Mermaid Cottages Vacation Rentals on Tybee Island, Georgia, are giving away week-long retreats for writers. All they ask in return is a story. How cool is that?
Here's a picture I took of the beach at the end of the road our cottage was on.
Applications for this year are closed, but they'll be taking applications for 2012.
Two other members of the Southern Indiana Writers Group and I just got back from ours. It was wonderful, beautiful and inspiring. All three of us came home with our stories mostly written and hope in our hearts that we can go again.
If you haven't deliberately set a story in a place and walked around in that place to gather specifics, I recommend the exercise. Every place has its own flavor and denizens and little shops and oddities that can give a story direction and meaning.
People are really nice to you when you tell them you're researching a story. They share details about their work and lives that, even if you don't use them for that particular story, enrich your understanding of people and the world around you.
Whether you go away to find a setting to explore or look at your own neighborhood with fresh discernment, don't forget that Place can be as intriguing as Plot and Character.
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes