Room to Write, January 7-10, 2016, Nashville, TN

Cat_typewriter_suitcase2Writers often have to carve out precious moments from hectic schedules in order to practice their craft. Room to Write invites writers to get away for a long weekend of writing, inspiration, connection and rejuvenation.

Co-produced by two of the former directors of the successful MTSU Writer’s Loft program, Charlotte Rains Dixon and Terry Price, along with brand and marketing strategist and founder of UTOPiAcon (the convention for writers and readers of contemporary and paranormal MG, YA, NA and adult books), Janet Wallace, Room to Write is not a conference, but a time for uninterrupted creativity.

Participants write in chunks of time, breaking only for meals and optional mind-stretching exercises, such as walking the labyrinth, or attending optional workshops and presentations dedicated to elevating your creativity, energy and confidence.

Room to Write welcomes writers at any stage in their writing careers.

The loosely structured retreat leaves plenty of room for meeting word count goals while still giving you time to get the support you need to take yourwriting career to the next level.

For those who would like feedback on a current work in progress, the program provides optional mentorship from writing coaches, Charlotte Rains Dixon or Terry Price.

The Schedule

Thursday, January 7

3 PM:          Check in at Scarritt-Bennett Center (SCB)

5 PM:         Goal-setting Happy Hour – pick up your writer’s gift bag and discuss what you’d like to accomplish over the weekend. LOCATION to be determined.

Grab dinner together or on your own. (not included in price of retreat)


Friday, January 8

SCBlabyrinth-300x199AM: Surrendering to the Power of the Labyrinth to Unleash Your Creativity — Led by Terry Price

A labyrinth is a walkable path that has been used for centuries as a personal, spiritual, and artistic tool. The walking meditation provides a safe, guided path that unlocks the right brain giving it space and freedom to muse and play. It really is exciting and amazing what wonderful things can be revealed when the ego melts away during a labyrinth walk.

During this session, you’ll learn about some of the historical usages of labyrinths as well as possibilities for your own creative exploration. Although there are few rules to a labyrinth, you’ll learn some basics on how to get started and from there you will find and make each labyrinth experience your own unique path. Weather permitting, we’ll walk the labyrinth at Scarritt-Bennett Center as a group to get your oriented so that you can return again and again on your own as desired.

 Lunch in Susie Gray Dining Hall on SCB campus

 1 – 2 PM Clyde & Mary Room (2nd floor Laskey Hall): Sustaining Your Creative Energy Over the Long Haul — Led by Charlotte Rains Dixon CLydeMary-300x197

You’ve had the best idea ever for a novel. You’re excited about it—really excited—and you launch in writing with gusto. The excitement lasts about a week before it starts to dissipate. And suddenly you are having trouble convincing yourself to get to your desk, let alone open your computer to write.

What happened to all that energy and enthusiasm you once had for your project? The long haul happened, that’s what. Committing to a lengthy writingproject is much different than popping off a blog post, or writing an article or short story.

In this presentation, Charlotte will discuss useful ways to sustain your writing energy for the long haul, including:

  • The power of the H (habit) word
  • Morning routines
  • Refilling the well
  • Visualization
  • Fostering joy and tempering despair
  • And more!

 5:30 PM:         Dinner in Susie Gray Dining Hall on SCB campus — discuss our day; goals check-in.

 Saturday, January 9

  Terry-at-Marina-374-300x200AM : Creating from Wildness Through the Poetry of Rumi – Led by Terry Price in Clyde & Mary Room (2nd floor Laskey)

“If you can’t smell the fragrance

Don’t come into the garden of Love.

If you’re unwilling to undress

Don’t enter into the stream of Truth.

Stay where you are.

Don’t come our way.” ~ Rumi

Rumi was a 12th Century poet, scholar, philosopher, and theologian. He has become immensely popular in recent years, in large part, due to the intense wildness and passion of his words and poetry. We’re going to read some of this poetry and talk about the courage of creativity, the braveness of vulnerability and the willingness to be who you are and to express from that sacred place. You will not be required to share your work but you will be challenged to write from the sacred wildness of your soul. An open mind, a daring heart, and instruments with which to write are all that are required for this session.

 Lunch in Susie Gray Dining Hall on SCB campus

 1 – 2 PM: Clyde & Mary – Leaving the Writing Cave & Building the Dream: the mindset and marketing pieces you need to take on the business side of your writerly life.  – Led by Janet Wallace Janet_headshot_smile2014-242x300

You know you were put on this planet to bring all the worlds, stories and characters in your head and heart to life on the pages of books. And your hope is that there are readers out there who need those stories, lessons, book besties and book boyfriends in their lives to escape… or to connect. You want to build a living and a LIFE as a writer.

