If you’re a writer or a creative soul with stories to tell who embraces the alchemical benefits of writing,..
if you have a book idea you want to bring to life or one you’ve started that you want to move forward,
join Johnnie Mazzocco for an immersive, intimate, and inspirational writing retreat
in magical Manitou Springs, Colorado.
As the sun begins to make its descent behind majestic Pikes Peak, the bright blue sky awash in breathtaking pinks and golds, you depart the red rock, pine-studded Garden of the Gods with a sense of satisfaction – notebook with newly written pages in hand – inspired by your stunning natural surroundings, and walk back to freshen up for dinner.
But first, you make your way to the patio behind your relaxing and nurturing accommodation and settle into an Adirondack chair, pop open a bottle of Manitou Spring’s magical and healing mineral water, and take a replenishing pause, noting how nourishing it feels to be focusing on yourself and your writing in this beautiful setting with like-minded, writerly souls.
Ah… the magic of the Rocky Mountains!
- discover and distill answers to the questions that richochet inside your resplendent, creative, storytelling mind so you can keep your creativity flowing.
- have a clear plan to move forward with your book.
- allow for the inclusion of writing as a regular practice in your life.
- acquire practical and proven tools and techniques to craft your story, as well as methods to maintain your focus and tap into your subconscious, the place where all your creative richness and profound inner knowledge resides.
- return home with a newfound confidence in yourself and your writing, ready and able to live a writer’s life and finish your book.
…gain a level of competence with practical and proven techniques that will allow you to tell universal stories that will stay with your readers long after they’ve put down your book?
Incredibly rewarding, I’m sure! You’ll learn my unique and effective Writing Through the Body™ process, essential craft elements of writing, and tips and tricks to make space in your life and your mind to keep the creativity flowing.
It would be alchemical. We’ll talk about both the magic and the craft of writing, as well as the benefits of the creative process and why it’s good for us. And we’ll embark on some fun and thought-provoking activities to get you in your body and expand your mind.
During our time together, I’ll help you explore your own creative process so you can get clear about what you need to be your best creative self, and in the process, you’ll get even better at living authentically and allowing the process of life.
Manitou Springs, Colorado is the PERFECT place to spend NINE enchanting days (and EIGHT nights) brainstorming your book, nurturing your creative soul, and learning about the Writing Through the Body™ process. Imagine taking all your brilliant ideas and FINALLY coming up with a clear plan of action while gaining the knowledge necessary to actually get your book written.
There’s no need to go it alone or wonder about
what to do next!
BEYOND JOURNALING is JUST what you’ve been looking for to get your book started or move it forward!
PLUS, we’ll be exploring the natural wonders of the Pikes Peak area, wandering the streets of charming Manitou Springs, reveling in scrumptious farm-to-table food, nurturing ourselves with nightly hot tub soaks under the stars, and more!
That sounds lovely...
Colorado evokes images of majestic mountains, sparkling streams, sun-filled days, and starry night skies.
We’ll be spending eight soul-nourishing nights in charming and quirky Manitou Springs – little sister to Colorado Springs, nestled at the base of towering Pikes PeaK…
Located a mere half-mile outside of Manitou Springs, you’ll have the best of both worlds – equal walking distance to town and the stunning natural wonder, Garden of the Gods – the perfect combination to awaken and honor your creative impulses.
SunMountain consists of two turn-of-the-century homes, situated on six acres. Our house – Onaledge House – sits next to the main house and offers a comforting, soft place to land, with lots of wood accents and nooks and crannies for writing and alone time, as well as an inviting community room, dining room, and full kitchen. We’ll also have access to the main house dining room for dinner.
The grounds feature terraced gardens and biodynamic farms, as well as trails ideal for strolling and meditating, and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
And best of all, you can walk right out back to the patio any time of day or night and indulge in a luxurious hot tub soak under a crystal clear, star-packed Colorado night sky. Not only will you return home with more confidence about writing and finishing your book, you’ll also return with renewed inner stillness and an overall sense of wellbing.
Spend an intimate week with other writers who are committed to their creativity and have chosen to honor their compulsions to get their stories on the page and their voices out into the world.
