NEKLogoSmallThe Writers’ Retreat Newsletter

January 2012, Volume 12, No 1


In This Issue







Upcoming workshops and clinics:


To enroll in a workshop of your choice, please browse our Workshop Page at





Are you looking for a space where you can shut out the world and dig in deeply internally? The Writers’ Retreat network provides the perfect balance of leaving you alone and at the same time making sure you have everything you need while staying with us. The Writers’ Retreat network offers a worldwide selection of retreat locations to choose from. Go to to find out where your next writing retreat will be!


Shape your Vision into Reality with The Writers' Retreat!




Turn your home into a retreat for writers - only $199 per year!


Can’t wait to see my retreat live; I’ve been dreaming about doing it for so long! Louise Page, Ireland


I got my first guest in 2012 this month; she found The Writer's Well through our Writer’s Retreat network. Having a guest in January is a great way to kick off the year with activity. I am claiming at least one guest per month. Here’s to a retreat year of blessings beyond measure for all of us!  Adilah Barnes, Georgia, USA


A Writers’ Retreat: Starting from Scratch to Success!  

Testimonials from retreat operators confirm the very reasons why I wrote this guidebook in the first place and I am so glad to see it serves its purpose, to assist you all in contemplating your dream of operating a writers’ retreat business.


With this book you will simply rediscover your standards and realize that a successful retreat business is a calculated formula that anyone can follow. More than a guide, it is an inspiration. Follow my guidance to a vibrant residential retreat you will be proud of.

To read a few pages of the book, visit; the book is available in print, e-book, and audio formats. —Micheline Côté, The Writers’ Retreat

Micheline Côté, The Writers’ Retreat.



We are proud to announce the opening of a first residential writers’ retreat in Ireland and delighted to welcome Louise Page, your mentor and host.


The Writers’ Retreat in Heron's Reach, which has been the site of many writing adventures, is located in the beautiful Irish countryside, five minutes walk from the sea and Birnham Lagoon where you’ll find inspiration. The retreat is comprised of four rooms in the main house and a self-contained cabin.


Louise Page has taught writing, performed, and won countless awards for her work in more than forty countries. She is currently working on nonfiction, adapting Devil’s Cub for the stage, and her own play with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She is an accredited Read to Lead mentor. Louise has strong track record of working with businesses to improve their communication skills.


To find out more or to secure your space, please contact Louise Page via e-mail at or The Writers’ Retreat in Heron’s Reach, Ireland.


Also, a warm welcome to Inge and Rolf for opening an eco-retreat in Bay of Islands, New Zealand.


The eco-retreat is nestled in the midst of the Kerikeri River's Nature Reserve away from the hustle and bustle but close enough to Kerikeri’s charming town. Ora Ora Eco Wellness Resort offers three peaceful and comfortable accommodations in three private little villas hidden in subtropical gardens in the historic Stone Store Basin of Kerikeri.


Various massages, herbal spa bath and sauna, and organic meals at Makai Restaurant are available based on prior booking at extra charges.


Inge and Rolf hail from Germany and operate Ora Ora. They combine their enthusiasm for sustainable living and conservation with a high degree of service to their guests. They offer like-minded guests to share their little paradise, which is gradually developed into a small eco-village.


Please contact Inge and Rolf via e-mail at or The Writers’ Retreat in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, New Zealand.





By Lawrence Shapiro


If you are thinking about a new writing project, one where you can derive a good income and even launch a new career, then consider writing a self-help book. 


Self-help books, sometimes called “how to” books, can be about almost any subject, but the most popular subcategories are personal growth, business, and parenting. Most of the people I talk to who want to write a self-help book are already in the helping profession, but that is certainly not a requirement to writing an informative, popular, and helpful book. You can be an authority on any subject from knitting to cabinet building to training for a marathon. If you are good at something, and you want to help others acquire your skills, you are ready to write a self-help book.


There are many rewards to writing a self-help book, and they are much more tangible and easier to achieve than with most other kinds of writing. I have been fortunate to have a long career creating self-help books, including books for therapists, parents, kids, and teenagers. I’ve also created card games, board games, apps, websites, and other self-help tools. If you are a creative thinker, a clear writer, and an authority in your subject area, there are many ways to convey your message and I would encourage you to consider them all.


