Novel Retreat

The VCFA Novel Retreat provides private studio space, abundant time, and a supportive atmosphere for established and emerging writers. 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.

Located amid the beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains on the Vermont College of Fine Arts campus, retreat participants gain the added benefit of working with our world-renowned faculty. Our 2019 faculty includes Connie May Fowler, Miciah Bay Gault, Robin MacArthur, Richard McCann, Crystal Wilkinson, and special guest literary agent Jeff Kleinman, founding partner at Folio Literary Management in New York City. 

The Retreat offers a rare environment, one in which both participants and faculty are immersed in their respective writing projects. This produces a synergistic, community-wide experience that is deeply conducive to creativity. 

No matter what stage a writer is at with their project—beginning, drafting, middle, or final edit—the Retreat is designed to accommodate all aspects of the writing process. 

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.

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

Unique Features

  • Focused solely on prose-based literary long forms such as novels, memoirs, and short story or essay collections
  • Abundant writing time; 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

Typical Day

The day starts with breakfast during which a faculty member gives a short reading from a favored text and speaks briefly about what they most admire in the piece. A lively discussion ensues. The breakfast reading is designed to wake the writers' muses and mentally prepare them as they retreat into their work.

The morning is devoted to writing. Participants disperse across the campus to their private  studios.

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. 

The 2019 Retreat will offer  special sessions with literary agent Jeff Kleinman.

After dinner, participants gather for faculty and participant readings and casual conversation. 

Finally, after a full day immersed in writing, it's off to bed for a well-deserved rest under the clear moon of a Vermont spring night.


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, Times New Roman font, default margins). A faculty member will read the manuscript, provide a three to five-page 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.

Location and Accommodations

Vermont College of Fine Arts is located on a peaceful hilltop in charming Montpelier, Vermont, the state capital and a town brimming with bookstores, farm-to-table restaurants, boutiques, pubs, and more. The town center is just a short walk from campus.

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).

For those who prefer off-campus housing, Montpelier offers a range of hotels, inns, motels, and guest houses (listing available upon request).

Full meal service through the meal plan is provided by the ever-popular on-campus eatery Café Anna. As part of Vermont's artisanal food movement, they specialize in locally sourced ingredients, offering fresh, seasonal food prepared with care. We will also have a special outdoor dinner catered during the week and opening and closing receptions.

Click here for maps and directions.

Tuition & Fees

The fee includes accommodations (single or double occupancy) in the dorms at Vermont College of Fine Arts for six nights.

  • Retreat tuition: $950.00
  • On-campus, room & board: $370.00 (single room); $200.00 (shared room)
  • Meal plan (May 13 dinner through May 19 breakfast): $310.00
  • Mentorship: $900.00 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 March 13.

Special Note: Retreat participants may extend their writing retreat by coming early or staying longer for a nominal additional daily fee.


  • Writers may enroll for the Retreat as of October 1, 2018; first priority will be given to VCFA MFA in Writing alumni and Novel Retreat alumni.
  • After October 10, novelists who are not graduates of VCFA or who have not attended previous VCFA Novel Retreats may apply as follows:

Submit for review an approximately ten-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 as to the status of their application.

Once the Retreat is full, interested writers will be placed on an active waiting list. We welcome and encourage late inquiries. Spaces often reopen due to emergency cancellations.

Cancellation Policy

If you need to withdraw from the Retreat, inform the director no later than March 13. You will be refunded any payments to date, minus the non-refundable $200 deposit. If you cancel your participation after March 13, 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 organization; 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 Connie May Fowler, Novel Retreat Director, at [email protected], to request a scholarship. Please state your level of need, related background, and your Retreat goals, along with a brief (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; therefore, early requests are encouraged.

Register Now


Connie May Fowler

Retreat Director
[email protected]

Retreat Dates

May 13-19, 2019

Registration Deadlines

Registration for May 2019 is now open.

Early registration is recommended because spaces fill rapidly. Likewise, if you are new to VCFA, please submit your application as early as possible.

Register Now


The VCFA Novel Retreat is proud to announce its 2019 faculty. The College brings in highly lauded novelists and industry professionals, who are also dedicated educators, from VCFA and beyond. Our 2019 faculty are award-winning novelists, short story writers, memoirists, and poets, and one of publishing’s top literary agents. 

  • Connie May Fowler
  • Miciah Bay Gault
  • Jeff Kleinman
  • Robin MacArthur
  • Richard McCann
  • Crystal Wilkinson

Read faculty bios here

Participant Testimonials

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

"The retreat was an invaluable experience. Although it is always great to interact with fellow writers, this experience allowed for ample writing time, writing time that was only more inspired by the leaders as well as the attendees."

"The atmosphere was uplifting and the sense of community made me want to write. I loved the dedicated time to writing."

"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 atmosphere was collegial, serious about writing, friendly and supportive, all great. The teachers communicated a great passion for writing and gave wonderful talks—very inspiring."

"The other participants were such as important aspect of this experience for me. I had a a number of conversations that really sparked an understanding or an "aha moment" or really challenged my thinking about something."

“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.”

“I value the fact that the carefully chosen participants went well beyond the newly-minted MFA students of so many of the workshops I have attended. These were mature writers who had established themselves in the world. They brought with them their life experience, as well as their technical knowledge, and shared them generously. Their readings showed them to be committed artists with years of thought and consideration infusing their work with honesty and polish. Finally, the informal nature of the retreat created a wonderful teacher/student relationship in which instructors made themselves available, sharing their personal interests and literary tastes with us throughout. It was fascinating to hear them offer us selections of some of their own favorite writers.”

“I learned from everyone. The faculty was extraordinary and it seemed that every word was divined to be spoken at the moment it would impact us all in such a positive way. The time set aside for writing was well placed. We all commented on how much we were on a roll.”

“I came away with new writer friends and also with Clint and Connie offering on-going connections as my new-found teachers. The manuscript consultation that I did with Clint was the most valuable part of the week for me. His discussion of the strengths in my writing gave me much-needed validation and encouragement after way too many years of working alone."