Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Picture Book Retreat for Authors & Illustrators

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Date(s) - 09/14/2018 - 09/16/2018
12:00 am

Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center
5602 Hwy 317 N - Temple, TX 76502


Join us for our first Picture Book Writing & Illustrating Retreat!!!

September 14-16

Write, illustrate, critique and learn from Chronicle Books editor Ariel Richardson and Red Fox Literary co-founder and agent Abigail Samoun.

The retreat will include roundtable critiques, workshops, writing and illustrating time, as well as a limited number of manuscript and dummy critiques (to be mailed in a month ahead of time) which include one-on-one meetings with our faculty.

Registration opens Tuesday, June 19th, 7PM.

Cost for SCBWI members, $350. Members must login to this website to get member price. (Non-members $450)

The fee includes meals and board during the meal. See the FAQ below for more details.

Dummy/manuscript critiques will be available on a first-come basis (at time of registration) for $45.


About our Faculty

Ariel Richardson, Editor in Children’s at Chronicle Books

I’m an Editor in Children’s at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. I primarily edit board books, picture books, and formats / novelty, working on titles like Bunny Slopes, This Is How We Do It, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets, and Masha and Her Sisters. I love books with a diverse or global perspective, books that celebrate the power of the imagination, and books that push the boundaries of traditional bookmaking. I’ve been a children’s bookseller for about twelve years, at three different independent book stores on two coasts. I also have a master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston, where I took courses on all genres of children’s literature.



Abigail Samoun, co-founder of Red Fox Literary

ABIGAIL SAMOUN has worked in the children’s book industry for 18 years, first as an in-house editor and then as the co-founder of Red Fox Literary. As an editor, her books received such honors as the CCBC Charlotte Zolotow award, the New York Public Library Ezra Jack Keats award, and the Pura Belpre. In 2011, Abigail made the transition from editing to agenting. She now represents authors and illustrators working in picture books, chapter books, middle-grade and YA. Her clients include Hannah Harrison, Sarah Watts, Matt Faulkner, Stephanie Roth Sisson, and a Deborah Blumenthal. Abigail is the author of the lift-the-flap book What’s In Your Purse? (Chronicle Books, 2014) and the Little Traveler board book series published by Sterling.

Abigail likes to organize her library according to which authors would get along well together (the Brontes next to George Elliot, Lois Lowry next to Margaret Atwood). She lives in Sonoma, California with her entomologist husband, two dogs, a gaggle of chickens, and two curious little boys. Visit


Schedule & Workshop

Workshop 1: From the Page-turn to the Flap: The Children’s Book as Object

Ariel Richardson, Chronicle Books children’s Editor

Thinking about the book as an object will not only help your book stand out in the market, but will also ensure a more engaging reading experience. What will the physical book feel like? How will it be read? With a little insight in to how we think about material and book innovation here at Chronicle Books—from picture books like Open This Little BookFlora and the Flamingo, and Bunny Slopes to board book successes like the You Are My Baby series and Tiny Town and Tiny Farm—you’ll also engage in a hands-on activity: making your own book mock-up!

Along the way Ariel will also share the most common feedback she gives when she critiques manuscripts at SCBWI conferences—the importance of the title for conveying hook, word count, illustration notes, leaving room for illustrations to do some storytelling, storybooks vs picture books, mentor texts, the importance of backmatter, and more. She’ll provide concrete examples to learn from.

Workshop 2: Agent-Led Session

Details for Abigail’s workshop coming soon!


