Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Fall Focus Retreat at the Beach 2019

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Date(s) - 11/01/2019 - 11/03/2019
5:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa
4165 Mears Ave - Chesapeake beach, MD 20732


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

November 1-3, 2019 at Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa

Register by September 30, 2019 and you will be automatically entered to win a FREE first-page, query letter, or illustration critique from a Published and Listed member of SCBWI! Scroll down for details!

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

Three industry professionals: Art Director John Sandford, Editor Emily Feinberg, and Editor Sarah McCabe

Small Class sizes: Each track will have a maximum of 27 people.

Registration includes lodging, meals, and registration for one workshop track you of your choice.

Picture Book Writing Track – Led by Editor Emily Feinberg, Roaring Brook Press

Just A Seed: Taking An Idea and Running with It with Editor Emily Feinberg
Have you ever seen a photo on the internet and thought “that would make a great picture book”? Or had a conversation with someone and thought “There’s something there”? In this workshop we’ll look at books that started from a seed of an idea and grew to become fully illustrated picture books before our very eyes. I hope this will help you look beyond your initial doubt and see what is worth cultivating and what might need to be let go.

This workshop will focus on 1. How to sort through viable ideas; 2. How to evaluate good ideas for market; 3. How to get started. 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. Track size – maximum 27 people.

Emily Feinberg –  After earning her master’s degrees in Children’s Literature and English Literature from Simmons University in Boston, Emily joined the editorial team at Roaring Brook Press. She works mostly with picture book, middle grade, and nonfiction titles. She edited Caldecott Honor book Big Cat, Little Catby Elisha Cooper, Cindy Derby’s How to Walk an Ant, Lily Williams’ If Sharks Disappeared, and Richard Ho’s Red Rover (illustrated by Katherine Roy), among others. While she is always looking for solid, voice-driven picture books and middle grade, she also particularly loves nonfiction for young readers of all ages. Emily is not an editor of fantasy.


YA/MG Writing Track – Led by Editor Sarah McCabe, Simon and Schuster

Hook, Line, and Sinker: How to catch an agent/editor with your first pages and more!
Your pitch and first pages are extremely important to capture your reader, so let’s make sure they shine! This intensive will help you pinpoint where and how your story should start in order to carry your strong beginning though to the rest of your manuscript. We’ll focus on the basic elements any book needs to be a success, including voice, character, setting, and direction. Come prepared to brainstorm, write, revise, and discuss ways to make your story opening the best it can be, and walk away able apply your knowledge to your whole manuscript! Please come prepared with a title, elevator pitch, synopsis, and first 10 pages of your story.

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. Track size – maximum 24 people.

Sarah McCabe is an associate editor at Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. She acquires teen books and the occasional middle grade with a focus in the science fiction/fantasy genres. She particularly gravitates toward darker, character-driven stories that discuss “big picture” questions like morality and the nature of good and evil. Recent books she’s edited include Lisa Maxwell’s New York Times bestseller, The Last Magician, Emily Suvada’s This Mortal Coil, and Nicki Pau Preto’s Crown of Feathers. Follow her on Twitter @SarahRMcCabe.


Illustrators Track – Led by Art Director John Sandford, Cricket Media

The Power of Pencils!
Your portfolio may be excellent, but beyond those individual images – can you tell a story? We’ll try to help with this answer, and move beyond that first portfolio viewing. In this track we’ll be diving deep into telling a story in a single piece of art, working on story book dummying, layout and more. The goal is for illustrators to view themselves not just as an artist but as a storyteller!

This track has a pre-conference homework assignment. The weekend will include time for hands-on work and roundtable critiques, as well as opportunities for one-on-one critiques or electronic portfolio reviews. Track size – maximum 24 people.

John Sandford studied painting and illustration at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He has written, illustrated and art directed children’s magazines and picture books since 1978. Moonstick, The Seasons of the Sioux by Eve Bunting, is in its 20th year of publication. This fall saw publication of John’s 65th book, Oak Leaf from Cameron Kids. John and his wife Frances live and work in Chicago.



All lodging and meals will be provided by Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa and are included in the price of registration. All presentation rooms and dining room have a 180 degree view of the water. Registrants can choose a single room or shared room with 1 roommate. Each room features a single king bed or two full beds, table and chairs, desk with ergonomic chair, complimentary internet and WiFi access, in-room single K-Cup coffeemaker, iron, hair dryer and iHome docking station. A suite, balcony or king bed can be added as an upgrade. Please contact if you would like to upgrade your room.


Friday, Nov. 1:

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

Saturday, Nov. 2:

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, Nov. 3:

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.)

