Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Recharge Your Writing Retreat–April 24-26, 2020

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Date(s) - 04/24/2020 - 04/26/2020
12:00 am

Conception Abbey
37174 State Highway VV - Conception, MO 64433


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During this period of public health concerns, SCBWI had modified its cancellation/refund policy as follows:  If you are sick and cannot attend an event, you will be able to receive a full tuition refund up until the day of the event so that you can stay home, take care of yourself, and prevent the spread of illness.  This policy is in effect until September 1, 2020.   Be well.



SCBWI-KSMO presents…

Recharge Your Writing Retreat

Friday, April 24 – Sunday, April 26, 2020

Registration ENDS February 1, 2020!


Have you submitted a manuscript and received a rejection? Did it leave you wondering why? Wouldn’t you love to have an editor from one of the coveted Big 5 Publishers give you individualized feedback on your work-in-progress?


Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life to commune with your own—children’s book writers—in this peaceful, quiet setting! KSMO-SCBWI offers this retreat, for all writing levels, only once a year.


Within this experience, you will have peers review and provide feedback on 1 or 2 works-in-progress during two interactive critique group sessions. Whether you have 40 published books or have just begun writing,  each person has a unique point of view and can give feedback to help revise your manuscript to perfection.


On its own, this critique opportunity is very valuable, but during this one supercharged weekend, you will also be treated to two one-hour presentations by a Big 5 editor, Sam Gentry of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers that include:


Casting Call! How to Create Effective Supporting Characters: A strong concept and a compelling protagonist are the foundation of your story, providing you with a great beginning and end. But what about those in-between moments? Or the scenes that feature characters other than your protagonist to provide a lush, multi-dimensional read? We’ll dive into the lives of your supporting cast, identifying their purpose and relationship to the main character through fast-paced transitional scenes. Are your supporting characters doing their job? Are they creating conflict? Do they feel real and authentic? Do they add interesting perspective to your scenes? From best friends, to absentee parents, and everyone in between, we’ll look at examples of successful supporting characters in published works and how they move a subplot or scene forward without derailing the main plot—and we’ll discuss how to weave some of those techniques into your own stories.


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 and the acquisitions board, to the editing process and the joys of holding a finished book in your hands. More importantly, discover the real reason why you haven’t heard back about your submission in a timely manner! (Hint: there aren’t enough hours in the day!)


(**Note: Topics of presentation are subject to change.)


But that’s not all!


You will also receive a one-on-one 15-minute personalized critique covering 10 manuscript pages and a synopsis, OR one complete PB manuscript (under 1500 words) using the SCBWI gold critique form filled out by Ms. Gentry who acquires fiction and nonfiction PB-YA manuscripts!


AND the cherry on top is that you can submit to her for 6 months following the retreat!


You can have all of this, in addition to a two night stay in a private room with up to 7 meals provided in this secluded location good enough for monks! All for the low, low price of $350-$450 (see below for details).


That’s food and lodging, two critique sessions, two writing presentations, quiet writing time, and an individualized, in-person critique by a professional Big 5 Editor!


It’s a steal! Don’t miss your opportunity! Sign up now! You won’t be sorry.


Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has published children’s books since 1926. Some books on their list include:


Picture Books:

  • Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoet
  • Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
  • Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
  • Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall


Middle Grade: 

  • A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer
  • Bouncing Back by Scott Ostler
  • the Survival Tails series by  Katrina Charman
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • The Wizards of Once series by Cressida Cowell


Young Adult:

  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
  • Internment by Samira Ahmed
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black from the Folk of the Air series
  • Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything by Aly Raisman


Registration will open Saturday, November 9th at 4 pm. Attendance is limited, sign-up early!


About the editor:

Samantha Gentry ­is an Associate Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (an imprint of the Big 5 Publisher Hachette), where she edits picture books, middle grade and young adult, both fiction and nonfiction.


