Even with my big teaching news that’ll keep me busy next year (I’m joining the faculty at VCFA!), I have a YA Novel Workshop-Retreat coming at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California, and I am now accepting applications from serious, talented writers!
The 2016 YA Novel Workshop with me on a beautiful mountain retreat in Northern California will take place Sunday, March 6–Saturday, March 12, and is open to YA writers of all styles and genres and publishing backgrounds who are seeking an opportunity to have their work discussed in the constructive manner of an MFA workshop among a small group, and also of course a private conference with me for a chance to get feedback from me on even more pages.
Writers will have opportunities to create and share new work, an inspiring week for retreating, and ample time for writing. Many more details, as well as testimonials from former Djerassi YA writers, can be found here.
Thinking of applying? Please do!
You do not have to be a published writer to apply, but I do hope you’re serious about writing a YA novel and will be generous and honest with your fellow writers when discussing their work.
I carve out the workshop groups carefully, and in previous years they have included YA writers working on contemporary realistic, fantasy and magical realism, historical, paranormal, and everything in between. Previous groups have included a mix of published authors, agented writers, as well as pre-published writers, and writers have come from all over the United States and from as far away as Australia, Hong Kong, and Norway.
When reviewing applications, I pay careful attention to the writing sample to make sure I would be a good fit to work with you and I also keep an eye on the short statement, to see what you’re seeking from this workshop. I get very invested in the writers who work with me, and I’m so excited to have a new group in 2016!
The deadline is December 17 and applications are already rolling in, so apply to join me today!
If you have any questions about the application or the workshop, please feel free to email me. In the meantime, here is a FAQ…
Djerassi YA Novel Workshop FAQ
What are you looking for in writing sample?
I’m looking for good writing, of course, but also the spark that tells me I would be able to be helpful to you as a writing teacher—a connection to your writing that tells me we would work well together.
It’s not all about the writing sample, either: I am looking at that last question on the application carefully, the short statement where I ask “what you hope to gain from this workshop and what writing experience and classes you have taken before, if any.”
I’m looking at the person as well as the writer, so I can try to craft a good, supportive, dynamic group of writers who will click with one another, and who will come from differing perspectives and backgrounds and places in their careers.
Please know: The sample pages you send in for the application absolutely do not have to be the pages you send in for the actual workshop. So send your best work for the application, and know you can send far rougher pages later.
When will the pages for critique be due?
A month before our workshop starts, so you have a chance to read all your fellow writers’ work and write feedback before arriving at Djerassi (and so I’ll have time to read, too!): so February 6.
You’ll be able to workshop up to 25 pages with the group. You will also have the opportunity to send me up to 50 additional pages for private critique, which we will discuss in person when we meet.
What kind of writers are you seeking?
YA writers with experience, though not necessarily publications. Though, of course, published authors are very welcome to apply and previous workshops have included agented and multi-published authors as well as pre-published authors.
This is not a workshop for beginning-level writers who have never written fiction before. You should also know what YA is, and you should be enthusiastically, passionately writing it.
Diverse writers are encouraged to apply. You must be 18 or older to apply.
Can I workshop pages from a middle-grade novel there?
You can send middle-grade fiction for your writing sample, but I’d like to keep the workshop itself just to YA fiction. Please only apply if you know you will have the opening pages of a YA novel to bring for group discussion.
How many writers will you accept?
No less than eight and no more than eleven, depending on the writers who apply.
Are you choosing writers RIGHT NOW THIS VERY SECOND and is there a chance I will lose my spot if I wait to apply until the deadline? (i.e., Are there rolling admissions?)
No rolling admissions.
I won’t be selecting the writers until after the deadline, which is December 17. I admit that I have peeked at the applications and read some writing samples and I’m getting excited… But I really will be making the decisions after all the applications are in.
I will try to have accepted applications notified before the New Year.
What is the daily schedule?
We will meet for workshop in the mornings, during which we will critique each writer’s opening pages in a constructive, honest group discussion led by me. At the end of discussion, you will have the opportunity to ask the group questions about anything you’d like clarity on, or anything that didn’t come up in our feedback.
After you’ve been workshopped, you and I will schedule a private conference in the afternoon, where we will talk about how you thought the workshop critique went and discuss your additional pages.
During one afternoon, we’ll go on a sculpture tour of the property, which is totally voluntary but highly recommended.
Otherwise the afternoons are yours to write, nap, think, read, chat, hike the sculpture trails on your own, or whatever you’d like. In previous workshops, sometimes the writers would meet together for writing sprints—and you are always welcome to write in your private studio. Your time is yours.
During some afternoons, we will have writing prompts sessions, which you can attend if you’d like to; they aren’t mandatory.
Breakfast and lunch are yours to make from the fully stocked kitchen, but every night we meet for delicious dinner in the main house, made for us by amazing Chef Dan. (Who is wonderfully accommodating for special diets, btw, if you are vegan or vegetarian or gluten-free. Everything he makes is so good. He’s my favorite chef, over all the colonies.) We share chores after dinner and clean up the dishes. It doesn’t take long.
In the evenings we will have readings—a chance, if you’d like, to share more of your work! We might have a movie night. We might have an honest discussion about the publishing industry in a place where only we can hear. I take my cue from you, and will craft the week to be whatever you’d like it to be.
Is there any required reading?
A month before the workshop, you’ll get your fellow writers’ pages to read and start critiquing so you have ample time to have everything done before you arrive. Other than that, there is no required reading before or during the workshop.
Is there an opportunity for you to critique my full manuscript?
I’ve added in this option due to requests from previous years. You can see my critique and mentoring service on my website, which is now only open to writers who have taken workshops with me before. For 2016 Djerassi writers, the fee will be discounted if you want me to read and critique beyond page 75 of your novel.
Don’t forget the deadline: December 17. Apply now!