NEKLogoSmallThe Writers’ Retreat Newsletter

October 2010, Volume 10, No 4


In This Issue









Upcoming workshops and clinics:

Las Vegas, NEVADA:

November 14–18, 2010: Children's Picture book, a four-day retreat

Info and register online or e-mail Peter J. Shield, PhD



November 1–4, 2010: Writer’s Workshop Etiquette

Info and register online or e-mail Heather Hummel


Hopkinton, RHODE ISLAND:

January 14–16, 2011 and January 21–23, 2011: Power On: Technology Tools & Tips for Writers

Info and register online or e-mail Lynne Anderson


Sharpsburg, GEORGIA:

December 18, 2010: Let’s get YOUR show on the road

January 8–9, 2011: From thought to pen

Info and register online or e-mail Adilah Barnes.


Cascade, COLORADO:

October 7–9, 2011: Screenwriting Clinic: 

   Making a Good Script Great

Info and register online or e-mail Linda Seger






Join the Writers’ Retreat Network and connect with your dream and vision.


The Writers’ Retreat Network features residential retreats in Canada, Costa Rica, throughout Europe, and the United States.


Consider a retreat an excellent opportunity to pursue your dream of not only generating income, but also in creating a broader choice for our community of writers and authors.


Are you contemplating a business opportunity in the literary world?

Do you want to create an inspiring and fertile environment for writers?

Do you already own or manage a hospitality venue?

Do you wish to generate income in your unique home?

Do you seek new ways to find your true destiny?

Is your dream strong enough to motivate you to be a successful coach and mentor?


If one of the above applies to you, contact us today to discuss your idea or project and learn more about starting and operating a writer’s retreat in your area. We’re here to help!


Please take a tour of our Worldwide Residential Retreats at or click below.


Stanstead, Quebec, Canada (Headquarters)

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Craftsbury, Vermont
Folly Beach, South Carolina
HillHouse Farm Retreat, Tennessee
Jabierans Retreat, Spain
Las Vegas, Nevada
Ojochal, Costa Rica
Panther Orchard Retreat, Rhode Island
Sharpsburg, Georgia
The Lake House Writers Retreat, Virginia


Micheline Côté, The Writers’ Retreat.

Shape your Vision into Reality with The Writers' Retreat! 



We are proud to announce the opening of a year-round residential retreat in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea in California and delighted to welcome Heather Hummel, our newest on-site mentor.


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 or The Writers’ Retreat in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.





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 market?


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 inspirational read.


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 family.


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 Sharpsburg, Georgia, please send an e-mail to or go to and click on the Georgia location.




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 judgment.

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 tasted?

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 might help.


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 and Canada. 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 visit or





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—

Lake waters 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 —

            *Writer who has writer’s block

            *Poet who has lost the muse

            *Speaker who has the urge to write that book burning inside

            *Presenter who has a new project, but can’t get focused

            *Small 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 distractions eliminated.

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 inspirational!


You can contact Charlyne with questions about The Lake House Writers’ Retreat, Hartfield, Virginia, at 804-382-5054 or send an e-mail to




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 Windmills.


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 days.


You can reach Dr. Peter J. Shield PhD at; Las Vegas Retreat or




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 proposals.


See the menu of services on our website or contact Heather directly at

For reservations and accommodation questions, visit

For information about Heather Hummel, visit

Questions about retreat specifics? E-mail Heather Hummel:


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 Publishing, 2009)

¨        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 writers.




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 organizing1.

Organizing 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, 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.

Organizing Information. Many 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.

Organizing 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: To reserve a spot or reach Lynne Anderson, owner of the Panther Orchard Writers’ Retreat in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, email


[1] The title Don’t Agonize. Organize! is quoted from Florence Kennedy (1916–2000), author, attorney, and outspoken activist against the political and social oppression of women and African Americans.


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