In our daily sessions, we deeply explore possibilities for our characters and plot that stretch the boundaries of our creativity. We seek out characters whom we might otherwise never discover. We conceive plot twists and turns that might never before have escaped the fetters we often put on our imagination.
The chemistry and culture of my retreats are indispensable to these expansions of our boundaries. Our circle of woman writers somehow nurtures the most amazing breakthroughs! It’s not one person, it’s all of us! I can’t pinpoint what happens… it just does!
Sunrise: At least once (if not every morning), do awaken in time to watch the sunrise over the ocean. It’s truly spectacular.
Breakfast: 8:15-9:00 am After a sound night's sleep, our creative minds need to be awakened gradually for the glorious day ahead of us. Blueberry muffins, fresh fruit or berries, oatmeal, yogurt, eggs and bacon, fruit juice, sometimes pancakes, a lovely selection of fine teas, and freshly-ground coffee prepared by our fabulous chef, Cas Dowden. Each day, after our delicious Breakfast, we share a three-hour writing workshop between 9:15 and 12:30.
Morning Session: We use prompts, images and various other writing exercises I’ve developed, all of which are designed to stimulate your imagination, new characters, and stories. Writing together encourages the imagination to take off! In other words, you stop thinking and fall down the rabbit hole into your imagination.
After writing for 30-60 minutes, we read and critique our first draft scenes. Critiquing is always positive and supportive. Since most of the material we’re writing is first draft, critiquing often takes the form of “What If?” Or "What I'd like to know is..."
We also learn to mine for the jewels of first draft material. This is an invaluable technique. Instead of focusing on your "terrible writing" or the sometimes nonsensical confusion of a first draft, you learn how mine it for one gem or more that may end up being the most brilliant twist in your plot or unexpected development of your character!
Lunch and Personal Time: Our Chef provides us with a variety of choices for lunch that keep us guessing each day… what wonders will await us after we’re finished with our Morning Session? Our dining table looks out over the Ocean. That, and the food, and our Circle of Women… I ask you, what could be more fun? I keep the Retreat small enough that we really function well together as a group. Everybody’s included, everybody’s involved, everybody talks and laughs together. After lunch, we have two to two-and-a-half hours of personal time:
Sit by our shorefront and read, meditate, doze, or watch the cormorants fishing.
Take a walk along our beautiful, private road with a new friend or chat with others.
Work on your scene from the morning.
Go shopping in Bar Harbor.
On some days I’ll organize a group exploration of one of my favorite places in Acadia National Park. Some join us, some not.
Sail on the Naturalist Cruise (sails past Zephyr Shore and among the various islands).
Drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain.
Take my favorite hike along the rugged rocky ledges of Frenchman’s Bay.
Climb down into Anemone Cave.
Walk through Bar Harbor, where I’ll introduce you to my favorite shops.
On Top of Cadillac Mt. On Top of the World!
Afternoon Session: 3:30-6:00 pm Some days we write more on our stories, critique or I come up with a surprise happening!
Dinner:6:00-7:15 Our dinners are prepared and served by our Chef and are always a highlight of the day! I can best describe them by saying the food is what you’d find in fine restaurants, not what you’d be served at other workshops and retreats! Examples from past retreats can be seen here. Also, our chef is quite adept at accommodating (within reason!) those who have special dietary needs, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, low-salt, shellfish allergy, etc. Evening Session: 7:30-9:30 After our delicious dinner, we join together in a casual evening gathering during which we often have Open Reading – read something (up to 20 minutes) you’ve written in the past; or from your One-On-One work with me; or from our Morning Session; or just enjoy listening! The Night: After our Evening Session is over, there’s still so much to experience! Enjoy Maine’s gorgeous night time starlit heavens for a few minutes before hitting the sack. Just step out onto one of our decks, or walk outside along our driveway or sit on our lawn. Our beds are really, really comfortable! Before you know it, you’ll be smelling the coffee brewing…