Everything is a Story: Reflections and photos from the 2022 Spanish Flash Fiction Retreat

From Nancy Stohlman:

Wow! The Spanish retreat was an incredible experience. The combination of novelty, space, time, and total immersion with other creatives, spending a week with your tribe, pushed and encouraged, detoxing from the usual distractions to enter that space of raw creativity is both deeply healing and deeply inspiring. On a retreat we remember that everything is a story waiting to happen.

writing (photo by Chelsea Stickle)

We had a wide range of amazing writers—from published to unpublished, brand new to flash all the way to flash veterans; we had a pair of friends reuniting from two different countries, a pair of sisters reconnecting in the yurts, and people representing California, Baltimore, Texas, New York City, Portugal, France, Spain, Qatar, and of course Denver, doubly represented (by Nancy and Kathy).

There was a group hammock, fiery sunsets, and (multiple!) spontaneous performances of the Grease soundtrack. There were massages and hikes in the Sierra Nevada mountains. And there were surprises of course, part of any good adventure. From the exploding chairs to the nudist beach to the historic heat wave that swept Europe during our retreat (!), all that material filtered through our bodies and onto the page. We risked both vulnerability and connection and we bonded and played and ate and wrote—a lot.

workshop (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)

And we were fed—oh yes. The food was as beautiful as it was delicious and all vegetarian. We were so inspired that we wrote a group poem (and sang a song!) to the many cooks and kitchen angels who spoiled us all week.

the food! (photo by Nancy Finston)

We were the first group of writers to visit House of Light, and they learned as much about us as we did about them—including the copious amounts of coffee and wine consumed (sangria happened!)—and we were delighted that the owners joined us for our final night reading.

Salon night (photo by Nancy Finston)

We reconnected with our writing and remembered that inspiration often comes at the crossroads between novelty and play. If we are too comfortable, or too serious, the words get stuck. After a week in Spain the words, ideas, and friendships are flowing!

I’m so grateful to my co-facilitator, Kathy, and to each one of the amazing writers who said yes to an Andalusian adventure. I raise my pen to all of you!

cheers! (photo by Nancy Finston)

From Kathy Fish:

The House of Light in Órgiva was a unique, magical space for us to gather. We were fed meals almost too beautiful to eat, we woke to birdsong, and ended our days with late sunsets bathing the hills in gold. Our group quickly gelled and became friends and encouraging cohorts. I found myself inspired by their energy and enthusiasm and all the beautiful stories they created, and cheered by the conversation and laughter at mealtimes and around the pool. The highlight for me was (as always) our salon night. The resident cats and dogs came around, too, as if they’d been invited or they were just curious about what us humans were up to. The readings that final night were superb. All in all, this retreat was an amazing experience I won’t soon forget. Thanks to everyone who took part.

workshop (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)

from Cheryl J. Fish:

From Cheryl’s blog: “Thinking about the flash fiction workshop I just experienced feels like a re-birth. So much of what I know about story was reinforced, and yet there’s much more to realize and expand into. In flash you don’t explain. Inunendo rules in fiction that comes in under 1,000 words. It’s an opportunity to prove less is more. After twice-a-day workshops and prompts with Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman, and a wonderful group of writers from all over the place, I am ready to up my game in the micro and flash fiction worlds.”

the view (photo by Cheryl J. Fish)

From Philippa Bowe:

The Andalusian retreat with Nancy and Kathy was a delight from beginning to end. Workshops were enriching, enlightening, fun, creative, productive. Add in fabulous food, sunshine and company and you have an experience that, as a writer, is pretty near heaven on earth.

Writers and friends (photo by Chelsea Stickle)

From Pedro Ponce:

You will leave this retreat well-fed, rested, and, most importantly, inspired! Thank you Nancy and Kathy!

Workshop (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)

From Marina Pacheco:

I learned a great deal at the retreat. Nancy and Kathy were fantastic tutors who took me on a journey of discovery that resulted in handfuls of new flash writing for me.

writers and friends (photo by Chelsea Stickle)

From Dorothy Rice:

What a wonderful group you brought together! I had such a great time and I feel really good about the writing I accomplished as well. The stories I wrote are so different from what I usually do, and there was something very freeing in that.

writing with a view (photo by Nancy Finston)

More photos from our gallery:

Salon Night (photo by Kathy Fish)
The view (Georgiana Nelsen)
At the beach! (photo by Georgiana Nelsen)
Consultations (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)
the food (photo by Nancy Finston)
the beach (photo by Georgiana Nelsen)
Salon Night (photo by Cheryl J. Fish)
The light (Georgiana Nelsen)
food! (photo by Georgiana Nelsen)
Group Hammock (Georgiana Nelsen)
writing (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)
windows of inspiration (photo by Nancy Stohlman)
food with a view (photo by Nancy Stohlman)
Andalusian sunset (photo by Nancy Stohlman)
workshop (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)
salon night (photo by Nancy Stohlman)
Kathy and Nancy (photo by Chelsea Stickle)
Sangria and see you next time! (photo by Lizzie Woolfenden)

Next: August Flash Fiction Retreat in Grand Lake, Colorado!

