Novel writing retreat

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

This retreat gifts you the time, space, and instruction needed to write that bestselling novel. Mornings are spent in writing workshops, while afternoons are given over to exploration and play, with optional genre sessions (mystery writing, spiritual writing, or romance writing) and one-on-one workshopping offered two of the afternoons. Your retreat experience will be tailored to where you're at in your writing process.

The workshop takes place primarily in a villa near the Vaux de Cernay Abbey, located in the Chevreuse valley, an area outside of Paris that is sprinkled with castles. It is an enchanted place drenched in mystery and spiritual power surrounded by eight centuries of history.

Workshop Overview

All 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 novel: compelling characters, page-turning plots, and cinematic settings. After that first evening, Jess and Allison will lead morning workshops showing you how to turn your ideas and experiences into a powerful bestseller.

Your afternoon is free to structure as you wish. Nap, write on your own, research, receive individual coaching, attend an optional genre-writing session, 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 dinner to share our 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

Most of the writing instruction will take place in the villa, with one or two workshops moving to the Abbey.

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 best story.

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.

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

Sample Schedule

Day One

8:00 Meditation

8:30 Breakfast

9:00-12 Creativity sprints; instruction in the craft of novel-writing; set personal goals

12:00   Lunch

1:00    Writing on your own. You can also schedule a 1:1 session with Allison or Jess 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

“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