Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 Tahquitz Writers Retreat

Date(s) - 04/07/2022 - 04/10/2022
3:00 pm - 11:00 am

Tahquitz Pines in Idyllwild, California
55251 South Circle Dr. - Idyllwild, CA 92549


Photos from our Tahquitz Writers Retreat! We hiked, we critiqued, we were inspired by best-selling author Stacia Deutsch. We mingled with editors Sara Schonfeld and Hannah Hill, as well as agents Ameerah Holliday and Brent Taylor.

Syd Blue interviews Sara Schonfeld and Brent Taylor about what they are looking for, trends, and the beauty of words. Click to see video.


When: April 7-10  (Thursday evening to Sun noon)

Where: Tahquitz Pines Conference Center in Idyllwild

Who: Our faculty include two agents, two editors and a best-selling author. Please click on their photo to jump to their bios.




Welcome to our “home.”  Home is your safe space, the place where you can relax on a sofa, hug a couch pillow, and sip a hot chocolate. Home is where you sleep, where you rest and reset, and where you get ready every morning to tackle the world. There are endless possibilities once you head out the front door. But home is where you can feel comfortable enough to be you. When all defenses are down, real work can happen. May you feel the freedom to bring your manuscript to the table in the comfort of a solid family who only wants the best for your writing career.

Our retreat features the following:


Sara Schonfeld

Associate Editor –  Katherine Tegen Books,

Imprint of HarperCollins

Sara Schonfeld joined Katherine Tegen Books in 2019 after starting her publishing career at Penguin Random House. She edits picture books, middle grade, and teen fiction including work from Tina Athaide, Alice Walker, Kate Fussner, Ally Malinenko, Cristina Fernandez, and Katharyn Blair. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and lives in New York, NY, where she edits and writes books for children including Birthday on Mars!. Connect on Twitter @SaraSchon and at

What She’s Looking For:

Sara Schonfeld’s favorite stories are cinematic and feature strong relationships and nerdy interests from perspectives that are often marginalized. In teen, she’s looking for pacy mysteries, gothic horror, speculative fiction, and driving romcoms. For middle grade, she loves spooky stories, adventures, and misadventures—all with heart and optimism. And in the picture book category, she hopes to see more books that gently introduce social-emotional learning, non-Christmas holiday books, and humorous stories with heart. Overall, her wishlist is high-concept stories that blend exciting A-plots and emotional B-plots and feature writing that is both commercial and literary.

Hannah Hill

Editor – Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books

Hannah Hill is an editor at Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, where she edits fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Previously, she was an editor at Disney Hyperion, where she worked with authors like Alexandra Bracken, Melissa de la Cruz, and Elizabeth Wein. Since joining Random House in March 2020, her list has grown to include the #1 New York Times bestseller Black Boy Joy by Kwame Mbalia, as well as forthcoming novels by Julie Buxbaum, Gina Chen, Laura Sebastian, Yoon Ha Lee, and more. Hannah is a graduate of Columbia University, and she lives in rural Illinois with her husband and their two pets, a golden retriever named Stella and a perpetually angry cat named Buffy. You can find her on Twitter @hannahhill225.

What She’s Looking For:

Hannah loves high concept MG and YA stories with an accessible voice, big hook, and an immersive setting. Her tastes tend to land on opposite ends of the spectrum—joyful, romantic, and heartfelt or dark, twisty, and moody. She loves character-driven genre fiction and unique genre blends. She’s also a sucker for magic, morally grey characters, puzzle mysteries, talented kids in high pressure environments, monsters, mythology/folklore/fairy tales, gothic tales, thorny friendships and family relationships (especially through a lens of thriller/horror), fun romance tropes, and gasp-worthy plot twists.


Ameerah Holliday

Junior Agent – Serendipity Literary Agency

Ameerah Holliday is a dancer and self-proclaimed poetess from San Diego, California. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from San Diego State University. Holliday is a former editorial assistant intern for Poetry International and currently serves as editorial director for the San Diego Poetry Annual and editor for Kids! San Diego Poetry Annual.

What She’s Looking For:

Ameerah is primarily interested in mid-grade and young adult fiction, fantasy/paranormal (bonus points for witchcraft), romance, literary fiction and novels in verse. She looks for writing that explores diverse experiences with elements of intersectionality. She’s drawn to stories that take you on a journey through growth and she loves a good friendship story. For non-fiction she’s interested in writing derived from performing arts or niche passion projects, minority entrepreneurs, astrology and discussions of mental health in minority communities.


Brent Taylor

Senior Literary Agent – TriadaUS

Brent Taylor is a senior literary agent and subsidiary rights manager at Triada US.  Triada US was founded in 2004 by Dr. Uwe Stender. Since then, the agency has built a list of high quality fiction and non-fiction for readers of all ages.

