Honor your writing and sell your book.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California beckons…

“I still dream about my stay in Carmel. It was indeed magical. Linda could teach anywhere, and to much larger audiences, but creates a powerful, intimate experience at her retreats. (And good God, can she write!) I didn’t know what to expect and did not expect it to be what it turned out to be—interesting and exciting, with talented, beautiful women. I was thrilled by how brilliant they were, and how different their projects, both meaningful and important. Linda knows what she’s doing, and I was very impressed with the format—the yin and the yang, the give and the take. And, to go five days without watching TV, especially MSNBC? Heaven!

“I’ve never paid to go on retreat before and joked that I didn’t need to come, but I really did. I needed to get out of my loft, out of my office. To be in a beautiful place, surrounded by other writers. It didn’t matter to me if they were published or not. The bottom line was that we were all there trying to do the same thing, and I appreciate and thank every one of them.”

Terry McMillan, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist (author of 10 books, including Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, both of which became hit movies)

The Life BriefUSA Today Bestseller“Linda has been a champion of The Life Brief book from its beginning, even before I could see myself as a writer. Her Carmel Writing Retreat planted the first seeds of potential and possibility for The Life Brief to become a book. I am eternally grateful to Linda for her wisdom, guidance, fuel, and friendship in making The Life Brief what it is today!”

Bonnie Wan, USA Today bestselling author of The Life Brief: A Playbook for No-Regrets Living (Simon & Schuster, 2024)

Higher Love
“I attended two writing retreats in Carmel with Linda, and I cannot rave enough about my experience. And once in her world, she’s forever in your corner. Linda stayed in touch, wouldn’t let me give up when I wanted to, and connected me with several of the world’s top agents. She read every word of this book with a huge heart and an eagle eye. I’d paid MULTIPLE editors, and none of them caught what she easily did. This book wouldn’t exist without her influence. Linda is my fairy book mama.”

Anne Kiehl Friedman (Boldspark, June 2024)

[From Linda: Did you catch Anne’s cover quote from GLORIA STEINEM? What you can’t see here is my blurb, calling it ‘Eat, Pray, Love on acid.’ Clever, ya? True. And so much more. HL is genuinely one of the best books I’ve EVER read. Love you, Anne, and your years of commitment to mastery. Enjoy, everyone!]

Current Carmel Schedule

Sept. 9 – 13, 2024


Hello! I’m so happy you found me. The Internet is magic! I’m Linda, and since 2009, I’ve led nearly 100 dreamy writing retreats in my favorite place growing up, one of the most desirable artist communities in the world, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. In this treasured hamlet, a longtime favorite of legendary residents Jack London, Mary Austin, Upton Sinclair, and Ansel Adams (rated the #8 Travel Destination in the U.S. by Condé Nast magazine), countless bestsellers, friendships, and writerly, business, and book dreams have been birthed.

Everyone says it. Carmel is magical! Our participants are, too. They come from every career background and country imaginable, with open hearts and unbounded talent that wows me each time. In this creative soup, new books emerge, old books are sorted out, and we all have psychic revelations for each other. Yep. It’s that otherworldly. And, most importantly, it’s WORKING, as you’ll see by the book-deal testimonials sprinkled throughout. It’s been my great pleasure to connect 50 retreaters so far with their literary agents, resulting in book contracts with traditional publishers at a rate of something like 26 x the national average. [These stats are far more significant now and need to be updated, but math scares me, so bear with me.]

I cap the retreat size to 5 participants, which means lots of space to dive deep for everyone.

Spots fill fast! If your intuition tells you it’s time, and you’re jonesin’ to join us, fill out the brief registration form (no commitment necessary) so we can schedule a phone/Zoom chat to discuss your project. I. Cannot. Wait.

“Last Christmas I gave a family member the gift of a week with Linda Sivertsen at her Carmel Writer’s Retreat. Good news: It was the PERFECT gift and far exceeded expectations. Bad news: This year I don’t think I can top it!”

Tom Bergeron, Emmy-winning host of Dancing with the Stars, and author of I’m Hosting as Fast as I Can! Zen and the Art of Staying Sane in Hollywood

[From Linda: Read about Tom interviewing me about memoir & Beautiful Writers at Zibby’s Bookshop on 6-21-24 in Santa Monica.]

“Thank you to the Book Mama herself, Linda Sivertsen, for providing magical time and space in Carmel and for impeccable guidance along the way.”

