SPARTA Creative Writing Retreat!

 

Saturday and Sunday, April 27–28, 2019

291 Boland St., Sparta, GA 31087

At SRL we’re doing something DIFFERENT this year! We’re turning our writers retreat into a weekend getaway housed in a historic mansion in Sparta, Georgia, hosted by me, Hollis Gillespie, along with the renowned, award-winning film producer Milford Thomas! You can stay onsite or attend the workshops without reserving a room at the mansion. We’re fine either way! Meals and cocktails are still included. Be assured this creative writing retreat will be a lively, active, results-oriented symposium of accomplished creatives, attendees and answers to the questions that have been dogging you for years regarding how to go forward with your artistic goals, be it to get a book deal, write your screenplay or simply break through your creative block (which is actually not so simple). With that said, what’s stopping you?

Lunch during the workshop

So it goes without saying: This is not your average writing retreat! It’s my express purpose to provide you with a surmountable format for mapping out your ambitions, giving you the components you need to pitch a literary or talent agent, for example, including providing you the agent contact information and direction on the sample pages you need to send them. So, again, what’s stopping you?

Click the button below to enroll in The Shocking Real Life SPARTA Writing & Creativity Retreat with Hollis Gillespie on April 27–28, 2019 (Or to register by phone, call 678-661-7080) 291 Boland St., Sparta, GA 31087

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Price: $474* 100% Safe and Secure – We are PayPal verified. (SRL Alumni, enter the coupon code WRITEATLANTA to receive your $40 discount!) Click now and you’ll get an immediate email confirming your seat. Instant confirmation only available online.

Accommodations are Separate! Stay at the Gothic Mansion Frognolia! Those who wish to stay onsite, CLICK HERE to reserve your room! (Those who choose to stay offsite–we’ll see you for workshops, meals and movie night!)

Meals are included! But onsite accommodations are separate. CLICK HERE to reserve a room at FROGNOLIA, the Southern Gothic mansion where the retreat is held.

Breakfast buffet

Okay, you have a fantastic idea for a book — but do you know how to begin, finish, and sell it? Or let’s say you’ve already finished a manuscript, but now you’re at an impasse trying to get the attention of agents and publishers. Whether you’re at the idea stage or in the home stretch, this weekend will show you how to navigate the competitive world of book publishing and get your project sold.

THE PLACE: Sparta, Georgia, was founded in 1795, and the Frognolia Estate, home of the Shocking Real Life workshops, is an historic mansion formerly owned by a bastion of Sparta’s arts society. The estate is rife with lore, mysterious family history, kitschy resurrected tchotchkes, all heavily dosed with darling decorative accoutrements celebrating the Southern Gothic atmosphere. You will LOVE IT! This is nothing like you’ve EVER experienced. 

Double Room

Fact: People who have enrolled in this retreat became bestsellers!

Christal Presley, author of 30 Days with my Father, became a best-seller after taking this workshop. She’s been featured on NPR, Atlanta Journal Constitution and others news outlets. Click here to see her on Fox News.

“[Hollis Gillespie’s] writing class is where my life was TOTALLY and COMPLETELY changed forever!”
Christal Presley

Lisa Baron, author of Life of the Party; a Political Press Tart Tells All, became an Amazon best-seller after taking this class. Recently she sold her film rights to NBC! Click here to see her feature in Atlantamagazine.

“I had two things working for me that I believe made the difference: determination and Hollis Gillespie’s kick-ass work shop! The workshop gave me the confidence I needed to continue following my dream of becoming a published author. She was key to helping me fine tune my proposal and her personal involvement in my journey has been invaluable.” Lisa BaronRachael Brownell, author of Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore, became a best-selling author after taking this class. She has been featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America and NPR

Chef Ray preparing Saturday night’s gourmet dinner using organic produce from his farm.

“I wanted to THANK YOU, Hollis, for your workshop. It played a crucial role in being able to complete and submit a successful book proposal.”Rachael Brownell   At this retreat, you will learn to have fun creating your story! This workshop will break your block, help you determine what’s stalling you, and then stay focused until you finish your objective. This creative symposium will focus on generating fresh ideas, exciting twists, compelling formats and  transform your blocked story into a blockbuster story.

In this workshop we will address and CONQUER:

The Voice-in-Your-Head Block, when the more you write, the more certain you are no one in the world will find your story interesting.

