Sierra Valley Writers Retreat

Do you long to see your writing published?

Are you feeling stuck–unsure how to organize your thoughts and put your book together? Need to know how to create a winning proposal and a book project that would meet real felt needs and catch the eye of an editor or agent?

Are you craving time with like-minded writer friends?

Would you like to get away to a quiet, beautiful setting for four days of brainstorming, storyboarding, and teaching on nonfiction book form . . . and leave with your own great proposal in your hands?

Sierra Booster photo

Join Janet and others at a Sierra Valley Writers Retreat in her welcoming home and guest house in the Sierra Valley–the largest alpine valley in North America, just about an hour north of Lake Tahoe in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Any season of the year is breathtaking in this peaceful setting–perfect for writing and more!

With experience teaching nonfiction at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference and many other conferences, she will provide sound instruction in these workshops and sessions:

  • Creating a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal
  • Structuring Your Nonfiction Book: Features and Organization of Christian Living, Devotional Books, Bible Studies, Gift Books, and Memoirs
  • Studying Nonfiction Form to Understand How to Structure Chapters
  • Drawing the Reader In by Addressing Felt Need: Storyboarding an Entire Book’s Outline
  • Branding and Finding Your Social Media Audience
  • OR . . . flexible brainstorming/storyboarding/group coaching sessions, depending on the expertise and needs of the group
  • PLUS . . . fun shopping experiences at local antiques and thrift stores and a visit to the beautiful prayer cabin at the Roberti Ranch for a Dream Big session
  • PLUS . . . optional, private, one-hour critique/editing sessions ($100 extra/hour)

Additionally, writers will meet together daily for devotional sessions that affirm their calling and help them to Dream Big.

Dates: September 16-19 (ONE-TIME special retreat focused on FICTION--plot, character, and your message–with guest teacher Angela Ruth Strong); and these NONFICTION dates with Janet McHenry: November 4-7, 2021, and April 21-24 and May 19-22, 2022

Note: Registrants will be asked to verify their vaccinated or virus-free status prior to traveling.

Actual rates:

All actual rates include instruction, lodging (all beds are queen-sized), and eight meals. Full payment is required to hold the registration (via Paypal, Venmo, or check).

  • Guest House Rebekah Room with shared bath, living room, kitchen: $600
  • Guest House sofabed in living room with shared bath and kitchen: $450
  • Beach Room in house with shared bath: $500
  • Bethany Room in house with shared bath: $500

SUCH a deal because the VALUE of the retreat is at least $1,120:

  • Lodging (based on local comparables): $100 (or more)/night = $300
  • Meals (3 dinners, 2 lunches, 3 breakfasts): $120
  • Instruction: $700

Refund policy: 

If a registrant needs to cancel, a $100 fee is deducted from the refund if more than 30 days from the date of the retreat, half the fee if within two weeks of the retreat, and no refund if within a week of the retreat.  

Additional offerings:

  • Advance critique of up to 10 manuscript and/or proposal pages: $100 (fee and manuscript due a week in advance)
  • Individual coaching session: $75/hour (special retreat rate; sessions may be arranged at the retreat)


  • Ground travel: Set your GPS to 116 Main St. (CA-49), Loyalton CA 96118.
  • Air travel: Fly into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, 45 miles/45 minutes from Loyalton; Janet can transport air travelers the afternoon of the first day of the retreat and the morning of the last day. Please arrive by 3 p.m.

Your host:

Janet McHenry has been writing for the Christian publishing market since 1986 when God told her, “I want you to write for me.” As she had NO idea what that meant at the time, she attended three major writers conferences over the next year, when learned the value of direct instruction and lifelong learning to stay fresh in her craft.

She has since written thousands of articles, blogs, and devotions and 24 traditionally-published books–six of those on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. Her books have been published by WaterBrook/Random House, Harvest House, Bethany House, Worthy/Hachette, AMG, Annie’s Publishing, David C. Cook, and First Place for Health; two have reached bestselling lists.

