“I’ve always felt that my ‘style’—the careful projection onto paper of who I think I am—was my only marketable asset, the only possession that might set me apart from other writers.” ---William Zinsser

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Friday, December 30, 2011

100-Plus Villages in Italy

I invited Anthony Scaravilli, a photoartist, to the Fall Word Lovers retreat because I remembered visiting his gallery in Little Italy and enjoying the bicycles he often used as centerpieces for his images.  We became acquainted because he has lots and lots of design-enhanced photos that he wants to put into a book, and I get to write the words!  Check out the photos that we will become immersed in at Scaravilli Design. He took this photo while in Lakeside.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Giving it All, and At Peace With It

Joan and Dan Barris took a big chance when they purchased the Idlewyld Bed and Breakfast in Lakeside a number of years ago.  The place was a dump, but they saw it as more than a rundown rooming house.  Today, the house is lit up like a beacon at night--and it should be, it's so beautiful.  Faith and hard work and determination and the ability to turn off that voice that says "I can't" made the Idlewyld a dream come true. We love that front porch.

Friday, December 16, 2011

WOW Photography

I can't say enough about Pat Washington's photos.  I know she likes to write, but her photos exude talent. She seems to catch the world at just the right moment. November Sky on her Slices of Life blog is beautiful.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Vibrant Wind Dancers

Those of you who have been to Word Lovers know my friend Mary often co-hosts the weekends. Artist, writer, dancer, and all-around creative person, Mary's energy is catchy.  Wanna dance? You can always join Mary's dance troupe, Vibrant Wind Dancers and explore what your body can do with Middle Eastern dancing. If you want to get moving with Mary, contact me at claudia.taller@yahoo.com.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Create-a-Way with Wendy Fedan

Wendy Fedan exemplifies creativity. Check out http://wfedan.wordpress.com/ to see what she's up to. As artist and Mom, she explores all options, and Julia Cameron would be honored to know Wendy is open to possibility because of her and all those other creatives out there putting out work about how to let your God connection take over.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Write Deeply - Fiction and Poetry

The Spring 2012 Word Lover's Retreat (April 20-22) will be creativity-infused.  I hope to see you at the Idlewyld for great conversation, deep writing, critique sessions, long walks, and anything else you want to do--it's your weekend.  $50 holds your spot: claudia.taller@yahoo.com.

What Trudy Has to Say

After attending this Fall's Word Lover's retreat, Trudy Bradenburg, a mystery writer from Clintonville, Ohio, wrote: "I first discovered Claudia Taller’s Word Lovers retreats by deciding to read detective mystery books that take place Ohio. I researched the list, and Les Roberts, a Cleveland area writer, caught my eye. I picked up his book, “Pepper Pike,” the first book in his Milan Jocovich series, which all take place in Cleveland, Ohio. I read about ten pages and I was hooked. I hopped on his website and found that he was going to be a guest speaker at a Word Lovers retreat only three hours from my front door, at Idlewyld Bed and Breakfast, two weeks from that date. I immediately emailed Claudia. Lucky for me, she had a cancellation and two weeks later, I was walking the quaint, quiet streets of Lakeside with readers, writers, and authors, including Claudia Taller and Les Roberts. Claudia and Les were not only magnificent speakers, sharing their life stories and tips about writing, Les signed copies of his books and offered manuscript feedback to the attendees, which helped my project immensely." She went on to describe the Idlewyld, where our retreats take place: "Built in the 1800’s, every nook and cranny of Idlewyld holds positive energy, from the porches, to the common area, the kitchen and dining room and the comfy bedrooms. Waking up to the smell of brewing coffee and breakfast casseroles sifting through the house, with your head on a soft pillow in a warm bed, is nothing short of heaven. Before breakfast, I always grab my camera and a cup of coffee, bundle up, and walk to the end of Walnut Street to catch the sunrise over Lake Erie. You can see my pictures from the weekend at: https://picasaweb.google.com/104987613031065338545/IdlewyledNovember2011WordLovers/" Thanks Trudy!  More from her closer to the next retreat--April 20-22, 2012.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Day or a Weekend . . . in Lakeside

