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Middle Grade (MG) Writing Intensive and Retreat

Nov 03, 2023 - Nov 05, 2023

The Lodge at Gulf State Park

Join fellow children's writers for a relaxing and educational weekend at the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The sessions will be aimed at middle grade novels, however, writers in other genres are welcome at this retreat. There will be plenty of time to work on your work-in-progress. Seats are limited. Registration is required.

Middle Grade (MG) Writing Intensive and Retreat

Middle Grade (MG) Writing Intensive and Retreat

The Lodge at Gulf State Park

Gulf Shores, AL


Nov. 3 – 5, 2023

Seats limited to 40 attendees


Join fellow middle grade novel writers for a weekend at the beach! We’ll kick off Friday afternoon with unstructured writing time, then get together in the evening in an informal “book club” discussion about Maizy Chen's Last Chance by Lisa Yee. Published MG author Hallie Christenen will lead our discussion and help us breakdown the structure of this Newberry Honor winning novel.

Saturday morning, Agent Erin Clyburn will help us hone our character-building skills in a morning of education, inspiration, and hands-on activities.

In the afternoon, we’ll delve deeper into your works-in-progress as a group.

There will be unstructured late-afternoon time for your own writing, a stroll on the beach, or exploring the park.

In the evening we’ll gather for informal discussion, and those who want can read excerpts of their WIPs.

Sunday morning, there will be the option to meet in the lobby and form up small groups for accountability and encouragement as you return home.

We have 10 spots for optional one-on-one critique meetings with Erin Clyburn, as well. These are $75 each.

Critique details:

Deadline to send your manuscript is midnight September 15, to

Please put “MG Retreat Critique” in the subject line.

Send one doc or docx attachment with the first 10 pages of your novel plus a 1-page synopsis. Please do put your name on the header for these, and don’t forget to add page numbers.

You will be assigned a 20-minute slot during the afternoon on Nov. 4. We will find a quiet spot in the lobby or nearby for these critiques.


About Erin Clyburn:

Prior to joining Howland Literary, in 2022, Erin Clyburn was an associate agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. She was the general manager and director of collection development for Turtleback Books, a distributor of books to the school and library market, and she has over a decade of experience in magazine publishing, having worked for brands including Food & Wine, Cooking Light, People, and Entertainment Weekly. She received her BA in English Literature from Mississippi State University and her MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her partner, Michael, and three unruly rabbits.  

Erin represents middle grade fiction, YA fiction, and adult fiction and nonfiction. 


Hotel information: The Lodge at Gulf State Park

The Lodge at Gulf State Park

21196 East Beach Blvd.

Gulf Shores, AL 36542




The Lodge is holding a courtesy block of rooms for us until Oct. 4, 2023, or until the block sells out. The rate (before taxes and fees) is $149 for a park-view room, $179 for an ocean-view room. (2 queen beds).

Self-parking is $10 per day, valet parking is $20 per day.

No meals will be included in the conference. There are several restaurants in the park as well as in nearby Gulf Shores. We plan to organize dining together, but checks will be separate.

Gulf State Park also offers camping, bike and walking paths, and more.

You do not have to stay in The Lodge to participate in the writing intensive and retreat. Local residents can commute, or you can book lodging at the campground or outside of the park if you prefer.

Here are the hotel booking details:

Booking link


Or, phone the Lodge's Central Reservations Department at 800-618-4350. Guests wishing to book by phone should mention your group code SBR when calling. 

The Lodge will honor our group rate two days pre and post the weekend if you’d like to extend your stay.

Instructions for Guests wishing to check availability to extend their stay:

Edit travel dates at the top of the landing page, then click the UPDATE icon

If the requested dates are not available at the group rate, reach out to Central Reservations at 1-800-618-4350 and mention your group code SBR for assistance.


Reservations should be booked prior to your cut-off date, Wednesday, October 4, 2023. 


As per your contract, your room block carries a 5 day cancellation policy. Any changes or cancellations to any reservation less than 5 days in advance of arrival will incur a one night room and tax penalty.