She is actively building her list after joining LBYR in early 2019 from Crown Books for Young Readers, but is particularly excited about her upcoming titles: Brains On! presents…It’s Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us by Molly Bloom, Sanden Totten, and Marc Sanchez; Milo Moss is Officially Un-Amazing by Lauren Allbright; Hair Twins by Raakhee Mirchandani, illustrated by Holly Hatam; and Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp.


She has a particular interest in pop-culture tie-ins and platform-driven stories in nonfiction.


She is always on the lookout for voice-driven middle grade with unforgettable characters, a friendship story at its core, interesting family dynamics, and a touch of magical realism.


In picture books, she’d love to see character-driven stories with a touch of humor and quirk, but she’s also a sucker for the charming tales that feel like an instant classic.


In YA, she is looking for authors who have a platform, stories and storytellers from diverse backgrounds, contemporaries with a strong and distinctive narrative voice, and a touch of romance is always welcome.



The retreat will be held at Conception Abbey—37174 State Highway VV, Conception, MO 64433—a Benedictine monastery in northwest Missouri.

Established in 1873 by monks from Engelberg, Switzerland, the Abbey is situated in a rural setting and provides simple accommodations in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere—perfect for writing, revising, and editing! It is a beautiful site with ample space for quiet walks to get the creative juices flowing. We have reserved rooms with private baths and showers in the St. Gabriel Guest House.

Conception Abbey, MO



Cost for SCBWI members:  $350 

Cost for non-members: $450

Cost includes private room and the following meals:

Friday: lunch, dinner

Saturday: breakfast, lunch, DINNER will be a pizza party mixer for retreat attendees

Sunday: breakfast, lunch


Unfortunately, since meals are served buffet style, the Abbey cannot accommodate any special dietary needs. There are also no cooking facilities for guest groups. There are a limited number of refrigerators to keep food cold, so if you have a lot of your own items to keep cold, the Abbey suggests bringing a cooler and ice. Hospitality areas provide coffee and hot water service.  A donation jar is provided to help offset the cost of this service. The nearest town (complete with Walmart, fast food, etc.) is just minutes away.


Registration will open SATURDAY, November 9th at 4 pm. Attendance is limited, sign-up early!

During this period of public health concerns, SCBWI had modified its cancellation/refund policy as follows:  If you are sick and cannot attend an event, you will be able to receive a full tuition refund up until the day of the event so that you can stay home, take care of yourself, and prevent the spread of illness.  This policy is in effect until September 1, 2020.   Be well.


Critique groups:


Critique groups are MANDATORY!

They are an integral part of this retreat and participants are expected to actively participate in critiques, which means we ask that you fill out and print a copy of the gold form for each manuscript in your critique group prior to attending. 


Submission guidelines:

Submit the first 10 pages and a synopsis (if you wish) or one complete picture book in standard manuscript format, as an email attachment to

Send all materials & manuscript pages as ONE document.

SUBJECT LINE of your email and Doc title should read: LastName_Title_Gentry (ie. Helsel_Fantastic_Manuscript_Gentry)

Please use .doc NOT PDF.

All Materials due by 5:00PM on Saturday, February 1st, 2020. This is to give Sam maximum time to complete her critiques.

Tentative Retreat Schedule
(Subject to change)

Friday, April 24, 2020

10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Check-in
12:20 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. Individual critiques with Gentry/ Individual mss. revision/writing time
5:45 p.m. Dinner
7:00-8:00 p.m. Presentation by Sam Gentry
8:00-10:00 p.m. Peer group critique meeting #1


Saturday, April 25, 2020

7:45 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – Noon Remaining critique meetings with Gentry / Individual mss. revision/writing time
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00-2:00 p.m. Presentation by Sam Gentry
2:00-5:45 p.m. Individual mss revision/writing time
5:45 p.m. Pizza party Dinner with Sam Gentry and SCBWI group
7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Peer critique group meeting #2


Sunday, April 26, 2020

8:15 a.m. Breakfast
9:00-10:00 a.m. Editor Q&A
11:30 a.m. Lunch
2:00 p.m. Check out


This event is fully booked.