Last Chance to RELAX AND WRITE in the Mountains!

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Had enough of all the craziness? I know I sure have.

Escape all the madness and find yourself in this picture instead. Come along to my next retreat MARCH 27 – 29 2020 in Highfields. Relax with yoga, get writing with inspiring workshops, and have fun with a group of like-minded creative women.

The whole weekend, including fabulous vegetarian meals, morning and afternoon teas and suppers, rustic accomodation in a beautiful location, 4 creative writing workshops and 2 yoga classes, plus a fun bonfire night, for only $400.

Every activity is totally optional so if you’d rather sleep in than do yoga, or go for a walk than attend a workshop, that’s all perfectly fine. This is YOUR special weekend to reboot. Sleep the whole weekend away if that’s what you need most.

It’s important to me to keep the prices affordable. I know writers mostly aren’t flash with cash. The workshops, fun and people however are TOP CLASS 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Come along and Relax and Write in the Mountains.

Numbers are strictly capped at 15 participants so I have plenty of time to give everyone.

BOOK HERE or CONTACT ME for more info or any questions.

HURRY only 4 spots left!!

Treat yourself to some nurturing of your body, mind and spirit. Here’s what past retreaters have to say about the experience.

We’d love to see you!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

5 WAYS TO BUILD NARRATIVE DRIVE IN MEMOIR

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John Gardner once said, “Structure is the primary concern of the writer.” The more I write and edit other people’s writing, the more I agree with him. It’s not the story itself but how the writer chooses to arrange story elements that keeps the reader turning pages.32533._SY475_

This is easier when writing fiction than when dealing with the real-life constraints of memoir, but here are a few ideas to help you keep your memoir readers up at night in a page turning frenzy.

Before we start there are a couple of issues you need to consider. First of all

  1. What are you writing?

If you’re intention is to record your entire life history then you’re writing an autobiography, not a memoir. What’s the difference? A memoir is a focused selection of life events around a particular theme or time in your life.

  1. Who is your audience?

Are you writing just for family and friends, or people who shared these experiences with you? If so, then you can really write whatever you like and they’ll still read it.

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However, if you believe your story has a wider appeal, that you have a story of interest to the general reading public then you’re going to have to work a whole lot harder at building narrative drive to hook them in and keep them reading right till the end. If you’re not a famous sports star or a glamorous movie queen, then selling your memoir to a publisher is going to be tricky. You need to make sure you have a compelling narrative that grabs them right from the start. But how?

Reading by Lamplight by James Whistler

Reading by Lamplight by James Whistler

5 WAYS TO BUILD NARRATIVE DRIVE IN MEMOIR

  1. Write down all your key plot points.

An easy way of thinking about this is to call them Heart Clutching Moments as Elizabeth Sims does in her Writers Digest Article

Think of the moments in your memoir that have most emotional impact – the parts where your hand goes to your heart. Key emotional turning points – remember to include some happy moments as well as those of drama or trauma. Write down a list of as many of these as you can think of.  Put big circles around the most important and a star next to the most emotional, most moving, heartbreaking moment. That is your climax.fullsizeoutput_5b2

  1. Find your central quest or question?

Delve deep into what your story is really about. Ask yourself, “What is this story about?” Then again, “What is this story really about?” Ask yourself those two questions seven times. Famous non-fiction writing teacher Robin Hemley developed this method for finding the heart of your story.heart with eye

Once you have your answer then formulate a question or quest. In memoir it might be something like this “Will Mary ever find the daughter she gave up for adoption in 1965?” or “Will innocent Bob survive his time in jail?” Or “Will Sarah find a cure for her mysterious illness and be well again?”

You get the idea. What is your central question?

  1. Find your Hope and Fear around this question.

In order to keep the reader highly engaged in your story, every scene and chapter needs to move them between hoping that YES – your central quest/ion will have a happy ending (that’s your hope) and NO! – the very worst will happen (that’s your fear).

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For example

HOPE: Mary will find her adopted daughter who will want to see her and they will lovingly reunite.

FEAR: Mary won’t ever be able to find her daughter no matter how hard she tries or how close she gets. OR Mary will find her daughter who won’t want to have anything to do with her.

HOPE: Bob will study and be freed from his wrongful imprisonment and go on to be a lawyer advocating for those still in jail.

FEAR: Bob will be brutalised in jail. All his appeals will fail, and he will die, sad and alone, in the electric chair.

Oh dear – poor Bob!

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What is your Hope and Fear?

  1. What is your HOOK?

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Your hook is what sets up your question and the connected hope and fear right at the start of your memoir. Look at your list of Heart Clutching Moments and find one which will be best to draw your reader into your story. It doesn’t have to be what chronologically happened first. The power of writing is that you get to play around with the order of events to create most suspense and impact. It doesn’t have to be the whole event, just a snippet of it. Then once you’ve set up your question and what is at stake you can go back and fill in the background.

For example

Mary gives birth to a precious baby girl and gets to hold her, but only for a few minutes. Then she is spirited away and a weeping Mary signs away her rights as mother.

Bob is eating his last meal on death row, the priest beside him giving comfort. He starts down the long hallway in chains.

  1. Arrange your key plot points

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Look at that HCM list and arrange them after your hook. You can list them chronologically but make sure there is movement between your hope and fear in each one. Build to your most impactful moment as your climax. And make sure that you have some kind of satisfying conclusion – even if it’s sad.

For example

Mary gives birth etc

Mary at the graveside of her husband who she never told about her secret child – now she is free to look for her.

Mary tells her son about her search. Son says, “She won’t want to see you.”

Mary finds old papers and begins search.

Mary finds orphanage but records were lost.

Mary finds alternate clues – her daughter has been searching for her

Mary gets sick – she may die before she finds her daughter – search intensifies.

Mary finds an address – in the same state!

Mary’s son kicks up stink – why are you doing this? It’s too stressful! You’re sick!

Mary makes a tentative phone call – gets her daughter’s husband

Mary’s illness worsens.

Mary’s daughter arrives on her doorstep and they reunite tearfully and joyfully.

Mary’s son reacts badly.

Mary’s daughter is a doctor and heals Mary and all family is happy and harmonious!

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Now real life isn’t usually so orderly, nor does it have neat closed off endings, but for the purpose of your memoir you’re going to have to find a satisfying point to stop where the main quest or question has been resolved.

These exercises can be done after you’ve already completed a draft or even better, before you start the big job of writing it. If you can write to a structure that is already moving between hope and fear, then your job is halfway done.

Of course all of this is applicable to fiction writing as well – just easier to do because you can invent events and keep that movement between hope and fear with a flick of your pen.

GOOD LUCK!

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If you’d like to learn more about memoir writing or just make a start on telling some of your life stories, then my next retreat in Highfields west of Brisbane is now open for enrolments. Come and join a like-minded group of women and get writing! See here for all the details.

What is your memoir’s central question? What is the hope and fear? Need help working it out? Ask away!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

 

Relax and Write in the Mountains 2020!

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I’m thrilled to announce a special introductory and memoir writing retreat at Camp Koojarewon in Highfields north of Toowoomba.

Is your creative spirit crying out for a little TLC? Always wanted to write but don’t know where to start? Need to reboot your writing mojo and be inspired to tackle that project you’ve been thinking about forever? Come along and regain your love of writing and life at the next Relax and Write Retreat

From 2pm FRIDAY 27 MARCH – 2 pm 29 MARCH 2020

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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 to help move those stories out of your head and onto the page.

 

“I feel transformed, as a writer and as a human being.”

Bianca Millroy – participant NANOWRIMO retreat 2019

 The program includes two yoga sessions, four inspiring writing workshops covering the basics, plus advice on editing and submitting your work. Two nights basic dorm accommodation plus delicious vegetarian meals, morning and afternoon teas and a special dance night are included.

“The fully-catered retreat environment was comfortable and stress-free. Edwina and her team create an atmosphere that encourages, motivates and inspires.”

Gay Liddington – participant NANOWRIMO retreat 2019

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Maria, Kathy and Jude – triple retreaters!

Connect with other creative women in a beautiful, peaceful location, be inspired by practical, informative workshops, stretch and relax with yoga and release your inner-goddess dancing under the stars. No more putting your dreams on hold. Treat yourself to this special weekend nurturing your writing spirit. You deserve it!

