praise for the place

“For me the best writing retreats are in places of great beauty and little distraction. I’ve perched on the edge of the Pacific in Big Sur and written in a courtyard in Taos, New Mexico. Being in Montisi in the winter made me feel part of that beauty and inspired me to make something of beauty myself.

Waking up at il Colombaio on New Year’s day was like being in a delicious dream. I looked out from the upper sitting room window at Monte Amiata and the green rolling countryside dotted with medieval hill towns. I wrote in front of the crackling olivewood fire with an espresso and fresh pizza bianca from the bakery. Surrounded by Moroccan rugs and wall hangings under the beamed ceilings, I felt that I was within a work of art.

When I was ready to explore, and I stepped outside, the roses were blooming, the lavender and rosemary were flourishing, and the air was so fresh and brisk that I felt fully awake in a way I hadn’t in some time. There were frescoes to admire, and wine to taste, and long walks to take through the countryside.  The olive groves and dirt roads wound out and I muddied my boots and unhinged my thoughts. When the darkness came, there was the fireplace to return to and later still the midnight sky bursting with stars.

One of the best things about travel for me is the way I remember how to be new again in a new place: to be a beginner at speaking. When traveling,I try on different lives. I ask myself new questions. What if I slowed down enough each day to let that bright fresh olive oil linger on my tongue long enough to really taste it? The pace of Montisi in the winter held me and supported me as I considered those questions and the world I want to write about.

Kate is a generous and gifted guide. She shared her family home and showed us her favorite local places, while honoring our own individual tastes. She is this kind of guide in writing as well."

~ Amy Thigpen, Bay Area writer

praise for the people

Kate Brubeck is a smart and incisive editor, a terrific teacher, and an enormously talented writer. As her friend, colleague, and client, I can attest to her insight, generosity, and professionalism. Her editing of my work has been transformative, as it has for every writer I have sent her way. She has a unique ability to perceive the 'deeper truths' in one’s work — truths that you do not see yourself — and then help you conjure those truths on the page. In addition to her superlative editing skills, Kate is a long-term, experienced and beloved East Bay writing teacher. As a fellow faculty member at a writers' retreat several years ago, I can attest to the inspiration and sense of fun she brings to her work with writers. Any retreat with her name on it is one I want to attend!

Sondra Hall's impressive body of work as a teacher, entrepreneur, and event producer is matched by her deep creativity, both visual and literary. Founder of an innovative after-school creative-writing program called "Take My Word For It!", she is highly effective in engaging, encouraging, and supporting writers of all ages to bring themselves to the page.She has designed and run many creative writing workshops for adults, believing that grownups could use more time swimming around in their imaginations."

~  Zoe Fitzgerald Carter, author of Imperfect Endings