So if you are thinking about writing a self-help book (or another creative product), see if these top five reasons will motivate you to begin:


1.      You get to help people with your writing. Maybe you will help hundreds, maybe you will help tens of thousands, but there are a few things that match the feeling of having people ask you to sign a book that has “changed their lives.”

2.      Self-help books appeal to a targeted and motivated audience. Marketing and selling a book is always easier when you target an audience who wants to buy and use what you want to sell. 

3.      Your self-help book can augment your business or profession. There is no better business card than an autographed book. Your book turns you into an instant authority.

4.      Your self-help book can lead to an ongoing business. If your book is successful, you may want to consider writing more books on this topic, lecturing or giving workshops, or making other products to sell.

5.      Self-help is a favorite category among many publishers, and self-help books are easy to self-publish.


If you need help with your self-help book, please let me know.


Lawrence Shapiro runs a writers’ retreat in Cape Cod and gives workshops for people who want to write self-help books or other products. His newest book Write to Help: How to Help Others with Your Self-Help Book, Game, or App, will be published in February 2012.


For more information, visit his retreat in Cape Cod, Massachusetts or contact Lawrence Shapiro at




By Adilah Barnes


January is one of my favorite times of the year. It is a defined benchmark to start anew.


As writers, we can take this opportunity to recharge our batteries, recommit to our current literary endeavors, and set new sights. We may have work we need to complete or we may just want to start a new project that has been dancing around in our heads and needs now to be on paper.


To that end, below are suggestions that may get your juices flowing in a new way in this New Year.



Setting our goals and objectives is a measurable way to do just that. If it is too overwhelming to think in terms of setting goals for the entire year, set your goals in smaller bites. Goals are whats and objectives are hows. I suggest that for each goal set, at least one objective be identified to achieve how that goal may be met.



Environment has everything to do with being inspired to write.


For some, writing may take place in a more formal space, and for others, a non-traditional milieu such as an outside deck when the weather is nice, going to a park, a library, a Starbucks, or another place that activates the creative mind.


If you choose a space in your home, a spiritual environment can be created by unlocking the five senses. For example, light an aromatherapy candle and have it where it is visible. Write in front of a window with a nice view and plenty of light. Burn incenses. Have a fountain nearby where you can hear the soothing sound of water. Play relaxing, instrumental music. Remove your shoes and feel the floor or carpet. Make yourself a hot cup of herbal tea.


Thus, the above senses of sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste.


I tend to enjoy writing in my own home space where I have no outside stimuli to distract me, so the above suggestions personally serve me as a writer.



By creating a set time to write, we not only discipline ourselves, we also work our writing time into our schedules, whether daily or not and for either small increments of writing time or more.


This structure can strengthen literary muscles



The more we take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually, the more we are able to bring forth the energy that sustains us to create. I enjoy spiritual readings to start my day, my morning yoga that gets me in touch with my breath and that stretches my body, walking in a nearby wooded area where I breathe in the scent of pine trees, hear birds chirping and eye an occasional deer, while allowing myself to think about my work or drift wherever my mind takes me.



One way to become a better writer is to read how-to writing books, particularly ones that speak to the genre of the given writer. A fun way to gain inspiration is to read for pleasure those authors we enjoy. In the process, we are likely to be influenced in terms of how we approach our own writing.



When ready, you may want to share what you are working on with those you trust and support you as a writer. Hearing language out loud can also help shape our re-writes. By committing to share our work with others we can put a fire under us to get the writing done, and challenge ourselves to present works we are proud of at the same time.


So, as we meet this New Year, let us consider some of the above ways to rev our engines and get in gear!


You can reach Adilah Barnes at or The Writers’ Retreat in Sharpsburg, GA.



By Kate Walker, resident at the New Zealand writer’s retreat

For ten years, I’ve stayed at writers’ retreats all around the world and my experience just gets better. I’m currently at the Ora Ora Writers’ Retreat in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand and writing up a storm! I have my own villa with a king-size bed, a living room, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. And I’m surrounded by acres of dazzling New Zealand greenery, gentle bird song, a rambling garden, and … quiet.

New Zealand’s attraction for me is the mild climate. I’ve come here for two consecutive years to escape the scorching summer heat in Australia. Getting into a sweat while writing doesn’t work for me. The other attraction is New Zealand’s vast national parks and reserves. I walk every afternoon, both for exercise and time out from writing—it’s an essential part of my day. And no matter where you are in New Zealand, you’re never far from a bush walk that has shades of Lord of the Rings at every turn.

