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    Pennsylvania On My Mind

    Regina Harvey Icon

    Tomorrow is the day. We are settling on the purchase of fourteen and a half acres in the Southern Alleghanies of Pennsylvania. While it will be nice to have a place to escape to, the real impetus for this endeavor was the dream of eventually opening a small bed and breakfast with cottages, if you will, hosted in the summer by yours truly, rented for skiing in the winter, and in the fall and spring…

    Workshops. In particular, writing workshops.

    When I think of the ideal writing retreat, it is quiet, beautiful, but not completely isolated. I love the idea of writing for hours during the day, a basket of breakfast and another of lunch left for me by the elves, then spending the evening with other writers. We would throw together a group dinner, maybe have a guest speaker or teacher with some exercises, then hours of open discussion in front of a roaring fire or under a star-lit sky.

    There are a few such retreat programs in the country, but I think it would be fabulous to offer something particularly for mystery and crime writers. Everyone knows they’re the most fun anyway.

    So, over the course of the next few years, (or a decade – whatever it takes) that’s what we hope to develop. Naturally, my husband will tell you that some of the workshops we’ll offer will be something of a similar format for programming geeks (think breakfast baskets of No-Dose and Pop Tarts), but that’s his dream, and we’re talking about me now.

    Now, the real reason we chose the Southern Alleghanies is because the land is relatively inexpensive. But, there are a plethora of activities, skiing, hiking, biking, and sites of interest, including the tragic site of the United Flight 93 crash.

    There is also Seton Hill University, which offers the only masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction in the nation. Consider, a masters degree (which translates into part-time job teaching college while waiting to hit the bestseller list) particularly focused on fine-tuning, not just your writing, but your crime writing.

    I looked into it last year and I’m still undecided. The few grads I’ve hunted down have had good things to say about it, though. It worked for a lot of them since it only requires five one-week residencies – the rest of the time you are working remotely, assigned to a published professor/mentor, as well as participating online with others in the program, whom you will work with again during the residencies. And, while I love writing in a more literary (as traditionally defined) style, there is something appealing about a program that is happy to work with you on what you’re working on now.

    What do you all think? Is a program like that worth the time and money? And how many of you can I count on when we open our doors for business?

    12 Responses to “Pennsylvania On My Mind”

    1. Heidi, the retreat idea sounds wonderful. Congrats on the land purchase! Sounds like you are on your way. Since I’m on the other coast I don’t know if I’ll be one of your first visitors, but the promise of Pop-Tarts and No-Doze is awfully tempting!

      by Sara Rosett on August 31st, 2006 at 11:24 am

    2. Heidi, count me in. The quiet writing time is always nice, the sitting with other writers to talk/brainstorm/learn sounds awesome too. Toss in the opportunity to bike and/or hike, and it sounds like a perfect set up.
      Good luck with the plans!

      by Laura on August 31st, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    3. Heidi, I think it sounds fantastic! Heck, I FANTASIZE about a writing retreat. Did you see that article in the NYT about summer writers’ camp:

      Maybe soon you’ll have them writing about Pop-Tarts and No-Doze!

      (And, really, good to know that the work’s better at MacDowel and the sex’s better at Yaddo.)

      by Tasha Alexander on August 31st, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    4. Well, Tasha, if you die at our place, at age 90 like Louise Talma, I fully expect you to leave all your money to us.

      And maybe we should offer a combination of MacDowell and Yaddo - how about a special week for writing about sex?

      by Heidi Vornbrock Roosa on August 31st, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    5. Workshops and a quiet, beautiful place to write? Sounds wonderful.

      by Stephen Blackmoore on August 31st, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    6. I’ll save you a spot, Stephen. Pond or woods? Scones or Pop Tarts? Fresh Honduran coffee or No Doze?

      by Heidi Vornbrock Roosa on August 31st, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    7. Heidi, any money I have left at age 90 is yours.

      And, you know, I make a mean scone…

      by Tasha Alexander on August 31st, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    8. Count me in! Sounds like a dream come true. Cherry Pop Tarts for me–and if there’s a Starbuck’s within ten miles (or better yet, an indie coffee house) I won’t object. (Yes, I am addicted to ice and whip cream in my coffee.)

      As for writing courses…hmm. If it sounds like fun and you could use the company and competition, go for it. But if it’s just a way of avoiding locking yourself into a room alone with your work, save the money.

      by Diana Killian on August 31st, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    9. Congratulations on signing zee papers!!!!

      I think the degree sounds wonderful, too. Wish I lived nearer, we could try a two-fer on that.

      I’m a fan of cinnamon-brown sugar pop-tarts, BTW.

      by Cornelia Read on August 31st, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    10. Heidi–Your project sounds exactly what our Sisters in Crime chapter here in Pittsburgh could use. (And I know this fabulous baker in Somerset, so let me know when you want to pick up scones, okay?)

      But contact me about Seton Hill, girlfriend.

      by Nancy Martin on August 31st, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    11. Such wonderful support! Pop-Tarts all around!
      And Nancy, spill on the good baker in Somerset - we’re only fifteen minutes outside. Though, I’ll put my scones up against anyone’s, even yours, Tasha!
      Sounds like we need a Bake Sale at Bouchercon. $22.99 for a dozen biscotti, and a free copy of my latest book comes with it…

      by Heidi Vornbrock Roosa on August 31st, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    12. Me! Me! Count me in!

      by Stacy Jacobs on September 3rd, 2006 at 7:07 am

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