Private Page for Students registered for the June 5-9 Retreat
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Thank you for registering for a session at the Muskrat Lodge Writers Retreat!

Karen is looking forward to hosting you with guest instructor Stephen Mack Jones
Steven Mack Jones

Retreat Attendees

June 5-9, 2024

Be sure to check back often to see who else is coming!

  •  Cate Anderson
  •  Susan Anderson

Next Steps

Now that you've registered, please note these important dates and details.

Make your travel plans

Transportation to and from the Gerald Ford airport, the Greyhound bus station, or the Amtrack train station in Grand Rapids is provided as part of the registration package for students who arrive on Wednesday afternoon before 3 PM and depart after 109 AM on Sunday.

If you are unsure whether the flight, bus, or train schedule you are considering meets the parameters for free transportation between Grand Rapids and Muskrat Lodge, please email [email protected] before purchasing your ticket. 

May 5, 2024 | Balance Due

You will receive an invoice for final payment on this date.

May 5, 2024 | 20 Pages Due

The first 20 pages of your WIP are due 30 days before your retreat session begins. While we understand the temptation to make last-minute changes, this submission deadline allows both the instructors and the other students ample time to read your pages and prepare meaningful comments.

Before arrival | Student Manuscript reviews

Students are asked to read their fellow student's submissions before the retreat and prepare printed comments to use during the workshop. These comments will be given to the authors after the critique for future reference, so please print them out individually. 

Manuscript Critique Instructions

The deadline for submitting the first 20 pages of your WIP is 30 days before your retreat is scheduled to begin. Please do so below.

Upload files

Upload Word or PDF file only.

Document format requirements:

Submissions should be sent as a Word doc or a PDF file in standard manuscript format: Times New Roman 12, first paragraph indented, and double-spaced. File names should include your name and your book’s title. 


Prologues should be included in your first 20 pages. If a scene or a chapter runs slightly over 20 pages, you may include another page or two for clarity.


Your submission should also include a cover page with your name, the submission’s genre, and a short synopsis of the work.

Manuscripts for review

If you’re relatively new to critiquing, please don’t feel intimidated or shy! Articulating what’s working and what isn’t in other writers’ work is a fantastic way to improve your own. Your comments can be as broad or as detailed as you like. The important thing to remember is to be constructive and kind. Try to offer a good balance, pointing out both things that you felt were strong points, as well as areas that you felt could be improved.


As the pages are being workshopped at the retreat, don’t be afraid to express your honest thoughts and opinions. Reading and writing are subjective, and everyone’s comments have value.

To download your fellow students’ pages, click the links below, and don’t forget to bring your printed comments to the retreat!

Things to Do Locally

If you’re planning to spend a few days in Michigan before or after the retreat, there are plenty of things to see and do! Here are some of Karen’s favorites: 

1/2 hour from Muskrat Lodge 

Living the Good Life Alpaca Acres, Harrison, MI  

The Winery at Young Farms, Mecosta, MI  


1 hour from Muskat Lodge 

Dow Gardens, Midland, MI 


1 ½ hours from Muskrat Lodge 

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI  


2 hours from Muskrat Lodge 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore   

Traverse City, MI


2 ½ hours from Muskrat Lodge 

Suttons Bay, Leelanau Peninsula: breweries, wineries, art galleries, antiques 

Petoskey, MI: historic district with famous “Painted Lady” mansions, boutique shops, antiques, and McLean & Eakin, Karen’s favorite bookstore!

Muskrat Lodge Merchandise

Browse our selection of Muskrat Lodge-branded T-shirts, sweatshirts, and tote bags available exclusively to registered students!


Instructors' Books

Want to check out your instructors’ work before you meet with them in person? Here are their latest titles!


Karen Dionne: The Wicked Sister

Stephen Mack Jones: Deus X

Book Recommendations

We asked each instructor to recommend their favorite books on writing. Here are their picks:

Karen recommends:

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing by David Morrell


Stephen Mack Jones recommends:

If you have a question that hasn’t been addressed on this private page, or if you can’t find the answer on our public FAQ page, write to Karen at [email protected] and she’ll be happy to help