Exclusive Writing Retreat on the Maine Coast

June 4-11, 2022  Sol's Cliff House, Bar Harbor, Maine

Limited to Twelve Writers
The Retreat is Now Fully Booked

Frequently Asked Questions

What about COVID-19?

We care about your health! 

Because we will be living together in an intimate setting for a full week, everyone who attends the retreat and enters the retreat house has to show proof of vaccination to protect against COVID-19. You are welcome to wear a mask if you wish, but masks will not be mandatory

Maine has clear guidelines in place that we will follow to the letter, and we are routinely monitoring both the Maine and federal CDC guidelines to ensure we are taking all appropriate steps to protect the health of our retreat-goers. You can learn more about the latest updates at Keep Maine Healthy

In the event that the retreat has to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions, we will refund 100% of your tuition. 

How do I get to the writing retreat?

18 Sol's Cliff Road, Bar Harbor, Maine, 04609  (GPS works)

Our retreat home is a little over a mile from downtown Bar Harbor; the distance is walkable if you're a walker. There are also trails to explore right out the back door, including heading straight into Acadia National Park via the Schooner Head Path and Compass Harbor. The area is beautiful, and Acadia National Park is right next door, so if you think you’ll want the freedom to explore the Maine coast more extensively during the retreat, you might consider driving or renting a car so you can head out when inspiration strikes.


Bangor International Airport (BGR) is the closest airport (53 miles) with the least expensive and largest variety of flight options on American, Allegiant, Delta and United. There are several ground transportation options available to you, including the Bar Harbor-Bangor Shuttle

Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (BHB) is the closest airport geographically (14 miles), and has limited flight options on Cape Air and JetBlue and usually costs more than flying into Bangor. Taxi service is available by reservation at the airport.

Portland International Jetport (PWM) is 179 miles from the retreat house, and is served by American, Cape Air, Delta, Elite, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Sun Country and United. You'd need to rent a car if you fly into Portland, and the drive is just over 3 hours.

What time will I arrive and depart? 

Arrival on Saturday, June 4: You should plan to arrive at the house between 4:00 and 5:00 PM. We’ll let you get settled into your room, explore the house and grounds, and then meet together in the dining room or out on the terrace for a welcome reception at 5:30 PM.

Departure on Saturday, June 11: We’ll have a farewell coffee at 8:00 AM and send you on your way no later than 9:30 AM (boo—I already don’t want you to go).

Please plan your travel accordingly. Because of the tight schedule of the cleaning crew, I'm afraid we can't allow either early arrivals or late departures.

What writing-related work should I prepare before I arrive?

If you’d like having a printed copy of your manuscript to work on while you’re on retreat, please bring that with you. I’ll also have a printer available for your use, and plenty of paper if you end up wanting to print something extra.

I may ask you to complete a specific task or two before you arrive, but it won’t be anything terribly time-consuming and won’t involve packing anything in your luggage.

You might take a few minutes to jot down some thoughts about what you’d like to talk with me about in our private session, or what craft issues you'd like to raise in our group gatherings.

Questions to consider:

  1. What mindset or emotional obstacles are still standing in your way of getting your novel done?
  2. What specific craft issues are troubling you that you’d like to talk through?
  3. What else can we help you with?

What should I bring with me? What's the weather like?

Bring whatever clothing and personal items you need to be comfortable for 7 nights. All bedding, linens and food are provided.

We’ll be super comfy and casual, so make sure you bring whatever comfy clothes you like to hang around in. There’s nothing formal about Maine, so even when you go out on the town you can be as casual as you wish. Bring the clothing that makes you feel your best!

You’ll want to bring your laptop (if you use one) and whatever materials you think you’ll need for working on your novel. 

If you plan to stream anything on your laptop, tablet or iPhone, please bring earbuds or earphones with you. We’d like to maintain a quiet environment.

Early June in Maine can still be chilly, so bring layers—you’ll want to sit by the fire inside in your PJs and stocking feet or slippers, and out on the terrace in your fleece and shoes. The retreat is very old (1914), so expect some draftiness and mustiness (that old cottage smell). You might want to bring a warm hat and gloves just in case.

The private rooms have windows and doors that can be opened and closed for your comfort.

Is there WiFi in the house? What about TV?

High-speed WiFi is accessible throughout the retreat house.

