June 2010 -- Sold Out
November 2010 -- Now taking Sign-ups

Friend and fellow writer, Diana Spears, says a new energy of unity is emerging. "When a group of people on the same page, get together for any purpose, you will feel a new tangible and amazing power. The light will increase. Unity emerges like an energy bath that everyone is fed by. It can happen anytime and any place."

Diana's words inspired the mission statement for this first ever Writers' Plot Retreat and, by the time it was over, everyone left feeling well-fed, empowered, and full of life. The group acomplished great things just by "being together" and enjoying the energy of shared light. Everyone stepped into a place of peaceful comfort and the work each of us was always meant to do.

"I'm really on a roll now. Bring on the deadlines." --Phyllis

Santa Cruz Mountains

A full house of novelists and memoirists and writers of creative non-fiction serious about furthering their craft of writing and advancing their stories laughed and worked and shared.

Something magical happened away from home deep in nature and surrounded by fellow writers.

"Martha is truly magical, and her retreat is so much more than simply a series of story plotting workshops. I signed up because I felt completely blocked—I knew my story wasn’t working on some fundamental level, but I had no idea how to identify what was wrong, let alone how to go about fixing it. Furthermore, I’d lost confidence and wanted to do little more than whimper in the corner and feel sorry for myself.

During the retreat, I gained a new clarity on my story and its purpose. Martha has an uncanny knack for sniffing out the plot holes in a story. Deftly employing encouragement, support, and the occasional push, she helps writers immerse themselves in their story world and face the challenges of their particular project.

The group setting is perfect—I learned a lot just by watching her in action with other writers, but I also left feeling like I had had ample one-on-one time to focus on my project. By the end, I’d learned how to wield these new tools she’d put in my hand, and received much, much more: a new belief in my story and myself as a writer." --Anne

Plenty of quiet time to mull over and plan plots, write, dream, and wander.

But of course the real point is the writing. It was enlightening and gratifying to hear each person's story. To watch each of us squirm and sweat and struggle and finally break through to new depths of understanding and a more proficient grasp of this wicked and mischievous craft.

For me personally this retreat was an overwhelming success. As with many of you, Martha guided me through my "mushy middle" and brought clarity and much deeper meaning to my story through the questions she asked, the lectures she gave and the ways she made me think about my story in ways I had not previously. I am so excited -- so energized. So ready to move forward with renewed enthusiasm for this project. --Elaine

Every writer left with a completed Plot Planner of their writing project.

"Thank you again for sharing your gift not only to the writers of the world, but to their readers, who would never have the opportunity to be entertained and inspired by the work for which you help pave the way. Without you, a lot of that work would/will never see the light of day. More than you know, the pebbles you toss in our plot ponds become great waves upon shores the world over. Readers everywhere owe you a debt of gratitude." --Sara

We ate food better than a 5-Star Resort, and ate, and ate...

"The pictures are so beautiful, Sara! Many of the scenes you captured allow me to see that the experience was quite real, and not just a precious dream! I don't know about the rest of you, but after returning from Elaine's mountain, I catapulted onto a writing plane, and just today realized where I had been exactly one week ago. I'm still riding - writing - the wave. happy writing, All. --Lisa

The writers' retreat was held at a private, 5600 square foot contemporary home nestled on 21 redwood-forested acres with breathtaking views of the Santa Cruz mountains and valleys located halfway between San Jose and Santa Cruz, California, a private setting both magical and tranquil and so much more.

Writers brought:

  • Their characters
  • List of scenes in their stories
  • Hard copy of their stories
  • On location, everyone was provided with ample banner paper, stickie notes, colored felt-tip pens, clips and mailing tubes.

    The best retreat yet, and I'm not quite back to normal, nor do I care to be. Love you all. Thank you Martha. --James

    We explored the critical relationship between characterization and plot in a gorgeous setting with other like-minded writers.

    The bedrooms are large and comfortably furnished with beautiful views.

    "I had a wonderful time--the retreat was fun, interesting and very helpful---meaning that you all were fun, interesting and very helpful. i came home jazzed and have been plotting and writing!!! all week. I loved hearing about your stories and processes and can't wait to read the finished products. thanks to everyone for being great and especially to elaine for your hospitality, to sara for the great pictures, and to martha for the leadership and the book and scene template and plot dvd. a special thing i got from the workshop had to do with creating scenes. all of a sudden, it makes sense and seems painfully obvious. before i thought of my story as 70% "this is what happened", i.e. chronology, and 30% "where's the drama here." now i'm thinking in terms of "because this happened..." and "what's the dramatic part of this scene" (or should i just skip it or should i put in a little summary). whew!

    since we returned, anne and i are spurring each other to keep up our commitment to write by emailing each other a one line statement of intention every couple of days. it is helping me to plan ahead and set aside a specific time and begin with a specific goal, and reminds me i'm not doing this alone in the world. thanks, anne. also, inga and i took our plot planner banners to our critique group last friday and each used it as the basis for a discussion of a particular plot conundrum we were having. the others were very interested and helpful. the ripple effect..." --Faith

    November 2010 -- Now taking Sign-ups

    More photos of the 1st ever Writers Plot Retreat