The This-is-Not-Fun Block, when each word you write is as pleasant as pulling out your own organs (practically) and you wonder if all this is really worth it, anyway.

The Too-Many Ideas Block, when your head is such a tornado of brilliant, imperative angles and stories that you can’t make up your mind which to pick to put on paper.

The Cinder Block, when it just seems impossible to put words on paper. This kind of block can come out of the blue, but often it’s a result of a major life change, such as loss of a loved one, pet, marriage, etc. None of us escape these kinds of experiences, the trick it learning how to circumvent it in order to stay creative.

Bathroom

Warning: We are not in the business of hyping pipe dreams. The last thing we want to put you through is a litany of anemic sessions in which people sit around and bloviate about the difficulties of living creatively or getting a book deal. This Shocking Real-Life Creativity Retreat is an active network of workshops spanning an entire weekend devoted to your ideas. If you have an idea for a book or for a means of living your life with intent and creativity — and especially if you have been sitting on this idea  — you owe it to yourself to enroll in this Shocking Real life creative writing retreat hosted by best selling humor writer Hollis Gillespie.

Sunday Champagne Brunch

LOCATION: The retreat is housed in an amazing historic mansion in Sparta, Georgia, the proprietor of which is the amazingly talented, award-winning film producer Milford Thomas! He will be on-hand as a guest instructor to guide your artistic direction throughout the weekend. The place is like the House of the Seven Gables! Only not scary! And Milford is like Vincent Price! Only even more gay! Room assignments are first come/first served. This is a lovely mansion, but accommodations necessitate shared bathrooms and, in some cases, shared digs. Enrollment is limited to just 8 people, and these people will constitute your creative symposium, hopefully for life. They will be there to guide, sponsor, inspire, give feedback and encourage you through your creative process. We charge next to nothing for the lodging part of the retreat due to this sleepover type vibe, but it’s just for two nights! So put your inhibitions aside and roll with the weekend! You will be so glad you did. Here’s some pics:

Reserve Your Spot Now!

Click the button below to enroll in The Shocking Real Life SPARTA Writing & Creativity Retreat with Hollis Gillespie on April 27–28, 2019 (Or to register by phone, call 678-661-7080) 291 Boland St., Sparta, GA 31087

Add to Cart


Cost: $474 for the workshops. Accommodations are separate. Click now and you’ll get an immediate email confirming your seat. Instant confirmation only available online.

GIFT this class to someone you love! Enrollees will receive a gorgeous gift certificate attached to your confirmation email (if I do say so my own damn self). Printable, and ready to put under a bow! WOW, how great will THAT look ?

Whether you’re at the idea stage or in the home stretch, this weekend will show you how to navigate the competitive world of book publishing and get your project sold. In this workshop, you’ll learn:

  • The marketability of your idea, and how to make it more so
  • How to pitch an agent for representation and write the perfect query
  • What publishers and agents are really looking for and what they hate
  • How to avoid the most common rookie mistakes
  • Which pages to send to a literary agent as a sample of your work (hint: It’s rarely the very first pages)
  • How publishing houses and literary agencies benefit the author
  • How to decipher the miasma of advances, royalties, subsidiary rights, foreign rights, and dramatic rights
Dining Room

Hollis Gillespie and a collective of other successful authors/filmmakers will share their secrets to unclogging your creative arteries so you can tell the world what you’ve been telling your friends all this time; that your book idea is a slam dunk, and now it’s time to cash it in. Hollis and the other co-hosts will offer their candid critiques, suggestions for selling your work, and answer all your questions about breaking into book publishing and the film industry.

This retreat comes with guaranteed inappropriate conversation and other basic essentials for unleashing creativity and unlocking buried memories.

The Shocking Real Life Creative Writers Conference Itinerary:

Friday night:

Welcome to Sparta! Sangria and snacks at 6pm. Room assignments are first come/first served. This is a lovely mansion, but accommodations necessitate shared bathrooms and, in some cases, shared digs, it’s why we charge nest to nothing for room and board. Enrollment is limited to just 8 people, and these people will constitute your creative symposium, hopefully for life. They will be there to guide, sponsor, inspire, give feedback and encourage you through your creative process. We charge next to nothing for the lodging part of the retreat due to this slumber-party type vibe, but it’s just for two nights! So put your inhibitions aside and roll with the weekend! You will be so glad you did.