Retreat Schedule

Friday, September 14, 2018

10:00-10:30 Registration

10:30-11:00 Welcome announcements

11:00-1:00 Ariel Richardson, Workshop

1:00-2:00 Lunch

2:00-3:00 Break/Writing Time

3:00-4:40 Roundtable 1

4:40-6:00 Break/Writing Time

6:00-7:00 Dinner

Saturday, September 15, 2018

8:00-9:00 Breakfast

9:00-11:00 Abigail Samoun, Workshop

11:15-1:00 Roundtable 2

1:00-2:00 Lunch

2:00-3:00 Break/Writing Time

3:00-4:40 Roundtable 3

4:40-6:00 Break/Writing Time

6:00-7:00 Dinner

Sunday, September 16, 2018

8:00-9:00 Breakfast

9:00-10:40 Roundtable 4

11:00-12:00 Q&A Session with Ariel and agent

12:00-12:30 Farewell Announcements



A limited number of critiques will be provided by Ariel and Abigail.

If you would like a critique, please register early as they will sell out quickly.

See manuscript and dummy book specs below.

**DATE CHANGE: August 21** will be the deadline for sending in manuscripts and/or dummy books.

We recommend Word docs for manuscripts. (If you’re using Apple’s Pages you can export as a Word document.)
Please submit your manuscripts double spaced.
Please include your last name in your file name. EX: my-awesome-book-title_JENNINGS.docx
Please include your name and contact email in your manuscript.

Please submit your dummy electronically via .pdf format.
Please include your last name in your file name. EX: my-awesome-book-title_JENNINGS.pdf
You can choose the format you want to present your book in: single page or page spreads.
Dummies are traditionally made up of black and white sketches with the book’s text and 3-4 full color pieces. HOWEVER, for this retreat all pages can be sketches.
Please include your name and contact email in your dummy.
Please submit a manuscript of your dummy as well. (See those details above.)

Please email your files—or (for larger files) a Dropbox or Google Drive (etc) link—to Christopher at

You’ll have a 10-minute face-to-face meeting with the faculty member you signed up for during the retreat.



Q: Do I have to participate in the Roundtables? I’d prefer to not read my work aloud in front of others.
A: Yes, participation in the roundtables is a required part of the retreat. The read-aloud selection will be about 3 minutes of reading time which will be about 2 full pages.

Q: When the critiques are all sold out. Can more be added?
A: Once the critiques are sold out, no more may be added.

Q: What type of food will be served? What about those with dietary considerations?
A: Meals during the retreat will be provided, and there will be a variety of options. There will be gluten-free options.
If you have special dietary needs, please email Austin SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator, Christopher Jennings at after you register to let us know. We will do our best but cannot promise to accommodate every dietary need.
Meals provided will be Friday lunch and dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Sunday breakfast.
You will be responsible for bringing your own snacks.

Q: What type of beverages will be provided?
A: The Austin SCBWI chapter will bring wine and soda to share during Friday dinner, but please feel free to also BYOB.
Coffee during the day will be provided.

Q: How early can I arrive on Friday?
A: Room check-in will not be available until Friday afternoon, so there is no reason to arrive before the 10 am registration time.

Q: I am only able to stay for one evening. Can I get a discount?
A: This retreat has very limited available spaces, so attendance is reserved for those who can participate in the full retreat.

Q: What are the sleeping arrangements? Will I have my own room? Can I request a roommate?
A: Each Cedarbrake Retreat Center room has two twin beds and a private bathroom. Attendees will share a room. There is one room that has four twin beds.
You may request a roommate, and while we cannot guarantee that we’ll be able to accomodate all requests, we will do our best.
For roommate requests, BOTH attendees must email Austin SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator, Christopher Jennings at
For special sleep considerations (such as snoring, light sleeper), please also email Christopher Jennings after you register to let him know. We will do our best to accommodate.

Q: Will I be able to submit my work to Ariel or the agent after the retreat?
A: Yes. Specific details will be give to attendees at the retreat.

Q: I’m not religious or I’m not Catholic, but I notice the retreat is at a Catholic retreat center. Will there be anything religious about the retreat?
A: No. The Catholic center is the location, so there may be religous symbols around, but there is nothing religious about the retreat. The space is a beautiful location with lots of walking paths and areas for quiet thought.

Have a question? Please email Austin Illustrator Coordinator, Christopher Jennings, at to ask.