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Writing Refuge in Vermont

Learn to be a whole writer immersed in Place, processing your experiences into creative writing.


“No person steps into the same water twice.” ~ based on a quote by Heraclitus

Carrot Ranch offered its first Nature Writing Refuge at a cabin on Greenwood Lake in 2019, and all of us who touched its waters will never be the same. Such experiences expand us, move us forward as writers, and give us permission to pursue the dreams we catch in the water’s reflection.

In the COVID-19-managed future, Carrot Ranch will return to the Green Mountains, backroads, and hilltop people of Vermont. Ranch Yarnist and Vermonter, D. (Slayton) Avery will offer up her camp on Greenwood Lake for the Refuge. Space is limited to three campers who will lodge in an A-frame cabin (two rooms upstairs in a loft, and one room on the main floor). There is indoor plumbing, an open common space for shared meals, and a large screened porch for gatherings.

Digital options are in the works!

Lead Buckaroo, Charli Mills, returns to Vermont to write and make literary art accessible. She’ll work closely with the three writers in each session. It’s best suited for those who want to progress their craft and manuscripts. Each writer will bring up to 10 pages to workshop and will fulfill writing assignments that will culminate in a literary event. The event collaborates with a local artist, and their studio or stage will open up to the group for a reading of nature-infused flash fiction.

You don’t have to know how to write flash fiction.  We will use the 99-word literary format to practice craft techniques and process our experiences in nature, capturing local history and culture, too. Daily readings from the Masters of nature and environmental writing will infuse each lesson as we consider successful craft elements. Writing time will be dedicated to new material, but we will workshop material each writer chooses to bring.

Charli Mills believes in the power of positive feedback, looking for a writer’s strengths. She will teach attendees how to use a storyboard to manage structure for developing a story; how to edit in layers; and how to establish effective workshopping techniques to take home to a new or existing writer’s group. We will focus on writing stories with a strong sense of place.

Each session includes early morning kayaking (with coffee and cider donuts) and nightly readings around the evening campfire. Three nights lodging and meals are included. You need to be bug-tolerant as this is a bonafide camping experience. You will have the luxury of an indoor bed and plumbing, electricity, meals, and guides to each activity.

Bring bug spray, sunscreen, swimming suit (for lake), clothes to get wet (kayaking), and good shoes for walking. Internet is limited, and cell service is spotty. This is nature! Unplug, fill up at the water’s edge, and plunge into writing. You will be challenged to be bold, asked to do new things, open to feedback, and ready to share your writing with others.

Terry Tempest Williams wrote, “I believe that when we are fully present, we not only live well, we live well for others.”

The same could be said for our writing. The Writing Refuge is where we learn to engage and write with a strong sense of place for others – our readers.

Refuge attendees arrive 2 p.m. on Day 1 and leave 1 p.m. Day 4. Nearest Amtrak is in Montpelier, VT and the International Airport is in Burlington, VT.

MENU (food preferences and restrictions accommodated, all meals served with Tabasco Sauce)

Day 2: Cowboy coffee, cider donuts, Vermont beans and eggs
Day 3: Cowboy coffee, zucchini pancakes, Ranch beans
Day 4: Cowboy Coffee, rancher’s eggs (potatoes, seasonal veg, eggs, cream cheese, local sausage), beans

Days 2-4: homemade sourdough bread, salami, variety of sliced Cabot cheese, baby spinach, pickles, sliced black olives, condiments, tuna salad, chips, and salsa

Day 1: Campfire fajitas, Vermont beans, salad
Day 2: Enchiladas, Ranch Beans, salad
Day 3: Catered for Literary Event

Snacks (always available, evening libation and s’mores provided)
Days 1-4: fruit, whole almonds, carrot sticks, Kind Bars, dark chocolate, gummy bears, San Pellegrino water, tea, and coffee

$750 per person (includes lodging, meals, and feedback on up to 10-pages).


Individual workshops to be offered daily for local writers in between Writing Refuge sessions at the A-frame on Greenwood lake. Limited to 10 writers in each workshop. Dates to be announced.

  • Craft Strategies to Improve Writing (learn to identify the strengths of master authors and to appreciate your own as you build a personalized Author Toolkit).
  • How to Build a Personalized Author Platform (learn the basic components of a platform and focus on the ones that suit your goals best).
  • The TUFFEST Literary Challenge (learn how to reduce 99-words to explore stories, find its relevancy, and craft its punch. This literary art form can help novelists, journalists, new writers, and even business owners.)

Each mini-workshop is from 2-5 p.m. and concludes with optional Cider and Cheese reading. $75 per workshop.


Throughout the time Charli Mills is in Vermont, you can find her hawking books ($12) and 99-word stories (give her a  dollar, and she’ll give you 99 words and a penny) at farmers markets, bookstores, and bars to be announced.

Charli Mills sells time, too. Author consultations for development, publishing strategies, or platform marketing start at $125 per hour and go down if gifts of cider or meals are included.


Charli Mills’s mission at Carrot Ranch to make literary art accessible. It means breaking down the barriers that stop us from reading, writing, and sharing stories. Our brains are hardwired for stories, and literary art can change minds and move hearts. As a literary citizen, Charli believes everyone can learn to craft and share a story. Thus 99-words is her signature format. While visiting Vermont, Charli will offer the following programs free to the public:

  • Wrangling Words (a library program that introduces a short literary art form that gives attendees the chance to hear, write, and share 99-word stories).
  • Veteran Voices (a Vet Center program developed by Charli Mills and readjustment counselor, Michelle Kovachich, to blend narrative therapy with the 99-word literary art form to give voice to veteran experiences).
  • Private or Public Readings (Charli Mills, D. Avery, and any visiting Rough Writer from Carrot Ranch will be available to read from their vast collections of powerful and silly and evocative 99-word stories).

Contact Charli Mills for more information.

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