Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SoCal Spring Writers Retreat – Tahquitz Pines


SCBWI SoCal Spring Writers Retreat

Into the Woods

05/04/2018 – 05/06/2018
Friday, 5:00 pm – Sunday, 12:00 noon

Tahquitz Pines
55251 S Circle Dr. – Idyllwild, CA 92549

Sorry, our retreat is sold out!


Attention all YA and mid-grade writers: are you deep into the woods of your novel? So deep, you can no longer see the forest for the trees? Are you pining to mingle with an agent, an editor, and fellow authors?

Now’s your chance to spruce up your manuscript with the guidance of professionals in a scenic mountain retreat. And what better theme for this year than “Into The Woods?” Attendees will participate in four critique-group sessions led by an editor, agent or published author; in addition, you will hear speaker presentations on the craft of writing. But it won’t be all work and no play! You also will have a chance to mingle with the editor, agent, authors, and fellow attendees during meals and a happy hour.

Our faculty include:

Nancy Mercado – Editorial Director at Scholastic Press

Jennifer March Soloway – Associate Agent for Andrea Brown Literary

Lin Oliver – Author & Co-founder of SCBWI

Michael Mahin – Author

This three-day, two-night retreat includes lodging, meals, critique groups, speaker presentations, a sunrise hike, and writing time. Because we want to keep the critique groups cozy, we are restricting the number of attendees to 28. Attendees can also get a professional written critique of up to 10 pages of their manuscript before the conference.

Tahquitz Pines is tucked away in the mile-high pine forests of San Jacinto Mountains. Picture yourself strolling on a nature walk in a protected national forest, surrounded by fresh mountain air and majestic pine trees, just a short ten-minute stroll to the quaint town of Idyllwild with its unique shops and art galleries. There are a multitude of quiet reflection spots throughout camp, the perfect setting for a writer’s retreat.



Nancy Mercado – Editorial Director at Scholastic Press

Nancy Mercado is an editorial director at Scholastic Press where she manages a team of editors and works on realistic chapter books, middle grade and young adult novels, with an occasional picture book, non-fiction project and graphic novel thrown into the mix for good measure. Nancy’s had the good fortune of editing books by Paul Acampora, Cecil Castellucci, Tommy Greenwald, Paul Griffin, Peter Raymundo, Isabel Quintero, Lauren Tarshis, Diana Lopez and many, many others. When not editing, Nancy is exploring the Brooklyn playground scene and spending way too much time on twitter.


Jennifer March Soloway – Associate Agent for Andrea Brown Literary

Jennifer represents authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and young adult stories. She enjoys all genres and categories, such as laugh-out-loud picture books and middle-grade adventures, but her sweet spot is young adult. A suspense junkie, she adores action-packed thrillers and mysteries. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. Jennifer is actively building her client list and welcomes queries to To learn more about Jennifer, follow her on Twitter, @marchsoloway, and find her full wish list at


Lin Oliver – Author & Co-founder of SCBWI

 Lin Oliver is the author of the Who Shrunk Daniel Funk series, and the co-author, with Henry Winkler, of the bestselling Hank Zipzer series. She is a writer and producer of movies, books, and television series for children and families. The co-founder and executive director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and sons. Visit her at


Michael Mahin – Author

Michael Mahin is a children’s author and an aspiring screenwriter. His debut picture book, Muddy: The Story of Muddy Wat

ers, illustrated by Evan Turk, is a New York Times Best Illustrated Book for 2017 and one of NPR’s Best Books of 2017. His forthcoming picture books include Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band (Clarion), illustrated by Don Tate, due out Summer 2018; and When Angels Sing: The Story of Music Legend Carlos Santana (Atheneum), illustrated by Jose Ramirez and due out Fall 2018.

Michael has also recently optioned his first screenplay, while another script of his has just completed filming. He is a frequent lecturer at SCBWI events as well as a contributor to the SCBWI Bulletin, has a Ph.D. in American Literature, and can be found at



SCBWI member price

Non-member price
Single Room $495 $530
Double Room $445 $480
Critique $45 $65


Manuscript Critique –  Fee: $45 Members, $65 Non-members

If you would like a written critique by an editor or agent, please email your first ten pages (double-spaced) and a one-page synopsis (single-spaced) as an attachment.  At the top of your manuscript, type: Critique, genre (MG – fantasy, YA-thriller), your registered name, address, email address and phone number. Manuscript must be double spaced, 12-point font, and have one-inch margins.  Critique is available to registered attendees only. Email manuscript by midnight, March 23rd, 2018 to Heather Buchta at: Type: Retreat Critique into the subject line.

Manuscript Contest –  Free to registered Attendees

If you’d like to participate in our writing contest, please email your first ten pages (double-spaced) and a one-page synopsis (single-spaced) as an attachment. At the top of your manuscript, type: Contest, genre (MG – fantasy, YA-thriller), your registered name, address, email address and phone number. Manuscript must be double spaced, 12-point font, and have one-inch margins.  Email manuscript by midnight, April 6th, 2018 to Heather Buchta at: Type: Retreat Contest into the subject line.

Refund policy: If you need to cancel, a $30 administrative fee will be charged for refunds after March 30th. Email your refund request to the SoCal region: No refunds will be given if you signed up for a critique spot.

While we do not anticipate any issues, the faculty and schedule times are subject to change without notice.

If you have any questions, email Heather at: