About Us

The mission of Madcap Retreats is to provide a yearly, rotating calendar of workshops and retreats that won't break a writer's bank. We work with writers at all stages of their careers, from aspiring to long published, and since we don't operate from a single geographical location, we are able to offer events in many regions of the United States. Our primary goal is to make attending retreats and workshops aggressively affordable, diverse, and as accessible as possible.

Madcap Retreats is piloted by Natalie C. Parker, young adult author and professional event coordinator. Natalie has coordinated dozens of writing retreats with the number of participants ranging from 6 to 60. From selecting a location and house to planning meals, she knows how to make the experience of attending retreats a seamless and productive one.

Steering Committee

Dhionnelle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle is the co-author of Tiny Pretty Things (with Sona Charaipotra) and of a forthcoming fantasy series The Belles. She's a middle school librarian in New York City, and co-founder of CAKE Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent -- and decidedly diverse -- literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women's fiction readers. She is also VP of Librarian Services for We Need Diverse Books™, and co-chair of the inaugural 2016 Walter Award for YA fiction.

Tessa Gratton

Tessa Gratton

Tessa has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in Gender Studies, then settled down in Kansas to tell stories about monsters, magic, and kissing. She's the author of The Blood Journals Series and Gods of New Asgard Series, co-author of YA writing books The Curiosities and The Anatomy of Curiosity, as well as dozens of short stories available in anthologies and on merryfates.com. Her current projects include Season 2 of "Tremontaine" at Serial Box Publishing and The Queens of Innis Lear coming in 2018 from Tor.

Justina Ireland

Justina Ireland

Justina enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows, both currently available from Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. Her essay “Me, Some Random Guy, and the Army of Darkness” appears in The V-Word, an anthology of personal essays by women about having sex for the first time, published by Beyond Words (S&S). And her forthcoming book Dread Nation will be available in 2018 from the HarperCollins imprint Balzer and Bray.

Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy is the #1 New York Times bestselling young adult author of Dumplin' and Side Effects May Vary. She lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. When she's not writing, she can be found reading, traveling, or watching movies so bad they're good. Her debut contemporary young adult novel, Side Effects May Vary, is out from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins and has been well-received by Kirkus, School Library Journal, VOYA, Booklist, Seventeen Magazine, and Teen Vogue. Dumplin', Julie's sophomore novel has received glowing reviews including three stars from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist. Film rights have been optioned by Disney.

Natalie C. Parker

Natalie C. Parker

Natalie wears many hats: author, editor, entrepreneur. She is the author of Southern Gothic duology Beware the Wild (a Junior Library Guild Selection) and Behold the Bones (both available from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Seafire Trilogy (Razorbill, 2018). Her first anthology, Three Sides of a Heart, is an exploration of the love triangle (HarperTeen, 19 Dec 2017). Parker is the founder of Madcap Retreats, an organization offering a yearly calendar of workshops and retreats for aspiring and established writers. Though she earned her BA in English literature from the University of Southern Mississippi and her MA in gender studies from the University of Cincinnati, she now lives on the Kansas prairie with her wife.

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Diversity Statement

At Madcap Retreats we are dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion in publishing, because for too long a single story has been centered.

We endeavor to never discriminate against marginalized groups and instead aim to create space for all individuals, regardless of identity, to learn with us the craft of writing and tools for navigating the publishing process.

We commit to actively promoting inclusion at every level of our organization and in the greater system of publishing by:

  • making available scholarships for students from marginalized groups at every retreat and workshop on our schedule
  • hiring a diverse faculty and staff for every workshop
  • addressing concerns about safe space at our retreats and workshops
  • having a zero tolerance policy for prejudiced language or behavior in our spaces
  • finding and using accessible facilities for all retreats and workshops

We hope to grow the diversity of our faculty, staff, and program participants by taking these steps in the future:

  • funding additional scholarships to eliminate barriers to attendance
  • finding venues in more easily accessible locations
  • and continuing efforts to expand our faculty base

If you have thoughts about how we can address any of these issues, please contact us at madcapretreats@gmail.com.

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Code of Conduct

Madcap Retreats is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, or religion (or lack thereof). We do not tolerate harassment of attendees in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

If workshop and retreat attendees violate these rules, Madcap staff may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference with no refund.

Our Code of Conduct has been in place since October, 2017 and is included in participant contracts.

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One of the missions of Madcap is to make writing retreats and workshops as accessible as possible. We believe that bringing writers together in creative community can be powerful. These events have the capacity to change people and careers, but getting to them can be difficult. They come with a price tag and try as we might to keep that price tag low, we know that they will still be out of reach for many deserving writers.

It is for these reasons that we offer scholarships for each of our workshops. Recipients of these scholarships receive room and board at writing workshops, though they are responsible for their own travle to and from the venue. Please check individual workshop pages for availability and application information.


We use the We Need Diverse Books™ definition of diversity. Applicants must be 18+ years and must identify as one or more of the following:

  • Person of color
  • Native American
  • Person with a disability
  • Marginalized religious or cultural minority in the United States.

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"I was seriously behind on a book deadline when I went to Texas with Madcap Retreats. The ease and organization of the week, the amazing location, and the relaxing atmosphere allowed me to meet and then exceed my writing goals! Five stars, 10 out of 10, two snaps and a circle!"

Gretchen McNeil: author of Possess, Ten, 3:59, Get Even, and Get Dirty

Madcap Retreats offers the perfect opportunity to turn off every outside distraction and focus on writing in a perfectly curated environment. Natalie takes care of every detail and does everything in her power to give you a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. These retreats are absolutely intrinsic to my writing process.

Julie Murphy: NYT Bestelling author of Side Effects May Vary and Dumplin'

The whole thing went so smoothly that I didn't realize until later how much planning must have been involved. Natalie worked magic with that retreat, and it showed on the faces of the very happy attendees. I highly recommend using Madcap to shape your retreat into a magical event—one that your attendees will never forget.

Amy Plum: International Bestelling author of the Die for Me and After the End series

"Every detail is taken care of: finding the right location, coordinating transportation, making sure the house is stocked with everything needed. It's amazing the number of details involved in organizing a retreat and just how much time it can consume -- Natalie handles it all, which means less stress and more writing!"

Carrie Ryan: NYT Bestselling author of the Forest of Hands and Teeth series, The Map to Everywhere, and Daughter of Deep Silence

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