NEW YEAR-ROUND RESIDENTIAL RETREAT OPENS IN CALIFORNIA,
We are proud to announce the
opening of a year-round residential retreat in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea
and delighted to welcome Heather Hummel, our newest on-site
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a haven for
artists and a refuge for writers and intellectuals bonded by talent and
perspective. Located a few minutes walk to the center of everything, the
retreat features a quaint courtyard with a willow tree. Each spacious room
achieves a distinctive ambiance of elegance and Carmel tradition and fine art. Room
amenities include fireplace, fresh flowers, hardwood floors, a private
bath, and a private entrance, crystal decanter of sherry and a fruit
basket, plush robes, kitchen, or refrigerator. Delivered to your room each
morning, breakfast includes organic locally grown fruits, French pastries,
and organic cage-free eggs.
Heather Hummel is an inspirational coach and
workshop facilitator. A University
of Virginia graduate,
Heather holds a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree, and is
working toward a PhD in Metaphysical Sciences. She is the co-host of Chit
Chat Café Radio Show on Artist First, and has been a guest author to a
variety of other audiences, including Victoria Moran’s radio show, “A
Charmed Life.” Her work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines.
For more information or to secure your private
studio, please contact Heather Hummel
at 831-298-7129 or via e-mail at Heather@HeatherHummel.net or The Writers’ Retreat in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
FINDING A NICHE FOR THE NONFICTION AUTHOR
By Adilah Barnes
Merriam-Webster lists six definitions for
the French-derived word, niche.
For our purposes as authors, the
definition that best fits for us is “a specialized market.”
The question is how does the author identify a niche or specialized
In 2002, after completing the
first two chapters of my now Essence magazine
bestseller, ON MY OWN TERMS One
Actor’s Journey, my editor
and I tackled my thirty-seven page book proposal that we later distributed
to potential publishers and literary agents. In the section called Promotions and Marketing, we first
identified my reading niche as those in the entertainment industry
(particularly actors seeking a “how to” acting book), audience members who
attend my annual Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival who might want a
copy, and those audience members who would visit my book signing table
following performances of my internationally-toured, one-woman show, I Am That I Am: Woman, Black.
Clearly, these were targeted markets for my built-in audiences.
However, after publishing in 2008,
I realized I had a much wider niche that I thought!
I discovered my personal story
also qualifies as a memoir, autobiography, motivational, archival Black
Theatre history book, and an
I write all of this to say that before we can talk about our market,
we need to be clear on what we want to write about.
What is it that we, as authors, can say that is unique, that is our
very own, and that speaks for our voice? And who will be transported by
what we write?
Therein lies finding the author’s niche.
By speaking my truth, I found
universality far beyond what I initially thought. I discovered that I also
had invested readers who included my huge family, friends, and my hometown folk who also read
the book as a nonfiction piece that chronicled part of their story of our
community. I also came to understand that my book documents my family
history and has become a family history and genealogy book, of sorts.
Those of you who are nonfiction writers may begin as I did, limited
in identifying one’s niche.
However, once you complete your
last page, turn the computer off, and step away from your writing. Take
time to mull over what you have birthed. You may find that after allowing
your writing to marinate your actual
readership is far wider than you initially imagined.
I would like to suggest something that worked for me.
Once I completed my manuscript, I
entrusted it with a select group of diverse readers for feedback. My focus
group included writers, authors, close friends, English instructors, and
I gave each a questionnaire to
complete after they had completed their read. It was from some of their
answers that I gleaned how far I had cast my net.
If you are still writing your book, keep writing!
You will ultimately be informed
who your readers are. If you have completed your book and are ready for
distribution and have not already done so, consider allowing a focus group
to provide feedback.
Listen to your readers; you may
learn your voice is more global than you thought!
To reach Adilah Barnes at The Writers' Retreat in
please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.writersretreat.com
and click on the Georgia
By Karen Walasek
My favorite author for writers
is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down
the Bones, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. She tells writers to
give themselves “permission to be lousy,” so that they might free
themselves from the demands of the internal editors that block the flow of
the creative process. By freeing yourself from an internal critical eye,
you can then allow your most creative self to play and express without
I like to consider this part of
myself as an inner child, which leads me to some very interesting
techniques to encourage creativity. For example, breaking out crayons and
drawing pictures of characters can help to make a character feel real. It
may even reveal details about that character that the linear, more critical
mind doesn’t notice. “Hmm, she seems stiff and heavy, I wonder why? What is
bothering her? What is she hiding?” The list of possibilities is endless.
