Our Diploma is Your Published Novel: The Books of the Novel Incubator

The Novel Incubator is a program for writers interested in a deep revision of their novel draft, a comprehensive study of the novel form, and a thoughtful introduction to the publishing world. We are now accepting applications for the next phase of the Novel Incubator, May 2018 - May 2019. The submission deadline is February 15, 2018. Apply today!

A unique and innovative course, the Novel Incubator is also producing books at a rate of knots, with 20% of our graduates find publishing homes for their books and several more are currently represented by top literary agents. We asked Incubator authors what they got out of the program, and how the course helped them on the path to publication.  

A Boy Like Me, by Jennie Wood

A Boy Like Me is a Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year finalist, and one of Foreword Reviews' 10 Best Indie YA novels for 2014. Born a girl, Peyton Honeycutt meets Tara Parks in the eighth grade bathroom shortly after he gets his first period. Determined to impress Tara, Peyton sets out to win her love by mastering the drums and basketball. He takes on Tara’s small-minded mother, the bully at school, and the prejudices within his conservative hometown. In the end, Peyton must accept and stand up for who he is or lose the woman he loves.

"When I walked into that first Novel Incubator class, I had a meandering manuscript of 400+ pages, covering 30+ years of my protagonist’s life. When I finished the Novel Incubator, I had a fully revised 280-page manuscript that focused on the most important four years of the character’s life. I also had an agent, and a much clearer idea of what it really takes to finish a novel. Beyond that, and most importantly, I had a community of lifelong friendships to share the long, wonderful, but often challenging roller-coaster ride that comes with being a writer."

-- Jennie Wood

Re Jane, by Patricia Park

Re Jane is a re-telling of Jane Eyre set in modern Queens with a Korean-American protagonist. For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she’s been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle’s grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she’s thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenth–century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer’s feminist lectures and Ed Farley’s very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind. Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is.

"The Novel Incubator was such a supportive group of teachers and writers. The program helped me address both macro and micro issues in my first novel."

--Patricia Park 

Half in Love with Death, by Emily Ross

Half in Love with Death is a YA thriller that was named a finalist for best YA novel in the International Thriller Writers Organization’s 2016 Thriller Awards. The novel is set in the 1960s era of peace and love, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline's life. Since her older sister disappeared, Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She's invisible to her parents, who can't stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister's older boyfriend. Tony convinces Caroline that the answer to Jess's disappearance is in California, and that he and Caroline can find her together. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again, in a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.

“Becoming part of GrubStreet's Novel Incubator Program was one of the best decisions I've made as a writer. It gave me the tools, knowledge, inspiration, and support I needed to transform my messy draft into a publishable novel. It also connected me with a community of fellow novelists whose feedback and friendship I continue to cherish. I can honestly say that Half in Love with Death would not be out in the world today without my Novel Incubator experience and the continuing support of its fabulous instructors and alums." 

-- Emily Ross

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, by Louise Miller

A full-hearted novel about a big-city baker who discovers the true meaning of home, The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, follows Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club. When Olivia sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Olivia a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Olivia accepts. With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Olivia soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Olivia comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.

"I always say the Incubator taught me how to work. Something that I have come to really appreciate is how the Incubator prepared me to work with my editor. I learned how to revise, how to work with feedback, and how to approach my own work with a workman-like attitude. The Incubator, and GrubStreet’s Muse and the Marketplace have both been instrumental in my path to publication. I met my editor Pam Dorman at The Muse years back when I had only written 20 or so pages, and we stayed in touch. I also met an agent who recommended that I query Alexandra Machinist at ICM, who is now my wonderful agent. And through both the Novel Incubator program and GrubStreet I have made such wonderful friendships with other writers at every stage, who have been so supportive and helpful throughout this whole process."

--Louise Miller 

Idyll Threats, by Stephanie Gayle

Idyll Threats tells the story of clean-cut Thomas Lynch, the police chief of Idyll, Connecticut, where serious crimes can be counted on one hand. That is until Cecilia North is found murdered on the town's golf course. By chance, Chief Lynch met her mere hours before she was killed. The case should be a slam dunk. But there's a problem. If he tells his detectives about meeting the victim, he'll reveal his greatest secrethe's gay. So Lynch works the case on his own. Without the aid of fellow detectives, he is forced to seek help from unlikely alliesa Goth teen and a UFO-obsessed conspiracy theorist. Meanwhile, he must contend with pressure from the mayor to solve the crime before the town's biggest tourist event opens, all the while coping with the suspicions of his men, casual homophobia, and difficult memories of his partner's recent death. During the investigation, Lynch realizes that small town Idyll isn't safe, especially for a man with secrets that threaten the thing that he loves mosthis job.

"The Novel Incubator gave me eleven other wonderful writers to read, examine, and critique my work. It helped shape my work in progress into a published novel that became the first in a mystery series. The second book, Idyll Fears, is due out this fall, and I'm working on the third installment now." 