RETREAT PROGRAM All activities are optional

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FRIDAY 27 MARCH 2020

ARRIVAL from 3 pm

5 pm – Meet and Greet

6:00 –  DINNER

6:45 – 8:30 WORKSHOP 1– Your Stories

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SATURDAY 28 MARCH

7:15am – 8:30 – Gentle morning yoga and breathing

8:30 – BREAKFAST

10:00am – 12:30 pm – WORKSHOP 2 – Writing from start to finish – developing a plot and a plan

12.30 pm – LUNCH

1 – 4:00 – FREETIME and FEEDBACK SESSIONS

4 – 6:00 pm – WORKSHOP 3 – Character and Dialogue

6:00 pm – DINNER

7:00– 8:30 pm – DANCING and chatting around the bonfire

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SUNDAY 29 MARCH

7:15 – 8:30am – Gentle morning yoga and breathing

8:30 – BREAKFAST

10:00 – 12:30 – WORKSHOP 4 – Where and how to submit work, goal setting, questions and collage

12:30 – LUNCH

1:30- 2pm DEPARTURES

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Editorial feedback sessions with Edwina available on request $50 extra for those needing advice on a project.

FEEDBACK DETAILS – email Edwina your first 10 pages plus your synopsis at least 2 weeks prior to retreat for full edit/advice plus 20 minutes meeting time. Massages will also be available at extra cost.

COST for the weekend of writing, fun and feasting, including accommodation, all meals, 2 yoga sessions, 4 creative writing workshops and a dance night. Transport not included.

 $400 all inclusive!

EARLY BIRD $360 -Pay $200 deposit before 30 January 2020

PAY YOUR DEPOSIT HERE

then Drop Me a Line to let me know you’ve done so and I’ll secure a spot for you.

OR contact me to pay by Direct Deposit: preferred : )

Contact me any time for more info or with questions. edwinashaw@icloud.com

A very few single rooms are available for those with special needs at slightly extra cost. Contact Edwina.

Remember – as Heidi said “I knew the mountains would make her well!”

Heidi

 

REVIEWS FOR RELAX AND WRITE IN PARADISE!

Just received these lovely reviews for my latest retreat,

RELAX AND WRITE IN PARADISE – June 21 – 23 2019 MAGNETIC ISLAND

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I first did one of Edwina’s workshops to shift the energy of a lot of ongoing grief and help kick start my lost creative streak. From that little taste I knew she was going to be good for my mind body and soul (although my body cursed her. It’s been years since I danced!) I loved it at the time though.
The writing exercises lingered long after I put the pen to rest. They told me more about myself than I would ever imagine. I am grateful for the insightful messages. And that Dream Chart? Well it is up on my wall for me to see every day and keep me on track. My road back is taking a stroll. I want to gallop. I must learn patience too.
Just this last week I entered a local competition with a short story. You never know I might win! Thing is I really like it and that’s all that really matters. Thanks Edwina for the part you played in my healing journey. I would recommend these retreats to anyone who has had a set back or if you just want a relaxing, quiet, creative infused break. Well worth it.
I knew the minute I walked into my motel room that all would be well. I’ve done heaps of retreats in the distant past but none have left me a bag of gifts with a personal message of welcome. It was pure delightfulness!
Kerry Park July 2019
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I attended the Magnetic Island Relax and Write retreat in June with twelve other women. There was a good mix of experienced and novice writers, a nice mingling of yoga, writing and dancing. The act of writing is so solitary that any gathering of like-minded people is a celebration to me but it is particularly valuable when it is facilitated by an experienced teacher who knows how to cater for a variety of interests, personalities and levels of skill. Edwina is an experienced teacher of both yoga and creative writing, and her steady hand manages to calm down the nervous, encourage the shy and steady the excited. One can never predict what gems may be revealed in any of the writing sessions.

This year’s addition of a vivacious dance teacher was such a delight and a novel experience to me that I can’t wait for a new opportunity to do it all over again.

Thank you, Edwina!

Vahida Berberovic July 2019

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Thank you Kerry and Vahida. Retreats are only as wonderful as the women who come along. And they’re all pretty amazing!!

We have so much fun on retreats. Come along and join us at the next retreat this November.

RELAX AND WRITE NANOWRIMO at Burleigh Heads on the beautiful Gold Coast.

NOVEMBER 8 – 10.

Early bird prices until 15 September.

PAY YOUR DEPOSIT NOW to avoid disappointment.

Lots of love

Edwina xx

RELAX AND WRITE NANOWRIMO!

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I’m thrilled to announce a special NANOWRIMO retreat at Burleigh Heads!

5:30pm FRIDAY 8 November to 1 pm SUNDAY 10 November 2019 at CYC Burleigh Heads

Super boost your writing this November at this special retreat in Burleigh Heads. Whether you’re aiming to get a novel written in a month Nanowrimo style, or if you have a manuscript almost done, this is the retreat for you!

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Connect with like-minded women in a beautiful location, be inspired by practical and informative workshops, stretch and relax with yoga and release your inner-goddess dancing under the stars.

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This retreat has two streams:

  1. NANOWRIMO – for those writing up a storm, with a group writing room and plenty of time to write
  2. FEEDBACK AND REVISION – pay slightly more to receive individual feedback on your writing and share your work with other writers at a similar stage for more input on how to best redraft your book. For hints and tips on how to get started on your rewrite see my post HERE.

Workshops suit both streams, focusing on finding the heart of your story, structuring for success and publication pathways.

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At this retreat, Edwina will again be joined by special guest, Creative Dance instructor – the lovely Lalita Lakshmi, who will get us all swaying our hips and dancing.

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Also joining us is fabulous masseuse, Monique De Goey, to help ease those writing-induced aches and pains. Extra cost.

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The program includes two yoga/dance sessions, dance night and three creative writing workshops. Two nights basic but comfortable, airconditioned accommodation plus all meals are included in the cost.

It’s all set among the stunning surroundings of Burleigh Heads National Park, staying at cheap but cheerful CYC Burleigh. Yes it’s a youth camp but we’ll have it all to ourselves, and all the rooms are air-conditioned and have ensuites.

Just a minute’s walk down the street is the National Park with fabulous walks through ancient rainforest,

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around the headland,

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to the surf beach on one side

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and on the other side, glorious Tallebudgera Creek were the water glows turquoise.

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For the weekend of writing, fun and feasting, including accommodation, all meals, 2 yoga/ dance sessions, 3 creative writing workshops and a dance night. Transport not included.

  1. NANOWRIMO Twin Share $350 Single $400
  1. FEEDBACK Twin Share $400 Single $450

OR Pay your $200 deposit before 15 SEPTEMBER 2019 for EARLY BIRD PRICES

  1. NANOWRIMO EARLY BIRD twin share$320/ single $370 or
  2. FEEDBACK EARLY BIRD twin share $370/ single $420

PAY YOUR DEPOSIT HERE

When paying your deposit please put your surname and either 1 or 2 so I know which stream you’d prefer.

or CONTACT ME DIRECTLY for more info or to pay by Direct Deposit (preferred)

Here’s what a participant at my last retreat had to say about the experience

“I attended the Magnetic Island Relax and Write retreat in June with twelve other women. There was a good mix of experienced and novice writers, a nice mingling of yoga, writing and dancing. The act of writing is so solitary that any gathering of like-minded people is a celebration to me but it is particularly valuable when it is facilitated by an experienced teacher who knows how to cater for a variety of interests, personalities and levels of skill. Edwina is an experienced teacher of both yoga and creative writing, and her steady hand manages to calm down the nervous, encourage the shy and steady the excited. One can never predict what gems may be revealed in any of the writing sessions.

This year’s addition of a vivacious dance teacher was such a delight and novel experience to me that I can’t wait for a new opportunity to do it all over again.”

Vahida Berberovik July 2019

So what are you waiting for? Secure your place now 🙂

Come along and join the fun!

Until then, happy writing.

Lots of love

Edwina xx

 

 

The Magic of Magnetic Island

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Oh yes, it really is that beautiful! I arrived home last night from a wonderful extended stay on Magnetic Island, just off the coast from Townsville in North Queensland. Wish you could have been there too! Traditional home of the Wulgurukaba People and a true piece of paradise.

We had so much fun on retreat. A fabulous group of writers, from absolute beginners to those with books under their belts. Now freshly-minted mermaids!img_3710.jpg

It all started with drinks on the verandah with tame blue-winged kookaburras eating out of our hands. Those beaks were a bit scary!

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Champagne still in hand, workshops started and writing dreams began to take shape.

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Then dinner up at the Amaroo restaurant with all the gang : )

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Mornings were filled with yoga and dance with our resident dancing queen Lalita Lakshmi!

Then we got stuck into the business at hand – writing! With two writing workshops covering all the basics and focusing in on character development to shape plot we were plenty busy enough. We got lots of writing done and had masses of information to absorb, so we needed our princess naps in the afternoon.

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Some  retreaters took advantage of the extended break and explored the beautiful island and had a walk and a swim.

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Dinner on Saturday night was at Bikini Tree Restaurant where my friends Jen and Dan had prepared a delicious and plentiful Indian feast.

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Even though we were stuffed to the gills (as mermaids get very hungry!) we managed to rouse ourselves for my personal highlight of the retreat  — candle dancing on the beach! The photo is blurry but you get the general idea of the fun of it. Lalita led us all in a joyful and playful celebration of life. I’m definitely keeping Lalita and dancing as part of the retreats.

