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

April 25 – 28, 2019

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 – from 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… with more insight about your characters, your story, and possibly even your own presence in the world.
  • have gained a clearer understanding of how to utilize antagonists and supporting characters to provide greater depth to your story, whether you’re writing fiction, memoir, or non-fiction, or to understand the meaningful place they hold in your life.
  • 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 confidence in yourself and your writing, ready and able to make your writing 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, nurturing your creative soul, and implementing the Writing Through the Body™ process.

We’ll focus on the Heart Chakra and how understanding its elements will profoundly enhance your writing, and we’ll explore how well-understood and well-executed Antagonists and Supporting Characters will deepen the impact of your stories.

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.

PLUS, we’ll visit beautiful and verdant Queen Elizabeth Park as a group for thought-provoking activities, and because writers need solitude, you’ll have plenty of time to steal away and write. 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, and Yaletown for its art galleries and the seawall.

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…

Patricia Hotel is a heritage-style accommodation conveniently located in the heart of Vancouver, BC – one block from Chinatown and five blocks from Gastown.

The hotel offers “no-frills” comfort and charm, complete with an in-house pub and brewhouse, all in the interest of keeping costs down and the focus on the writing.

A block of rooms has been reserved just for us, so you’ll have a few options, based on your budget and preference. 

If the option you want isn’t available when you make your reservation, email johnnie@johnniemazzocco.com and we’ll contact the hotel about making a change.

What’s available – as of 3/13/19

  • 2 rooms w/ 2 twins each – four total (shared) – $80 + up
  • 2 Budget Doubles (private) – each $60 + up
  • 1 Standard Queens (private) – each $80 + up
  • 1 Standard Plus Deluxe Queens (private) – each $85 + up

To make your reservation, please email johnnie@johnniemazzocco.com.

If you’d like to share a room, let us know and we’ll connect you with someone else who is also interested in sharing so you can work out how to make payment.

 The Food…


Some snacks will be provided for the train ride up and back, and you may want to bring some of your own favorites. You may also order from the train menu on your own.


Scope out the area and find what you like for breakfast and lunch on Friday and SaturdayOr keep it simple and head to Pat’s Pub Brewhouse & Grill, located within the Patricia Hotel.

Friday night, we’ll enjoy a delicious, upscale-casual dinner together at Chambar Restaurant, a three-minute drive or a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

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.

Saturday night, we’ll savor the culinary stylings of Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House, a nine-minute drive from the hotel.

Joe Fortes’ menu boasts American cuisine featuring “the finest ingredients collected from Pacific Northwest farmers, fishermen and food artisans.”

The chefs at Joe Fortes can accommodate all dietary restrictions and allergies with the exception of kosher/halal meals, as they do not have the proper facilities for this. Please call ahead and inquire about substitutions for your particular needs: +1 604.669.1940.

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
  • Snacks on the train
  • Two one-hour virtual and/or face-to-face group classes/meetings with Johnnie prior to the retreat
What’s not included


  • Lodging
  • Full meals on the train / Breakfast and lunch, Friday and Saturday
  • 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
Your favorite snacks for the train (some will be provided)

Thursday, April 25
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 3:00pm. 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 Patricia 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, April 26
Gastown Steam Clock - Vancouver, BC

Sleep in! And after you’ve rested up, treat yourself to one of Gastown’s best breakfast spots. Or forego breakfast and grab a piping hot cup of coffee. Check out the area, pick up your writing where you left off the night before, or do a little reading.

Meet in the lobby of the hotel at 1:00pm to catch a bus to Queen Elizabeth Park for our group activities for the day. We’ll do a thought-provoking writing exercise, and there will be a little surprise, as well! Afterward, you’ll be free to explore the park on your own or with each other.

A walk around the garden (.26 miles) will get you “top of the city” views, and a visit to the Bloedel Conservatory ($6.75) offers a taste of the tropics: more than 120 free-flying exotic birds, 500 exotic plants and flowers. Or simply find a comfy spot to write or read until we head back to the hotel around 3:30 or 4:00pm.

Back at the hotel, rest up, take a nap, read, write, and relax. Then, freshen up for our group dinner at Chambar Restaurant. We’ll meet in the hotel lobby at 6:30 and walk to the restaurant for our 7:00pm reservation.

After dinner, the night is yours…

Saturday, April 27
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 L’Abattoir. We’ll meet in the lobby at 6:00pm and walk to the restaurant for our 6:30 reservation. During dinner, we’ll debrief, share, and make a plan for the trip back home.

Sunday, April 28
Rhythm on the Rail Writing RetreatSunday will be a travel and writing day. And our last day together. 

We’ll leave Patricia 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!



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, 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™.

I’m a published fiction writer, award-winning screenwriter,Johnnie Mazzocco - Writer, Coach, Speaker coach, and speaker (aka word witch, book diviner, and story alchemist), 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 their (sometimes unwitting) synergistic relationship with 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.