Fire pit

Book People

by Sparkle Abbey

Only Books in the Building Graphic

We spent the weekend at a wonderful writers’ retreat aptly named “Only Books in the Building.” It was located at Honey Creek, a lovely southern Iowa resort. and though this was the first year for it, based on our experience, we know that it will continue to grow.

There’s just nothing better than spending time with other writers and with readers who love books.

There were panels of authors “Romancing the Book,” “Murder They Wrote,” and “Paths to Publishing” as well as breakout sessions to discuss craft and publishing. There were sessions on “Characters Who Keep Secrets,” “Storytelling in Non-Fiction” as well as on plot, revision, and finding your theme.

Authors on writing mystery

           Murder They Wrote Panel

The sessions were fabulous and there was a wide range of genres represented but overall the theme was all about story and how that applies to romance, mystery, memoir, and more.  But best of all there were tons of opportunities to talk books!

Fire pitThe location was wonderful and we lucked out in terms of weather. So we were also able to enjoy the lake, the trails, and ultimately a bonfire.

It was truly everything we hoped for in terms of getting away, hanging out with other writers, and recharging our creative batteries. We’ve attended conferences, book festivals, writing retreats, and other book events but this one really fit the bill for an informative yet relaxing weekend of talking books!

Do you have a favorite book event that you attend? Please share and tell us what you love about it!


Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

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13 replies
  1. Barb Eikmeier
    Barb Eikmeier says:

    That sounds wonderful! And it’s not far from me, (I’m located near Kansas City.) Maybe I can attend if they have it again.
    I like any event that brings writers together.

  2. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    Iowa is writer country. How appropriate that this conference checked all the boxes for you. I’d be interested in future ones, as well.

  3. Dru Ann Love
    Dru Ann Love says:

    Yes, Malice, Left Coast Crime, and Bouchercon. I love seeing all the authors that I’ve become friends with and readers as well.

  4. Susan P. Baker
    Susan P. Baker says:

    I haven’t been to an actual writers’ conference or retreat in a long time. This one sounds interesting. I’m wondering who it’s aimed at, particularly newbies who ask things like “Where do you get your ideas?” and “How do you format a book?” or more seasoned authors?

    • Mary Lee Ashford
      Mary Lee Ashford says:

      Susan – There was a variety of writers. Some pretty new and others a bit more seasoned. Because it was not a huge group the breakout sessions were great discussions. And it felt like we learned from each other!

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