I'm opening up the Word Lovers Retreat to Saturday-only lovers of words.  If you'd like to come just for the day, we'd love to have you.  I cannot load an Adobe file to this blog, but if you want to see the itinerary, send me an e-mail at claudia.taller@yahoo.com.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Journaling to Memoir

Leaving a Trace by Alexandra Johnson is “to journal writers what Bird by Bird and The Artist’s Way are to fiction writers.” One reviewer said it “will inspire not just the diarist in us, but the reader, too—to return to works we missed, or those we thought we’d fully grasped . . . Stands proudly beside such classics on creativity as One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty.” Welty’s book needs to go on my list, as well as several more mentioned by Johnson in her book, diaries by Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield among them. A journal should be just what it is meant to be – private and open—and can be transformed into longer projects or creative work. The book is full of tips and techniques and inspiring stories from famous writers and private journalists.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All set for Word Lovers! Hang Out in Lakeside

Jump start your memoir with some writing prompts and storytelling ideas on Friday evening during the Word Lovers Retreat at Lakeside the weekend of November 4-6.  After breakfast on Saturday, we'll turn to the task at hand--writing well. The ability to take high quality, well-composed photos is becoming increasingly important for every writer—find out how from National Geographic’s Dewitt Jones, and then try out his techniques taking pictures of Lakeside’s gardens, Victorian homes, and statues. We will learn how to build a career centered on food, wine, and travel with guidance from Writer’s Digest. The last event on Saturday will be John Ettorre's presentation called "12 Principles for Building a Powerful & Sustainable Writing Practice" (no matter where you’re at in your writing journey). After dinner, relax and watch Anne Lamott talk on film about her writing life. On Sunday, participate in a workshop about establishing immediacy through description. With all that writing practice, both alone and in the group, you’ll be ready to show off your weekend writing on Sunday morning. In celebration of the publication of Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries, by Claudia Taller, optional wine tastings and tours, led by Claudia and Paul Taller will complete your weekend away at Lakeside. For full itinerary and how to sign up, send an e-mail to claudia.taller@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Relaxing, Creating, Connecting, Retreating . . .

Join me and 20 of my favorite writers for a retreat in Lakeside the first weekend in November.  As usual, I've rented the Idlewyld for the weekend, and now I just need you to show up.  The itinerary includes writing and creative workshops, and some optional food and wine experiences. We'll work on storytelling, photography, writing a non-fiction book, exploring food and wine with words, and travel writing.  The optional events are a wine tasting and tour at Hermes in Sandusky on Saturday afternoon, dinner and a tour at Mon Ami on Saturday evening, and a stop at Firelands Winery on the way home on Sunday.  The weekend, without the winery events, is $110, which includes Friday evening dinner and breakfast both mornings.  Room rates are the Idlewyld's rates.  It's going to be so much fun . . . !

John Ettorre Returns to Word Lovers

I'm pleased to announce that John Ettorre, who originally co-hosted Word Lovers retreats with me, will be joining me again for this year's Word Lovers retreat. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Fall, and Next Spring

The idea behind the retreat this Fall is to bring people together and relax in the place I consider my second home, a place where I can share some time with other writers, get some writing done, and work through some programming.  So far, I don't have a writer-in-residence, and I thought I would wait and see on that, and now I've contacted someone who I really hope will be there.  Some are asking about the Spring. While the Fall event is about writing in general and non-fiction, the Spring will be a fiction workshop event all day on Saturday, with several different presenters talking about and working through manuscripts that people bring with them.   

Saturday, August 27, 2011


A decade ago, I fell in love with the idea of retreating from the world in the company of other seekers of the creative muse and a life free from outside tethers. Maybe that’s called running away to some, but for me, it feels like I’m walking towards who I was meant to be. In those moments in time, my spirit lifts, and if I start putting words on paper, I am connecting with a creative force, with God. The words flow, and it’s almost as good as being in love.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Words. They guide us through our days, a constant barrage of reminders and self talk and hopefully positive stuff and they worry us through sleepless nights. They are the beginning of love affairs, one-liners and life confessions that connect us with other people. They tell the stories of Dickens and the plays of Shakespeare. They make us laugh and cry as we read a novel by a master like John Irving, whose love of words brings us big books even in today’s world of pared-down rhetoric. They connect us with others through letters and e-mails and social media, and they convince us to buy things we wouldn’t otherwise buy. They are in our prayers.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Join Us For A Day of Writing!

Skyline Writers is happy to announce its 28th Annual Writer's Conference at Hines Hill Conference Center in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Join us on August 27 from 9AM until 4:30PM for a day of inspiration and writing immersion. A continental breakfast and famous Skyline potluck lunch will be provided. Also, Gray & Company and other local author books will be available for sale and perusing.

Maria Purnhagen's topic "But When I Was in High School, We Didn't Have Cell Phones (or How to write for Teens if You're Not One)," a YA topic that will focus on writing style and voice and being someone you aren't. In Kelly Boyer Sagert's talk "Taming the Tiger: Turning Creativity into Ca$h," writers will learn how to make money from their writing, which Kelly obviously does. With all the social networking and internet publishing going on, we all need to know how to use it to promote our writing, and Lisa Roecker will do just that in her session entitled "Social Networking 101: How to Network, Market and Succeed in Publishing Online." Finally, a little TLC: Joy E. Held will become our therapist with "Your Brain on Yoga: How Exercise and Nutrition Make You a Better Writer."

If you still want some time with fellow writers, join us for a little down time at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula afterwards. To register and for more information on the costs and agenda for the day, go to www.skylinewriters.com, or e-mail skylineconf@aol.com. If you are spending money on only ONE conference this year, this is the one.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fall Retreat Schedule

The Fall Word Lovers Retreat, scheduled for November 4-6, is fully planned.  We're looking forward to some memoir, photography, writing about food and wine, and learning about how to put together a non-fiction book.  There will be lots of time for writing AND we'll be cooking together.  Optional wineries excurions, including dinner at Mon Ami will make this Word Lovers Retreat a special event for you this year.  The complete weekend schedule and reservations to hold your e-mail can be had by sending me an e-mail at claudia.taller@yahoo.com

Monday, June 6, 2011

Word Lovers Food and Wine Weekend

Join Igniting Possibilities for a weekend of tasting wine and making food together.  We'll start with time to write, and in the afternoon, we'll migrate to Hermes Winery for a tasting prior to making pizzas in the Idlewyld's kitchen. On Saturday, learn how to write about food and wine and hear Claudia Taller's tales of writing a book about Ohio's Lake Erie wineries. We'll take a tour, taste some wine, and feast at the seafood buffet at Mon Ami Winery. Write all weekend long, and share your work on Sunday morning. Weekend rates include Hermes tasting, two breakfasts, Friday dinner, and Saturday Mon Ami Experience. Prices range from $200/weekend for a shared room to $330/weekend for a private room. Contact Claudia Taller to reserve your space.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Writing Left

How does one do it, "write left"?  We write about what we care about and stand up for what we believe in, whether it's prison reform, the right to union representation, free speech, or equal rights.  My life has been immersed in liberal, or should I say "progressive," thought since I was a child when my father went off to march on Washington to protest the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

Mansfield Frazier (a man for his times) is as much a believer in writing left as I am to just plain writing because you want to, and we've started a salon for writers and thinkers.  Our first gathering will be at Visible Voice books on Saturday, April 30, from 2-5.  Mansfield, who wrote a book of essays on doing time in a Federal prison called From Behind the Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race, will talk about not being afraid of saying what you mean, and I will talk about the best way to say it and get it out there for people to read. If we get some readers and thinkers who want to keep the pens moving and the conversation steady, we'll keep it going.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Retreat Musings

There's something about being in the company of other writers that's almost holy. I have a friend who's a writer and a minister and he told me that what we have in our writing group is God connected.  It's much like the writing process, how when you write and especially when you really get into it, you feel that it's not just you doing the typing. 

Someone asked me this weekend why I started doing the Word Lovers retreats. Giving to others is what looms as the biggest reason--I think we all have a story to tell and we should give it voice. Since writing is a solitary experience, we need to be with others for encouragement. In a way, the Word Lovers retreats are my ministry. I do feel called to do them.

