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Powerful & Seriously Fun Book Writing Retreat

Powerful & Seriously Fun Book Writing Retreat
Santa Barbara Wine Country 

Coming in October 2014 — email us for information


3 Days / 2 Nights, Personalized, Creative, Intensive & Seriously Fun!

Everything You Need to Succeed as an Author

Taught by the noted Editorial & Design Team Rick Benzel & Susan Shankin
whose books have been NY Times Bestsellers

JUST $1595 per person
Fee includes 3 days of workshops + 2 nights in a beautiful wine country hotel, all meals,
wine tasting & loads of inspiring, creative fun 

Spouses / Significant Others may join us for just an additional $300. 


Bonus for  signing up by September 15, 2014

A Savings of $1000!!

We know that authors need continuing support after a retreat and
we are committed to helping you get your book done.
That is why we want to offer this opportunity to edit your final manuscript
for just $995 if you sign up for the retreat by Sept 15, 2014.


A Hands-On Workshop to Catapult Your Thinking and Transform Your Great Ideas into a Book  

Plus a little bit of pampering via great wine tastings and superb dining experiences in scenic Santa Barbara Wine Country

• Is there a book inside you waiting to come out?
• Are you confused by the writing and publishing process?
• Would you like to learn the professional way to write a book while having an amazingly good time?

If so, this is the workshop you have been waiting for—a small group retreat focused on working closely with you to develop your ideas and teach you the process of writing, publishing, and promoting your book. If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a self-help book, a memoir, a book on management, leadership, or another topic reflecting your expertise, this retreat will enable you to achieve your goals by learning how to structure your book, write authentically and professionally, select the right cover and interior design, and strategize an “author platform” that maximizes your reputation and income.

Your spouse or significant other is welcome to join our fun activities as well.

Your Workshop Leaders

Your hosts are Rick Benzel and Susan Shankin, top book industry professionals, each with more than 30 years of experience in publishing.  Rick is a veteran editor, writer, and ghostwriRick_onlinesmallter who has worked on hundreds of books for major U.S. publishing companies. He is also a certified Creativity Coach and Founder of the Creativity Coaching Association. Susan is a noted book designer whose book covers and interior designs have graced numerous top-selling books. Rick and Susan both worked at the trend-setting publishing house Jeremy P. Tarcher where they were involved in the development and publishing of the best-selling creativity guide, The Artist’s Way, along with scores of other major non-fiction books in many fields.

During this 3-day, 2-night UNIQUE weekend retreat, we will spend focused Susan Shankintime working with you to structure and plan your book—along with PAMPERING you to inspire your creativity. The trip combines serious work sessions with inspiring creative breaks, including several wine tasting forays around Santa Barbara wine country plus dining in the region’s best restaurants and a visit to the famous Danish town of Solvang.


You will come away from this retreat with a complete game plan
to write and publish your book +
 a superb cover design.

Testimonials about Rick & Susan

I gladly and willingly offer this testimonial for Rick Benzel and Susan Shankin at Over and Above Creative Services. I initially worked with Rick Benzel in getting my manuscript focused and eventually completed and published. Rick offered very clear, helpful, and professional advice. He has a wonderful way of providing feedback that is honest and at the same time, inspiring. He is very knowledgeable about all aspects of the publishing field and brings a lot to every stage of the writing and publishing process. Rick Benzel, teamed up with Susan Shankin, make a perfect blend of talents. Susan’s design skills are extraordinary. She listened very well to what my vision for the book was and worked with me, offering creative and practical advice. In the end, Susan designed a beautiful book for me and seamlessly wove her design into both the print and e-book versions. In addition to all the professional talent and skill that Susan and Rick brought to my project, they exhibited a lot of patience throughout the process, which I greatly appreciated. I would highly recommend Rick and Susan to any author, beginning or highly experienced. I would say that Over and Above Creative Services, goes Above and Beyond!
Lisa Walters, Author of In The Field With Horses 

It is a real pleasure of working with Rick Benzel as my editor. He is everything you want from a partner in excellence. He has a true facility with clear, compelling language; a passionate creative mind that will challenge and elevate your ideas; and a deep understanding of how to architect a book that the industry and readers reward. He is a true asset to any project and helped We First become a New York Times bestseller and force for change.
Simon Mainwaring, Author of We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World

Rick Benzel has gone above and beyond to help us with our book proposal. He brainstormed with us before we even had a book proposal; told us how to format our nonfiction book proposal; and most importantly, his vision and belief in our idea of a career guide for Millennials shaped our entire concept. Without this help we never could have created such a strong book proposal. We cannot say enough about him.
Alexis Irvin and Chip Hiden, Authors of Live Your Dreams: A Guide For Millennials Seeking Passionate Work

Location of Retreat

The retreat will take place at the Santa Ynez Marriott, in scenic Buellton, CA  within a few short miles of the famous Danish town of Solvang, and the beautiful Santa Barbara wine country towns of Los Olivos and Santa Ynez (made famous in the movie Sideways).


