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High Altitude Inspiration: Four Days in the Rocky Mountains with Special Guest…..

 Join us in August 14th – 18th, 2019 for

High Altitude Inspiration:

Four Days in the Clouds in Grand Lake, Colorado

Just Announced: Special Guest Randall Brown!

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Rise above your normal vantage point. Put your head in the clouds. See what inspiration waits for you when you take the birds-eye view, perched above Grand Lake and nestled in the grandeur of nature and the majestic Rocky Mountains.  

Commune with your fellow writers in a rustic, peaceful setting. Clear your mind. See the big picture. Open yourself to inspired creativity and expansion. Take your writing to new heights with us this August in Colorful Colorado.

Join us for an all-inclusive four-day retreat with two group sessions each day (including craft talks, generative writing exercises, workshopping sessions and one-on-one mentoring as well as plenty of inspired individual writing time), three delicious locally-sourced meals per day, sunset group writes and a final evening literary salon in the stunning chapel overlooking the lake. 

Now with a special BONUS session with renowned flash fiction writer and teacher Randall Brown! 

Randall Brown is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live, his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, and he appears in theBest Small Fictions 2015 & 2017 & 2019The Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction, and The Norton Anthology of Microfiction. He founded and directs FlashFiction.Net and has been published and anthologized widely, both online and in print. Recent published work includes the novella How Long is Forever (2018)the poetry chapbook I Might Never Learn (2018), and the flash fiction collectionThis Is How He Learned to Love (2019).  He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. He received his MFA from Vermont College.

Hope you can join us!

More info here:

Nancy Stohlman

Spring is Coming: Planting Seeds for The Rupture of Your Creativity

Here in Colorado, the Rocky Mountains are still covered in what feels like endless snow, but underneath all that snow the spring flowers are actually stirring…we just can’t see them yet.

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Grand Lake, Colorado, in winter

This “stirring” is a potent metaphor for our own creativity: Sometimes we cannot see the fruits of our labor yet, but underneath the surface new life is growing still. And just like spring, one day we will look around and ask: Where did all these flowers come from all of a sudden?

But the artist knows that it never happens all of a sudden.

I love this quote by Cynthia Occelli:  “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

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So hang on! The rupture of your best work may be working its way to the surface right now!

That also means that now is the perfect time to start planting your creative seeds for the spring/summer: What creative flowers do you want to bloom this year? Do you want to send out more submissions? Enter a contest? Finish a manuscript? Maybe you want to get into a daily writing routine? Try a new form (like flash fiction!)? Get your website going? Network with other writers or go on a writing retreat with us?

Whatever your goals are, now is the time to put those seeds in the ground and let them stir–invisible but moving–towards fruition.

Happy planting!

Love, Nancy

Find out more about Flash Fiction Summer Camp in Grand Lake August 2019

Find out more about Writing Wild in Costa Rica March 2020

 

 

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K.B. Jensen: On Books, Bucket Lists, and Dreaming Big in Italy

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Kathy Fish and I are excited that fellow Denverite K.B. Jensen will be joining us in Casperia, Italy for our first European flash fiction retreat! I chat with K.B. here about books, bucket lists, and what it’s like to be bi-cultural, among other things:

Nancy Stohlman: The biggest challenge most writers have is finding the time to write. How do you “retreat” in your day-to-day life in order to honor your creativity?

K.B. Jensen: To tell you the truth, I suck at that lately, which is why I’m excited to jumpstart my writing this spring with the Italy retreat. I definitely struggle to find the time to write these days, and I want to get back into the routine.

Writing a book is like putting together a puzzle, you have to keep chipping at it. The easiest time I ever had of it was when I was a stay at home parent and my kid was a baby and took naps. I never knew if I’d have thirty minutes to write or two hours, so I wrote my first novel like mad during her naptime. But now she’s older, and I work as a professional editor, publishing consultant and ski instructor, as well, so the writing time has become scarcer. What has been helpful has been to give myself permission to write and to write early in the day while my eyes are fresh. I recently literally wrote myself a permission slip for writing one hour daily. Lately, it has been mostly journaling and poetry, but it feels good, and it’s like playing the scales on a piano.

I also enjoyed doing challenges like FlashNaNoWriMo, where you write a short story a day. That was really helpful, Nancy. I love your prompts. Thank you for sending them daily in November.

Nancy: You are so welcome! And I relate SO much to the writing-during-naptime and I LOVE the permission slip! Can you tell us about your relationship to flash fiction?

K.B. I’m not married to it. I play with all sorts of lengths and genres. But I do love flash. It’s fun and playful. I also like writing concisely. I was a journalist for fifteen years, so I love brevity and getting to the point quickly.