However, the thought of leaving the comfort of the writing cave, and having to “market” yourself, or spend hours on social media lost in the quagmire of other authors, and books and laser cats, makes you want to crawl under the covers with a pint of Haagen Daaz.

It’s time to move forward. And you can’t do that if one foot is stuck in a place where you “think it’s safe.” It’s time to forge ahead with your talents, and share them with the right people so that you can inspire, share and grow. It’s time for you to put all the missing pieces together FOR GOOD, so that you can make the income you need and have the confidence and knowledge to know that you can do so again and again. It’s time to leap the hurdles and turn the dream into reality.

In this workshop, Janet will share her 12-Step Program on what you need to connect the Mindset Pieces to the Marketing, Business and LIFE-building pieces so that you can find serenity — and security — now.

 5:30 PM:         Dinner in Susie Gray Dining Hall – goals check in, Q&A

 Sunday, June 10

Check out is at 10:30 AM

Brunch at Panera — discuss accomplishments, say farewell.

 Space is limited. Secure your spot now:

 About the Room to Write Workshop Leaders

  Terry-at-Marina-374-300x200Terry Price

Terry Price is a Tennessee-based writer and creative coach, having attended The Writer’s Loft (now MTSU Write) creative writing program at Middle Tennessee State University and graduated with his MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville.  He has published several short stories and excerpts from his novel-in-progress, two of which have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Terry served as the program director of The Writer’s Loft and now is a Director Emeritus of, and a mentor with, the program. In addition to working one on one with creative clients, he also leads creative retreats, workshops, virtual retreats and webinars.

He is an photographer, long distance cyclist, Appalachian Trail section hiker, and sailor. He is an aspiring bon vivant and raconteur, likes bourbon neat but his journal messy and lives on a small farm in Springfield, Tennessee with his family and two dogs and lots of squirrels.

  Janet_headshot_2013-254x300Janet Wallace

Founder of two thriving businesses, Social Deviants, a social marketing company that helps creative entrepreneurs build online business platforms that profit; and UTOPiA, an annual writing conference and awards ceremony that nurture and celebrate writers of middle grade, young adult and new adult fiction, Janet has a passion for people, books, and dark chocolate-covered almonds. She uses her expertise to help clients grow powerful communities and create top-of-mind brand recognition and authority.

She hosts events and speaks regularly to local, national and international groups about how to effectively attract raving fans, loyal clients and increase sales while building businesses of purpose using your powers for good. Previously a brand strategist for a London-based, award-winning agency, Janet has worked directly with clients such as ooVoo, Oxygen Women’s Television, Film4/Channel4 London, Elle magazine, and a growing client list of New York Times best-selling authors. She has also been an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University where she lectured on Social Media for Authors. She lives in Nashville with her husband, two children, two Shepherd-lab mixes, and one American Curl cat. Oh, and now the boy wants a pig.

  Charlotte1smlCharlotte Rains Dixon

Charlotte Rains Dixon’s mission is to make people happy, whether it is through reading her women’s fiction novels, her blog ( on the writing life, or by coaching her students and clients to access the depths of their creativity.   She is the author of the novel Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior and the forthcoming The Bonne Chance Bakery, and her non-fiction has appeared in a variety of regional and national publications.  Charlotte teaches at Write, the certificate in writing program at Middle Tennessee State University, and offers private instruction as well.  She received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University.  Charlotte lives in Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys travel, her family, knitting, popcorn, wine, kitties and pugs, not necessarily in that order. She is represented by Erin Niumata at Folio Literary Management.

Room to Write Refund Policy:

Full refund available for 60 days from purchase or until December 31, 2015, whichever comes first. Fifty percent (50%) refund available after 60 days and/or until December 31, 2015, whichever comes first. No refunds after December 31, 2015 for any reason.

Life’s An Adventure! Or Wait, is it All Just Routine?

Once upon a time, I lived and worked in Sun Valley, Idaho, taking a semester off from college.  I lived in a dorm that had a fire pole from the second floor with a bunch of other ski bums.  Sometime near the end of my tenure there, three young women appeared to live in the dorms.  In retrospect, I realize they weren't like the rest of us–college students working playing for a semester.  They had moved from a nearby town for the work.  (Most of us were on the housekeeping staff.  Fun job, said nobody ever.)

