Things to know if you're applying to my YA Workshop at the Lambda Emerging Writers Retreat

From August 5–12, 2017, I will be teaching the Young Adult Fiction workshop at the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices. If you’re considering applying to the retreat, I’ve put together this post to give you more information about it.

About the Emerging Writers Retreat

This is a weeklong residential retreat for LGBTQ writers held on a college campus in Los Angeles. Everyone stays on campus, and we all eat in the dining hall — even the faculty! It’s immersive, transformative, and amazingly queer. This year there will be five workshops held simultaneously: fiction, young adult fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and poetry. Each workshop consists of twelve students (also known as fellows) plus the workshop leader.

I’ve taught at Lambda before (back in 2013), and I’m thrilled to be returning this year. I will be reading the applications for the YA Fiction workshop, and I will select the writers. Because three spaces are reserved for returning fellows, I may only be able to select nine new writers.

What to Expect at the YA Workshop

Each workshop leader designs their own workshop, so while I can’t speak to what will happen at the other workshops, I can tell you what I plan to do in the YA Workshop.

Young adult fiction is a publishing category that focuses on novels. It’s very hard to get a YA short story published; there simply isn’t much of a market for it. For that reason, the YA workshop will focus on novels. This doesn’t meant that you need to have completed a YA novel, but the workshop will be most beneficial to writers who are working on novels.

For that reason, I will ask for fellows to submit 25 pages from their novel in progress (preferably the first 25 pages), plus a synopsis of the novel (yes, you’ll have to write a synopsis), to the group one month before the start of the workshop. That will give all of us a chance to read and prepare a written critique (which you will deliver at the workshop) in advance.

The schedule of the workshop goes like this: In the mornings, we will sit together and critique each fellow’s writing. I will lead a constructive discussion, in which the writer will listen silently for the majority of the workshop. After the discussion, there will be time for the writer to ask questions and respond.

During the afternoons, you’ll have an opportunity to schedule a private meeting with me, where we discuss your novel in progress and any other questions you have about your writing. As a group, we’ll decide if you’d like to use the rest of the afternoons to write independently; to do some writing prompts or exercises together; or to chat about other related topics such as querying or publishing.

In the evenings, Lambda organizes readings from the faculty, other writers, and special events. At the end of the week, all the fellows at the workshop will give a reading to share some of what they’ve worked on.

The Application: What I’m Looking For

The application requires a list of publications, an artistic/biographical statement, and a writing sample of no more than 25 pages.

This workshop is for emerging writers, not established writers, so you don’t need to have an extensive list of publications to be considered. Your publication history will not be my primary consideration. You don’t need to have an MFA or any previous degree in creative writing. However, none of the fellows are beginning writers. They have spent plenty of time with their words. They are ready for critique.

For your artistic/biographical statement, I am looking for a few things. I want to know what your vision for your writing career is. I want to know something about who you are as a person. I also want to know a bit about the YA project you hope to work on at the workshop, and why you think the workshop would help. I want you to be honest with me. I’m not looking for perfect writers who have everything planned out. I’m looking for writers I can help, and who can be helpful to others in the workshop, too.

For your writing sample: Please submit your best YA writing. You do not have to submit the pages that you hope to work on at the workshop. I want to read something that you’re proud of, that speaks to who you think you are as a writer. It can be in any genre — fantasy, contemporary, science fiction, historical, romance, etc. — but it must be written for young adults. Please do not submit non-YA work.

Finally, I want to make it clear that all identities within the LGBTQ+ umbrella are welcome at this workshop. I especially encourage LGBTQ+ people of color to apply. Scholarships are available for those with financial need; please don’t self-reject.

Dates and Deadlines

Full information about the retreat can be found at the application website, but here are the key facts:

January 30: Deadline for applications March 15: Acceptances will be emailed on or before this date August 5: Writers Retreat begins August 12: Writers Retreat ends

There is an application fee of $25. Tuition is $850 and Room and Board is $800 (you are required to stay on campus), but ability to pay is not considered in the application process. Scholarships are available, so don’t let the costs prevent you from applying.

If you’re an LGBTQ writer of YA fiction and you’re ready to take your writing to the next level, I invite you to apply. I can’t wait to read your writing!