If you’re a creative soul with a novel brewing inside you that will touch readers’ hearts and evoke their imaginations, a memoir that’s stranger than fiction and must be told, a script that portrays a compelling tale, or a non-fiction book that will position you as a thought leader in your area of expertise – or even an avid journaler dedicated to self-reflection and your inner evolution – join Johnnie Mazzocco for an immersive, intimate, and inspirational writing retreat on the train.

Portland | Seattle | Portland

June 20, 2020 – CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19

October 17, 2020 – CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19

Imagine this…

You board the train with an intimate group of other conscious writers, mindful creatives, and soulful thinkers who have the desire to use words as a means to express themselves and make meaning of life.

You’re a group who can’t deny your compulsion to write, to share your stories and ideas, to experience the pleasure and joy of the creative process. You understand and crave the alchemy that comes from sharing your meaningful stories and brilliant ideas – from putting words on the page – as a way of instigating positive change in yourselves and in the world.

You settle into your business class seat and ready your laptop or your notebook and pen, and the train begins its departure from the station. You feel the rhythm of the rails beneath you… first slowly, then building in speed to create a constant, meditative container for your creativity while we cruise along and take in some of the most beautiful natural attractions of the Pacific Northwest, through the Columbia River Gorge and past Mount St. Helens.

You sink into three immersive hours of writing time, and when you need a break to stretch your legs or ponder a passage that’s brewing in your brain, you’re free to roam…

Experience the magic of the rhythm of the rails and revel in the luxury of having nothing else to do but find the rhythm in your writing.

By the end of the retreat you’ll…


  • have new story or scene beginnings waiting to be transformed into larger pieces of writing – or new ways to approach and embellish your works-in-progress, sparked by your experiences on the retreat.
  • possess methods to maintain your focus and tap into your subconscious, the place where all your creative richness and profound inner knowledge resides.
  • return home fulfilled and replenished, having enjoyed a day with the perfect balance of free alone time, writing time, and time with other writerly souls.

So why should you join us?

The Emerald City is the perfect place to spend the day nurturing your creative soul, enjoying a change in scenery,  and reveling in activities that will wake up dormant parts of your brain. 

is JUST what you’ve been looking for to move your writing forward, sink deeper into your process, and come away with new beginnings or finished pages of your work-in-progress, all while
 commiserating and bonding with other creatives who thoroughly understand your desire to put words on the page.

And it’s a great way to sample this unique retreat experience before you dive in to one of our longer, multi-day retreats.

There’s no need to isolate and go it alone… and the shift in perspective you’ll get on the train will create space for new ideas to flow.

PLUS, we’ll visit the
Seattle Art Museum for a special kind of scavenger hunt, sure to provide you with plenty of visually inspiring prompts and plenty of time to write on your own or with a buddy, or just wander and let is all sink in.

Grab a clue – or a few – which will lead you to a piece of art on exhibit. Use the accompanying prompt or create your own, then take in the artwork and settle in for a writing session nearby. See where it takes you…



NOTE: SAM does not allow backpacks in the galleries, however, they do offer free coat/bag check.

Lunch at Matt’s in the Market…

After our scavenger hunt at the museum, we’ll meet as a group at Matt’s in the Market, one of Seattle’s iconic restaurants, for a delicious lunch. 

We’ll enjoy quality consciously prepared cuisine made with farm fresh ingredients while we talk art and writing and whatever else comes up.

(You’re welcome to have dessert and alcoholic drinks at lunch, however, they are not included in the price of the retreat.)

(Image by Suzi Pratt at Altimate Images – used with permission)

What’s included…


  • Business class train ticket 
  • Lunch at Matt’s in the Market
  • Seattle Art Museum ticket
  • Group transportation from and to the train station in Seattle

What’s not included…


  • Food and drinks on the train
  • Dessert and alcoholic drinks at lunch
  • Transportation other than that provided from and to the Seattle train station
  • Lodging (if you decide to stay over)
  • Personal shopping and phone calls, spa services, laundry, tips for local transportation separate from group activities
  • Personal, medical, or trip cancellation insurance


Comfortable attire for the train
Comfortable shoes for walking
Layered attire for fluctuating temperatures 
Umbrella or rain gear
Drivers license
Laptop and charger
Ear buds

Notebook and writing utensils
Your favorite snacks for the train
Water bottle
Ear plugs 

*Please avoid wearing strong scents or fragrances.

Rhythm on the Rails Writing Retreats were conceived from Johnnie’s desire to offer people the experience she enjoyed while making regular trips from Portland to Eugene to visit her youngest son. She found the rhythm of the rails to be a meditative experience, which allowed her to easily write in flow.

Rhythm on the Rails Writing Retreats are not intended to be spa-like luxury retreats. Train travel is a mixed bag. On some trips, the train is packed. On others, it’s nearly empty. Sometimes the train is clean. Sometimes it is not.



Rhythm on the Rails is about trusting the process – both in writing and in life.

You’ll enjoy immersive writing time in a unique environment and, when we reach our destination, the perfect balance of thought-provoking experiences, alone time to wander and/or do more writing, and time to commiserate with other writers over healthy, consciously prepared food.

Each trip is different than the previous, and we’re always looking for ways to improve the next.


This retreat is for you if…

…you have a book or other project in progress, you have felt stuck in your writing practice, and/or you’re simply curious about what Rhythm on the Rails is all about.

…you can be flexible, go with the flow, and know how to embrace unexpected life experiences as moments to be savored, examined, and processed as fodder through your machine of creativity.

…you identify as a writer, a writer at heart, a person who values and seeks unique ways to express your creativity, and/or as someone who fully embraces the nitty gritty underbelly of writing and of life.

…you like hanging out with other creatives yet value your alone time.

…you’re adventurous and know that a change of scenery is a great way to spark your creativity. 

This retreat is not for you if…


…you are easily “triggered” when things don’t go as planned. (Travel – even for one day – sometimes offers “surprises.”)

…you require access to and time for amenities like massages and hot tub soaks. (That sounds lovely to us, too, but ROTR isn’t that kind of retreat.)

…you get motion sickness (unless you have a way to manage it… then please come!)

…you require high-quality food while on the train (you’re welcome to bring your own).

…you require the internet to do your work while on the train (sometimes it’s spotty, and we have no control over whether it works or not).

…you are bothered by being in close physical proximity to other people (we ask participants to come scent-free, but we can’t control what other travelers wear). 

…you need absolute quiet to write. (If you happen to be seated near a loud talker, you can relocate to the dining car. If there’s an open spot, it’s yours.)


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.