June 5–11, 2023

VCFA has been the preeminent literary home for emerging and established writers for nearly half a century. Our global arts community encourages explorations in art, creativity, and the expansion of individual artistic visions. In keeping with its internationally recognized commitment to the literary arts, VCFA will host its tenth annual VCFA Novel Retreat in June 2023. Join us. Become a part of this legendary community of artists.

As the Retreat celebrates its tenth year, we also celebrate a new location: the Champlain College campus on the shores of Lake Champlain amid the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. The campus, which operates off-season as a conference and event center, is within easy walking distance of the vibrant culinary and cultural hub of downtown Burlington and in close proximity to the Burlington airport. To be clear, this doesn’t mean the Retreat will become Champlain College’s. We remain fully seated within the VCFA family: independent, true to our mission and values, focused on art, craft, and community as we innovate in this new era.

About the Retreat

Whether you seek the reflective solitude of a retreat or writing time combined with consultations, group discussions, and more, the VCFA Novel Retreat enables you to craft an experience best suited to your individual needs. No matter what stage your project is at—beginning, drafting, middle, or final edit—the Retreat is designed to accommodate all aspects of the writing process.

Retreat participants gain the added benefit of working with our renowned faculty. Our 2023 faculty includes Connie May Fowler, Adam McOmber, Laura Warrell, and literary agent Jeff Kleinman, founding partner at Folio Literary Management in New York City.

While participants and faculty write each morning, afternoons and evenings offer a variety of optional sessions, including craft and process discussions, generative writing classes, manuscript clinics, and agent advice.

Throughout our week together, impromptu and invigorating conversations take place. This is perhaps one of the Retreat’s greatest gifts: the invaluable friendships forged when living and creating among a dedicated community of writers.

Unique Features

  • Focused solely on prose-based literary long forms such as novels, memoirs, and collections of short stories, essays, and hybrid forms
  • Distinguished VCFA Novel Retreat faculty in residence
  • The option to avail oneself to discussions, clinics, readings, craft recordings, and more


The VCFA Novel Retreat features acclaimed novelists and industry professionals who are also dedicated educators from VCFA and beyond. Our 2023 faculty members include award-winning novelists, short story writers, memoirists, and one of publishing’s top literary agents.

Participant Testimonials

“The VCFA Novel Retreat  is the rare conference that allows writers with busy lives—kids, day jobs, responsibilities—to take a shorter intensive break and go all in on our writing. The setup is perfect: there are enough readings and sessions to help enter the mindset so that we can use the free time to get to work. I always came home with my head back in the manuscript, ready to write. There’s no way I would have finished and sold my book without those trips to the Novel Retreat.” — Sarah Seltzer, author of the forthcoming novel The Singer Sisters

“Without exaggeration, this retreat has changed my life as a writer.”

“Having big blocks of uninterrupted time to write was a godsend. Because of that, I had a couple of major breakthroughs, not only with my work, but with some deep soul searching about who I am as writer.”

“It was a powerful and transformative week for me as a writer.”

“The retreat provided a beautiful opportunity to get re-immersed in my novel and my writing life. The conversations about craft and process nourished my apparently starving artist. There was no stress—except the mild anxiety of facing the page every day. Which I did: three hours every morning and two every afternoon, I sat down in my beautiful writing studio and thought and wrote and did the work. I also loved the feeling of all being in it together, participants and faculty all working. This retreat model is exactly what post-graduate writers need to continue to grow and form community.”

“The peace and quiet and beauty of the campus was a balm to my tired body and spirit so that I could connect my creative voice again.”

“The seeds of the craft sessions that were sown at VCFA have helped me create new passages and improve ones that had already been written. The sessions, prompts, conversations (formal or informal), and social events during the retreat have informed my work since then. In other words, I brought the retreat home with me.”

Typical Day

Morning: Awake to beautiful Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. Go for a walk, ruminate, enjoy your coffee, eat breakfast, and—in breathtaking quietude and serenity—write.

Afternoon: Lunch and then return to your writing or dive into craft presentations, panel discussions, generative sessions, conversations with faculty mentors, manuscript clinics, and more. Afternoon sessions are optional, allowing participants to remain focused on their work or take advantage of the ancillary Retreat offerings.

Evening: After dinner, stroll along the lake or through downtown, gather for faculty and participant readings, casual conversations, all while forging lifelong friendships with fellow artist-writers.


Participants are invited to apply for Novel Retreat Mentorships. Submit for review an approximately 5-page, double-spaced excerpt from a work-in-progress and a statement of intent, not to exceed one page, regarding the project. Email the materials to [email protected]. If you are applying to the Retreat for the first time and applying for a mentorship, please submit the same application materials; please indicate that you are applying to the Retreat and the mentorship.

Each participant in the mentorship program will submit a book-length project (not to exceed 350 pages, double-spaced, twelve-point Times New Roman font, default one-inch margins). A faculty mentor will read the manuscript, provide a written or audio critique, and conduct two private conferences during the course of the Retreat. Participants with manuscripts over 350 pages will be accommodated at the discretion of the director and faculty. An additional fee will apply based on the number of pages submitted.

Tuition & Fees

  • Retreat tuition: $995.00
  • Non-refundable deposit, due at time of registration: $250.00
  • On-campus housing: $380.00 (single occupancy only)
  • Meal plan (June 5 dinner through June 11 breakfast): $275.00
  • Mentorship: $925.00 for manuscripts under 250 pages; $1100.00 for manuscripts over 250 pages and a maximum of 350.
  • Balance of payment due May 1


Registration opens October 14, 2022. VCFA MFA in Writing alumnx, Novel Retreat alumnx, and current VCFA students need only register. For those who are new to VCFA or the Retreat, apply as follows:

Submit for review an approximately five-page, double-spaced excerpt from a work-in-progress and a statement of intent, not to exceed one page, regarding the project. Email the materials to [email protected]. Upon review, applicants will be notified of the status of their application.

Early registration is recommended. Spaces fill rapidly. Likewise, if you are new to VCFA, please submit your application as early as possible. Once the Retreat is full, applicants will be placed on an active waiting list. We welcome and encourage late inquiries, as spaces occasionally reopen due to emergency cancellations.

Please note: All participants must bring a laptop computer to the retreat. 


  • Mentorship Application: April 3, 2023
  • Tuition Fee Due in Full: May 1, 2023
  • Last Day to Send Full Manuscript to Mentor: May 1, 2023
  • Last Day to Withdraw (see cancellation policy): April 3, 2023

Cancellation Policy

If you need to withdraw from the Retreat, inform the director no later than April 3. The Retreat will refund any payments to date, minus the non-refundable $250 deposit. If you cancel your participation after April 3, the program will refund all fees for room and board as applicable; the program will refund your tuition (minus $250) only if a new participant fills the space. Late cancellations create a hardship for the Retreat organizers; while we understand that emergencies arise, please inform the program at your earliest opportunity.


If you require tuition support to make your participation possible, please email Novel Retreat Director Connie May Fowler at [email protected] to request a scholarship. Please state your level of need, related background, and Retreat goals, along with a five-page sample manuscript, if you’re not already submitting these materials due to your status as a VCFA MFA in Writing or Novel Retreat alum.

We have a limited number of scholarships, which are awarded on a rolling basis, so early requests are encouraged.


Connie May Fowler
Faculty Co-Chair, MFA in Writing
Director, Novel Retreat
[email protected]