Nancy Stohlman, Uncategorized

Coming Home: Magic at 8,000 Feet (Reflections and Photos from the Grand Lake Retreat)

Grand Lake (photo by Kathy Fish)

From Nancy Stohlman:

Every retreat has its own magic, its own signature. Even if you go to the exact same location, no two retreats are the same. Grand Lake was our 9th retreat, and no matter where we go–from the tropics to the arctic, in a medieval castle or a Rocky Mountain log cabin–it’s always the people who animate that location. We’ve been lucky, and Grand Lake was no exception. Our high altitude group felt like coming home–metaphorically linking arms with new family and climbing the creative mountain together.

The Grand Lake crew

There is always something wonderful about coming home, and Colorado in the summer is a special sort of magic. John Denver wasn’t wrong to describe the Rocky Mountain High as, “coming home to a place he’d never been before.” Whether it’s your first or hundreth time, being in these mountains brings out something peaceful, a sort of childlike wonder at the majesty of nature at her finest, from the fairy-like hummingbirds to the sweet gurgling streams to the shooting stars in a moon-filled sky.

photo by Kathy Fish

So what happens when you put a group of talented, open-hearted artists into a setting of natural beauty and wonder? Absolute magic in more ways than one. Magic on the page. The magic of old friends who have never met. The magic of a group belly laugh until everyone is crying with joy. The magic of sneaking up early to watch the meteor showers and then the sunrise. The  magic of digging deep into the stories that must be told in a room where everyone is rooting for your success.

the moon at sun rise

Thank you my partner in retreat crime, Kathy Fish, and to all the amazing writers who gathered on the mountaintop in August. Happy happy writing until we meet again!

watching the sunrise

From Kathy Fish:

Nancy’s retreats take us to such amazing places around the world, but it was wonderful to gather in the place we both call home: stunning Colorado. This was our second retreat at Shadowcliff Lodge, a place I adore. Homey, rustic, and welcoming, nestled cliffside next to Grand Lake, it feels like summer camp for adults and is a perfect place to restore one’s creativity. We ate heartily, photographed hummingbirds, encountered a bear, (well some of us did!)  and rose before dawn to watch the Perseids.  Everyone seemed to be on the same wavelength, embracing the same warm, creative spirit. In lively and productive workshops, we encouraged and supported each other and wrote our hearts out. Beautiful, layered stories were written and lovely connections forged. I can’t wait to go back in 2023!

photo by Nancy Stohlman

From K.B. Jensen:

The Colorado writing retreat in Grand Lake with Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish was a magical and life-changing experience. I learned and relearned so much from them about finding joy and prioritizing my own writing. The inspiring conversations with other writers were also a major plus. Nancy and Kathy were able to foster a supportive community within hours and were our guides on an amazing, reinvigorating writing adventure. After finishing my latest book, it was just what I needed to start going on the next.

Hummingbird action shot! (photo by Kelli Short)

From Brian Dickson:

Such gratitude for meeting these people. Lots of writing, laughter, sacred space. Thanks Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish!

Our magical writing space

From Kristin Tenor:

My experience at the Flash Fiction Retreat in Grand Lake, Colorado was phenomenal. Nancy & Kathy are both generous and supportive facilitators with a wealth of knowledge to share in a safe, creative environment. You will walk away from this retreat transformed. I did.

Kristin Tenor reading at salon night

From Jill Royce Loomis:

I experienced High Altitude Inspiration!  Seriously, I am in a new phase of writing and I’m building a community of great writers from this retreat.  I love you, Nancy and Kathy.  You are enriching my life.

photo by Meredyth Lillejord

From Barbara Greenstein:

Nancy and Kathy have a wonderful complementary energy in bringing ideas into the room and words to the page.  They are supportive and extraordinarily kind teachers. The flash retreats whisk you away to magical places and provide a rich pot of gold to dip into once there.

photo by Meredyth Lillejord

From Barb Ristine:

I found the retreat to be both restorative and inspirational. I enjoyed my time here, and I will miss being with everyone. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I didn’t come with any set expectations other than this would be a generative retreat. This time far exceeded any expectations I may have had. The individual conferences were a wonderful time to discuss my work and get advice. In the daily workshops, Kathy and Nancy made sure that everyone was heard when they wanted to share, but never forced participation. The environment  they created felt safe and supportive.

salon night!

