Djerassi Resident Artists Program




Workshop Information

Young Adult Novel Writing

with Nova Ren Suma

A fiction workshop tailored for writers working on YA novels of any style and genre, featuring daily critique sessions and time to retreat and produce new work. Includes 75 pages (25 for group critique; 50 in private conference) of manuscript review. Full novel review available for an additional fee. Applicants accepted pending review of writing samples by Nova Ren Suma.

Dates: Sunday, March 6 - Saturday, March 12, 2016
December 17, 2015
by January 5, 2016

Application fee: $10

Workshop fee: $1500/$1650 private room, shared bath/private room and bath
Special couples rate: $1200 each (shared room/bed)
Includes 6 nights lodging, all food, and local transportation from and to the San Francisco Airport.
Deposit: $500 due by January 12, 2016 (Deposits holds your place and are non-refundable)
Final payment: due by February 4, 2016

Application Process:
Applications for the workshop can be accessed through this link:
or by clicking on the APPLY button on the top left of this page.

Application materials requested

  • 2016 Nova Ren Suma Workshop Application Form
  • A short statement about what you hope to gain from this workshop and what writing experience and classes you have taken before, if any.
  • A writing sample of young adult fiction of no more than 15 pages. This does not need to be the manuscript you will be submitting for workshop.

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novel The Walls Around Us (Algonquin, 2015), which was named the #1 Kids’ Indie Next Pick for Spring 2015 and a Best YA Book of the Month on Amazon, as well as the YA novels Imaginary Girls (Dutton, 2011) and 17 & Gone (Dutton, 2013), which were both named 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Millay Colony, and an NEA fellowship for a residency at the Hambidge Center. She worked for years behind the scenes in publishing, at places such as HarperCollins, Penguin, Marvel Comics, and RAW Books, and now she teaches writing workshops, at the Djerassi Program, in Arizona State University’s Piper Center for Creative Writing’s Your Novel Year certificate program, Columbia University, the Highlights Foundation, and elsewhere.

“In 2012 I was awarded a month-long residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, where I was given the time and space to work on a new novel. The exhilarating period I spent deep in my work at Djerassi, in such an inspiring and vividly beautiful place, made me especially excited to share a piece of that experience with other writers in a workshop setting, leading to the YA Novel Writing Workshops that we began holding in the winter of 2014. Now, for 2016, I am delighted to again offer this workshop, open to a new group of writers. My passion is working closely with fellow writers to help them meet their vision for their novels, and to leave them inspired and driven to keep writing (and revising!) after the week is over.” — Nova

What to Expect:
Tailored for writers working on young adult novels who would also like time to get new writing done, this week will be a taste of the Djerassi experience, and a chance for serious writers to bring a critical eye and an open mind to their works-in-progress.

We will meet each morning for workshop, where we will critique the opening pages of each participant’s novel in a constructive group discussion. The pages for workshop will be distributed online a month ahead of time, so there will be time to read and prepare comments before arriving at Djerassi.

Each writer will also have a private conference with Nova, on up to 50 additional pages of your novel. You are welcome to submit pages from a different novel for the private conference, if you’d prefer.
In the afternoons, you will have retreat time for writing new pages or exploring the grounds and sculptures left behind in the landscape by Djerassi artists. In the evenings, we will have reading nights, discussions, and opportunities for writing prompts and sharing new work.

For an additional fee, writers are offered the opportunity for a full manuscript critique with Nova, following the workshop week. Once accepted to the workshop, more details about the additional full manuscript consultations will be sent to you.


“Nova Ren Suma often focuses on turning points in one’s writing career. The five days spent at her Djerassi YA novel workshop was mine. Insightful, kind, and inspiring, Nova sets the tone for an incredible retreat—and Djerassi provides the space and muse that every artist craves.”
—Anna Waggener

“Nova is an absolute gem! She was wise, generous, and perceptive—in workshops, in one-on-one sessions—and set up a safe, inspiring space for us to share and grow our stories. I traveled many miles and crossed a time zone to work at Djerassi and it exceeded my expectations—it’s heaven on earth for artists and dreamers.”
—Pip Harry

“Questions, and all the right ones. In her generous and observant way, Nova urges writers to question issues large and small, to tug at a thread of a theme that may be submerged, to ask if the novel starts in the right moment, to breathe possibility into the pages. What an inspiring and empowering week.”
—Susan Carlton

“Nova created a wonderful, positive environment that offered each writer time and opportunity to be highlighted. The Djerassi environment, for me, was one of utter peace that allowed my mind the stillness it needed to work through some of my most challenging problems.” 
— Zoë Harris

“I couldn’t have imagined how at home I would feel at Djerassi. The friendliness and accommodating nature of the staff exceeded my expectations and made the time away from my actual home and family very comfortable. Nova’s genuine interest in my work and her concern for meeting my personal needs within her feedback made working with her feel like chatting with a compassionate friend. Hers is a method that conveys knowledge of craft as well as tools for personal growth as an individual writer.”
— Shelli Cornelison

“Nova’s calm, thoughtful style of teaching kept the workshop comments constructive, encouraging, and enthusiastic. The whole week at Djerassi was an amazing experience.” 
— Susan Crispell

“Working with Nova at Djerassi opened my mind in such a way that freed me to believe in myself and my book again. I’ve hit a creative stride coming to this workshop. I absolutely loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat.”
— Marie Cruz

“Nova is a wonderful mentor who is fully invested in the growth and success of the writers in her workshops. I have developed a stronger confidence in my writing thanks to her guidance and support.” 

— Alisia Leavitt

“Djerassi provides the perfect space to recharge your creative brain, explore ideas, and pull inspiration from your surroundings. Between the staff and Nova’s supportive and encouraging environment, I found the space I needed to leave daily life behind and honor 
my writing.”
— Jessica Capelle

“So many writers, especially women or older people with families or jobs or both, cannot get away for a month. This doesn’t make us less dedicated to our craft, our art, our passions; it’s just a reality. These week-long workshops also give us the ‘gift of time’ and community that some of us may not have access to. This period of quiet has been nothing 
short of bliss.”
— Asale Angel-Ajani

“Nova fosters a sense of community that permeates her workshops at Djerassi and beyond. I leave knowing that out there is a group of writers and artists who are supporting me and rooting for my success.”
— Alexandra Grizinski

“A weeklong writing workshop at Djerassi can only be described as inspirational. It is a brilliant orchestration of talented alumni, breathtaking setting, and like-minded creative people. Nova Ren Suma is a generous and honest teacher that graciously encourages every writer she works with to become the best version of him or herself. Her keen eye, industry knowledge, and overall love for the YA genre combine to make her a valuable resource for both aspiring and experienced writers.” 
— Jessica Fonseca Honiotes

“Nova Ren Suma is a workshop goddess! She creates a wondrously kind and nurturing environment to review your work-in-progress. At Djerassi, you can commune with other writers in a magical nature setting with deer out your front door, inspiring sculpture art, and scrumptious nightly meals provided by the incredible Chef Dan.” 
— Edith Cohn



Djerassi Resident Artists Program
2325 Bear Gulch Road  
Woodside, CA 94062

650 747-1250