2023 Retreats will be announced in the fall—get on the waiting list for first access!

Ready to Virtual Retreat with me in Spain? Ask me a question:

Consider this a personal invitation to join me on my teaching and scouting adventures this summer to Spain, England, and Colorado!

If you have virtually traveled with me in the past, you know how much I LOVE traveling/writing and sharing inspirational discoveries, photos, and the strange workings of my brain when I spend too much time alone! (And I’ll be scounting future retreat locations too: shhh!)

And I’m excited to give you a sneak peak into what goes on during a Flash Fiction Writing Retreat–without interrupting all the privacy and creation happening, of course!

So hang out with me and other amazing writers this summer! It’s the next best thing to being there in person!

Follow the adventures on:

Instagram and Facebook and Facebook Retreats Page

And (NEW!) since I will be creating lots of content all summer, I would love for you to Ask Me A Question (like these) I can answer for you while traveling…and it might even end up in a future workshop.

This can be a question about flash fiction, travel, writing, the writing life or process, craft, what I’m reading: you name it. I will try to answer all questions LIVE in Spain–we’ll see how it goes!

First Stop: Spain! (photo below from my scouting trip in 2021).

“See” you on the other side!

Happy traveling and writing, ya’ll!

xo

Nancy

Upcoming Live Appearances!

How exciting to even be able to say that!

Friday, April 22: Fbomb Returns Live!

The F-Bomb returns to a live venue for the first time in 2022! Join us at The Roxy on Broadway on Friday April 22 from 6-9 PM. Our host will be Meg Tuite, with featured readers Nancy Stohlman, Kona Morris, and Robert Vaughan. 4-minute open mic spots will also be available for others to share their flash fiction with the crowd. Join us in the Speakeasy space, downstairs at The Roxy!

More info and reader bios on the Fbomb Website


Wednesday, May 18: Fbomb Prom II: Even Bigger Hair

It’s the second ever Fbomb Prom! Come dressed in your bad formal attire! Be in the running for Prom King or Queen (all genders in the running for both slots!) Use “prom” as a theme for writing a new piece OR just come to be entertained by host Nancy Stohlman and featured readers SETH and our reigning Prom King: Selah Saterstrom! Live at The Roxy on Broadway More info TBA!


Saturday, May 21, VIRTUAL: Writers Digest Short Story Conference

May 20 – May 22, 2022, Short Story Virtual Conference

Writer’s Digest is pleased to present an exclusive virtual conference for short story writers! On May 20-22, our 2nd Annual Short Story Writing Virtual Conference will provide expert insights from SEVEN award-winning and best-selling authors on the finer points of how to write a short story. Spend the weekend learning techniques for honing your craft skills, marketing your short fiction, editing, and getting the tools you need to advance your career as a writer from seven different published authors*, then (if you choose) submit up to 500 words of a short story to an editor for critique.

Nancy Stohlman: Literary Squatters: Using Found Forms to Write Fresh Flash Fiction

Time: 3:00 p.m. ET Saturday, May 21


June 6-13: Open Your Art Flash Fiction Retreat, Orgiva Spain

If you’re a flash fiction writer who’s longing for a new creative spark, an adventure to energize your spirit, and camaraderie with your creative community, then join us this summer for a writing retreat in the sunny hills of Andalucia, Spain!


July 8-10 Flash Fiction Festival, Bristol UK

The July 8th -10th weekend Flash Fiction Festival is for beginning and experienced writers who want to learn more about flash fiction – an exciting and continually emerging short-short form of prose, growing in popularity around the world. Come to have fun, meet old friends, make new ones, be inspired by leading flash fiction practitioners from the UK, USA, Ireland and Germany and immerse yourself in writing, reading and listening to flash fiction throughout the weekend. All sections of the community, from all corners of the globe, are welcome.