From Tammy Breitweiser:

Retreats allow for total immersion in the creative process, and the Flash Fiction retreat was a tremendous gift to my writing life. It was my first destination retreat experience and it has changed my writing life forever. I was open to the experience, and everything exceeded my expectations from the scenery, the writing conversations, the people, the depth, and the instruction. This group has become my forever writing people. There was time for restoration of my spirit, which allowed me to write about topics I had been avoiding. At this time in my life, it was a transition from one phase of life to another.  All the things I learned during the retreat I will use moving forward in my writing life. I am forever grateful for this experience.

More photos:

animal visitor at dusk! (photo by Tammy Breitweiser)
photo by Meredyth Lillejord
alpenglow
shadowcliff
Beautiful Grand Lake as seen from our retreat

Also read “Everything is a Story: Reflections and Photos from the Spanish Flash Fiction Retreat”

2023 Retreats will open in October—get on the waiting list for first access!

Uncategorized

2023 Retreats Announced!

If you’re a flash fiction writer who’s longing for a new creative spark, an adventure to energize your spirit, and camaraderie with your creative community, then join us in 2023!

2023 Retreats announced!

FRANCE: June 26-July 3

COLORADO: August 15-20

ICELAND: October 25-29

Get on early access WAITING LIST for 2023 retreats here 

REGISTRATION OPENS IN OCTOBER!

Do you dream of uninterrupted days to write in beautiful locations? Do you long to meet, be mentored by, and network with other writers? Are you enamored with flash fiction and want to learn more or refine your work?

We give professional and aspiring writers, struggling to create amidst the everyday demands of life, the gift of time, community, instruction, and the opportunity to reconnect with your own imagination and sense of possibility so you can confidently bring the work inside you to fruition.

From past participants:

“The retreat was life-shaking. It was a dream to learn from writers whose stories I’ve read for years. The combination of Kathy’s generative workshops with Nancy’s editing/revising workshops is a great approach.  Peace Retreat is beautiful, and the staff couldn’t have been nicer. I came away with better writing AND eating habits.” ~Bill Merklee

“Location, location, location? Not only. This experience pulled my writing in new directions and left me with a sense that a retreat can be both demanding of one’s mind and easy on one’s spirit. Kathy and Nancy were inspiring instructors who brought together a talented and generous group of flash fiction-loving writers. Together, they offered guidance that I can continue to draw on each time I take to the page.” ~Charmaine Wilkerson

“A Flash Fiction Retreat with Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman is the perfect way to refresh one’s writing practice. Inspiring locations, like-minded short-fiction writers, and their hallmark positive feedback style make for a true retreat: Pressure-free, productive, and restorative.” ~Anne Weisgerber

“My week of “writing wild” at Peace Retreat in Costa Rica ” with Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman was an amazing way to start of 2019. Everything a writer needs to gain confidence and fire up her word machine was provided: time to write, community, useful exercises, mentoring, helpful critiques, encouragement, time for rest and contemplation, time for fun and games, time to reflect and dig deep. Stunning experience.” ~Gay Degani

The writers retreat with Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman was an inspiring, magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience. They are wonderful instructors, writers and mentors with great insight into the craft, as well as the writing life. I also loved meeting people from all over the world who are passionate about writing. I left the retreat feeling re-energized and refocused about my writing. In short, I loved every minute. ~ K.B. Jensen

If you want to learn about yourself as a writer and a person, if you want to open yourself to your creative potential, and your inner truth as a writer, take a retreat with Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman, they will guide you, encourage you, and inspire you. The rest is up to you, put aside your usual way of thinking, open yourself up to what you want to avoid, and.prepare to be amazed. ~ Annie Bien

The French writing retreat with Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman – my first ever writing retreat – lived up to all my expectations, and they were pretty high. It felt like a fairy godmother had shown up, asked us what we wanted and needed most for a week of writing, thinking, creating, sharing, learning and laughing, waved her wand and made it all come true: exceptional teachers in an exceptional location in the company of other inspirational writers. With a pool and fabulous food thrown in. I feel I am leaving with my writing well filled up to the brim with riches for me to keep drawing from. Thank you Kathy and Nancy! ~Philippa Bowe

Read “Everything is a Story”: Reflections and photos from the 2022 Spanish Flash Fiction Retreat

Kathy fish, Nancy Stohlman, Uncategorized

Everything is a Story: Reflections and photos from the 2022 Spanish Flash Fiction Retreat

Salon night (photo by Georgiana Nelsen)

From Nancy Stohlman:

Wow! The Spanish retreat was an incredible experience. The combination of novelty, space, time, and total immersion with other creatives, spending a week with your tribe, pushed and encouraged, detoxing from the usual distractions to enter that space of raw creativity is both deeply healing and deeply inspiring. On a retreat we remember that everything is a story waiting to happen.

writing (photo by Chelsea Stickle)

We had a wide range of amazing writers—from published to unpublished, brand new to flash all the way to flash veterans; we had a pair of friends reuniting from two different countries, a pair of sisters reconnecting in the yurts, and people representing California, Baltimore, Texas, New York City, Portugal, France, Spain, Qatar, and of course Denver, doubly represented (by Nancy and Kathy).