If we also start thinking of
our creative selves as an inner child, we can begin to see him/her as a
character. We can ask this character questions like: What do you need? What
would nourish you? What creative “nutrients” do you lack?
If writing is a form of
transcribing feelings, thoughts, and senses on paper, it makes sense to
indulge in our own senses to saturate our sensual palate. How about taking
a hot bath with lavender salts, indulging your eyes to a colorful hillside
in the fall, feeling the coolness of a star-filled winter night, or
listening to your favorite music while writing on an ancient oak desk. Perhaps
you would prefer writing with a fountain pen on handmade paper.
How many senses do we really
have? Are emotions a sense? What about flavors? Have you ever described a
character by a favorite dessert? What is the most exotic food you have ever
When we explore the idea of
nourishing our creative selves to saturation, when we indulge in creative
nutrient dense experiences, then it is almost as if our creative inner
child has no choice but to express itself. Our only job becomes showing up
at the page and giving this part of ourselves free reign to speak. Here’s a
nice affirmation to beginning your writing day.
“I give my creative self
permission to say whatever needs to be said, and I command all editors to
stand at the door until I’m creatively satisfied and have written my fill.”
Of course, you can create your own affirmation to suit your own creative
needs. And do enjoy a delicious meal before coming to the page. It just
Karen Walasek is an MFA, Creative Writing
candidate at Goddard
College with graduate
work in interdisciplinary art. A home school pioneer, who fostered three
highly creative humans into adulthood incorporating natural self-discovery
(long before homeschooling became a household word) Karen has shared the
secrets of gentle nurturing for most of her adult life. She holds a BA in
creative writing (also from Goddard) and has facilitated creativity
workshops throughout the United States
HillHouse Writers Retreat nestled in the Southern hills of Giles County, Tennessee,
was co-founded in 2005 with husband writer/musician, Ron Heacock.
You can reach Karen Walasek at Karen@hillhousewriters.com
By Charlyne A. Meinhard
Green leaves turn to gold
Yellow goes to orange
Or sooner yet to red;
The evergreens hold their own
As the forest turns—the foliage of fall.
The single summer whisp of breeze
Amid the sunny heat
Now becomes a welcome wind,
Breathing life from the lake
Through the windows—the crisp air of autumn.
Reflections of flowers and fireflies
No more there—
now reflect floating leaves,
Mirrors of warm-colored trees,
White wings of herons skimming edges,
The osprey glides home—to create again.
This is autumn at The Lake House Writers Retreat—my
favorite season of all! The bustle of summer (still laid-back back by big
city comparisons) is over, and the pace mellows to a pleasant rhythm of
cooler mornings, warm afternoons, and color aglow from trees over lake. The
cooler weather allows open windows, letting the outside in, and spurring
more time outside for me to work on the gardens.
Inspiration and nature’s quiet is here. I can’t
get enough! And, unfortunately for me, I can’t live here—yet. Fortunately
for you, I share it with YOU —
who has writer’s block
who has lost the muse
who has the urge to write that book burning inside
who has a new project, but can’t get focused
group that needs a retreat center—a place to bond.
The Lake House Writers Retreat is all about you.
A place to think.
A place to create and write.
A place of peace and nature’s quiet. All
Even your food is prepared and ready for you, should
you so choose.
This was my
dream location that I never found when I was writing my first book, so
I created it for others and myself.
Come to Virginia’s
Chesapeake Bay—it’s beautiful and
You can contact Charlyne with questions about The Lake House Writers’ Retreat, Hartfield, Virginia, at
804-382-5054 or send an e-mail to Charlyne@NextLevelForYou.com
MOST SOUGHT AFTER GENRE
By Dr. Peter J. Shield, PhD
There is little doubt that children's books
are the most sought after commodity in the publishing world at present. Of
all the genres available to the would be published author, and I’ve written
for most of them, it was a children’s picture book that provided my first
breakthrough with conventional publishers.
A major publisher accepted my first attempt
at a children's picture book within two weeks of submission. Don Quixote and the Windmills was
originally written for (and included) my granddaughter. The idea came about
when I was trying to think of some way to make productive use of a
collection of photographs that I had taken in Spain at the location of Don
Quixote's famous windmills. As an archaeologist, I have photographed
amazing sights around the world during my seventy plus years. Many remain
stored away in an original negative or transparency form. I am slowly
converting my slides to digital format but it is a slow process.
