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Inspirational sign as you drive down to the Djerassi house/barn.

To say that my YA Writers Workshop and Retreat at Djerassi with Nova Ren Suma was inspiring is almost an insult. It was inspiring and encouraging and peaceful and productive and mind blowing and delightful and so many other things.

The mornings were filled with sitting in the barn watching the fog roll in and out while we critiqued each other’s work, offered words of encouragement and praise for the sheer talent within the group; the afternoons with holing up in our rooms or the barn or some scenic spot outside to write. At night, we gathered in the living room of the house with glasses of wine and full bellies to listen to readings of fairytales and ghost stories and dystopian worlds and magical abilities.

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Fog-drenched path from the house to the barn.

We shared stories of querying and working with agents and getting book deals. We talked about our cats/dogs/kids and favorite books and our progress on our WIPs. We became friends and instant fangirls for each other.

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Left to right: Zoe, Me, Rebekah, Elle

And when I had a meltdown about the opening of my WIP and cried for hours because I didn’t know how to incorporate all of the excited ideas they had for my book, they wouldn’t let me give up. They listened to my self-doubt and reminded me that they loved the story and just wanted to see it live up to its potential, and in Nova’s case, sat down with a print out of my pages and calmly talked me through how the revisions could easily be handled by moving this bit here and taking out that part there and adding in this one small thing that would tie it all together so nicely.

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My writing space and outline for my WIP.

And I came home feeling invigorated and excited about making this book into something they would all love.

Everything about this past week—from the enthusiasm and kinship felt from and with the other writers, to the romantic fog that hugged the top of the mountain, to the sculptures tucked into redwoods and mud-slicked hills, to late-night wine-fueled talks about books and life—made me so incredibly grateful that I have stories in my head and people to share them with.

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