Get to the heart of your story

Imagine an unforgettable 7-day writing retreat in Crete that will leave you relaxed and refreshed. It's time to write that memoir! Join us to craft your life story, laugh, and strengthen your beautiful soul.

Join us in the birthplace of the Muses to get to the heart of the memoir you’re meant to write, the one that’s burning inside of you, the one that calls in joy, abundance, and ease. It could be a memoir that you're immersed in writing, or one you’ve started and stopped, or a life story you’re meant to discover on a beautiful, relaxing vacation with a group of fantastic and fun-loving women.

Knowing the heart of your story is essential to crafting the bestseller. Why? Because it unlocks your transformative arc, enabling you to heal while determining the story's plot. The arc also guides you in selecting personal details which will resonate with your reader.

Pinpointing the heart of your story doesn't come easy though, as you are peering into your own life and travails, which are often unconscious. At this retreat, we will help you zero in on what your life story is really about so that you can make conscious choices about plotting and character development. Our specialty is surveying the pieces of your life story, listening to your dreams and goals for your memoir, and homing in on the essence of the story you need to tell.

Think of us as your writing therapists, there to help you reflect on the pieces of your story so you can intelligently and consciously understand the heart of your journey and share it with others.

During our week together, we’ll begin each morning with a nourishing meditation and a delicious, healthy breakfast. After we are focused and oriented, we’ll set our individual writing goal for the day. Allison and Jessie will provide gentle yet transformative writing exercises designed to help you release old stories and make room for new, with a special focus on the craft of writing powerful memoir, including identifying your narrative arc, charting plot structure, crafting setting, and using magic.

Your afternoon is free to structure as you wish. Write on your own, receive individual coaching, take an inspiring hike through town or the countryside, swim in the pool or the sea, people watch, schedule a massage, or nap. Listen to your body and heart. We’ll come back together at night to share insight and laughter.

You will be shown how to:

  • Combine meditation and movement to release creative blocks

  • Organize your creative ideas 

  • Dig deeply into your recurring themes, characters, and scenes

  • Craft a memoir

  • Edit and workshop to your comfort level

  • Incorporate creative writing into your everyday life

  • Connect with your new community after the retreat if you wish

All writing during this retreat will be in service of helping you to get to the heart of your story. Relax with us in beautiful Greece, find your tribe, and finally, master the tools you need to write that memoir. 

This retreat is for you if you want to:

  • Commit to finally write your memoir with the aid of expert instruction

  • Work with master instructors who value laughter, creativity, and community

  • Celebrate your true story

  • Explore the world with a fun-loving community of creatives

  • Enjoy a relaxing, inspiring vacation rooted in empowered expression

  • Replenish your well in a creative sanctuary

  • Reconnect with yourself

  • Take a fun, intelligent solo vacation

  • Dedicate time for creativity but also time for play

  • Work through blocks in a nurturing climate

  • Bond with interesting, joyful women

  • Honor and celebrate your intuition

  • Enjoy fresh and delicious local cuisine

This Deepen Your Story retreat will be held on the magical island of Crete, where mythology and legend meet among soaring mountains, cerulean seas, and lush olive groves. The famous hospitality of the Cretan people will make you feel right at home as you immerse yourself in the rich history and incredible food of this region. Extend your stay on either side of the retreat to more deeply explore all that Crete has to offer, including breathtaking archeological sites, stunning museums, and awe-inspiring landscapes made famous by the Academy Award-winning film Zorba the Greek.

When registering, you can either claim one of the remaining beds in the luxury seafront villa where we'll be leading the morning sessions (villa photos above right), or you can book your own room at one of the walking-distance-close hotels we recommend. Whether you elect to stay in the villa or a hotel, you'll have access to all components of the retreat, including the villa pool, kitchens, and washing machine; morning meditation; and a delicious, healthy, and authentic breakfast and lunch served on the tranquil, relaxing villa grounds.

For dinner, you can stroll to the quaint village of Plaka and visit Elpis to sample their warm olive bread with a side of fresh-picked tomatoes, herbs, and mizithra; or possibly try a local pie of potatoes, mint, zucchini, and soft cheese at the Emerald; or maybe even stop by Harokopos Tavern for the best moussaka Greece has to offer. Or, if you prefer, you could cook your dinner in the villa and visit the town later for a pot of rich chocolate ganache and a glass of Cretan wine under the twinkle lights of the village square.

Retreat Leaders

Your leaders, Jessica Lourey and Allison Quaid, have gone through this journey in their own lives and are robust guides that will offer you the support and instruction you need. Jessica Lourey (MS, Social Responsibility; MA, Teaching Writing; tenured writing professor since 1998; author of 17 books) and Allison Quaid (CEO Creative Eco-Catalysts, rock star change-agent, 20 years experienced workshop facilitator, Reiki healer, storyteller ) combine their unique talents to help you connect vision to action. 


The average weather in Crete from May 27-June 10 offers lows of 17 Celsius/60 Fahrenheit and highs of 24 Celsius/80 Fahrenheit. Plan on flying into the Chania Crete International Airport (CHQ) and catching a taxi to the villa. The taxi ride averages 40 minutes and $50 dollars, and if you send us your flight arrival times, we will connect any participants who are landing similar times so you can all share a cab. You could also rent a car, though you will not need it for your stay. Here are the driving directions to the villa from the Chania airport. We can recommend a car rental company if you are interested. We're so looking forward to spending this relaxing, inspiring week with you!

Find peace away from your daily routine. Give yourself the gift of a vacation devoted to creativity and joy where we take care of all the planning so you can focus on building the best version of you. 

“Above all, be the heroine of your life...” Nora Ephron

Dates, Times & Locations

June 4 - June 10, 2017

Crete, Greece
Villa photos below:


  • $1800  (book lodging on your own)
  • $2400 (shared villa bedroom, 6 nights)
  • $3000 (private villa bedroom, 6 nights)

Registration fee covers all group activities from June 4 to June 10, and includes 6 fresh, delicious, locally-sourced breakfasts and lunches. You'll also be given a coloring book for writers and colored pencils to access all levels of creativity.

Recommended hotels:
Emerald Hotel Apartments
Bicorna Rooms
Leste Luxury Homes
Almyrida Resort (1.5 km from villa)

*10% discount for groups of 3 or more women who book together; cannot be used with any other discount.
*10% discount for booking Claim Your Voice and Deepen your story together (May 28-June 10, 2017, in Crete); cannot be used with any other discount.

Sample Schedule

Day One

1:00 pm   Lunch and Welcome

Day Two

8:00    Meditation
8:30    Breakfast
9:00    Processing old stories and choosing new ones
10:00   Writing craft session--structure, character arcs, setting, etc.

12:00   Lunch

1:00    Writing on your own. You can also schedule a 1:1 session with Jess or Allison to get vision/voice feedback. 

5:00    Community support session: share your daily progress, get encouragement and feedback

6:30    Cocktail/walk/meditation

7:00    Dinner in the village, with fellow retreaters or alone, you decide


“I found Allison’s feedback so encouraging and uplifting and appreciated the tips to go deeper into the character, the history, the sensorial impressions, and the emotions. She intuitively knows those vulnerable moments and is open for them. I liked that.”  — Sara H., Germany


“Jess Lourey has been through a lot—and she’s completely upfront telling you about it. That authentic, honest and generous voice created a safe space where I could open up to the dignity and power of my own stories.” — Marcia A., Rewrite Your Life, November 2016