While at SunMountain, you’ll be treated to thoughtfully prepared organic, gluten-free, vegetarian meals with food grown right on the premises in their biodynamic farm and kitchen garden.
They even have on-site goats and chickens and a pot-belly pig named Jezebel who is absolutely adorable! __________________________________________________________________
If you feel like venturing out for a meal on the town, Manitou Springs has plenty to offer. You’ll find Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian, and Chinese, as well as steak and pizza. Coffee and tea shops, a burger bar, and a few cafes too.
I want to go!
And if all this isn’t tempting enough – we’ll take a walk to Garden of the Gods to write amongst the towering, breathtaking red sandstone formations and fragrant pine, spruce, and sage that span 1,367 acres.
(And for all you introverts who like to do things on your own… wait a minute, that’s all of us… we’re writers! – it’s so close to SunMountain – a mere half-mile – you can walk over anytime you like for a solitary reprieve.)
Helen Hunt Jackson knew there was something about nature, the flow of water, and creative flow.
While working on her well-known novel, Ramona, Helen routinely hiked the trail that runs alongside the stunning Seven Falls to what is now known as “Inspiration Point.” Her memorial site.
We’ll ascend the 224 steps that lead to the .8-mile trail, then we’ll pause at the top to take in the breathtaking, panoramic view at 7,200 feet and channel the spirit of Helen. And of course, we’ll write!
(If you prefer not to take the set of stairs and do the hike, or if you aren’t physically able, you’ll find an elevator near the base of the falls that will take you to “Crow’s Nest,” an overlook platform with a lovely view of the two lower falls. You can also sit in a comfy rocking chair at the base, soak up the healing ambience, and be lulled into a dream-like meditative state… A writer’s dream spot!)
We writers do this all the time… explore the clandestine caverns of our characters’ hearts, minds, and souls (and our own, as well). We’ll go underground for an unforgettable Lantern Tour at Cave of the Winds.
Not only will we make our way through this subterranean marvel, we’ll also hear the fascinating and dramatic story of its genesis and the incredible never-say-never attitude of its discoverer and creator, George Snider.
Our expert guide will take us through damp, dark, sometimes narrow, pathways that lead to twists, turns, and surprise rooms without ever knowing what lies ahead… a great exercise in having faith and going with the flow (a necessary skill for writers!).
This sounds amazing!
How will we spend our days?
Day 1 - Saturday, September 8
Shuttle to SunMountain Center – Catch the group shuttle in Denver (around 1PM) and make the 90-minute drive with your writing companions and new friends.
Getting Oriented – At 3PM, SunMountain will orient us to their beautiful grounds and mission with a tour, and at 6PM, we’ll have our first lovingly prepared, communal meal in the main house dining room, which will set the stage for our fabulous week together.
Day 2 - Sunday, September 9
gather for our first class: Chakra 1 (Root) and Backstory/Setting.
After exploring your characters’ beginnings, you’ll know them as well as you know yourself. Maybe even better! My guided meditation will tap into your inner knowing, and my specially designed prompts will give you direction for the writing exercise.
Enjoy free time to write, relax, or meet with me for some extra special attention!
After lunch, we’ll take the half-mile walk to Garden of the Gods. We’ll wander through towering red sandstone formations, breath in refreshing pine-scented air, and of course, we’ll put pen to paper. Afterward, enjoy free time to write, sleep, soak, explore downtown Manitou…
After a soul-nourishing dinner, we’ll have our first reading (a chance to treat yourselves and each other to your brilliant words in a safe, non-critical space.)
Day 3 - Monday, September 10
We’ll focus on Chakra 2 (Sacral) and Description. How do your characters relate to others? How do they see the world? After our lesson, meditation, and specially designed prompts, you’ll be able to write your characters and their experiences with evocative descriptions that tantalize and tease out every single sense in your readers. (Hint: This is what makes them come back for more!)
Have a question? I’m available for one-on-one sessions before lunch.
In the afternoon, listen to what your body and creative spirit need. Rest, write, read, hike, soak, or head to town for browsing and shopping.
We’ll have a surprise class this afternoon, with dinner in the main house at 6PM and our reading at 8PM.
