“Vicki combines her superb writing talents and creative insights with her capacity to encourage participants to ‘dig deep’ to uncover authenticity and truth in their writing.
I highly recommend her writing retreats and workshops.”

- Sharon McCarthy, workshop attendee 2017 and 2019


Workshops and Retreats

Words In the Sand 2023 – Oct. 13-15, 2023

Returning To Ocean Grove, N.J.!

Vicki and poet Dawn Leas (aka The Hammock Writer) will lead a weekend of writing and relaxation at the Laingdon Hotel, 8 Ocean Ave., Ocean Grove, N.J.  The weekend includes generative workshops in poetry or prose (your choice), breakfasts and lunches and more.

An early bird registration rate of $50 off the full retreat registration (excluding room) is available until Sept. 4. For details and to register, please go to the event page here.

Nonfiction sessions will be led by Vicki Mayk, author of Growing up on the Gridiron, Football, Friendship, and the Tragic Life of Owen Thomas.

Poetry sessions will be led by Dawn Leas, author of two chapbooks (I Know When to Keep Quiet and A Person Worth Knowing), and one full-length collection (Take Something When You Go).

Here is the full schedule (subject to change):

Friday, October 13, 2023

2:00 p.m.                   Check-in

The Inn’s official check-in time is 2-7 p.m. If your room is not ready, you’ll be able to park (street parking, there is no lot), and enjoy the Inn’s parlor or porch, head to the beach, or explore Ocean Grove.

3:00-5:00 p.m.

Writing and or exploring time

Dinner on your own.

7:00 p.m.     Opening reception

8:30 p.m.

Optional group walk on the boardwalk

Saturday, October 13, 2023

8:00 a.m.                   Breakfast

Complimentary continental breakfast is available at Laingdon.

10:00 a.m.          Workshop

Writing Scavenger Hunt

Participants will be given a list of items to find both inside the Inn and nearby in Ocean Grove, which will include brief writing, warm-up exercises. Dawn and Vicki will then each introduce writing prompts for their genres to the group. Participants may choose to write either poetry or prose.

12:30 p.m.                 Lunch

1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Free time for individual writing, heading to the beach, or exploring Ocean Grove

3:00 – 5:30 p.m.      Workshops

Participants will choose either prose (Vicki) or poetry (Dawn).

The Things We Carry

The objects we most treasure – from grandmother’s wedding ring to a seashell found on the beach in California – carry powerful memories. In this session, we will use an object as a springboard for writing about a person or place that is important to us. By answering a series of questions, we will fashion a flash piece that examines our treasures and the memories they evoke. Writers are encouraged to bring a favorite object or a photo of the object to use in this session.

Let’s Celebrate the Past and the Present

The roots of the ode wend all the way back to Greece in B.C. times. It’s long in tradition with several famous ones, like “Ode to a Grecian Urn” by John Keats, widely known, read, and discussed. We’ll take a quick look at its history before turning our attention to the more contemporary irregular ode and find our own objects, possibly everyday or mundane ones, to celebrate as we get odes down on the page.

Dinner on your own.

8:30 p. m.     After dinner, participants can spend the evening writing on their own, socializing on the inn’s front porch or an informal reading in the parlor.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

8:00 a.m.                   Breakfast

Complimentary continental breakfast is available at Laingdon.

9:00 a.m.                     Workshop

Blind Contour Drawing + Writing

Participants will draw an object of their choosing in one continuous line -  without looking at the page. You might be thinking, “I’m here to write - I can’t draw!” But, we know you can! This exercise will guide you out of your comfort zone and inspire new creative possibilities.

After drawing, participants will choose between writing poetry or prose, or try both, using prompts that Vicki and Dawn provide.

11:30 a.m.                 Lunch

12:15 p.m.                 Workshops

Participants will choose either prose (Vicki) or poetry (Dawn).

Start Here

A great piece of writing can inspire us to take risks or try new techniques in our own work. In this session, we will borrow lines or structures from flash nonfiction pieces written by other writers as prompts to start fashioning new work of our own.

Questions without Answers

According to Jack Collom and Sheryl Noethe in Poetry Everywhere, “questions without answers is one good working definition of poetry… “without answers” means that the mind keeps seeking.” We’ll share our thoughts on this definition and read a few sample poems. We’ll brainstorm questions like How does a floating feather find its way? Why is lightning so angry? Where do noises go? How high is high?

Then we’ll seek answers to them in our poems.

2:15 p.m.     Free time and departure whenever you are ready.

*Room check-out is promptly at 11:00 a.m.

Our group has access to the common areas at the Inn through 3 p.m.


Our group will be able to reserve rooms at a special retreat rate of $150 or $220 per night. The cost depends on room selected. These discounts are for specific rooms. Other types are available at different rates. Angie at Laingdon will be able to help you select the room after you register for the retreat. A continental breakfast (fruit, cereal, pastries, tea, coffee) is included. You will book and pay for your rooms directly with the Laingdon Hotel here.

Laingdon Hotel amenities include individually controlled a/c and heat, cable television, free WIFI, a hospitality room with an ice machine and microwave, and two common porches with unobstructed oceanfront views. All rooms have private baths and refrigerators.

Telling Hard Stories in Memoir

Vicki will teach the online workshop "Telling Hard Stories In Memoir" from July 12 to August 9, 2023. Sessions will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Zoom. Recordings will be available for missed sessions.Life’s challenging experiences – grief, illness, trauma, loss of all kinds – are often the subject in memoir and nonfiction. Accessing these stories and bringing them to the page poses challenges emotionally and creatively.

In this five-week workshop, we will learn techniques for telling our hard stories. Self-care for writers dealing with sensitive material also will be covered. Cost: $125. To register, please go here.


Past Appearances

Vicki was the spotlight reader at Page to Stage on Nov. 5, 2022, at 8 p.m. at the Diva Theatre, 126 W. Market St., Scranton, Pa.

Vicki presented the session Writing Real People: Creating Characters in Nonfiction at the 2022 Creative Writing Conference sponsored by King’s College and Wilkes University. It was held on the King’s College Campus on October 21-22, 2022.

Vicki presented the session "Read Any Good Books Lately? The Art of the Book Review" at HippoCamp 2022: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers, in Lancaster, Pa., from Aug. 12-14, 2022. The event, featuring panels and author readings, is a must for nonfiction writers.

Reading, King's College, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Thursday, April 22, 2021, 7:30 p.m. Event will be held on Zoom. Pre-registration is required.

Virtual Author Event: Vicki Mayk, author of "Growing Up On The Gridiron: Football, Friendship and the Tragic Life of Owen Thomas," will read from the book and participate in a Q&A, Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity, Nazareth, PA, Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 7 p.m.

Virtual Author Event: Vicki Mayk, author of "Growing Up On The Gridiron: Football, Friendship and the Tragic Life of Owen Thomas," will read from the book and participate in a Q&A, Parkland Community Library, Allentown, Pa., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, 7 p.m.

"The Path to Publication" Alumni Panel, Maslow Graduate Creative Writing Program at Wilkes University, Monday, January 11, 2021, 4 to 5:30 p.m. Held as part of the Maslow Family Graduate Creative Writing Program's virtual January residency.

"Writing A Book As An Act of Faith," Guest speaker, Union United Church of Christ, Neffs, Pa., Sunday, September 13, 2020, 10:30 a.m. (also online at YouTube)

Book Launch, “Growing Up On The Gridiron” -- 7 p.m., Thursday, September 10, 2020 on Zoom.

Discussing "Growing Up On The Gridiron" with Keith Groller of The Morning Call on Calling All Sports at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6. Tune in to the broadcast at Fox Sports, 94.7 FM or 1320 AM.

A Night of Nonfiction Online, Debut Creative Nonfiction Author Q&A, sponsored by Hippocampus Magazine and Books, 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday, August 29, 2020

Reading, The Writer’s Showcase, Old Brick Theatre, June 2018

Pennsylvania Writers Conference 2018, Wilkes University, Panel, “Research for Creative Writing”

HippoCamp 2018, Session Presenter: “Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly: Using Speculation in Creative Nonfiction”

Pennsylvania Writers Conference 2017, Wilkes University, Session Presenter: Speculation in Creative Nonfiction

HippoCamp 2015, Session Presenter: “Writing Our Grief”

Past Workshops and Retreats

Words In the Sand 2022 – Oct. 14-16, 2022

Picture of a beach and wooden pier with words Words in the Sand against the blue sky

Vicki and poet Dawn Leas (aka The Hammock Writer) led a weekend of writing and relaxation at a new location: The Scarborough Inn, 720 Ocean Ave., Ocean City, N.J. The weekend included three generative workshops in poetry or prose (your choice), breakfasts and lunches and a special craft that will capture some of each writer's words as a memento of the weekend.

Nonfiction Places and Spaces - Oct. 25 - Nov. 29, 2021

Join Vicki to explore writing about place in this community workshop offered through the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing. Classes were conducted on Zoom.


Words In The Sand 2019

September 13-15, 2019
Ocean Park Inn, Ocean Grove, N.J.

Going Past the Gate: Entering the Heart of Your Memoir

Online memoir workshop
Feb. 17-March 23, 2019

Memoir Workshop

Pennwriters, Inc., July 2018

Words In The Sand 2018

September 16-26, 2018
Ocean Park Inn, Ocean Grove, N.J.

"Life Stories:" A Memoir Workshop

October 2018
Union United Church of Christ, Neffs, Pa.

Memoir Workshop

Back Mountain Library, March-April 2017

Healing Through Our Stories: A writing and storytelling retreat

June 23-25, 2017
Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, Pa.

Noncredit memoir and nonfiction community workshops

Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing, multiple sessions, 2013-2019

Ocean Grove boardwalk

Now in paperback! Growing Up on the Gridiron is Available from These Sites

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