Sara & the Iceland Writers Retreat

$2,564 of $3,500 goal

Raised by 38 people in 4 months
Sara Letourneau  FOXBORO, MA
**NOTE: The main promotional period for this campaign has ended. However, I'm still accepting donations so I can communicate with donors as I fulfill their perks, and to accommodate friends and family who weren't able to donate before the February 4th deadline.**

Hi! My name is Sara Letourneau, and I'm a speculative fiction writer from Massachusetts, USA. You might know me from my column on literary themes at DIY MFA, the Resident Writing Coach Program at Writers Helping Writers, or past projects like tea reviews at A Bibliophile's Reverie or CD reviews at Sonic Cathedral

Recently I discovered a writing retreat that would be an amazing experience as well as a dream come true. And I could use your help to get there.

The 2017 Iceland Writers Retreat will be held April 5th through 9th at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura in Reykjavik, Iceland. Participants will attend workshops led by award-winning authors from various genres, as well as readings and related social functions. They'll also take guided tours through Reykjavik and the Icelandic countryside and meet fellow writers from all over the globe. The event, which has happened annually since 2014, has received high praise from past attendees and extensive coverage from journalists worldwide.

Want to know more? Click here to visit the Iceland Writers Retreat website.

Why I Want to Go: Yes, I'd travel abroad for the first time. And yes, it would be an amazing opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing. But the real reason why I want to go to the Iceland Writers Retreat? The northern latitudes of the world I invented for my story are inspired by Iceland's geography and wildlife. In fact, a waterfall that appears in the story is based on Hraunfossar, which will be a stop on one of the retreat's tours. So, in a way, this will be my first and best chance to "step into" my story's world and do some research for future stories.

Why I Need Your Help: As a single woman and homeowner with a modest salary in a high-cost-of-living area, I have to stick to a strict budget. This makes it challenging to afford expenses such as international travel and investments in my writing career that aren't local. I was also recently turned down for a scholarship for that would help fund the costs of the retreat.

The Goal & Its Breakdown: I'm hoping to raise $3,500 USD for my trip. This would cover:

- All workshops, related IWR events such as readings and social gatherings, conference program / materials, and select meals covered by the registration fee
- Airfare to and from Iceland
- Four nights’ accommodations at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura
- A literary walking tour of Reykjavík
- My choice of one of two all-day guided tours in the Icelandic countryside
- Shipping costs for select campaign perks (see "What Do You Get In Return?" for details)

Deadline: February 4, 2017. **As noted above, I'm keeping this page open past its deadline to accommodate "after-hours" donations and for the convenience of communicating with my donors.**

What Do You Get in Return?: Everyone who donates will have their names posted on special Thank-You page on my website. Plus, depending on how much you donate, you can also get:

- Acknowledgements Page of My First Published Book: Your name will appear in the Acknowledgments page(s) of my first book when it's published.

- A 1-Month Subscription to One Stop For Writers: For ten (10) donors, a one-month trial subscription of One Stop For Writers, a writing resource site run by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Click here for more information on One Stop. (And many thanks to Angela and Becca for donating this perk!) 

- Photo Gallery Access: Access to an online photo gallery of my trip to Iceland (available after the trip in 2017).

- First Chapter Critique: For writers, a critique of your story's first 2500 words, or roughly its first chapter. I typically read adult or YA fantasy, but I also enjoy historical fiction, science fiction, dystopia, mystery, and literary fiction. This perk can be fulfilled anytime up to one (1) year after the campaign ends, in case your first chapter isn't ready by February 4th.
*NOTE: This perk is limited due to time constraints. Please include the title and genre of your story in the "Messages" section when completing the online form. Chapters will be critiqued after the campaign ends in the order in which donations are received, unless donors elect to wait for a later date on their critique.

