Confessions of a Bookcamp Junkie

Guest Post by Renee James

When the Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp opened its doors in May 2014, I was one of the five pioneer students. It’s significant that of the initial five, four of us have returned again and again. Bookcamp has become my selfish pleasure, the one week each year I set aside just for myself and my passion for writing fiction.

Renee James at 2014 Bookcamp

The impact of the Bookcamp on my writing life comes on several levels. From a purely pragmatic point of view, I’ve attended four Bookcamps and produced four novels, each of which was substantially impacted by my Bookcamp week. This isn’t an accident: the seven days of Bookcamp are a time when I’m surrounded by a great staff of author-educators who are a constant source of motivation and advice.

And I’m also surrounded by enthusiastic, serious authors and aspiring authors, and I learn from them, too. The subjects of the classes are well chosen and deliver a rich payload of practical advice. (For example, I’ve attended well over a hundred writing lectures and seminars, but Bookcamp is the only place that addresses how to avoid the “sagging middle” of the story.)

Perhaps the most valuable part of the camp is the surge of adrenalin I get from being in such a focused, positive environment. The staff is endlessly positive and supportive, and my writing colleagues are, to a person, positive, supportive, interesting and fun. In addition to a productive week, I go home on a cloud of enthusiasm that lasts for months afterward.

Some of the best friendships I have in the world have been formed at Bookcamp, with staff and colleagues alike. Bonding is easy in this atmosphere and our friendships extend long after Bookcamp week. We beta-read for each other, exchange emails and advice, and in some cases do meetups for lunch.

The curriculum and format of the Bookcamp has evolved constantly since the beginning, keeping things fresh and fun. The guest authors and panels of agents and editors are always excellent. They’re also accessible and open to networking relationships.

One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself was going to the first Bookcamp. I went on faith alone—it just sounded like a good idea. But it was better than I even imagined and it has become a part of my life ever since. I recommend the experience most highly!

Seven Suspects, by Renee James

To follow Renee’s Bobbie Logan series:

Twitter: @ReneeJAuthor
Website: Renee James, author website

“You’ve most likely never met a narrator like Bobbi. Tough, tender, funny, full of heart—and a transgender woman—she is navigating not just a new life, but also an unsolved murder that a detective is trying to pin on her. Renee James takes the reader on a whirlwind of a ride, while subtly revealing the honest heartbreaks and successes of the trans community. A welcome, diverse addition to the writing world!”

– Jodi Picoult, NYT bestselling author of Leaving Time.

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Registration is now open for the 2019 Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp. It will take place May 20–26, 2019, in southeastern Wisconsin at the lovely 100-acre Cedar Valley Retreat Center.

The Bookcamp is an annual six-day residential workshop, first held Spring 2014, for emerging authors working on a book-length manuscript, offering instruction and guidance by published novelists, editors, and literary agents. The concurrent Writing Retreat offers six days of personal writing time, with guidance from Bookcamp staff and the support of fellow writers in an encouraging atmosphere.

For more information, visit: Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat.

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