Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards Sponsor “What’s Your Story” Summer Writer’s Retreat

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During the last sweltering days of August in Manhattan, Penguin Random House extended its 25th Anniversary CWA program to give a select group of recipients a deeper dive into writing with the “What’s Your Story” Summer Writer’s Retreat. Over four consecutive days young local writers generated new pieces, prompted by a potent array of writing exercises. Students were encouraged to share works-in-progress as well as bits of writing that may have been abandoned along the way.

Employee volunteers also participated and spent an entire day with these writers brainstorming, writing, and editing dialogue. Each of them read aloud the completed scenes for an audience of their Penguin Random House colleagues. Crown Editorial Assistant Angeline Rodriguez said, “It was such a privilege to work with these phenomenal young talents before they embark on their next chapter – truly excited to see what they do next!”

Crown author Nic Stone (DEAR MARTIN), and Phoebe Yeh, Vice President & Publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, also hosted a discussion, providing an insider’s look on the creative process and what it means to be a writer. Each student shared their writing with both Nic and Phoebe and discussed at length what writing meant to each of them. The discussion lasted well beyond the hour with down to earth advice on what it truly meant to pursue writing full-time with advice on how to find a publisher and agent. Nic Stone then graciously autographed a copy of her book, DEAR MARTIN, for each student. On the spot, she encouraged everyone to stay connected and followed each and every student personally on her Instagram.

Our first-place memoir award recipient Regina Fontanelli said, “This retreat gave me a safe environment to create and allowed everyone to listen to each other’s work and proudly share our own. On the last day of the retreat, we all created a group chat and committed to share our work. In just four days, we knew that what we had as a writers group was special.”

“This writers retreat helped me develop who I am as a writer – it encouraged me to not only continue writing but to one day share it with the world,” said Spoken Word award recipient Oluwafemi Aina.

From heartwarming conversation between mother and college-bound daughter, to sensitive topics including suicide and drug addiction, the stimulating readings made for a refreshing summer afternoon break, while leaving a true impact on both students and our volunteer employees. Immediately afterwards, a small celebration took place to culminate the end of our Summer Writers’ Retreat, and say farewell to these young college freshman. Students left with the Penguin Young Readers “Sleep. Eat. Read. Repeat.” book bag filled with selected YA titles from Penguin Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books.

Volunteers included Jillian Buckley, Editorial Assistant, Crown/Hogarth; Alexis Farabaugh, Production Assistant, Random House; Ana Giovinazzo, Backlist Publishing Manager, Putnam/Dutton/Berkley, Penguin Publishing Group; Courtney Paganelli, Assistant Managing Editor, Random House Children’s Books; Angeline Rodriguez, Editorial Assistant, Crown; and Annabella Sherman, Education & Library Sales & Marketing.

Are you interested in working with young writers? The Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards program will kick off the new academic year this October with more than 50 writing workshops in NYC public high schools. Author volunteers are needed to teach workshops and help evaluate entries. If you’re interested in learning more about the Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards contact or go to

Posted: August 30, 2018