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Summer Retreats Now Open!

Are you longing for a new creative spark?
An adventure to energize your spirit?
Camaraderie with your creative community?

You’ve emerged from the last year with a new sense of perspective, a desire to push yourself creatively, take risks, and realign yourself with your purpose on the planet: to tell the kind of stories that change the world.
But how?

Open Your Heart/Open Your Art
Summer Retreats 2022

Spain, June 6-13

Colorado, August 9-14

Whether you are craving adventure, rest, or artistic community, connection, and guidance, our creative souls need the gifts of a writing retreat more than ever. 

P.S. Even if it says “SOLD OUT” there will be some flux in these next days–so go ahead and apply with your rooming preferences and we will put you on the waiting list in the order received!

Happy writing and happy retreating! xoxo

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Summer Flash Fiction Retreats Opening Jan 18!

Are you longing for a fresh perspective?
A new creative spark?
An adventure to energize your spirit?
Camaraderie with your creative community?

Join us in 2022!

Andalucía, Spain: June 6-13, 2022 (new dates!)

Grand Lake, Colorado: August 9-14, 2022

Don’t miss next week’s annoucement! 

Interviews, Uncategorized

Flash Fiction: The Crush that Blossomed into a Love Affair–an interview with Marcy Dilworth

Marcy

Kathy and I are thrilled that we will be working with Marcy Dilworth for the first time this August in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains of Grand Lake. Here Marcy and I chat about flash fiction, best writing advice, and even exchange some favorite quotes.

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?

Marcy Dilworth: Argh. I’ve worked really hard to create time to write. And have succeeded. Except for the part about reflexively succumbing to distractions. Whether they’re of the social media variety, or the false necessity of ticking something off my endless list of to-dos (which we all have, whether they’re written or not!), or the household chore that shouts my name (also a false call – if I weren’t writing, I certainly wouldn’t be filling my free time with vacuuming), or fill-in-the-blank, I struggle with shutting them out. But I keep trying! The best motivation to block all that out is to remind myself how good it feels, how satisfying, to be immersed in writing something I value.

Tell us about your relationship with flash fiction?

My relationship with flash fiction? It started as a crush when I met FF in a wonderful class led by Caroline Bock. Over time, it’s blossomed into a love affair, albeit one where I still have much to learn about my partner.

I LOVE that description! What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Read your writing out loud. Hearing your story amplifies rhythm, tone, awkward phrasing, even logical gaps. Sometimes it’s a happy surprise; nearly always, it reveals things that can be improved, tightened or eliminated.

That is one of my favorite pieces of advice as well! What piece of your own writing are you most proud of?  Where can we read it (if it’s available)?

I’ve published one creative non-fiction piece and the rest fiction. Because the CNF is about my mom, and it’s close to my heart, it’s the piece of which I’m proudest. I’m so grateful to Literary Mama for choosing this, Orange Communion.

Wow, this is gorgeous. And I also know you are also funny–I love the piece you shared with me from the “red sweater” Flashnano Prompt: North Pole BombshellSo, have you ever been to Colorado before? What are you most looking forward to?

I’ve been to Denver a couple times – decades ago for a business conference, and last summer for a day-long layover. I’m looking forward to experiencing the real Colorado, mountains, crisp air, sky clear and unencumbered by suburbia’s light pollution, quiet, green . . . I’ve been enjoying it in prospect ever since I signed up for the retreat!

Yes, Grand Lake and Shadowcliff are really the jewel of all that is “real Colorado. Respond to this quote about mountains: “He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche is not known for being comforting, but that’s how I read this. It’s a suitable companion to a quote I come across in my “Writing Ideas” document every week or two – “There are seven billion people on this Earth and I have the audacity to think I matter.” – George Watsky. These quotes prompt me to let go of the irritations, worries and in-the-moment problems that cloud my vision, and just get on with it – where ‘it’ is doing what good I can and leaving the rest.

I love that Watsky quote, thanks for sharing it (I love quotes if you can’t tell)! Finally–tell us something we don’t know about you?

I love basketball, played in high school, coached my son’s team for many years, and am a feverish fan of the University of Virginia Cavaliers. I’ve got the season tickets (in the nosebleeds) to prove it!

Anything else you want to add?

I smile dreamily every time I think about “High Altitude Inspiration in Grand Lake.” This is going to be great!

Me too! We are so excited to have you and work with you in person, Marcy! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!

Marcy Dilworth has been writing short fiction and nonfiction forever, but only recently started inviting anyone to witness it. Her stories have been published in Blink-Ink’s 10th Anniversary edition, Literary Mama, Writer’s Resist and 72 Hours of Insanity: Anthology of the Games: Volume 7. She earned her English degree at the University of Virginia, and her sense of humor and wonder from her kids. She lives in her recently emptied nest with her husband and their precocious rescue pup, Kirby.

