If you’re a creative soul with a novel brewing inside you that will spark readers’ imaginations and touch their hearts, a memoir that’s stranger than fiction and can no longer go untold, or a non-fiction book that will position you as a thought leader in your area of expertise and help people make positive changes in their lives – or even if you’re 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 | Vancouver BC | Portland

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Imagine this…

You board the train with an intimate group of other courageous 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 – by putting words on the page – as a way of instigating positive change 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 eight immersive hours of writing time. 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 a stack of freshly finished pages, moving you further along your process to finish your book or script… or more insight about your characters, your story, and possibly even your own presence in the world.
  • understand how the Writing Through the Body™ process can enhance your writing.
  • acquire 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 perspective and confidence in yourself and your writing, ready and able to make your practice a priority so you can write with purpose and move your book or project forward or journal from a more profound place within and with a deeper purpose.

So why should you join us?


Vancouver, BC is the perfect place to spend TWO stimulating days (and THREE nights) working on your book or project and nurturing your creative soul.

RHYTHM ON THE RAILS is JUST what you’ve been looking for to move your writing forward, sink deeper into your process, and come away with finished pages, all while commiserating and bonding with other creatives who thoroughly understand your desire to put words on the page.

Imagine fine-tuning your brilliant ideas and fascinating characters to give your story more depth and resonance.

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.

Because writers need solitude, you’ll have plenty of time to steal away and write… You’ll be within walking distance of beautiful and verdant Stanley Park and the English Bay Seawall. Or maybe you’ll want to set out and explore – on your own or with one or two of your fellow writers. Check out Chinatown (the largest Chinatown in North America) for its Chinese Garden, Gastown for its shopping and famous Steam Clock, Yaletown for its art galleries and the seawall, or wander over to Granville Island for boutiques and a magical escape within the city. 

Stroll along Robson Street for fancy chocolate and the Vancouver Art Gallery, Granville Street for prime shopping of all kinds, and Commercial Drive for eateries and a taste of Vancouver’s counter culture.

 The Lodging…

We’ve selected Sonder Revival as our hotel for the group for a few reasons. To begin with, compared to other hotels in Vancouver, the cost and quality can’t be beat, and Revival sits in the perfect location, giving you easy accesss to all of Vancouver’s neighborhoods and must-see sites and venues. And as the website says, “the easy-breezy Vancouver vibes start at Revival.”

Offering studios and suites, Revival will provide you with comfort and convenience, and the ease of impromptu after-dinner gatherings with a few of your fellow travelers, if and when the moments arise. It will also put you in close proximity to Johnnie’s room, where she will hold the optional, add-on group coaching / discussion session (see below) on Friday morning.


When you make your reservation, be sure to use the link provided below (it includes a 15% member discount) and select “Revival” rather than “The Sunset.” If you have questions or run into problems, feel free to contact the Revival staff (inquiries@sonder.com), and mention Johnnie’s name. They have been lovely to work with.

Optional Add-on Coaching / Discussion Session

In this 2-hour group coaching / discussion session, we will learn about your book projects and any stuck points, questions, or problems you might be encountering.

I will offer coaching support to help, based on your specific needs.

$100 — $200 value

 The Food…


You’ll be able to purchase food, snacks, and drinks on the train, or bring your favorites from home.


Scope out the area and find what you like for breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday. (We’ll send you plenty of suggestions before we leave Portland.

Friday night, we’ll catch a ride together to The Teahouse at Stanley Park from our hotel and enjoy refined seafood, vegetarian, gluten-free, and organic options from the menu.

We’ll decompress together after our first day in Vancouver, talk about what we discovered, our writing projects, and whatever else comes up.

If you have dietary restrictions, please contact The Teahouse in advance about substitutions: +1 604.669.3281. 

Chambar Restaurant - Vancouver, BC

Saturday night, we’ll enjoy a delicious, upscale-casual dinner together at Chambar Restaurant.

Chambar serves Belgian cuisine in a chic exposed-brick space. The menu offers a variety of options suitable for omnivores, herbivores, and pescatarians.

If you have dietary restrictions, please contact Chambar in advance about substitutions: +1 604.879.7119.