Fortunately, as an instructor of the photographic arts, I was an early
player in the digital field. I made my conversion to full-on digital
photography in Ireland
in 1996. Few of my contemporaries believed that the digital image would equal
that of film. Having spent so many hours in a darkroom in my early youth as
a photojournalist, I immediately became comfortable with the amazing new
technology. Retouching processes that took hours of skill and patience are
now completed in seconds with the click of a mouse!
A few years ago, I quite accidently came
across a hillside in Spain
covered with giant windmills and what were considered the inspiration for
Miguel de Cervantes classic Don
Quixote, written in 1605. I loved the pictures but never sought a
commercial outlet for them. That is until my wife Rose suggested that I
should use them to create a picture book for my granddaughter who had a
fascination with windmills.
For many years, I have been a fan of
Cervantes Knight with the Woeful Countenance, and while visiting Mexico
last Christmas I purchased two papier-mâché dolls of Don Quixote and Sancho
to add to my collection of figures and paintings. As I searched for shelf
space to house them, I got the idea that they might very well be just the
characters I needed for my book of windmills.
The result was of course my first published
children’s book, Don Quixote and the
No sooner had I put the book together than a
number of my colleagues approached me. They had asked me to teach them the
process of creating a children’s picture book!
The result is my workshop/retreat. I teach
would-be authors to create a ready-for-the-printer photo picture book in four
You can reach Dr.
Peter J. Shield PhD at email@example.com; Las Vegas Retreat or http://picturethedifference.com
CARMEL, CALIFORNIA’S UNIQUE WRITERS’
The Vagabond House Inn and Artist/Writer’s Retreat
in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California,
is in the heart of one of the most beautiful places in the world. Hosted by
award-winning author Heather Hummel, the Vagabond’s retreats are held
throughout the year.
The Vagabond’s retreats provide and encourage
individual writing space and time, critique work group sessions guided by
Heather Hummel, trips to Cannery Row—John Steinbeck country, wine and
cheese receptions in the evenings, and a group dinner. Each retreat is open
to writers of all genres. From poets to novelists to journalists to
screenwriters and nonfiction self-help authors, these retreats cultivate an
environment that motivates and inspires writers, all while blending a mix
of solitude and collaboration. The sessions are appropriate for writers who
need inspiration to begin, complete, or edit their works.
The accommodations include beautiful cabin-style
rooms, a full kitchen in most rooms, free Wi-Fi, hot and cold breakfast
choices, on site private spa facilities, and pets are welcome, and the
all-important desk by a window for writing! The retreat is also within walking
distance of quaint downtown/Ocean Avenue in Carmel.
Retreats run at various times throughout the year
and range from weekend to weeklong stays. Check our website for more
information on session dates and rates.
Heather Hummel offers individualized attention and
services to writers who attend the retreats and/or via remote communication
and “solo retreats.” These options include one-on-one coaching, editing,
manuscript evaluations, publishing, and ghost writing of query letters and
See the menu of services on our website or contact
Heather directly at Heather@HeatherHummel.net.
For reservations and accommodation questions,
For information about Heather Hummel, visit www.heatherhummel.net
Questions about retreat specifics? E-mail Heather
Vagabond’s Author Ambassador Heather Hummel:
Heather Hummel is an award-winning author
in both fiction and nonfiction. Heather's published works include:
Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw Hill,
2008), winner of the Merit award for the 2009 Mature Media Awards, and
Through Hazel Eyes (PathBinder Publishing),
winner of the 1st Honorable Mention of the 2009 New York Book Festival.
Heather’s other works include:
The Universe is My Sugar Daddy (PathBinder
Bridges: An Anthology (PathBinder Publishing, 2008), Blue Ridge Anthology (Cedar Creek, 2007
along with David Baldacci and Rita Dove),
a featured essay in Messages of Hope and Healing
(Sunpiper Press, 2006),
and a screenplay, Money, Love, & Charlottesville.
Heather, co-host of the Chit Chat Cafe Radio Show,
has been a guest author to a variety of audiences, including radio shows
such as Victoria Moran's "A Charmed Life." Heather and/or her
books have appeared in newspapers such as Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in the magazines, Body & Soul, First, and Spry
Living, with a combined circulation of nearly 15 million.
Heather has collaborated with award-winning
broadcast journalist Tony Seton in a communications venture, The Living
Proof Project that documents the oral history of people who want to leave
their legacy for future generations.
