Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Event: 2020 Big Thaw Retreat

Come join us for a weekend of diving deep.
Bring your work-in-progress
—whether it’s in the idea stage
or your 5th+ revision—
and leave more prepares and polishing

for publication!

For only $175, you get:

  • Four workshops with Literary Agent, Jennifer March Soloway, of Andrea Brown Literary Agency
  • Workshops and Group Critiques led by published authors
  • Lodging at the remote and picturesque Susitna River Lodging in Talkeetna, AK
  • One professional manuscript or art review

Also available:

  • Manuscript Reviews with Jennifer Soloway (only 5 spots available, so sign up soon!) One-on-one, 15-minute in-person reviews of the first 10 pages of a novel or picture book text or portfolio/art. (see below for specifics and how to submit work-deadline March 15).
  • Story Doctor with Jennifer Soloway (only 7 spots available, so sign up soon!) 15-minutes to discuss your idea, story or dummy book with Jennifer Soloway! You could pitch your work, share a query letter, talk about an issue you’re having with craft, discuss a sticking point in a particular story, go over your submission process to date, or discuss how to find an agent. To make the session even more useful, come with questions or notes on the content you wish to discuss. Come ready to talk!
  • Sunday—Illustrators Intensive “Showcase your work”
    Only $30 additional or available as a “standalone” event. 

The workshops:

  • Friday afternoonWhat’s Your Story? Kinesthetic and crafty, get to know your story and yourself.
  • Friday evening—Standing Out in a Sea of Slush, Part 1: Tips for crafting a dynamite pitch, with Literary Agent, Jennifer Soloway
  • Saturday morning—Standing Out in a Sea of Slush, Part 2: Opening pages that deliver the pitch’s promise, with Literary Agent, Jennifer Soloway
  • Saturday Afternoon—Three Stages of Revision and Tips to Sharpen Prose, with Literary Agent, Jennifer Soloway
  • Saturday AfternoonTwo optional critique groups led by published authors
  • Sunday Morning—First Pages! Putting it all together: a chance to share and get live feedback from a pro, with Literary Agent, Jennifer Soloway
  • Sunday Late Morning—Illustrator Intensive: Showcase your work”

For more information and to register, please click here. 

Our special Faculty Guest is JENNIFER MARCH SOLOWAY Associate Agent Andrea Brown Literary Agency. 

Jennifer represents authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and YA stories, and is actively building her list. Although she specializes in children’s literature, she also represents adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime and psychological suspense projects.

For picture books, she is drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but she always appreciates a strong dose of humor and some kind of surprise at the end. When it comes to middle grade, she likes all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary, and fantasy.

YA is Jennifer’s sweet spot. She is a suspense junkie. She adores action-packed thrillers full of unexpected twists. Throw in a dash of romance and she’s hooked! She’s a huge fan of psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or recovery. In such stories, she is particularly drawn to a close, confiding first-person narrative. Regardless of genre, she is actively seeking fresh new voices and perspectives underrepresented in literature.

That’s her wish list, but the truth is an author might have something she has never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for her. She is open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise her!

Prior to joining ABLA, Jennifer worked in marketing and public relations in a variety of industries, including financial services, health care, and toys. She has an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College and was a fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto in 2012. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two sons, and an English bulldog.

Jennifer regularly presents at writing conferences all over the country, including the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Atlanta Writers Conference, and regional SCBWI conferences.

For her latest conference schedule, craft tips and more, follow Jennifer on Twitter (@marchsoloway).

To keep the registration cost low, most meals will be potluck style and it will be delicious! All rooms have a fridge, microwaves and some have an oven.

Refund policy: please be advised, that once payment has been made, that there are no refunds. (At this price, we can’t afford it.) We also cannot credit the money for another event. Thank you for understanding. 

Retreat Schedule:

FRIDAY 5/01/19

2:00 PM Check-in opens

3:00—5:00 PM What’s Your Story? Kinesthetic and crafty, get to know your story and yourself, workshop.

5:15 – 6:00 PM Kind, Clear, and Qualitative Critiques: Prepping for the Weekend

6:15 – 6:30 PM Formal Welcome & Announcements

6:30 — 7:30 PM  Standing Out in a Sea of Slush, Part 1: Tips for crafting a dynamite pitch

7:30 — 8:30 PM Dinner

8:30 PM   Open Mic

SATURDAY 5/02/19

8:00—8:45 AM  Breakfast

9:00 – 10:00 AM  Standing Out in a Sea of Slush, Part 2: Opening pages that deliver the pitch’s promise

10:15 – 12:15 PM  Optional critique group session 1 guided by published author or free time

12:30 — 2:30 PM   Lunch  and free time

2:30 – 3:30 PM The Three Stages of Revision and Tips to Sharpen Prose

4:00 – 6:00 PM  Optional critique group session 2 guided by published author or free time

6:30 PM  Dinner on your own, option to join a group going into town

8:30 PM  Open mic, desserts and drinks, Fun, Fun and More Fun!

SUNDAY 5/13/18

8:00—8:45 AM  Breakfast

9:00 — 10:00 AM First Pages Feedback 

11:00 AM  Check out by this time. QnA with Stephen Barr & TBA

11:00 AM — 2 PM Optional (Additional registration fee)  Illustrators Intensive (with short break for lunch)