Monday, April 18, 2011

Guest Post: N.L. Sharp on A Novel Journey: Three Retreats for MG & YA Writers

By N. L. Sharp

"When will you take your novel retreats on the road?"

I laugh every time someone asks me that question. Since my current set of retreats is entitled "A Novel Journey," I suppose it would make sense. And perhaps, some day, I will, when my own writing dictates it's time.

But I'm not ready for that yet. After all, I am not a conference organizer. I am a writer, working on a series of novels I hope to see published soon. And the retreats are just one of the tools I use to motivate me when my writing is in a slump and I'm ready to quit.

I organized my first set of retreats several years ago after I had spent some time playing the "What if?" game in regard to the perfect writing workshop—for me.

What if I could find a class where everyone in attendance was working on a middle grade or YA novel, and we all agreed to meet a couple times a year to share our drafts and to study the craft of writing for children.

Then, after a year or so, we would sit down with someone in the industry (an agent or an editor) to discuss our W-I-P; someone who could really help us move toward our ultimate goal of publication.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. And when I shared the idea with a few of my writing friends, they all said they couldn't wait to sign up for such a class, as soon as I had it organized! Therefore, my first set of novel retreats was born.

The retreats were a huge success, with a total of twenty-three other writers from ten different states joining me to learn the "secrets of success" from our talented and knowledgeable speakers. And several of us continue, to this day, to meet on a regular basis to share our writing.

But lately, I have been feeling a bit restless and in need of that additional emotional writing charge that I received from my participation in the first set of retreats. And when a few of the other participants asked me if I would repeat them, I knew the time was right to organize a new series of retreats.

The purpose for the first set of retreats was to prove to each and every one of us in attendance that yes—we could actually write a novel in a year's time, with the support of a strong writing community. The focus of this new set of retreats is to answer the question "Where? Where does our work fit in the literary world and where will it find a home?"

Therefore, in this set of retreats, there will be a strong emphasis on what is being published in middle grade and YA and how do we, as writers, select an agent to represent our work to this market.

Every journey begins with a single step. I know that. But I have discovered that those steps are much easier to take if I am traveling with companions who share my passion and interest in writing for children. For me, that's the only way to travel!

Cynsational Notes

N. L. Sharp is the author of three picture books and the coordinator for A Novel Journey, a series of three retreats for middle grade and YA writers.

Retreat # 1: Writing for Today’s Market is scheduled for June 22 to June 24, 2011.

Retreat # 2: Revision, Revision, Revision is scheduled for Feb. 17 to Feb. 19, 2012.

Retreat #3: Marketing to Agents is scheduled for June 20 to June 22, 2012.

Featured agents will be Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency and Marietta Zacker of Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. Learn more about Ammi-Joan and Marietta.

The retreats will be held at St. Benedict Retreat Center on Highway 15 north of Schuyler, Nebraska.

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