Revision Retreat

for Writers:

From Monster Mash

to Model Manuscript


October  25-27, 2013

Transformations Spirituality Center

Kalamazoo, MI

Is it time to transform your manuscript from ghoulish to great?
Do you need:
* professional strategies for revision?
* dedicated time to write?
* attentive feedback on your picture book or novel?
Attend this intensive Revision Retreat designed to move your work in progress (WIP) toward publication.
Participants choose either the Picture Book Revision Track or the Novel Revision Track. Both include active workshops devoted to craft and specific techniques for revision.
In addition to mandatory small group peer critiques, take advantage of a unique two-step feedback opportunity with faculty: 
1) a written critique of your manuscript provided on Friday, then 
2) a face to face consult on Sunday to discuss your revision strategy 
Important Notes:   
* The Revision Retreat is capped at 40 participants.
* Attendees must have a finished WIP at the time of registration. 
* There will be no beginning writer sessions.
* Participants agree to attend the entire Retreat beginning at 1:30PM on Friday and ending at 3:30PM on Sunday. 
* Attendees agree to participate in peer group critiques.
* There is no offsite lodging. The majority of rooms are double although a limited number of single rooms will be available.  
* Scroll down for information on the Carol Fenner Scholarship and 2014 Mentorship Program for Fiction Picture Books             

Audrey Vernick

[picture book revision track]

  audrey vernick   
Audrey Vernick writes and endlessly revises fiction and nonfiction picture books, including Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?; Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team; and Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-Up Story of True Friendship. Her books have been honored by/included on best-of-year lists from The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Booklist, Bank Street College, IRA/CBC Children's Choice, IRA Teachers' Choices, ALA Notable Children's List, Amelia Bloomer List, CCBC Choices, and named Blue Ribbon Books by the Bulletin. A two-time recipient of the NJ Arts Council's fiction fellowship, Audrey lives near the ocean with her husband, son, daughter and two dogs. (Although she'll be visiting Tiger territory during postseason, she feels she needs to mention that she is a Yankee fan.) Please visit  
Deborah Halverson

[novel revision track]


Deborah Halverson spent a decade editing books for Harcourt Children's Books before becoming the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, the two teen novels Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth (Delacorte/Random House), the picture book Letters to Santa, three books in the "Remix" series for struggling readers, and the forthcoming Writing the New Adult Novel: How to Write and Sell "New Adult" Fiction (Writer's Digest Books, Fall 2014). Deborah has been working with authors-bestsellers, veterans, debut, and aspiring-for almost twenty years. Deborah is now a freelance editor, author, writing instructor, and the founder of the popular writers' advice site She speaks extensively at workshops and conferences for writers and edits adult fiction and nonfiction while specializing in teen fiction and picture books.For more about Deborah, visit   




Picture Book Revision by Audrey Vernick:


Supernatural Revision: Taking Picture Book Manuscripts From Scary Draft to The Great Beyond


Sometimes we know the promise of potential is locked in a manuscript, but as writers, we're unable to help it break free. Over this intensive weekend we will add tools to our revision tool-belts that can help us push our manuscripts to the next level.


We'll figure out how to weigh a manuscript for potential, look at our works in progress through various lenses, find and focus on the essential truth of our manuscripts, and accept that revision sometimes means complete rewriting; all with an eye on the ever-important word count.



Novel Revision by Deborah Halverson:
Channeling the Teen Sensibility: Writing Techniques and Revision Strategies for Crafting a Youthful Sensibility for Your MG/YA Fiction
This workshop teaches techniques for creating a narrative sensibility that reflects the way teens and tweens think, and arms you with strategies for analyzing and revising your own manuscript's sensibility.
Setting, the Reviser's Secret Weapon
With today's heavy emphasis on plot and characterization, too many aspiring teen/tween novelists are ignoring setting-and sacrificing storytelling depth as a result. Enrich your novel in ways you never expected by rediscovering the benefits of strong settings and learning successful ways to mine the setting you've already chosen.
Both workshops include lecture with examples, group revision exercises, and individual revision exercises.

Feedback and Critiques


Feedback is crucial to improving our craft as writers. This retreat offers two feedback opportunities: Faculty Feedback and mandatory Peer Group Critiques.