Day 4 - Tuesday, September 11
How do you convey the insight you have about your characters to your readers? Studying Chakra 3 (Solar Plexus) and Characterization/ Character Motivation will help you do just that.
After lunch, we’ll head to Seven Falls for a hike. Not only will we get a great workout, we’ll get next to nature – always good for creativity! At the top, we’ll have a writing session at Insipiration Point – author Helen Hunt Jackson’s favorite spot when she was writing her well-known novel, Ramona.
Afterward, treat yourself to a luscious hot tub soak,, a healing massage, or a long and focused epiphany-filled writing session.
(If the hike is not for you, take the elevator to Crow’s Nest for a view of the lower two falls, then sit in a rocker at the base of the first fall and soak in the power of this stunning natural wonder while you write.)
Day 5 - Wednesday, September 12
Our lesson on Chakra 4 (Heart) and Antagonists/Supporting Characters will get you closer to all your characters – even the ones you don’t like so much! After, we’ll head out to Cave of the Winds.
Our expert guide will take us on a private Lantern Tour that’s both educational and entertaining. We’ll learn about the discovery and complicated history behind this marvel of nature.
Things to note: Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy, bring a jacket (it can be cold), a hat (it can be drippy), and your adventurous spirit! We’ll be wandering through the damp, dark (but don’t worry, you’ll have a lantern) cave tunnels, sometimes not knowing what’s around the corner or when the tour will end (much like writing, yes?!).
Free time follows, and of course, we’ll have our evening reading.
Day 6 - Thursday, September 16
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Use your words!” Today, we’ll focus on Chakra 5 (Throat) and Dialogue. We’ll talk about when to let our characters speak and when not to, and we’ll talk about how to sort out all their unique voices so that when they do use their words, they have a distinct, one-of-a-kind voice, just like you.
And if we haven’t met yet or if your creative brain has generated more questions, hit me up for a one-on-one session.
You’ll have loads of free time today, so a trek to the top of Pikes Peak might be in order. You’ll have a leisurely train ride to the top and back down. (Note: It’s windy up there – and cold – so dress in layers.)
And another surprise class awaits!
Day 7 - Friday, September 14
Chakra 6 (Third Eye) and Internal Monologue are the focus of this morning’s lesson, so we’ll get way inside your characters’ heads (exciting and scary all at once!).
I look forward to meeting one-on-one with anyone who wants and needs it, and you’ll have LOADS of free time today.
Some possibilities (if you aren’t writing): use your free two-hour spa time at SunWater – compliments of SunWellness; get a massage at SunWater; take the cog railway to the top of Pikes Peak; hike the Manitou Springs Incline (it’s a CHALLENGE); take a tour of Miramont Castle; grab a map of Manitou’s mineral springs and go on a scavenger hunt; browse the shops, or…
After dinner, come to the evening reading and be wowed by each other!
Day 8 - Saturday, September 15
Chaucer once said, “All good things must come to an end,” and while this is our last full day of the retreat, your exciting, fulfilling journey to finish your book has just begun no matter where you are in the process!
After we discuss Chakra 7 (Crown) and Point of View and I help you figure out which is best for your book (maybe it’s more than one).
You’ll have one more shot at some free time before our final dinner and reading together.
Day 9 - Sunday, September 16
Directly after breakfast, we’ll have some closing activities, prepare ourselves for re-entry to our lives back home, and give a fond farewell to the fabulous staff at SunMountain.
A shuttle will pick you up at SunMountain and drive you back to Denver International Airport. (Details about this will follow, but I anticipate a shuttle pick up around noon (check out from SunMountain is 1PM), so please plan your flights accordingly, allowing for a 90-minute drive back and time to check in and board your flight.
So what can YOU expect if you spend 9 thought-provoking, mind-shifting days (and 8 peaceful nights) immersing yourself in this soul-nurturing environment with like-minded creative souls?
What if you were able to get the footing you need to move forward or start that book you’ve been dreaming about or make major progress on the one you’ve already started?
And what would it mean to you if you picked up some writing skills, including the phenomenal benefits of the Writing Through the Body™ process that would give you the answers to your writing obstacles?