Full program and booking here:

Sessions with Nancy:

The Deep Zoo: Excavating and Animating Our Impossible Stories

Going Shorter: Writing Beautiful Flash Fiction


August 9-14 & 16-21: Open Your Art Flash Fiction Retreat, Grand Lake, Colorado

If you’re a flash fiction writer who’s longing for a new creative spark, an adventure to energize your spirit, and camaraderie with your creative community, then join Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish this summer for a writing retreat in the glorious Rocky Mountains!

Spain Flash Fiction Retreat 2022: Nancy Stohlman talks with House of Light in Andalucia

Costa Rica 2022

It’s always wonderful to welcome new retreats to House of Light, and in June, we are delighted that award winning author, professor and performer, Nancy Stohlman, along with Kathy Fish will be bringing their group of writers, to dive into their creative flow of words for the Open Your Heart Open Your Art retreat.

Thank you Nancy for taking the time to share more about you and your work… we can’t wait to meet you and Kathy in person! 

Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish

When did you first discover your love for writing and performing?

I’ve been reading, writing, and performing since childhood (as many future writers do). Growing up on military bases in Europe meant television in English was often not an option, and because we moved so often I became childhood best friends with authors and their books instead. Performance has also been part of my life for as long as I can remember–my parents were folk musicians (I was playing guitar and writing songs by age 10) and my mother started a Spanish clown troupe and recruited all of us (yes, I was a child clown). So…it’s in my blood.

So, what does Flash Fiction involves as a writer?

Flash fiction is all about compression, elimination, and the literary acrobatics required to tell a complete but compelling story in a small space.

I love novels, but as a writer (and reader) it’s a very different experience to tell a story when you have endless room to stretch out vs telling it in a restricted space. In that way I think flash fiction lies at the crossroads between the novel and poetry–we can tell epic stories with the skilled precision of language and white space, and the results are stunning.

Nancy reading at Salon Night in Iceland

Your bio describes you as a ‘rabble rouser’… tell us more!

I love to think out of the box and stir things up. I think that’s the job of all creative and visionary peopleto: envision possibilities where no one else sees them…yet. It’s really a sort of magic. And not only does this happen for me on the page, but also in the world. More than 10 years ago I started the Fbomb Flash fiction Reading Series–the first and longest running flash fiction centered reading series (it now has several spin-offs!) Around the same time I also started FlashNano: 30 stories in 30 days during the month of November. Last year was our 10th anniversary and we had over 2,000 participants! And of course five years ago Flash Fiction Retreats was just an idea I dreamed up with Kathy Fish–what if we could take writers to exotic places and give them the gift of just writing for a week? And now–poof! Here we are.

the whole gang on retreat in Colorado

What do you love most about hosting your writing retreats… what’s the most fulfilling part of your work?

I love hosting writing retreats! Kathy Fish and I have often remarked that every retreat has its unique flavour: not only is each location unique, but each group that coalesces has its own signature. And honestly, the best part for me is creating a safe, nurturing, and inspiring container for other writers like me. I know well how challenging the day-to-day of writing can be–it’s solitary work by its very nature, and alone we can find ourselves in a rut, bogged down by real life and uninspired. Travel has always been my way out of ruts–forcing me out of comfort and back into the space of novelty. To be able to give others that same experience–not only travel, time, and novelty but a real creative community welcoming you on the other side–feels like the gift I needed to give myself. Watching others walk away rested and inspired, with new stories and a reset on their lives (even just a week of catching up on sleep!)–it’s a gift I feel lucky to be able to give.

some cafe writing post-retreat in France

What are you looking forward to most about coming to House of Light?

I’ve been admiring your space and your vibe for SO long now that it already feels like it will be a homecoming. I can’t wait to eat Ceri’s cooking, sit in those hammocks, and just be in Spain. And those yurts! Those views! Can I sit on your terrace and write all day, please! Plus I’ve never been to southern Spain–so I’m excited about that. But mostly I’m looking forward to meeting our group in person and engaging with all the brilliance they will inevitably bring to the table–we have a mix of new retreat participants and old retreat friends, so I’ve been extra inspired (and excited!) as I prepare my brand new workshop materials. It’s like the first time every time!

Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Yes, we have 3 spots left, so if you are curious about flash fiction and/or want to commune with other writers for an amazing week of creativity, inspiration and renewal, then I’d love to chat with you! And if you want to know more about flash fiction, my book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction, is re-releasing as an audiobook on March 15–it’s a wonderful primer for newbies and a valuable resource for flash fiction veterans.

And of course: thank you for having us and for your hospitality! We can’t wait to give real hugs soon!

Find out more about facilitator Nancy Stohlman

Find out more about facilitator Kathy Fish