There was a group hammock, fiery sunsets, and (multiple!) spontaneous performances of the Grease soundtrack. There were massages and hikes in the Sierra Nevada mountains. And there were surprises of course, part of any good adventure. From the exploding chairs to the nudist beach to the historic heat wave that swept Europe during our retreat (!), all that material filtered through our bodies and onto the page. We risked both vulnerability and connection and we bonded and played and ate and wrote—a lot.

workshop (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)

And we were fed—oh yes. The food was as beautiful as it was delicious and all vegetarian. We were so inspired that we wrote a group poem (and sang a song!) to the many cooks and kitchen angels who spoiled us all week.

the food! (photo by Nancy Finston)

We were the first group of writers to visit House of Light, and they learned as much about us as we did about them—including the copious amounts of coffee and wine consumed (sangria happened!)—and we were delighted that the owners joined us for our final night reading.

Salon night (photo by Nancy Finston)

We reconnected with our writing and remembered that inspiration often comes at the crossroads between novelty and play. If we are too comfortable, or too serious, the words get stuck. After a week in Spain the words, ideas, and friendships are flowing!

I’m so grateful to my co-facilitator, Kathy, and to each one of the amazing writers who said yes to an Andalusian adventure. I raise my pen to all of you!

cheers! (photo by Nancy Finston)

From Kathy Fish:

The House of Light in Órgiva was a unique, magical space for us to gather. We were fed meals almost too beautiful to eat, we woke to birdsong, and ended our days with late sunsets bathing the hills in gold. Our group quickly gelled and became friends and encouraging cohorts. I found myself inspired by their energy and enthusiasm and all the beautiful stories they created, and cheered by the conversation and laughter at mealtimes and around the pool. The highlight for me was (as always) our salon night. The resident cats and dogs came around, too, as if they’d been invited or they were just curious about what us humans were up to. The readings that final night were superb. All in all, this retreat was an amazing experience I won’t soon forget. Thanks to everyone who took part.

workshop (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)

from Cheryl J. Fish:

From Cheryl’s blog: “Thinking about the flash fiction workshop I just experienced feels like a re-birth. So much of what I know about story was reinforced, and yet there’s much more to realize and expand into. In flash you don’t explain. Inunendo rules in fiction that comes in under 1,000 words. It’s an opportunity to prove less is more. After twice-a-day workshops and prompts with Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman, and a wonderful group of writers from all over the place, I am ready to up my game in the micro and flash fiction worlds.”

the view (photo by Cheryl J. Fish)

From Philippa Bowe:

The Andalusian retreat with Nancy and Kathy was a delight from beginning to end. Workshops were enriching, enlightening, fun, creative, productive. Add in fabulous food, sunshine and company and you have an experience that, as a writer, is pretty near heaven on earth.

Writers and friends (photo by Chelsea Stickle)

From Pedro Ponce:

You will leave this retreat well-fed, rested, and, most importantly, inspired! Thank you Nancy and Kathy!

Workshop (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)

From Marina Pacheco:

I learned a great deal at the retreat. Nancy and Kathy were fantastic tutors who took me on a journey of discovery that resulted in handfuls of new flash writing for me.

writers and friends (photo by Chelsea Stickle)

From Dorothy Rice:

What a wonderful group you brought together! I had such a great time and I feel really good about the writing I accomplished as well. The stories I wrote are so different from what I usually do, and there was something very freeing in that.

writing with a view (photo by Nancy Finston)

More photos from our gallery:

Salon Night (photo by Kathy Fish)
The view (Georgiana Nelsen)
At the beach! (photo by Georgiana Nelsen)
Consultations (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)
the food (photo by Nancy Finston)
the beach (photo by Georgiana Nelsen)
Salon Night (photo by Cheryl J. Fish)
The light (Georgiana Nelsen)
food! (photo by Georgiana Nelsen)
Group Hammock (Georgiana Nelsen)
writing (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)
windows of inspiration (photo by Nancy Stohlman)
food with a view (photo by Nancy Stohlman)
Andalusian sunset (photo by Nancy Stohlman)
workshop (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)
salon night (photo by Nancy Stohlman)
Kathy and Nancy (photo by Chelsea Stickle)
Sangria and see you next time! (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)

Next: August Flash Fiction Retreat in Grand Lake, Colorado!

