Monday, 5 February 2018

Winter in Wales Writers Retreat with Tess Woods

by Enisa Haines

'Twas a cold winter's night in Wales at yon writers' retreat
Seven writers eager they did journey there and in joy did they meet.'

After a year of planning and anticipation, so began my sojourn in Criccieth, a seaside resort town on the north-west coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. I, and five other writers, joined Tess Woods (award-winning Harper Collins author of Love at First Flight and Beautiful Messy Love), her husband Paul and teenagers Tom and Lara, at Mynydd-Ednyfed Country House, a luxurious, heritage-listed property.

Enthusiastic greetings, a guided tour of the property and gifts given in welcome, then a week of delicious dishes for every meal and an endless supply of snacks and drinks...Tess and her family ensured we were comfortable. But it was more. We felt very special.

Each morning began with opening a happy pill fortune cookie. With messages like 'step with confidence onto a new path' as inspiration, we gathered together for the daily workshops Tess held. Using her own experiences as an author, she talked of the common elements in page turners, of the mistakes she'd made since becoming an author, and of sex scenes, editing, marketing and the importance of social media.

Free time to write or work on edits followed the workshops. We gathered in the lounge room and focused on our own work. If being together was too distracting and focus turned to talking, our individual rooms provided silence and privacy.

A bonus was the one-on-one professional critique session with Tess to discuss the work we'd sent her prior to the retreat (first 40 pages of our manuscripts). For me that session was the highlight of the week. Two hours spent going over every page, complimented at times and others shown in ways so clear how to make the writing tighter and more powerful.

A second bonus was the session we each had with Tom. Learning our likes and dislikes, he updated or created our websites. And they all look amazing!

From day 1 to day 6 we spent many hours quietly writing and when we weren't writing we joined together for chats, frolicked in the falling snow, explored the gorgeous scenery of Criccieth or the more populated town of Porthmadog, the home of a local pub The Australia. Then day 7 came, the day we said goodbye. So hard to do when we all wanted to stay.

December 9 - 15, 2017. A week when inspiration and encouragement flowed. A week when our writing took a giant leap forward on the path to publication. And a week when seven writers became friends in friendships that will last for life.

Have you been to a writers retreat? I'd love you to share your experience.

Love to love: the fun times we writers (and a few family members) had at the retreat.

Love to laugh: six Aussie ladies invading a Welsh shop one cold afternoon and loading the counter over and over with purchases. It was closing time but the smiling salesman sure didn't mind!

Love to learn: Tess Woods' Winter in Wales Retreat was worth every moment.

If you'd like to know more about the retreat, (and I definitely recommend that you do) watch this video (made by Tess's daughter) of us being interviewed by Tess's husband Paul.

And if you'd like to know more abut Tess Woods, her books and her retreats, visit her website at

Congratulations Helen Sibritt! You are the winner of our giveaway from last week. A copy of A Very Aussie Christmas will be on your kindle soon.


  1. I am so so jealous, Enisa! I love the sounds of this, and having met Tess at a library event, she was so lovely and bubbly I'm sure the week went in a heartbeat under her command. But...Wales! GORGEOUS! The only writer's retreat I have been to is one with the Breathless in the Bush group some years ago at Berry. That was amazing, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. What fantastic inspiration, and the best company.

    1. Hi Miranda. Yes, after this experience I highly recommend a Tess Woods Retreat.

  2. Hi Enisa! Your experience sounds truly wonderful. You obviously gained a lot from it, not just knowledge of the craft from Tess, but also in terms of making new friendships. We should organize our own writers' retreat somewhere on the coast, although beautiful Wales would be hard to compete with.

    1. Hi Marilyn. The friendships formed was a wonderful part of the retreat. And yes, would love our own retreat some time. We'd have a great time.

  3. Well this sounds fantastic Enisa. What a wonderful experience you had. Looks like Tess was a wonderful mentor.

    1. Tess absolutely was the best. Great feedback and very welcoming. No wonder werew friends now.

  4. What a fabulous experience Enisa. It sounds like you and the other participants learnt so much in a fun and supportive environment.

  5. Alyssa J. Montgomery5 February 2018 at 20:34

    What an incredible opportunity and experience. Sounds like it was fun and very beneficial. When's the next one, Enisa?

  6. I think I want to join your group and go on retreat. Do you take honorary members?


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