What’s included


  • Business class train fare
  • Dinner Friday and Saturday night
  • Necessary transportation to group activities and to and from the train station in Vancouver

What’s not included


  • Lodging
  • Full meals and snacks on the train
  • Breakfast and lunch, Friday and Saturday
  • Alcohol and dessert at dinner
  • Optional add-on group coaching / discussion about your book project
  • Personal shopping and phone calls, spa services, laundry, tips for maid/housekeeping service at the hotel, local transportation separate from group activities
  • Personal, medical, or trip cancellation insurance


Comfortable attire for the train
Comfortable walking shoes
Dressy casual attire for dining out
Layered attire for fluctuating temperatures
Umbrella or rain gear
Drivers license
Laptop and charger
Notebook and writing utensils
Other personal items to ensure your comfort on the trip

Thursday, September 28

Thursday will be a travel and writing day. We’ll meet at Union Station in Portland at 2:15pm for check-in, to get to know each other in person, and to begin our acclimation for the trip.

The train is scheduled to depart for Vancouver at 3:05pm. We’ll write to our hearts’ content, rest, and relax to the setting sun until we arrive at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver at 11:00pm. A taxi will take us to our accommodations at the Sonder Revival Hotel

Note: This is the only direct train between Portland and Vancouver – all others require a transfer to a bus in Seattle, not conducive to creativity!

Friday, September 29

Gastown Steam Clock - Vancouver, BC

Sleep in! And after you’ve rested up, treat yourself to one of West End’s best breakfast spotsCheck out the area, pick up your writing where you left off the night before, or do a little reading.

If you decide on the optional, add-on coaching / discussion session, find your way to Johnnie’s room at 10:00am. Finish up at noon, and head out for lunch, to explore, or find a comfy spot to write or read.

Head back to the hotel to freshen up for our group dinner at The Teahouse in Stanley Park. We’ll meet in the lobby at 6:30 and catch a ride to the restaurant for our 7:00pm reservation.

After dinner, the night is yours…

Saturday, September 30

The day is yours to do what you wish! Hole up in your room and write. Find a cozy coffee shop and write.

Or hop on the SkyTrain and explore the city.

Stroll through Vancouver’s lavish public parks and gardens. Sample sumptuous chocolates and tangy microbrews, or indulge in an afternoon of soul-warming wine tasting. Do some shopping and find that perfect souvenir. Treat yourself to a well-deserved massage, foot bath, or facial at one of the city’s best day spas.

Go it alone or connect with a fellow traveler.

Return to the hotel to rest and freshen up for our dinner together at Chambar. We’ll meet in the lobby at 6:30pm and walk to the restaurant for our 7:00 reservation. During dinner, we’ll debrief, share, and make a plan for the trip back home.

Sunday, October 1

Rhythm on the Rail Writing RetreatSunday will be a travel and writing day. And our last day together. 

We’ll leave our hotel at 5:30am and catch a taxi to Pacific Central Station in Vancouver where we’ll board our train, full of inspiration, new perspectives, and motivation to keep our projects moving forward. We’ll write to our hearts’ content, rest, and relax to the rising sun until we arrive at Union Station in Portland at 3:00pm. We’ll debrief as a group at the station and say our goodbyes.

Note: This is the only direct train between Portland and Vancouver – all others require a transfer to a bus in Seattle, not conducive to creativity!

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 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, however… if you find a spot you like in Vancouver and want to partake, please do.).

…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 or a family with small kids, 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. 

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 crayon art covers or plays that I took 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, which led to a profound 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™.

After devoting two decades to teaching college students how to write, I became a professional copywriter / content creator and brought all my intuition, love of the written word, and learned knowledge about writing craft to the task. 

I am also a published fiction writer, screenwriter, and filmmaker, as well as a book content developer, developmental editor, speaker, and the creator of the Writing Through the Body™ method. I hold degrees in Fiction Writing, English/Film Studies, Women’s Studies, and Digital Arts. I currently teach fiction writing and screenwriting to Adults in Custody at Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland.

When I’m not snowshoeing the beautiful Oregon backcountry, hiking to a waterfall, or dancing, you’ll find me at home working on my book, reading, getting lost in growing one of my entrepreneurial endeavors, or devouring my most recent Netflix binge, getting comfy with Iris, my feline familiar.