Jessica Fein, from the Acknowledgment pages of Breathtaking: A Memoir of Family, Dreams, and Broken Genes (Behrman House, 2024)

[From Linda: I love interviewing my people during their book launches, like this event with Jess at Zibby’s Bookshop.]

“To Linda Sivertsen and the Carmel Writing Retreat babes (Annis, Bronwyn, Claire, and Liz), who encouraged me to bring the bigger Soulbbatical vision to life. Thank you for the enthusiastic feedback and support. You’ve been with me in spirit on this entire journey.”

Shelley Paxton, from the acknowledgment pages of Soulbbatical: A Rebel’s Guide to Finding Your Best Life (now in paperback, Simon & Schuster, May 2024)

[From Linda: I was floored and delighted while reading Shelley’s book to find multiple pages in which she wrote about our Carmel retreat—about how the camaraderie and love and brilliance of her fellow retreaters was the start of this incredible “Soulpreneur,” Soulbbatical book & movement. Shell had just left her marketing executive job at Harley-Davidson when she arrived. She wrote that she left feeling terrified and excited and not at all ready (we rarely are!). But at 48, she finally saw herself as “Chief Soul Officer” and had her manifesto, and we’re all better for it. That’s the point of every retreat for me: to help people see and OWN their greatness. I was speechless reading about it then and still mostly am, so I’ll shut up now. Ha. #DeepBow.]

The ChateauWhen We Were Young“Linda, I can’t thank you enough for your spot-on edits, wise suggestions, support, cheerleading, friendship, mentorship, and the transformative cocoon of your magical Carmel writing retreats—all of it. Your love and cheerleading and guidance over the years has meant the WORLD to me! I am so grateful for your part in bringing this to fruition. Every time I see you post about Carmel, I think: One day again I will join! Hopefully sooner rather than later (although how can any group match our girls?! Even four years later, I’m still dreaming about that magical week!).

“… I’ve had so many pinch-myself moments. I’ve dreamt of this for so long; I’m trying to soak it all in that it’s happening. And I simply can’t overstate your influence on my career, my debut novel, and my writing community. I’ve written two novels since my debut—one set in Bali, and one in Tel Aviv, and both in the same book club fiction vein—and am just really happy. Thank you thank you thank you, Lin. You really are my fairy bookmother! ❤ XO”

Jaclyn Goldis, novelist, When We Were Young (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, 2021), The Chateau (Atria Books, 2023), and The Main Character (Atria, May, 2024)


Superman's Not Coming“Linda literally changed my life! Going to her Carmel Retreat was a huge stretch for me. I was super scared and yet a little voice in me was a total YES. So I said a prayer, put it on my credit card, and hoped for the best. Within days of registering for the retreat, I signed two new clients, which helped me pay off half the cost before I even got there. Thanks, Universe!

“By the end of the retreat, Linda had helped me sort through whether to pitch my book direct to my dream publisher or go with an agent, which has been a lifelong dream. She hooked me up with my first choice of a NY agent before the retreat was up, and a week later I signed with that agent, who not only agreed to represent my next book, but also brought me in to ghostwrite for one of my longtime, personal (s)heroes, Erin Brockovich. (We finished the proposal, which sold for a significant deal, and just finished the book!) Also, after a brainstorm with a friend at the retreat, we’re working on a super cool book too.

“In one week I filled the next few years of my writing career with dream projects. Plus, Carmel is one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited; we ate delicious food, and I left with some amazing new girlfriends and a forever friend in Linda. How’s that for wow?”

Suzanne Boothby, co-author of Erin Brockovich’s Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What WE THE PEOPLE Can Do About It (Pantheon/Knopf, Aug. 2020)

I’m all about the win-win. In this photo, for example, two of the three gals with me from that retreat have signed with lit agents I referred them to, and both memoirs have become New York Times bestsellers (Paris Letters and Misdiagnosed). And we’ve all become dear friends.

That’s my favorite part of all of this. What I hoped and prayed would happen, life-changing RESULTS and relationships. In this book + brand + business-building retreat, I draw upon all of my 29-year experience combining creativity & commerce–writing and marketing award-winning, bestselling books (and magazine cover stories)–and building solid, robust platforms.

Need a literary agent? When you and your project are ready, I tap my best agent connections in the industry to get my gals SOLD, often working closely with the agent to strategize and celebrate.

Sometimes publishers reach out to me directly. I’ve connected writers with editors at imprints for Simon & Schuster, Sounds True, and Workman. I’m not an agent, and I don’t take a percentage of anything; I LIVE for the squeals and happy tear-filled sniffles of are-you-sitting-down GREAT news. To see more of those results beyond the testimonials on this page, go here.