I don't remember their names or even their faces.  I'm embarrassed to admit that in my memory they all sort of look alike.  But what I do remember is the motto of one of them, repeated over and over:

Life's an adventure! SunValley-01

This admonition has rung in my head ever since.  I've had times when I believe it, and times when I don't.  When I believe it, good things happen:

–My writing flows.  And in my world, when the writing flows, all else follows.

–Fun abounds.  

–Nothing fazes me.  (Case in point: I once missed a connection in Denver.  Instead of fussing and fighting, I said to myself, life's an adventure, and trundled down the concourse to my favorite restaurant there to run into a fellow passenger and have a delightful time drinking wine together.)

–Mysterious, synchronistic things occur.

–Life really feels like an adventure.

And in the times when I don't believe it, everything is vaguely fuzzy and dull, like things aren't quite in focus.  It is very, very easy to forget that life's an adventure.  So how to stay focused in this mindset?  Sometimes, its enough to repeat the mantra.  Uh-huh. Right.  The problem with that is remembering the damn mantra in the first place.

Funnily enough, one way to live life as a grand adventure is to stay rooted in routine.  Take writing, for example (as you knew I would).  When you are writing routinely every day, you fall in love with the world.  Or at least I do.  But I suspect you do, too.  Maybe you don't describe it in quite the same words, but I'm sure we share the same feeling of things just being right.

And when things are just right, they fall into place as they should.

And when things fall into place as they should it feels as if there's a benevolent king arranging things just for our benefit.

And then life truly does feel like an adventure.

All because you committed to a routine of writing daily.

At the workshop I taught in Nashville a couple weeks ago, THE MOST POPULAR THING WE TALKED ABOUT was the idea of writing 15 minutes a day.  (#15minsday on Facebook and Twitter.) Because when people realized they could create a satisfying writing practice in 15 minutes a day, it gave them hope.

So commit to your writing habit–and watch the life of adventure blossom around you.

How do you cultivate a life of adventure? Please discuss.

Writing Wild and True Presents: From Spark to Story

Join me and fellow writer and creative coach Terry Price as we teach a nine-hour, two-day workshop in one of my favorite places on earth, Nashville.  The workshop will be held on Friday, May 1, from 6:30 to 9:30, and Saturday, May 2, 9:30 to 5:30 (with a long lunch break to give you time to write). The workshop will be held at the gorgeous Scarritt-Bennett center, which features delightful grounds and a central location near coffee shops and restaurants galore.

Here are the details:

Do you have an idea for a story that you’re yearning to get onto the page?  Or maybe you’re well into a writing project but you’re stalled?  We can help!  Join us May 1-2 at the lovely Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville for a two-day, nine hour workshop that will spark your imagination, fire up your writing practice, and burn writer’s block to ashes!

From Spark to Story Workshop is just that – Like flint against steel, our workshop is designed to spark your imagination into inspiration. Then we’ll teach you tools and techniques to help fuel the sparks to ignition. We’ll send you home with ideas and practices to keep the embers burning through the creative process.

From Spark to Story Workshop is a presentation of Writing Wild and True, a creative venture by writers and creative coaches, Charlotte Rains Dixon and Terry Price, both former program directors for The Writer’s Loft at Middle Tennessee State University (now MTSU Write.) Charlotte and Terry both graduated with MFAs from Spalding University in Louisville and currently serve as faculty for MTSU Write.

Charlotte lives in Portland, Oregon, where she writes novels and coaches writers.  She also leads workshops world-wide, including Collioure, France, in 2015. Her novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, was published in 2013 and she is represented by Erin Niumata at FolioLit. Charlotte’s website is and you can reach her by email at

Terry is a Tennessee based writer and creative coach and retreat and workshop facilitator and has 2015 retreats set for Taos and New Harmony, Indiana. Terry also has a schedule of online creative webinars set for 2015. He has published several short stories, two of which have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is currently revising a short story collection for publication and is writing a novel set in Nashville, titled An Angel’s Share. Terry’s website is and you can reach him by email at 

The Spark to Story Workshop will be offered for only $129 which includes all instruction and materials (meals are on your own). However, if you sign up before March 15th, the total registration will be $99. For more information and to register for the workshop go to or  If you have any questions, just contact us at the email addresses above.

To register, head on over here and sign right up!


Guest Post: Serving the Song

Please welcome guest poster Casey Stohrer to the blog today.  Casey is a musician in Nashville and she so happens to be a student of mine, too.  It's hard to predict which is going to happen first–acclaim as a writer or a musician.  Either way, it will be well-deserved.  Stay tuned to her up-and-coming career!

