June 7–13, 2021

In a state of cautious optimism, we are planning for an on-campus retreat. However, if pandemic conditions warrant, we will again hold the retreat remotely via Zoom. While we certainly hope we can meet in person in 2021, we are pleased to report that our virtual retreat in 2020 was one of our most successful yet, hallmarked by abundant writing time, deep learning, and lifelong community building. We will monitor the situation and make a decision in early May. In the event of a virtual retreat, tuition will be discounted. Last year has taught us that, whether remote or on-campus, the Novel Retreat provides participants much-needed writing time in a supportive, rigorous, nurturing environment. Click here to see what a remote retreat looks like.

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 you’re at with your project—beginning, drafting, middle, or final edit—the retreat is designed to accommodate all aspects of the writing process.

Located amid the beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains on the VCFA campus, retreat participants gain the added benefit of working with our renowned faculty. Our 2020 faculty includes Connie May Fowler, Miciah Bay Gault, Robin MacArthur, Adam McOmber, Crystal Wilkinson, and special guest 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 the retreat, impromptu gatherings spontaneously bloom, inspiring insights and discoveries. This is perhaps one of the retreat’s greatest gifts: the invaluable friendships forged when living among a collective of writers.

Unique Features

  • Focused solely on prose-based literary long forms such as novels, memoirs, and collections of short stories or essays
  • 24-hour access to private writing studios
  • Distinguished VCFA Novel Retreat faculty in residence
  • The option to avail oneself to discussions, clinics, readings, and more


The VCFA Novel Retreat brings in acclaimed novelists and industry professionals who are also dedicated educators from VCFA and beyond. Our 2020 faculty members include award-winning novelists, short story writers, memoirists, poets, and one of publishing’s top literary agents.

Participant Testimonials

“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

Every morning at breakfast, a faculty member reads from a favored text and speaks briefly about what they most admire in the piece. A lively discussion ensues. These sessions prepare participants for the day ahead: writing, thinking, discovering.

Craft presentations, panel discussions, generative sessions, conversations with faculty mentors, manuscript clinics, and more writing take place after lunch. The afternoon sessions are optional, allowing participants to remain focused on their work or take advantage of the ancillary retreat offerings. After dinner, participants gather for faculty and participant readings and casual conversation.


For an additional fee, participants are invited to apply for Novel Retreat Mentorships. Each participant in the mentorship program will submit a book-length project (not to exceed 350 pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, default one-inch margins). A faculty member will read the manuscript, provide a written 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.


Most attendees opt for on-campus housing, both for the convenience and the camaraderie. These are simple dormitory accommodations, with a choice of single or shared rooms, and shared baths except in special-needs situations (and subject to availability).

Dining service in VCFA’s cafeteria is available on a full meal plan or on a pay-per-meal basis. Participants can also enjoy light fare in our on-campus eatery, Café Anna, or venture into downtown Montpelier and enjoy its eclectic mix of restaurants and gastropubs. The retreat also offers specially catered outdoor dinners, including the legendary pizza-and-salad night.

Tuition & Fees

The fee includes accommodations (single or double occupancy) in VCFA dorms for six nights.

  • Retreat tuition: $975.00
  • On-campus housing: $370.00 (single room), $200.00 (shared room)
  • Meal plan (June 7 dinner through June 13 breakfast): $240.00*
  • Mentorship: $925.00 for manuscripts under 250 pages; $1100.00 for manuscripts over 250 pages and a maximum of 350.
  • Non-refundable deposit, due at time of registration: $200.00
  • Balance of payment due May 1

*Participants not on a full meal plan may purchase meals as they go.

Special Note: Retreat participants may extend their writing retreat by coming early (by as many as four days) or staying longer (one-day extension, check out by 10 am) for a nominal additional daily fee.


Registration opens November 18, 2020. VCFA MFA in Writing alumnx and Novel Retreat alumnx need only register. For those who are new to VCFA or the retreat, application may be made as follows:

Submit for review an approximately 10-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 because spaces fill rapidly. Likewise, if you are new to VCFA, please submit your application as early as possible. Once the retreat is full, interested writers will be placed on an active waiting list. We welcome and encourage late inquiries, as spaces occasionally reopen due to emergency cancellations.

Cancellation Policy

If you need to withdraw from the retreat, inform the director no later than May 1. The retreat will refund any payments to date, minus the non-refundable $200 deposit. If you cancel your participation after May 1, the program will refund all fees for room and board as applicable; the program will refund your tuition (minus $200) 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.


Thanks to the generosity of a small group of private donors, we have limited funding available for partial Novel Retreat scholarships, which we work to spread among many deserving applicants.

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.

Scholarships 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]