NEW RETREATS OPEN IN FERMO, ITALY and
BERNE, NEW YORK
Congratulations and welcome to
Alessia Sonaglioni for opening a writers’ retreat in Fermo, Italy.
lies on a hill perched between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic
Sea and is surrounded by lush, fertile fields. It is located in the Le
Marche region in central Italy on the Adriatic coast. This region is
not as well known as other Italian regions, but boasts a similar
landscape to Tuscany with less tourists and more authenticity.
Italian lawyer, lives in France where she works for a public fund that
supports film production. She is from Fermo, and a few years ago, she
bought Casa Collina. “For me, it is a magical place where one can
genuinely be creative, rest, and enjoy the best of the region.” She’s
on-site twice a year to write and find inspiration. “I am passionate
about literature and cinema, and I have followed creative writing
courses during the last few years. Professionally, I regularly read
screenplays and give feedback.”
information, please contact Alessia Sonaglioni at email@example.com or The Writers’ Retreat in Fermo, Italy.
We are proud to announce the
opening of our first retreat in Berne, New York, and are delighted to
welcome Rhonda Coullet as your host.
Located in rural Upstate New
York, in the Helderberg Mountains about one hour from Albany, the rustic
1841 farmhouse is nestled on eighty private wooded acres and offers a
one-hundred-mile view from the large front porch, a swimmable spring-fed
pond, and plenty of wildlife.
Rhonda Coullet, your host, is a
produced playwright, Broadway actress, keyboardist, and songwriter. “I am
looking to spend more time away from home to get my play produced in New
more information, please contact Rhonda Coullet via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit The Writers’ Retreat in Berne, New York.
A TIME OF NEW BEGINNINGS
of my favorite times of the year is New Year’s Day because I see the start
of each year as another opportunity to start anew, both professionally and
it is with 2014!
is a wonderful time for writers to set new goals for the year.
are a few areas you may want to give consideration to jumpstart you into
may be more doable to set goals in achievable increments. For example,
goals for the year, goals for six months and three months, and daily goals
may make goal-setting less overwhelming.
a goal a day that furthers your writing may be a wonderful way of gaining
confidence and traction. If you feel you are making progress one day at a
time, you may feel more motivated to move forward with your work.
example, choose to write one page a day to get you started, read a chapter
of a literary how-to book that offers valuable information, read a magazine
article by a writer you respect, and make a journal entry that may keep
your writing chops up and encourage you to receive inspiration from other
of us have writings we never completed. This is a good time to dust off
your previous work and see if any call you to complete them. Closure can
allow you to exhale, and then pat yourself on the back for gaining
people whose opinions you trust and those who have literary expertise are a
valuable way of gaining feedback on your writings. You may want to schedule
a reading with a small group of writers or friends. However, make sure you
choose those who you feel will be supportive of you and your work.
A WRITING GROUP
may want to Google writing groups in your area and join a support group of
other writers. There may be many groups to choose from, so research to find
the one that feels right for you in terms of size and focus.
A WRITING WORKSHOP
is another way of sharpening your writing skills. Again, writing workshops
can be Googled for your area to find the one that seems to fit your genre
A READING CIRCLE
is an excellent way to meet others who are either writers or who simply
enjoy reading. If you have a published book, the group may even choose your
book to read and discuss one meeting. (My reading circle honored me by
discussing my book.)
books by other writers, particularly those of your genre and/or those who
interest you, is another way of improving your writing by exploring styles
of others and by looking at how they structure their works. (i.e.,
language, voice, sensory choices, plot, characterization, dialogue, etc.)
wishes to all of you, and may this year satisfy you as a writer.
and miracles to each of you in 2014!
can reach Adilah Barnes by e-mail at email@example.com or visit her website at www.writersretreat.com (Georgia location).
CLARITY, ZEST, HEALTH AND CONFIDENCE FOR
A NEW WRITER
(age 63) was eager to get away from domestic problems, enjoy life, and be
pampered. She was an accomplished organizer who had been providing for
her family for decades. Whereas she could clearly prioritize when outsiders
were concerned, she could not say no when family members—with Bambi
eyes—appealed for help again and again without feeling the need to become
independent. The situation had reached a point where S. was victimized, and
she felt prevented from realizing her dreams—one of which was writing.
Thus, she was eager, relaxed, recuperated, and searched for inspirations
for the New Year.
the peaceful, subtropical environment in the Bay of Islands, and supported
by discussions with her hosts over organic meals with plenty of homemade
Confidence Tea as well as sessions with the clinical hypnotherapist, S.
realized that her interest in family history, her skills as an athlete, and
her previous practice of writing letters to her nine grandchildren (all to
be given to them upon turning twenty-one), could open a door to an exciting
new period in her life as a writer.
stepped through that door and felt confident she could realize her
ambition. She was happy to discover that the local writer’s mentor was able
to coach her and even help her to learn e-publishing.
felt safe and relaxed as well as appreciated and admired for her many
achievements. Enjoying massages, going on accompanied walks, and taking a
one-on-one yoga lesson made her feel alive and healthy. She was humming to
herself as she outlined clearly what she wanted to achieve and which steps
she needed to reach her goals. S. is now looking forward to 2014 with zest
for life, health, and contentment are the meaning of Ora Ora, The Writer’s
Retreat in the Bay of Islands.
