Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Fall Writing Retreat in Eastern Idaho – 2019

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Date(s) - 10/10/2019 - 10/13/2019
12:00 am

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


October 10-13th, 2019

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Fall Writing Retreat in Eastern Idaho

**This event is sold out. To join the wait list please e-mail Annie at and indicate your editor preference and whether you prefer daytime only or staying in the lodge. **

Please join us for our Fall Writing Retreat located in scenic Ashton, Idaho. This event includes editor presentations, editor critiques, critique groups, writing time, 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 Samantha Gentry of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Maggie Rosenthal from Viking/Penguin Young Readers. Retreat attendees will have the opportunity to submit a manuscript to the attending editors after the retreat.


Early bird rates on or before September 10, 2019: $335 for members, $385 for non-members. Daytime only (no sleeping accommodations): $235 for members, $285 for non-members.

After September 10, 2019: $345 for members, $395 for non-members. Daytime only (no sleeping accommodations): $245 for members, $295 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 or a little further away: Henry’s Fork Inn (208) 624-3711. A quick internet search will bring up additional lodging options and reviews.


Special Guests:

Samantha Gentry, Editor, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Samantha Gentry has acquired and edited Reach for the Skai by actress and activist Skai Jackson, and taken the editorial lead on the young reader’s adaptation of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Find Your Rainbow, The Dragon’s Price, Destroy This Book in the Name of Science, and My Journey to the Stars Step into Reading Edition. She has worked closely with the VP/Publisher, Emily Easton, and many of her authors, including Morris Award winner Jeff Zentner, New York Times bestselling authors Danica McKellar, Megan Miranda, and Raymond Arroyo, as well as Jazz Jennings and Scott Kelly. While open to books for all ages, she is particularly interested in high concept commercial YA fiction with a strong and distinctive narrative voice, diverse perspectives, and a touch of romance-particularly, edgy contemporary stories that tackle tough issue teens face in an authentic way, and OWN voices projects across all genres. Voice-driven middle grade fiction with unforgettable characters, a friendship story at its core, interesting family dynamics, and a touch of magical realism. Humorous and quirky picture books with strong commercial appeal.

Samantha’s Presentations:

The Art of Building Your Author Platform: Learn the ins and outs of how to build your author platform and author brand—whether you’re looking to be represented by an agent or looking to be published. Having a platform and making connections in the industry is incredibly important to editors when they are reviewing your work. Show them that you are poised and ready to be an incredible self-promoter! The workshop will offer helpful tips, real life examples from rock star self-promoter authors, and a workshop/Q&A.

A Day in the Life of an Editor: Learn about the book-making process from start to finish from the Editor’s perspective. We will discuss everything from evaluating submissions from agents, to the joy of holding a finished book in your hands, and everything in between. Discover the real reason why you haven’t heard back about your submission in a timely manner!



Maggie Rosenthal, Associate Editor, Viking / Penguin Young Readers

Maggie Rosenthal is an associate editor at Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, where she edits picture books, middle grade and young adult, both fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent projects include the ghost story Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall, The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson, Voyage of the Frostheart by Jamie Littler, and How to Code a Rollercoaster by Josh Funk, illustrated by Sara Palacios. She’s always on the lookout for exciting new voices who take otherwise familiar stories and give it a twist. She’s interested in stories and storytellers from diverse backgrounds, and especially projects with a sprinkle of magical realism, a hook that immediately pulls her in, and a complex, unique protagonist. She accepts submissions for all age ranges.

Maggie’s Presentations:

Conquering Revisions: Learn how to become your own best editor! We will review how to rewrite, revise, and re-envision your manuscript like a pro. Every project starts with a great idea, and here we will discuss how to take that great start and rocket it to the next level so that it will grab the attention of agents and editors alike.

Writing Authentically: What does it mean to write authentically? Is a thrilling story more important than writing realistically—or should our own experiences dictate what’s possible in books? This talk will cover how to write truthfully in fiction while also delivering an engaging story. We will cover everything from representation and character development to plotting a story, all while considering the larger picture of how your manuscript fits into today’s marketplace.


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 Maggie Rosenthal will need to submit their manuscripts in advance. Details below.

For those meeting with Samantha Gentry: 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 Maggie Rosenthal : 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 23, 2019. 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: Critique groups are optional. If you would like to focus on writing instead of participating in a critique group, you are welcome to do so. 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.

Readings: Saturday evening we will meet for readings and a hot chocolate bar. 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 27, 2019. Any cancellation after August 27, 2019 will be subject to a $100 cancellation fee. NO REFUNDS WILL BE GRANTED AFTER September 10, 2019.


Tentative Retreat Schedule:

THURSDAY 10/10/19

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 10/11/19

8:00 AM Breakfast

9 – 11:00 AM Critique Groups

11:00 AM Maggie Rosenthal – Conquering Revisions

12:00 PM Lunch

1 – 3:30 PM Free Time / Writing Time

3:30 PM Samantha Gentry – The Art of Building Your Author Platform

4:30 PM Snacks in Kitchen

4:30 – 6:30 PM Critique Groups

6:30 PM Dinner

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


SATURDAY 10/12/19

8:00 AM Breakfast

9 – 11:00 AM Critique Groups

11:00 AM Maggie Rosenthal – Writing Authentically

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Samantha Gentry – A Day in the Life of an Editor

2 – 4:30 PM Free Time / Writing Time or Group Trip to Mesa Falls

4:30 PM Snacks in Kitchen

4:30 – 6:30 PM Critique Group Mashup – Meet in the Main Living Room to Form New Critique Groups

6:30 PM Dinner

8:00 PM Hot Chocolate Bar and Readings

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


SUNDAY 10/13/19

8:00 AM Breakfast & Check-Out


Questions? Please e-mail Annie at


This event is fully booked.