Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Fall Focus Retreat 2018

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Date(s) - 09/21/2018 - 09/23/2018
5:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Capital Retreat Center
12750 Buchanan Trail East - Waynesboro, PA 17268


Don’t miss this weekend retreat where we delve deep and focus on craft!

September 21-23, 2018 at Nesiya Lodge, Capital Retreat Center, 12750 Buchanan Trail East, Waynesboro, PA 17268

Three Tracks: Picture book writing ~ YA/Middle Grade writing  ~ Illustrating

Three industry professionals: Sarah Jane Abbott, Editor at Simon and Schuster ~ Jim Hoover, Art Director at Viking ~ Tiffany Liao, Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Small Class sizes: Each track will have a maximum of 24 people.


Picture Book Writing Track – Led by Sarah Jane Abbott, Editor at Simon and Schuster

A close up and personal intensive picture book workshop on overhauling/revising—ways to approach a current manuscript that isn’t quite working.  Attendees will bring two manuscripts in process to work with. Sessions will cover strengthening character, social messages in writing, plot, and heart and will also include revision activities like blind rewrites, changing POV, and dummying to check pacing and page turns. The weekend will include time for hands-on work and circle critiques,  as well as opportunities for one-on-one critiques or written-only critiques with Sarah. Track size – maximum 24 people.

Sarah Jane Abbott is an assistant editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books at Simon & Schuster. She started her career at S&S as a publicity assistant in 2013 before joining Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books as editorial assistant in 2014. She is also on the editorial boards of Simon & Schuster’s and She is actively seeking agented and SCBWI submissions for Paula Wiseman Books. She loves quirky, character-driven picture books with a lot of heart and unique, literary middle grade novels.


YA/Middle Grade Writing Track – Led by Tiffany Liao, Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

A focused look at the big question: What does the character want? Your character motivation is the heart of the story and will inform every element in your book including voice, plot, pacing, and world-building. In this track, we’ll discuss how to dig deeper to create authentic and empathetic (not the same as likeable!) characters. We’ll also cover how to write convincingly and respectfully from a perspective outside of your own. The weekend will include time for hands-on work and circle critiques as well as opportunities for one-on-one critiques or written-only critiques with Tiffany. Track size – maximum 24 people.


Tiffany Liao is an editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. Previously, she was at Penguin Young Readers. She’s had the pleasure of editing authors such as Tomi Adeyemi, Margaret Owen, Henry Lien, K.D. Halbrook, Kristin Tubb, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Lesley Livingston, among others. She acquires young adult and middle grade fiction of all stripes, as well as the occasional nonfiction title. A Bay Area native, Tiffany now resides in Brooklyn, where she continues to pine for a good avocado. She (mostly) tweets about bookish things at @tiff_liao.


Illustrators Track – Led by Jim Hoover, Art Director at Viking Children’s Books

Dive deep into illustrating covers for picture books and middle grade novels. Jim will take us through the overall picture book process and then focus on creating successful covers. The course will include homework prior to the event, an in-depth look at what makes a successful cover, in-person critiques of homework sketches, time to work on assignments and revisions and then roundtable critiques of new sketches. Attendees will bring completed homework as well as art supplies to continue work during the weekend. The retreat will include time for hands-on work and circle critiques as well as opportunities for one-on-one critiques or written-only critiques with Jim. Track size – maximum 24 people.

Jim Hoover is the Associate Art Director at Viking Children’s Books. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design in Illustration, Jim has been in publishing now for nearly twenty years. He speaks regularly at SCBWI and has designed and art directed hundreds of books including: PICTURE BOOKS: (Tea Party Rules with K. G. Campbell, Shy with Deborah Freedman, Ella with Marcos Chin, Bus! Stop! with James Yang) NOVELS: (Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch books, Max Brallier’s New York Times best-selling series The Last Kids On Earth) NONFICTION: (National Book Award Finalist Elizabeth Partridge’s, Marching For Freedom, Printz Award-winning John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth and Boots On the Ground: America’s War In Vietnam, and the children’s book adaptation of Al Gore’sAn Inconvenient Truth.


All lodging and meals will be provided by Nesiya Lodge at Capital Retreat Center. Registrants can choose a single room or shared room with 1 roommate. Each room has 2 queen beds, a private bath,  in-room high speed internet access, individual room climate controlled air-conditioning and heat, linen and towel service, desk, phone, and in-room safe. The retreat center has ample free parking. Nesiya Lodge was built in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, including van accessible parking, automatic door openers, guest rooms with over-sized entry ways, extra space for wheelchairs, roll-in showers, and vanities with clearance underneath. Find pictures and more info about the site at


Friday, Sept 21

5 PM: Registration
6 PM: Dinner
7 PM: Welcome/icebreakers
8-9 PM: Breakout Tracks – Opening lecture/activity with your track

Saturday, Sept 22:

7:30 AM: Breakfast
9 AM-12 PM: Breakout Tracks – Intensive workshop combining lecture and hands-on activities
12 PM: Lunch
1-5 PM: Attendee work time and one-on-one critiques by appointment
6 PM: Dinner
7 PM: Social activity

Sunday, Sept 23:

7:30 AM: Breakfast
9 AM- 12PM: Breakout Tracks – Roundtable critique sessions with your track
12 PM: Lunch
1-2 PM: Closing activity


Retreat registration (Includes all meals, lodging, and group activities. Sorry, no commuter rates are available for this event.)

