Carter Wilson | Thriller Author

The Gentle Novelist

Check back soon for 2024 dates!

An intimate, 2.5-day coaching program and retreat.

Find community, inspiration, motivation, and confidence.

Read on below for information about the coaching program and retreat, but please note the information refers to my 2023 retreat in Boulder, Colorado. If you have questions about my 2024 retreat offerings or simply want to ask more about the program, I’m happy to arrange for a one-on-one call with you. Just click the button below to reach out and we’ll set something up.



“I can’t say enough good things about The Gentle Novelist Retreat. Carter has a wealth of knowledge and provides you with excellent advice to jump-start or reset your writing life and how to navigate the industry. The small group atmosphere facilitates discussion and also provides you access to Carter and the guest speakers that isn’t always possible at larger conferences or workshops. This retreat was exactly what I needed for my writing career and allowed me to find a community of fellow writers facing the same struggles. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you sign up and participate in one of Carter’s future Gentle Novelist Retreats.” – Josh Clark, writer

“The Gentle Novelist Retreat in Boulder was a rich trove of excellent writing-life material. Never was there a lull or ebb in the gathering. The attendees were fully engaged, sharing ideas, and asking thoughtful questions. A notable guest speaker highlighted each day. They added real-life flavor to the day. Carter is not only an excellent writer, but also a polished, articulate speaker. The high point of the meeting were the one-on-ones he offered to each attendee. Those were invaluable. This was a Carter Wilson unique retreat that greatly exceeded my expectations. Put it on your calendar to attend next year. You won’t be disappointed.” – Chet Baker, writer

“I highly recommend the Gentle Novelist writing retreat. The invited speakers added great insight into the mechanics of being a successful writer, and Carter was helpful and positive throughout.”  – Elsa Alcala, writer

A message from Carter:

I wrote my first novel in 2003 and had a million reasons not to, including a full-time job, a first child on the way, and, most importantly, zero clue of how to write a book. I never would have guessed that, two decades later, I’d be a USA Today bestselling author of eight published books, with a ninth on the way. But it all started with the courage to sit down and write that first book.

I want to use my twenty years of writing and publishing experience to help aspiring novelists break through the barriers keeping them from realizing their dreams. Barriers like jobs, family commitments, fear of failure, fear of success, and the dreaded imposter syndrome. So many people have “always wanted to write a book.” So few people actually do it. Here’s the secret: it’s not as hard as you think. But you have to commit. You have to accept writing as a passion, and prioritize it as such.

Why the word “gentle”? Because as much as the retreat will be about accountability and hard work, it’s also about overcoming fears and giving yourself permission to achieve your goals. We all spend so much time being hard on ourselves, cursing our failures and inactions, and in this coaching program I’ll give you the guidance on how to be gentle in your approach to novel writing, illustrating that consistent, achievable efforts will get you to THE END. Read on to find out more!

About the coaching program and retreat

There’s no one way to write a novel, contrary to all the books and courses claiming just that. The only one certainty about writing your novel is that no one else but you can do it. And that’s a scary thought! Writing a novel is a daunting task, and it’s so easy to give up on your dream of writing it because it just seems too overwhelming. But I’m here to tell you it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and all you need is those first steps, momentum, and most of all, confidence.

The Gentle Novelist retreat will focus on confidence, encouragement, inspiration, and accountability as much as it will on technique, style, and the practicalities of novel writing. Come prepared to write, to share, to be vulnerable, and to let yourself be stripped of the excuses and fears that stop so many people from achieving their writing goals. My goal is for every student to leave the retreat with a renewed and sustained commitment to finish their novel, accompanied by the tools learned over the 2.5-day event.

I will tell you this. There’s NOTHING like the feeling of having written an entire novel. And it’s not about whether it’s good or not, whether it’ll be published or for your eyes only. It’s about that you did it.

What to expect during the retreat

Two full days (9am to 4pm) and one half-day (9am-noon). Part of the time will be spent on learning to write based on my experience, with specific instruction on style, pacing, story structure, character development, and editing. We’ll also be discussing the practical side of writing, with a focus on fitting writing into an already full life. We’ll talk about navigating the publishing industry, how to find agents, the importance of networking, marketing dos and don’ts, and even tips on presenting yourself as a writer. The retreat will also include guest speakers, including other bestselling novelists, who will speak to their experiences and offer their own wisdom and advice.