2023 Retreats will be announced in the fall—get on the waiting list for first access!

Interviews, Nancy Stohlman, Uncategorized, Writing Prompts & Craft Articles

Spain Retreat 2022: Nancy Stohlman talks with House of Light in Andalucia

Costa Rica 2022

It’s always wonderful to welcome new retreats to House of Light, and in June, we are delighted that award winning author, professor and performer, Nancy Stohlman, along with Kathy Fish will be bringing their group of writers, to dive into their creative flow of words for the Open Your Heart Open Your Art retreat.

Thank you Nancy for taking the time to share more about you and your work… we can’t wait to meet you and Kathy in person! 

Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish

When did you first discover your love for writing and performing?

I’ve been reading, writing, and performing since childhood (as many future writers do). Growing up on military bases in Europe meant television in English was often not an option, and because we moved so often I became childhood best friends with authors and their books instead. Performance has also been part of my life for as long as I can remember–my parents were folk musicians (I was playing guitar and writing songs by age 10) and my mother started a Spanish clown troupe and recruited all of us (yes, I was a child clown). So…it’s in my blood.

So, what does Flash Fiction involves as a writer?

Flash fiction is all about compression, elimination, and the literary acrobatics required to tell a complete but compelling story in a small space.

I love novels, but as a writer (and reader) it’s a very different experience to tell a story when you have endless room to stretch out vs telling it in a restricted space. In that way I think flash fiction lies at the crossroads between the novel and poetry–we can tell epic stories with the skilled precision of language and white space, and the results are stunning.

Nancy reading at Salon Night in Iceland

Your bio describes you as a ‘rabble rouser’… tell us more!

I love to think out of the box and stir things up. I think that’s the job of all creative and visionary peopleto: envision possibilities where no one else sees them…yet. It’s really a sort of magic. And not only does this happen for me on the page, but also in the world. More than 10 years ago I started the Fbomb Flash fiction Reading Series–the first and longest running flash fiction centered reading series (it now has several spin-offs!) Around the same time I also started FlashNano: 30 stories in 30 days during the month of November. Last year was our 10th anniversary and we had over 2,000 participants! And of course five years ago Flash Fiction Retreats was just an idea I dreamed up with Kathy Fish–what if we could take writers to exotic places and give them the gift of just writing for a week? And now–poof! Here we are.

the whole gang on retreat in Colorado

What do you love most about hosting your writing retreats… what’s the most fulfilling part of your work?

I love hosting writing retreats! Kathy Fish and I have often remarked that every retreat has its unique flavour: not only is each location unique, but each group that coalesces has its own signature. And honestly, the best part for me is creating a safe, nurturing, and inspiring container for other writers like me. I know well how challenging the day-to-day of writing can be–it’s solitary work by its very nature, and alone we can find ourselves in a rut, bogged down by real life and uninspired. Travel has always been my way out of ruts–forcing me out of comfort and back into the space of novelty. To be able to give others that same experience–not only travel, time, and novelty but a real creative community welcoming you on the other side–feels like the gift I needed to give myself. Watching others walk away rested and inspired, with new stories and a reset on their lives (even just a week of catching up on sleep!)–it’s a gift I feel lucky to be able to give.

some cafe writing post-retreat in France

What are you looking forward to most about coming to House of Light?

I’ve been admiring your space and your vibe for SO long now that it already feels like it will be a homecoming. I can’t wait to eat Ceri’s cooking, sit in those hammocks, and just be in Spain. And those yurts! Those views! Can I sit on your terrace and write all day, please! Plus I’ve never been to southern Spain–so I’m excited about that. But mostly I’m looking forward to meeting our group in person and engaging with all the brilliance they will inevitably bring to the table–we have a mix of new retreat participants and old retreat friends, so I’ve been extra inspired (and excited!) as I prepare my brand new workshop materials. It’s like the first time every time!

Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Yes, we have 3 spots left, so if you are curious about flash fiction and/or want to commune with other writers for an amazing week of creativity, inspiration and renewal, then I’d love to chat with you! And if you want to know more about flash fiction, my book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction, is re-releasing as an audiobook on March 15–it’s a wonderful primer for newbies and a valuable resource for flash fiction veterans.

And of course: thank you for having us and for your hospitality! We can’t wait to give real hugs soon!

Find out more about facilitator Nancy Stohlman

Find out more about facilitator Kathy Fish