After years of interning in trade book publishing, he joined Triada US in 2014 to assist Uwe Stender while building his own list of fiction and non-fiction for readers aged 0-18. He was promoted to associate agent in November 2015, to agent in April 2017, and to senior agent in October 2020. In 2019, he was named a PW Star Watch Honoree. He’s incredibly proud of his list—my clients’ books have won major awards, collected starred reviews, and hit the bestseller lists. In addition to his role as an agent, he manages the agency’s subsidiary rights, licensing audiobook and foreign rights to their titles around the world and attending international rights fairs.

What He’s Looking For:

He describes his reading tastes as upmarket: He’s passionate about books for young readers that are extremely well-written, robust with emotion, and appeal to a wide, commercial audience.

Stacia Deutsch 

Bestselling Author

Stacia Deutsch is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 300 children’s books. Her career started with the original, award winning, Blast to the Past series about four kids who time travel and meet famous people in history which was a result of her obsession with time travel stories! Now, she writes mostly chapter books and mid-grade novels for licensed characters. Stacia loves playing with known characters in worlds that already exist. Stacia’s first movie novelization was Batman: The Dark Knight and since then she has written many more. Most recently, she wrote the movie novel for Boss Baby 2. Other recent books include the Friendship Code for Girls Who Code/Penguin, seven novels for Spirit: Riding Free (Little Brown/Dreamworks), and a few LEGO stories. She’s lucky to be one of many Carolyn Keenes, having written several Nancy Drew, plus some Boxcar Children mysteries written as Gertrude Chandler Warner. Currently, she is launching the Boxcar spin-off called The Jessie Files with four titles under her own name. Stacia lives on a Temecula ranch with 4 horses, 3 dogs, and a cat that makes her sneeze.


Written Critiques:

Prior to the retreat, you have the option to sign up for a paid written critique of your work. We will return the written critique to you one week prior to the retreat so you can revise before we meet in person. If you register for a written critique, please follow these instructions:

Email: Email ten (10) pages of your manuscript and a one-page synopsis as one attachment (doc or docx) to

Subject line: Critique/Agent or Editor’s last name/Your full name; for example: Critique/Taylor/Bev Plass

Deadline: midnight 2/23/2022

Formatting: Your manuscript must be saved as a Word document, double-spaced, Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and must have a header with your name and page numbers. The synopsis may be single-spaced, one-page, one-inch margins. Your synopsis may be the eleventh page, but please do not send more than ten pages of your manuscript.

Free 1:1 15-minute Coaching session

Are you stuck on an aspect of your story? Need to deepen your character? Make your plot more compelling? Create a synopsis or pitch that’s irresistible? Included in your registration fee is one free 15-minute 1:1 coaching session with one of our faculty. You will be able to choose which faculty member you’d like to meet with. Bring two copies of what you plan to discuss to the session.


You may enter our FREE contest by writing to this prompt, exploring your ability to write using different voices/personalities responding to the same issue. Write three scenarios where three different characters react to this situation–one hour after leaving a restroom, they look down and notice a train of toilet paper stuck to their heel – five squares to be exact. You can use characters from your novel or create new ones that are any age that suits MG or YA novels. Limit is 250 words per character, one submission per attendee.

Email: Email your contest submission as an attachment (doc or docx) to

Subject line: Contest Submission/Your full name; for example: Contest Submission/Bev Plass

Deadline: midnight 3/1/2022

Formatting: Your manuscript must be saved as a Word document, double-spaced, Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and must have a header with page numbers. Do not put your name on the manuscript! We don’t want to bias the judges.

Covid Safety

To help everyone feel safe and healthy, to minimize the risk of Covid-19, we are following the regulations and guidelines established by SCBWI, Tahquitz Conference Center,  federal and local health officials. Tahquitz staff are committed to providing deep cleaning, staff screenings, staff PPE, and sanitizer to attendees. If the Covid safety regulations change, we will keep you posted.

By registering for this event, you agree to the following:

  1. You must show proof of vaccination OR proof of a negative PCR test taken no earlier than three days before the event.
  2. You or your family members must not have been sick for 10 days prior to the retreat.
  3. You must wear a mask at all indoor activities except for eating and sleeping, and you must use a new mask each day.
  4. You must agree to social distancing whenever possible.
  5. Those who exhibit any symptoms will be sent home.

Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel for any reason, including being uncomfortable with Covid rates in the area, you may do so by March 31, midnight, for a full refund.  If you or anyone in your household comes down with Covid, you may cancel up to April 7, 8:00 am for a full refund. If you need to cancel, please contact Bev Plass.



This event is fully booked.