Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Recharge Your Writing Retreat- April 8-10, 2022

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Date(s) - 04/08/2022 - 04/10/2022
10:00 am

Conception Abbey
37174 State Highway VV - Conception, MO


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KSMO-SCBWI is excited to announce the return of…

Recharge Your Writing Retreat

at Conception Abbey

Friday, April 8–Sunday, April 10, 2022


OPENS Sunday, February 13, 2022, 10 am!

ENDS Wednesday, March 2, 2022, 5 pm CST!

Sold Out!!!

We’re Super Excited!!!!


Don’t miss out on this opportunity to escape 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.


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.


Recently, Sterling Publishing announced the launch of Union Square & Co., which includes the children’s imprint, Union Square Kids. They will publish picture books, early readers, chapter books, graphic novels, middle-grade and young-adult novels in addition to classics, reference, novelty and activity books. Our faculty presenter and critiquer, Ardi Alspach specializes in Middle Grade and Young Adult.


Ms. Alspach will be leading two one-hour presentations that include:


Worldbuilding, Plot, and Pace: Learn how the balance of these three things can make or break your novel. We’ll discuss the foundational aspects of each subject and how they interconnect.


Words and Pictures: How to leave room for the artist in picture books, illustrated novels, and graphic novels. We’ll examine each type of work and how your words begin a conversation with the illustrator.


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


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. Alspach. Please note: Ms. Alspach primarily acquires MG and YA manuscripts.


The cherry on top is that you can submit to her for 3 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-$500 (see below for details).


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


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


Please note, currently the Abbey is requiring all guests to wear masks and practice social distancing, which we will require from attendees, as well. Of course, this may change as the world changes prior to the event. Check back here for up-to-date details.


Registration will open Sunday, February 13th at 10 am CST and close Wednesday, March 2 at 5 pm CST. Attendance is limited, sign-up early!


About the editor:


Ardi Alspach is an editor at Union Square Kids, where she has worked since 2015. Ardi has held positions in a variety of disciplines throughout her career (though book editing is her favorite). Prior to joining UNSQ & Co., Ardi was an instructor at Clemson University, a graphic designer, a copyeditor, and a publicist for Tor Books and Skyhorse. Born in Florida, raised in South Carolina, she now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her two cats.



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




Full Ticket includes: Interaction, critique, lectures, and submission opportunity with Ardi Alspach, in addition to PEER critiques with other PB/MG/YA authors, 2 nights in a private room and up to 7 meals provided including Saturday night pizza party!

Cost for SCBWI members:  $350

Cost for non-members: $500

Other Ticket Options:

Conception Abbey with Peer Critiques: $245
No interaction, critique, lectures, or submission opportunity with Ardi Alspach, BUT you do receive PEER critiques with other PB/MG/YA authors, 2 nights in a private room and up to 7 meals provided including Saturday night pizza party!

Conception Abbey and Meals only: $195
No interaction, critique, lectures, submission opportunity with Ardi Alspach, or peer critiques with other PB/MG/YA authors, BUT you do receive 2 nights in a private room and up to 7 meals provided including Saturday night pizza party

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. In addition, if you prefer to eat separate from other Abbey guests, to-go containers will be available.


Registration will open Sunday, February 13th at 10am. Attendance is limited, sign-up early!


Critique groups:


Critique groups are MANDATORY for Full Retreat Ticket Buyers!

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 (Please note that Ms. Alspach asked us to emphasize that her specialty is in MG and YA) 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_Alspach (ie. Helsel_Fantastic_Manuscript_Alspach)


Please use .doc NOT PDF.


All Materials due by 5:00PM CST on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022. This is to give Ms. Alspach maximum time to complete her critiques.



Tentative Retreat Schedule
(Subject to change)


Friday, April 8, 2022

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


Saturday, April 9, 2022

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


Sunday, April 10, 2022

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.