July Workshop Photos

This July workshop, we learned a lot about ourselves and our missions as artists and writers. We also had a lot of fun! Thank you Ariana Seigel for helping us rediscover our best selves!



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Locals & Expats: Join Our Workshop!


Are there any expat writers working in the Grecia, Atenas, Alajuela area in Costa Rica? Join our writer workshop from 10-1 pm July 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21!

The full writer workshop, for those coming from out of town, includes meals and a place to stay. But if you’re already in town and want to pop in for just the workshop portion, join us next week at Norma’s Villas! All 10 hours of classes for $200. Pay via Eventbrite or Paypal. Ariana Seigel will be helping us overcome writer’s block and any other creative blocks getting in our way.

Hope to see you there. Email lisaatnormas@gmail.com to pay via PayPal, and avoid the EB fee. Pura Vida!

Two Kinds of Expats: The Re-settler and the Nomad

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Some people move to a new country and set up an entirely new life: They’re in love with the culture, the people, and the new locales. These people are true re-settlers—They start up businesses, get their papers, and open local bank accounts in a whole other country.

But increasingly, there’s another kind of expat: the perpetual nomad. This is a person who works remotely and travels unrestricted. They may get paid online using services like PayPal or Venmo, and have several forms of side hustle, or use an all-online, international bank.

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Heather of Sea Bird Sailing Excursions is a re-settler: She discovered Costa Rica in 1999 and immediately knew she wanted to move here. Inspired in part by a Prince song (“Be glad that you are free. Free to change your mind. Free to go most anywhere, anytime“), Heather finally made the move in 2006 with just $13,000.

“I had never been scuba diving before but have always been an ocean girl…surfing, body boarding, body surfing,” Heather remembers. “I figured I could buy some PADI courses and become a professional diver.” After discovering that she would be making $400/month working for another tour company (what her rent was at the time), Heather decided to work for herself and start her own sailing tour business.

But the road to entrepreneurship was not without hiccups. To help protect herself and her investment, Heather obtained her Costa Rican residency quickly. Many expats find themselves doing ‘border runs’—That is, crossing the border every three months to renew the ‘tourist’ status.

“I realized that since I was going to be responsible for someone else’s 45′ yacht…I should start the residency process. I contacted Marcela Gurdian with Immigration Experts and we met one day for a coffee and she explained to me what needed to be done and how she could help.” Heather soon found that the immigration process was not always seamless. “It really helps to smile, say por favor and gracias…and be respectful even when totally frustrated! Anyway, I have permanent residency now and can easily renew the cedula with Banco de Costa Rica.”

“I feel much more secure being legal, having the CAJA insurance, even though I never use it…it’s there in case of emergency.”

Some pros to living in Costa Rica?

“Overall, living in Costa Rica and running a sailing tour business has been an awesome experience. I love this job and this country. People on vacation are always happy and the scenery while out on the water (and under water!) is such a joy to be around every day. I’m healthier here too since I eat more fruits and veggies and life is less stressful.”

What’s next? The business, which is highly rated on Trip Advisor, is now for sale! Could expat life in paradise be for you?

static1.squarespace.com.jpgPhoto Credit: Jennifer Dienst

Jennifer Dienst, who was born and raised in Florida, is the other kind of expat: the nomad. She is currently in Medellín and earns a living writing.

“I went freelance kind of by default,” Jennifer says. “I got laid off from my staff editor job and after a couple of years in PR and mulling law school, I was offered a few freelance writing/editing gigs that paid enough to support myself so I decided to make a go of it.”

After being laid off, Jennifer strongly considered a new career before going freelance. “Everyone kept telling me that the industry was dead and that I should find a new career. I’m glad I stuck it out, because they couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, the industry has changed a lot and you need to be able to write for more than just print to be successful, but making a living as a freelance writer is definitely doable.”

Jennifer has been working freelance since 2012, but only went truly nomadic last year.

How many countries has she been to? About 25!

“I adored Myanmar; it was surreally beautiful and probably the best example of ‘exotic’ that I can think of. Spain, for its art and insane food scene. I’m in Colombia right now and I’m loving it. The landscape is stunning, I can’t get enough of it.”


Photo Credit: Jennifer Dienst

Jennifer, like Heather, recommends joining Facebook groups to find other expats. She also recommends finding a co-working space, because it’s easier to strike up a conversation than in a coffee house.

“Everyone wants to be a travel writer, so the market is super saturated,” Jennifer warns. “I write for consumer travel magazines sometimes, but my bread and butter is writing for travel trade publications, specifically about meeting and event planning. It’s a small niche but it pays well, the work is consistent, you get to go on press trips to cool places, but you’re not competing with 5,000 other freelancers to get the work.”

You can follow Jennifer’s journeys on www. jendienst.com! She is also a former participant in Remote Year, a program where remote workers travel with one another to all kinds of amazing corners of the globe (with wifi, of course).

What kind of expat are you? Would you want to re-settle, or endlessly roam, and where would you go?


Free Workshop Intro for 10 Writers!

The “Forget Brand: What’s Your Artist’s Mission?” workshop by Ariana Seigel has been taught in LA and NYC…and now we’re bringing it to Costa Rica!

This week-long workshop from July 15-22, 2017 will include:

(The mangoes will also just so happen to be in season!)

How do you know the workshop is right for you before taking the leap?

We’ve decided to give 10 interested writers a *FREE* intro to Ariana Seigel’s workshop—first come, first serve!

