Writers’ Retreat 2020

Red Mountain Press Writers’ Residency at Sandy Bend November 2020

The Writers Retreat at Sandy Bend, Florida offers two- and four-week residencies annually in November to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers in a secluded Sanibel Island home. Residents are provided with a private room, space and undistracted time. Resident authors will be responsible for their own meals in the shared kitchen and will meet for dinner each evening.

There is no fee for the residency.   Authors will have an opportunity for an optional, individual, private editorial meeting with Susan Gardner, poet, publisher and founding editor of Red Mountain Press www.susangardner.org. Those wishing to take advantage of this opportunity may send the manuscript two weeks before the meeting: up to 20 pages of poetry or one to two chapters of a novel or memoir. The fee is $150.00.

Using the online application system, submit 10 pages of poetry or up to 15 pages of prose, a project proposal, a professional cv, and a $35 application fee by July 31st. Submit here. If you have any difficulty with the link, copy and paste this link in the address bar:


No purchase is required, but we hope that you will read Red Mountain Press’ books, available at your local library, our website, and your favorite independent bookstore.

‘I’ll forever be grateful to Red Mountain Press for inviting me to the Sandy Bend Residency on Sanibel Island in November 2019. The setting was perfect for writing: my own room in a quiet house near the rolling waves of the beach. I wrote more pages of my novel manuscript than I thought possible, even as the weather outdoors ranged from excellent to outstanding. The island’s secluded beaches, bike trails, estuaries, and natural preserves offered quick escapes where I generated ideas about character arcs and plot lines. And my story benefited immensely from an editorial session with Susan Gardner, publisher and founding editor of Red Mountain Press. —Thad Nodine

A surprising thing happened. I thought I came here to organize and write prose, and I did some of that. But what mostly came out of me was poetry…., I think I have come untethered in spite of myself— [I]t took several days before the most organized part of me could follow a suggestion Susan had made…. I have been able to slow down and allow things fall into place on their own, knowing that as I’m walking on the beach or pedaling through the wildlife refuge, “work” is happening…. —Mary Ellen Hammond

[T]he cozy residential house is a quiet refuge. It is close to the beach, but not so near that beachside revelry intrudes. Most of our writing was done in our three separate bedrooms, but the large dining room table was also often commandeered for spreading out manuscripts by one or another of the writers. The walls were sufficiently noise proof that normal conversations in one room didn’t bleed into those adjacent. The two available bathrooms were sufficient for the needs for three people. Additionally, we were offered the use of a washer/drier and the luxury of professional housecleaners coming once a week to do a thorough cleaning, even changing bedsheets.

The writers prepared all their own meals. Dinners were usually joint enterprises. After dinner, we generally shared samples of what we’d been working on during the day. I felt this was very rewarding.

—Donald Levering

This residency brings the gifts of freedom on the page and energy in the day — in an unsurpassable, companionable setting.

It has been a long time since I’ve been able to write the poem with my heart the whole way through. At Sandy Bend, somehow, time and space both expand and compress: in this house, words I start writing are clearly going to go somewhere or not — they have no iffy maybe’s about them!

Discussing my work with Susan Gardner was invaluable; she pinpointed doubt and inhibition that had subliminally perturbed me in the manuscript of a book-length poem. The opportunity for Susan’s editorial feedback was a large reason for my applying, and our talk was even more illuminating and helpful than I had anticipated. She gave me a way back into the poem.

Unpacking my pencil case of writing supplies, in my exquisite pale green room with a perfect desk under a window — a room of my own, housed with a couple of other dedicated, simpatico writers — I discovered a small yellow sticky on which somewhere, sometime, I had scrawled ” ‘One should put aside hope and concentrate on joy.’ — Spinoza.” That’s exactly what this month made possible. Many, many thanks to our donor!

—Mary Gilliland



About the residence
This is a family home. There are three steps up to the front door and the three artist bedrooms are up a flight of stairs. The house has recently been extensively remodeled and has a fine, well-equipped kitchen, two beautiful baths, a screened lanai (porch), large living room with TV and cable, and many amenities. It is about one minute’s walk across the property to the Gulf of Mexico. The beach is spectacular.

The residency can be reached by island taxi. Bicycles and tricycles are available for rent and are a good way to get around the island. If you decide to rent a car, there is easy parking on the property. The nearest airport is Fort Myers, FL, about an hour’s drive in the winter season.

A few provisos: The invitation to the residency is for the author only. Collaborators must apply separately. Family and guests cannot be accommodated. Pets and smoking are not permitted.