Nancy: So what piece of your own writing are you most proud of? Where could we read it (if it’s available)?

K.B. That’s like choosing between children. I’m really proud of my books. Painting With Fire is more popular generally since it’s a murder mystery, but A Storm of Stories is probably my favorite child of the two. Both represent different times in my life with Painting With Fire drawing from all the crime stories I wrote as a newspaper reporter, talking to all those cops, neighbors and family members of victims. It is fiction, but it’s true to life.

A Storm of Stories is definitely more literary, poetic and metaphorical. It’s a complex book. I didn’t even realize I was writing it the way I was, but the themes just fit together into a bigger story. It’s a novel full of short stories with two strangers trapped in a car in a whiteout storm telling each other stories to stay alive. The stories all have the themes of love, craziness and impossibility. And then there’s the story and mystery of the two storytellers, as well. The things our stories reveal about us, what’s real and what’s made up. Storytelling can be so intimate and revealing. These main characters don’t know each other, but they do.

I also have an award-winning short story that’s speculative fiction about a woman who turns into her grandmother overnight, but I haven’t actually published it yet. You can find samples of A Storm of Stories and Painting With Fire on Amazon, if you want to get a feel.

Nancy: Since you have published several books—what are some of the most important things you have learned from that process?

K.B. Don’t publish in a vacuum. Never publish alone. I didn’t make that mistake, thankfully. I had a lot of help. I know a ton about publishing now that I wish I knew when I first started. I could write a whole book on that question. To sum it up? Go big. Dream big. Market big. Have a team.

I also learned to not be so scared. Weirdly enough, even after working as a journalist for magazines and newspapers, I used to be terrified of people reading my fiction. When my first book came out, I told myself no one would read it and that made me feel better. It was comforting. After 70,000 people downloaded it, I freaked out a bit, then let that fear go. So I have learned not to be scared of sharing fiction. I am still nervous about sharing poetry though. I guess I have it weirdly compartmentalized. At my first live-lit event years ago, my hands shook so badly, you could see the paper flutter. Hard to imagine now.

Nancy: That is such amazing advice, especially about fear. I agree–fear only holds us back. So proud of you and looking forward to seeing more in Italy. Have you been to Italy before? What are you most looking forward to?

K.B. I have always wanted to go to Italy. It’s been on my bucket list, but this is a first for me. I’m looking forward to meeting some cool fellow writers, getting some writing done, refocusing and being inspired by a beautiful country.

Nancy: React to this quote by Richard Branson: “The most talented, thought-provoking, game-changing people are never normal.” Are you “normal”?

K.B. Hell no. I’m definitely not normal. That’s a nice quote in that it spins it so positively.

Maybe that was why I was so afraid of sharing my fiction for so long. I was afraid people would read it and think I was crazy or weird. Then I realized, I am a little crazy and fairly weird, and that’s okay. Who wants to be normal? I like weird people too. Interesting characters.

Nancy: I agree! Okay, finally: Tell us something we don’t know about you?

It’s strange, in America, I feel Danish. In Denmark, I feel American. My dad hails from Copenhagen. He didn’t teach me any Danish as a kid. Maybe he wanted me to be American. I rebelled and learned it in college. After I learned, I recorded my grandfather’s World War II memories on tape on long distance calls, but they are all in Danish. I’d like to do something with those stories, as well one of these days, but the prospect of translating all that Danish is intimidating. One day. Another item on the bucket list. Maybe it will be historical fiction or true vignettes about his experiences. I’m not sure.

Nancy: Thank you so much for chatting with me, K.B.! I’m counting the days until our Italian retreat! Until then, where can we find your books?

K.B. You can find my books at:

A Storm of Stories

Painting With Fire

K.B. Jensen is an award-winning author, fiction editor, and publishing consultant with My Word Publishing. Her first book, Painting With Fire, an artistic murder mystery, hit the bestseller list for crime novels on Amazon and has been downloaded more than 70,000 times. Her second book, A Storm of Stories, veers into more literary territory with themes of love, craziness and impossibility. K.B. grew up in Minneapolis and moved from Chicago to Littleton, CO., with her husband, daughter and rescued border collie/lab mix. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching downhill skiing, writing poetry and traveling the world. For more information, visit www.kbjensenauthor.com.

P.S Our Springtime in Italy retreat is Sold Out, but we have room in our Flash Fiction Summer Camp (Colorado) and our just announced Writing Wild in Costa Rica 2020 retreats! Find out more:

Flash Fiction Summer Camp in Colorado: August 14-18, 2018

Writing Wild in Costa Rica 2020: March 21-27, 2020

 

Kathy fish, Nancy Stohlman

Costa Rica Wrap Up and Announcement!

