An Unexpected Retreat

Filed under: The Salt House

My attempt to keep this website updated with posts about the upcoming release of The Salt House, my debut novel, and other writerly shenanigans was hijacked by a seasonal occurrence called, well…summer.

As the mother of three teenagers, this isn’t my first summer rodeo. I know when the bell dings on that last day of school, and my cherubs are set free, life as I know it is over. And that’s fine. They’re my offspring, and for a few short months, I’m happy to rip up the schedule and see what every sun-filled, beach-going, boat-riding, house-full-of-kids, can-we-go-to-Water-Wizz, I’m-bored, Mom-you’re-not-listening day has to offer.

But this summer. If this summer was a scene in the Godfather? Well, we went to the mattresses.

Let’s recap. Shall we?

Things started out great. There was a package delivered to my door. And from my last post, you know how much I like receiving packages. And the package looked like this:



In publishing speak, this is a box full of early ARC’s (or galleys, depending on who you talk to). And yes, my head nearly blew off.

Then came the work of getting them out to readers. Let’s just say calling this process time consuming is like calling Mars a little bit far away.


I think I failed to mention that we were in the midst of wedding preparations for hosting my stepdaughter’s wedding in our backyard. And not your typical “backyard” wedding. We’re talking a tent the length of half of a football field, live band, 160-plus-people type wedding. My husband took the outside. I tackled the inside. Every glorious weekend day, our boat sat on the mooring in the river laughing at us as we painted, and power-washed, and brick-laid, and planted, and pruned, and weeded, and cleaned and scrubbed, and polished our home into a hopefully presentable wedding venue.

When, in the midst of preparations, on one particularly hot day, my husband came in from building a granite wall by himself in sweltering heat, and said, hmm, my chest kind of hurts. One trip to the ER, four days in the ICU and two stents later, here is the handsome hubs recovering in the hammock after the doctors fixed what we learned was a genetic time bomb in his chest.


Thankfully, the wedding went off three weeks later at the end of August without a hitch.

The newlyweds on our dock here:


Then, alas. The first day of school. And my three cherubs are off.

School pic


And I shut the door behind them and thought, Whew. That was quite the ride of a summer.

I sat down to write, dusted the cobwebs off my computer, and opened copyedits that were due, untouched for weeks, and several hours later, my 18-year-old called. Hysterically crying. There’s been a crash, and she’s fine, but please come. And when I do, this is the scene. Broken cars and bruised bodies, but thankfully, the occupants of both cars walking away with minor cuts and scrapes. All of us feeling very lucky and very thankful for seatbelts and airbags and the amazing first responders who kept everyone safe and calm.

Sam car


So, after our summer of amazing highs and some hopefully never revisited lows, you can imagine my delight when I received the news that I had won a scholarship to the Salty Quill Writing Retreat on a private island off the coast of Maine. 

Tomorrow, I’ll be joining twelve women writers on McGee Island for five days of writing time free of interruption or distraction. 

These are the accommodations:




And this is the view:



It’s my first writing retreat, and especially meaningful as the coastal town of Alden, Maine in The Salt House is fictional, created from imagination, yet McGee Island is remarkably (and eerily) similar, and I’m thrilled to dive into copyedits surrounded by the real life inspiration for the novel’s setting.  There’ll be lots of pictures to come, and I’ll be updating this website from McGee Island, so stay tuned for more posts as I head north and call this breathtaking piece of land my home for a short time.

If you’d like to learn more about the retreat, check it out here: