Success! Nine writers from three states completed the 2015 Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp, a six-day residency writing workshop held in southeast Wisconsin in May at a beautiful retreat center not far from Milwaukee.
This unique experience provides hands-on advice and one-on-one guidance for writers in any genre who are developing or polishing a book-length work-in-progress.
“The Bookcamp was literally life-changing for me. I came home from the camp with shifted priorities and with the knowledge and confidence needed to put my writing first,” 2015 graduate Rhonda McDonnell said about her experience.
The Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp is co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Writers Association and the Chicago Writer Association, and was held at the Cedar Valley Center & Spa, 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Wis. on May 17–23.
“I came to the Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp unsure of myself as a writer – and wanting to know so much more about everything involved with editing, publishing, getting an agent, writing a query, etc.,” Kent Raddatz, another 2015 participant from Wisconsin Rapids, said. “In the process, I was introduced to the writing community and gathered very practical insights that I could use immediately. Plus, I left being able to call myself a writer, rather than just saying I was trying to write.”
According to another participant, novelist Renee James from Illinois: “At the first Bookcamp (2014), I learned what I needed to do with the manuscript for my second novel, and I learned how to query effectively. I went home and finished the manuscript and placed it with an agent. At the second Bookcamp, I learned what I needed to do with my third novel, how to help my agent pitch it to publishers, and how to help market it. That’s a great payoff to my investment of time and money, and it doesn’t even count the great camaraderie and friendships that the Bookcamp makes possible.”
“Those are typical of the comments we receive from our graduates in the two years we’ve held the Bookcamp. Our staff takes great pride in hearing how much our work has helped our writers and their work,” said David J. Rank, NIP Bookcamp & Writing Retreat founder and director. “That encouragement helps us work to improve the Bookcamp program every year.”
The graduates of the second annual Bookcamp and their works-in-progress:
- Jo DeMars, Waukesha, Wis., the second book in a fantasy quest for middle school children
- Chris Eirschele, Scottsdale, Ariz., a cozy paranormal mystery
- Renee James, Wheeling, Ill.; a romantic thriller set in the Canadian wilderness
- Jack Kruse, West Bend, Wis.; lovers and rivals during the World War II battle of Kursk
- Bev Larsen, Hudson, Wis., children’s chapter book
- Andrew Marein, Oak Creek, Wis., thriller
- Rhonda McDonnell, Gilbert, Ariz., literary fiction
- Jennifer Rupp, Mequon, Wis., historical romance
- Maggie Smith, New Berlin, Wis., literary fiction
Also taking part in portions of the 2015 NIP Bookcamp were Kent Raddatz, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., young adult fantasy; Nana Krueger, Oshkosh, Wis., young adult fantasy; Nicolette Pierce, Jackson, Wis., romance thrillers; and Amy Kumrow, Kewaskum, Wis., paranormal thriller.
“The NIP Bookcamp was even better than I hoped, and I had extremely high expectations. I searched nationally for a workshop/retreat that would provide an inspiring combination of instruction and writing time. To get that, I flew in from Phoenix, Ariz., and it was more than worth it,” McDonnell said.
With instruction led by award-winning New York mystery writer SJ Rozan, Milwaukee editor and author Philip Martin, and West Bend novelist Lisa Lickel, the Bookcamp included writing technique classes, group critique sessions, one-on-one meetings with staff and visiting literary agents, an afternoon discussion on publishing, as well as personal writing time.
Assisting with the Bookcamp were guests Agent Laura Zats from Red Sofa Literary, St. Paul, Minn.; author, anthologist and publishing imprint editor-in-chief Richard Thomas, Chicago; and Book Marketing Consultant Krista Rolfzen Soukup, Blue Cottage Agency, Brainerd, Minn.
“I understand so much more about my own writing and about what I need to do to improve my writing,” Arizona novelist McDonnell said. “As a crucial addition, I learned a great deal about the publishing industry. As writers, we don’t often have a chance to learn about how the industry works from the business side, but during this week, I had that opportunity.”
Planning has begun for the 2016 NIP Bookcamp, Rank said, and early registration will open soon. For more information, contact program director Dave Rank, 262-717-5154, or visit the To Apply page on the Bookcamp website, that has registration information.
“For 2016 we are adding a low-cost Writing Retreat option, for writers who want more writing time – and are looking for less help from the instructional staff,” Rank said.
Whether you come for the full experience or on a personal writing retreat in a lovely setting amongst a group of dedicated writers working on their novels, the program is a game-changing week of dedication to craft, career, and community. “I recommend this experience to anyone who is serious about writing fiction: you’ll love it and your writing will improve!” James said.
The program site, Cedar Valley Center & Spa, is located at 5349 Highway D in northwest Washington County, Wis. The Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp receives additional support from Creative Co-Sponsor Diana Schramer, Write Way Copyediting LLC.