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Eastern Sierras Writer’s Retreat: a Nature Lover’s Adventure with LA Times Bestselling Author, Writing Instructor, and Baker Amy Wallen

October 10, 2023 @ 4:00 PM - October 14, 2023 @ 9:00 AM

About the Retreat

Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting amidst a grove of stunning aspen trees, quaking in the mountain breeze and turning golden right before your very eyes. Now imagine that setting is creekside, allowing you to hear the rushing water echo off the majestic California Eastern Sierra Mountains, with perhaps deer or other wildlife sauntering only feet from you. Now, open your eyes, because that dream is about to become reality for only 4-6 lucky writing Adventurers.

Whether you are an aspiring writer, a debut author, or an experienced bestseller, this intimate retreat will help stimulate your writing life with fresh mountain air as you spend 4 nights/3 days in a private mountain home at an elevation of 8,500 feet, in beautiful and secluded Aspendell, California, where professional photographers flock each fall for one of the most stunning displays of aspen foliage in the world.

Envelope yourself in writing, mentoring, camaraderie, and eating pie with an intimate group of fellow writers and AMY WALLEN, author of How to Write a Novel in 20 Pies: Sweet and Savory Secrets for Surviving the Writing Life.

This retreat is ideal for writers of any level who want to open up their writing through their senses. If you are writing a novel, memoir, essays, or stories, and want to learn about starting or invigorating a writing life through rigorous discussion, supportive feedback, intimate conversations in a gorgeous and delicious environment, this retreat will provide craft lessons, critique, Q&A, with time and space to do just that.

Writing is difficult, so why not make the writing life delectable? Hiking, sitting still in nature, breathing in fresh air, communing with friends, eating and imbibing – these are all part of the writing life, whether to mull a scene or to stir up memories. But to have a writing life, first we must write. And, write we will.

Daily Schedule

Your days will start with a light and delicious breakfast prepared for you. Enjoy it on the deck amidst golden aspen trees as you listen to the rushing water and watch the stellar jays, or eat with your fellow writers. The mornings will include craft sessions and individual meetings. We will lunch together, then again have free time to write, wander, photograph the changing aspen leaves, or prepare for the workshop. In the afternoon, we’ll meet for workshops where we will critique each other’s work, offering guided and constructive feedback.

Each day will include a 1-hour workshop on 1-2 submissions, and a 1 to 1-1/2 hour craft session delving into character, sensory imagery, and emotional arc – elements that love to show up in a peaceful setting – through your pen on the page. Through the gorgeous setting, the tranquil environment, the intimacy of only 4-6 participants, and delicious, nourishing meals, all your senses will be ripe for stories. You will have time on your own to write more, as well as individual meetings with the instructor.

One afternoon, we will go on a light hike through a magical hallway of aspen trees to admire their changing colors. One day, in the kitchen with Amy, we will make our own pie and learn how to let go and eat our mistakes. Over pie, we may share our dreams and how to make them reality. What does pie have to do with writing? Everything! Comfort food stirs up memories, taste buds trigger happiness and, best of all, pie is a reward for perseverance.

In the evenings, we will enjoy a relaxing glass of wine while we discuss publishing, writing goals, how to stay focused on the writing life back home, and learn to celebrate our successes. We will have dinners together, sometimes a savory pie, afterwards, a leisurely conversation over dessert pie, or you may choose to retire early and read or write.

Whether writing creative nonfiction or fiction, at the end of the retreat, you’ll take home the utensils to keep your pen moving. In 3 days/4 nights, we will show you how to live the writing life, and how to savor it when you leave. This retreat is perfect for anyone concerned about Covid. Fresh air will always be available, the group is small, all participants are required to be vaxxed, and the house is only accessible by car (no flights required).



  • All-inclusive price of $2,395 per person
  • EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT OF $150 available until August 20, 2023
  • Shared accommodations in creekside cabin home in Aspendell in the stunning Eastern Sierra Mountains of California, elevation 8,500 feet
  • All meals, including homemade savory pies and sweet pies and a glass of evening optional wine
  • Small group size limited to only 4-6 participants
  • Daily exclusive writing experiences, read and critiques, workshops
  • Daily nature activities of your choosing (including light hiking, photography, wildlife viewing, changing aspen leaves viewing, nature walks)
  • Wifi is available for important matters, although we encourage as much tech-free time as possible to fully engage
  • Pie making demo/lesson
  • Fellow writer camaraderie
  • Autographed copy of How to Write a Novel in 20 Pies


  • Transportation to Aspendell, although the drive thru along the Eastern Sierras to Aspendell is stunning (and there are no crowded and worrisome flying crowds). Carpools may be organized.
  • Liability or cancellation insurance


To Register

Contact Susan McBeth at 619-300-2532 or [email protected] for Registration Agreement


About the Author and Book

Amy Wallen is the San Diego-based author of When We Were Ghouls, A Memoir of Ghost Stories and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Moon Pies & Movie Stars. Her essays have been published in The Gettysburg ReviewThe Normal SchoolCountry Living, Alta Journal and other national magazines and anthologies.

 Her book, How to Write a Novel in 20 Pies is a charming, illustrated book sharing her journey writing a novel, some of her teaching experience, and some recipe-stories on pies, because it was through pie that she claims she survived novel writing.

She was the Associate Director of the New York State Summer Writers Institute in Saratoga Springs, NY for 7 years. She has taught creative writing classes at UCSD and UCLA Extensions. She co-facilitates a bi-annual manuscript workshop with pie. Amy also mentors science and engineering students on personal essays, and has helped scores of writers finish their books with her editing services.

And her pie baking. As a kid, she was a chicken pot pie fanatic. Today, she bakes any kind of pie. If you can dream it, she will bake it. Can she whet your appetite with salmon and portobello pie, carne asada pie in a cornmeal crust, and for dessert four-cherry pie or apple ginger pie? Pie, pie, pie.

To schedule a book club visit with Amy or any of our authors on NovelNetwork:


Aspendell, California



October 10, 2023 @ 4:00 PM
October 14, 2023 @ 9:00 AM
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