Early Bird Registration rates (until July 1, 2019):

SCBWI Members:
Shared room with one roommate: $510
Single room: $650
Shared room with one roommate: $650
Single room: $775

Regular registration rates (after July 1, 2019):

SCBWI Members:
Shared room with one roommate: $560
Single room: $700
Shared room with one roommate: $700
Single room: $825
Note: If you select a shared room, you will be connected with other registrants who have selected the shared room option to find a compatible roommate. If you have already made arrangements to room with another registrant, great! Each roommate must register separately at the shared room rate.


Face-to-face critique (1 picture book manuscript, 10 MG/YA manuscript pages, or illustrator portfolio review) with your track leader during the retreat (15 minutes): $60
Written-only critique  (1 picture book manuscript, 10 MG/YA manuscript pages, or electronic portfolio review) from your track leader, to be delivered via email 1 month 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 October 1, 2019.

Registrants must be age 18 or older.

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

Everyone who has registered by midnight EST on September 30, 2019 will be entered to win a FREE query letter, first page, or illustration critique from one of the following Published and Listed members of SCBWI! Winners will be notified on October 1 and directed to a sign-up page where they may choose from the available critiques on a first-come, first-served basis. Critique materials must be submitted by October 5, 2019 and finished critiques will be delivered within 3 weeks.

Thank you to our generous PAL critique donors!


Are you a member of SCBWI?

Did you know that SCBWI members always receive a discount on events?

Whether Regional events or the International Conference, all members receive a discount.

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Event Registration

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Ticket Information

Fall Focus Retreat/Single Room - Nonmember Regular Rate - $825.00

Fall Focus Retreat/Shared Room - Nonmember Regular Rate - $700.00

Fall Focus Retreat/Single Room - SCBWI Member Regular Rate - $700.00

This price is only available for SCBWI members.

Fall Focus Retreat/Shared Room - SCBWI Member Regular Rate - $560.00

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 will take any and all necessary steps to address and prevent harassment at events associated with SCBWI. Harassment under this policy may include verbal comments, written comments, displayed images, or behaviors such as intimidation, stalking, body policing, unwelcome photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention or advances, and bullying or coercion.


The SCBWI Member Anti-Harassment Policy applies to all situations of harassment or intimidation at any SCBWI Event. An “SCBWI Event” is any event, meeting or activity that is authorized by an SCBWI Regional Manager to be sponsored by, or affiliated with, SCBWI. SCBWI events may include, if properly authorized by an SCBWI Regional Manager, the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles, the Annual Winter Conference in New York, regional conferences, meetings and meet-ups. This SCBWI Member Anti-Harassment Policy also applies to “SCBWI On-Line Interactions,” which include communications and content posted on, or directed towards, SCBWI’s Social Media accounts or sent through any of the communication tools available on SCBWI’s website, SCBWI’s Social Media accounts under this policy include the official SCBWI accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and LinkedIn.



Code of Conduct

All participants in SCBWI Events and SCBWI On-Line Interactions, 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:

  • 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 appropriate controversial ideas, free speech, and creative artistic expression. SCBWI encourages members to hold one another accountable to the Code of Conduct as stated in this part of the Policy 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:

  • Certain SCBWI Events, including the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles and the Annual Winter Conference in New York, 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 submit a complaint under this policy to the Director of Community Marketing and Engagement, the Director of Illustration and Artist Programs and/or your Regional Manager.
  • SCBWI has a dedicated email address for reporting any potential incident of harassment under this policy. 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 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 through an SCWBI On-Line Interaction.


SCBWI will investigate all complaints subject to the SCBWI Anti-Harassment Policy. If the policy applies, SCBWI will investigate the matter and take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to prevent a recurrence and protect the environment at SCWBI Events. If a complaint is made anonymously, please note 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. Moreover, anonymous complaints may hinder SCBWI’s ability to investigate the complaint.  SCBWI will take steps to protect the confidentiality of the complaint, to the extent possible.  However, complete confidentiality may not be possible in all circumstances.  SCBWI will make every attempt to respond to a named complainant in a timely fashion.

If appropriate, SCBWI may report the incident to local authorities.



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 under this policy. 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. Complaints will be investigated by SCWBI if they fall within the scope of SCWBI’s Anti-Harassment Policy. Depending on the results of the investigation, SCWBI will determine whether a sanction is appropriate.


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 a particular 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; and/or
  • 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 a particular event, without refund;
  • denial of access to SCBWI spaces and venues on a permanent or temporary basis;
  • termination of SCBWI membership, without refund; and/or
  • prohibition of future SCBWI membership.


If the conduct at issue involves one of SCBWI’s employees, SCBWI will handle utilize whatever corrective action is appropriate based on the result of the investigation and subject to SCBWI employment policies and practices.



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 and witnesses. 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.



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.