It was an excellent weekend in every way except that the weather should have been warmer for April.  We wrote, talked, walked, ate, drank, and learned.  We escaped for the weekend, but someone at the retreat said the writing life IS her reality and the day-to-day job is not.  I like that thought.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Word Lovers This April

I'm looking for another fun weekend in Lakeside this Spring.  Les Roberts will be back, and his enthusiasm for the craft of writing will ignite us with endless possibilities for using words. In addition, award-winning writer Marsha McGregor will lead a session on writing personal essays. Friday evening dinner, Saturday and Sunday breakfast, and Saturday lunch will be served, with the help of Mary Bodnar, pictured below while dancing in the street last year. The cost is $110 for the weekend plus cost of a room at the Idlewyld, and there's a Saturday-only option for $70. Send me an e-mail at ctallerwrites@wowway.com to reserve your space. 

Here's the Itinerary:

Arrive any time after Noon
Italian Dinner – 6:00 PM
Listening is an Act of Love, Writing From Life – 8:00 PM

Breakfast Served – 8:00 AM
An Interlude with Les Roberts – 9:00 AM
Preparing for Publication – 11:00 PM
Lunch -- 12:15 PM
Personal Essays – 1:00 PM
Book Reviewing and Writing Well – 3:00 PM
Dinner at Mon Ami Winery or Crow’s Nest Pub – 6:00 PM
Trouble Shooting or Movie Night with Popcorn – 8:00 PM

Breakfast Served – 8:30 AM
Show-off Time – 10:00 AM
Encouraging Words and Closing – 11:00 AM

Session Descriptions:
Friday Evening Program: Listening is an Act of Love: We will begin by reading stories from the Storycorps Project Listening Is an Act of Love and then we will write our own stories using writing prompts to illicit emotions, images, and deep writing. This will also serve as a way to get to know each other as we read our work out loud. Surprise yourself.
An Interlude with Les Roberts: Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, your story must have a beginning, middle, and end, a story arch, and riveting writing. Plot, characterization, dialogue, setting, and everything else you need to know about telling good stories will be covered in this morning session with Les.
Personal Essays with Marsha McGregor: This workshop will explore how to access our most meaningful material and apply writing tools that bring it into sharp focus. It will be hands-on, so bring your pen and paper to access your earned wisdom and transform your stories into gifts for the reader.

Preparing for Publication with Claudia Taller: We will talk about everything you need to know to get your article, poem, story, or book ready for publication, from editing to tone to writing deeply. Then we’ll talk about markets and how to break into them and where the best places are to start.

Book Reviewing and Writing Well with Claudia Taller: Book reviews can give us an idea for what critics and readers expect out of writers. We’ll read some book reviews and talk about how to do a book review, then we’ll turn the tables and talk about what we learned about how to write from book reviewing.

Trouble Shooting: Having trouble finding the right structure for your novel or trying to end a short story? Does one of your characters sound false? Need help figuring out what it is you want to say? During our afternoon roundtable, share your writing issues and get some help. If all else fails, we should be able to find guidance in Claudia’s traveling library.

Show-Off Time: Read your writing out loud and capture the audience’s response immediately. Then hear what your fellow word lovers have to say about what you said and how you said it. All show offs are allowed three minutes.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Joan Barris lent me her book of Parallel Sayings that takes Krishna, Buddhism, Christianity, and Tao, and compares them.  They all say the same thing about God being in us and part of us and how we are the conduit of the love of God that's in us and are called upon to seek God and show love to others.  It's important to know that Jesus never said he was the Messiah and that wasn't what people thought he was until almost 200 years later when people wrote the Gospels to tell the story and spread The Word.  The the story became what the 2nd century Christians wanted it to be even though their message that they shared with the world was from God.  Jesus showed us the way but there are many routes to one-ness with God.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Morning Pages

