2021 Tahquitz Writer’s Retreat
Middle Grade & Young Adult
Online via the magic of ZOOM
March 26, 27, 28 2021
in light of the uncertainty due to the Coronavirus, you can cancel up to
Sunday March 21st by noon,
in which case we will refund you the entire basic conference fee (members $150/nonmembers $200). If you cancel after this date and time, we will NOT refund the conference fee unless we can find a replacement. Also, if you paid for a written critique, we will NOT refund that fee no matter what the date of cancellation since, regardless of whether or not you participate in the conference, we will email you the written critique.
This year’s theme:
ALL THAT JAZZ
For us, writing is our music. We have a foundation, but we improvise. We create a story with a beginning, middle, and end, but we hope that our pacing has a “propulsive syncopated rhythm” to keep our readers turning pages. We create a “polyphonic ensemble” of characters and conflict, deliberately distorting the “pitch and timbre” as we throw in red herrings and second act reversals and things that don’t make sense on their own but at to the beauty and uniqueness of our piece as a whole. And at the end, we hope that the finished product is a “musical” masterpiece. For this retreat, our “band leaders” include:
Wendy Loggia, Senior Executive Editor at Penguin Random House
Sara Schonfeld, Editor at Harper Collins
Michaela Whatnall, Agent at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret
Alec Shane, Agent at Writers House
Gretchen McNeil, author (a YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth, to name SOME of her awards!
with additional House Mentor Advisors:
Ernesto Cisneros, author (Efren Divided)
Heather Buchta, author (Beyond the Break)
To spruce up our manuscripts, attendees will participate in four critique-group sessions lead by an editor or agent, hear speaker presentations on writing craft, and mingle with the editor, agent, authors during meals and a happy hour.
Because we want to keep the critique groups cozy, we are restricting the number of attendees to 28. Attendees can also get a professional written critique of up to 10 pages of their manuscript before the conference.
You may get a written critique of your work prior to the weekend so you can revise before the retreat. If you sign up for a written critique, please email 10 pages of your manuscript and one-page synopsis to SCBWI.email@example.com by Wednesday February 10th at 10:00 am. Your manuscript must be saved as a Word document, double-spaced, Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and must have a header with your name and page numbers. An additional page may be the synopsis, which must be be single-spaced, one-page, one-inch margins. We will email the critique back to you one to two weeks prior to the weekend retreat.
- PB: very selective, but interested in stories with humor, broad commercial appeal, marginalized voices, and heartfelt messages for young readers (NOT looking for rhyming picture books, board books, or early readers)
- MG: more broadly searching for ownvoices stories from marginalized perspectives (such as neurodiverse authors; authors with disabilities; authors from the LGBTQ community; Latinx voices; Indigenous voices; Black voices; Jewish voices). Looking for light-hearted mysteries, adventures that get out of hand, spooky stories, friendship/crush drama. Dreaming of an updated, diverse, age-appropriate National Treasure! (NOT looking for issue books)
- YA: also searching for ownvoices here (see above for some examples). Looking for rom-coms with teeth and/or a unique or speculative hook, mysteries with a dark edge (think Karen McManus, E. Lockhart, or Maureen Johnson), and special twists on genre stories (vampires, superheroes, time travelers, etc.). (NOT looking for dystopian, sci-fi, or sports)
- Requested trigger warnings: please flag any submissions that deal with sexual assault, suicide, or other self-harm.
Gretchen’s novels have been published internationally in Chinese, Spanish, Turkish, French, Thai, and Czech. Ten: Murder Island, the film adaptation of TEN starring China Anne McClain (Descendants 2, Black Lightning), Rome Flynn (The Bold and the Beautiful), and Callan McAuliffe (The Walking Dead, Flipped, I am Number Four), premiered on Lifetime in 2017. GET EVEN and GET DIRTY have been adapted as the series Get Even for BBC/Netflix, premiering in 2020.
Gretchen is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Visit Gretchen online at www.gretchenmcneil.com.
Additional House Mentor Advisors
Heather Buchta, Author
Heather Buchta graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. in communications, but she’ll tell you the real B.A. in college is learning how to pay bills. After receiving her National Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, she directed youth ministry programs and confirmation classes for both Catholic and Protestant churches. In addition, she taught high school English for a decade in South Central LA. Today, she is a part-time youth pastor for The Rock Covenant Church and a private tutor for ACT and SAT prep. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, obstacle-course racing, rock climbing, and snowboarding. She lives in the beach cities of Los Angeles, where she dotes on her dog and writes stories from her indoor porch. Beyond the Break is her first novel. She is represented by Michael Bourret of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret. You can visit her at www.heatherbuchta.com
Ernesto Cisneros, Author
Ernesto Cisneros is a 20-year veteran teacher currently serving the city of Santa Ana: the colorful but mostly dismissed section of Orange County, California. He teaches reading and writing to local students at an inner-city intermediate school.
Ernesto holds an English degree from the University of California, Irvine; a teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach; as well as a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from National University. Efrén Divided is his first novel. He is represented by Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency. You can visit him at https://www.ernestocisneros.com.