Dream coverage: Years ago, CARMEL magazine ran a beautiful 5-page article on the retreats.

Happy Masked Retreaters

What do we work on?

Breathe life into your book proposal, novel, memoir, non-fiction business, self-help book, cookbook, overall business & career marketing plan… WHATEVER’S whispering (or yelling) in your ear for TIME and attention.

Show up with merely a few ideas, a belly full of them, nothing but a title and a gut feeling, or two full manuscripts. It all works. I love helping wide-eyed first-time writers and veteran authors, people at the BEGINNING of their creative process (to shortcut their path from IDEA to DONE), and battle-weary pros in need of a creative B12 shot. If you’re a newbie, we’ve got you. You won’t feel that way past day #1 (and, we’ll likely save you years of doing it the hard way).

Conversely, if you’ve been at this FOREVER and ache for fresh perspectives and insights, you’re coming to the right place. And I’ve got one hell of an address book, so if it’s connections you long for, I love making those intros when the time is right. Birthing a book takes a team; I’m all about team love.

Corey Reading
Night reading

HEAL documentaryHeal“Linda’s Carmel writing retreats have become my yearly tradition—the gift I give myself to oxygenate my art. I grew up ‘just one of the guys’ playing sports, and had a tough time relating to ‘emotional’ girls. As a direct result of these retreats, I finally learned what men have known for centuries: Girls rule. It’s hard to describe the magic that occurs when women from around the world come together, open up their hearts and minds, and share their creative projects. Year after year, the groups change, but the tremendous love, support, and genius I witness never ceases to amaze me. I highly recommend everyone give themselves the gift of five days with Linda in Carmel.

drbernielegendkellynoonanandbernie“One of my favorite things to watch is how Linda opens up her Rolodex to connect us to the perfect person who can catapult our journey or launch our endeavors. I’ve seen her get agents—and even Taylor’s TEDWomen talk—for retreaters in days (not months). In my case, when I mentioned at the last one that I’d LOVE to interview the legendary heart surgeon/author Dr. Bernie Sanders for my documentary, HEAL, Linda said, “I KNOW Dr. Bernie! I’ll email him right now!” She did, and just like that, I was on a plane to the East Coast. Unbelievable. These photos are all because of you, Linda! I love you!”

Kelly Noonan Gores, actress, writer, director, and producer of HEAL, the award-winning film (#1 Best Seller on iTunes, streaming on Netflix) and book (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster) 

Incurable Optimist“To Linda Sivertsen—Your encouragement. Your heart. Your stick-to-it cheerleading. Your energy. Your expertise. It all adds up to big magic. Thank you, friend! You gave me the boost of wind that helped me fly.”

Jennifer Cramer-Miller, from the Acknowledgment pages of the award-winning Incurable Optimist: Living with Illness and Chronic Hope (She Writes Press, 2023)


“Linda is the literary Fairy God Sister sprinkling pixie dust over your book proposal. Having gone to her Carmel Writing Retreat and then taken her Book Proposal Magic course online, I can say firsthand that every time we interact, I leave feeling so much clearer and more able and motivated to create my own magic.”

Penelope Patricia Jagessar Chaffer, Sundance Artist in Residence in partnership with Johns Hopkins University and MIT Research Fellow


“Linda Sivertsen’s writing retreat in Carmel is one of the best gifts I have ever given to myself. And, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. From our first Introductory emails, I knew Linda was special. Her light shines that brightly. Her brilliance as a writer is only matched by her magical ability to share her skills, expertise, and contacts. And deliver. Man, does she deliver! My TED talk was a vision she had at my retreat last February, and by October, I did my Talk at TEDWomen. (It was through her contacts that the door opened… and performing on that stage was a career- and life-highlight!) Linda worked her magic on everyone—connecting one gal to her dream agent (who got her a book deal soon after our retreat), etc., etc. The amazing food, friendships, and support were only possible through Linda’s coaching and wisdom.”

Taylor Dayne, singer/songwriter, with 18 top-10 Billboard hits, Tell It to My Heart: How I Lost My S#*T, Conquered My Fear, and Found My Voice (Wyatt-MacKenzie)

Your Body Your Best Friend“Best. Time. Ever. Signing up for Linda’s writing retreat at Carmel was the beginning of a magical journey in writing and publishing! If you want to write a book, it’s good to have a guide in this new and strange world, and Linda has been—and continues to be—a great friend and ally to me.”