- Custom Loose-Leaf Tea Blends: SOLD OUT for U.S. donors, but still open to International donors! 
For tea drinkers, a four-pack of custom loose-leaf tea blends (mostly black and green teas) inspired by my story, courtesy of Adagio Teas. Each sample comes in a 0.5-oz tin, and makes about 5 to 6 cups. Click here to read more about the tea blends.
*NOTE: This perk is limited due to shipping costs. Donors will be asked to provide a valid mailing address.

- Hand-Knitted Scarves: For three (3) U.S. donors only, your choice of the above scarves I've knitted by hand. Only one scarf is left! It is:
LEFT: Light blue / light green / purple, made from
"fuzzy" polyester yarn, 31 inches long x 5 inches wide
*NOTE: This perk is limited due to "first-come first-serve" availability. Donors will be asked to provide a valid U.S. mailing address. Please specify which scarf you'd like in the "Messages" section when completing the online form. Scarves will be mailed after the campaign ends on February 4th.

Writing Coach Session via Skype: A 1-hour Skype session with me to discuss issues you may be having with your writing. This perk can be fulfilled anytime up to one (1) year after the campaign ends, and can focus on any of these subjects:
1) The Writing Process (time management, creative blocks, prioritizing and goal-setting)
2) Story Specific (plotting / story structure questions, character arcs)
3) Brainstorming (worldbuilding, character creation / development, plotting)
*NOTE: This perk is limited due to time constraints.

***Please note that all campaign perks will be fulfilled after the campaign ends on February 4, 2017 unless otherwise noted.***

Not interested in the writing, photo, or tea perks? You can select the Thank You level, then enter whatever amount you'd like. You may also donate privately / anonymously. Offline donations will be accepted as well, if you'd prefer not to use your credit card (or if you live locally to me).

Living outside the U.S.? You can sign up for the Loose-Leaf Tea perk as long as Adagio Teas ships to your country. Click here to visit Adagio's Shipping Information page, then scroll down to "International" and check the drop-down menu for country availibility.

I can't express how grateful I'll be for your donation, regardless of the amount. Like I said earlier, this trip will be both the chance of a lifetime and a dream come true, and I hope you'll help me make this happen. :)

If you have any questions, please contact me at the following sites:
My Blog
Facebook (Public / Writer's Page)
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Update 13
Posted by Sara Letourneau
17 days ago
CAMPAIGN UPDATE - March 10, 2017

Halló, vinir! (Hello, friends!)

I hope you're all doing well. It's been a while since the last update, mostly because I've been busy working, writing, and getting ready for my trip. The Iceland Writers Retreat is just over a month away now. In fact, 4 weeks from today, I'll be on the Literary Borgarfjörður tour, seeing waterfalls, hot springs, and the Hvalfjörður Fjord, among other places.

I don't think the phrase "I can't wait!" adequately covers how THRILLED I am about this. :D

In the meantime, here's a quick update on perk fulfillments:

1) Everyone who signed up for the U.S. Tea Lovers and Scarf perks has now received their packages. Yay! I hope you enjoy your goodies. :)

2) For the Writers Basic level, I've finished my critique of the first donor's chapter, and will touch base with the next donor on my list next week.

3) Everyone who donated $50 or more to the campaign will receive their online photo album access after my trip. I'll most likely use Flickr, which is one of the more popular photo-sharing sites out there. Expect this perk to arrive in your inbox between late April and early-to-mid May.

If you have any questions about perk fulfillments or anything else pertaining to the campaign, you should be able to respond to this update via email. Otherwise, you can reach out to me on social media, or send an email by visiting my campaign page and clicking the mail icon next to my name.

No Iceland trivia today, but I have two related "goodies" to share instead. ;)

First, here's a recent photo of Iceland's Northern Lights as part of NASA's Astromony Picture of the Day: A co-worker shared this with me earlier in the week, and... Wow. Spectacular, isn't it?

Second, fantasy author Neil Gaiman (who is one of my favorite writers) launched a short video he recently shot in Iceland last week. This 2-minute clip teases an upcoming mini-documentary about the inspiration for his book "American Gods," which has been adapted into a TV mini-series for STARZ. What does Iceland have to do with a story set in the United States, you might ask? Find out by watching the video here:

One last note: The GoFundMe page for this campaign will close on Friday, March 31st. I'll send one last update before then, and possibly others before that day if need be.