There are no televisions in the private rooms (by design); there is a TV in the living room but no one ever uses it; you’re welcome to stream on your laptops, tablets or phones, as long as you use earbuds or earphones.

We’ll strive to maintain a quiet environment throughout the house unless we're all yucking it up together (which happens every night!).

What should I plan to work on while I'm on retreat?

This retreat is for you, so you get to decide what you most want to work on while you’re here! Some of what you work on will depend on what arises at the retreat itself.

You’ll want to work on your novel, of course, doing whatever makes the most sense to you when you’re here. You’re welcome to do online research if you need more fact-based information for your novel; there’s WiFi throughout the house.

You might want to do some introspective reflection and journaling about whatever mindset issues might still be standing between you and a finished novel. You and I can talk through whatever’s going on for you, and I might suggest certain books to consult or questions to ponder that could help you noodle through what you need to do.

The only things you are required to work on are the components of your plan that we’ll create together to set you up for post-retreat success: your personal Writing Contract. This will be a simple yet powerful document that will come together fairly easily and will guide you when you get back home.

What's our daily schedule going to be?

You can download the draft schedule here (subject to change based on the group's needs).

Will I have to share a bedroom or a bathroom?

Your private second- and third-floor bedrooms include ocean-facing or garden-facing rooms with king, queen, double or twin beds; you'll have your own private space. All have windows that open. You'll share a bathroom adjacent to your room with one other retreat-goer. The old house does not have an elevator, so unfortunately the house is not fully accessible to those who can't walk the stairs.

Once your application has been approved and you've been invited to attend, you'll have a chance to choose your preferred room from those available at the time of your registration.

The house is enormous, and has both ample privacy and lovely communal spaces; it’s a really comfortable space, and I’ll make sure you feel right at home. Bring your most comfy clothes!

Is the retreat house accessible?

Unfortunately not. The old house (built in 1914) does not have an elevator, and the bedrooms are on the second and third floors, so the house is inaccessible to those who can't navigate stairs. 

I'm an introvert and pretty shy. Will I fit in?

Interestingly, while I’m an extravert, I always attract introverts as the dearest people in my life, so I have a lot of experience making introverts comfortable. I’ve been working with writers for many years, and of course there are hordes of introverts in our population.

I’ve designed the retreat to allow ample alone-time so you can focus on your work as well as recharge after any group gatherings. Your room is your private oasis—no one else has permission to even knock on your door without invitation. I  expect a mature group of smart writers, all novelists, of course, so you’re apt to feel that you’re quickly among friends. I’ll be checking in with you throughout the retreat to make sure all is well.

Do you have a cancellation policy?

Yes. If you are accepted for one of the twelve spots for the retreat, you’ll be asked to agree to the terms and conditions, which includes the cancellation policy. You can find terms and conditions here.

Will I finish my novel at the retreat?

You might finish your novel at the retreat, and you might not; so much depends on where you are in the process.

What will happen is that you’ll work with me to put together your personalized Writing Contract that you and I will create together, which is designed to set you up for successfully completing your novel once you’re home. 

What will I have to do with the group?

Our group gatherings include the following:

  1. Shared meals and daily check-ins;
  2. An intimate dinner with one of Maine’s literary luminaries;
  3. Q&A Sessions with me about the craft of writing and the writing life;
  4. The Gutsy Great Readings—a secure environment in which you can read a brief excerpt from your novel-in-progress and hear readings by your retreat companions.

While you’re not required to read your work during the Gutsy Great Readings, I’ll be encouraging you to do so; how often to you get a group of other smart writers in one place, all there to support you in your quest to finish your novel? This is a safe environment for sharing! That said, you’re welcome to opt-out of your own turn at the readings, but I’d ask that you bring your best self to the group so that others can benefit from your presence.

There may be other, informally-organized group activities during down time; these will arise (or not) naturally from within the group, and you’ll have the option of joining in or opting-out. No peer pressure here!

How do I apply for the writing retreat?

How can I contact Joan?

Feel free to reach out via email: [email protected].
I look forward to connecting!

What is the cost?

I deliberately don't post the specific cost of tuition for the retreat until after I receive applications from those writers who are serious about attending. Please click here to find out why and to learn more about what your tuition covers.

So sorry, but the retreat is now sold out.

Please fill out the form below to join the waiting list; we'll notify you of any cancelations.