Erica Mather, founder of the Yoga Clinic of NYC, The Adore Your Body Transformational Program, and author of Your Body, Your Best Friend: End the Confidence-Crushing Pursuit of Unrealistic Beauty Standards and Embrace Your True Power (New Harbinger)

“I didn’t come to make new friends, yet I left with sisters. I wanted hard criticism, yet I was given constructive, loving responses. I didn’t want to write the tough stuff, yet I was supported through nerves and tears. I wanted to resist, resist, resist, but the energy in the room wouldn’t allow the muse check-out.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a writing lion or a cub, just attend the retreat. Release your ideas from captivity. Receive the gifts that await you. You won’t regret it. In fact, your life will be altered forever and for the better!”

Dina Eastwood Ruiz, journalist, Carmel magazine

“Ever get that wooba-wooba feeling? You know, the one where one minute you’re in your own kind of pedestrian world, and then suddenly you’re transported? I would have called it deja-vu, but I never had it before. Like you’re in another dimension, free of human and this-world worries and limits, able to see things you haven’t seen, able to imagine things. Most importantly, able to picture yourself as a full-fledged Writer, capital W. I wouldn’t have believed it, but it happened to me at one of Linda’s Writers’ Retreats. Sign up; you’ll see what I mean!”

Dr. Dave Davis, novelist, family doctor, and professor at University of Toronto. (Dr. Dave’s wife bought the retreat for her husband for their anniversary and he was very brave to join us:))

What you get NOW with your deposit (+ new benefits throughout!):

  1. Instant free access to my 6-module Book Proposal Magic course (that includes a download of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan and monthly office hour sessions where you can ask me specifics, and it’s not counted against your post-retreat hours).
  2. A free year membership in The Beautiful Writers Group, featuring monthly Q & A calls with author and marketing expert Sam Bennett and me.

What you get DURING the retreat (no need to carry your wallet!):

  1. Your own gorgeous Oceanview room at the iconic La Playa Hotel for the entire retreat, Monday – Friday.
  2. All meals: A quick shuttle through town to our first dinner together at Il Fornaio. Unlimited buffet breakfasts from 7:30-10:30 am in the hotel’s stunning restaurant (head up whenever you’re hungry, maybe after a brisk ocean walk a block away). Incredible catered lunches, dinners, and desserts to follow in our beautiful boardroom overlooking the hotel gardens and ocean (all meals catered to your individual food needs). We eat every lunch and dinner together as a group, with the BEST, crackling, impromptu conversations—ask me anything, I’m an open book! The hotel provides coffee, tea, juice, and water, with specialty coffees (lattes, cappuccinos, etc.) in the boardroom to fuel your writing.
  3. Private one-on-one sessions with me each day of the retreat. If you’ve decided to sneak off and go shopping (kidding, not kidding), or you’re on a writing roll and don’t want to look up until we read together after dinner, we can bank any sessions for your post-retreat time.
  4. Long spans of daily, uninterrupted writing time wherever your heart desires: in the boardroom with other retreaters, tucked away inside your room, in the upstairs dining room or library, at a table or on a bench in the garden, in a lounge chair by the pool, at one of many nearby patisseries, or the seaside’s edge. Ahhh.
  5. Evening brainstorming sessions with the group, where for 30 minutes, all eyes, ears, and hearts are devoted to you and your project. Prepare to be amazed by how you and your writing are seen, heard, and held.

What you get AFTER your retreat:

  1. Ten hours of post-retreat one-on-one time (+ any unused sessions from your retreat) with me for polishing your query, proposal, and sample chapters for my agent submissions. If you’re stuck and need help ASAP, I’m here, too. (Want more time? Hire me hourly.)
  2. Two lengthy follow-up calls with your new writing besties (aka, the group): A Read-In at two months and a group check-in call at six months.
  3. My Dream Team Resources List for all areas of your writing career. These contacts, with people from hourly coaches and line editors to magazine editors and headshot photographers are pure GOLD.
  4. When you’re ready, I submit your query letter to at least five agents, connect the two of you directly when they request your proposal and samples, and celebrate with you once you accept their offer of representation (and again when they get you sold)! If my connections aren’t a love match, you’ll have the confidence and know-how to pitch yourself, anytime, to anyone. PS. If you’re in a hurry and decide to query hybrid publishers on your own or self-publish, I’ve got ideas. You can start by listening to my podcast episodes with Dr. Jody Carrington and Hal Elrod, two clients who’ve made millions doing just that!
  5. Friends for life. Truly. I hear it from nearly everyone, even the “non-joiners.” From traveling to each other and meeting for video sessions on the regular for YEARS, this work works . . . and makes Mama happy!

