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3035 Buckeystown Pike
Adamstown, MD 21710

Writer's Retreat: Fanning the Ember of Creativity

Writer's Retreat: Fanning the Ember of Creativity

February 25, 2019 - February 28, 2019


Inspiration, Community, and Skill Building in a Supportive and Holy Environment 

This dynamic writer's workshop includes keynote presentations, workshop sessions, and time to work on your writing. This retreat is designed for people who are passionate about writing, gifted writers and publishers, and those who have a story they wish to tell.

Program Overview

The program kicks off with an informal keynote, "Facing Your Fears," on Monday evening by John DeDakis. Workshop sessions will be offered throughout the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Participants are encouraged to attend sessions or take advantage of quiet time apart to enjoy writing. There will be opportunities for networking, worship, and fellowship, as well as opportunities to get together in small groups to workshop ideas.  

Arrival & Departure

Check-in begins at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, February 25, 2019.
The program ends after lunch on Thursday, February 28, 2019.


$566 single occupancy w/private bath, includes program fee, 3 nights lodging, and all meals
$524 double occupancy w/private bath, includes program fee, 3 nights lodging, and all meals
$405 commuter rate, includes program fee and all meals

Click here to register.

Workshop Sessions


KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Facing Your Fears - John DeDakis
Not only is writing a lonely process, it can be downright scary. And, when it comes to mustering the courage to share our work with others, fear can turn to terror. In this informal keynote presentation, we'll look at understanding what frightens us -- and how to get beyond those fears.

Be a Better Writer - Cara Sue Achterberg

Whether you’re hoping to write the next great American novel or you just want to improve your written communication skills, bring your notebook and pen for this session that focuses on the discipline of writing—including inspiration, ideas, exercises, tips, and resources for improving not only your writing but your writing habits.

Constructing a Short Story - Tristan Davies 

The best short stories feel honest, immediate, and uncontrived. Of course, there's a lot of work in creating that feeling for the listener or reader. In this workshop we will discuss the way in which short stories are used and then review some of the strategies that the most successful and lasting ones share.


Crafting Your Memoir - Cara Sue Achterberg
Learn how to get your story on the page, mining your memories for nuggets that not only entertain, but share universal truths. Memoir writing is not for the faint of heart—it requires bravery and creativity, but will reward you with new avenues to your soul. Bring a notebook and pen as we explore the story only you can tell.

Get Published - Cara Sue Achterberg

Explore the various avenues to publication and what’s required of each, including blogging, online journals/websites, freelancing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing, and traditionally publishing with small and large presses. Discover your ‘brand’ and how you can build your ‘platform’ to position yourself to be published. There are lots of ways to share your writing with the world—the only question is which is best for you?

How to Write a Key Scene - John DeDakis

A key scene is an essential building block in any work of fiction. In this session, you'll learn tips and strategies for making the scene you see in your head come alive on the page so that your reader is compelled to keep turning the pages.  Writing exercises will give class members a hands-on feel for how to add texture, dynamism, and drama to a story. The session also provides practical, hands-on guidance about the rewriting process. An added benefit: giving and receiving critical feedback.

How to Write a Novel - John DeDakis

A practical 15-point plan that demystifies and deconstructs novel-writing -- from the mere germ of an idea all the way through the creative process, with an eye on getting a finished book into the hands of potential fans. We'll discuss how to tap into your subconscious and life experiences to transform them into a book-length project, populated with interesting characters, a twisty-turny plot, snappy dialogue, and an interesting setting. We'll also look at strategies for finding an agent, marketing the finished product, and facing your writing and marketing fears.


Writing as a Way to Heal - John DeDakis

All of us have -- or will -- experience the loss of a loved one. In addition to the expected deaths of grandparents and parents, John DeDakis witnessed a car-train collision that killed three people, lost his sister to suicide, and endured the death of his youngest son because of an accidental heroin overdose. Even though death is a part of life, it need not be crippling or debilitating. In this session, DeDakis suggests strategies to help a person move forward -- through and beyond the pain and into a future that can once again be filled with hope -- and even joy.


Cara Sue Achterberg
Cara Sue Achterberg
(Cara) is a novelist, blogger, and rescue dog foster mom who lives on a hillside farm in New Freedom, Pennsylvania with her family and far too many animals.

She is the author of the recently released memoir from Pegasus Books, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, and also three novels, I’m Not Her, Girls’ Weekend, and Practicing Normal, plus a handbook for the organic life titled, Live Intentionally.

In addition, she teaches creative writing for the Southern York School District and is the author of two blogs. You can find more information at

Tristan Davies
Tristan Davies is the author of the fiction collection Cake (JHU Press) and his work has appeared in Glimmer TrainBoulevardThe Mississippi ReviewAction YesPost RoadSundogMurdalandNoir NationMatchbookSeltzer, and the Johns Hopkins Magazine. His honors include a George and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Award in Fiction and a Visiting Artist Residency at the American Academy of Rome. He has twice received the Excellence in Teaching award from Johns Hopkins.‚Äč

John DeDakis
John DeDakis
Journalist and novelist John DeDakis is a former Senior Copy Editor on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." DeDakis (pronounced deh-DAY-kiss) is the author of four mystery-suspense novels featuring AP White House correspondent Lark Chadwick.

His most recent novel, Bullet in the Chamber, is the winner of Reviewers Choice, Foreword INDIES, and Feathered Quill book awards in 2017. 

He is currently at work on his fifth novel (working title: Fake – as in “fake news,” but with a twist).  

DeDakis is a writing coach, manuscript editor, and writing workshop leader.

During his award-winning 45-year career in journalism (25 years at CNN), DeDakis has been a White House Correspondent and interviewed such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.

DeDakis, a cradle Episcopalian, lives in Baltimore, has taught journalism at the University of Maryland–College Park, and regularly teaches novel writing at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland and at the Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

In his spare time, what little he has of it, he is a jazz drummer.

Visit his website at