All my thanks,
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Update 12
Posted by Sara Letourneau
1 month ago
CAMPAIGN UPDATE - February 16, 2017

Hi, everyone!

Hope you're doing well and the season (either winter or summer) hasn't been too hard on you.

I thought I'd email you today with a quick update on perk fulfillments. Last week I shared the URL for the thank-you page on my website. Now, here's what else is in progress:

- One Stop For Writers: I've provided the email addresses for all donors on this level to Angela and Becca at One Stop. They should be in touch with you shortly (if not already) to send you a gift certificate that will cover your one-month subscription to the site.

- Writers Basic: I've been in touch with two of the donors on this perk level so far, and should be working on the first critique soon.

- U.S. Tea Lovers: The tea packages were ordered and shipped yesterday! So if you donated on this level, keep an eye out for a package in your mailbox in the coming days.

- Scarf: I gave one of the donors her scarf in person last week, and am hoping to mail the second one tomorrow.

If you'd like, when you receive your tea or scarf package, feel free to share a photo on Facebook or Twitter and "tag" me to let me know it arrived safely. ;)

All other perks will be fulfilled at later dates, as specified on the campaign page.

No Iceland trivia today, but for any donors who live in the Boston area, I just found out about a fantastic weekend event that's coming up! Taste of Iceland Boston 2017 will be held on March 16 through 20 at various venues across the city. It's a cultural event put on by Iceland Naturally that celebrates Icelandic food, literature, art, film, and music. So if you live in the area or are planning to visit Boston that weekend, you might want to check it out. (I know I will be!)

Visit this link if you'd like more information:

þar til næst ("Until next time" in Icelandic),
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Update 11
Posted by Sara Letourneau
1 month ago
CAMPAIGN UPDATE - February 7, 2017

Good morning! I hope today's update finds you well.

You might remember that one of the perks that all donors would receive was having their names listed on a special thank-you page on my website. Well, that page went live this morning! Here's the link:

If you donated anonymously to the campaign, you'll find that your name isn't posted but is counted among the "12 anonymous donors" at the end. If you would prefer to see your name listed, or if your name is currently listed and you'd prefer it not to be, please let me know by emailing me at

As I mentioned in Sunday's update, other perks will be fulfilled in the near future, with some as early as this week. So if you selected any perks, keep an eye out in your inbox or mailbox. ;)

Also, if you're interested, here's a blog article I wrote that chronicles my GoFundMe experience and some "words of wisdom" for other people who are considering running a crowdfunding campaign in the future:

And last but not least, let's close with another bit of Iceland trivia!

Iceland is one of a handful of countries that use patronymic last names. This means that instead of using a family name or surname, a child's last name is derived from the father's first name. For example, if Jon is the son of Einar Olafson, his last name would be Einarson, not Olafson like his father's. And if Elin is Einar's daughter, her last name would be Einarsdottir. This also means that all members of Icelandic families that follow this tradition will have different last names.

Until next time, thank you again for all of your support. :)

Speak soon,
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Update 10
Posted by Sara Letourneau
1 month ago
CAMPAIGN UPDATE - February 5, 2017

Hi, everyone!

Wow. The "main promotional period" for this campaign to help me attend the 2017 Iceland Writers Retreat ended yesterday. It's hard to believe that, more than two months ago, I was wondering if I was crazy for entertaining the idea of trying GoFundMe and brainstorming possible perks with friends.

But thanks to you, this campaign has raised $2274 toward my trip, about 65% of the total goal. That. Is. AMAZING. I know I've told you time and time again how grateful I am for your encouragement and support, but I truly am. And now, because of this, the trip is financially within reach for me - and two months from now, I will be there at the retreat. :D

You know what else is amazing? In addition to donations, some people have given me advice about traveling overseas and/or are graciously offered to let me borrow items I'll need for the trip. A carry-on backpack, a laptop lock, a universal power adapter...