For retreat alums only (including my Virtual babes):

Ongoing book editing: In my prior life, as a ghostwriter of multiple New York Times bestselling books, I loved developmental and line editing. Nowadays, other than 90-minute consulting sessions, the only writers I work with at length are those who’ve been to a retreat. I know your material; we’re bonded, and we can quickly finish each other’s sentences. #TwoHeadsAreBetterThanOne

Read-Ins: Periodic 3.5+-hour Zoom-tastic sessions: If you’re missing our group energy, want to keep your momentum flowing, or assurance that you’re new ideas are as strong as your old ones, these sessions are a blast!

Scroll for more details about price, location, and schedule . . .


Carmel Writing Retreats - the view
Carmel Writing Retreats - Carmel LaPlaya think tank
Carmel Writing Retreats - Past Retreaters

Why a Retreat? A few reasons:

  • B/c you’ve been going it alone too long already. 
  • “Group Think” becomes loving/healing/magical “Muse Think” in the right environment.
  • Your sister-in-words writing pals will champion your dreams far beyond the retreat.
  • When you know you’re reading aloud at 7 pm, you get BUSY! Get ready to blow your own mind with how smart you are. 
  • You gain radical insights into your work while hearing feedback from and for others.
  • Because it’s ridiculously FUN. You’ve found your people! 
  • Plus, our new retreat-alum-only Read-Ins: These 3.5+-hour Zoomtastic brainstorming sessions are the perfect pick-me-up to add to your writing life if you’re ever missing the energy of reading to a group of brilliant writers. Accountability, fresh perspectives, camaraderie: These afternoons mimic our retreat reading sessions, one of the primary reasons why many of our writers repeatedly return in person or virtually. Finally, an alternative without travel or pet care.
Read-ins for alumns
Carmel Writing retreats food!

I live to help you. I’ve written book proposals for clients that have garnered 6- & 7-figure book deals and have worked with most major publishers. (Retreaters have also received 6- & 7-figure book deals.) In the last decade, aside from interviewing many of the world’s most beloved authors for my top-rated Literature podcast, the BEAUTIFUL WRITERS PODCAST, and championing/ coaching several hundred writers (both individually and in groups), I co-authored among other collaborations: Harmonic Wealth, Hyperion Generation Green, Simon & Schuster; Closer Than You Think, Hampton Roads, and Your Big Beautiful Book Plan, self-published with Danielle LaPorte. The first two won multiple awards and hit the biggest bestseller lists, the third is now published in 9 languages, and the fourth has led to countless book deals. I also collaborated with Emmy-winning life coach Rhonda Britten on Do I Look Fat In This? (Dutton), and with the publisher of SUCCESS magazine, Darren Hardy, on his business bestseller, The Compound Effect (Vanguard Press, a NYT, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller). Meaning: I love this stuff!

Carmel Writing Retreats Fun

Reserve your spot.

I’d love nothing better than to help YOU ink a book deal. In these competitive times, a book with your name on it increases your market value, credibility, opportunities, and professional profile in every way. Not to mention, it’s a BLAST. Your world will never be the same. But you know that already, or you wouldn’t be here.

It’s your retreat to work on anything you want feedback on—your pitch, book outline, chapters, and even your website! If you’ve been avoiding pieces at home, bring them here. We’ll wrangle you!


Retreat size = intimate, so everyone gets maximum value. 

The Deets (what, where, when, price…)

Where: Only the most beautiful hotel! I have a theory, often corroborated by our retreaters: When you put yourself in extraordinary beauty and receive pampering far outside your norm, it’s easier to raise your vision of what’s possible for your life and writing future. (Think about it. You’re so busy taking care of your people—who has time for much writing, much less luxury? I make sure you do!)

I started these Carmel retreats in a lovely redwood rental treehouse by the sea and saw that inspiration flowed when women gave themselves the gift of traveling to and surrounding themselves with a mix of natural and artistic beauty. Magic unfolded. Our home base is the La Playa Hotel, a newly renovated 1905 gem initially built by the Ghirardelli heir for his ARTIST wife steps from the sands of Carmel Beach. It’s a three-minute walk from the ridiculously darling shops, galleries, & cafes of this charming hamlet.

I’ve taken these retreats on the road, once into Carmel Valley when the La Playa was full, and another time to the Four Seasons, Scottsdale (where my husband and I live with our herd of horses and our pack of dogs), and both were divine. Look for our main hashtag #CarmelWritingRetreat hashtag on social media or #BeautifulWritersRetreat.

