June 6–12, 2022

For over thirty years, emerging and established writers have gathered on our campus to hone their craft and gain inspiration as they join a legendary community of artists. In keeping with its nationally recognized commitment to the literary arts, VCFA will host its ninth annual VCFA Novel Retreat in June 2022.

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 2022 faculty includes Connie May Fowler, Miciah Bay Gault, Robin MacArthur, Adam McOmber, Crystal Wilkinson, 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 the retreat, impromptu conversations take place. This is perhaps one of the retreat’s greatest gifts: the invaluable friendships forged when living and creating 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, craft recordings, and more


The VCFA Novel Retreat features acclaimed novelists and industry professionals who are also dedicated educators from VCFA and beyond. Our 2022 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

The morning is devoted to writing. Participants disperse across the campus to their private studios in order to create in solitude.

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.


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, 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.

Tuition & Fees

  • Retreat tuition: $950.00
  • Non-refundable deposit, due at time of registration: $200.00
  • On-campus housing: $370.00 (single room), $200.00 (shared room)
  • Meal plan (June 8 dinner through June 14 breakfast): $230.00
  • 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 1, 2021. 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 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]. 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.


  • Mentorship Application: April 25, 2022
  • Last Day to Withdraw (see cancellation policy): May 1, 2022
  • Manuscript Submissions to Mentors: May 4, 2022

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.


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.

Special Retreat-to-Residency Accommodations for Currently Enrolled VCFA Students

Current VCFA students are encouraged and welcomed to attend the Novel Retreat. The retreat ends June 12. The MFA in Writing Summer Residency begins June 20 for incoming students and June 21 for returning students. In order to accommodate students who wish to attend the retreat but for whom returning home between the retreat and residency would be cumbersome, incoming and returning students may stay in the dorms for $65 per night. Incoming students’ stay will extend from June 12 to June 19. Returning students’ stay will extend from June 12 to June 20. Please be advised that you may have to change dorm rooms. You may reserve your extended stay when you register for the retreat.


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