Dinner is at 8pm. It will be healthy. Sample menu: Artisan pizza, Asian dumplings, hearty vegetarian soup. By the way, pot luck is encouraged! We ourselves will offer vegetarian and red-meat-free fare, but BY ALL MEANS, if you’d like to contribute a covered dish to any of our meals feel free. 

Reminder: There will be a tea/coffee and snacks area 24/7 in the upstairs landing. If the creative lightening strikes you anytime in the day or night, we want to make sure you have the sustenance to carry it through!

Saturday morning Bloody Marys

Saturday:

10:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Coffee, tea, fruit, French toast sticks, maple glazed sausage and quiche. Plus Hollis Gillespie’s signature Kick-Ass Bloody Marys (secret ingredient: Japanese horseradish). Again, BY ALL MEANS, if you’d like to contribute a covered dish to any of our meals feel free.

Morning Workshops hosted by Hollis Gillespie

11:00 a.m.–1:00pm

The Hollis Gillespie patented (literally) “Fuck Fear” Enlightenment Lecture and Workshop. Here we will address what’s stopping you, what’s whopping you, what’s ROAD BLOCKING you!

1:00pm–2:00pm

Lunch: Coffee, tea, Hollis’ special-recipe White Peach Sangria, and healthy fare. Again, BY ALL MEANS, if you’d like to contribute a covered dish to any of our meals feel free.

2:00–4:00pm

  • Initial individual assessment of attendees’ manuscripts and ideas for manuscripts. Here is your chance to work on the preliminary format, working title and points of an elevator pitch for your manuscript or manuscript idea. Anytime you pitch to an agent, you need to sum up your book in one sentence. It’s harder than it sounds, and believe it or not it often falls to this precise sentence to make or break an agent’s decision to take you on as a client.
  • Writing exercises. Material assessment. Homework distribution. (Yep. Homework, though we don’t make you sit in a corner if you don’t turn it in the next day.) (It’s fun homework, though, so you will want to do it.)

4:00pm–6:30pm

Quiet time to write, reflect, create.

6:30pm

Cocktail hour. White Peach Sangria, Moscow Mules.

7:30pm

Dinner. Thai Food Night! Renowned Chef Ray Ehrig will prepare a Thai Food feast, and will be on hand throughout dinner to answer and instruct you on the art of Thai cuisine!

8:00pm

Movie Night! Settle in for a movie that illustrates the perfect plot point development that Hollis Gillespie taught you earlier. Popcorn, hot chocolate and cocktails abound. Question/answer session during and following.

Sunday:

10:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Coffee, tea, fruit, mini cinnamon buns, maple glazed sausage and quiches. MIMOSAS will make an appearance! Again, BY ALL MEANS, if you’d like to contribute a covered dish to any of our meals feel free.

Pulitzer Prize nominated author Charles McNair video conferences from his home in Bogota, Colombia

11:00 a.m.–5 p.m.

Format your book, pitch an agent, learn to avoid rookie mistakes AS WELL AS learn the secrets that will put you ahead of 80 percent of the competition — it’s Hollis Gillespie’s sure-fire formula that has helped HUNDREDS of people get agent representation and/or book deals.

Material assessment. Choosing the pages to present to the agent. (Hint: It’s almost never the very first pages.) How to treat, clean, edit and prepare your pages for presentation to an editor. Writing exercises.

Afternoon workshop: The Con Game: Keeping Confidence That Your Work Will Work, hosted by Pulitzer Prize nominee Charles McNair, whose first novel, Land O’Goshen (St. Martin’s Press) received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for fiction and critical acclaim from the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, and other venerated publications. This workshop is a personal approach to helping writers who haven’t broken through to keep believing they will. Charles will discuss the little ways you can build and nourish confidence along the way, until the novel is ready to be born, or the big work. “This is a topic that really deeply matters to me, since I struggled 10 years before a first book was ready,” says Charles. His novel, Land O’ Goshen (St. Martin’s Press, 1994) received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for fiction and was critically acclaimed by The New York Times and Washington Post.

Each attendee will be assigned the contact info of a literary agent who is in the market for their type of material, and by the end of the weekend they will have a pitch letter formulated to attract that agent, a workable format for their manuscript plus 10 sample pages to include with their agent pitch.

