Book Hippo

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Montreal Retreat

The first good thing was that my short story: The Mountain City Bronzes, was published on November 4th, so anyone who wants to buy can go to MuseItUp Publishing website and go to dark or new releases but it's only new until friday the 11th. I had already been ready for two days beforehand to get to Montreal. It was all planned. My roommate wanted to drive me there early, so we left at 8 AM. That means we couldn't have much coffee, we didn't want any "pee-pee drawers" on the way. We arrived at the Holiday Inn at about 10:30 AM. David came in to see that all would be well. The staff were very welcoming so he went back to the car and left. Then the front desk clerk wanted my credit card. Well, I'd already given my credit card info on the phone to reserve my room and I hadn't brought it. So between me and the clerk we decided that I would pre-pay for my room (easy to do) and I would leave a deposit which I could get back when I checked out. Done.
 So I went up to the 14th floor. I have to say the elevators were a bit scary. The doors on one took at least a minute to close and on the way up, the elevator car banged against the shaft a few times. Others at the retreat make jokes about the elevators, too. The whole hotel was under renovations. There were a lot of mattresses in the hallways and plastic covering things but the area we were in, where the restaurant was, was quite nice, there were leather chairs and a sofa to sit on. They had complimentary coffee in the morning and lemonade in the afternoon and evening.
I had brought my bathing suit since they had a pool but then realized I'd forgotten to bring my lock for a locker, so didn't bother going swimming. I had a nice snooze when I got to my room 1415 at 11:00. Around 5:30 PM I wandered down to the lobby to wait for everyone. We were all going to meet in the lobby and we would finally meet Lea and Litsa in person. I was so nervous. Muse writers are always saying we're a family but until I met these wonderful people it didn't quite 'get in there'. They were all so nice. I felt immediately welcomed and at home. These are great people to be with.
We went to a Greek restaurant. I went with Kevin Craig and his lovely wife Allison. Sandra Clark sat next to me in the back seat. We suffered Quebec drivers, laughing about the turns with no signal and other things these drivers are wont to do, and arrived without mishap, although we did pass a serious accident on the way. I forget the name of the Greek restaurant but we had a private room which was set out very nice. The next room had a wedding going on so we had to deal with music from them but our meal and speeches went well. Mine was the worst speech. I'm not so good at public speaking. Everyone else was funny and competent at speaking before a crowd. Heather Haven was the funniest. She's so vibrant. Christine London was a very good speaker, too. I enjoyed all the speeches. Of course the best speeches were Lea and Litsa. Lea's son was doing videotaping so I think all the speeches are on tape and he taped Lea crying when she got the present the authors had got for her: a necklace. There was also crying from Litsa when speaking of Karen McGrath. There was a picture of her and a dedication.
The meal was so good. I had the steak. So good. Lea came around with clothes pegs. We each put two on and whenever we saw someone crossing their legs, we would take one of their pegs. I thought I was doing pretty good to do five but Lea's daughter had a whole belt full of pegs and Christine London had about thirteen. So Lea's daughter won. Then we had six volunteers. Three were dressmakers, three were models. The dressmakers had to choose from wigs and hats and ties and toilet paper and make a 'dress' on the model. My model was Sandra Clark. I chose a purple wig and orange bow-tie and devil horns. Then I put the toilet paper on her like a hula skirt. She wiggled her hips and it all fell off. So Karen Cote (dressmaker) and Heather Haven (model) won. I think they'd make a good team for anything. At the end of the evening we all paid the waiter twenty dollars and then we headed off. I went back with Kevin, Allison and Sandra once again and we managed to find our way back to the hotel. I fell into a most comfortable bed and had a great sleep. I was to learn that others did not sleep so well.
We met for breakfast at 9:00AM. We had our own little room in the restaurant next to the lobby. I was early so I had a few cups of coffee and chatted with Chris, the waiter, he was interested to know about Muse as was two other waiters whose names I didn't get. Nancy Bell, Doug Bell, her husband and Charles Mossop were next in, then came the crowd. I sat with Sarah Durham and her gorgeous daughter Michelle. They were such wonderful people. This is such a caring group. I feel badly for all the Muse authors who didn't make it. Hopefully you'll all get there next time. After breakfast we went to Zellars. I went once again with Kevin, Allison and Sandra. It was so close we could have walked but it was better by car. Lea and Litsa had done a great job setting up the MuseItUp tables. I tell you these two worked their you-know-whats off for this event. I was impressed, even more so than usual. Lea and Litsa are really special people. When people began coming in Litsa was the greeter and got people interested in coming to see us all. We all had our spaces at the table. I sat between Christine London whose husband Larry was there. He was of great help to her. Getting coffee and stuff. Karen Cote was on my other side and her husband was there, too. Of course, I would forget his name, so embarrassing. He was of great help to her, too. Karen sold the first book at Zellars and it was her first print book to sell. She just had to hug the woman who bought it. I think I may have seen the start to a beautiful friendship. I gave out my bookmarks. That's all I had with me. Everyone else had so much stuff I felt naked but now I know how to go about it. Christine had pens and Karen had lip balm. Such good ideas.
We were at Zellars for three hours and had a good turnout. We made $800.00. So good. Authors came up to us, too. They spent a lot of time talking to Lea. At the draw at the end of our time, Lisa Forget's daughter won a prize. And then we cleaned up and cleared off back to the hotel. I took one of the flower arrangements intending to bring it back home and some chocolates. I drove back with K, A and S.
I made some coffee for myself back at the hotel and read my book: The War With Hannibal by Livy. I relaxed and then met up with everyone in the lobby. At six-thirty we all went to the restaurant just down the street which was St. Jean Boulevarde. There was no parking. So poor Kevin just let us off and went out to find some. He was gone quite a while and Allison was a bit concerned. He parked across the street and finally came back. It was a great meal. Such big portions and so good. We all got to know each other better and I'll say it again. Musers are FABULOUS people. We each paid our own bills. Now the rest of them were going to see a comedy show but I bowed out. I wanted to make sure I got enough sleep. So I went back to the hotel. I must be really dumb right now but I can't remember the full name of the person who drove me. I know he's an author here and his first name is Richard, his wife is Cathy. He took Karen Cote and her husband back to their hotel, The Marriott and then we went back to our Holiday Inn. It was quite a ride, none of us knew Montreal that well so we went the wrong way so many times but made it home. Well, even if I don't remember his last name, I can say he's a great guy, as is his wife. He's ex-military so has interesting stories to tell. He had met a couple of Presidents of USA and many of the people you read about in the paper.
So I went to bad at the hotel and to bed. Had a great sleep. Breakfast again, I didn't drink much coffee again as David would come to get me at 10AM. It was sad to say good-bye to all but it felt so great having met them that it came out even, emotionally. I went and got my bags and waited downstairs. I got my deposit back and David rolled in about 10:06. It was a great weekend, it's only too bad I can't do justice to it in my blog but Lea will put the tape of the first dinner online. See ya all later.


  1. Dear Madeleine,
    Thanks so much for the overview of the Muse Retreat--from a sad sister who didn't get to go.
    It all sounds wonderful.
    My WIP touches on the Punic wars; could you email me about the book you're reading and how you got interested in Hannibal?

  2. Madeleine, thank you for sharing your adventures in Montreal. It makes it seem all that more real for those of us who couldn't make it to the retreat. Perhaps next time. Sigh...

  3. Madeleine, it was a pleasure meeting you and what a wonderful account of our weekend. I have been trying to get myself together to write a blog, but I have been busy every day since I got home!

    It was a great weekend and I'm so happy I got to meet everyone!