Bremer is co-operator of Ora Ora Retreat in Kerikeri/New Zealand.
She is an avid reader and mentor of all aspects of healthy life. She can be
contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit The Writers' Retreat in Kerikeri.
TECHNOLOGY: FRIEND OR FOE
autumn, one of the writers on retreat begged me to take her iPad away.
“Just put it where I can’t see it,” she pleaded. As a writer, I go on
retreat myself—sometimes to write, sometimes for solitude and stillness.
If I only have a day, the place I visit is the local convent. There is a
basket by the front entrance so people can leave their technology behind.
However, as the retreat sister said to me, “Most people just can’t do
of the first questions I’m asked when people arrive at Heron’s Reach is
“What’s the Wi-Fi code?” I’ve even had people busy on their phones while
I showed them around and explained the house rules about writing time and
respecting one another’s privacy.
dramatist arrived with hundreds of sheets of downloaded research and sat
in the middle of the paperwork as she desperately tried to find a
structure for her play. Like most writers, I’ve fallen into the trap of
too much research. Researching feels like writing, but one of the things
I have learned over the years is to create a basic structure, and then
research only on a need-to-know basis. My poor dramatist had a great
premise, but completely lost track of it in snippets of fascinating, but
not relevant research. I took everything away from her and asked her to
write with a pencil on paper the story she wanted to tell. We’re all used
to keyboards, and most of us take a long time to write by hand. Once I
had slowed her down, and she couldn’t just cut and paste her ideas, she
began to engage with the material in a different way. We then threw out
any research that wasn’t relevant to the play.
also started using the handwriting and notebook way of structuring ideas
with Advanced Business Writing courses. At first, many participants
reject the idea. But gradually they realize that what they were calling structure
was only moving ideas around, thanks to technology. Interestingly, many
of them continue to use pens and paper after the course is over as a way
of organizing their thoughts.
you look at handwritten manuscripts from some of the great writers, it’s
enlightening to see how few changes and alterations most of them make
from their first drafts. Without the luxury of cut-and-paste, and because
of the physical labor involved in writing, they had to organize their
sound as if I’m saying writers shouldn’t use laptops or the Internet.
What I’m arguing is that they are tools, and when endless checking of
in-boxes and Tweets is getting in the way of working, they change from
tool to tyrant. If you’re not convinced, the writer who did the most work
and developed her ideas more than any other was the one who had no Smart
Phone and wrote it all out by hand before typing it up. However, we were
nearly driven mad because she didn’t answer our e-mails about arrival
time, dietary requirements, and which room she preferred. We need to
strike a balance.
year, I’m going to get a basket for the hall table, and like the nuns
did, invite people to leave their phones in the basket while they write.
We’ll see if it works. I, meanwhile, with have mine turned on for inquiries
about arrival times and booking details. You understand.
Page can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or visit The Writers'
Retreat at Heron’s Reach and The Nest,
have been retreating to my home in Berne, New York, since 1979. At the
time, I was a Broadway actress in New York City with only a dream of
becoming a writer. Now, thirty-three years later, I’ve had my play
produced twice and angling for my New York production. I’ve written a
memoir and lots of poetry, and I’ve composed all the music in my musical
as well. So, I for one can vouch for the serenity and inspiration at this
cosmic spot on earth.
The retreat is an old farmhouse perched atop a mountain with a vast,
ever-changing view. There are eighty wooded acres to roam in privacy and
a pond to skinny-dip with nary a thought of strangers. There is an old
family cemetery where Mary Starr and her family have lay in repose since
1863, and surprisingly, two stones are cemented into the big front porch
in the house.
I’ve speculated and written stories about life at this place from every
angle, and the pristine silence never fails to bring new ideas in on the
wind. And it can get windy, weatherly, and excitingly dangerous up here
on my hill. During the winter months, it is not for the faint of heart.
It requires wood toting and weather watching, but if you’re brave, there
is an alternative life in the imagination waiting for you here.
Music reverberates through the halls. I have a Yamaha piano that begs to
be played, and when I compose songs, I swear a chorus in heaven joins in
right above my head. That’s how close heaven is to the farmhouse.
I know I sound like a crazy writer and I am. My brother and sister-in-law
are writers as well, and they have a lake home ten minutes from my
farmhouse. We live close to Rensselaerville where each summer many
writers gather to inspire one another.
I now have to rejoin the New York City world, for theater is not like
fiction, it requires collaboration. I can’t stand the idea of my house
being lonesome and no one there to enjoy it, hence my offer of this
rustic, old-step back into 1842 and traditional life in the country. A
house with character is not for everyone, but the pristine eternal beauty
of nature and the silence and privacy never fails to comfort my writer
Here’s to every word to be written now and forevermore.
a great 2014 wherever you are!
Coullet can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via The Writers' Retreat in Berne, New York.
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