SCBWI Members:
Shared room with one roommate: $350
Single room: $450
Shared room with one roommate: $450
Single room: $550


Face-to-face critique with your track leader during the retreat: $60
Written-only critique from your track leader, to be delivered via email 2 weeks after the retreat: $45

Payment Options:

  • Online with a credit card (processed through PayPal, no account required)
  • Online with a PayPal account balance

No refunds will be issued for cancellations made after September 6, 2018.

Registrants must be age 18 or older.

If you have any questions or need to request accommodations for this event, please contact



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Event Registration

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Ticket Information

Fall Focus Retreat/Single Room - Nonmember - $550.00

Fall Focus Retreat/Shared Room - Nonmember - $450.00

Fall Focus Retreat/Single Room - SCBWI Member - $450.00

This price is only available for SCBWI members.

Fall Focus Retreat/Shared Room - SCBWI Member - $350.00

This price is only available for SCBWI members.

The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy
To register for an SCBWI event, you are required to acknowledge our Anti-Harassment Policy.
Scroll to the bottom to read the policy.

You will then be able to click the checkbox indicating that you have read our policy.


The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is dedicated to providing a safe and harassment-free environment for all of its members and has a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment, intimidation, and discrimination. This includes all harassment, intimidation, and discrimination made on the basis of race, age, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, medical condition, religion, class, body size, veteran status, marital/domestic partnership status, citizenship or any other marginalized identity. Harassment includes verbal comments, written comments, displayed images, or behaviors such as deliberate intimidation, stalking, body policing, unwelcome photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy applies to all situations of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination at SCBWI programs and activities and is applicable to all SCBWI events and all SCBWI venues, including but not limited to SCBWI events, conferences, meetings, meet-ups, critique groups, and online interactions. Harassment, intimidation, and discrimination at any SCBWI event, any one of the foregoing events, or on-line is prohibited.


Code of Conduct

All participants in SCBWI events and activities, including faculty, staff, and attendees, are required to comply with the following anti-harassment code of conduct. The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits harassment, including but not limited to the following behaviors:


-Deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following.


-Sustained disruption of talks or other events.


-Inappropriate physical contact.


-Unwelcome sexual attention.


-Abusive verbal comments.


-Quid pro quo – sexual harassment that occurs when one in an authority position requests sex or a sexual relationship in exchange for professional consideration or favors.


Harassment does not include respectful disagreement or reasonable and respectful critique made in good faith. SCBWI continues to welcome and appreciate presentation of controversial ideas, free speech, and creative artistic expression. SCBWI encourages members to hold one another accountable to the Code of Conduct and to take the perspectives of others seriously when a disagreement arises.



Reporting Procedures

Any person who believes there has been a violation of the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy can report the offense in one or all of the following ways:


-All SCBWI conferences will designate one or more Safety Team Members who will be available during the conference to provide a safe space for members to report an incident. The Safety Team Member will report directly to the conference director or regional advisor in charge.


-A complainant may request assistance from any SCBWI officer, employee, or regional team member.


-SCBWI has a dedicated email address for reporting any incident of harassment. Anyone who chooses to report an incident can find the Anti-Harassment Report Form on the SCBWI website (About > Anti-Harassment) or use the following link: Reports can be filled out anonymously or with identifying information. Reports should include the substance of the complaint, date, and whenever possible, a list of witnesses or a reference to the relevant URLs, if the offense occurred online. Emails will be monitored at all times, including during SCBWI events. SCBWI will fully investigate all complaints, including those made anonymously, and take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to prevent a recurrence. Please note however, that SCBWI will not be able to follow up on an anonymous report with the complainant directly, as SCBWI will not have contact information for the anonymous complainant. SCBWI will make every attempt to respond to a named complainant in a timely fashion.




The SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits retaliation against a member of the SCBWI community for reporting harassment, intimidation or discrimination, or for participating in an investigation relating to any complaint made. The sanctions for retaliation are the same sanctions available to address any other violation of the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy.




SCBWI takes all allegations of harassment seriously. Every report will be investigated by a panel consisting of independent consultants specializing in issues of harassment. The results of the investigation and the recommendations of the panel will be reported to the officers of SCBWI, who will determine, in conjunction with the panel or, when appropriate, in consultation with an independent arbiter, the appropriate sanction.

Sanctions for faculty, speakers, staff or board members may include any of the following:


-warning the party involved that the particular behavior is inappropriate and must be ceased;


-immediate removal from the event;


-denial of access to SCBWI spaces and venues on a temporary or permanent basis;


-withholding of a contracted honorarium;


-prohibition from future speaking engagements;


-prohibition from future faculty appointments;


-expulsion from SCBWI;


-removal from the Board of Advisors or Board of Directors, when appropriate




Sanctions for attendees, members, and guests can include any of the following:


-warning the party involved that specified behavior is inappropriate and must be ceased;


-immediate removal from the event, without refund;


-denial of access to SCBWI spaces and venues on a permanent or temporary basis;


-termination of SCBWI membership, without refund;


-prohibition future SCBWI membership





SCBWI will make every reasonable effort to conduct all investigations into allegations of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in a manner that will protect the confidentiality of all parties. Notwithstanding the above, confidentiality is not absolute, and those with a legitimate business reason to know and be informed of the allegations will be so informed. Parties to the complaint should treat the matter under investigation with discretion and respect the reputation of all parties involved.


* SCBWI acknowledges the contributions of Geek Feminism, Science Fiction Writers of America, and WisCon for their work in developing anti-harassment policies.



If you wish to file a complaint or an anonymous complaint, CLICK HERE to access the Anti-harassment Report Form.


If you have questions regarding this policy, you may send an email to Please include the words "anti-harassment policy" in the subject line.

I have read and accepted the SCBWI Anti-Harassment policy.