October 19 - 24, 2019


How do I get to the 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 do we arrive and leave?

Saturday, October 19: 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 6:00.

Thursday, October 24: We’ll have a farewell brunch at 9:30 AM and send you on your way by noon (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.

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 high-speed 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 (optional). 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 I help you with?

What kind of books will be available for me to use during the retreat?

Our downstairs retreat library is small but mighty!

You’ll find a great selection of novels by women, 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 5 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!

Is there WiFi in the house? What about TV?

High-speed WiFi is accessible throughout the retreat house.

There are no televisions in the rooms (by design); there is a TV in a sitting area in our downstairs library, or 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.

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 probably 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?

Saturday, Oct 19

4:00 – 5:00 PM Arrive and settle in.

6:00 PM Welcome gathering in the great room for a hearty cocktail reception.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Oct 20 – 23

Early morning on your own, breakfast when you wish.

9:00 AM Gather in the great room for a quick check in.

9:30 AM – Noon Writing Time

Noon – 1:00 PM Casual lunch (if you’re on a writing roll, lunch will be available whenever you wish)

1:00 – 5:00 PM Private meetings with Joan

5:15 – 6:45 PM Drinks and nibbles and group gathering (I’ll lead us in some group work during this time)

6:45 PM Dinner*

*Dinner will be provided every night except Tuesday, when you have a free night starting at 5:00 PM to go into town if you wish (Freeport, Brunswick and Portland are all within a half hour drive). If you opt to stay in, the fridge should be full of enough leftovers for you to make yourself some  dinner.

Depending on what we decide to do together, we may end up swapping some group or private coaching time from early evening to morning. We’ll want to be a little flexible once we know who’s in the group.

Thursday, October 24

9:30 AM Farewell brunch

Departures by noon.

Do I have to share a room 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 three rooms will share two bathrooms between them.

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, and I have more than 50 years 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. I carefully select retreat-goers, too, and expect a mature group of smart women, 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.

How much does the retreat cost?

The price is listed on the main retreat page, but in case you missed it, here are the details:

Your tuition covers all your expenses—private lodging in our oceanfront retreat home, scrumptious meals prepared by our private chef, three hours of personal coaching to address your obstacles, two rounds of feedback on your entire manuscript (a $4,000 value), on-site craft lessons determined by your needs, support from our intimate group of six gutsy women writers, and a personalized writing contract for finishing your novel post-retreat.

Depending on your choice of private rooms, the price ranges from $5,000 to $7,500 for the week: half due upon booking (to hold your spot) and the balance due 30 days before departure (or sooner if booking close to the start of the retreat).

This is a sizable investment, maybe more than you’ve ever spent on yourself! We women are so busy taking care of everyone and everything else that it’s rare and life-changing when we give ourselves such a gift. Because I keep the group so small, and because this luxury retreat is expensive to run and takes a vast amount 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 support and tools and feedback you need to realize your dream of finishing your novel. I’ll make sure you get to The End, all while feeling inspired and confident.

The price is also valued as it is because I want to ensure we have a great group of dedicated and determined women; my pre-retreat interview, manuscript screening, and the fact that women have to travel to join us attracts motivated and talented writers. Those in crisis or writers who aren’t excited to do the work hardly ever apply.

I work exceedingly hard to make this the trip of a lifetime! I take care of all the behind-the-scenes details and bring my extensive fiction, teaching and facilitation experience to our work together, all of which creates a fulfilling and magical retreat for you like none other. One in which you’ll gain new writing and revision skills, increase your confidence and focus, and join a new circle of passionately creative literary companions! Let’s make memories with new friends, shall we?

Do you have a cancellation policy?

Yes. If you decide to book one of the six slots for the retreat, you’ll be asked to agree to the terms and conditions, which includes the cancellation policy. You can find those 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 revision 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 your draft, and another round of feedback on your final manuscript.

What will I have to do with the group?

Our group gatherings will include three things:

  1. Shared meals and daily check-ins;
  2. Instruction from me on whatever topic makes the most sense, depending on the needs of the group;
  3. 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: reading a selection of your work out loud to get instant feedback; 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, I’ll be encouraging you to do so; how often to you get six other smart women 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, but I’d ask that you bring your best self to help those who do want to bring something to the group.

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 register for the retreat?

In order to ensure a great experience for all six gutsy women who will be retreating together, we’ve put in place a simple application process.

All you have to do is fill out a simple application form (which includes attaching whatever you’ve done on your novel), and once we’ve reviewed it, we’ll get back to you right away via email with next steps.

Click here for application details.

Great, I'm ready to apply for the retreat!

Have other questions that aren't addressed here?

Please reach out to me directly and I'll get right back to you.

Email me: [email protected]