Have you ever longed to have a place to go where you could write without interruption?  Have you wished someone would deliver meals to you three times a day … and wash the dishes, too? And if complete isolation with your own thoughts and your own pages seems attractive but maybe a bit too much, have you wished you could have that good writing place with a mentor attached? Someone with lots of experience who could read and comment on your work, talk through the gnarly spots, and just provide that deep understanding only possible from another writer?

Marion's house

That’s what I’m offering. Occasional brief—Monday through Friday—one-on-one writing retreats for women in my St. Paul, Minnesota home.

I have been a writing teacher as long as I have been a published writer, which is more than forty years. I was one of the founding faculty and the first Faculty Chair for the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I taught in many other venues before that. I’ve retired from teaching at VCFA but have decided to keep a hand in at teaching in a much quieter way. What could be better than inviting writers, one at a time, into my home?


Your retreat will begin with sending me a manuscript two weeks before you are due to arrive. If you are presenting a novel or part of a novel or full-length non-fiction, the maximum will be 40,000 words or approximately 150 pages. With picture books or early readers the maximum will be three manuscripts. A manuscript that runs long can be compressed by summarizing some parts. Or if you want the entire manuscript read, we can discuss an appropriate additional charge. I will return your manuscript to you, before you arrive, with notes and a brief over-all critique. 

  Debbie Edwardson revising her manuscript
Debby Dahl Edwardson at work on her revisions.

You may arrive after lunch on Monday, and your retreat will end before lunch on Friday. I will pick you up at, and deliver you to, the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, which is ten minutes from my home. If you drive, your car can be tucked away in my garage. You will have a comfortable bedroom with your own bath and access to the rest of my quiet house. If you prefer, you can work at the desk in your room. Or you can find a chair or a table in the main part of the house or on the deck or patio. While you’re here, I will go about my own work and my own life, but I will share meals with you and be available throughout your stay for consultation, further reading, and discussing the challenges of your manuscript … and for just good writer talk.

I will provide all meals, taking your dietary sensitivities and preferences into account. I am gluten- and lactose-sensitive and allergic to shellfish, so I understand special dietary needs. And I enjoy cooking, so meals will be pleasant and healthful.

Some folks like to spend all their time here exclusively on work, but if you want to take time off, there are abundant opportunities for theater, dance, music, and visual arts in the Twin Cities. I will help you find what’s available and join you, each paying our own way. If the natural world calls to you and weather allows, we can take a walk in a garden or woodsy park. Or a conservatory nearby is perfect in inclement weather. Also, I keep two kayaks at a small lake thirty minutes from my home. They are Poke Boats, very stable, very easy even for beginners, and I would be delighted to take you kayaking.

Marion's deck

And yes, it’s cold in Minnesota in the winter, but it is also beautiful and my house is cozy and warm. Spring through fall, a patio in front of the house and a deck behind are perfect for meals or for sitting in the shade to read or plan or write.

Any time of year, I would love to work with you. I am open to all genres except graphic novels. (I have no experience with graphic novels.) I have published the full range of juvenile literature, board books and picture books, fiction and non-fiction early readers, middle-grade and young-adult novels, both prose and verse. I would also enjoy working with memoir for an adult audience as that is another kind of writing I am invested in, and I would be open to other kinds of work for adults.

When you apply, I will ask to see a partial manuscript to make sure your particular project is one to which I can make a contribution.

The charge for a week’s session is $1,500, but if this sounds like exactly what you need and that amount is beyond your means, I will offer a sliding scale. Tell me what is possible for you.

Further readings of your manuscript after you leave can be negotiated for an additional fee.

TO APPLY, contact me.

No one can untangle the knot of an ornery story like Marion. Likewise, she has a knack for finding the trigger that can jumpstart a story that has stalled out. I trust her with all my books. A one-on-one week with her would be a gift to both writer and work. And she’s a damned good cook, too!

When it comes to plot and structure, Marion Dane Bauer is quite simply the best. She is able to put her finger on the pulse of a struggling manuscript and diagnose, with amazing accuracy, the source of the problem. A week one-on-one with Marion—reading, working and talking story—is a writer’s heaven. I can’t recommend this retreat highly enough.

If you can possibly arrange your life to include a writing retreat mentored by Marion Dane Bauer, don’t hesitate. Sign up now! I know from experience that you can expect a quiet, comfortable and purposeful environment where your work will be honored and will flourish. How often is a writer offered inspiring manuscript critiques and superb food? Marion offers both.

TO MY FELLOW WRITERS: Don’t miss this unique one-on-one retreat!

Suggested Packing List:

  • appetite for delicious, healthy meals
  • desire to work in a beautiful woodsy setting conducive to asking questions and absorbing wisdom
  • your writing project: old or new, underway or mired in no man’s land

Provided on site:

  • respect for your heart and your work, curiosity, patience, and immense knowledge joyfully shared.

Leave with:

  • new energy for your writing
  • a deeper understanding of story structure
  • a longing to return

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