This writing retreat is limited to five gutsy writers.

Are you one of them?

What about COVID-19?

We care about your health! 

The retreat house is spacious and airy, with plenty of room for appropriate physical distancing. As of now, the retreat will be going forward, and we're putting provisions in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. 

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?


Portland International Jetport (PWM)


Amtrak Downeaster to either Portland or Brunswick


Concord Coachlines or Greyhound to Portland


GPS works to get to our retreat home and there’s ample parking:

101 Lower Flying Point Road, Freeport, Maine, 04032-6375

Our retreat home location is just a few miles from downtown Freeport, but there are no shops within walking distance. If you think you’ll want the freedom to explore the Maine coast on your own during the retreat, and you didn’t drive, you might consider renting a car so you can head out when inspiration strikes.

If you’re not renting a car, we’ll get you here. We’ll be in touch as soon as you book your spot.

What time will I arrive and depart? 

Saturday: 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 your house and grounds, and then meet together in the great room for a welcome reception at 5:00.

Friday: We’ll have a farewell breakfast at 8:30 AM and send you on your way by 10:30 AM (boo—I already don’t want you to go).

Please plan your travel accordingly. The trip from the retreat house to Portland for air, train or bus is 25 miles, about a 35 minute drive.

2020 Retreat Date

Saturday, October 17 – Friday, October 23

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 sessions or bring to the group in your Retreat Seat, which is a safe environment in which you can share your concerns and toss out your ideas, all of which will be heard by me and your generous and wise retreat companions. We’ll put on our best thinking caps and respond with constructive observations, suggestions, questions, celebrations, resources and whatever other ideas we believe will help.

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 kind of books will be available for me to use at the writing retreat?

Our retreat library is small but mighty!

You’ll find a great selection of novels, reference books like dictionaries and craft books, inspiring books of author interviews, and mindset-related books that address certain issues many authors face.

You’re welcome to use these as you wish during our time together. Please do replace them when you leave (these are from my personal stash).

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

Bring whatever clothing and personal items you need to be comfortable for 6 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. I’ll have a couple of dictionaries and thesauruses in our downstairs reference library that you can use.

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.

October in Maine can 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 deck or beach in your fleece and shoes. You might want to bring a warm hat and gloves just in case, and of course LL Bean is a short drive away if you need emergency warmth!

The private rooms have both heat and A/C that you can regulate yourself, as well as 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?

Will I have to share a bedroom or a bathroom?

You’ll have your own private bedroom; depending on which room you choose, you’ll have either a garden or water view.

Three of the rooms have private baths, and the other two rooms will share a bathroom. When you apply, you’ll be able to choose from whichever rooms are still available.

The house is beautifully designed for 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!

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 five slots 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. And, of course, you’ll have my comprehensive feedback on however much of your manuscript you share with me prior to or at the retreat.

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.
  5. The Retreat Seat, which is an opportunity for you to benefit from the mastermind of your retreat companions—you can choose what you’d like to ask of the group. Common retreat seat subjects are asking about a particular craft question that’s driving you crazy or getting ideas about how to hurdle a particular mindset or emotional issue that’s still getting in your way.

While you’re not required to take your place in the Retreat Seat or read your work during the Gutsy Great Readings, I’ll be encouraging you to do so; how often to you get five 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 in the retreat seat or at the readings, but I’d ask that you bring your best self to the group so that others can benefit from your wisdom.

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?

Here's what you get at the week-long (6 nights) retreat:

– Private lodging for a week in our oceanfront retreat home in Maine (a $2,500 value);

The gift of uninterrupted time to focus solely on your novel (priceless);

Driver to transport you to and from the airport, train or bus station (a $300 value);

Scrumptious meals prepared by our personal chef (and no clean up, yay!);

An intimate dinner with one of Maine's literary luminaries;

Three private coaching sessions with me (a $1,000 value);

Feedback from me on your manuscript (a ~$2,000 value);

Two Q & A sessions about the craft of writing and the writing life;

Two opportunities to read your work aloud;

Support during the Retreat Seat from our group of writers;

A personalized Writing Contract for finishing your novel post-retreat; and 

New friendships with other gutsy great novelists.

I deliberately don't share the specific cost of the retreat—this is why:

> In my experience, I’ve seen writers deny themselves great opportunities based on price alone, before considering all the pros and cons of the opportunity, which I think is a shame.

And I’ve worked with writers who truly believed they could not afford to come to the retreat but then got super creative about how to pay once they realized what they'd gain from our time togetherthose folks are the ones who tend to benefit the most from these retreats because that creativity demonstrates their gutsiness and their commitment to their novels.

Also, when I select writers from the pool of applicants and offer them a space at one of the retreats, I then offer those writers a price based on what we've discussed during the application process. We get creative together about payment options.

So, if you're serious about finishing your novel and want to work with me—you can submit your application and we can weigh out the pros and cons together and determine whether the retreat will meet your needs and whether you're a good fit for the retreat. The retreats are best for writers who are ready to make a leap, take action and work hard to realize the dream of finishing their novel, whatever that takes.

Because I keep the group so small—five writers plus myself—and because this exclusive retreat is expensive to run and takes a lot of my own time and energy, not everyone can afford to spend a week with me. But for those who do, I work extremely hard to make sure the experience is priceless.

My goal is to get you past any obstacles that stand in your way and provide you with the unique support, tools and feedback you need to realize your dream of finishing your novel, all while feeling inspired and confident.