Frequently Asked Questions About Retreats
I'm not sure what I want to write about. Will I get anything out of attending this retreat?
Absolutely! Every morning we cover a different aspect of the writing, publishing, and the marketing process. A Story Tree Farm retreat is a great place for beginners to learn best practices and build a library of resources to kick off their writing journey. We can give you a daily writing prompt to help you work on your plot, characters, story arc, and scenes if you are writing fiction. For nonfiction writers, we will work on the elements of your proposal while you are here. We tailor each experience to match your needs, and whether you're new to writing, or you are an experienced author, a Story Tree Farm retreat can be exactly what you need.
How do I know if this retreat is right for me?
Story Tree Farm Retreats are for serious writers who want to immerse themselves in writing for a week. We've created a safe and nurturing environment for you and your fellow retreaters. We want you to leave feeling that you know much more than you did when you arrived and that you are ready to take your book to the next level. That might be an outline of your book or proposal, a finished draft, a set of character sketches or scenes. It might be a plan for polishing you book, attracting the right agent, or marketing your book. Regardless, you will walk away with the tools and the experience you need to propel your writing and your career to the next level.
I'm a tad bit shy. Do I have to share what I'm writing?
We'll never make you do anything you don't want to do, but one of the benefits of this retreat is the magic that happens when like-minded writers come together. On this retreat, we use a method called Gateless writing (see below to learn more) when we give feedback. In this setting, the fear that comes with sharing your work, your space, and your heart will melt away. We will support you and guide you to a place where you can tap into your creative muse. Many writers go from not wanting to share, to eagerly wanting to read their work to the group. Trust the process, and the calling to come to this retreat. We promise to provide you with the support and the tools to let your muse soar. And don't be surprised if you leave with a group of new best friends and lifelong writing buddies.
How much space is allocated to free time?
We've designed the retreat to impart as much information about writing and publishing as possible in a compressed amount of time and allow you time to work on your book. While we highly recommended the morning sessions, they are optional. This is your retreat. If you prefer to spend your time writing, that is certainly up to you. We trust that you'll listen to yourself to hear what you need, and you'll take away exactly that from your time on retreat.
What is the purpose of the morning sessions?
The morning sessions cover the concepts and techniques we've developed for perfecting your first fifteen pages. We believe and have seen that once a writer gets those first crucial page perfected the rest of the story flows.
What is the purpose of the one-on-one sessions?
If you haven't shared your work with anyone other than your family or close friends, you will find the feedback you receive during these sessions invaluable. We help you identify gaps in your story and ways to improve dialogue, pacing, and character development. We will also talk about your writing process and help you develop ways to get more out of the time you have to write.
When should I organize my flights and travel insurance?
Once your place is reserved, you will receive an email with the details about minimum guest numbers required for the retreat to proceed. We recommend that retreaters take out travel insurance. We suggest taking out a suitable policy with adequate medical expenses and cancellation coverage when you book your flight to protect you from any unforeseen circumstances that may prevent you from traveling. Please ensure you check the terms and conditions of your policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for your needs. Flights can be booked directly into Huntsville. Alternatively, you can fly into Nashville or Birmingham. If you decide to fly into an airport other than Huntsville, we can arrange airport transfers for $125 each way. Included in your retreat fees are airport transfers to Story Tree Farm from the Huntsville airport.
If you are driving, we will email you the address of the retreat and detailed directions after receiving your full payment.
Do I have to share a room?
Yes, but we have one single accommodation for those who because of health or allergy reasons need a separate room. This room is available on a first come, first serve basis. We have found that sharing a room at the retreat is a great way of cementing relationships that last far beyond the week you are here. One of the messages that we emphasize at the retreat is that writers don't have to suffer alone! If you don't have a writing group, your Story Tree Farm retreat will be a great place to start building your tribe. If you are concerned about snoring, either yours or your roommate's, we have a supply of earplugs on hand that Laura swears by because evidently, Sandra snores, although she claims Laura greatly over exaggerates her loud breathing.
What is the bathroom situation like?
Each bathroom accommodates three retreaters. Our bathrooms are quite large with separate areas for dressing and showering. We stock each bathroom with blow dryers, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and spare toothbrushes in case you forget something. And each bathroom comes equipped with Poopouri, for those who are a bit shy.