I’m going to ask you to be vulnerable. We’re going to write and share our work with the group. We’re going to discuss our fears and hang-ups around writing, and figure out what mental hurdles need to be overcome. Finally, each participant will have one-on-one time with me to talk about your novel, your goals, and what tools you need to create a path forward with your writing.

Full days 1 & 2 will be held at the The Riverside, just steps from beautiful downtown Boulder. Our final half-day will be hosted in the historic Colorado Chautauqua, nestled at the base of the majestic Flatirons. For the first two days you will be free for lunches and dinners, so take advantage of the wonderful Pearl Street Mall and everything else Boulder has to offer. On our final day, lunch will be at provided at our stunning Chautauqua location as we celebrate the end of a successful retreat. 

Registration at the coaching program and retreat includes:

  •  Two and half days of instruction, daily collaborative writing and feedback segments, and three guest-speaker presentations. Days 1 & 2 will run approximately 9am-4pm with a one-hour lunch break, and Day 3 will run 9am-1pm, followed by a provided lunch.


  • Coffee/tea/water/soft drinks along with snacks available throughout each day.


  • A 30-minute personal coaching session by me during the retreat.


  • Two, one-hour coaching and mentoring sessions provided by me post-retreat (good for up to six months).


  • Gift bag presented at Day 3 lunch.


Downtown Boulder, Colorado

Your instructor and coach

I’m an accidental writer. I wrote my first book twenty years ago with no experience and no previous desire to become a writer. What I discovered was writing had been my calling all along, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have eight novels published, hit the bestseller lists, won over a dozen awards, and have my work optioned for television and film. I had to teach myself the art of writing along with figuring out how to navigate both the publishing industry and the dos and don’ts of being a writer.

Additionally, I’m a seasoned public speaker and interviewer, and my in-conversation podcast Making It Up focuses on the lives, origins, and journeys of bestselling authors around the world.

The historic Colorado Chautauqua, where we’ll be spending Day 3


Who is this for?
The Gentle Novelist is open to writers of all levels, but is ideal for anyone who’s always dreamed of writing that novel but has struggled with actually doing it. You have a full-time job with little kids at home? That was my scenario when I wrote my first book. You can do this. I can help.

Where’s the retreat?
The coaching program and retreat will be held in Boulder, Colorado on August 9-11, 2023. Days 1 & 2 will take place in downtown Boulder at The Riverside event venue, and the final half-day will take place in the historic Colorado Chautauqua at the base of the Flatirons.

What’s included in the registration?
Your registration covers the 2.5-day curriculum, coffee/tea/water/snacks during the day, and lunch on the final day.

What’s your deposit/cancellation policy?
A 50% deposit is due upon registration, which secures your place in the retreat. The remaining 50% non-refundable deposit is due July 9, 2023.
If you need to cancel your reservation for any reason, the following applies:
• The 50% deposit is fully refundable (less any processing fees) until May 15, 2023.
• After May 15, 2023 and until June 15, 2023, the deposit is subject to a $500 cancellation fee.
• After June 15, 2023 and until July 9, 2023, the deposit is subject to a $750 cancellation fee
• After July 9, 2023 (at which time the remaining balance is collected), we are unable to provide any refund or credit. At this point, you are able to donate your space to a writer who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford it, or seek a replacement.

Do you offer scholarships? 
Yes! For each retreat I award a limited number of scholarships, which discounts the registration fee by 50% (of the full price, not early-bird discount). Please fill out this form to apply. Deadline for scholarship application is May 15, 2023.

I’m not from the Boulder/Denver area. How do I get there?
Boulder is an approximate 45-minute drive from Denver International Airport.

Where should I stay?
There a few wonderful lodging options in downtown Boulder. If you have a car, the greater Boulder area has dozens of hotels that are all within a short drive of our retreat. And you might want to look into short-term rentals—there are beautiful rental houses all around the Boulder area.

Can I join a waitlist?
Yes! If the retreat is fully booked just contact me to be put on a waitlist. Additionally, I’ll be announcing other retreat dates soon.

Do you have legalese stuff I can read?
I do! All attendess agree to these terms and conditions and waiver upon paying the initial deposit. Please read these – they are important!

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