My three great passions in life: Sussex, writing and the idea of a retreat! After all, the mere mention of the word retreat conjures up images of luxury, self-care and escape, doesn’t it? Which is why I was super excited to get wind of Daisy White’s English country garden writing retreat later this summer.
Local author Daisy has written and traditionally published 11 adult crime books, self-published three young adult books, and had one picture book story for young children published by an Australian indie publisher. Her work includes The Ruby Baker Mysteries and her psychological thrillers Remember Me and The Forgotten Child.
Daisy’s latest crime thriller, Glass Dolls (Joffe Books) became an instant Amazon bestseller, and book two in the DC Dove Milson series is out later this year. Daisy’s crime books have been US and UK overall top 100 bestsellers
As she tells it, she “started writing on the back of napkins when flying as cabin crew. After a variety of other jobs, including working as a 999 call handler for the ambulance service, in A&E as a healthcare assistant, and in a supermarket, I finally began writing full time in 2017.”
Perhaps more importantly for the purposes of this retreat, she started out self-publishing but is now represented by Lina Langlee at The North Literary Agency, so she’s seen all sides of the industry. On top of that, she’s an all-round lovely person who loves mentoring new writers.
The retreat: 30 July – 1 August 2021
This is a three-day writing retreat with a maximum of 10 guests and with all sorts of delicious treats. It’s set in the grounds of a farm in Dial Post, just on the edge of the South Downs, and is ideal for anyone just starting out of their writing journey, established writers in search of a confidence boost, or anyone who wants to explore writing as a way of getting those creative sparks flying.
What’s included in the retreat?
Each day will include a mix of creative writing exercises and informative workshops with a focus on writing notes using pens and paper (iPad/phones/laptops are OK if that’s what you prefer because this retreat is all about finding what works for you). Locally sourced lunches are included, plus tea, coffee, water, and biscuits during the day, juices and pastries on arrival on day one, and a traditional cream tea before departure on day three.
At the start of the first day, there will be an optional and gentle 30-minute programme of yoga and stretching to release tension, and spark creativity. The days finish with a leisurely chat/Q&A, any readings if you would like to get some practice in or just some general bouncing around of ideas. You can take advantage of a spot in the field to do some solitary winding down, chat with fellow attendees, or just work quietly in the marquee. You might even head off to nearby Knepp Wildlands which has a Yoga Garden, and guided walks and tours of the re-wilding project.
Day 1 – ARRIVE. The first day focuses on creativity, releasing the pressure of everyday life and allowing you to find your voice in an uncluttered environment. This experience will be different for everyone, and workshops will cover writing the first chapter of your novel, beginning to use a mind map for general ideas and thinking about an author profile. Who do you want to be as a writer? Perhaps you already have books published but need to take a step back and think about your achievements and where your journey will take you next?
Day 2 – EXPLORE. On the second day, you’ll focus on developing your skills. This could be how to get to and over the middle of your novel, or building on yesterday’s sessions. This is also the day you’ll cover the perfect submission package, including the dreaded synopsis. You’ll learn about publishing options and agents, and discuss which might be best for you. If you are just starting out, this is essential information to have and can give you the encouragement and boost you need to step into the writing world.
Day 2 – EMBRACE. On the final day, you’ll focus on continuing to build your knowledge and confidence. There will be sessions on marketing your work/PR/getting reviews/further options. You will also cover the all-important ending of your novel and how to make it rock! Finally, enjoy cream tea and celebrate your achievements. There is no pressure to share your work and if the retreat, for you, was just about getting into the right mindset and realigning your creative energy, this is just as great an achievement as writing THE END on your novel. Embrace it!
The highlight of this retreat will be day two when renowned screenwriter Hayley November will be running a 1.5 hr workshop, followed by a talk and the opportunity to pitch directly to TV Executive Steve November during 1-2-1 sessions. Steve and Hayley have worked in TV for many years, beginning with soaps such as Emmerdale, Coronation Street, and Hollyoaks, before progressing to big-budget drama such as Vera, Downton, and Liar. This is genuinely an exciting and amazing opportunity.
There is lots of local accommodation including Glamping at Knepp Wildlands. The nearest option is the boutique country village B&B at The Crown Pub in Dialpost, (just a 10-minute walk from the retreat venue) or splash out on a Luxury Spa Hotel at South Lodge Hotel, a short drive away.
How do I book my space?