RETREAT IN THE MISTY MOUNTAINS!

Happy campers 🙂

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Retreats are only as good as the women who come along, and this was another amazing group of inspiring, accomplished, compassionate and creative women. For the first couple of days, we lived in the clouds as if we were inhabiting a mystical land out of time where all that mattered was story and human connection. The sun came out on Sunday so we could see the view from the top of our waterfall and soak in the light and new beginnings. 

The Misty Mountain

Over the retreat, we relaxed with yoga, got into the nitty gritty of redrafting in our workshops, created new writing goals for ourselves and had fun chatting around the fire and making collages. Our chief cookie, Gay, provided us with delicious warming winter meals THANK YOU GAY!!

And Monique of Reconnect Holistic Bodywork nurtured our bodies with her miraculous body work sessions. THANK YOU MONIQUE!

Monique our miracle maker and her healing rainbow

Here’s what some of our retreaters had to say about their experiences over the weekend.

“I attended the Springbrook Relax and Write Retreat on 12-14 August, 2022.  This turned out to be an amazing retreat. As a new author, I had no idea what to expect. I met the most amazing group of authors, ranging in age from 20 to me being the oldest at 76. They came from all walks of life and stages of their writing; and I found them very supportive.

One of the highlights for me was Edwina’s assessment of the first 10 pages of my manuscript and synopsis. We had sent these prior to the retreat, so she could assess them ahead of time. Then at the retreat, we met individually with Edwina for her to go over her suggestions with us and give us a written copy of this. I found this very helpful, comments on how to change to saying what I wanted to in a better way, specific feedback, picked-up on two important things which I had not realised were not clear to the reader, use of conjunctions rather than two words so it read more smoothly, and very positive. I left the meeting with Edwina feeling excited to continue editing my book.

Another highlight for me was the atmosphere. My life has included a lot of stress and the whole atmosphere at the retreat was relaxed and accepting. Each morning when I woke up, I simply felt peaceful. And I made friends who I hope to retain for a long time. I would recommend this retreat to any author. What a boost to my journey in writing.” Patty Sierra

Patty and her collage 🙂

“This was my first writing workshop and there was initially some doubt as to whether I should do it because I am only starting out as a writer. I went and found it fully rewarding. I felt like a valued member of the group, and to me these workshops are not just about the skills and connections but the journey and self-identity. I gained confidence and more clarity about my future direction. I highly recommend Edwina’s workshops.”

Nina Curry-Powell

Nina and her interesting collage of words

“Thanks for a lovely weekend Edwina! It was such a wonderful change from my regular responsibilities and I really loved the beautiful surroundings and being able to have long chats about writing with other kindred spirits. I came home recharged, inspired and wanting to do it all again.” Nikki Mottram author of soon to be released crime novel Crows Nest.

“Thank you Edwina for another amazing retreat. Springbrook was the perfect setting in the rain, with the wood fire, delicious home cooked vegetarian meals and a fabulous group of women. I was glad I sent you the ten pages, two weeks before, as it prompted me to get writing and it made what you were teaching more relevant. I really appreciated your professional feedback and after our session I felt more confident to share my writing with others. The gentle yoga and relaxation sessions were such a treat, as was the bodywork session with Monique. Definitely feeling relaxed AND I’m writing! See you again next year.”

Catherine Eadie (repeat retreater)

Catherine and her collage!

“Edwina is a passionate teacher and storyteller. She has a warm, down to earth way of connecting with people that makes everyone feel welcome. Her workshops are fun, creative and engaging — full of practical, helpful advice, and the deeper questions driving characters and story, making it ideal for writers at any stage in their work. I liked how Springbrook in the winter feels like a private retreat — tucked away in the Gold Coast hinterland, surrounded by national parks and hiking trails, with yoga workshops and the most amazing vegetarian food! Also enjoyed the late-night chats and readings by the fire, meeting and connecting with such an interesting group of women writers, who all shared a passion for great storytelling. I have to say that as a teacher myself, I am in awe of Edwina’s style of teaching and her ability to create a true, nurturing spirit of openness and community. At the end of the retreat, I felt connected to my work in a deeper way and like everyone else, totally inspired.” 

Rebecca Belfield-Kennedy

Rebecca’s collage about her work in progress and the top of her mushroom beanie 🙂

Here are some more photos to tell the story for us.

THANK YOU to all the wonderful women who made this retreat so special. These retreats are a lot of work, as Gay our super cookie knows, but it is all worth it when we see women connecting with new writing buddies and having epiphanies about their writing projects.

I’m thrilled to announce that we have been able to secure another permanent spot at the Theoshophical Society Retreat Centre for our life writing retreat in October. OCTOBER 21 – 23 LIFE WRITING AND MEMOIR RETREAT!

So what are you waiting for? Come along and join the fun. Wander through the rainforest to the waterfall, write up a storm in workshops tailored specifically for memoir writers, get cosy in your own private little nun room and feast on delicious home cooked vegetarian meals. This retreat is best for those doing life writing and memoir and for new writers just wanting to put their toes in the water.

So treat yourself to a weekend rebooting your creativity, reconnect with nature and make new writing friends to cheer you on your way. YOU CAN BOOK IN HERE.

Put yourself on the top of your TO DO list for once. Women and non-binary folk welcome 🙂

Lots of love

Edwina xx

The lovely women who ran the centre or headed the Theosophical Society for many years smiling down on us as we gathered in their space.

MAGICAL MAGNETIC ISLAND MERMAIDS – RETREAT RUNDOWN JUNE 2022


Alma Bay, Magnetic Island – photo by Kathy Ewers

“What a lift it was to be in such good company and in nurturing hands. On a tropical island in winter! I haven’t stopped writing since. I can feel my project moving forward every day. And my confidence expanding. Thanks, Edwina.”

Clare Leabeater (retreat participant Magnetic Island June 2022

Beautiful Magnetic Island turned on the sun for us in early June with the water still summer-warm. Wonderful, funny, kind and creative women writers from all over Queensland came together for a weekend of workshops, yoga and fun.

This was a special retreat for me because my sister Natasha came along, even though she’s a visual artist not a writer. As she pointed out on retreat, she’s been forced to be my student ever since we were little playing endless games of school. Guess who was always the teacher. Yours truly. It was very dull. Poor Tashy! However, these days my facilitating skills are much better than when I was four and it was lots of fun to share what I do with someone I love. Thanks for coming Tashy. 

Geri, Fleur and Tashy laughing their heads off at our meet and greet 🙂

We started with drinks and nibbles and our first workshop, getting to know each other and the stories we are writing, or wanting to write. We started imagining new stories and went deeper into those already in progress. 

Yoga every morning helped those most in need of a break from busy lives and burnout to recover and find their inner peace again. Only a few breaths away, ever.

Happy yogis having fun. Photo by me.

Workshops at this retreat were focused primarily on developing narratives that are character driven – whether that character is our earlier selves for memoir, or fictional creations. Stories that spring from characters’ intrinsic goals and desires, strengths and weaknesses are naturally more compelling and meaningful.

Here we are hard at work!

During the long break during the day some mermaids headed to beautiful Alma Bay for swims and sunshine and walks along the cliffs to Geoffrey Bay. While others indulged in massages by Mel, and naps. Nurturing the creative spirit takes a lot of work!!

In the afternoon we did a workshop on screenplay. All writers have a lot to learn from this very plot focused form and it was exciting to see writers have their first attempts at writing for the screen. 

Writers at work! Rose and experienced screenwriter Joanne.

Dinner that night was at Picnic Bay, where the not so great food was more than made up for by the magnificent view across the bay to the twinkling lights of Townsville in the distance.

On the pier at Picnic Bay

Sunday was play day! First some serious reality checking on publishing pathways and the Australian publishing industry (everyone go out and buy a book by an Australian woman author!!), some goal setting then my favourite part of every retreat – our collages. We all start with the same pile of magazines yet, as you can see, everyone creates something unique and beautiful in their own ways.

Then to Alma Bay for a picnic and a swim, even some tarot reading! Then those who were staying an extra night all headed to Horseshoe Bay for sunset with some fish and chips. A beautiful end to our special weekend.

Sunset at Horseshoe Bay.

As always, it is the women who come to these retreats that make them so much fun and a joy to run. My greatest pleasure is making new pals and watching other new writing friendships forming. Best of all is seeing a light go on for a writer who has been stuck who suddenly sees the way forward for their project, or even better, seeing a newbie start writing furiously filled with enthusiasm for a story that is pouring from them in a frenzy.

We’re all just a little bit excited 🙂

Thank you to all the wonderful wise women who made this Maggie retreat so magical. Special thanks to Kathy Ewers – repeat retreater, talented writer and brilliant photographer who took the photos you see here. You can see more of her work and book her for your event HERE.

NEXT RETREAT is in SPRINGBROOK!! Gold Coast Hinterland August 12 – 14 at the Theosophical Society Retreat Centre. FEEDBACK AND REVISION RETREAT for those with a first draft done or underway. See more HERE.

EARLY BIRD PRICES END JUNE 30!! Only $440 for the full weekend, all yoga and writing workshops focused on self-editing, all meals and single room accommodation. YES!! Even if you haven’t written much, or you started well but now you’re stuck, come along and get unstuck!!

Only 5 places left so HURRY! PAY YOUR $200 DEPOSIT HERE to secure your place. Contact me to check availability.

Thanks again to all the talented and generous women writers who make retreats such a joy.

Come along and join the fun!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

MAGIC IN THE MOUNTAINS!

KOOJAREWON 2021

Terese’s glorious floral centrepiece for our workshop room

I never cease to be astounded by the magic of women coming together on these retreats. This last retreat up at Koojarewon Youth Camp in Highfields near Toowoomba was no different. Women from their twenties to their late seventies bonded together, laughed, wrote, stretched relaxed, shared stories and supported each other with such kindness it really did feel like magic.

For the first time we had a doggy on camp, a lovely medical alert dog who sat in on all sessions and was a sweet fluffy presence.

We started as usual with bubbles and nibblies, getting to know each other as writers and as women. So many different stories and we hadn’t even started writing.

Once we did, stories poured from people, with laughter and tears and wonder. Beautiful stories from the heart. We focused in on memoir and life writing and how to make a compelling narrative from the memories of an entire lifetime. The situation and the story, the facts and the meaning we’ve found in those facts with the benefit of hindsight. Because for many of us, the reason we write is to make sense of life, to create meaning for ourselves from the seemingly random events that make us who we are.

We did a lot of writing and learning so it was fabulous to have our talented masseuse (and writer) Jani providing excellent massages to relieve those sore spots. Lots of very relaxed women floating around after their treatments.

On Saturday night, the effervescent Jacqui Carr, retired exotic dancer and writer, once more taught us how to strut our stuff with some pretty hilarious, rather than sexy results! We had a lot of fun J Gillian helped us all calm down with some songs around the fire pit and then we hit the sack. Only to be woken at 2:30 in the morning with an alarm and all the lights going on. An electrical storm had taken down a power pole and cut power to the district so all the back up lighting went on and couldn’t be turned off. We managed to get back to sleep though and allowed ourselves a bit of a sleep in.

Yoga on Sunday and party tricks left us deeply relaxed and ready to set some writing goals and discuss publication pathways. We were lucky enough to have a few independently published authors in the group, Terese Eglington, Virginia Miranda and Sallyanne Peters who could fill us all in on the process of dealing with different scenarios. I’m always happy to use the combined wisdom of the group. Everyone has something valuable to contribute.

We got so carried away doing our traditional collages that we went overtime, but it was all worth it to see the beautiful creations that hopefully will help our dreams to come true.

Here’s our hall of fame!

May all our dreams come true!

Wonderful women, bright and beautiful days among the big trees, everything so lush and green. Great food. Big smiles and happy hearts connecting.

I love these retreats and the magic of creative women coming together. Together we can do anything!

I’ll leave you with a quote I found for my collage:

“Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.”

Brenda Ueland.

Take care and keep smiling. Write like a fury and I’ll see you on retreat one day soon!

Lots of love

Edwina xxx

OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND ONTO THE PAGE! How to start writing your stories :)

Almost everyone I’ve ever met has stories in their head that swirl around and around and won’t give them any peace, until they’re told.

Certainly, most of the people I met in my recent tour of Far North and Outback QLD had stories that they needed to get out of their heads and onto the page. 

Writing these stories out and playing with them, using the techniques of fiction to transform the way we see them is a powerful way to get these stories out of our heads – for good! And BONUS we may even create something beautiful from all that pain. Because usually those stories that won’t let us rest are stories about the hard times.

But how to start?

Write a list of the stories on the top of your head – you know the ones.

What stories do you want to tell? Set the timer for 5 minutes and write down as many dot points or titles or other words that will remind you of these stories.

  • Write another list. What stories do you NEED to tell? Write for 5 minutes or until you’re done.
  • One more list. This is the scary one. What stories are you afraid to tell? If everyone was dead, if no one ever read it, what stories would you be brave enough to write?

Okay, now you have a list, your head should already feel a bit lighter. Lists are great for taking mountains and turning them back into molehills again. 

Have you got a story about a car you used to have?

Now take your list and a pile of index cards and write one of your story ideas on each card and put them in a box.

  • Set aside some time each day for writing. It doesn’t have to be long. Participants in my workshops know that it’s amazing how much you can write in five minutes. Start there. Pull out one of your story cards, set a timer and write. Five minutes, 10 minutes. Start small and grow the time gradually. We can all spare five minutes, right?
  • Write as fast as you can, don’t stop. We call this free-writing. Just write. Forget about sounding fancy or poetic or writerly, just get down the story as if you were telling a good friend all about what happened. Spelling and grammar and punctuation really don’t matter at this stage. Just write like a fury and get that story out of your head!
  • Write all the way to the end of that story. Chip away at your story a bit each day until you reach the end of that bit. If you find it’s taking a long time, then consider breaking that story idea up into smaller chunks. For instance, instead of writing “CHILDHOOD” on your story list, be more specific, eg: my first bedroom, time with grandma, the bad day, my favourite pet, the secret. Break it up into little manageable pieces.
  • Don’t look back! New writers (and more experienced writers too for that matter) often make the mistake of going back over the first bits they’ve written and spending ages trying to make it perfect. NO! Don’t do it! It’s a trap!! Just keep going forward.
  • Pick up a new card. Write a new story, and another and another, until your pile of cards is gone.
  • Writing is rewriting. Once you’ve got all your stories out of your head and onto a page, many pages, then you can go back and add specific sensory details, make sure you’re writing in scenes and order the pieces for narrative drive. But if all that doesn’t make any sense, don’t worry. Just get those stories written down. You’ll become better at writing just by doing it regularly. You may notice when you start putting your stories together that there are gaps. Fill them in. But not all the boring in between, day to day details, just the important things we need to know.
  • JUST START! YOU CAN DO IT!

If your literacy skills aren’t great, don’t worry – use the dictating feature on your device. Some of the best story tellers I know aren’t any good at spelling. It doesn’t mean they can’t spin a good yarn. 

So, what are you waiting for? Get cracking on those lists and let me know how you go. I have lots more hints and tips for writing on the website. Or drop me a line and I’ll do what I can to help.

Write like a fury!

Lots of love

Edwina xx