Stronger Stories: Discovering the Elements of Powerful Fiction

Rockvale Writers’ Colony presents our July Full-Week Fiction Residency Experience

Join us July 21-27, 2019 as traditionally published author & experienced book coach Sheila Athens shares the secrets she’s gained by providing developmental edits on dozens of manuscripts. In addition to workshops and plenty of writing time, you’ll get individualized feedback on the first ten pages of your novel. You’ll learn the elements that make literary agents, acquiring editors and readers latch onto a story & fall willingly under its spell.

This special retreat packs two valuable writing experiences into one week. First, writers will enjoy a full residency with independent writing time and the freedom to choose how they spend the majority of their day. Writers provide and prepare their own food (with the exception of the Welcome Dinner). We provide plenty of pantry space and a large kitchen is available for use around the clock. Second, writers will attend a 2-hour writing workshop each day from 10:00 to Noon led by author and book coach Sheila Athens. The time of structured learning balances the free time so that every writer receives both community and solitude, time to be engaged and time to be at the page. After the course, each writer in attendance will have an opportunity to submit the first ten pages of their work to Sheila for feedback. The cost of this feedback is included in the course price, so there’s no extra charge for this individualized attention.

We hope you’ll join us for this unique and power-packed retreat at Rockvale. We’re eager to welcome you and help you discover how to make your stories as strong as they can be.

Sheila Athen’s Credentials:

  • Traditionally published novelist with a major publishing company
  • Experienced book coach, both via her private practice & via Author Accelerator, one of the nation’s most well-respected providers of book coaching & developmental editing services
  • Current Chair of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Agent Pitch Events, which means she’s communicating on a regular basis with agents who are currently open to submissions
  • Gained her knowledge by attending many of the nation’s foremost writing conferences & seminars, such as Robert McKee’s Story seminar & Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel.
  • Experienced presenter & facilitator, including:
    • Former Training Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
    • Former Vice President of Human Resources for a Fortune 100 company
    • Has presented writing-related topics on both a regional and national level
  • For more information about Sheila, visit her website:

The Schedule (tentative):

Sunday, July 21, 2019

  • 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Check in and settle in. You’ll be given a short tour and we’ll show you to your assigned room.
  • 6:00 p.m. – Welcome Dinner, Introductions, Overview of Retreat

Monday, July 22, 2019

  • 10:00 a.m. to Noon – Writing Workshop: Your Story’s Foundation
    • Just as a house needs a strong foundation on which to stand, your story needs a strong foundation. Without it, everything else—the walls, the windows, the roof, the opening scene, the Aha moment, the ending—will crumble. We’ll study the elements of storytelling that provide the underpinnings for powerful fiction.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

  • 10:00 a.m. to Noon – Writing Workshop: In It to Win It
    • Readers come to story to follow a protagonist through a series of ups and downs, all of which—hopefully—lead to a satisfying ending. We’ll study how the protagonist’s goal provides the all-important fuel to keep the story moving forward and the reader engaged.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

  • 10:00 a.m. to Noon – Writing Workshop: Plan Your Story
    • Writing a story is like taking a massive road trip. You wouldn’t get in your car and start driving without having an idea of where you’re headed. The same should be true for your story. We’ll learn how to design your story, including identifying the major (and necessary) waypoints along the way.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

  • 10:00 a.m. to Noon – Writing Workshop: Mistakes to Avoid
    • We’ll study the most common mistakes I’ve seen writers make as they try to get their story onto the page. More importantly, we’ll discuss how to avoid those mistakes so your manuscript shines.
  • 7:00 p.m. – Sharing Time: Optional Reading for anyone who wishes to share their work. Whether you choose to read or not, we ask that you attend in order to support the other writers.

Friday, July 26, 2019

  • 10:00 a.m. to Noon – Q&A: Anything Goes
    • Have questions we haven’t addressed so far this week? Perhaps they are follow-up questions from the workshops. Or perhaps you have questions on completely different topics, such as the publishing landscape or how to best work with an agent. Sheila is happy to share her knowledge with you.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

  • Noon: Checkout and Goodbye

Cost Breakdown:

$750.00 – Includes a private bedroom/bathroom for 6 nights, 1 Welcome Dinner (wine included), 4 Writing workshops, 1 Q&A Session, Detailed Feedback on 10 pages of work

$103.13 Applicable Taxes (Sales and Occupancy)

$853.13 Total


Click HERE to Apply

Only complete the registration if you are sure you are able to attend. We will accept and notify everyone on a first-come, first served basis. If the event is full, we will notify you and add your name to the Waiting List.

Full payment of $853.13 is due by July 8, 2019. If you would like to pay in installments, please let us know. We will be happy to arrange this with you!

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellations made after July 8, 2019 will be refunded all payments minus 25%.