Faculty Feedback: attendees may choose a Written Critique only or a Written Critique Plus Face to Face Consultation.


Written Critiques: those attendees interested in a written critique will submit one picture book manuscript or the first ten pages of a novel plus one page synopsis or query letter. Either Deborah Halverson (for novels) or Audrey Vernick (for picture books) will prepare a written critique of the submission which will be provided to attendees at check in on Friday. Fee: $40


Face to Face Consultation: on Sunday, attendees may choose to have a ten minute face to face consult with their track faculty to discuss their revision strategy for the submission. Fee: $55 (includes Written Critique and Consultation)


Peer Critiques: required for all attendees and included in registration fee 


Attendees will submit one picture book manuscript or the first ten pages of a novel, plus a one page synopsis or query letter. Retreat organizers will place attendees in a peer critique group for the Retreat.  


Attendees must be willing and able to critique three peer manuscripts prior to the Retreat and be prepared to discuss their critiques at the Retreat. A critique sheet will be provided.

Click here for Registration Form. Download, print, and mail as instructed on the form. Please note that all deadlines for registration and manuscript submission are provided below.
General Information
Includes peaceful lodging (twin bed/s) for two nights, all meals and snacks, full access to beautiful Transformations Spirituality Center grounds, and mandatory peer group critiques.
Early Bird Registration SCBWI Members Only: July 15-July 31
with double room: $275
with single room: $310
A limited number of single rooms are available. First come, first served.
Regular Registration SCBWI Members: August 1-August 15
with double room: $300
with single room: $335
Regular Registration Non SCBWI Members: August 1-August 15
with double room: $325
with single room: $360
Please note: the registration form will allow for roommate requests for double rooms. If none is requested, a really nice roommate will be assigned by Retreat organizers.
Faculty Critiques:
Written critique only: $40
Written critique + Face to Face consultation: $55 
Carol Fenner Scholarship
The Carol Fenner Scholarship provides an opportunity for SCBWI members to attend the 2013 Revision Retreat. The eligibility requirements are: 
* Applicant is an SCBWI member (membership must be current)
* Applicant must be unpublished in children's literature
* Applicant will submit an essay answering the following question: "What would attending the conference do for your writing career?" (500 words or less)
Although scholarships are not based on financial need, AdCom kindly asks applicants to keep in mind those members who could not otherwise attend without this opportunity. Thank you.

Two winners will be selected and each will be awarded a partial registration fee waiver. Winners of scholarships will not be announced publicly.

Email the essay, and your contact information, including email address, to: Michigan co-RA, Carrie Pearson at carrieapear@aol.comApplications must be received by July 5th.
Manuscript Submission Information
Written Faculty Critiques:
Snail mail one copy of your full picture book manuscript or first 10 pages of your novel plus a one page synopsis or query letter to: Pat Trattles at 6446 Kingsway Court, Holland, MI  49423. Include the words "Written Faculty Critique" on the outside of the envelope. 
* On first page, include name, title and type (PB, MG, YA with genre if appropriate historical, romance, dystopian, nonfiction, etc.)
* If paragraph is broken at the bottom of page 10, you may continue just that paragraph onto the next page
* 1 inch margins
* 12 point, Times Roman font
* Double spaced
* Last name and page number should appear on each page
Peer Critiques:
Email one copy by attachment of your full picture book manuscript or first 10 pages of your novel plus one page synopsis or query letter to: Charlie Barshaw at Include the words "Peer Critique" on the email subject line. 
* On first page, include name, title and type (PB, MG, YA with genre if appropriate historical, romance, dystopian, nonfiction, etc.)
* If paragraph is broken at the bottom of page 10, you may continue just that paragraph onto the next page
* 1 inch margins
* 12 point, Times Roman font
* Double spaced
* Last name and page number should appear on each page
Please note: peer critique groups will be formed by Retreat organizers.
Book Sales
PAL member authors may sell up to three titles at the Retreat Bookstore through a special arrangement with Kazoo Books. More information is provided on the registration form. Faculty books will also be available for purchase. 
Schedule of Events
(subject to change a bit)



1:30PM-2:30PM  Registration

2:30PM-3:00PM  Welcome

3:00PM-5:00PM  Peer Critiques

5:15PM-6:00PM  Dinner

6:15PM-7:00PM  Keynote by Deborah Halverson--The State of the Children's Book Market

An up-to-the-minute analysis of the market for picture books, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction, based on interviews with editors, agents, and sales and marketing experts. 