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Kathy’s thoughts:

“I wondered about the explorers who’d sailed their ships to the end of the world. How terrified they must have been when they risked falling over the edge; how amazed to discover, instead, places they had seen only in their dreams.” ~Jodi Picoult

I thought of this quote on the flight to Costa Rica, wondering what lie ahead for us. Though Costa Rica is hardly the “end of the world,” I’d never been there before. I’d only seen pictures. Pictures and descriptions of the country and of Peace Retreat. Nancy and I took a huge leap of faith for ourselves and our participants, hoping we’d chosen well. We really wanted this 2nd outing for Flash Fiction Retreats, and indeed, our first outing outside of the U.S., to be a success.

My impressions:

Costa Rica is wild. And although there are resort towns and luxury hotels, Peace Retreat was neither situated in a resort town, nor was it a luxury hotel. And we didn’t want that anyway. We wanted, well, peace. We wanted to retreat somewhere that our group felt like it largely had the place to themselves (except for a handful of yoga students and teachers and some volunteers, we did). We wanted to feel immersed in a peaceful, exotic setting surrounded by nature. We got that. Each day, I woke up just before dawn, to the sound of the birds and the howler monkeys. For the first few days, the wind was powerful. We were surrounded by trees. We spotted iguanas, bright green parrots, horses along the road. A young piglet even came up to greet us on our walk to the beach.

We were lucky enough that there was a full lunar eclipse during our retreat. We stayed up late to watch it, binoculars tilted to the sky, on a beautiful windswept night. Another night, we participated in a solemn and unforgettable cacao ceremony led by a local shaman. 

Definitely a slower pace. Incredibly delicious meals. Fruit so bright and juicy and sweet it was like eating candy. Fresh vegetables and salads, fish, goat-milk dairy, rice, beans, eggs, and freshly baked bread. All of the Peace Retreat staff were so wonderful and kind. 

We had a pretty swimming pool with deliciously cool water. Bugs? Yes, a few. We were told “this is their home” and indeed it was. Some ants. A scorpion. A few mosquitos (but not nearly as much as we’d expected). This part of Costa Rica (the northwestern coast) is HOT and dry and a bit dusty. Certain of the trees actually defoliate this time of year, so was surprised to see these bare trees, which had their own strange beauty. But there was also a proliferation of swaying palm trees and others, lush with green foliage. Flowers and flowering bushes.

Situated on the equator, the Costa Rican sunset occurs around 5:30 year-round. The sunsets on Playa Negra were breathtaking. Walking back to Peace Retreat at dusk with a fat full moon rising and surrounded by the new writer friends I’d made felt so special, auspicious. I feel so honored to have spent time with this incredible bunch who wrote their hearts out and were so generous and encouraging with each other. I can’t wait to go back. 

Green Iguana

 

Nancy’s Thoughts: 

sand 1What a wild adventure! We saw iguanas, parrots, scorpions, hermit crabs. We heard the eerie, hard-to-describe sounds of the howler monkeys, saw a lunar eclipse, and watched the sunset on the ocean almost every evening. We got to take part in a traditional cacao ceremony, walked along the beach looking for a bonfire (didn’t find it!), and met the locals who set up a spontaneous bazaar at the Peace Retreat. We ate wholesome and fresh food 3 times a day and some us us did yoga in the mornings. I slept like a baby in my screened-in cabina, immersed in the sounds of the jungle.

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“Editing Flash Fiction” photo by Laura Alexander

Oh–and we wrote! A lot. Oh yes, we found perfect, breezy nooks for writing, reading, and in the afternoons my editing class was such a hoot. We had both brand new writers and veterans, but the synergy of the group allowed everyone to get into that perfect workshop balance–a combination of praise, useful suggestions, and inspirational group think brainstorms.

Our final night salon, under the twinkly lights and palm trees with the blessed humidity warming up our winter bodies and the staff of Peace Retreat were our perfect audience.

Eco-friendly Peace Retreat is the perfect blend of authentic Costa Rica with just enough creature comforts to make it relaxing without sacrificing the true experience for the sanitized resort version. Simple, loving, comfortable, perfect. We are so grateful!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone that took that leap of faith with us! Our writer participants were amazing, creative, genuine, and brought their full game to the Costa Rican adventure. We became like family for a week and the Peace Retreat staff became part of that family. A perfect place for some warm, tropical inspiration, meeting new writing friends, mentors, and bonding in a jungle adventure.

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“Salon night” photo courtesy of Laura Alexander

We loved it so much we are going it again next year!

Drum roll….

Our next Writing Wild in Costa Rica Retreat will happen March 21-27, 2020!

Information and Registration opens March 1. 

Read what our participants had to say about our debut Writing Wild in Costa Rica Retreat and consider joining us for 2020!