Ready to get over your writer’s block? Interested in coming to Costa Rica, but unsure if this workshop is right for you? Write to lisaatnormas@gmail.com with a description of what you feel your creative blocks are: politics, fear of failure, or *gulp* fear of success? There are no wrong answers!

Ariana will then schedule a chat to see how her workshop could best help you reach your creative goals.

Check out our Eventbrite page and join us under the mango trees! But hurry—There are only two spots left!

Interested in hosting an event yourself sometime next year? Send a pitch to the same email address with a description of what you love to teach and why. We accept pitches from qualified workshop leaders year-round.

Feel free to share any of the info about the workshop and the free intro . . . or keep it to yourself 😉


Scared of a Day Job: Update from David Nazario

Speaker and writer David Nazario visited our “Success Through Self-Publishing” workshop in January where he spent practically every spare moment working on his book. What has he been doing since January?

“Since leaving Costa Rica I’ve been trying to connect with as many people as possible and learn as much as possible about publishing my first book. I’ve also been busy with freelance work, part-time work, and starting my writing/speaking business and lifestyle brand, Scared Of A Day Job LLC.

His book focuses on self-love over religion and, like Stephen’s book, is part workbook as well as instruction.

“I miss the peace and tranquility. Costa Rica was all about writing and being around other writers, all day (and fresh coconut juice). I miss that. My mundane, but quaint villa was pretty cool too, and having wine at dinner time and a pool in walking distance was lovely.”

He keeps in touch mainly through Instagram, where he regularly posts what he’s up to and information on his upcoming book, “Why Love is More Important than Religion,” which is set to come out in the summer of 2017.

Interested in our upcoming workshop, which focuses on breaking writer’s block through finding mission over brand? Check our our July 2017 workshop! The code SUMMERINCR will take $100 off your week.

Who Would You Go to Costa Rica With?

Are you a writer holed up for the winter? Are your past five Instagram photos of your computer and coffee? You need a break.

Who would you go to Costa Rica with?

For today only (11/23), I’m doing a ‘Bring a Friend‘ pre-Black Friday special for Week 1 and Week 3 of my writer workshops (Week 2 only has one spot left).

Pay with PayPal (instead of Eventbrite) and save $80 each on writer workshops. ($1000 for a week for two people, instead of $1160 with Eventbrite fees).

The week includes yoga and food. I will give belly dance classes upon request.

Drinks and outings to the beach/zip line/monkey tours are extra, but will be coordinated by me.

Week 1: January 3-10
Acting Exercises for the Creative Writer

Leader: Isabelle Pierre

In Acting Exercises for the Creative Writer, we’ll explore how actors use physical exercises (including Laban, Lecoq, psychology gesture and improv) to explore character. Come ready to move, play and feel a little silly. At the end of the week we’ll have a short reading based workshop discoveries.

Week 3: January 21-28
Success through Self-Publishing
Leader: Robert Kroese

Have you ever thought about self-publishing, but felt that you weren’t tech savvy? Robert Kroese will cover the ins and outs of self publishing, including the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, e-book formatting, distribution, and marketing your book.

Who would you bring to Costa Rica for a writer workshop? Email lisaatnormas@gmail.com and let me know what you are writing, who you would bring, and what questions you have about Costa Rica! 

Writers’ Retreat 2017!


Norma’s is happy to announce our first ever writers’ retreat in January 2017. Inspired by NaNoWriMo and by our own visitors, we think Norma’s would be a great place to get away, write in peace, and connect with other writers.


The first step is planning based on what you want in a retreat. To begin your application, visit this form here. No deposits or writing samples are currently required.

We are accepting writers of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenplays, plays …if it’s written, we accept it.

We appreciate your support, and this early application will be open until February 2016. At that point, writing samples will be required, and an itinerary will be solidified.

Pura Vida!

Lisa Marie
Norma’s granddaughter



NaNoWriMo Discount!

If you're gonna write a book, why not do it here?
If you’re gonna write a book, why not do it here?


Writers have been getting ready for NaNoWriMo, which can be an exciting and productive time! But have you planned on what you’re going to do after?

Maybe some editing or rewriting…in Costa Rica?

Norma’s is giving 10% off weekly and monthly rates for writers who book during March-August of 2015! There’s one catch . . . you must send the request during NaNoWriMo (November). You do not need to make any payments, but we need all requests by November 30.

Drop me a line at lisaatnormas@gmail.com with the following information:

1. The dates you’re looking to stay and the room you want (furnished room with access to community kitchen, studio with its own kitchen, one bedroom, or two bedroom house)
2. Your Twitter handle
3. A bit about your project!

Is that it?

Space is limited, but we will try to accommodate as many as we can! Drop us a line to reserve your spot!

Normal rates for these months are:

$600/month, $360/week for a studio
$800/month, $480/week for a one-bedroom
$1000/month, $600/week for a two-bedroom

Why Norma’s?

Norma’s is in the quiet town of La Garita. We are close enough to San Jose and Alajuela that you have major conveniences, but far enough and secluded enough that you can buckle down!

By offering this discount specifically for writers between March and August of 2015, we hope to cultivate a bigger creative community.

**You must send a message before November 30 to receive this discount! You do not need to make a payment, but must send the initial request.**


So drop us a line before November 30 with any questions, let us know you’re a writer, and if you eventually decide to stay with us, you’ll get 10% off your stay!

Still not sure? Check out this video to see what Norma’s is all about:

Still not enough? ***AND*** If you visit our Twitter @normasvillas and RT (retweet) our discount, you’ll receive an extra 5% off!

What are you waiting for? Email me at lisaatnormas@gmail.com before November 30!