A graduate with high distinction from the
University of Virginia where she holds a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary
Studies degree with concentrations in English and secondary education,
Heather is currently working toward a PhD in Metaphysical Sciences.
Additionally, Heather is ghostwriter and a writing coach to aspiring
DON’T AGONIZE. ORGANIZE!
By Lynne Anderson, PhD
Writing is a messy profession. The tools we use
are messy. The resources we collect are messy. The drafts we produce are
messy. And sometimes even our ideas are messy—at least at the beginning.
Successful writers often seek ways to overcome this lack of neatness about
what we do and how we do it. Fortunately, we are writing in a time when
technology tools can be used to untangle the messiness in our heads and
rearrange the messiness of our words and phrases. Below is a quick overview
of some tools available to writers who want to stop agonizing and start
Ideas. The first step in organizing ideas is to get what is internal
(thoughts and ideas) into a form that is external (visible words and
phrases). There are two types of “idea organizers” to support this process:
electronic outliners (for writers
who think in a hierarchical manner), and electronic mapping programs (for writers who think more organically and
circular). Major features of outliners are: (a) easy insertion of text as
topics and subtopics, (b) fluid ability to change where a topic or subtopic
is in the hierarchy, (c) ability to hide and show subtopics, and (d)
ability to add larger chunks of text as notes. In contrast, electronic
mapping programs do not impose a structure on a writer’s ideas, thus
enabling more freeform brainstorming and the organization of ideas into
multiple formats (e.g., concept maps, semantic webs, flow charts). Mapping
programs allow writers to: (a) generate ideas quickly without concern for
structure, (b) arrange the ideas into a map or diagram as nodes, and (c)
connect the nodes with links that can be labeled to show conceptual
relationships. There are free programs of both types on the web (e.g., Acta and Bubbl.us), but many
writers enjoy using a tool that supports both outlining and mapping. Inspiration
is a powerful commercial program that provides both and allows writers to
move back and forth between the two modes of thinking.
genres require research—the gathering, organizing, and citing of
information from multiple sources. For large projects, the sheer management
task can be overwhelming. In today’s world, however, information is
increasingly digital, and there are tools to help organize information
found online in digital documents and websites. For example, Papers
is designed to ease searching for downloading, citing, and reading of PDFs
posted online in journal repositories, including open access databases such
as Google Scholar. The goal is to create a well-organized personal library
of digital papers that can be efficiently searched, read, compared, and
annotated using built-in navigation and notational tools. Websites present
a different organizational challenge. They are distributed widely and
changed frequently. Social bookmarking sites such as delicious and Zotero help writers
find, reference, annotate, tag, and return to websites or webpages that
have useful information. Both enable writers to “collect” and annotate
websites in a personal online database and Zotero allows writers to integrate website information with
information from digital documents.
Writing. Most writers use word processing programs and
enjoy the benefits of composing in digital text, especially when revising
and editing. Many writers, however, are not aware of specialized writing
software designed to support complex and large-scale literary projects. One
of the most comprehensive is Scrivener, a powerful word processing environment combined with project
management tools. Scrivener helps
writers pull together information and ideas from disparate sources into one
integrated program where writers can configure workspaces to support their
individual writing style and needs. Using multiple panes in a single
window, writers can simultaneously view research documents, while composing
text; or view a video while taking notes on it. An outliner and a digital
“corkboard” provide different ways to get an overview of the project’s
components as well as reorganize them. The program automatically keeps
track of an author’s progress and archives discarded versions as
“snapshots” in case they are needed again. To produce a printed draft,
templates for different genres (novel, short story, screenplay) as well as
a variety of formatting features, enable compiling and exporting the chunks
of text into a properly formatted and footnoted manuscript. Other programs
with similar goals exist, and some, such as YWriter, are
available online free.
For writers who would like to learn more about
technology tools and online resources to enhance their professional
productivity, consider registering for a weekend workshop in our series Power On: Technology Tools & Tips
for Writers. The first one is January 14-16, 2011 and the second one is
January 21-23, 2011. Details online at: http://www.pantherorchardretreat.org.
To reserve a spot or reach Lynne Anderson, owner of the Panther Orchard
Writers’ Retreat in Hopkinton,
Rhode Island, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The title Don’t Agonize. Organize! is quoted
Kennedy (1916–2000), author, attorney, and outspoken activist against the
political and social oppression of women and African Americans.
The Writers' Retreat ---- www.WritersRetreat.com ---- email@example.com
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