7:15PM to ?  Social Time: Create your WIP Inspiration Board followed by a "Whine and Cheese" party



6:15AM-7:00AM  Optional run/walk

7:30AM-8:00AM   Breakfast

8:15AM-10:15AM  Track Workshops

                           Novel: Channeling the Teen Sensibility

                           Picture Book: Supernatural Revision

10:15AM-12:00PM  Free Write

10:15AM-1:00PM  Book Store Open

12:15PM-1:00PM  Lunch

1:15PM-3:15PM Track Workshops

                        Novel: Setting: The Reviser's Secret Weapon

                        Picture Book: Supernatural Revision

3:15PM-4:30PM  Free Write

4:30PM-5:15PM  Peer Critiques

5:15PM-6:00PM  Dinner

6:15-7:00 Keynote by Audrey Vernick--How and When to Listen

Learning when to listen--to your own inner voice and to those who read your work--can save you a lot of writer heartache, especially in the revision and submission stages. I'll share some hard-earned and hard-learned truths about when to listen and when to plug your ears and whistle. 

7:15PM-8:15PM  Open Mic (participation optional)

Participants read from their WIP and attendees provide a written comment  

8:30PM- ?  Social Time: Book Swap and Book Signing followed by the "Dress Up Your Brain" Your-Hat-Is-Your-Costume Party



6:15AM-7:00AM   Optional run/walk

7:30AM-8:00AM   Breakfast

8:00AM-12:00PM  Free Write

                          Face to Face Consults

12:00PM-12:45PM  Lunch

1:00PM-1:50PM  Free Write

                         Face to Face Consults

2:00PM-3:00PM Track Workshop Conclusions

    Novel: Pitch Session

    Picture Book: Revision Problem Busters 

3:00PM-3:30 Closing

                  Mentorship Award Announcement

                  Door prizes

Lodging and Travel Information



Transformations Spirituality Center

3427 Gull Road

Nazareth, MI 49074

phone: 269.381.6290, Ext 310


Please note: registration includes lodging. There is no need for Revision Retreat attendees to secure rooms on their own. The majority of rooms are doubles however, a limited number of single rooms are available. Register for the Retreat early if you require a single room.


The Transformations Spirituality Center is an alcohol and smoke-free facility and grounds. No alcohol is allowed on premises. Please adhere to this request.  


Situated on 57 acres, The Transformations Spirituality Center features beautiful walking paths through woods and marshland, free close-to-entry parking, quiet rooms for reading, writing, or meditating, and an art gallery -- a perfect combination of extras for inspiring creativity.  


Maps and Driving Directions 

Checklist To Bring


* Work/s In Progress (WIP)
* Writing devices
* Small trinkets/photos, old magazines, etc., for your WIP Inspiration Board
* Manuscript for Open Mic
* Book/s on the craft of writing for Book Swap if you have one to offer
* Sweater for chilly conference rooms
* Outdoor shoes for walking the labyrinth or participating in group walk/run on Saturday and Sunday mornings
2014 Mentorship Program for Fiction Picture Books 
Boni Ashburn
Boni Ashburn
SCBWI-MI proudly announces the 2014 Mentorship Program for Fiction Picture Books. This is a competition and the Grand Prize is a 12 month mentorship with acclaimed Michigan writer, Boni Ashburn, author of six fiction picture books including, Hush, Little Dragon, Over at the Castle, I Had a Favorite Dress, Builder Goose: It's Construction Rhyme Time, and forthcoming The Fort That Jack Built. The competition is open to a pre-published Michigan residentFor more details about the mentorship program and the application form, click here
Please note: the submission deadline is August 5, 2013.   


Click the links below


General information and registration: Pat Trattles


Critiques or faculty feedback: Charlie Barshaw


Retreat Bookstore: Carrie Pearson


Friday and Saturday night socials, including Open Mic, Book Swap, and general frivolity: Charlie Barshaw


Mentorship Award: Catherine Bieberich


Carol Fenner Scholarship: Carrie Pearson