When: Each retreat starts Monday before our group dinner and ends Friday after our delicious brainstorming brunch. Some retreaters stay to enjoy the town for an additional day or two. (Your retreat registration includes overnight accomodations at the La Playa Hotel, Monday night through Friday, checkout at 12 noon following our goodbye brunch.) We make sure you know your next steps before you head back home, with solid plans for maintaining your newfound momentum.

What: Dinner on Ocean Ave., at my favorite eatery, il Fornaio, where we gather to share our dreams and intentions for the week and evermore. Hint: Tell us what you’re REALLY up to so we can help you get there!

Our days together are rich and full. You’ll arrive as strangers and depart as lifelong friends & writing comrades. For more daily details, click here.

Price: For in-person retreats: $24,000 ($8,000 due upon sign-up to hold your spot, & two more $8000 payments automatically charged for the balance, 30 days apart). This covers ALL retreat expenses except travel—a heavenly kingsize bed in your own ocean-view room, all of your meals (all incredible!), instruction, follow-up, and so much more. It’s a sizable investment, maybe more than you’ve ever spent on yourself, my retreaters consistently tell me it’s more than worth the price for how it catapults their lives and writing. They’re expensive because my costs to host these retreats at the hotel have increased substantially. Their popularity has also replaced my ghostwriting and radically slowed down my book writing. And the groups are small. I understand that few people can afford to spend a week with me in person, so I offer many other options. But I work very hard to ensure the experience is priceless for those who do.

My father raised me with the notion that business should be collaborative and a “win-win” all around. This is his philosophy in action. The agents win. My clients win. And I have the most incredible time acting as midwife.

Virtual Retreat: $8,000 ($4,000 due upon sign-up, to hold your spot, & the balance due 30 days later). The price will go up to $10,000 following the May 2024 retreat. Participants get all of the instruction, connection, and value—in 3.5 weeks instead of 5 days—without having to find a sitter for the dogs and kids or pay to travel. Like Carmel retreaters, everyone receives my 6-module Book Proposal Magic course (that sells for $800) upon sign-up.

My goal with any retreat is to get you agent-ready and facilitate those introductions when you are! I work with top lit agents in NYC and elsewhere who are always looking for new, powerful voices + material. 

What do I mean by the magic of sisterhood and synchronicity?

Here’s an example: Sarah from Santa Barbara has a page-turner of a book. All of us women hang on to her every word. The subject matter is heavy—but her voice is funny and wise, spiritual and suspenseful, so we’ll follow her anywhere. The trouble is, her woo-woo title stinks! It’s a snoozer, and we can’t let her step out with it. We have to protect our new sister in words! It’s got to be catchy, twisted, and memorable—something like Running with Scissors or A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Her work resembles those off-the-charts bestsellers; to call it something light and cosmic would be tragic. This is easy. Helping Sarah nail down a winning book title takes all of about 5 minutes!

With tea mugs in hand and juicy, lively energy crackling, we ask a few more detailed questions about her topic and BOOM! It’s right there, under her nose. While outlining a common comedic situation in her life, she utters the PERFECT sound bite, and we all jump on it simultaneously—laughing and squealing. Within minutes, we pulled up Amazon.com to find out that NO ONE in all of Amazon’s 32,000,000+ titles has EVER written a book with this name. Then, she does a global search and finds that the domain name is still unclaimed. Within a few more minutes, Sarah has registered the domain for her book (something publishers will love when they consider buying + promoting her). High fives are shared all around. Another pesky dilemma was handled. Bam.

I could go on and on.

Carmel Writing Retreats Friends
Carmel Writing Retreats Beach
Carmel Writing Retreats collaboration
Carmel Writing Retreats fast friends

What makes sisterhood so magical?

These retreats have transformed my life. At the risk of sounding dramatic, they saved me, my kid, and our home during a tough divorce. I’d never been much of a joiner, but once I felt the magic of sisterhood beyond my one real-life best friend and little sis, I was hooked!

As for the participants, what makes them go back home and create Zoom, Whatsapp, and/or Facebook groups to continue their brainstorming and cheerleading sessions, even traveling in person? Aside from their newfound sense of community and of being seen (and heard) and supported as never before, something else is happening. My friends Katherine Woodward Thomas and Claire Zammit talk about a study done at Harvard University that revealed that people wanting to manifest goals in a group were 6X more effective than the individual. I don’t know much about stats (having dropped out of statistics), but that’s how it feels.