In short, I'm beyond speechless for all the help that people have so freely given me for the retreat. It brings me to tears just thinking about it now. And I sincerely hope that, in the future, I can repay you all for what you have done for me.

So, what happens now that the main campaign has ended?

1) I'm going to keep this page running for a few more weeks. That way, I can continue sending updates to you (the donors) from one convenient location as I start fulfilling perks.

2) Per GoFundMe's policies, this also means the campaign will continue accepting donations until I formally close the page. This is great, as it can accommodate friends, family, and other people who had told me previously that they want to donate but wouldn't be able to before the February 4th deadline.

3) Notice that I used the phrase "main promotional period" at the beginning of this update? After today, I will no longer be promoting the campaign via my blog and social media. Two months was always my target promotion "window," and it required a good deal of time and energy from me. Now it's more important for me to focus on preparing for the trip.

4) It's perk fulfillment time! Within the next couple weeks, I'll begin ordering tea packages, mailing scarves, and emailing writers regarding their first-chapter critiques. I'll also focus on one perk level at a time for efficiency purposes. So please bear with me if it takes me some time to get to your incentive. In the meantime, I'll send updates as needed to let you know where things stand on perk fulfillments.

No Iceland trivia today, since this is a fairly lengthy update. But I promise to share more in the future! And once again, thank you all so, SO much for helping make this trip to the Iceland Writers Retreat a reality for me.

All the best,
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$2,564 of $3,500 goal

Raised by 38 people in 4 months
Created November 20, 2016
Sara Letourneau  
Thank You!
Donate at least $5 to have your name posted on a special Thank-You page on my website. (Names of anonymous donors will not be shown.)
9 of 10 left
The Thank-You Level + a 1-month subscription to One Stop for Writers, a writing resource site run by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers.
Bookish Thanks
Donate at least $15 to have your name appear on the online Thank-You page and in the Acknowledgments section of my first book when it's published.
Writers Basic
6 of 10 left
The Bookish Thanks Level + a critique of your story's first 2500 words. See "What Do You Get in Return?" for details.
U.S. Tea Lovers
0 of 2 left
RENEWED! The Bookish Thanks Level + a four-pack of loose-leaf tea blends. Includes shipping costs. See "What Do You Get in Return?" for details.
Scarf (US Only)
1 of 2 left
The Bookish Thanks Level + a hand-knitted scarf. Inc. shipping costs. See "What You Get In Return?" for availability. List scarf preference(s) when donating.
Tea Lovers INTL
5 of 5 left
Same as U.S. Tea Lovers, for international donors. Includes shipping costs. See "What Do You Get in Return?" for details and country availability.
Photo Basic
The Bookish Thanks Level + access to an online photo album of my trip to Iceland.
Photo Plus
10 of 10 left
The Writers & Photo Basic combo! See "What Do You Get in Return?" for details on the writer perks.
U.S. Ultimate
1 of 1 left
Photo / Writer / U.S. Tea Lovers combo for one U.S. donor! Includes shipping costs. See "What Do You Get in Return?" for writer and tea perk details.
INTL Ultimate
1 of 1 left
Same as U.S. Ultimate, for one International donor! Includes shipping costs. See "What Do You Get In Return?" for writer / tea details and country availability.
Writing Coach
3 of 10 left
The Bookish Thanks Level + a 1-hr writing coach with me via Skype. See "What Do You Get In Return?" for details.
Shirley & Bob Letourneau
7 days ago(Offline Donation)
Cindy Harnden
7 days ago(Offline Donation)
Helena Jean-Louis
11 days ago(Offline Donation)
Sandy Jordan
11 days ago(Offline Donation)
1 month ago(Offline Donation)
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Victoria Grace Tucker
1 month ago

I'm sorry I can't do more. But I hope this little bit helps!

Kendell Clark
1 month ago
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