YA With Altitude

May 3-6, 2012

Fairplay, Colorado

The road to publication can be long, dark, and riddled with potholes. Experienced authors Sarah Ockler, and Heidi Kling can help you navigate these mean streets with finesse at YA With Altitude, the first ever annual Fairplay writing retreat for serious young adult novelists. Bring your current project and plan to work through it during this four day mountain escape at the historic Hand Hotel in Fairplay, Colorado. Participants will attend craft workshops, read, and get live feedback from fellow retreaters, and learn the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of publishing in the competitive YA market. Come prepared with questions, smiles, and chocolate, and go home with the inspiration, information, and motivation you need to finish (and hopefully sell) your YA manuscript.


Thursday, May 3

  • 3:00pm – 6:00pm       Check in
  • 7:00pm – 8:30pm       Meet and Greet (food and drinks included)
  • 8:30pm                         Introductions

Friday, May 4

  • 7:00am – 9:00am       Breakfast (included)
  • 9:00am – 10:30am     Session 1 (choose between 1A or 1B)

1A. Novel Beginnings. To prologue or not to prologue, that is the question. Exploring the all-important First Chapter (with special secret tip on how to tie in the perfect ending!). Please bring in a first page (any genre) to discuss with the group. We will read aloud openings. Don’t be shy. I will bring one too. Facilitator: Heidi R. Kling

1B. Conflict, Tension & Stakes: If character and plot make a story, conflict and tension keep readers turning the pages. In this session we’ll talk about how to keep readers hooked by raising the stakes; creating believable, organic tension and micro-tension; skating the thin line between drama and melodrama; and avoiding the all-too-typical mistakes that zap a story of its tension and immediacy. Facilitator: Sarah Ockler

  • 10:45am – 12:15pm     Session 2

2. From Pitch to Published: creating and writing a successful series, including, but not limited to, plotting multiple books while striving to keep individual books interesting and compelling within their own story arcs. Plotting individual books and short stories for anthologies will also be covered, as well as character development and world building. Bring your questions and series pitches (if you have them) and we can discuss! Facilitator: Heidi R. Kling

  • 12:15pm – 1:45pm       Lunch (on your own)
  • 2:00pm – 3:30pm        Session 3

3. Tarot for YA Writers: Using inspiration from Corrine Kenner’s TAROT FOR WRITERS, we’ll review the basics of Tarot and learn how the inherent symbolism, archetypes, and story of the cards can inspire new ideas, characters, plot, dialogue, and conflict; solidify or rearrange structure; and jumpstart us out of dreaded writer’s block. We’ll also pick a few volunteers for character and plot readings. Tarot decks and the TAROT FOR WRITERS book not required, but if you have either, feel free to bring them along! Facilitator: Sarah Ockler

  • 3:45pm – 6:30pm       Free time
  • 6:30pm – 8:00pm      Dinner (included)
  • 8:30pm                        Reading, game time, free time

Saturday, May 5

  • 7:00am – 9:00am       Breakfast (included)
  • 9:00am – 10:30am     Session 1 (choose between 1A or 1B)

1A. Mining for Meaning: What are you trying to say? Whether our stories are meant to entertain, inform, enlighten, tug at the heartstrings, or all of the above, we write because we have something to say. In this session, we’ll discuss our story themes and mine the rich emotional and physical landscapes of our characters and worlds for symbols, variations, and subtext to ensure our novels resonate with teen readers without preaching. Facilitator: Sarah Ockler

1B. Contemporary, Fantasy, or a Little of Both? Exploring the pros and cons of a magical world vs. reality and how mix and matching makes for an interesting writing experience (to say the least!). We’ll also discuss how to write Sexah Romance in YA (i.e. building tension, hooking, and then keeping, your reader and more). Facilitator: Heidi R. Kling

  • 10:45am – 12:15pm     Session 2

2. Polish Your Pitch: What’s your book about? If your answer is “Um, well, it’s kinda hard to explain,” you’re in trouble! But no worries, we can help! In this session, we’ll review back cover copy from successful YA novels and learn how to summarize stories in one or two compelling sentences, one or two compelling paragraphs, and finally, one compelling kickass query letter. If you’ve been working on your query, bring it along for specific pointers. Facilitator: Sarah Ockler 

  • 12:15pm – 1:45pm       Lunch (on your own)
  • 2:00pm – 3:30pm        Session 3

3. You’ve Written the MOST AWESOME BOOK IMAGINABLE. Now What? This session will include tips on revision, critique groups, finding the perfect agent, “the right” editor, and exploring the most hotly contested debate in publishing: traditional vs. e-book. Heidi will talk specifically about her experience with exciting new publisher Coliloquy and their patented Choose Your Own Adventure style “Active Fiction.” Facilitator: Heidi R. Kling

  • 3:45pm – 6:30pm       Free time
  • 6:30pm – 8:00pm      Dinner (included)
  • 8:30pm                        Reading, game time, free time

Sunday, May 6

  • 7:00am – 9:00am       Breakfast (included)
  • 9:00am – 10:30am     Session 1

1. Front Row Seats on the Emocoaster: Navigating the emotional and financial realities of writing for money. Together we’ll discuss the day-to-day aspects of writing careers from the practical considerations of money and time management to coping with rejection and negative reviews, transitioning from personal art to public commodity, avoiding creative burnout, marketing versus writing, staying motivated through doom-and-gloom industry news, and the importance of literary friendships. There may be hugging and/or crying involved. Bring chocolate.* Facilitators: Heidi R. Kling and Sarah Ockler

*After a 15 minute break, this session will lead into a general Q&A discussion in which we’ll open the floor for all participants to ask questions about writing, publication, craft, emocoasterin’, and anything else they’d like to chat about!


The cost for the retreat includes all workshops, three nights hotel stay in a double or triple occupancy room (roommates will be assigned based on gender unless you request a specific roommate), a reception Thursday night with heavy appetizers and drinks, breakfast Friday through Sunday, dinner Friday and Saturday (including beer and wine), and all the camaraderie and fun you can stand!

Double occupancy room: $450

Triple occupancy room (limited availability): $375

Looking to book one of our faculty authors for private critique and consultation? Heidi and Sarah are offering a special critique package at a whopping 50% discount for attendees. Packages are $105 and include a detailed critique of the first pages of your manuscript plus a 20 minute private consultation in Fairplay. If you’d like to book it, you can add this package after you’ve registered.


(Registration isn’t compatible with Safari or iPad)

About Sarah Ockler

Sarah Ockler is the bestselling author of critically acclaimed young adultnovels Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah, and Bittersweet. Her books have been translated into several languages and have received numerous accolades, including ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, Girls’ Life Top 100 Must Reads, IndieNext list picks, and more. Her short fiction and essays will be featured in two upcoming young adult anthologies: Defy the Dark and Dear Teen Me.

Sarah teaches advancedyoung adult fiction writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. She’s a championship cupcake eater, coffee drinker, night person, and bookworm. When she’s not writing or reading, Sarah enjoys taking pictures, hugging trees, and road-tripping through the country with her husband, Alex.

Visit her online at sarahockler.com and find her on Twitter and Facebook.

About Heidi R. Kling

Heidi R. Kling is the bestselling author of WITCH’S BREW SPELLSPINNERS 1 (Coliloquy) book one inThe Spellspinners of Melas County series is the first in a serialized saga of estranged witches and warlocks, set in a modern, but fantastical world and told in an innovative “active fiction” format. Since its debut, it’s been a “Hot New Release”, “Top Rated”, and “Bestseller” on Amazon.com. Part 3 arrives March, 2012 with Part 3 June, 2012 (and subsequently quarterly) and will soon be available on other exciting platforms.

SEA (Putnam), Heidi’s debut novel, launched June 10, 2010, and was highlighted on IndieNext List, awarded Northern CaliforniaBook of the Year Finalist, Gateway Readers Award Finalist among other accolades. SEA is a bittersweet love story set in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 Indonesian tsunami. She also contributes short stories and essays to teen lit aimed anthologies such as TRUTH OR DARE (“Headgear Girl”), THE FIRST TIME (“Fly to Me”), and A VISITOR’S GUIDE TO MYSTIC FALLS (“Can this Relationship be Saved?”). The latter explores the tormented relationship between the Salvatore brothers on the hit TV show,The Vampire Diaries, whichshewatches religiously.

Please visit Heidi on the web at heidirkling.com, on Facebook (Heidi R. Kling), or at her favorite hangout, Twitter.

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I write young adult fiction and all its glorious sub-genres.

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