sealrock1OUR MISSION: The Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat makes space for writers to explore their creative voices, discover a supportive writing community, and give shape to the messy but beautiful stories we each carry with us.

What’s “Writing Retreat 202?” The “202” version of the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat is geared specifically toward writers who have a project in process (or in mind) and who are looking for some structured, dedicated time in a quiet and supportive environment. Offered as a 4-night retreat, Magic in the Mess 202 allows ample space to buckle down and write, write, write.

At the 202 version of the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat, we offer: 

  • A relaxing environment, where skilled cooks prepare your meals and pour your wine. Because why mess with perfection??
  • An encouraging community of writers exploring the messy craft of writing together.
  • Optional small group sessions each afternoon to discuss each other’s writing and gain feedback and insight for moving your story forward. 
  • Ample opportunities for discussion and laughter, naps and Zumba, movies and hikes, activities for introverts and extroverts alike.

sealrock3Here’s what previous retreat participants have to say about the original Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat:

“I came to the Magic in the Mess writing retreat with many reservations, fears, and insecurities about my own writing, and how it would be received among the group. Instead, I found a group of women who listened, supported, and wrote alongside me in ways I haven’t experienced as an amateur writer. It was comforting to acknowledge that writing is a messy craft, and that the process can be enjoyed, and wrestled with together.” 

“This was, to borrow Beth’s words, a game changer for me. I came home so inspired and I feel as though I truly have a direction to take my writing. I just have so much respect and admiration for everyone that helped put this together. Melanie was AMAZING! I really enjoyed my one on one with her and I felt that even that would have been worth the trip. It was truly one of the best things I’ve done.” 

This retreat was was amazing….beautiful location and accommodations, and superbly organized. I would already be signed up for the next one if it was possible!” 

The Magic in the Mess writing retreat felt like home from the minute I got there. Within 24 hours, I forgot how recently we had been strangers. Beth and the amazing instructors created a safe place for vulnerability in our lives as well as our writing, bringing us all closer to honesty in our interactions and the stories we chose to share. Sometimes the honesty was hilarious; other times heartbreaking. We were challenged to push our writing to a deeper level, try new things in our work, and learn craft in a hands-on, interesting manner. Also I have never read a schedule for a retreat that was more entertaining. I would come back next year just to read the laugh-out-loud (yet still informative) schedule.” 

“The Magic in the Mess Retreat was so amazing. The community building, the writing help, and the people were all more than I ever could have hoped for. This experience was pivotal in laying my foundation as a writer and I am beyond grateful for every part of it.” 



Osealrock2UR LOCATION: Seal Rock, Oregon Coast

GROUP SIZE: 15 participants maximum + 5 staff

INCLUDED: Just like the 101 version, Magic in the Mess 202 includes lodging, meals, wine, WiFi, small groups sessions, linens and more! Melanie Springer Mock will continue to offer optional individual 30-minute coaching sessions for those writers who wish to send a sample manuscript, discuss publication, etc. 

SMALL GROUP FEEDBACK SESSIONS: Every afternoon, George Fox University writing professor, Polly Peterson, will facilitate optional small group feedback sessions. This is your opportunity to share with fellow writers where you’re stuck, where you’re enthusiastic, and to hone your writing together.

sealrock9INDIVIDUAL COACHING: If you choose, you may submit a manuscript or writing sample prior to the retreat and sign up for a 30-minute individual coaching session with George Fox University writing professor and published author Melanie Springer Mock. One coaching session per person is included in the retreat cost.

ACCOMMODATIONS: We will be staying on the Oregon Coast at a gorgeous 7-bedroom, 6-bath house with panoramic views. With stunning ocean vistas, comfortable meeting spaces, a hot tub with a view of the Pacific Ocean, and meals prepared for us on-site paired with wine, this will be a retreat to remember.

ROOMS and RATES: Your retreat includes everything listed in “included” aboveYou may choose from the room and bed types below when selecting your rate. (Those items crossed out like this are already sold.)


BEDROOM #1: Single or Double Occupancy
King Bed
Private Bath
Ocean Front
Cost: $675/person to share with another retreat participant
or $1100 to reserve the room as a single occupant

BEDROOM #1B: Single Occupancy
Bottom Bunk
(Note: No one will be assigned to the top bunk.
This bunk is located in a teeny, tiny, but private space.)
Shared Bath
No Ocean View
Cost: $630

BEDROOM #2: Double or Triple Occupancy
King Bed + Full Futon
Private Bath
Ocean Front
Cost: $675/person to share the King Bed
(or $1100 for single occupancy of the King Bed);
$750/person for the Full Futon

BEDROOM #3: Double or Triple Occupancy
King Bed + Full Futon
Private Bath
Ocean View
Cost: $675/person to share the King Bed
(or $1100 for single occupancy of the King Bed);
$750/person for the Full Futon

BEDROOM #4: Single or Double Occupancy
Queen Bed
Shared Bath with Bedroom #5
Ocean View
Cost: $575/person to share with another retreat participant
or $1000 to reserve the room as a single occupant