Serving the Song

by Casey Stohrer


Casey in the studio

Bullshit is subjective. When it comes to creative endeavors, anyway. Maybe all that taste is, is how much B.S. a person can tolerate. While an artist can project their beliefs on other art, they must also learn how to project it onto their own work. Part of creating is also identifying your own stinky turds and turning them into manure for the promising flowers of your sick imagination (case in point).


I write essays, articles, poems, short fiction, long fiction, medium fiction, research papers for lazy, rich college students, you name it. I also started writing songs about six years ago. The dichotomy between writing fiction and music makes my brain do happy dances. It also drives me insane. Sometimes I have dry spells in my "regular writing" and switch to just writing songs for months, and vice-versa. There is enough of a contrast between the two forms that I can "steal ideas from myself” and keep things funky and fresh.

I joined a country-rock band by the name of Neo Tundra Cowboy a couple years ago. I had never played music in a band before. I had never played music in public before. I had never played bass before. Playing music, to me (and like most other musicians my age), meant getting high in my bedroom and recording my half-serious country songs on a ten-dollar computer microphone, and then posting them to Myspace. But I put myself out there, kept my mind open, and soon I got the call to join NTC and move to Nashville, the place where I always dreamed of having Dolly Parton beehive-hair.

I started to learn bass. I'd played guitar for years, but understanding the role of a bass was something else. Learning to play in a group was something I'd never even thought about. “A good musician knows how to play, but a great musician knows when not to play.” I've heard this saying a thousand times, and I can't tell you how true it is. Playing by yourself, creating anything by yourself, is of course the truest thing you can produce as a sentient being. You are uninhibited and natural. What you are trying to do is be as honest as possible. To yourself. And that is all fine and good. But creating is also an attempt to connect with other people, and that's when you have to learn how to cut and paste and rewrite and overdub. Time and space are intangible until they are needed.

How many times have you seen a crappy band play live? To me, a band is bad when the players have no regard for one another, and just (as I lovingly call it) jack-off all over the place. They seemingly have no idea where they are in the song. The guitarist might be soloing in a way that meshes all wrong with the melodies of the bass player. Or a drummer is playing too many fills, which interrupts the rhythm and throws off the singer. You can play the fanciest, most rippin' solo that anyone has ever heard, but if it doesn't serve the song, then what do you have?

The same goes for writing. James Joyce is a real badass, but sometimes I'm like, “Come on, man.” I like that heavy-hitting, stream-of-consciousness style of experimental writing, but I'm in the business of keeping things as simple as possible. I learned all my artistic philosophies through the Beatles and Charles Bukowski. George Harrison never ripped a 20-minute long guitar solo, but he was still in the greatest pop band of all time. Charles Bukowski never wrote like Shakespeare, but he is the most imitated poet of the 20th century. You know why? Because they knew how to serve the song (or poem). A great musician is not necessarily a technically-perfect performer, but they do know how to listen. A great writer knows how to read. Both Bukowski and George Harrison understood the need for simplicity, to allow negative space to give power to what is already there.

Neo Tundra Cowboy was in the studio last week, and we were recording a sad little country ballad with some honkytonk piano in it. Our guitarist Catfish was laying down this beautiful, jangly piano part, but the producer kept saying it was too much. After some more takes, Catfish had been reduced to playing just the root chords on every fourth beat. It sounded rote and boring on its own, but when the track was being mixed, it sounded perfect. It was just what the song needed to hold it together. Catfish didn't get to showboat on that one, but he didn't care, because the song got what it needed. So many bands have internal drama going on because the players get egos and think they deserve to show-off, all the while the song in question is hanging in the air, waiting for the poor silly humans to get over themselves.

I have stories and songs that hang in the air because I'm too stubborn and proud to change something I really like about them. And then they never go anywhere. The experts call this “writer's block.” Then they say to destroy the thing you love most about your creation, to “kill your darlings,” as you've heard hundreds of times. Then you drink yourself into a stupor and wonder how you came to be a masochist with no money. Then through this degrading process, your ego disappears and then there is nothing but the naked story, the simple root note, which is all you really wanted in the first place. All you had to do was sit back and listen.

Casey Stohrer  plays bass for the band Neo Tundra Cowboy and is currently working on a short story collection about Nashville. 

What about you?  How do you serve your song?  Do you cross-pollinate your writing by creating in different genres?

Ways to Help Nashville

Here's some sites I've found that are handling aid for the Nashville floods:

1. Facebook site that is sponsoring a local fundraiser, also lists online resources:

2.  Middle Tennessee Red Cross:

3. Nashville Red Cross:

4.  Nashville Flood Twitter feed with lots of great info and links:

5. If you're on Twitter, the two hashtags you can find lots of info through are #NashvilleFlood  and #Flood2010.  Also, you can text "redcross" to 90999 to help.