We’ll figure it out together!
Then we can continue to follow up after the retreat in the closed Beyond Journaling Group on Facebook so we make sure that you are accountable and make your dream a reality!
* * *
You’ll also get
– detailed Writing Through the Body™worksheets to help you continue to delve into your characters and their stories just like we’ll do at the retreat.
– SIX MONTHS of LIVE group classes so you’ll have the support you need after the retreat.
- weekly tips, tricks, and hacks for improving your writing and managing your busy life and monkey mind!
– membership to the exclusive Beyond Journaling Facebook group – available ONLY for those who attend this retreat!
Would THAT be worth coming to Colorado?
I think so! PLUS you’ll get one-on-one time with me to discuss your specific needs – priceless!
Please keep this in mind: Not only will you get some teaching from me on writing craft and my one-of-a-kind Writing Through the Body™ process, you’ll also get worksheets and methods to help you create a clear plan to take home and make room for the writing life you want.
You’ll also get the above-mentioned activities that will enhance my teachings, your time with me, our nightly readings, and more!
I'm ready to finish my book!
Why Manitou Springs?
I LOVE Colorado. Not only is it a stunningly beautiful state – from its jagged, snowy mountain peaks, quaint mountain communities, and clear, sparkling streams to its lush green forests, stands of whispering aspen trees, and ever-present sunshine – it’s a place that holds many fond memories from my childhood. Before moving to Fort Collins in 1970, my family made an annual trek by car from Illinois to Colorado for family vacations.
Before moving away in 1985, I spent some of the most important and formative years of my life there, explored its terrain, and fell in love with it.
Some of my best memories from my family vacations take me back to Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, and Cave of the Winds. As a little girl from the midwestern flatlands, I marveled that such places exist in the world.
To me, it was a place only suitable for vacations… I was certain that the place a person lives is never so beautiful, so magical. Even then I knew there was something special about Manitou Springs, and I always considered it the much cooler, hipper – far more interesting – little sister of Colorado Springs.
Native American Indians who lived in Manitou Springs considered the area to be sacred due to the plentiful mineral springs in the area, which they believed to hold healing properties. To this day, eight of the springs are still functioning and they can be found around town. (Can you find them all?)
A statue of the Grecian goddess, Hygeia, rests at the top of the clock tower in the center of town, overseeing the health and wellbeing of the people of Manitou Springs. (Sit at her base and be blessed!)
The Manitou Springs Incline is considered the “Holy Grail” of cardio. (Go see for yourself! But remember, you’ll be at almost 6,500 feet, so if you’re not from Colorado, your stamina might be different, as higher elevations make the air is thinner.)
Miramont Castle is said to be haunted. (Another go see for yourself!)
If you’re flying into Colorado, please arrive at Denver International Airport by noon on Saturday, September 8 to catch the group shuttle for the 90-minute drive to Manitou Springs. You’re welcome to come a night early if you’re not able to catch a flight that will get you there on time, or you can take care of your own transportation and come to Manitou at a different time.
SunMountain asks that we all be on site and settled by 3PM on September 8th for their orientation of the grounds.
For your return trip back home, I will arrange for a group shuttle back to Denver International Airport from SunMountain on Sunday, September 16.
Check-out time is 1PM, so the shuttle will likely do a pick-up around noon or 1PM. Please be sure your flight leaves Denver late enough to allow for the 90-minute drive back and your check-in for your flight.
Details on shuttles are forthcoming.
- We’ll be at altitues ranging from 6,000 ft. to 14,000 ft (if you take the trip to Pikes Peak) so be prepared to feel more winded when walking/hiking, and check with your doctor about medication if you have a sensitive constitution. Altitude sickness is a real thing!
- You’ll be closer to the sun – and it shines A LOT – so bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, lip balm, and a water bottle.
- We’ll be hiking, so bring shoes or boots that you don’t mind getting dirty and muddy (the cave is wet).
- While it’s warm during the day, temperatures drop in the evening (and the cave can be chilly) so bring a jacket and pack plenty of clothes so you can dress in layers.