BEDROOM #5: Double or Triple Occupancy
King Bed + Single Bed
Shared Bath with Bedroom #4
Partial Ocean View
Cost: $650/person to share the King Bed
(or $1000 for single occupancy of the King Bed);
$675/person for the Single Bed

BEDROOM #6: Single or Double Occupancy
Queen Bed
Shared Bath with the Bunkroom
No Ocean View
Cost: $550/person to share with another retreat participant
or $900 to reserve the room as a single occupant

{TWO LEFT} BUNKROOM: Quadruple Occupancy
Shared Bath with Bedroom #6
No Ocean View
Cost: $575/person


FOOD: All meals from dinner the evening you arrive through breakfast the morning you depart will be provided onsite, including full breakfasts, light lunches and delicious dinners. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, please let us know when you register.

TRANSPORTATION: Rates do not include transportation to/from the retreat. If you need ground transportation, we can provide information or make arrangements for you. 


Day 1
4-5:00pm     Check In
5:00pm     Wine and Cheese Welcome Reception
6:00pm     Welcome Session
7:30pm     Dinner

Days 2-4
8:00am     Early Riser Coffee and Muffins Available
9:00am     Quiet Writing Time in All Main Areas
10:30am     Brunch
11:30am     Quiet Writing Time in All Main Areas
1:00pm     Small Group Feedback Session
2:30pm     Choose Your Own Adventure (one-on-one coaching appointments, free time, writing time or group activities like hiking, antiquing, beach walking, and hot tubbing)

4:30pm     Dinner
8:00pm     Games, Movies, Hot Tubbing

Day 5
8:00am     Early Riser Coffee and Muffins Available
11:30am     Depart


  1. Email Beth Woolsey at FiveKidsIsALotOfKids@gmail.com
  2. Use “Retreat Registration” in your subject line.
  3. Include the following information:
    • Your first and last name.
    • Your bed/rate preferences, listed in priority order (i.e. 1. king bed, 2. futon, 3. bottom bunk.) 
    • Roommate requests, if any.
    • Food allergies or sensitivities, if any.
    • Your questions or other requests. For example, this is a great place to let us know you’re flying into Portland and will need ground transportation information!

Within 24 hours of receiving your email, we will send you additional information, including how to make your payment. PLEASE NOTE: Your registration is not complete until you have paid in full. 

Cancellation Policy: Because we’re already incurring expenses related to this event, reservations are nonrefundable. That’s the policy. However, if you find you’re not able to attend, please do let us know as soon as possible. We’re not jerks; we’ll try to work with you. For example, if we can find someone else to pay to take your place, we’ll deduct a $75 administrative fee (’cause setting this stuff up is a lot of work, man) and the send the rest back to you. OK? OK.


MelanieSpringerMockSESSION LEADER, WRITING COACH: Melanie Springer Mock is a Professor of English at George Fox University, Newberg, Ore. In 2009, she won the GFU Undergraduate Faculty of the Year award. She is the author or co-author of four books, including most recently Meant to Be, due out in April 2015. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Nation, Christian Feminism Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Mennonite World Review, among other places. She blogs about (and deconstructs) images of women embedded in evangelical popular culture at Ain’t I a Woman? Her primary interests include making her 12-year-old sons take showers already, watching good (that is, awful) reality television, and taking long naps, on her office floor if necessary. 

petersonSESSION LEADER, WRITING COACH: Polly Peterson is a visiting Assistant Professor of English at George Fox University, Newberg, Ore. She teaches mainly composition courses, and her passion is to help students become close readers, critical thinkers, clear communicators and confident writers. Polly believes every person is valuable and has something important to say; as such, she takes a holistic approach to writing, caring as much about what the writer wants to say as how she says it. Most recently, Polly collaborated with two other playwrights to write the original play In The Family of Things that debuted on the stage in the Fall of 2013. 

beth-equals-boss-099SESSION CONTRIBUTOR, RETREAT COORDINATOR: Beth Woolsey is the writer and humorist behind the Five Kids Is A Lot of Kids blog where she writes frequently about pee and Jesus, but not usually at the same time. She’s been described by readers as “optimistic, authentic, poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, [capturing] the mom experience with all its pathos and humor,” and she was named one of Sheknows.com’s Top Five Moms Who Will Make You Laugh Out Loud. Beth’s true passion lies in creating authentic communities full of imperfect people. She loves wild truths and unreasonable grace, and she’s really far too loud for polite society.

MaggieCOOK, ACTIVITIES COORDINATOR: Maggie Rose Peterson is a friendly and energetic woman who recently graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Francophone Studies from Seattle Pacific University. She loves good food, being outside, getting rowdy and investing in people in her community. She has no idea what she wants to do in the near future job-wise, so enjoy her youthful presence and don’t be intimidated by her “nudity-builds-community” approach to bonding.


We are LGBTQ friendly and a safe space.

If you identify as LGBTQ and have questions about attending any of the retreats we offer and/or accommodations we provide, please contact me directly at fivekidsisalotofkids@gmail.com.

With love,

House and beach photos courtesy of Seal Rock Oceanfront Home