--Stephanie Gayle

Cottonmouths, by Kelly J. Ford

Cottonmouths is an unflinching story about the ways in which the past pulls us back . . . despite our best efforts to leave it behind. College was supposed to be an escape for Emily Skinner. But after failing out of school, she’s left with no choice but to return to her small hometown in the Ozarks, a place run on gossip and good Christian values. She’s not alone. Emily’s former best friend—and childhood crush—Jody Monroe is back with a baby. Emily can’t resist the opportunity to reconnect, despite the uncomfortable way things ended between them and her mom’s disapproval of their friendship. When Emily stumbles upon a meth lab on Jody’s property, she realizes just how far they’ve both fallen. Emily intends to keep her distance from Jody, but when she’s kicked out of her house with no money and nowhere to go, a paying job as Jody’s live-in babysitter is hard to pass up. As they grow closer, Emily glimpses a future for the first time since coming home. She dismisses her worries; the meth is a means to an end. And besides, for Emily, Jody is the real drug. But when Emily’s role in Jody’s business turns dangerous, her choices reveal grave consequences. Cottonmouths is forthcoming from Skyhorse on June 6, 2017.

"Applying for the Novel Incubator was the best decision I made for my writing lifeand the best investment. I didn't have critique partners. I didn't have writing buddies. I was lost in my individual efforts to make the magic happen. Along with terrific instruction on elements of craft, my classmates and instructors were able to see issues in my manuscript that I couldn't see, having been too close to the material for too long. This in an environment that teaches you how to work hard, revise, and never stop pushing yourself to achieve your goals. The Novel Incubator gave me the community of writers I was missing, with whom I can share the pains and the joys of the writing life." 

-- Kelly J. Ford

An Unseemly Wife and Stones in the Road, by E. B. Moore

Set in 1867, An Unseemly Wife follows Ruth Holtz, who has more blessings than she can count—a loving husband, an abundant farm, beautiful children, and the warm embrace of the Amish community. When the English arrive, spreading incredible stories of free land in the West, her husband begins to dream of a new life in Idaho. Breaking the rules of their Order, Ruth’s husband packs up his pregnant wife and their four children and joins a wagon train heading west. Though Ruth is determined to keep separate from the English, as stricture demands, the harrowing journey soon compels her to accept help from two unlikely allies: Hortence, the preacher’s wife, and the tomboyish, teasing Sadie. But as these new friendships lead to betrayal, what started as a quest for a brighter future ends with Ruth making unthinkable sacrifices, risking faith and family, and transforming into a woman she never imagined she’d become. 

"The Novel Incubator has been the most intense educational experience of my life, pushing me to a productivity I didn’t think possible."

-- E. B. Moore

Michelle Hoover, Novel Incubator Instructor

"The novel is the only written form that requires such extensive empathy from its author for a group of dueling strangers. A character’s obsessions, fears, and flaws drive its events, structure and plot form the often unseen but all necessary spine, and an author’s unique perception remains the only reason for the novel to exist at all. In the Incubator, we hope to support writers trying to conquer this difficult and seldom-taught form. These are writers who often work alone, with little guidance and few friendly readers willing to respond to such a heft of pages. Every novel our students bring in carries with it years of trial and error, creative triumphs as well as frustration, all at the expense of day jobs, family, and friends. This is work our writers feel compelled to do, out of a love for story, character, richness of detail and every last lovely sentence. Responding to each book therefore entails a great deal of responsibility—on the part of the instructor as well as the fellow students. Our goal is to allow authors to forge a distinct voice and vision, to create a forum where discovery is possible and hard thinking required. Through the tools we offer them, we hope to grant writers the confidence to step out of their own way, producing a finely crafted work they will be proud to offer readers."

-- Michelle Hoover

Michelle teaches writing at Boston University and GrubStreet. She has been the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and the 2005 winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award for Fiction. Her debut novel, The Quickening, was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, was a Finalist for the Indies Choice Debut of 2010 and Forward Magazine's Best Literary Book of 2010, and is a 2010 Massachusetts Book Award "Must Read" pick. She is a 2014 National Endowment of the Arts Fellow, awarded for her second novel, Bottomland, the 2016 "Iowa All Reads" title.

The application deadline for the May 2018 - May 2019 cycle is February 15th, 2018.

Apply today to the Novel Incubator! 

About the Author

GrubWrites is a space for the writing and reading community to share ideas and seek advice, a place where writers at the very beginning of their careers publish alongside established authors. Book lovers, we bring you reviews, recommendations, and conversations with exciting new authors to keep you up to speed on all things lit. Writers, this is your one stop shop for expert craft talk, opinions on how we learn and teach writing, and essential advice about the publishing industry.

Plus, we want to hear from you! Our ongoing call for submissions is open to literary community members of all types and persuasions. We want to hear from students, teachers, authors, readers, editors, agents, publicists, and any devotee of the written word. If you have something to say about writing, reading, the publishing industry, or anything related to the literary world, this is the place to voice it. We’re particularly committed to advocating for a diverse range of voices in the literary marketplace and raising the visibility of writers from under-represented communities.

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