The Novel Writing Intensive Retreat

with critically acclaimed authors Steven James and Robert Dugoni


/ about

​If you're ready for intensive instruction to improve your writing, and if you're serious about taking your manuscript to the next level, award-winning novelists Steven James and Robert Dugoni invite you to join them for a time of in-depth teaching, growth, and encouragement.

/ Your instructors



Steven James is the critically-acclaimed author of seventeen novels. He is a contributing editor to Writer’s Digest and the author of the groundbreaking book Story Trumps Structure as well as the guidebook used by thousands of novelists, Troubleshooting Your Novel—both from Writer’s Digest Books.

He has received wide critical acclaim for his work, including five Storytelling World Honor awards, three Publishers Weekly starred reviews, and four Christy Awards for best suspense.

Steven earned a Master’s Degree in Storytelling from ETSU in 1997 and is an active member of International Thriller Writers and the International Association of Crime Writers. He has taught writing and storytelling principles around the world and is a regular keynote speaker and workshop teacher at premier writing conferences and retreats nationwide.

In 2010, Steven developed the Novel Writing Intensive Retreats to provide a concentrated time of study and feedback for fiction writers of all levels. 

He lives in Tennessee in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. When he's not writing or speaking, he's trail running, playing basketball, or downing mugs of gourmet coffee. 

Visit his website at



Robert Dugoni is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police series, which has sold more than 8 million books worldwide. 


Along with the Charles Jenkins espionage series and the David Sloane legal thriller series, Robert is the author of several stand-alone novels including The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, a literary novel that was named Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year. His narration of Sam Hell won an AudioFile Earphones Award. Robert's 2004 book The Cyanide Canary was named a Washington PostBest Book of the Year. Several of his novels have also been optioned for movies and television series. 


Robert is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for Best Novel Set in the Pacific Northwest. 


He is also a two-time finalist for the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

Robert's books have been translated into more than thirty languages. 

Visit his website at











March 13-16 (Group 1) and March 17-20 (Group 2), 2022



/ TENtative schedule

day 1

4-5:15pm: Check-in
5:30: Introductions
6:00: Dinner
6:45: Orientation 
7:15: Seminar 1 
8:30: TBD

day 2

7:30-8:15: Breakfast
8:30: Seminar 2 
9:45: Critique & Discussion Session 1
11:00: Seminar 3 
12:00: Lunch/personal Time
1:00: One-on-ones
1:45:  Critique & Discussion Session 2
3:00: Seminar 4 
4:15: Critique & Discussion Session 3
5:30: Dinner
6:45: Critique & Discussion Session 4
8:00: TBD

day 3

7:30-8:15: Breakfast
8:30: Critique & Discussion Session 5
9:45: Seminar 5
11:00: Critique & Discussion Session 6
12:00: Lunch/personal time
1:00: One-on-ones
3:00: Seminar 6 
4:15: Critique & Discussion Session 7
5:30: Dinner
6:30: Seminar 7
7:30: Q&A/book table

8:30: TBD

day 4

8:00: Breakfast and awards
9:00: Seminar 8 
10:00: Closing remarks/goodbyes
10:30: Pack and check out


"Intensive is not a strong enough word for how deep this one goes. Two of our best contemporary novelists cover the landscape of the craft and give the most personal attention possible to this small group experience. Best investment I’ve made so far in my writing life."

— Patricia Bowen, GA


conference details

What does the price include?

- Professional critique of up to 50 pages of your manuscript - 8 hours of classroom instruction - 7 hours of interactive teaching and discussion using manuscript evaluations - Private consultation time with Steven James or Robert Dugoni (via Zoom for virtual attendees) - Extensive seminar notes, writing activities, and self-editing tips - Copies of all participants' submissions with detailed critique notes - 100-point Novel Writing Checklist - 3 breakfasts; 3 dinners (unless you are a virtual attendee) - Refreshments (unless you are a virtual attendee)

Who can sign up?

Aspiring or published novelists and short-story writers of any level are invited to register.

What type of manuscripts are accepted?

All genres of fiction except what we would consider erotica.

How many spots are available?

There are only 15 spots available for each session, so register soon. There will be a waiting list in case someone cancels.

How much does it cost?

The retreat fee is $1,545, payable by check or money order. This includes the registration deposit, all seminars, a 50-page critique of your manuscript, six meals and refreshments, handouts, and more. It does NOT include travel expenses, your hotel room, downtown parking, any shuttle fees, or the two lunches (which will be on your own at local eateries). If you choose the virtual option, the fee is $1445, also payable by check or money order.

How do I register?

Contact Pam Johnson at and she will send you a registration form, which contains all pertinent information about the conference. The form will need to be completed and returned with our non-refundable $500 registration deposit before we can reserve your place. The mailing address that the form and the deposit should be sent to is on the registration form. It's recommended that you make a copy of the signed form and keep it for your records.

I still have questions. Who should I contact?

The conference director is Pam Johnson and her email is She will be able to answer any conference-related questions you might have.