That's it for now.

Nashville Flooding

I had a blog post all ready in my brain to post today.

But I can't.

I'm totally distracted by news of the Nashville flood, trying to ascertain that all my friends are okay (so far all but a couple are accounted for, and several of those I've heard from have terrible damage).  Half of me wishes I was there, not that I could do much, because I think it is difficult to get around on flooded roads.

The national media isn't giving this story much attention, but the city is in terrible, terrible shape.  The Opryland hotel, for instance, is under six feet of water and will be closed for months.  I just watched a video on YouTube of a building (yes, a building) floating down I-24, a major freeway.  Here it is:

I've also found some photos from this Twitpic site. Check them out:

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicShare photos on twitter with Twitpic

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

I'm trying to figure out what the best way to help is going to be, probably donating to the Red Cross. A lot of the photos and videos I've seen show terrible damage to businesses and homes that are clearly owned by people without a lot of money; people who probably don't have flood insurance because they didn't think they needed it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime storm.

I'll be back to regular blogging tomorrow, but in the meantime, let's all send our thoughts and prayers to Nashville, okay? And once I figure out what the best way to donate to relief efforts is, I'll let you know.

***UPDATE: Thanks to JoAnn Ross via Twitter, go here to donate to the Middle Tennessee Red Cross.

And Also (Further Notes on Travel)

I'm in the Denver airport and I've been thinking about the post I wrote yesterday about traveling, a writer's travels to be exact.

In retrospect, I realized I wanted to write a paragraph about what I missed when I travel, but I didn't.  Why? Because I was rushed and had a million things to finish before my sister picked me up at the crack of dawn this morning.  That's another thing about traveling so much: it makes me feel as if I'm always in a rush.

And then I don't have time to do things I want to do, because I'm so often preparing for a trip, giving a workshop, responsibilty for a weekend orientation, meeting with ghostwriting clients, etc.  For instance, I've been organizing my office for months now.  Every time I start to make some progress on it, a new trip looms and I get pulled away to get ready.

Back to the opening sentiment.  Here are things I miss when I travel:

My cats

Sunday suppers with my family

American Idol (there's no TV where I'm staying)


Fires in the fireplace

Oregon rain

I'm sure if I thought about it longer I'd come up with more.  

And yet.  I'm reading reports on the Haiti earthquake as I wend my way across the country and it is just horrendous.  I am so damn lucky–we all of us are, anyone who has time to read this blog and worry about writing.  Odds are good we have roofs over our heads, and enough food to eat, and a nice hot shower (to say nothing of a nice hot fireplace).  Yesterday I had the utter luxury of spending the morning shopping and worrying about what I was going to wear for the workshop.

I am so damn lucky.  I love my life.  Home will wait.  I love traveling.  Lord, don't let me forget this.

***If you want to donate to the earthquake relief fund, go here to an excellent compendium on the Huffington Post.  I planned to do a round-up myself, but I'm running out of time before I board the plane to Nashville.

Writer’s Loft Orientation Next Weekend

Yesterday I cleverly wrote a post on my new Centro phone and sent it to be published on Typepad from my backyard.  I know this is old news for those of you who have had Blackberries and Iphones for ever, but it is a major step forward for me.  I'm on the road to LA and Nashville a lot, and now, should I find myself without and internet connection, or stuck in an airport, I can check email, work on documents and even write a blog post. 

Another way to feed my internet addiction, just what I've needed.

I've been working on figuring out this phone because I'm heading off to Nashville on Tuesday.  Next weekend is the two-day orientation for the Writer's Loft, the program I co-direct with Terry Price.

The Writer's Loft is a certificate writing program that features one-on-one writing instruction that is based at Middle Tennessee State University.   Students write original work and critical essays based on their reading, and their mentors critique this work in a structured, supportive atmosphere.  You can read a lot more about it on my page about the program here.

This fall, we're doing something a little different and that is opening up the Friday portion of the orientation to non-students for the low cost of $50.  That morning, novelist Darnell Arnoult will be lecturing on, "Writing Out of Chaos, Or, How To Write a Better Story Than You Know," and in the afternoon poet Bill Brown will be presenting a workshop called, "Finding Your Pivotal Moments, Real and Imagined." 

Anyone who lives in the Nashville area and is interested in writing ought to seriously consider checking it out.  You can register directly on the website and read all about the program there, too.

I'm hoping to bring you live reports from the scene, as they say, or at least check in after the events of the day are over to bring you nuggets of writing information.  Stay tuned.