Other bits of info:

  • B.A., Journalism, UC Berkeley
  • Teaching credential, Secondary English, National University
  • Certified life and writing coach (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association)
  • Instructor at numerous writers’ conferences
  • Freelance book editor for numerous writers and publishers
  • Her books include children’s board books, first chapter books, YA mysteries, cozy mystery, Christian living nonfiction, gift books, Bible studies, and a devotional book.
  • Co-creator of the Squires courses for the Christian Writers Guild (Jerry Jenkins)
  • Coordinator/editor of regular e-newsletter articles for the Christian Retail Association (through the Christian Author Network)  
  • 26 years of experience teaching writing as a high school English, journalism, and creative writing teacher
  • Formerly a daily newspaper reporter and city editor . . . and regular contributor now to local newspapers
  • Married to attorney-turned-rancher husband Craig, her high school/college sweetheart; they raised four kids in their Loyalton home.
  • Favorite pastime: hospitality! So she will be SO excited to host you in her home!

Inquiries and Registration: Email Janet at janetmchenry @


The Sierra Valley Writer’s Retreat was just what I needed this year. Janet McHenry opened her lovely home to four writers, causing fun and inspiration to ensue for three days. We enjoyed delicious meals (Janet is a wonderful cook!), brainstormed writing projects, prayed together, and challenged each other. Each of us had a bedroom (so comfy!), and Janet shared creative and meaningful devotions each evening. Unlike the bustle of a large writer’s conference, the intimate setting in the Sierra Valley was refreshing, and the company of writers was refreshing–not to mention hysterically funny at times. I hope to go again soon! 

~Alice Crider, editor, writer, and publishing strategist at Your Write Life Coach


The saying “Timing is everything” certainly proved true in my experience with the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat hosted by Janet McHenry. Perfect timing, actually. In a season in which my spirit had shriveled and my want-to had waned, the retreat provided the peaceful place and spiritual space and community I needed to consider and pursue a fresh start. Perhaps you can relate. Or you might be new to writing and are looking for a place to explore the possibility of becoming a writer. Now is the time.

~Mona Hodgson, author of 42 novels, novellas, and children’s books


The Sierra Valley Writers retreat renewed my soul and my dreams. I went there discouraged and came home renewed and ready to write again. I especially savored the evening Bible Study, reflective prayer time, and the beauty of the mountain valley that refreshed my weary heart. The hands-on help with my current WIP was invaluable and much appreciated. I highly recommend Janet McHenry as a writing mentor and spiritual guide. She is warm and wise and has the gift of hospitality. Her home is delightful and the meals she prepared amazing. I will definitely be attending this retreat again as soon as I possibly can.

~Paula Scott, author of the bestselling memoir Farming Grace


I’m so grateful for Janet’s skill and advice in working through my proposal with me. When you’re chasing a book publishing dream, it’s invaluable to have someone with industry expertise who’s willing to save you from yourself! I learned that it’s time for me to quit talking about writing a book and just send my proposal off into the world. It’s ready. It’s time. And now it’s up to me to have the courage to really give it a go. 
Most inspirational for me was an exercise Janet asked us to do that involved 7 words. Just 7 simple words. I won’t give it away–you’ll have to attend to discover what I’m talking about–but, wow, it entirely readjusted my gaze. Janet’s tagline, Looking Up, isn’t just a slogan for her. It’s deep, down-in-her-bones truth. She’s the real deal and inspires others to be that/do that/live that in our writing, too.
~Laurie Davies, former journalist and marketing professional, blogger, women’s ministry director, Grace Community Church in Tempe AZ


I am so glad I attended the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat in April 2021. It was a small gathering of authors and aspiring writers. At first, I thought I was in way over my head! After progressing through the sessions, I began to have confidence that I too could be a writer. Janet is a great hostess and an excellent coach with a wealth of knowledge and experience as a nonfiction author. If you are a published author or just starting out, I highly recommend attending a Sierra Valley Writers Retreat.

~Anita Duran, aspiring author


From the beautiful mountain scenery and delicious food to the expert writing coaching and brainstorming sessions, Janet McHenry’s Sierra Valley Writers Retreat was exactly the refreshment and encouragement I needed to help my book begin to take shape. Janet helped me refocus and believe again that it’s okay to dream big about God’s calling on my heart. If you need spiritual nourishment and a kind voice of wisdom over your writing, you will find both in abundance in Janet and her life-giving retreat.

~Macki Penick Smith, founder of The Peace-Seeking Mom






  • Women’s retreats
  • Prayer conferences
  • School workshops and trainings
  • Prayerwalk events
  • Banquets
  • Church conferences
  • Writers’ workshops
  • Writers’ conferences
  • Bookstore readings/signingsand library and book-related events

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