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Sunday and more yoga and dancing and deep relaxation, some goal setting and another favourite part of the retreats, collage! Some collages were fun, some surprising, and others full of wonderful wishes that I hope all come true.

After farewelling all the lovely retreaters, my friend Vahida and I stayed on at Magnetic for another week, working on our own projects. Then Vahida left too, and I worked on in paradise editing a book for a friend of mine who lives on the island. Took the manuscript to the beach and worked on the sand : ) Yes! It’s not a bad life.

So now I’m home and back in the saddle, ready for more.

Life Writing Workshop this weekend at the CYA Conference Everything is a Genre Day. For the weekend (or day) ticket you get as many fabulous workshops as you can handle.

The following weekend I’m presenting Building Your Career as a Writer, at the QLD Writers Centre. You can come along in person or particpate online as the session is streamed. I call this workshop – Many Fingers Many Pies, because it’s all about how to make money writing or doing things related to writing. We all have bills to pay, but it’s very nice to pay them by doing what we love.

And on Saturday 20 July I’m at Sunnybank Hill Library for a FREE WORKSHOP on the basics of creative writing. Would love to see you there. Come along and say hi : )

While I was away I also received feedback on my feature film screenplay from a Los Angeles script editor, so I’ll be busily redrafting over the next few months. Cross fingers it makes it to the big screen.

Coming soon is the launch of Bjelke Blues, a book of stories about life in Queensland under Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, that I’ve been collecting and editing for AndAlso Books. Super excited about that. It’s heading to the printers very soon. As soon as I have the cover I’ll be showing it off. Launch is booked for Friday August 23. More on that later,

Next retreat is set for November 8 – 10 at Burleigh Heads. I’m designing it as dual purpose.

A planning and writing retreat to super boost people doing NANOWRIMO.

And for those women with a finished manuscript (or almost finished) already done, a feedback and redrafting weekend, with personalised feedback from me on the first 10 pages and your synopsis and also feedback from a small group of your peers. That way you get to talk about the book you’re working on with people who understand just how much work you’ve done and how precious your project is.

If you’d like more information about the Burleigh Retreat, would like to secure your spot, or just sign up for newsletters to keep you up to date with the retreats or to receive my hints, tips and opportunities GET IN TOUCH.

Hope to see some of you soon at one of the workshops.

Happy Writing till then!

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Lots of love,

Edwina xx

 

LAST CHANCE TO RELAX AND WRITE IN THE MOUNTAINS!

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Only two more weeks until we’re up in the hills running and dancing, arms spread wide, singing and laughing! Well, maybe it’ll be more like walking and writing and enjoying some gentle stretches and deep relaxation, but you get the idea.

If you’ve been um-ing and ah-ing about whether to come, now’s your chance. This is the sign you’ve been waiting for.

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The weekend starts with welcome drinks and nibbles, then dinner and our first writing session, getting to know each other and exploring what stories we really want – or need –  to write.

Saturday is jam-packed with yoga first thing, then two writing workshops.

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After dinner it’s bonfire time with marshmallows and singalongs and whatever special talents everyone would like to share. Jude is famous for her bawdy jokes so watch out!

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Sunday finishes with more yoga and another writing workshop which includes advice on editing your own work and then developing a plan to follow up on all the new story ideas you’ll have in progress by then.

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Amy the Camp Koojarewon cook is creating a fantastic vegetarian menu especially for us.

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We have the whole retreat centre to ourselves. So even though we’re in dorms we can spread right out and make ourselves cubby-house rooms within them. The grounds are lovely with giant trees and fantastic views, lots of places to walk and write and relax. Coffee shops are nearby for those who need a strong brew in the mornings.

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koojarewon view

Not only that, my friend Monique is joining us to provide massages! Yes, go the whole hog and book yourself in for an hour-long pampering and healing massage. Contact Monique HERE to book your spot.

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I’m so excited to be hosting this wonderful weekend of writing, yoga and fun. Come along and join our merry band of mermaids, scribes and wood-sprites.

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Contact me HERE to book or for more information. But hurry. Places are strictly limited to no more than 15 participants. Only two spots left! $400 for the whole weekend including accomodation and all meals. Special deals for locals who want to sleep in their own beds. BOOK NOW!

Treat yourself to a weekend of creative fun with like-minded women in beautiful surroundings.

We all deserve some time out now and then.

Lots of love

Edwina x

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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.