Join award-winning mystery author Jess Lourey and healer and writing coach Allison Quaid on this week-long writing retreat at at one of the most inspiring sites in the world: the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay outside of Paris. You choose your focus for the week at registration--mystery writing or spiritual writing. Whatever your writing focus, prepare for an alchemy of escapism, creativity, and renewal at this grand location.

This luxurious coed retreat gifts you the time, space, and instruction needed to write that mystery or revitalize your spiritual writing. Your retreat experience will be tailored to where you're at in your writing process.

The workshop is set at the Vaux de Cernay Abbey, located in the Chevreuse valley sprinkled with castles outside Paris. It is an enchanted place drenched in mystery and spiritual power surrounded by eight centuries of history.

Brief Mystery Writing Workshop Description

All mystery writing participants will be shown how to write, revise, and sell their novel. We'll begin the first evening of the retreat getting to know each other, sharing goals for the week as well as fears, and discussing the three components of any successful mystery: compelling characters, page-turning plots, and cinematic settings. After that first day, Jess will lead afternoon workshops showing you how to turn your ideas and experiences into a crime fiction bestseller.

Your morning is free to structure as you wish. Sleep in, write on your own, research, receive individual coaching, explore the Abbey, take an inspiring hike through the forest to drink miracle water from the St. Thibault fountain, or exchange plot ideas with other participants. We’ll come together after lunch to immerse ourselves in mystery writing.

All participants will be shown how to:

  • Write compelling characters
  • Build a page-turning plot using the Plot Box method
  • Create cinematic settings
  • Edit with ARISE
  • Find an agent or indie publish, depending on your goals

The mystery writing track is capped at 10 registrants to ensure everyone gets what they need out of the retreat.

Brief Spiritual Writing Workshop Description

During our week together, we’ll begin each morning with a meditation and writing creativity sprints. Once you're warmed up, we'll turn to the craft of spiritual writing.  We study techniques used by the masters of spiritual writing and do writing exercises to apply those technique to our own writing. We will get very clear on the content of our own spiritual message and formats for best expressing it. Allison will provide proven writing exercises designed to help you release writing blocks, organize your time, and find your motivation. You'll also set an individual writing goal for the day.

Your afternoon is free to structure as you wish. Write on your own, receive individual coaching, explore the Abbey, take an inspiring hike through the forest and around the lake, nap, or exchange plot ideas with other participants. We’ll come back together late afternoon to spend an hour or two sharing our insights, writing and laughter.

The spiritual writing track is capped at 10 registrants to ensure everyone gets what they need out of the retreat.

Workshop Setting

Taken from their website:

"Vaux de Cernay Abbey, located in the Chevreuse valley in the Rambouillet state-owned forest, is an enchanted place and the perfect spot to recharge your batteries. Vaux de Cernay Abbey’s extraordinary architecture emerges from where power and mystery preside.

Thus, it has been reborn and brought back to life: a cellar transformed into a music lounge and a gothic lounge with its enormous chimneys, a former lay brother refectory into a restaurant and re-baptised ‘the prayer table’, a surprising monastic room with two spanning ridge beams and sandstone capitol columns.

We are surrounded by more than eight centuries of history. The former cloister, reading gallery, mill and chapter house have found their existential callings. The Cistercians created these magical places blessed by God and protected by the Kings of France...St Louis and Margaret of Provence drank miracle water from the St Thibault fountain and it made this Queen of France fertile. The spring is still in the nearby woods and soothes the thirst of our guests."

The Abby offers "a special alchemy of escapism, reflection, simplicity, peace and quiet that opens the way to another kind of happiness...[you are invited] to share in the spirit of the place. To contemplate the beauty of a landscape, enjoy the silence of a park or garden and read the traces of the past on the walls. The refinement of each small detail takes you further in your spiritual and sensual journey."

Retreat Leaders

Allison Quaid (CEO Creative Eco-Catalysts, rock star change-agent, 20 years experienced workshop facilitator, Reiki healer, storyteller) is an experienced writer and teacher who will offer you the support and instruction you need.

Jess Lourey, TEDx presenter, Psychology Today blogger, creative writing professor, and author of 16 books will help you to write your bestselling mystery.

Dates, Times & Locations

May/June 2019 (exact dates forthcoming)


45 minutes outside of Paris, France


Pending. Pricing will include six nights' lodging and all meals at this 4-star hotel.

Email allison at to get updated on availability and pricing, as well as to record your interest.

Sample Schedule

Day One (Spiritual Writing Workshop)

8:00  Breakfast

9:00-12 Creativity sprints; an overview of mystery or spiritual writing; set personal goals

12:00   Lunch

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

5:00    Community support session: share your daily progress, get encouragement and feedback (open to mystery and spiritual writers)

6:30    Cocktail/walk/meditation (open to mystery and spiritual writers)

7:00    Dinner (open to mystery and spiritual writers)

“For Allison Quaid: I felt you taught me to trust my creative ‘self’ and instincts on a very deep level through your writing class prompts. I found it confidence boosting, heart-felt, creative, thought provoking and a real learning process shared in a public, but very safe place which was fun and created a great writers’ pool.” — Rachel M., Ireland

“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