Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

CenCal Writers’ Retreat 2016

Date(s) - 01/15/2016 - 01/17/2016
12:00 am

La Casa de Maria
800 El Bosque Road - Santa Barbara, CA 93108

SCBWI CenCal Writers Retreat

"Getting (And Keeping) Your Foot in the Door"

January 15-17, 2016

We are now sold out but a waitlist is available.


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La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center
800 El Bosque Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Whether you are just stepping into a career in children's books or are well on your way, you won't want to miss the CenCal Writers Retreat 2016. With the guidance of both literary agent Abigail Samoun of Red Fox Literary and editor Amy Cloud of Aladdin, learn what steps to take to advance both your writing and career. Let the restorative surroundings inspire and energize you as you perfect your prose. La Casa de Maria Retreat Center is a beloved 26 acre sanctuary nestled between mountain and sea. The New York Times proclaimed it "pure splendor." It offers beautiful grounds with giant oaks, a swimming pool, organic gardens, a walking labrinth, and comfortable accomodations with en suite baths.

The retreat is open to both writers and illustrators working in all genres and begins Friday afternoon at 4 pm and runs until Sunday 12 noon. There will be presentations on craft and manuscript critiques by our faculty, time for independent writing, a first pages session, group critiques, and more. Gather in the evening to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.




We are now sold out but  a waitlist is available.

Double Room: $510      Single Room: $670
Manuscript Critique: $45
(All meals are included)



Manuscript Critiques – There is a limited number of manuscript critiques available. If you are accepted, you will submit the following:

  • Picture Book – Send whole, double-spaced manuscript, 12-point type. No book dummies.
  • Chapter Books adn Middle Grade – Send up to 10 double-spaced pages, 12-point type, plus a 1-page single-spaced synopsis.
  • Young Adult – Send up to 10 double-spaced pages, 12-point type, plus a 1-page single-spaced synopsis.

Fill out the Manuscript Submission Form and attach it to the front of your entry. Critique entries must be postmarked by November 14, 2015 or they will not be eligible for consideration. Do not send via registered mail or any method that requires a signature. Manuscript critiques will be handed out at the begiining of the retreat. If you have questions about critiques please contact Rebecca at

Mail all critique submissions to:
Rebecca Langston-George
Assistant Regional Advisor SCBWI Cen-Cal
5711 Pine Trail Drive
Bakersfield, CA  93313


First Pages Session – To particpate in the First Pages session, be sure to bring the first page of a current work in progress.

Faculty Group Critiques – Saturday afternoon will be broken into two sessions. You will be assigned to one of the sessions for a group critique with either Amy or Abi, while the other session will be used for independent time.

Optional Whole Works Critique Group – If you have a completed MG or YA manuscript, you will also have the option to sign up before the retreat for a Whole Works Critique Group. Members of the each group will email their entire manuscript along with a one page synopsis to the other members by November 14, 2015. You will read and make comments on the other members' work and then meet as a group on Saturday afternoon during one of the free sessions for a critique. Group assignments and any further instructions will be sent prior to November 14. Any questions, please contact Mary Ann at


Abigail SamounABIGAIL SAMOUN founded Red Fox Literary with Karen Grencik in 2011. The agency represents many award-wining authors and illustrators including Stephanie Roth Sisson (Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos), Mary Ann Fraser (No Yeti Yet, Ogg and Bob, IQ the Mouse), Elisa Kleven (The Lion and the Little Red Bird), Sarah Watts (How Hippo Says Hello, The Book Scavenger), Dan Krall (Naughty Mabel). Before becoming an agent, Abigail was an in-house children’s book editor for over ten years, working on a wide range of projects, from board books to young adult novels. Her books received such honors as the CCBC Charlotte Zolotow award, the New York Public Library Ezra Jack Keats award, and the Pura Belpre. She is the author of three children’s books, What’s In Your Purse? (Chronicle Books, 2014) and the Little Traveler series, published by Sterling Publishing. Some of her favorite books from childhood are The Secret Garden, Ozma of Oz, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and the Anastasia books by Lois Lowry. For more about Abigail and Red Fox Literary, visit



AMY CLOUD 2AMY CLOUD is an editor at Aladdin Books at Simon & Schuster, where she has edited everything from picture books to nonfiction, though her heart is in realistic middle-grade and tween novels and humorous chapter books. She’s on the lookout for engaging, relatable characters—especially boy protagonists; quirky voices; unique concepts; and gut-busting humor. At Aladdin she’s lucky enough to work with talent such as Bruce Coville, Debbie Dadey, Alison Cherry, and Jen Malone and Gail Nall. Prior to joining Simon & Schuster, Amy was an editor at Callaway Arts & Entertainment, where she edited books by best-selling authors such as David Kirk, Madonna, and Jill Abramson