Santa Ynez Marriott


Note: The entire trip is open for you to bring your spouse or significant other to accompany us on all non-workshop activities. He or she is entitled to the same offerings for wine tasting and meals for an additional fee of $300. At those times when we are working on your book project, he or she may go off and enjoy themselves on their own. 

Day 1: Friday

  • We will meet in the beautiful historic town of Los Olivos in the morning over breakfast to spend the morning discussing your strategic platform as an author and help you envision your project in a professional way. This is the critical opening you need to target who you want to be as an Author and how you can maximize your “intellectual property” through book publishing, speaking, consulting, and spin-offs.
  • For lunch, we will visit 2 of the top wineries in the scenic vineyard country around Los Olivos—wineries like Curtis, Firestone, Fess Parker, Zaca Mesa, Gainey, and Foxon. As we picnic lunch on their grounds, we will begin to layout your options for constructing your book, including a book outline. Most importantly, you will learn our unique system that explains the 12 ways to organize your book chapters. We will then help you select the best organizational structure for your ideas.


  • In the later afternoon, we will check into our hotel in Buellton, with a short break.
  • Over appetizers and drinks, we will have another working session to discuss concepts for your book cover and create a mental image of what it might look like so Susan can begin creating your cover.
  • We will cap the day off with a unique dining experience in one of the region’s top restaurants.
  • You will go to sleep feeling jazzed, inspired, and more confident, your mind full of the day’s exciting learning events and sights from one of the most beautiful areas of California.

Day 2: Saturday

  • We will begin with a working breakfast as we hone your book ideas to find its “vein of gold” and maximize its appeal in the marketplace.
  • The full morning workshop session will be devoted to finalizing your book outline, including laying out your chapters and naming them.  We will also create your winning book title and subtitle. You will be able to walk away from this morning with a real vision of your book’s outline and content, now making your structure and chapter progression clear.
  • We will have a working lunch at the hotel to continue discussing your book project.
  • We reconvene our session the afternoon to discuss the basics of great writing – how to grab the reader’s attention in your chapter openings; how to write clear, powerful prose;  and how to maintain the theme of your book all the way through from beginning to end.
  • We will end the afternoon with return trip to Los Olivos for a wine tasting in town and a fabulous private dinner. In town you will find dozens of  tasting rooms, art galleries, antique furniture stores, and unique gift shops.

Day 3: Sunday

  • This morning will begin with breakfast, at which Susan will present to you a design of your book cover. This design will give you a real image of your book to keep in front of you as you write your book.
  • Following breakfast, we will have a session to discuss the “book business” and develop a strategy for your marketing and PR program.
  • Lunch at the hotel and check out.
  • On Sunday afternoon, we will have one final session devoted to how to write a great manuscript. Our goal in this session is to help you learn the secrets to feeling confident about your writing, and to improve the speed at which you are able to write your book through our unique system of “fast first-draft writing.”
  • We will end the workshop with a walk through Solvang.

Bonus for Signing Up by Sept 15: Have your first draft professionally edited for only $995 

We are offering this because we know from experience that authors continue to need support and assistance. We want to ensure that our retreat participants succeed, so we are making this bonus very affordable to encourage you to complete your book. Once you are done with your first draft, we will edit it for you and provide detailed comments to improve it. This will include manuscripts up to 125 pages.  Rick’s editorial support will help you gain confidence in your journey to become an author. He has helped scores of new authors learn to write their books and get them published. This is a savings of $1000.



A refundable deposit of $300 is required by Sept 15. The deposit will be refunded if the retreat is canceled.  A minimum of 5 participants is required for the retreat to occur. Full payment is required by October 1. Once full payment is made, it is non-refundable.

 CONTACT RICK BENZEL AT 310 – 962 – 8364  or rick  @ to sign up.