What’s bookcamp? Think boot-camp for your book. Spend six days in an intensive program to help you finish a manuscript worthy of publication and figure out how to pitch it to win a successful publishing deal.

Dave Rank, past president of the Wisconsin Writers Association, is the host and director of Bookcamp which he established four years ago to attract and encourage emerging novelists. Last fall at the WWA annual conference in Neenah, he invited me to join the staff and I look forward to my first Bookcamp this May.

Is Bookcamp right for you? Do you have a work-in-progress? Are you committed to seeing it published in its best form? Looking for professional, experienced, individualized guidance? If you are writing narrative nonfiction or memoir you may also find Bookcamp an empowering experience.

Bookcamp is a full week of writing classes, clinics, one-on-one sessions, critique groups, and writing time which culminates in pitch sessions to agents and editors. Discussion and classes on character development, plot and story, setting, and voice and style issues. Panels on today’s publishing market and advice on best practices, queries, and pitching techniques.

Now in its fourth year, the Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat offers two concurrent residential writing programs. One, the full Bookcamp, or two, the Writing Retreat. Both programs offer an intense 6-day, 6-night full-immersion guided experience—a stimulating literary experience with a group of serious writers who seek publication.

The Bookcamp includes classes, one-on-one consultations with staff, group critique sessions, presentations and publishing discussions, and coaching on pitches and query letters. Here’s the link for the program schedule. Registration covers everything but your spa services. And, yes, there is a spa with massage therapists on staff.

The Writing Retreat provides you with six days of personal writing time in a tranquil writer-focused setting. You are surrounded by writers, editors, and literary agents in cozy indoor settings, outdoor trails, and social activities. The Writing Retreat provides advice, encouragement, and motivational incentives to prompt daily writing. Mentored by Lisa Lickel, retreat participants can access certain Bookcamp activities and all social events. Bookcamp activities can be attended on an a la carte fee basis.

Six glorious days at the Cedar Valley Center in rural southeastern Wisconsin. This 100-acre retreat center is northwest of Milwaukee not far from West Bend; about two hours north of Chicago. Co-sponsored by the Chicago Writers Association, this program can give you a serious boost to your work-in-progress.

Dave Rank has put together an impressive roster for this year’s Bookcamp. SJ Rozan is the author-in-resident and guest instructor. Author of 14 novels, SJ teaches in New York at the Crime Fiction Acadamy and during the summer in Assisi, Italy at Art Workshop International. Her latest book is the Sam Cabot novel, Blood of the Lamb. Philip Martin is a lead instructor for Bookcamp. Phil is director of Great Lakes Literary and the author of How to Write Your Best Story and A Guide to Fantasy Literature. Lisa Lickel is a novelist and historian who is also a writing coach and freelance editor. Laura Zats is an agent with Red Sofa Literary whose interests are YA, MG, romance and sci-fi/fantasy. Erik Hane, also from Red Sofa Literary, is an agent and freelance editor and writer. He writes for Rain Taxi and co-hosts Print Run, a publishing podcast. I’m pleased to join such excellent company for a week organized by Dave Rank.

To apply to the 2017 Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp, you’ll need to submit the first three chapters or up to 30 pages of your manuscript, a query letter with your marketing pitch for your book, and a synopsis of your book which includes a plot summary with an ending. Within 5 days you will be notified whether your application has been accepted. To reserve your spot you will need a $100 deposit to secure your registration. To learn more go here.

Registration is limited to 15 for the Bookcamp. If you’re interested, I encourage you to apply now. There are scholarship opportunities for those who apply for Bookcamp by March 15.

It’s hard to imagine in the middle of March the lush green of May. For writers, it can be hard with a work-in-progress to imagine how much more the manuscript will mature as you bring it into the light, massage it, and breathe life into it. Come join us in Cedar Valley.


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