• facebook

The Penobscot Bay Publishing Retreat

Castine, Maine
Returning in 2024. Please inquire about dates.


Register Now!
Join writing coach Judyth Hill and literary agent Katharine Sands for an in-depth week focusing on both craft and career. We’ll explore all aspects of your writing and book, from powerful beginnings and plot to query letters and the business of publishing. During your stay at the historic Castine Inn, in the picturesque town of Castine on Penobscot Bay, you’ll attend classes and roundtable discussions in an intimate setting, fine-tuning your writing and laying the groundwork to sell it.

Bring your manuscript, your ideas and your dreams and leave with a personalized plan for success, all while experiencing the magic of summer in Maine. Ready Your Work for Agents, Editors, Publishers and Producers!

This same program is also offered during Day of the Dead in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: October 27-November 3.

Working with Judyth Hill, master teacher and poet

We’ve written and re-written, but are we there yet? How, indeed, can you know when your book is ready to hit the BigTime? In our four sessions together, we will work with my ARE YOU REALLY FINISHED Checklist, and, no matter where you are starting from…we will get you to the finish line.

Part I: Plan the Work, and Work the Plan
Guided by our Checklist, we’ll go through all the nuts and bolts that comprise Done. This will
be a time of describing your project, and your goals, asking questions and getting super clear about where you are on your journey to Ready.

Part II: First Responder on the Plot Scene
Even a memoir must be plotted, yup, even a collection of poems needs a captivating thread. What to tell and when, how to pace your story, find and follow your arc, engage your reader,
and keep ‘em right in there. This is a function of plot, and we’ll look at the many juicy possibilities for your project: not rules: but Radar, ways to see the most compelling way to tell your story. And then…

Part III: Bring Us There: Location, Location, Location
Reader Drift is often caused by our not pulling them into Place, and locking that attention down by vivid, all-five-senses-on-deck descriptions. We’ll have fun, focused writing practices to get a grip on this skill.

Part IV: Dynamite Readings that Sell Your Book
You’ve given your book your best – now, let’s learn to perform it with verve and passion. Engage your audience, and bring YOUR unique style fully forward.

Learn more about Judyth here.

Working with Katharine Sands, literary agent and creator of Pitchcraft

Writers are welcome at many stages of creation and in many formats, whether developing and marketing material for print, digital or other media. During our time together, we’ll discover all the many ins and outs of the publishing universe.

Parts I: Getting Ready, Getting Read and Getting Readers
Literary agents are always on a treasure hunt. But few writers know what it takes to make agents yell at first glance: “Eureka, I’ve struck gold!” And a first glance is all that most writers will get before the agent moves on without ever reading further. In this class, Katharine shows you the best ways to showcase your writing as a bold, new entry into this category—and yourself as a potential author with an intriguing book poised to spring forth.

Part II: From First Writes to Last Rights
Delve into trends in publishing, expanding digital markets, and the actual business of books—and its quirks and processes and challenges. Tour the submissions and acquisitions process of getting-an-agent/submitting-to-editors, focusing on fundamental guiding principles behind all successful authors and the author-agent-editor relationship, including how to identify and develop your selling points and sales engines

Parts III & IV: Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye
The best pitches give off sparks, create a moment, or pose a provocative question just to give a taste of the project. Learn what to do–and what not to do–when summarizing your book: How to get an agent from the get-go; start in a logical place, yet from a compelling perch; how to encapsulate in clear core points; ways to create coming attractions that whet the reader’s appetite for more—and how to avoid "Querial Killers": the easy-to-fix mistakes writers make. This class cuts through the mystery of getting an agent to want YOU, to read YOU, and to say YES to YOU.

Learn more about Katharine here.


Day 1

Welcome to Castine! Arrive to the Castine Inn. In the evening, we'll gather for cocktails and introductions, followed by a dinner of local Maine favorites.


Getting Ready, Getting Read and Getting Readers. Explore all the nuts and bolts that comprise a ready-to-sell manuscript. After lunch, we'll have a short historical walking tour of Castine, followed by a roundtable discussion on First Pages. Free evening.


Plan the Work, and Work the Plan. In-depth discussions on creating your own plan for success. In the afternoon, we'll reconvene to talk about fine-tuning the details of your book with vivid, all-five-senses-on-deck descriptions. Evening roundtable: Ready Your Work for Agents, Editors, Publishers and Producers. Dinner at the Inn.


First Responder on the Plot Scene. Today we'll focus on What to tell and when, how to pace your story, find and follow your arc, and engage your reader. Afternoon roundtable: Build your Writing Platform. Dinner on your own.


Sailing Penobscot Bay. After breakfast we'll sail around Penobscot Bay, stopping along the way for lunch. Evening roundtable: Come with Your Questions. Free evening.


Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye. Cut through the mystery of getting an agent to want YOU, to read YOU, and to say YES to YOU. Free lunch and afternoon to enjoy Castine or schedule a mentoring session. Farewell dinner at The Manor.



$1600 per person, double occupancy
$350 single supplement

Included in the price are 6 nights at the Castine Inn, daily breakfast, a welcome cocktail and all meals unless stated otherwise in the itinerary (you'll have one lunch and three dinners on your own to explore the town's restaurants). Also included are 12 hours of class, roundtable discussions, all group activities and 1/2 hour of private mentoring with both Katharine and Judyth as well as evening readings with feedback.

A $1000 per person deposit is required to reserve your place in the Penobscot Bay Publishing Retreat. Since the number of participants is limited, early reservations are recommended. Once your deposit is received, an email confirmation will be sent. The balance is due no later than 60 days before the retreat begins. If not received by that time, EAT-WRITE-TRAVEL reserves the right to treat the reservation as cancelled (please review our cancellation policy when booking).


To get the most from your retreat experience, we offer the following add-ons:

Line-Editing & Personal Coaching: $95/ 25 pages of line-editing with a ½ hour meeting.

Crafting Your Most Compelling Structure & Sequence: $85/hour, submit 1 or 2 page synopsis.

Creating Vivid Characters, Vibrant Settings, Dynamic Description: $85/hour, submit one character and one setting description, and a list of your project’s 5 most important characters and settings.

Your Needs, Your Questions!: $95/hour, submit 5 questions with first 20 pages or synopsis.

Designing YOUR Unique Plan: $95/hour, submit first 20 pages or synopsis.


The Penobscot Bay Publishing Retreat is limited to 12 students.


Mentoring from an Agent’s Perspective:

Query Letter Consultation: $50, 1/2 hour

Marketing and Content Strategy Session: $85/hour, submit first 20 pages or synopsis.

Your Needs, Your Questions!: $95/hour, submit 5 questions with first 20 pages or synopsis.

Critique on Writing Strengths and Weaknesses: $95/hour, submit first 20 pages.

**Deadline for all synopsis and page submissions is May 1st.