Find Sanctuary

Where pen meets pine

Come to Karen’s woods for instruction and inspiration! With a maximum of 4 students and 2 instructors and a focus on commercial publication, the Muskrat Lodge Writers Retreat  program is designed for authors who are ready to up their game.


Morning Quiet Time

Get up as early as you like, fix your breakfast from the retreat’s generously stocked breakfast bar, and then hole up in one of the many private locations around the property and write your heart out.


Two workshops each afternoon focus on key elements of the writing craft and are specifically designed to help you elevate your writing skills so you can make your manuscript the best that it can be.

Manuscript Critique

Students submit their first 20 pages in advance so that Karen and her guest instructor can offer meaningful feedback. With only 4 students and 2 teachers, your work will get plenty of individual attention.


The retreat's small class size and relaxed setting offer an unparalleled opportunity to make new writer friends and network with professional authors who are eager to help you reach your publishing goals.



Each Muskrat Lodge Writers Retreat session is packed with equal parts learning and relaxation.

Wednesday | Arrival Day

Students flying into Grand Rapids or arriving by bus or train before 3 PM will be picked up and driven to the lodge. A light supper will be served, followed by a tour of the property, a get-to-know you hangout on the patio, and a sunset pontoon boat cruise on Lake Windoga. Students driving themselves should time their arrival for late afternoon.

Thursday | Retreat Day 1

Quiet time until 1:00 PM, followed by Karen’s “The 6 Things I Learned from Writing My Breakout Book” class and the first of four student manuscript critiques. After another class on craft taught by her guest instructor and a farm-to-table dinner, students spend the rest of the evening kayaking, fat-tire biking, enjoying a bonfire, and just relaxing and hanging out.

Friday | Retreat Day 2

Quiet time until 1:00 PM, followed by a class taught by the retreat’s guest instructor, the second student manuscript critique, and another class on craft taught by Karen. After a group dinner, Karen will show The Marsh King's Daughter movie, followed by a discussion and analysis of how the movie differs from the book and yet still tells a compelling story, with students encouraged to apply these lessons to their own work. Karen will also share what it was like to see her book made into a movie as well as behind-the-scenes details.

Saturday | Retreat Day 3

Quiet time until 1:00 PM, followed by the final two student manuscript critiques and a joint class with Karen and her guest instructor on the business of publishing. The day closes with a bonfire during which students read the experimental fiction they wrote during the retreat as homework assignments.

Sunday | Departure Day

Students leaving by plane, bus, or train after 10 AM are brought back to Grand Rapids. Students leaving before 10 AM will need to make their own arrangements. More details on the FAQ page.

Manuscript Critique

Get a fresh perspective with a manuscript critique from not just one, but two bestselling authors.

Students submit the first 20 pages of their WIP 30 days before the retreat is scheduled to begin to allow the instructors and the other students ample time to read the submissions and prepare meaningful comments. 


Students are asked to bring printed comments on their fellow students’ pages to the retreat. These will be used during the critique workshops and given to the authors afterward for future reference.

Choose from four different retreat sessions with four different guest instructors and sign up today!