Ora Ora has a beauty! You go straight out the back gate onto a walking track that winds for several kilometres along the Kerikeri River, past fairy pools, and water falls. And I’m not talking three trickles of water over two rocks in a stream. When New Zealanders label something a waterfall, expect a torrent. Rainbow Falls is at the end of the trail, so aptly named because it cascades so much water and hurls so much mist into the air that it creates its own rainbow. It’s astounding!

Ora Ora Retreat operates on eco-principles. You can pick herbs from the garden and brew up your own tea. (No pesticides are used.) The owners, Inge and Rolf, take care of the linens and take very good care of the writers too. They’ve been more than happy to drive me to the local supermarket for a weekly shopping trip. However, the supermarket isn’t that far away, so I’ve walked there and back a few times on my own. It’s about half an hour each way.

My time here has been very productive. I’ve added the final changes to three longish short stories and started on the big project I came here to tackle—a young adult novel that’s currently just a pile of notes. This is why I come to writers’ retreats, not the bird song or the leafy walks as beautiful as they are, but I come for the long, uninterrupted days in which I can stay focused on one project to the exclusion of everything else. This has been easy to do here, squirreled away in my own little villa with no telephone, no chores, and no nothing! Just hours and hours of quiet in which to write, and I love it.

Kate Walker [Australia] writes mainly for children and young adults.

For more information about the Ora Ora Retreat in New Zealand, please contact Inge and Rolf via e-mail at or The Writers’ Retreat in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, New Zealand.




By Louise Page


I’ve been earning my living from writing since I was twenty-three, and writing is still the loneliest thing I’ve ever done. When you’re writing, it’s not so bad. On a good day, you go to your characters and they come out to play. On a bad day, it’s like being the worst kid in the neighbourhood; nobody wants to be your friend. No one wants to know you, and no amount of hammering on the door is going to let you in. Worst of all is the finishing of something. You’ve been on a journey with your characters and ideas, and then they just go away. Off into a future of publication or performance; off to make friends with other people. They don’t even turn around and wave to the lonely writer who has just typed the longed for THE END after months, perhaps years, of effort.


I spent ten years writing a British Radio Soap called The Archers. It taught me two important lessons. One was to write fast; no time for angst about the colour or nuance of a word, scripts have deadlines, get on with it, and write. The other lesson was the joy of working with other writers, and I found it amazing how different we all wrote. Some liked to be up before dawn, while others wrote late into the night. Then I married a writer. I discovered that some writers write, and then hack back and cut to get to the essence of what they want to say. Conveniently, the writer I married also includes the ironing and vacuuming in his writing ritual. The thing we had in common was a love of writing and the desire to make our work good enough to ask other people to spend their time with our characters. I sometimes think it is not the money we earn that makes us writers, but the time people spend reading our books or watching our plays.


My aim for the retreats at Heron’s Reach is retreats that have an element of solitude and writing time. I’ve watched writers flounder when they have just been left to get on with it. I once found a writer standing outside another writer’s room listening to the sound of the key strokes and saying, “How can they do it when I can’t?”  I happened to know that though a lot of writing was being accomplished, not much thought was going into the work, and a quality/quantity issue would eventually raise its head.


Sharing writing is important, and I encourage writers to discuss their work with one another. Often this process of other writers wanting to hear the rewrite of your poem or which man she decides she really loves, can help give you the impetus to keep going. At the retreat, I also invite writers to share writing that they like with others. In this way, I have been introduced to all sorts of authors who I may not have come across in my own reading. I could curse the writer who introduced me to Harlan Coben, but gobbling down his novels has taught me an awful lot about plotting. 

Ireland is a country built on stories. Forget about running into the grocery store, grabbing a life-sustaining chocolate bar, and then racing back to your laptop. You have to listen. Who could imagine the force of the wind could be strong enough to bend the lock so that people had to be cut out of their house? You’ll never describe the wind as howling again. Listen to the stories. Most importantly listen to your own. And when you are lonely, write yourself one.


To find out more or to secure your space, please contact Louise Page via e-mail at or The Writers’ Retreat in Heron’s Reach, Ireland.



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