At the beginning of 2010, I was unable to sleep one night.  I've learned that there's no point in staying in bed, so I got up, made my "to do list, and went back to bed.  I intentionally woke Paul who wisely told me I had to deal with sleeplessness on my own.  Back in my retreat room, I wondered where the anxiety came from when my life felt balanced.  I did some deep ugi breathing and meditated to the ocean sound of my own breath.  I watched my thoughts and let them flee freely. When I opened my eyes, they were drawn to Julia Cameron’s book Walking in This World.  Cameron reminded me that morning pages are therapy so I began to write them in earnest again the next morning.  The universe was telling me that.  I recognize it as another form of meditation, letting the thoughts flee into words on the paper is a way of letting them go.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eat Pray Love, and Connect with Your Authentic Self

Eat Pray Love, a Connecting with the Authentic Self Retreat, will be held on February 19 from noon until 4 at North Olmsted United Methodist Church. Are you seeking beauty, spiritual connection, and love? All these come through God, if you connect with Him and all He has to offer you. So, where's God in your everyday life? Join the journey with Claudia Taller for Eat, Pray, Love, a Connecting with the Authentic Self Retreat. We will explore our experience of God through His expression of beauty, spiritual connection, and love in this scripture-based quest. The event begins with eating lunch and being thankful, proceeds to creation of beauty through our gifts, moves to the spirit and being close to God, and ends with finding where love resides in our lives. The cost is $35 with proceeds being donated to NOUMC. Please RSVP to Claudia at ctallerwrites@wowway.com.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Word Lovers Retreat - April 1-3

Creating Fiction and Publishing Your Work, a Word Lovers Retreat, takes place April 1-3 at the Idlewyld Bed and Breakfast in historic Lakeside, Ohio. Novelist Les Roberts will join us for a weekend of creating good stories, critique work, and trouble-shooting. We'll share our writing with each other, using writing prompts, and write throughout the weekend. We'll laugh and sign songs and traipse all over the Lakeside community as we talk about our lives.  Ample time is built into the weekend's itinerary for writing, which follows: 

12 - 6 Arrive Any Time After Noon for Writing and Wandering Time
6 - 7 Opening and Italian Dinner with Wine
7 - 8:30 Writing Together about Life
8:30 - 9:30 Movie Time or a Traipse Around Lakeside (Movies and Popcorn provided)
8:00 Rise and Shine Yoga and Meditation on the Deck
8:30 Breakfast Served 
9:30 Fiction Workshop with Les Roberts
11:30 Break/Writing Time (Writing Prompts for Fiction, Memoir, Poetry, and Non-Fiction Provided)
2:00 Editing and Writing for Publication
4:00 Roundtable/Critique/Writing Time (Troubleshoot Issues, Get Critiqued, Write Some More)
6:30 Dinner at Mon Ami Winery or Crow's Nest Pub
8:30 Film and Discussion

8:00 Rise and Shine Yoga and Meditation on the Deck
8:30 Breakfast Served
9:30 Roundtable/Critique/Writing Time
11:00 Show-Off Time (3-minute readings)
12:00 Encouraging Words and Closing

We will form several informal and optional critique sessions throughout the weekend for those who would like their work reviewed by others.  Les Roberts will participate in the critique sessions.  The work will be distributed prior to the weekend and must be sent to Igniting Possibilities, 26408 Chapel Hill Drive, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070, by March 15.  Registration for the weekend is made by sending a $50 deposit to the same address.  The cost of the weekend is $110 plus the cost of a room at the Idlewyld.  Those who would like to come on Saturday-only pay $70.

A Winding Road - Writing

My photo
My book, "Ohio's Lake Erie Wineries," an Arcadia production, explores the history of island and lakeshore wineries from the mid-1800s through today. I write travel, memoir, profiles, book reviews, local interest articles, and fiction. My writing is always of discovery--whether it's journaling, book reviewing, letter writing, or sharing an experience of life. I have written two novels and am working on a third novel and a memoir. I am passionate about sharing what life has to offer with others. "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron woke me up to a sense of possibility--life is too short not be enjoyed by living deeply and well. I created Igniting Possibilities, a conduit for creativity workshops and events, in the hope of guiding others to realize their full potential. The Word Lover's Retreats at Lakeside, Ohio's Chautauqua community, help writers find their voice and direction.