Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 2012 Workshop Retreat Schedule, Thus Far

2012 will see six week-long residential workshops scheduled, and as is the norm, the rest of the year will be dedicated to individual residents working on their own focused projects. The following are the first two workshop retreats scheduled, both during May; the other four will be scheduled and posted soon. Whether you choose your own retreat to work on your own project or a workshop retreat, I hope to see you retreating to Anam Cara sometime during the next year.

Watercolour Workshop Retreat
Facilitator: Evelyn Dunphy(
Arrival: 12 May 2012
Departure: 19 May 2012

“Come and experience the haunting beauty of the landscape that surrounds Anam Cara. Explore ways to find just the right mixtures of pigments to paint all of those wonderful greens, the brightly-colored houses winding their way down the lane and the misty mountains off in the distance – it’s an artists’ paradise!
“You’ll learn to simplify shapes, exaggerate, crop, compose, and build a composition that enables you to enjoy seeing pigments mix and dance on your paper. Be a poet rather than a reporter, paint light and color and shadow, and develop your ability to really “see”. There will a demonstration each day, and lots of individual attention. There is nothing like uninterrupted hours of painting time to see a great leap in the quality of your work. No matter what your level of painting ability, there is always so much more to learn and experience.
“My goal is always to enlarge each student’s vocabulary of painting ‘tools’ so that each person has the necessary skills to express their own personal aesthetic. It is necessary to be able to execute the fundamental techniques of using watercolor, and I also believe that passion drives technique; if you really want to paint something you will figure out how to do it. Experienced painters will be challenged and encouraged to move out of their “comfort zone” to realize their goals, and beginners will be guided through the process of using watercolor.
“I also think it’s very important to ‘name the thing you are trying to do’ – whether it’s the pigment with its temperature and value, or the concept for your painting. Naming it makes it possible to actually do it.”


“I am just beginning to realize how much I learned from you in the workshop. Things that I thought I knew but did not really understand have come to life for me, and my work shows it” – a student from a recent workshop in Canada.

"If you want a workshop with a dedicated, talented teacher who is also a beautiful painter, go with Evelyn Dunphy” – a student from a workshop at Frederic Church’s camp

For more information and to book a place in Evelyn’s workshop retreat, contact her at:

Writing in Ireland: A Generative Workshop Retreat for Writers in All Genres
Facilitator: Karen Blomain (
Guest presenters: Playwright, Michael Downend; Poet, Madeline Tiger; Communications Specialist, Dr. Andrea Mitnick
Arrival: 19 May 2012
Departure: 26 May 2012

“Come to magnificent Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork, Ireland. In the tranquil setting of Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat, enjoy a relaxed format workshop for writers at all levels of accomplishment -- from the novice wishing to try her hand at writing to the seasoned writer who needs to jump start his muse for a new project to those wishing to challenge themselves in a different genre. This generative workshop is designed to offer new starts and new vision. Each day will include two hands-on sessions, a discussion group, active participation, and significant enrichment opportunities, as well as the chance to rest, dream, and experience this beautiful part of the world.”

The workshop retreat is limited to twelve participants and booked on a first-deposit-in basis. To learn more and to register, please contact Karen at

A Gift That Keeps on Giving

If you're looking for the ideal gift for that creative someone in your life, how about an individual or workshop retreat at Anam Cara Writer's and Artist's Retreat? Just let me know, and I'll send along a gift voucher (discounted by 10% for former residents) that you can present, leaving the booking arrangements to be made later.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anam Cara on TV....

For those with Sky TV satellite service in Europe, Anam Cara will be part of the Travel Channel's broadcast of "Wild Camping - Ireland" on Thursday, November 10th, 2011 at 8pm (Sky 251). The first episode will focus on Beara as inspiration to writers with writer-in-residence Bernard O'Donoghue and Beara poet John O'Leary reading poems. The new series is announced on the Channel's web site at and may be available there for those not living in Europe.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nightmare Book Review Winners!

The results of Anam Cara's first annual Writer's Nightmare Book Jacket Review Contest are in! There were 72 excellent entries, providing lots of good laughs, and the judging was very close. In fact, so close that two people each won the three-day retreat to Anam Cara prize. Many thanks go to Vanessa O'Loughlin and her writer's resource website ( for partnering the first Anam Cara contest and to the three judges (who shall remain anonymous so they can't be unduly influenced next year!). Here are the winning and shortlisted Nightmare Reviews:

Máire T. Robinson:
"This novel deserves a place in the literary canon, from where it should be propelled with great force into the Irish Sea."


