Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

VIRTUAL 2020 Pocono Mountain Retreat: TOGETHER WE CAN

Date(s) - 04/18/2020
9:00 am - 3:30 pm




April 18, 2020

9:00 am – 3:30pm with LIVE keynotes, peer-to-peer roundtables, and faculty Q & As

PLUS: 30-day access to 18 pre-recorded lectures and hands-on sessions in our Thinkific virtual classroom.

→Gather in our virtual community.

→Have access to ALL breakout session in our virtual classroom

→Have your work peer and professionally critiqued

→Stay connected with writers and illustrators in EPA

Our 2020 faculty includes Erin Entrada Kelly, Floyd Cooper, agents Wendi Gu and Eric Smith, editor Kathleen Merz, editor Alex Borbolla, and senior designer Erica De Chavez.
Eastern PA Member Presenters: Virginia Law Manning, Eric Bell,
Rose Cappelli, Eric Taylor, and Erik Ammon


 *Faculty bios here.

Our theme this year is TOGETHER WE CAN…

Together we can learn.

Together we can grow.

Together we can create.

Let’s come together virtually for our 28th annual Pocono Mountain Retreat.

Please read on for our tentative schedule,

registration details,

scholarship details, and more!

Tentative Schedule


LIVE Virtual Conference: Saturday, April 18, 2020

(All times EST)

8:45 am     Regional TECHNOLOGY check (use the link provided by our EPA team on 4/11 to access the LIVE program)

9:00 am      Welcome and Technology Guidelines

9:15 am       Faculty Introductions

9:30 am      Let’s Get Personal: How to Become Your Own Muse, Erin Entrada Kelly

10:00 am    Attendee Q & A with Erin Entrada Kelly

10:30 am    Move to small group sessions (personalized schedule to follow)

– 10: 30 – noon, virtual peer-to-peer roundtables meeting via Zoom (link provided 4/11)

– 12:00 – 1:30pm, virtual portfolio reviews with Erica de Chavez and Floyd Cooper (link provided 4/11)

– 12:30pm – 1:15pm, PAL discussion: Mentoring Programs and Read Local (link provided 4/11)

-Our Thinkific* virtual classroom opens (link provided 4/11).

                  *Thinkific: 18 pre-recorded sessions, downloadable resources, hands-on exercises on novel writing, picture books, illustration, and the business of publishing. (Virtual classroom open for 30-days!)


1:30 pm       Whole Group LIVE session Part II

2:00 pm      Floyd Cooper Keynote: LIVE

2:30 pm     Attendee Q & A with Floyd Cooper

3:00 pm     Closing remarks, and Thinkific reminders

3:30 pm      Peer-to-peer portfolio meeting via Zoom (link provided 4/11)



The cost is $180 for SCBWI members, $230 for non-members, and $120 for SCBWI PAL Members. This price includes LIVE keynotes, peer-to-peer roundtables, and access for 30-days to the Thinkific classroom with 18 lessons.

FACULTY CRITIQUES (A limited number of Faculty Critiques remain.)

ARTWORK/PORTFOLIO CRITIQUES: (at additional cost of $45) Erica de Chavez or Floyd Cooper will review your portfolio using a live Zoom meeting (link sent 4/11).

MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES: (at additional cost of $45) submissions are due on or before March 28, 2020. Format your work in 12 point font, with one-inch margins, and double spacing.

⇒Please include your name on every page of your work as a header or a footer, as well as identifying information on page one: first & last name, email address, title, genre.

⇒Please SAVE YOUR FILE as Pocono20_Faculty Last Name_Your Last Name_TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT as a PDF or DOC or DOCx.

    Example: Pocono20_Gu_Myers_Rhoades Family Fun

⇒Then send your file to Alison at The subject should read: Pocono20_Faculty Last Name_Your Last Name_TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT (same as saved file name).


For picture books:  Send one full manuscript.

For chapter books, MG, YA:  Send up to 10 pages of your manuscript, plus a one-page synopsis. (Include synopsis in the same document; please don’t send two documents.)

Please follow standard formatting guidelines, double-spaced, 12 point font. Manuscripts must be received by April 5, 2020.

Manuscripts will be reviewed by faculty between March 30 – May 15, 2020. You will receive extensive written feedback on your submission. We will return this feedback to you in prompt manner.

SCHOLARSHIPS have already been awarded for the 2020 Pocono Retreat.

Congratulations to our recipients.


Details coming soon.


(Free with registration)

Peer-to-Peer manuscript and portfolio critiques will take place Saturday, April 18th between 10:30am – 1:30pm.

(Link provided 4/11 for your Zoom meeting call-in.)


For picture books:  Send entire manuscript and one or two sentence pitch. (Include pitch in same document.)

For chapter books, MG, YA:  Send up to 10 pages of your manuscript, plus a one or two sentence pitch. (Include pitch in same document.)

Format:  12pt font, double-spaced, one-inch margins, page numbers, and use .doc or .docx format. Include your name, email, and the genre on the first page of the submission, followed by your one or two sentence pitch.

Email your submission to CAT Coordinator Heather Stigall at 


(example, PocCAT20_PB_Stigall_THREE LITTLE PIGS)

no later than April 5, 2020.

Upon sending, CAT participants will receive a confirmation (if you do not receive confirmation, contact Heather.)


Sign up for this useful peer review of your portfolio by contacting Illustrator Coordinator Berrie Torgan-Randall by April 5, 2020.


Register online at Payments accepted via PayPal.

(Special arrangements can be made for those paying by check by emailing Rona at


IMPORTANT: If you are an SCBWI member, make sure you’re logged into the website so you can see discounted member pricing.

QUESTIONS? Contact the EPA SCBWI regional team at

A note from your EPA Volunteers:

Dear Friends,

We look forward to our Pocono Retreat each year– to gathering with you all, eating good food, and talking about great books. This year will be a little different, and we are asking for your support as we try to make the best out of the options that we have been given. We promise to flood the community with goodwill on April 18th, in the LIVE sessions, especially during our peer-to-peer roundtables where we will get to see each other face-to-face, even if remotely. We also plan to offer the highest quality hands-on sessions in our Thinkific classroom, with access to written materials and recordings for 30 days. We hope that this extended time will challenge you to try out an illustration breakout session, dip your virtual toes in a novel writing exercise, or “meet up” with a new EPA member presenter. 

Our team is made up of dedicated volunteers who are trying as hard as they possibly can given time limitations, family responsibilities, new roles at their jobs, and their own creative pursuits. We ask that you give as much understanding as possible to the decisions made at this time by these volunteers. That said, if you do not think the virtual conference is for you, or you do not wish to participate remotely, SCBWI has instituted a 100% refund policy during this time. Please email one of our regional advisors at and she will promptly offer you 100% reimbursement as quickly as she can. (Jo Lloyd at the Highlights Foundation has already been in touch about reimbursements for room and board at the retreat center due to the volunteer team’s decision to move online.)

The Virtual Retreat is much more than a one day event now, and we are excited to see what hosting a one-day kickoff, plus a one month online program has to offer. Throughout the month online, use the discussion features to post materials, offer feedback, and engage in community. TOGETHER WE CAN is needed now more than ever.

Thank you for your support!

The EPA SCBWI Volunteer Team