Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Words in the Woods “Dive Into Revision” Retreat 2018

Date(s) - 08/17/2018 - 08/19/2018
12:00 am

East Bay Camp at Lake Bloomington
24248 Ron Smith Memorial Hwy 0 - Hudson, IL 61748

Words in the Woods “DIVE INTO REVISION”

Registration and Retreat Information

Registration is FULL!

If you are interested in adding your name to the waitlist for this event, please email Names will be added in the order they are received (time/date), and you will be notified if an opening is available for you to register before May 31st. Thank you!


Date(s) – 08/17/2018 – 08/19/2018
4:00 pm (Friday) – 12:00 pm (Sunday)

East Bay Camp at Lake Bloomington
24248 Ron Smith Memorial Hwy 0
Hudson, IL 61748



Escape into the woods and dive deep into the secret of revising your manuscript with the following guest speakers:

Liz Kossnar (Editor at Simon and Schuster, biography below) and Ammi-Joan Paquette (Senior Agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency, biography below) will lead you through intense revision strategies. Advance critique of your manuscript by the editor or agent is once again included with the price of the workshop.

Time will be provided for you to work with groups, on your own, one to one, and alongside the speakers to prepare your manuscript for submission.

Spend the weekend lakeside at East Bay Camp, just 12 miles north of Bloomington, IL, in a casual atmosphere. Socialize at an evening bonfire, and let your ideas mingle at a lively themed costume party. Network with other children’s writers during free time.

If you are interested in learning more about East Bay Camp at Lake Bloomington and the accommodations, please click the following link:

The sleeping rooms have bunk beds, with 4-6 beds per room. For this conference, we are planning to take up only about half of the facility’s maximum space, so few, if any attendees, would have to climb to a top bunk. You do have to bring your own sheet/pillow/sleeping bag etc. (A more comprehensive list will be sent to attendees after registration.) The building where attendees will be staying has dormitory style/community bathrooms. This is a church camp facility, so although it’s not like a hotel, we won’t be roughing it either. Sleeping rooms have conditioning and doors.

Registration opens April 6th, 2018.

Admission price includes pre-retreat critique, meals and accommodations. 

SCBWI Members: $325 Nonmembers: $365


*One registered attendee could win the Becky Mabry tuition scholarship! See the post below for details. To be considered for the Rebecca Mabry scholarship, you must be registered for the conference and your manuscript and scholarship application MUST be received no later than MAY 31st!


Manuscript Critique Guidelines:

All manuscripts: 

             10 Pages total maximum

             12 point font (standard font, such as Times New Roman, Arial)

1-inch margins

Double spaced (for poetry, see below)

Your name, e-mail, title, format (picture book, middle grade, YA, etc.), genre (romance, mystery, biography etc.) must be at the top of the first page. (No title page is necessary and text may start immediately after the identifying information.)

No introduction letter or illustrations, please. These will be removed.   

If your book format is a…     

  • Picture Book: Submit ONE picture book manuscript, 10-pages maximum.
  • Novel: Submit the first 10 pages of the ms (even if this cuts off mid-chapter); your optional synopsis may be single-spaced AND it must be contained within the maximum ten pages.
  • Poetry: this includes rhyming picture books, novels in verse, and stand-alone poetry collections.Poetry submissions should conform to the PB and novel guidelines above; however, they may be single-spaced with a double space between stanzas, per industry standards. Feel free to format your poetry to allow for a standard of approximately 250 words (e.g. putting verses into multiple columns, etc.).Stand-alone collections (i.e. a group of poems intended to be published as one book) must have a page break at the end of each poem. 

Manuscript Mailing Instructions: Information will be provided after registration has started.

 *Becky Mabry Tuition Scholarship

Becky was a skilled writer who came within a hair’s breadth of publishing her middle grade novel. This scholarship will be given to an applicant who feels that their manuscript is within a hair’s breadth of publication and needs an extra something to get it over that last hurdle.

This scholarship will cover full tuition to the Words in the Woods and is open to writers who have not yet published a work of fiction with a mainstream publisher.

The application process is easy! In addition to submitting your manuscript for critique, submit, in 250 words or less, a description of what makes your manuscript stand out from others, and how the Words in the Words retreat will help you take it over that last hurdle.

For your manuscript to be considered for this special “scholarship,” in addition to registering for the retreat and submitting your manuscript via Dropbox, you must also mail or email your application to:

Louann Brown

905 S. First St.

Gillespie, IL 62033


Please mark outside of envelope, subject of email: Go for It!


  • Your scholarship essay of up to 250 words must be double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font.
  • Include a brief summary of your story.
  • Please, follow submission guidelines for the manuscripts. (The same as you used for professional critiques.)                                                                                                                                                                                                

Detailed applications are available in PDF at the bottom of this page. Applications postmarked, or posted, after May 31, 2018 will not be accepted.

Applications will be reviewed and scholarship awarded by the Words in the Words Scholarship Committee on Sunday, Aug. 12 at the retreat.

Click Becky Mabry Scholarship form 2018 of the Becky Mabry scholarship application.


Speaker Biographies

           Liz Kossnar

An Illinois native, Liz Kossnar joined the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers editorial team in November 2013. Prior to Simon & Schuster, Liz graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, focusing on mythology, folklore, and fairy tales; interned at Albert Whitman & Company; taught English abroad in France; completed the Columbia Publishing Course; and was the editorial manager at The Book Report Network for and She has the privilege of working with authors and illustrators such as Jeff Mack, Stuart Gibbs, Whitney Gardner, Jessica Lawson, Michelle Hodkin, and many others. You can follow Liz on Twitter @liz_adventures.

         Ammi-Joan Paquette

Ammi-Joan Paquette is a Senior Agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She represents all forms of children’s and young adult literature, but is most excited by a strong lyrical voice, tight plotting with surprising twists and turns, and stories told with heart and resonance that will stand the test of time.

Joan is also a life-long writer and the author of numerous books for children, most recently the Princess Juniper series, the picture books Ghost in the House, Elf in the House, Bunny Bus, and The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies, and the “non-fiction with a twist” series Two Truths and a Lie, co-written with Laurie Ann Thompson.—Her most recent novel, the magical adventure The Train of Lost Things, appeared in March 2018. When she is not on the phone, answering email, or writing, you will most likely find Joan curled up with a book. Or baking something delicious. Or talking about something delicious she’s baked. Really, after books and food, what else is there worth saying?

For questions regarding the retreat or registration, please email Juli Caveny:



This event is fully booked.