For instance, I think of my retreat gals and their work when working on a book that needs just the right story. When Deborah Henaghan and I wanted a few more stories for Closer than You Think (a book born at her retreat, with me acting as co-author) about the use of ritual to help people deal with loss, the importance of forgiveness, and a spiritually comedic perspective, I reached out to Ritual expert Elizabeth Murray, Forgiveness Expert Ana Holub, and Spiritual Blogger Alexandra Hill, all of whom gave stunning stories for the book. Deborah cheered when she read these additions and my girls were elated, as they had an instant writing credit complete with promotion (in the resources section of the book). A win-win-win all around.

That’s the magic of sisterhood and synchronicity. You’ll see when we’re together!

“Linda and I met as writers, which is sometimes hard to accomplish, given the solitary life of our profession. She was an immediate sister in words. But beyond that, she helped me. Being a published author was new to me, and Linda went out of her way to share a spectrum of excellent advice with a natural and abundant spirit. I would soon come to find that this is who Linda is/can’t help not being. Helping writers is central to her spirit and explains why she extends her talent in this capacity so effortlessly—in championing their book proposals, and in creating inspiring writing retreats. She is as interested in your writing, as he is in hers. And that is rare. Linda Sivertsen is rare.”

Laura Munson, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is (Putnam)

“The Carmel Retreat feels like a dream now. Except that in so many ways I now divide my life into BC, Before Carmel, and AC, After Carmel. BC I was terrified of investing money in my writing, nervous about getting the most out of the week, worried I wouldn’t be able to write. All of that seems impossible and ridiculous in my AC hindsight.

“Carmel was the best money I ever spent on myself. I wrote 2,800 words in four days. Figured out a title and a plan for two projects. Met the most extraordinary group of women who will be my friends for life. And maybe most importantly, I came back not only reinvigorated in my commitment to my writing, but with a new momentum throughout my life. I’m back at the gym twice a week, took up transcendental meditation (thanks to my Carmel roomie!), and generally feel more optimistic about a future that I now deeply believe includes success in my writing. You are truly magic, Linda. You have an extraordinary ability to bring the right people together at the right time, an uncanny gift for facilitation (the perfect title, the perfect edit, the perfect plan), and a very special way of bringing forward the best in those around you. The supportive, girl power, creative experience you’ve created is like no other and one that I will treasure always.”

Allison Hill, Former CEO/President of Vroman’s and Book Soup (L.A.’s two largest indie bookstores), and current CEO of American Booksellers Association

Food Story“After YEARS of talking/dreaming about writing a book, I took the leap of faith and attended Linda’s retreat. I can’t believe it took me so long and I can’t wait to go again! Not only did Linda help me clarify my message, she also offered a fresh and clear perspective on how to share it with the world. Since then I’ve been published in three books, released my own book, and am now working on the next book proposal with Linda’s incredible support and guidance. If you’ve been thinking about becoming an author, go spend a week in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s indeed where magic happens!”

Elise Museles, founder of Kale & Chocolate (.com) and author of Food Story: Rewrite the Way You Think, Eat, and Live (Sounds True) and Whole Food Energy: 200 All Natural Recipes to Help You Prepare, Refuel, and Recover (Barron’s Educational)

My Mother Next Door“I came to Linda’s first retreat at La Playa Hotel in early 2018. So many people had tried to change my story to benefit themselves, but Linda loved it and recognized how it could do more than entertain and actually help so many others. I joke that Linda forced me to do painstaking, nit-picky edits I didn’t want to do, but I’m so glad I listened and followed her lead (and edits) because it totally paid off.

“From there, things happened fast. Linda introduced me to my perfect match lit agent, who wrote to me right before I spoke with her that her heart is totally in this project! We’re so aligned and I feel she will have my back, just as Linda did in affirming my dream and voice and how best to move forward. Contracts have been signed and I’m floored. My heart is overflowing with joy, love, and gratitude!”

Diane Danvers Simmons, My Mother Next Door (Koehler Books, November, 2021)

“I saw Linda speak at a writer’s conference, and her expertise, warmth, and genuine passion for supporting others were evident. I jumped at the chance to join her Beautiful Writers Retreat – a truly transformational experience. Linda’s industry knowledge, honest and insightful feedback, loving heart, and unwavering support create a space for focused, vulnerable, high-quality work. She reinforced the value of my story, made it better than I could have alone, and gave me the momentum to finish my manuscript.”

