Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Fall Writing Retreat in Eastern Idaho – 2018 – SOLD OUT!

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Date(s) - 09/27/2018 - 09/30/2018
12:00 am - 9:00 am

Springshores Lodge - Ashton, Idaho
1525 Marysville Hill Road - Ashton, Idaho 83420


September 27 – 30, 2018


Please e-mail Annie at if you’d like to join the waiting list.

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Fall Writing Retreat in Eastern Idaho

Please join us for our Fall Writing Retreat located in scenic Ashton, Idaho. This event includes editor presentations, editor critiques, critique groups, writing time, campfire readings and more!  Your registration fee includes all retreat meals, lodging and a critique by one of our visiting editors. Joining us will be editors Emma Ledbetter from Atheneum/Simon & Shuster and Mabel Hsu from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. Retreat attendees will have the opportunity to submit a manuscript to the attending editors after the retreat.


Early bird rates on or before August 27, 2018: $330 for members, $380 for non-members. Daytime only (no sleeping accommodations): $230 for members, $280 for non-members.

After August 27, 2018: $340 for members, $390 for non-members. Daytime only (no sleeping accommodations): $240 for members, $290 for non-members.


Retreat attendees and special guests will be staying together at the Springshores Lodge, a cabin in Ashton, Idaho ( ​Lodging is included in your retreat registration fee unless you choose the daytime only option. Most rooms will be bunk style with 8-10 attendees per room. If you have a medical reason or disability which prohibits you from sharing a room or sleeping on a top bunk, please e-mail Annie at

For those wanting more privacy, consider signing up for the daytime only option and staying nearby. There are several lodging options in Ashton and St. Anthony that are near the cabin. Possibilities on the less expensive end include Rankin Motel (208) 652-3570 (Approx. $75 per night for a single occupant in September.) Or a little further away: Henry’s Fork Inn (208) 624-3711 (Approx. $69 per room in September.) A quick internet search will bring up additional lodging options and reviews. 


Special Guests: 

Emma Ledbetter, Senior Editor, Atheneum / Simon & Schuster

Emma joined Simon & Schuster in 2011 following internships at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Nickelodeon, and Nick Jr. A graduate of Yale University with a BA in Art History, Emma looks for captivating voices, enchanting artwork, humor, and charm in a range of formats—particularly picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels. Books that Emma has edited include Ida, Always from Caron Levis and Charles Santoso, which The New York Times called “an example of children’s books at their best,” and Quicksand Pond by Newbery Honoree Janet Taylor Lisle, a “suspenseful, realistic, finely crafted story” (Kirkus, starred review). She is especially fond of Edward Gorey, Clementine, and Frances the Badger. Bonus points if you can decipher her Frances-related Twitter handle, @brdnjamforemma.


Mabel Hsu Assistant Editor, Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins

Mabel Hsu is an assistant editor at Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. She edits picture books through young adult, and has worked on books with authors and illustrators such as Veronica Roth, Maureen Johnson, Patricia MacLachlan, Jennifer Berne, Lorraine Nam and Henry Cole. She will accept submissions from attendees for up to three months after the conference date. On weekends, Mabel is also an indie bookseller at Books Are Magic. You can find her on Twitter (@helloomabel).


Other Retreat Information:

Editor Critiques: ​Each retreat attendee will have a 20 minute manuscript critique with an editor. These are on-the-spot critiques where the editor reads for 5 minutes and then gives verbal feedback or answers questions for the remaining 15. Those meeting with Mabel Hsu will need to submit their manuscripts in advance. Details below.

For those meeting with Emma Ledbetter: Please bring a cover letter and either one picture book manuscript or five pages of your middle grade or young adult manuscript to the retreat. No advance submission is required.

​For those meeting with Mabel Hsu​: Please e-mail one word document that includes both your cover letter and either one picture book manuscript or five pages of your middle grade or young adult manuscript to Annie at by September 10, 2018. Please use the subject line “Ashton Retreat Critique Submission” and name your document: TITLE-YOUR NAME-ASHTON RETREAT. Following these guidelines will save us loads of time and make us smile!

​Critique Groups (optional): ​Critique groups will meet twice on Friday and once on Saturday. Please bring 1-2 picture book manuscripts or 10 pages of your middle grade or young adult manuscript to share with your group. On Saturday afternoon we will hold a critique group mash-up. Attendees will meet in the main living room and form new impromptu critique groups. You are welcome to bring a new manuscript to the mash-up if you’d like.

​Campfire Readings: ​Saturday evening (weather permitting) we will meet around the campfire for readings and s’mores. Please bring a 500-word excerpt to share with the group. (Reading to the group is optional.)

Meals: ​All retreat meals are included in your registration fee. Snacks and treats will be potluck style so please bring your favorites to share with the group. If you have severe food allergies or sensitivities, we recommend bringing your own food to the retreat. Please e-mail Annie at with any questions. Retreat attendees will also help with meal clean up on a rotating basis.

Get to Know You Activity:Please bring an item to the retreat that represents something you like to do outside of your writing.

REFUND POLICY: There is a $50 refund charge for any cancellation on or before August 13, 2018. Any cancellation after August 13, 2018 will be subject to a $100 cancellation fee. NO REFUNDS WILL BE GRANTED AFTER August 27, 2018.


Tentative Retreat Schedule:

THURSDAY 9/27/18

5:30 – 6:30 PM Check-in

6:30 PM Pizza Party

7:30 PM Welcome & Announcements

7:45 PM Editor Get to Know You Presentations & Get to Know You Activity

Rest of the Evening: Fun, fun and more fun.


FRIDAY 9/28/18

8:00 AM Breakfast

9 – 11:00 AM Critique Groups

11:00 AM Mabel Hsu – Writing Outside Your Culture

12:00 PM Lunch

1 – 3:00 PM Free Time / Writing Time    

3:00 PM Emma Ledbetter – Picture Book Pacing & Page Turns

4 – 6:00 PM Critique Groups

6:00 PM Dinner

Rest of the Evening: Fun, Fun and More Fun!


SATURDAY 9/29/18

8:00 AM Breakfast

9 – 11:00 AM Critique Groups

11:00 AM Mabel Hsu – Meet Your Characters

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Emma Ledbetter – Exploring Truth in Picture Books (Fiction & Non-fiction)

2 – 4:00 PM Free Time / Writing Time or Group Trip to Mesa Falls

4 – 6:00 PM Critique Group Mashup – Meet in the Main Living Room to Form New Critique Groups

6:00 PM Dinner

8:00 PM Campfire S’mores and Readings

Rest of the Evening: Fun, Fun and More Fun!


SUNDAY 9/30/18

8:00 AM Breakfast & Check-Out


Questions? Please e-mail Annie at