May 20–22, 2022

What do you need in order to grow your writing craft in 2022? If you’re looking for invigorating master classes and lectures, new techniques and tricks to enrich your writing habits, the opportunity to receive feedback on your work, and a chance to connect with other writers, all without leaving your house, then VCFA’s Spring 2022 Writing Novels for Children & Young Adults Retreat is for you!

The Grow Your Craft Retreat is designed to help you recharge your creative batteries, give you a surge of creativity, and help you tap into a supportive community of writers. This is more than just a writing class or presentation, but a weekend-long experience that you can choose to participate in at your own pace, with options for craft instruction, industry insight, and connection with your fellow writers. And, of course, writing!

We invite you to set aside May 20-22, 2022 as your own DIY writing retreat. You can participate from whatever space you’ve created for yourself—a cozy corner in your house, your kitchen table, even a hotel room you’ve booked just for the chance to get away! All you need is an internet connection, something to write with, and an open mind.

We’ll kick things off on Friday afternoon with a Zoom meet up to say hello, talk about our goals, and set our intentions for the weekend, and then hear from one of our guests who will share useful and applicable tips and tools for improving our writing lives.

On Saturday, join us for an optional morning coffee hour! Grab breakfast and your beverage of choice and drop in to chat with others before logging off for a morning of writing. Then, come back around midday to listen and learn from our master class presenter, a VCFA faculty member who will share a generative craft lecture with us.

Saturday evening will provide yet another practical lecture session about building your writing life and routine, and then we’ll offer a fun optional Zoom social hour where you can connect with others about your progress and talk about writing and books in general!

On Sunday, we’ll have another informal coffee hour chat and then hear from our industry guest, who will share insights about craft from an industry perspective. We’ll wrap up the weekend with a Q&A panel session with our guests, and the chance to share all that we’ve learned and accomplished over the weekend.

If you’re thinking, “Wow, this sounds great, but I don’t think I can commit an entire weekend to this event,” we’ve got you covered! We understand that writers are never just writers—we’re caretakers and parents, friends and partners, and we have many jobs. If you register for this weekend retreat, you’ll receive all the handouts from our guests, plus access to recordings of the master class lecture and presentations from our guest speakers. We also understand if you can’t make every Zoom social and writing session, but we’ll be glad to welcome you to those that fit into your schedule.

As an added bonus, if you’d like to receive a critique of the first ten pages of your writing, a limited number of add-on critiques are available! You’ll submit the first ten pages of your YA or MG novel by April 15th, 2022, and our industry guest will provide feedback via email before the start of the retreat.

We hope that you can create some space in your busy lives to spring into your YA or MG novel, connect with fellow writers, and find new tools to grow your craft during an exciting and inspirational virtual weekend!

Faculty, Lecturers, Organizers

Your Novel Is a Mosaic
Martha Brockenbrough
, Master Class Presenter

There are a million ways to write a novel. Plotting. Wild pantsing. Outlining. Cat-saving. But this is what I have found to be true for all methods … almost no one comes up with their best ideas all at once or in linear order. This can be scary. It’s certainly frustrating. But when we approach the development of our ideas from many directions, the picture starts to come clear. Martha Brockenbrough will share her best tools for this process:

  • the pitch
  • the beginning as prologue to your ending
  • your story’s defining emotional moments
  • the elements of that emotion
  • the 20-minute synopsis

Come ready to commit to getting that book inside your head and heart onto the page.

Sticking the Landing, What Makes the Perfect First Chapter
Eric Smith
, Agent/Author Presenter

In a chat with literary agent and author Eric Smith, we’ll discuss the dreaded first chapter, and dispel the many rumors and fears that seem to surround them. Are prologues bad (spoiler: not always)? Do you need immediate action right out of the gate? Why do people seem to hate opening with a dream? We’ll break down what agents are looking for in those early pages, which turns out to be what readers are looking for… and how you can stick the landing.

As an added bonus, Tirzah Price and Anna Drury will also host separate Zoom sessions on writing rituals and writing when you don’t feel inspired. These sessions are meant to give you practical tips, strategies, and ideas to help get you in the chair and in front of the keyboard or paper in the midst of a busy schedule, even when you don’t feel like writing.


  • Regular Registration: $150
  • Registration with Optional Critique Add-on: $225 (limited availability)


Registration is open now. To secure your spot, please follow this link and fill out the form completely. Register before May 19 to participate in the retreat.


Tirzah Price, ’15 WCYA
Retreat Director
[email protected]