! http://janalynvoigt.com/montana-gold
Question for Readers: Would you ever go on a retreat, writing or otherwise, alone?
Come back November 29th for part 2 with Janalyn!