Breandan O'Broin:
"Publishers ask if a debut writer has a second book in him. In the case of No Siesta, they should have asked if he had a first."

On the short list (in no particular order):

Wendy Gregan-Lynch:
"There should be a law restricting authors releasing such unadulterated rubbish on unsuspecting readers."

"If the second half of this novel had the scintillating verve, so lacking
in the first half, it would be a blockbuster."

Margaret Cahill:
"At last, a cure for insomnia!"

Seán O'Hara:
"Instead of writing this book the author could have been off doing something more productive, like counting the grains of sand on Killiney beach, or cleaning blades of grass with a damp cloth. He would have saved the world from experiencing the literary equivalent of the Black Death."

Patrick Brosnan:
"If the writing reminds you of Oscar Wilde, it's only because, after a while, you'll find yourself saying to the book, 'One of us has got to go.'"

Breandan O'Broin:
"No Siesta is aptly named. The book is a nightmare."

"Rumour has it that No Siesta is only half-finished. Having read advance extracts, let’s pray it stays that way."

Sharon Hutchinson:
"Open this book at your peril
Don't say you haven't been warned
To continue and actally buy it
It's you and not me to be scorned.
I've warned you, I've warned you, I've warned you
Don't say that you haven't been told
To proceed to the checkout with this book in hand
Your brain cells will surely explode!

Sarah Schwarcz:
"Wanna know why Borders is going under??? This book!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Anam Cara Contest on New Writers' Resource Web Site


About the contest: From

" intends to be an ever-evolving source of information for writers and readers alike – as you can see we haven’t covered everything yet, so if you are an author and feel you could contribute to our Writers Tool Box pages, or would like to discuss your genre in Meet the Authors do please get in touch! If you have a book review or feel there is any other part of the site you can contribute to, drop us an email.

"If you have an event coming up or are running a writing course, tell us about it!

" is about all about reading, writing and you - we welcome your suggestions. Get in touch with us at

As part of the launch of this new resource, Anam Cara is sponsoring The Writers' Nightmare Book Jacket Review Contest. For information, go to:

Enter as many times as you'd like. Good luck!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Workshop Retreat Season Off to a Tremendous Start!

The first workshop in 2011 represents the fine quality that Anam Cara's workshop retreat season has to offer. Because so many fiction writers have been inspired by his book Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot: A Guide for Screenwriters, Peter Dunne will be applying his approach to benefit writers of all genre who have a story to tell.

Kristin Veel (Copenhagen, Denmark) affirms this point: "Even though I am not a screenwriter, I found Peter Dunne's book immensely helpful. With its easily applicable tools and step-by-step advice, it is a great companion to the journey of every writing process. However, the main strength of the book lies in its ability to identify and unlock the creative potential embedded in the realization that a writing process is a personal journey for the characters as well as the author."

I look forward to hearing from you ( about the possibility of your retreating to Anam Cara to enhance your writing by sharing in this invaluable experience. I send my best wishes, Sue

(Bookings reserved with a deposit one month before the workshhop retreat will receive an early-registration discount; this workshop retreat is limited to 6 minimum and 12 maximum participants.)

Emotional Structure and the Storyteller
Leader: Peter Dunne (
One-week Residential Workshop Retreat
Arrival: Saturday, 16 April 2011
Departure: Saturday, 23 April 2011

"Novel, short story, memoir, essay, you name it, when it comes to storytelling, some problems are universal.One in particular, the gravest possibly, I call the Breaking Point.

"The Breaking Point isn't a writing problem. It is a writer problem. It is the point at which either the writer wins, or the problem wins. At the Breaking Point, the story you are trying to tell resists being told. You find yourself staring at all the good, hard work you have done, and beg the gods to lead you on. But the story will not budge, and it does so because it knows, even when you don't, that something vital in your writing is going unwritten. All of your original ideas containing the very spirit of everything you intended to write have slithered through your fingers like a bucket of eels. The meaning of your work has escaped. And you are on the verge of giving up the search. Don't.

"Here is your chance to find it again, and to find your way back into your story. Set in the magical atmosphere of the Beara peninsula's Anam Cara Writer's and Artist's Retreat, our one-week workshop retreat "Emotional Structure for the Storyteller" will enable you to once again say in your writing what you've always felt, with confidence and clarity."

More Testimonials: (From two more of the fiction and non-fiction writers who have read Peter's book)

Eileen Pierce (San Pancho, Mexico): "I am still reeling from my stay at Anam Cara where multiple muses helped me shape a chaotic memoir of a fragmentary life. Besides the wonderful editing assistance of Sue, the enchanting walks along the river that meanders through the property, the consistently fresh, gourmet meals, and the exciting silent hours I spent finding my way to the center of a work I had almost abandoned as a lost cause, I managed to read Peter Dunne's book; it was revelatory. Though I am not a screenwriter, I picked the book up because Mr. Dunne had just completed a very successful workshop at Anam Cara. I meant to glance at it briefly. Instead, I discovered a wealth of information about the emotional structure essential to all fiction and non-fiction. Though I had hoped to return to Anam Cara in September, one of the loveliest times to visit Ireland, I am now hoping to negotiate an April retreat when Mr. Dunne is giving another workshop retreat."

Catherine Hickie, Sydney, Australia: "Recently, wrestling with the narrative threads of a novel too long in progress, I got hold of a copy of Peter Dunne's book. I wish I had read it earlier. After 70,000 words and many drafts [of my novel], I seemed to be spinning my wheels, making changes but no real progress. And the doubts had me almost frozen. I had characters, setting, plot, but what was I really writing about?

"...I was surprised by the quiet reflectiveness of the book. Dunne talks about the difference between knowing things and being wise. He does know things, but his book is a page turner because it is wise. I found myself engrossed in the book for its truths about relationships, desires and disappointments and forgetting that I had a novel to finish.

"...Although the book was written with screenplays in mind, it offers sound principles for any creator of stories. There are useful suggestions for establishing a writing life -- my favourite was Dunne's challenge to the procrastination mindset, 'I'll be a writer one day when....'. Make the time now, he exhorts us. Take fifteen minutes from your TV watching time, eat faster. Whatever it takes. Start writing now.

"...The real magic for me began when I set Dunne's book aside and re-read mine. The critical eye that had me spinning my writing wheels for months had disappeared. I read with a new curiosity and excitement. And I was writing again. Not correcting or rewriting, writing.

"Peter Dunne [and his approach to storytelling] can make your story better. You can't ask for more than that."

Peter's Bio:

An award-winning producer and writer, Peter Dunne brings three decades of experience in script development, writing, and producing to every project. His experiences as a writer and producer have taken him around the world: from Los Angeles to London, from Portland to Atlanta, from Las Vegas to New Zealand.

Peter served as the Vice President of Development for three Hollywood studios before beginning his career as a screenwriter and producer. Among the projects he has produced and/or written are such television classics as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Melrose Place, Savannah, Police Story, Dallas, Knots Landing, JAG, Nowhere Man, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, and the extraordinary mini-series Sybil.

He has compiled an impressive list of honors along the way that includes the Emmy Award, the George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award, the Scott Newman Award, the Chicago Film Festival's Silver Hugo, and the distinguished Kennedy Foundation Honors, among others.

Peter is the author of the book Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot (A Screenwriter's Guide), published by Quill Driver Press, and is a contributing writer to Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond, published by I.B. Taurus, London. He teaches screenwriting at the UCLA School of the Arts, Writers' Program, and has been a visiting lecturer in Creative Writing and Memoir Writing at UCLA, Santa Clara University, The University of Southern California, and The University of Central America in El Salvador.

A dual-citizen of the United States and Ireland, Dunne is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, The Irish Writers Union, PEN Ireland, PEN USA, and PEN International. He is currently working on two new books.

Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 Workshop Retreat Season Begins in April

Throughout the year, individuals retreat to Anam Cara to work on their own projects; however, we also offer a number of week-long, focused, residential workshop retreats covering a wide variety of topics.

Each award-winning workshop leader brings his or her own unique gift, experience, and expertise to the workshop subject. I hope there is something here that will be just what you need to enhance your own creative gifts!

This year's schedule is listed below; for more detailed information, go to and contact Sue at

Emotional Structure and the Storyteller
Led by Peter Dunne (
16-23 April 2011

Short Fiction: So Much More Than It Seems...
Led by Vanessa Gebbie (
28 May - 4 June 2011

Learning to See: A Drawing and Painting Workshop Retreat
Led by Seamus Berkeley (
11-18 June 2011

Writing from Your Life
Led by Amanda Smyth
25 June - 2 July 2011

Creativity and Spirituality
Led by Fr. Michael McCarthy
2-9 July 2011

Finishing and Marketing Your Book
Led by Susan Hubbard (
9-16 July 2011

Finding the Story
Led by Nessa O'Mahony and Peter Salisbury (
6-13 August 2011

Creating from Within
Led by Maeve O'Sullivan and Kim Richardson
13-20 August 2011