- Out of respect for those with acute sensitivities to scents, please refrain from wearing or bringing perfumes, scented toiletries, candles, etc… Non-scented shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, and deoderant will be provided.
- Two orientations: one with SunMountain staff and one with me – both occuring the afternoon/evening of your arrival.
- Lifetime access to the closed Writing Through the Body™ Writer’s Group on Facebook and to the Beyond Journaling program.
- Cozy, nurturing accommodations – double, triple, and quadruple occupancy (yes, there are 2-4 beds in the rooms!) – for eight nights.
- Eight dinners (including welcome and farewell), eight breakfasts, and seven lunches – all lovingly created by SunMountain chefs with intentionally grown food from their on-site farm and kitchen garden.
- Round-trip transportation to and from our outings at Cave of the Winds and Seven Falls.
- Tour guide for our Cave of the Winds Lantern Tour.
- Entrance fees to Cave of the Winds and Seven Falls. (Garden of the Gods is free.)
- Two hours at SunWater, SunMountain’s sister spa, just down the road – compliments of SunMountain.
- Round-trip shuttle transportation between Denver International Airport and SunMountain at the pre-arranged time. (Those leaving at different times than the scheduled shuttle are responsible for their own transportation.)
What’s not included…
- Your round-trip airfare from home.
- Meals you choose to have away from the retreat center.
- Other non-included items: souvenir shopping, personal phone calls, extra spa services, laundry, tips for maid/housekeeping service at the retreat center, taxis and other local transportation, and round-trip transportation between Denver International Airport and SunMountain at any time other than the schedule group shuttle.
- Personal, medical, or trip cancellation.
Other activities that might interest you that aren’t included:
- Cog railway trip to the top of Pikes Peak
- Manitou Springs Incline
- Downtown Manitou Springs
- Miramont Castle
FYI: Manitou Springs has a free shuttle that picks up just a short ways from SunMountain, so if you don’t want to make the half-mile walk to town, you can take the shuttle. Shuttle service is not guaranteed, so if it isn’t running, you’ll be able to choose from local taxis, Uber, and Lyft.
I love writing. In fact, writing changed my life. I would even go so far as to say that writing SAVED my life. I love teaching it, studying it, learning from it, and helping others do it and get excited about it. I believe stories heal – the writer and teller as much as the reader and listener. And I want to help YOU love it and benefit from it as much as I have.
It’s hard to say when it all started for me… maybe it was when I was a little girl and I used to spend hours writing stories in my bedroom that became little books with stapled spines and crayon art covers or the plays I used to write and take to school, which I would cast and direct during recess.
Or maybe it all began, in earnest, when I started writing my novel, Miranda’s Garden, in 1990 and had a life-changing experience. I achieved such a profound level of flow, my subconscious was tapped in a way it had never been before and I recovered lost memories of abuse from my past. And I experienced an existential crisis, a dark night of the soul.
The beauty of that whole experience was that I formed an alliance with my main character, Miranda. We were a team, and we had an agreement. I would tell her story with integrity and honesty, and she would show me how to navigate this dark and difficult time in my life. It was through my relationship with Miranda that I fully realized the potent and alchemical power of the creative process and the importance of forming a deep understanding of characters and their worthy, emotional worlds.
It would be two decades before I would pull together all my seemingly disparate creative endeavors from all those years and create Writing Through the Body™.
I’m a published fiction writer, award-winning screenwriter, editor, and writing maven, seeking to assist other creative souls who wish to share their stories and collectively take part in the project of healing the world. I also teach college students about pop culture and writing at Portland State University with the intention of helping them fully embrace the power of pop culture and the power of their words.
My most successful students and clients resonate with my signature compassionate pragmatism, which I’ve developed as a result of raising three stunning humans and guiding thousands of college students through the oftentimes harrowing process of putting words on the page.
When I’m not hanging out with my three grown kids, snowshoeing the beautiful Oregon backcountry, hiking to a waterfall, or dancing, you’ll find me at home with a book or my most recent Netflix binge, getting comfy with Iris, my feline familiar, or fast walking to my next exciting activity, enjoying the city culture of quirky downtown Portland, Oregon, happily doing life without a car.
Johnnie, I'm ready to come to Colorado with you!