Guided Novel Writing Retreat

2018 Dates Coming Soon

Have you started writing a novel, but are unsure if it’s working? Whether it’s your first or fifth novel, the Guided Novel Writing Retreat will provide you with hands on, expert coaching to get a structure for completing your novel so that it stands out in the marketplace.

Why a Retreat?

Join together with a group of writers — just like you.

Kemble Inn Group

As a writer, you know what it’s like to go at it alone, but isolation can be lonely and slow. As an attendee to my retreat, you can expect to join a small, intimate group of other hand- picked authors and be supported in the development of your novel. You’ll hear constructive and friendly feedback from other writers to gain insights that you would have never come across otherwise. You’ll also receive personalized, expert coaching from award-winning author and editor Diane O’Connell, to guide you in structuring your novel so that it stands out in the marketplace. And after the retreat, Diane will give you a one-on-one consultation to help you work through any new hurdles that come up.

Who Would Benefit From This Novel Writing Retreat?


If you have an idea for a novel: this retreat will help you get your vision, characters, story structure, and writing plan in place.


If you have a partial draft: this retreat will provide you with a clear path to completion.


If you’ve completed a draft and aren’t sure if it’s working: the process you’ll learn in this weekend will be a great diagnostic tool. You’ll know exactly what you need to do to revise or restructure your novel to make it stand out on the marketplace.

Click play to see more of what you’ll experience during the retreat.

Successfully Complete Your Novel

Join a small group of hand picked authors

One on One Discussion - Novel Writing Retreat

Unlike other retreats, my Guided Novel Writing Retreat is purposefully selective and personalized to ensure every attendee is armed with clear steps on how to complete a novel that stands out in the marketplace.

  • Receive personalized one-to-one coaching and a toolkit that lays out exactly what you’ll need to do in order to complete your novel.
  • Join other writers in my hand-picked group of just 6 attendees to share creative ideas and form lifelong friendships.
  • Be pampered as my VIP guest at the Kemble Inn and be surrounded by the beautiful Berkshire mountains.
  • Continue your progress with expert consultation after the retreat to help you work through any new hurdles that come up.

Is This Retreat Right For Me?

Reach out to me directly by filling out the form below. Once received, I’ll set up a time to discuss the Retreat in more detail and answer any questions you may have.

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What can I expect?

The Complete Itinerary

The Guided Novel Retreat is an all-inclusive event that spans four days. Retreat attendants will not only enjoy personalized time with Diane O’Connell, but will also enjoy group sessions with other like-minded authors.

Day 1

  • Wine & Cheese reception
  • Sharing of participants’ Big Vision and suggestions for improving
  • Private Writing Time

Day 2

  • Breakfast
  • Guided Lesson: Choosing Your Cast Wisely/Creating Characters with Depth
  • Private Writing Time/Rotating One-on-One consultations
  • Lunch
  • Guided Lesson: Establishing Your Novel’s Key Moments and Building the Story Foundation
  • Private Writing Time/Rotating One-on-One private consultations
  • Dinner
  • Private Writing Time

Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • Guided Lesson: Writing the Sketch Draft
  • Private Writing Time/Rotating One-on-One consultations
  • Lunch
  • Guided Lesson: Writing the Emotion Draft
  • Private Writing Time/Rotating One-on-One private consultations
  • Private Tea & Tour of Edith Wharton’s estate The Mount

Day 4

  • Breakfast
  • Final Q & A

After the Retreat

  • One-on-One phone session with Diane to discuss your progress and help you through any hurdles

Attendees Review the Guided Novel Writing Retreat


“I attended the October 2015 retreat and found it to be the best writing workshop I’ve ever taken…and I’ve taken quite a few of them including UCLA Extension and Gotham (both in person and on-line) as well as Writer’s Bootcamp and sessions at Ensemble Studio Theater. Diane helped me fill a big plot hole I knew I had but probably wouldn’t have been able to overcome without her excellently structured course, coupled with her personal in-depth sessions during the retreat and in her follow up. She immediately gets to the heart of your text and, in a supportive way, makes you a better author. This retreat helped me jump start my next novel and I can honestly say that Diane has changed my life and helped me to get closer to my dream of being a published fiction author.”

— Carolyn Kay Brancato

Diane Sterrett

“Diane’s Guided Novel Writing Retreat was tremendously valuable and exceeded my expectations. Although I already had a finished manuscript, I knew it wasn’t ready. By the end of Day 2, I knew what was missing. By the end of Day 3, I knew how to fix it. Diane’s methods, expert guidance and non-judgmental approach strengthened my manuscript as well as my skills, and have put me on the path to a more publishable novel. The group sessions (and even the casual talks over dinner with other writers) in an immersive environment such as this was an unexpected creative delight and added a constructive level of feedback. I recommend her retreats without reservation!”

— Diane M. Sterrett

Diane Sterrett is also featured in a blog post about her experience.

Sam Polakoff

“I had the pleasure of attending Diane’s writing retreat for first-time novelists. While the entire experience was outstanding, what galvanized the lessons learned were the people Diane brought together. As one might imagine, it is easy to be devoid of self-confidence when attending a weekend gathering of would-be authors. One wonders whether he can measure up. The group removed these inhibitions. With Diane’s program and leadership, the authors in the room supported and nurtured each other’s talent, encouraging one another to be the best. The chemistry from this group, coupled with the session’s critically important lessons helped to elevate my confidence and ultimately, my writing.”

— Sam Polakoff

Led by Award-Winning Editor and Author Diane O’Connell

Diane O'Connell

Diane O’Connell is a former editor at Random House and author of six books, including the award-winning The Novel-Maker’s Handbook: The No-Nonsense Guide to Crafting a Marketable Story. As editorial director of Write to Sell Your Book she has helped dozens of authors achieve international publishing success.

Diane’s passion for helping authors improve their craft and for the entire process of writing and publishing has made her one of the top editors in the field and a sought-after speaker at writing conferences and workshops throughout the US.


The price of my Guided Novel Retreat includes:

  • An all-inclusive 3-night stay at the acclaimed Kemble Inn, including a premier room and gourmet meals
  • Personalized one-on-one coaching on completing your novel
  • Guided group lessons to help you take your novel to the next level
  • Feedback on a pre-retreat assignment to set you up for success
  • A phone consultation with Diane after the Retreat to help you complete your novel successfully
  • Wine and cheese reception
  • Private Tea & Tour of Edith Wharton’s estate, The Mount
  • Please note, there are only 6 slots available and they fill up fast.
  • It’s $2,975.00 to attend this retreat. Bring a guest for only $500 extra.

Sign up for the Retreat

Click here to complete a brief application and apply. Once received, I’ll review it and contact you to set up a time to discuss the Retreat in more detail and answer any questions you may have.

Bring a guest for only 500 extra