How much is the First 15/5 Retreat?
The total cost of the retreat including 5 nights of accommodations, all meals for 6 days (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) all morning workshops and two one-on-one consultations is $3995.
What is the application process?
Once we receive your application, we email you to set up a time for a chat. We want to make sure that all your questions are answered and that The First 15/5 is the best retreat option for you. After you are approved, and your date is locked in, you have 10 days from the reciept of your acceptance email to pay the $1500 deposit required to reserve your spot. If the deposit has not been paid within the 10-day reservation period, your spot will be given to the next person on the wait list. There are only 6 spots per retreat, making space throughout the year very limited. After the reservation period expires, we cannot guarantee a spot for your preferred retreat week. We will do our best to move you to another week if you have missed the 10-day deposit deadline, but please understand we can not guarantee a reservation until your deposit has been paid.
How much is the deposit?
The deposit amount payable within 10 days of acceptance is $1500. The deposit is nonrefundable except in cases of extreme emergency. Again, spots in our retreats are extremely limited and sought after, so please be sure the dates work for you before booking your reservation.
When is the balance due?
The remainder of the retreat fee is due 30 days prior to your arrival. Failure to pay your fees in full 30 days prior to your arrival will result in you forfeiting your deposit and your place at your assigned retreat. If your balance is not paid pay the date indicated on your acceptance email, your spot will be offered to others on the wait list who have paid a deposit and would like to attend a retreat earlier than the one they are scheduled to attend.
What time are check-in and check-out?
Check-in is 4:00 pm on Sunday and check-out is 1:00 pm on Friday. We recommend you keep these times in mind when making travel arrangements. If you need to arrive early or depart late, please let us know, and we will do our best to accommodate your travel schedule. We do try to reserve as much of Sunday as possible to prepare for the week ahead so if possible, please adhere to the arrival and depart schedules.
Anything else I should know?
Yes, plan to dress comfortably and casually. We've been on retreats and taken a boat load of clothes we didn't wear. We will be eating beautifully prepared meals in a casual and elegant setting. You will have opportunities in the early morning or late afternoon to explore the grounds or do yoga, and on Wednesday we will take a field trip into town and enjoy a taste of local fare for lunch. Jeans, yoga pants, sweaters, and comfortable tops are all you will need. Allow yourself the opportunity to disconnect from worrying about your hair and wardrobe for the week and enjoy pampering your creative side!
If you have more questions, please get in touch. We are here to help you make an informed decision.
Can my writing group or other groups book an entire retreat period?
Yes, if you and four to six friends would like to have an exclusive writing experience designed just for you please let us know. We love to work with writing groups! Please fill out the group reservation form below. Tell us about your group, how you formed and what each member or your group is working on. We will let you know which weeks we have available for your group, or we may be able to accommodate a specific date you have in mind. The total group rate for the retreat including 5 nights of accommodations, all meals for 5 days (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) all workshops and one-on-one consultations is $18000. We give groups a $2000 discount (roughly 10%).
Once your application has been approved, and your group date is locked in, you have 10 days from the date of your acceptance email to pay your deposit to reserve your dates. If the deposit has not been paid within the 10-day reservation period, the week you have reserved will be opened up for a general retreat. Retreats book well in advance and reserving a week for a specific group takes planning and staff resources. Please make your reservation far enough in advance to accommodate all the members of your group and gather the deposit fee from everyone so as not to risk losing your requested dates or deposit amount. After the reservation period expires, we cannot guarantee a spot in your preferred retreat week. We will do our best to reserve another week for your group, but please note no reservation will be held without a deposit and no date guaranteed if you change your mind.
The deposit amount payable within 10 days of acceptance for groups is $10,000. The deposit is nonrefundable except in cases of extreme emergency. Again, spots in our retreats are extremely limited and sought after, so please be sure the dates work for your group before booking.
The remainder of the group retreat fee is due 30 days prior to your arrival. Failure to pay your group fees in full 30 days prior to your group's arrival will result in your forfeiting your deposit and your assigned retreat week. After 30 days, your week will be offered to others on the wait list who have paid a deposit and would like to attend a retreat earlier than the one they are scheduled to attend.