Jennifer Maggiore, CEO, writer, media consultant

Unknown“Your retreat helped me immensely. I knew the story I wanted to tell but your intuitive skills helped make it a much bigger, much more helpful book. Before, my book would have been just okay. Now, it’s epic. And you can quote me on that. And a side note, I met my new best friend at my retreat and we’ve supported each other on this adventure each step of the way. She’s coming to visit me in Paris in the spring and I can’t wait!”

Janice MacLeod, artist & author of New York Times bestseller Paris Letters, Sourcebooks (click here for Janice’s thoughts on her follow-up memoir, Paris Year, with St. Martin’s Press–Summer, 2017)

careergasm_bookcover“Linda is one well-connected mofo. In our very first session at Carmel she sent my book proposal to multiple literary agents. BIG ones. Like, agents that were so big I nearly peed my pants.

“She knew exactly who would be right for me. By our second day together I already had a promising lead with an agent at a big, badass agency. I ended up signing with that agent (at Writers House) and a month later we pitched my book to publishers. MULTIPLE publishers were interested–including a top publisher who said my title was “too edgy.” That’s a deal breaker for me.

“Thankfully, an indie press–ECW (who, according to Publishers Weekly, is “one of the most diversified independent publishers in North America”)–courted me and I fell in LOVE with the editor. SOLD! Somebody pinch me! I wouldn’t have found my agent without Linda. Seriously, just give her all of your money and go to Carmel. #WORTHIT”

Sarah Vermunt, author of Careergasm: Find Your Way to Feel-Good Work, (where it became the #1 bestselling Career book in Canada!)

“I knew I had a story that needed to be told. What I didn’t know was how or where. So I googled it (yep) and the Universe brought me to Book Mama. The retreat in Carmel looked exquisite. I saved and took a risk and boarded a plane from Alberta, Canada, which felt right from the moment I landed. I learned more in five days about what it takes to write, publish, market, and sell a book then I could have ever imagined. It would have taken me a decade to do this on my own. Linda inspired me, believed in me, connected me to some amazing souls I never knew I needed, and pushed me to a potential I didn’t know I owned.

“I had a big speaking event planned and needed a book—no time for traditional publishing! I wrote as fast as I could and Linda squeezed in time for some MASTERFUL edits. Eight months after the retreat, I self-published Kids These Days. Now, one-month post-launch, we’re #1 in Calgary! We’ve sold our first 10,000 copies, with 5000 more on order. And, my book is next to my idol Brené Brown’s latest in bookstores! Whaaaaat?! I’ve scheduled Carmel for my next book—another story that needs to be told. Linda says she can’t wait to take me to agents, wanting me to experience a bidding war this time. I can’t even. We’ll keep you posted!”

Jody Carrington, Ph.D. Speaker. Author of Kids These Days: A Game Plan for (Re)Connecting with Those We Teach, Lead, & Love 

I cannot tell you how much I look forward to being by your side for these magical five days, where it’s all about you, your voice, your book, and your legacy. I want this to be one of the best gifts you’ll ever give yourself–the start of a new, creatively fulfilled life.

So, you’re feeling ready, ya? Contact me before you get sidetracked. (It’ll be next year in five minutes.) Writing time has a way of slipping through our fingers. Breathe life into yours. Schedule it. Make it real. Let’s start our lifelong friendship (sounds corny, I know, but true). Let me help you script your success. Your book-plannin’ paradise awaits!

Can’t come in person, or you want to start sooner? Check out my super fun Virtual Retreats without the travel expenses. A few “regulars” who’ve been to multiple in-person retreats swear the vibe & results are the same. They, maybe like you, have hectic careers and need to schedule their writing with inspirational support and group accountability over a longer period of time.

Additional ways to work together: private consulting, my membership community (the Beautiful Writers Group), my downloadable Book Proposal Magic course (w/ add-on one-on-one brainstorming sessions), and Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. xo

For lots more retreat testimonials…

Have questions? Want more in-depth details? The FAQ page has so much more…

Read about these retreats on Forbes.com and CARMEL magazine.

In closing, as of January 2018, Merry, my 8 lb toy poodle angel (as seen in many of these pics), is now a literal angel. There are no words for how much I miss her (past retreaters STILL send me pics of her)—all the more reason to live my best—our best life. Time is precious. So, so precious. 

Humbly yours,



Want to Write for Success? Insider Tips for Getting Published

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Weekend vibes. 🫶 #grandpuppy ...


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Linda Sivertsen

Linda Sivertsen

Author 🌿 Beautiful Writers Podcast & Book! 🎧FSC Ambassador🌲
Carmel & Virtual Writing Retreats📚

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