Your goal, by the end of this, is to have completed a surmountable format for your creative goals, and if you’re a writer, to have a professionally written query package to pitch your book, which includes a scompleted pitch letter to a literary agent, and 10 professionally edited and treated sample pages to include with your query. Just give yourself this one weekend! Your life will change.Hollis Gillespie is an award-winning humor and travel columnist, and her column appears every month on Atlanta magazine’s back page. She is also a best-selling author, NPR commentator, professional speaker, and guest on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (“A very funny lady,” says Leno.) Her work has been optioned by Sony Pictures and Paramount, and she has collaborated with Hollywood hard hitters like Mitch Hurwitz, the creator of Arrested Development, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, producers of Two and a Half Men, Amy Palladino, creator of Gilmore Girls, Bill Haber (Rizzoli and Isles) and Sheri Elwood (Call Me Fitz). (George Clooney has also kissed her twice. Twice!) Hollis herself has been featured on scores of TV shows and news programs and runs Shocking Real Life Learning Center, the largest writing school in Atlanta, which offers workshops on book writing, blogging and social media. Her next book, titled The Unaccompanied Minor, is due out in August 2013.These days she gets most of her exercise running to catch flights.

Shocking Real Life Alumni Success Stories! What past participants say about the Shocking Real-Life Writing Seminar

“I made contact (totally used your letter) with a friend’s agent at Writer’s House. It worked! Now he wants to see the proposal. They loved the idea. Thanks again! The class was great.” — Stephanie Davis, Editor, skirt! Magazine

“Hollis, thanks for being in touch so quickly. Your seminar rocked!! I want to be one of your successes. I’ll start with [the agent you suggested] and if a rejection, will just keep going. I did not even realize I was so on fire about getting this book out there, until I felt the full Hollis Effect!!” — Susan Campbell

“Hollis Gillespie’s writing workshop was the best I’ve ever attended. Hollis was extremely encouraging and helpful in both creative and procedural modes. And the yellow theme with the mimosas worked at a deep level of community which added to the enjoyment of the whole experience.” — David Ryback

“Hollis is a rule-breaker who will teach you things you won’t hear anywhere else. If you don’t care about political correctness and want to learn a proven tactic to get an agent’s attention, Hollis can show you the way.” — Debbie Unterman

“Hollis and crew were positive and upbeat. ‘Can’t’ wasn’t spoken. The environment and food were ‘quirky and fun,’ one of the underlying themes of the workshop and Hollis’s principles: build a support system of writers, share your work and contacts, and hit the send, send, send button on your computer made sense. The agent list was an added bonus.” — Lynn Hesse

“The Hollis Gillespie workshop was money well spent and the day went by very quickly! Hollis took time with each person to help them clarify details of the story that they’d like to tell, develop a creative title, found similar books to use as examples in a pitch letter and provided a list with a recommendation of an agent (or agents) to contact. Hollis gave concise, realistic feedback to each person. As an added bonus, Michael Alvear spoke and each offered excellent advice. I came home and began work immediately on my story! I’m impressed by Hollis and Michael’s philosophy of helping other writers. Thank you for offering this wonderful seminar to AtlantaWriters Club members.” — Sharon LeMaster

“It was a great experience and nice to sit around a table with others who are dealing with the same obstacles I am. I liked the advice given to ignore conventions and rules when querying agents and publishers which I will paraphrase: as long as it’s well written, go for it regardless of the ‘supposed’ hurdles or rules. Receiving a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean you’re work isn’t any good or you didn’t follow the rules. I liked having published authors talk about their personal experiences and paths to success using somewhat unconventional means. I spent part of yesterday putting the advice in practice and sent out several queries with an entirely different attitude.” — Kathy Lewis

Click the button below to enroll in The Shocking Real Life SPARTA Writing & Creativity Retreat with Hollis Gillespie on April 27–28, 2019 (Or to register by phone, call 678-661-7080) 291 Boland St., Sparta, GA 31087

Add to Cart

Price: $474* 100% Safe and Secure – We are PayPal verified. (SRL Alumni, enter the coupon code WRITEATLANTA to receive your $40 discount!) Click now and you’ll get an immediate email confirming your seat. Instant confirmation only available online. (See the end of this post for Atlanta class location.)

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