Diary of a Debut: 5 reasons to have a writing retreat in Vegas

Vagas_nightWe're still pinching ourselves that our book is going to be published by Simon & Schuster/Atria Books next year. As Lisa's two-year-old would say, O-M-G. As Lisa and Liz would say O-M-EFFING-G. Did we mention EFFING? So there we were. Sin City. Lisa with her Beats by Dr. Dre hugging her ears and Liz with her shiny new Macbook air polished and ready to go. Lisa with her never-before-listened-to-but-oh-so-perfectly-planned-writing retreat-playlist filled with umpteen songs to inspire her but who would only end up playing Undermine from Nashville(SUCH a great show!) on repeat for thirty-six hours instead. Liz with her gossip magazines scattered about for "research." (Stars without make up can be very motivating!) Both trying not to think about the dinging of the slot machines thirty-seven stories below.

The screams of people winning at the craps table. The multiple bars with cocktails at the ready. You see, we might now have a dream agent. We might now have a dream publishing deal. We might now be living the dream of writing our second novel. But...

We are also moms. Moms who NEVER GET OUT.  Moms who, after seeing multiple bachelor parties streaming through the lobby as they checked into Mandalay Bay, had to exercise MAJUH will power  in order to stay in their room and meet their word count goal. And you know what? Not only did we meet that number (and then some!), but we'd do it all over again (well maybe not the sharing a bed part--more on that in a minute!).

And so begins our Diary of a Debut--the online journal chronicling our road to publication. We'll also be snapping photos along the way and sharing them on Instagram. (Follow us there: LisaandLiz.)

And of course we have a GIVEAWAY. Leave a comment and be entered to win a bundle of 15 *surprise* books! We'll select the winner this Sunday, January 20th after 3pm PST.



1. You could get randomly upgraded to gigantic suite so large that you wonder if Mike Tyson, a tiger--or God willing--Bradley Cooper-- will round the corner at any moment. And while neither of us woke up with a missing tooth or a baby in our safe, we did have quite an adventure. Dedicated to our craft and feeling palpable pressure to perform, we spent the entire time in one small corner of the suite. Why? Because that's where the only desk was located, of course. Apparently, most people don't come to Vegas to write. The 12 flat screen TVs unwatched, the second and third bathroom unused, the minibar *sniffle* untouched, we pecked away at novel number two. (Check out the view from our room in the pic!)

What Lisa learned: JUST SAY NO when you get upgraded to a palatial room with a steamer shower (gotta get me one of those!) and an incredible view of the Vegas strip--only before seen through the eyes of a doe-eyed girl vying for a rose on The Bachelor, when you are told that there is only ONE bed that you're going to have to SHARE.  Lisa, with her ear plugs secured tightly is ready to get her first full-night of uninterrupted sleep in months was awakened every hour by Liz, who was tossing and turning because she couldn't sleep through the noise of the elevator shaft nearby and drunk ass people stumbling back to their rooms. #getLizearplugsforchristmas

2. When you need to take a "break" the people watching alone is enough to inspire the next three books Let's just say being holed up in a room--albeit 2500 square feet large--can get claustrophobic. (Bradley Cooper still hasn't shown up! And this has nothing to do with anything, but did you know he's fluent in French?  ) The walls start to close in when the pressure to write that book your aforementioned dream editor and agent are hopefully going to swoon over, when that pressure is so overwhelming you seriously consider chucking that MacBook Air into the jacuzzi tub, heading down to the casino and ordering a bloody mary (extra spicy, please!) instead. But you don't--mostly because one of you (ahem, Lisa) is a nazi and has imposed a strict rule: we cannot even breathe in the stale smoky air of the casino until we've met our word count goal. But because she's not a totally meanie and, at one point, suffered from a case of writer's block so bad she wondered if she had in fact switched bodies with a qualified author while writing THE TOAST, gives in and allows you to take a break and stroll through the casino. Stroll.

Not stop. Not sit. Not order. And so we head downstairs in our sweat pants (because if you wear something cute who knows what could happen?) but immediately curse ourselves when the first encounter we have  is with two smokin' hot guys who also happen to write for Esquire magazine. And despite the sweats--or maybe in spite of them--we still get our flirt on because maybe they'll write about our book! #flirtinginsweatpantssucks

40-is-the-new-20-t-shirt3. Getting carded can inspire 5,000 words Before you fall into (a shared!) bed after a long day of writing, you might just be inspired by the encounter with the Esquire guys and change into something sassy. And you might just make your way back down to the bar for a nightcap (or two). And when you do, you might nearly fall off your bar stool when you are asked for an ID. Did we even bring them down with us? we bemused, rifling through our purses.  Turns out, getting carded can be quite inspirational! After celebrating plowing through the first day, only breaking for Starbucks, we wrote 5,000 more words. (Who cares that the bartender was probably required to inspect the drivers license of anyone who appeared to be under 50.) #we'lltakeit


RoomServicebreadbasket-1-of-1-14. Room service never tasted so good--not In an unexpected twist, the gluten gestapo (a.k.a. Liz) joined us on our writing retreat. Apparently, just before heading to Vegas, she decided that she was no longer going to consume wheat. And neither was anyone around her! Cut to the first time we order room service. Two cobb salads, please. The salads arrive, looking delicious. But so did the bag of warm bread that came with them. Lisa reaches out to grab one, and her hand is instantly batted away. "You can go ahead and take that," Liz says to the server. Lisa watches the bread basket leave, tears in her eyes. They couldn't drink. They couldn't gamble. And now they couldn't even have bread? And don't even get her started on the gluten free waffles that were consumed. Good thing we are in Vegas and the food choices are endless. There may or may not have been a secret hamburger WITH THE BUN consumed when Liz wasn't looking. #wheatbellyisunattractive


5. After you meet your writing goal, dancing like you're 21 again never felt so good.  The reason we were in Vegas was not just for a writing retreat. Liz was also hosting her hubs 40th birthday party there later that week.  So we decided to arrive early, write, then drink our faces off! And party we did. Let's just say we cleared out the dance floor, (and not in a good way) our arms flailing, sipping from our drinks, dancing to remixed versions of songs by MC Hammer and Ace of Base that the horrified twenty-somethings looking on had never heard of. No matter that we were celebrating like we'd finished our second book, not just made a dent in it! #anyreasontohaveacocktail

As far as what happened next? I think the sign proudly displayed on the inside of Lisa's Spirit Airlines plane said it best: Vacuum sealed to hold all Vegas Secrets

THANK YOU for taking this journey with us. We couldn't do it with out you! Here's to the next 55,000 words!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa