RELAX AND WRITE IN THE MOUNTAINS!

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Is your creative spirit crying out for a little TLC? Come along and regain your love of writing and life at the next Relax and Write Retreat at Camp Koojarewon in the mountains near Toowoomba, Queensland.

From 2pm FRIDAY 26 APRIL – 1pm 28 APRIL 2019

Join like-minded women in a fun and supportive environment discovering just how much some deep relaxation can ignite your imagination and get you writing again. Relax and unwind with gentle morning yoga sessions and get writing with innovative workshops that use yoga and drama techniques to help move those stories out of your head and onto the page.

The program includes two full yoga sessions and four creative writing workshops covering the basics of story development, whether you’re writing memoir, fiction or screenplays, as well as hints and tips on editing and submitting your work to publishers.

Cost includes two nights basic dorm accommodation –we have the run of the whole camp so no one will have to sleep on a top bunk unless they want to and we’ll have plenty of room to spread out (a couple of ensuite rooms are available for those with health issues or special needs) — plus delicious vegetarian meals, morning and afternoon teas and suppers.

Come along and join the fun, make new writing buddies and rekindle your love of writing.

Contact Edwina for more info and bookings.

COST
Includes basic dorm accommodation, all meals, two yoga classes and four creative writing workshops.
$400 for the weekend of yoga, writing, fun and feasting – Or pay your $200 deposit before 8 March 2019 for EARLY BIRD $360

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Edwina Shaw has been writing and publishing since 2002. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of QLD and is also an experienced yoga teacher. Her book Thrill Seekers was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and has recently been released as a new imprint through Raven Books UK. Her feature film project M is under development with a producer attached. She is a registered teacher and runs workshops at schools and writers’ festivals through Speakers Ink and the QLD Writers Centre and also works as an editor and mentor. She lives in Brisbane where she can most often be found writing, doing yoga, or daydreaming. She loves helping other women rediscover their creative spirits and get their bodies moving again.

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7 POWERFUL NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR WRITERS

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Happy New Year everyone – here’s hoping 2019 is the best year yet!

Here are a few powerful resolutions that will make a real difference on your writing adventures.

1. Make realistic goals.

When I first started writing my goals were huge and grandiose – things like “I’ll have a best-selling novel by the end of the year!!” Not only was this totally unrealistic, it ended up being depressing too when it didn’t happen. These days my goals are more like – Write a decent first draft of “Castaway”. That I can control.

2. Submit 10 points worth of stories.

Have you heard of the 10 points plan? My friend, writer Fiona Robertson, first put me onto it. Score yourself 1 point per story submitted, aiming to have 10 points worth out at any time. The more stories you have out the better your chances. It does mean you sometimes get a flurry of rejections, but as we know rejections are badges of honour – and mixed in will be a YES (or two)! You can wiggle it around too – 3 points for novels/ full length works, and Helena and I reckon all grant applications are worth 3 too – they’re not much fun to do. How many points do you have out right now?

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3. Read more books!

For me this means watching less crap TV. I can get hooked on the most ridiculous shows – did anyone say The Bachelor? I’m a sucker for romance. But really, it’s a waste of my precious time. I love reading all kinds of books and you can learn so much about writing – what to do, how to do and even what not to do. So instead of switching on the idiot box I’m going to open a book and read. How about you?

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4. Fill up your writer’s well.

Ernie Hemmingway first talked about writers having a well of inspiration that they draw from that they need to keep replenished with images, adventures and ideas. My recent trip to the UK has given me an overflowing supply of inspiration, story ideas, images, conversations and joy to keep me going. People who are familiar with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron will know that Artist’s Dates are usually the first things we let slide. I’m guilty as charged. But this year I’m determined to make more time for adventures and fun because I know it all helps my writing. Otherwise I’ll keep pumping my well dry and it will show in my work.

5. Take time out.

Writers need quiet time. Much as I love people, I really love solitude and silence as well. If I don’t get enough alone time, I start getting very grouchy. If that’s combined with no writing as well then— watch out! Take yourself off for an afternoon. Send the kids to grandmas and spend the day lying around in your pyjamas and staring at the ceiling if that’s all you have the energy to do. Take yourself on a solo retreat and write your heart out. Or find a week or weekend away with other writers that will fill your tank and renew your mojo. Here’s a link to find out about our next retreat if you’re tempted.

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6. Be your own cheer squad and find others to cheer along with you.

Writers face a lot of criticism and rejection. We really don’t need a noisy inner critic dishing out more of the same – usually meaner and harsher than anything we get from others. Send your inner critic from the room or train her to be your best friend who believes in you and your writing no matter what. Train her to say – “You know I still really love that story – maybe if I just fiddle with it one more time and send it out again, I’ll get lucky.” I’m working on a YouTube deep relaxation to share with you to help quiet that nasty voice.  Connect with other like-minded writers to encourage and support you through the ups and downs of the writing life. Going to writing groups, workshops, festivals and retreats is a great way to meet writing buddies.

7. Keep a journal. journal writing.jpg

I’ve kept the most important till last. Dancers do stretches, artists do sketches, writers keep journals. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning. It doesn’t have to be three pages. A few lines every day, or every few days. But make sure it’s uncensored blah. Complaining, moaning, hoping, dreaming, remembering, planning, it all goes in. The main thing is to get used to writing fast and furiously without editing yourself or trying to sound “writerly”. Journaling is the best way I know to find your authentic voice.

What are your new year’s resolutions? Have you got any really good ideas that should be on this list? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Keep safe over the New Year’s festivities and write like furies!

Lots of love

Edwina

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TEN GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS FOR WRITERS plus DATES FOR RELAX AND WRITE 4!

 

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Here’s my pick for great gifts for the writer in your life – or as a special treat for yourself if you’re the one scribbling away like a fury.
1. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.artists way

 

I recommend this book to just about everyone I meet. It was the book that got me finally acting towards my long-held dream of being a writer. It’s practical, uplifting and guaranteed to get you writing or painting or dancing – or whatever creative pursuit brings you joy.

2. A room with a door that closes – or at the very least a screen to close off a corner of another room. That’s what I have, and it works just fine. Writers need a space of their own and plenty of privacy – we often do quite crazy things when we’re writing, and it can scare other people!
3. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – another wonderful book about the writing life that’s bird by birdwritten with humour and understanding of the ups and downs of the hard yakka of getting stories written.
4. Stationery. It doesn’t have to be fancy leather-bound journals or gold-plated pens – though they’re really glorious, but simple journals and pens and coloured pencils and all sorts of paper and writing tools usually make writers drool. We sometimes just hang out in Officeworks fondling nicely bound notebooks.

 

5. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – this is the most recent edition to my collection of big magic.pngbooks to uplift my writing sprit when battling an onslaught of rejections. By the author who wrote Eat Pray Love this book makes you believe in the magic of writing.

6. A new laptop – that’s if you’re very flash with cash. The writer in your life will love you forever.

7. Writing software such as Scrivener or for the screenwriters – Final Draft. But do check with your writer first – they may want to choose the program themselves.

8. For the more old-fashioned writer – a thesaurus or dictionary or reference book on myths or fairy tales in hard copy.

9. A book by your writer’s favourite author – or perhaps the collected works. You can get Penguin classics at very reasonable prices these days, so you could buy a few master works to inspire great writing.

10. A retreat – shout your writer to a week or a weekend away to nurture their creative spirit and network with other writing folk. Retreats range in price and duration from luxurious weeks in Fiji to retreats like mine coming up in Toowoomba where the accommodation isn’t posh, but the creativity, fun and camaraderie is real. Check out the fancy retreats here and dream on!!

Which leads me to the grand announcement –

Are you ready for more? It’s Relax and Write 4!

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Dates and venue are now locked in for the next retreat:
WHEN? 26 – 28th APRIL 2019

WHERE? Camp Koojarewon in the mountains just north of Toowoomba in Highfields.

koojarewon view

WHAT? – a combined yoga and writing retreat for women.

The program includes four writing workshops covering the basics of setting, character and structure with lots of writing activities and deep relaxation to help quiet the inner critic and free your imagination. workshop helena STAR
It also includes two gentle morning yoga sessions suitable for even the creakiest bodies – focusing on breathing and calming the mind, with every posture adjusted to your individual needs (you can do it on a chair if you like). There’s also plenty of quiet time to do your own writing, explore the surroundings, or just catch up on some shut-eye.

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Plus ALL MEALS! In fact, the lovely folk at Koojarewon are planning to stuff us like pate geese with delicious vegetarian meals, as well as morning and afternoons teas and even suppers!

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WHY? Because writers usually work alone and empty out their tanks of inspiration and determination. A retreat like this one is perfect for renewing your love of writing, and life, and for connecting you with kindred spirits and new writing buddies.

cheers!

HOW MUCH? For two nights’ rustic accommodation and all meals, plus all workshops and yoga classes only $400!

And, if you’re very clever and pay your deposit before the 8th March it’s only $360 early bird price.

HOW? By clicking HERE and filling in the form for more information.

Bring a friend or make new friends when you come. A warm welcome awaits you.

I’d really love to have you along. Treat yourself to a retreat for Christmas – you’ll have lots of fun!

Wishing you all a fabulous festive season and the best year yet in 2019!
Edwina xxx

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KOOJAREWON!

koojarewon view

Yesterday I drove up the range to Koojarewon, the site of the forthcoming retreat and this is the glorious view that awaited me at the top. Koojarewon is an Indigenous word meaning “top of the range” – it was an important waypoint on the local people’s way to a scared celebration site nearby.

The camp is in a beautiful spot – that’s a picture of the view! It has 16 acres of old growth trees and while I was there the only sound was birdsong and leaves rustling. An owl hoo-hooted throughout my visit, so calming.

 

I met Jodie and Dallan, the lovely workers there, who are super excited to be hosting writers and yogis and are preparing vegetarian feasts for us to enjoy. Behind me in this shot is the fire pit for Saturday night’s festivities. Jodie has promised us marshmallows! YAY!

The dorms are actually quite pleasant. And, as we have the run of the entire campsite, we can spread out through them, making little private rooms for ourselves with a few sarongs strung up here and there. The  communal bathrooms were inside and lovely and clean with plenty of sinks and showers.

There are also a couple of private rooms with ensuites – but only a couple. If you have health issues or a terrible snore do let me know and we’ll see if one of them has your name on it! Koojarewon me

What I liked best, apart from the trees, the fire pit,  and the view, was the cosy sitting room with couches, beanbags and a kettle – just perfect for settling in to do some quiet writing of your own. Jodie also told me about a wonderful place to visit for sunset drinks with a magnificent view of the Western Plains.

It took me about an hour and a half to drive up from Brisbane. My Sat Nav lady sent me through Murphy’s Creek which was actually gorgeous – much more pleasant than the highway. I felt like I was driving back in time 🙂

Or if you’d like to ask me anything email me HERE

Spoil yourself with a weekend of writing and gentle yoga and relaxation in the mountains. We all need a little time out now and then. Come and roast some marshmallows with me 🙂

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New Review!

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New review just in from the fabulous Jenni Mulligan – she’s the one in the fancy chequered flares!

Last year I subconsciously made a commitment to attend a Relax and Write Retreat having seen a few enticing event invitations and images float through my Facebook feed.

When the Evans Head event notice popped up I decided to go for it even though it involved a complicated calendar reshuffle. This effort was rewarded a thousand-fold.
Edwina’s blog post covers the details and structure of the retreat, so I’ll just summarise my highlights.

I loved the daily yoga and meditation sessions, was at the edge of my seat during the fascinating, emotional and hilarious writing sessions, was in awe listening to the writing of my fellow retreaters, partied at Saturday’s Open Mike Night and felt so pampered having a wonderful dinner cooked for me each evening. As a bonus, the retreat was located across the road from the beautiful Evans Head beach… so was able to have early morning and sunset walks.

I feel confident saying that the long weekend will be in the top 2 of my annual 10 Great Things I Did This Year… and I’ve had a bloody amazing year.

My thanks to Edwina and Helena for not only sharing their experience, industry insights and talent with us, but also for creating a safe and loving space and time for creativity, open heartedness and laughter. Suffice to say, Relax and Write Retreat at Evans Head 2019 is already in my calendar.

Jenni Mulligan.

Thanks so much Jenni! See you next year 🙂 xx

Next retreat is in the mountains near Toowoomba. See here for more details.

Come along and join the fun!

RETREATS AHOY!

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Only a few weeks until Relax and Write 3 at Camp Koinonia in beautiful Evan’s Head northern NSW. There are still a few spots free, if you’d like to come along and join the fun. We always have a wonderful time.

It’s on from Friday 31st August until Monday the 3rd of September with prices starting at only $440.  Check out all the details here or drop Helena a line at helenapastor2@gmail.com for more info and to book.

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Can’t wait to get onto this beautiful beach again!

In other news, we’re running a very special retreat in partnership with the Unleash the Beast Writing and Wellness Symposium in Toowoomba west of Brisbane, from October 5 – 7th at Camp Koojarewon in Highfields looking out from the top of the range. It’s fully catered and by the looks of things they plan to stuff us like geese. We’ll have the run of the whole place too, so although we’ll be in dorm-style accommodation, we’ll have plenty of space and privacy and, most importantly, toilets inside within easy reach!

koojarewon dorm

Like our other retreats it’s a great blend of yoga, relaxation exercises and creative writing workshops guaranteed to refresh your spirit and get you writing stories that surprise you.

For further details and to book, please see HERE

I’m so excited about doing a retreat in the mountains 🙂 Come along and relax and unwind among the trees with me.

Looking forward to sharing my love of writing and yoga with you!

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YAHOO! YIPPEE! RELAX AND WRITE 3!

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This Spring, forget the housework – SPRING CLEAN YOURSELF!!

Come and join our merry band of mermaids and scribes at the next Relax and Write Retreat from Friday 31st August until Monday 3rd September 2018 at beautiful Camp Koinonia by the sea at Evans Head Northern NSW.

Bookings are now open for Relax and Write 3 with early bird prices in effect until the 31st July. Places are filling fast so make sure you put your hand up soon by contacting Helena at helenapastor2@gmail.com for more info and a booking form.

The program includes a fun mix of yoga in the mornings,

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and informative and inspiring creative writing workshops throughout the day.

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With lots of time for relaxing, swimming, walking, meditating, chatting and little lie downs 🙂

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PROGRAM FOR RELAX AND WRITE 3

FRIDAY
Arrival from 2 p.m. Check-in
5:30 p.m. Welcome, drinks and nibbles, intro
6:30 p.m. Deep relaxation and introductory
writing exercises
7:30 p.m. Dinner

SATURDAY
7:30 – 9 am Gentle morning yoga and breathing
exercises with Edwina
10:30 – 12:30 p.m. Writing Your Way into a Story – Helena
FREE TIME FOR LUNCH AND
BEACH ACTIVITIES
3:30 – 5:30 p.m. Using yoga and drama techniques for
developing your characters – Edwina
7pm Dinner
OPEN MIC NIGHT If you’re up to it, please bring
along a song or other musical item,
a poem, a short performance piece
or whatever else you would like to share…

SUNDAY
7:30 – 9 am Yoga with Edwina
10:30 – 12:30p.m. Structuring for Suspense – Edwina
EXCURSION TO CHINAMANS
BEACH FOR PICNIC LUNCH AND
FREEWRITING
4pm – 6 pm Writing Dialogue – Helena
7pm Dinner

MONDAY
7:30 – 9 am Yoga with Edwina
10:30 – 12:30 p.m. Pitching your work – from bios to synopses
to grant applications – E and H
Feedback and farewells.

COST

We’ve done our best to keep prices for the retreat reasonable – we know women often don’t have much cash to spend on themselves. We also know they really need some time out to nurture themselves and their writing.

$470 for single room in ensuite cabin
$430 for twin share in ensuite cabin

EARLY BIRD $440/$400 if booked and deposit of $150 received before 31st July 2018

The cost includes:
• 3 x yoga sessions
• 6 x writing workshops.
• 3 x nights accommodation
• 3 x healthy vegetarian dinners

If you have any ideas for workshops you ‘d like to see included, please let us know.

For more information and to book please contact Helena

We’d love to have you come along and join the fun. We always have a wonderful time 🙂

Helena and Edwina photo

Helena and Edwina

REVIEWS!

Here’s a couple of reviews by participants in our March 2018 retreat.

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VAHIDA BERBEROVIC

I attended the relax and write retreat, organised and facilitated by writers Edwina Shaw and Helena Pastor, at Camp Koinonia from 16-19 March 2018. The retreat was organised, as the title suggests, around relaxation sessions in the early mornings, followed by writing workshops in the morning and in the afternoon. There was also time for a swim each day. Edwina has practised yoga for 25 years, and it shows. She was able to get the best out of all of us, and even a novice and highly cynical uptight person like myself managed to relax and let go. Helena’s workshops focussed on getting into the writing groove, and keeping at it, writing dialogue and pitching, while Edwina workshopped character development and structure with us. Both Edwina and Helena showed knowledge and experience of the writing process, as well as the publishing world, but were also understanding and sensitive of our individual needs. Helena was kind enough to give feedback to each one of us on ten pages of our writing. The evenings included a delicious meal and wonderful company.

I very much enjoyed all aspects of the retreat – the relaxation, the socialising, the writing workshops, the food. While the accommodation was quite basic, it was not an impediment to our writing, exchanging ideas, experiences and advice. It pales into insignificance when one considers the benefits. The main benefit for me was being in the company of other writers like myself who work mostly in isolation and whose voices of self-doubt often drown out any other voices we might have. I feel refreshed after the long weekend, filled with new energy to approach my writing project and view it from a new perspective. The retreat has definitely enriched me as a writer and as a person (I can’t believe that a socially anxious person like myself spent most of the stay with everyone else), and I look forward to next year.

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CAROLYN NUTTALL

‘Evans above! Who would have thought so much wellness and so much writing could be achieved in a few days?

Go to ‘Relax and Write’ a short retreat run by two gifted teachers Edwina Shaw and Helena Pastor.

Over 3-4 days, they get you in their sights and recharge you with excellent teaching, yoga, relaxation, good food and time to swim and rest.

Their choice of site, part of effective planning, was inspiring. The  beach at Evans Head was magnificent and the weather was perfect.

I am reminded of one of the writing sessions.- pitching to an audience, I hope Edwina that I have pitched this endorsement well.

Book for the next retreat if you want to recharge and renew your spirit. These women will not disappoint you.

Carolyn Nuttall

Thank you dear Vahida and Carolyn. It’s the women who come along that make these retreats so special. Missing everyone already! xxx

 

 

MERMAIDS

Waterhouse, John William, 1849-1917; A Mermaid

A Poem inspired by Relax and Write 2 by our lovely Nina Woodrow

in coloured glass chinks
the light gets in
through the cracks in everything small windows
gently open to show new glimpses
of old struggle and pain, courage and love
tinted by time
and the big fish swims by
in coloured glass chinks
the archetypes stand
and fall like neptune’s metropolis under the sea
death and grief making way
for brand new beginnings a city
decayed and reclaimed
and the big fish swims by
in coloured glass chinks
monuments are spoken
remembered, retold in spite of the tremor myths
way too big to swallow whole
are refracted with squinted eyes and
some kind of magic
and the big fish swims by
the mermaids
they have a way with big fish
and ruins under the sea
they sing them to sleep
with siren songs they plait their hair
and rearrange
the shells on their shore
till something new
is formed every time it seems
that this gentle light cant possibly
be enough but spells are cast
in moments
in single words
in hearts warmed with rose oil
and seaweed
and the tears
that finally find their season
and make their way
from the mountain
to the sea

NINA WOODROW March 2018

MERMAIDS AND SCRIBES TOGETHER AGAIN!

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Just back from RELAX AND WRITE RETREAT 2! And what a wonderful time we had. The photograph above was taken at our picnic at Dirawong Reserve a short drive from Mermaid base camp (as we now fondly refer to Camp Koinonia). It’s all part of beautiful Evans Head, a special place for the Bandjalang Nation who we thank and acknowledge as the original people of this beautiful part of the world.

camp 2 koinonia cabins

We had perfect weather for our three nights and big days of  writing workshops and yoga to refresh the spirit and body and inspire new stories. Again we had a wonderful warm group of women, some returning for a second dose of retreat bliss, and several new friends. One of the highlights for Helena and I as facilitators was watching how easily everyone bonded, supported each other and readily shared their stories. We had a great time!

yoga camp 2 downward dog

We had women ranging in age from 28 to 70, experienced writers with several books under their belts –  to newbies making their first attempts. We listened and learned from each other, laughed and swam, and feasted and sang. We held our first ever open mic night and unearthed some wonderful talents. It was lovely to have some music as part of the retreat this time.

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Our next retreat is tentatively booked for the 31st August to 3rd September 2018 – so make sure to put your hand up if you’d like to secure a spot. Drop us a line through the contact page.

I’ll finish with some feedback from one of our lovely participants:

Thank you for these three beautiful days. They have re-invigorated me as a writer, and as a human being.” Vahida Berberovic 19/03/2018

You can’t ask for better than that 🙂

For more reviews see here

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More photos!

Our beach 🙂

koinonia beach camp 2

Our cabins.

cabin shotour hall camp 2 chapeltime for a swim!

mermaids swimming

misty mornings

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sunrise with person camp 2

Come along and join the fun!

Lots of love,

Edwina and Helena xx