Marcy’s Twitter address: @MCDHoo41.

Interviews, Kathy fish

A First Retreat in a Treasured Oasis: Myna Chang on Returning to Colorado to Write & More

Nancy and I are so happy that writer Myna Chang is signed up to participate in our return retreat at Shadowcliff Lodge in Grand Lake, Colorado this summer. Myna generously agreed to chat with me about her background, the writing life, and more.

 

Hi Myna! What does the “west” evoke for you? The mountains? Colorado? As a writer and person…(weird question, I know!)

I grew up in a windy, barren farm town in Oklahoma. My childhood memories revolve around wiping grit out of my eyes and finding places to hide from the scorching sun. But every summer, my grandparents would take me to an oasis in the Colorado mountains. It was an old cabin hidden in a lush green valley. The river forked just above our land, so I had my choice of two trickling streams to play in. I thought it was the greatest place on the planet, and I was heartbroken when my grandparents sold it. In my mind, “going to Colorado” means returning to that perfect setting.

Oh what a lovely memory! I’m so glad you’re getting the chance to return to Colorado! What are you most looking forward to in our upcoming retreat? 

I’ve never been to a retreat. I can’t wait. I crave quiet, and time to focus on writing, without distractions or guilt. Sharing that space with other dedicated writers and workshop leaders will be like frosting on the cake — and I love frosted cake.

What sparks your creativity? 

I have no idea what sparks my creativity, but I know what kills it: interruptions:

“Mom, I’m hungry.”

“Honey, where did I leave the screwdriver?”

“Bark, bark bark!”

I wouldn’t trade my family for anything, but sometimes I wish they could be quiet for an hour or two.

Ha, yes, I can relate to that! Anything strange, funny, weird, fascinating about you that you care to share?

I have weird dreams. My sleep cycle never returned to normal after pregnancy, so now when I wake up, I remember every bizarre detail. Sometimes sentient Cheetos come to visit, or brilliant mice sculpt tiny Greek-style temples in my desk drawer. I often water-ski through the neighborhood with my friend T-Rex, and occasionally we drink lemonade with our zombie buddies on the corner. I realize I probably shouldn’t admit this in public.

I love these dreams! I’m actually fascinated with dreams and think they make great fodder for writing. Thanks so much for taking the time, Myna. We’re excited to work (and play) with you in Grand Lake this summer!

Myna Chang writes flash and short stories. Her work has been featured in Writers Resist, Reflex Fiction, and Daily Science Fiction, and is forthcoming in the Grace & Gravity anthology Furious Gravity IX. She lives in Maryland with her family. Read more at MynaChang.com or @MynaChang.  

(Interested in joining us for our High Altitude Inspiration in the Great American West retreat? Registrations are open now. We’d love to have you!)

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Honoring the Voices in Our Heads: Retreat Participant Lisa Trigg Shares a Micro

Do you have a character, a story, a voice that won’t let you go? Likely this is for a reason! Lisa Trigg, who will be joining us in Yviers, France for our French Connection Retreat , shares with us just such a voice in her micro below:

Hazel Currie Asks Who is that Talking?

by Lisa Trigg

Here I am, falling in love with exactly the wrong woman wondering how I have let this happen. And the voice said, in parentheses (well, this is how it works. You don’t know.  You just don’t know what you want until you have it in your arms, smiling up at you, cracking jokes at your books, all those shoes in your basement, how often your watch tells you to breathe and drink water, and how much you talk to Alexa. You start remembering things you never thought of or dreamt about or read in any of your books. Suck it up).

What I want to know is.  Who is it that talks in parentheses?  Just who is it?

 

Lisa has a whole series of “Hazel Currie” stories and explains her inspiration for them:

Hazel Currie started talking in my head when I was about 20 years old.  She tells me stories, points out things that I should pay attention to, remember. She reminds me of things that I have forgotten that might be important, useful, that I should write down. She reminds me if I already have notes on a subject.  She does not usually know where those notes are. She is persistent and does not shut up until I write down what she says and I have done so since the beginning.  It’s the only way I can get anything else done.  I’ve been evaluated, and no, I do not need medication. To learn to make use of what she tells me, I regularly attend master writing workshops with writers that I admire, do close readings, work with a private writing coach, read craft books, other stuff that I have forgotten.”

 

(Note: Our French Connection Retreat is sold out, but registrations are now open for our return to Grand Lake, Colorado in August for High Altitude Inspiration in the Great American West. We’d love for you to join us!)