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Work With the Best Memoir and Novel Writing Mentors

November 6 -10, 2024 in Pacific Grove

From the Heart, but Smart
The Literary Dream of Monterey

Join us on the wondrously scenic Monterey Peninsula for a writer retreat like no other. Know that writers of every kind have journeyed for over a century to this same location on the California west coast. They've come in search of inspiration, individuality, purpose and vision, but more importantly, to share an understanding that art has preceded their arrival in the form of a brutally beautiful sea and windswept shore. It is this setting that inspired the poet Robinson Jeffers to pen:

Fresh as the air, salt as the foam, play birds in the bright wind, fly falcons
Forgetting the oak and the pinewood, come gulls
From the Carmel sands and the sands at the river-mouth, from
Lobos and out of the limitless
Power of the mass of the sea...

Steinbeck found the material for his dozen volumes of California fiction in the Salinas and neighboring valleys, along the shores of Monterey Bay, in the Corral de Tierra, and on Big Sur. Even the Monterey sunsets illuminate the secrets of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" which served as a stage for the lives and times on which Jack London and George Sterling composed their allegories. Don Blanding, Henry Miller, Mary Austin, Ambrose Bierce, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, Nora May French and countless others have nurtured their creative intellect here for years on end, all of them fondly recalling their Monterey days in the years to come.

The Count of Days at Monterey

Participants in the Monterey Writer Retreat will work both in a group and one-on-one with the best literary "closers" and mentors in the business: Paula Munier, Michael Neff, and Katharine Sands (see bios below), who together combine more than 75 years of working with aspiring authors and ushering them to publication. Before you meet with them, you inform us ahead of time via the Monterey Writer Retreat Application about the retreat goals you wish to focus on and we'll make it happen.

Like other Algonkian retreats, the Monterey event creates an intimate and professional environment that combines private consults each day with an intitial small-group workshop, thus enabling aspiring authors to wisely approach the writing and publication of their novel. But what precisely does that mean? Beginning on the first day, Wednesday morning at 9 AM and continuing until 5 PM PST, writers will meet in a group with author-agents Paula Munier and Michael Neff who will work in tandem on each writer's novel premise as well as on all other vital developmental issues (e.g., plot, character arcs, theme, dramatic complications, pinch points, etc.) as they present themselves during the course of discussion and analysis.

On the following Thursday, and lasting until Sunday (both AM and PM), writers will meet with their faculty mentors for the purpose of further developing their particular projects (novels or nonfiction) and/or honing their pages of prose narrative, or both. The goals of each session over the four days typically vary, and they are determined by each writer upon consultation with their mentor.

On the final day, Sunday, writers will meet with faculty to accomplish a wrap-up consult which consists of formulating a publication plan going forward, as well as discussion that involves the utilization of the post-event novel development and editorial program.

The Finest Mentors Found Anywhere

Katharine Sands has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books including fiction, memoir, and non-fiction. When reading fiction she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling, and hooked by characters... [ more on the faculty ]

Michael Neff is an award winning author, Pushcart nominated poet, widely published short fiction writer, TV/film agent, writer event organizer, as well as an accomplished developmental editor. His first published book, a literary political novel about Washington during the Reagan years entitled ALL THE DARK WE WILL NOT SEE was published by the distinguished academic press, Serving House Books. A few years later, an urban fantasy, MAGICIANS IMPOSSIBLE, was created and co-edited by him, and later published by Macmillan Books... [ more on the faculty ]

Literary agent, editor and author Paula Munier is one of the biggest new stars in New York publishing. Her energy is boundless, her network endless, and being a writer herself, as well as a congenial human being, her care and compassion for her writers is legendary. Paula possesses broad experience in a wide variety of genres, and in creating content in all formats across all markets... [ more on the faculty ]

Before the Retreat and Beyond

Like other Algonkian events, the Monterey Writer Retreat begins before you arrive and resumes upon departure. Why? Because writing and editing a novel takes place on a long creative spectrum over time. It doesn't begin and end with a single event. Our goal therefore is to prepare the aspiring author before the retreat, insofar as practical and possible, then continue afterwards with a 16-part Algonkian Novel Development and Editorial Program (includes additional post-event faculty consult).

Upon registration, writers will receive links and passwords to customized novel editorial and development forums at Algonkian Author Connect which address, among other novel writing elements, all the major novel conflict and complication issues, plot lines and points, theme seeding, prose narrative style and voice, dialogue, scene construction, as well as character arc-and-development nuances.

Application, Registration, Weather, Logistics, Etc.

Dates and Application

The fall 2024 retreat will last for five days and take place November 6 to 10 with arrival on Tuesday, November 5. If you have reviewed our mission and location, and found the dates suitable for retreat purposes, the next step is to fill out the Monterey Writer Retreat application and tell us about yourself, your writing life, and what you wish to accomplish at the retreat. Once you fill it in and submit, give us up to five days to respond.

The Actual Retreat Location

What could be more convenient and sublime than the town of Pacific Grove on the northern Monterey Peninsula? The mentors meet with writers outdoors beneath the trees, beside the shore, in quaint coffee shops, and at a local "main meeting house" with a spacious living room and lovely shaded patio. It all makes for plenty of energy and exchange of creative thought.

Cars and Lodging in Pacific Grove

As an attendee, you make your own room reservation in Pacific Grove. This is undeniably the best course given the large number of price and lodging options available ranging from classic bed-and-breakfast places to motels/inns and AirBnB choices. Additionally, no matter where you stay, the mid-town area of Pacific Grove is only a quarter mile away or less--an easy and beautiful nature walk to book stores, boutiques, cafes, coffee shops, diners, and restaurants of all kinds. Consequently, if you book accommodations here, you will not require a rental car to get around. Tranportation will be provided in the evenings as necessary to social gatherings or dinners.

Book Contracts and Comments

Our updated "Algonkian Book Contracts" page features workshop and conference observations over several years, including a few by Monterey alum, Mindy Halleck, who reviews the event at length on her website : "I've been involved with, attended, and taught at numerous writer conferences, but this one stands out far ahead of the others if you're ready for it. The reason is, the prep work, and the one-on-one time with agents (like incredible #PaulaMunier) and editors discussing your work specifically, and not in some abstract way." [ more ]

Logistics and Weather

We recommend flying into Monterey airport, or if not, then perhaps LAX, San Jose (75 minutes away), or SFO. The Pacific Grove location at the tip of the Monterey Peninsula is easily accessible by Uber, taxi, or other transportation. Trains also run up and down the coast.

As in mid-spring, the California weather in Monterey come early November is mostly spectacular with daytime temps in the 60s-70s. However, we personally love a few foggy days here and there, feet beside the fireplace and a great cup of coffee in hand. Based on experience though, we expect most days to be gorgeous.


Registration for the Monterey Writer Retreat is $1095.00, and the registration link found below. We process all of our payments via Paypal because it has proved itself over the years to be secure and trustworthy. This fee covers event tuition, one-on-one mentor meetings, workshops, pitch sessions, and *all* other writer-related activities associated with the retreat. If necessary and requested, a full refund will be provided up to 30 days before the retreat.

Contact Us if You Need

If you do not find your questions answered on this page regarding the Monterey Writers Retreat, please feel free to call or write us:

Email: info (at) with the subject line:
"Monterey Writers Retreat Questions"

Phone: 1-800-250-8290

From the Heart, but Smart.
- Algonkian Motto