Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 7, 2013

A Glimpse of Avalon Writer’s Retreat

Having the opportunity to spend some time discussing your manuscript with your peers, having an agent/editor read, review, and critique your full manuscript is extremely valuable. Getting to spend three and a half days with professionals in the publishing industry, getting them to answer all your questions, and hearing the other side of the book business is something most writers do not get to experience. This year’s Avalon Retreat had all those things, plus a lot more, like first page sessions, brainstorming and pitches.

We started off with Louise Fury from The Bent Agency and Suzie Townsend for New Leaf Literary – both extremely talented and successful agents. During the second session HarperCollins editor Karen Chaplin joined us (another lovely, talented industry professional). We learned a lot and had a great time with them. One evening after dinner Louise managed to bring all the reluctant social media people together and get them on twitter and facebook. She, also, taught them the how and why they should use it. She talked about how to push you book up in the Amazon rankings and even the most experienced writers learn things they did not know. One night we even played a game – lots of laughing and fooling around. Wish I had taken more pictures. Below are a few pictures that Darlene Beck-Jacobson and I took. I thought I’d share them with you to give you a flavor of our time together.


Here is Susan Amesse and Marlo Berliner are listening and taking notes on what editor Karen Chaplin and Louise Fury had to say about what was working and what needed to be changed during the first page session.

avalonkaren kathleenphoto

Karen Fortunati and Kathleen Bakos during first page session. Looks like Kathleen closed her eyes to savor the positive things being said about her first page.

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Darlene Beck Jacobson, Carol MacAllister, and Jody Staton listen intently.


Bettelyn McIlvain smiles when she see me trying to grab a candid shot out on the balcony.

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Karen Chaplin, editor from HarperCollins and agent Louise Fury share their expertise.


Here is the gang at the end of the day, we had some down time while dinner was cooking in the oven. Left to right: Susan Amesse, Diane Warner, Kathy Temean, Jody Staton, and Kathleen Bakos.

avalon 2
Making our way onto the beach. Karen Chaplin joined us. Don’t ask me what Jody is doing. I think she was pulling on her jacket and not really trying to strut her stuff. Right to Left: Karen Chaplin, Carol MacAllister, Jody Staton, Dianne Warner, Susan Amesse, and Karen Fortunati.

avalonchorus linephotoOn second thought maybe Jody was strutting her stuff. I think she got this chorus line going. Left to Right: Jody Staton, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Susan Amessse, Kathleen Bakos, Diane Warner.


Jody Staton showing off. It was such a beautiful day.

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If we weren’t friends before the retreat we certainly were by the end. Right to Left: Dianne Warner, Susan Amesse, Carol MacAllister, Kathy Temean, Jody Staton, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, and Karen Fortunati. Karen Chaplin took the picture and Bettelynn and Kathleen Bakos went off to the Windrift Hotel ocean side bar to relax. Great place BTW.


Then it is back to the house to get ready for dinner. You can see what Bettelyn started us off with.


Kathleen is leaning a helping hand. We had lot a great food and drink.

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Pre-dinner conversation and drinks with Lousie and Karen.


Picture of Karen before dinner.


Even after dessert, the food, drinks, and conversation, and laughs continued. We even had fresh caught blue fish one night.

September is beautiful in Avalon, NJ. Hope you will be tempted to join us next year. The group is very small, but that is what makes it so nice, other than the full manuscript critiques.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Kathy, this is such a wonderful “tradition” you’ve started, and I’m sure everyone comes away with so much more than they came with—including a few more pounds under their belts, by the looks of the food spreads! lol

    It’s something I sincerely wish I could do, but can’t, as you know. I was looking forward to your posting pics. It looks heavenly, and it’s so nice to see familiar faces having fun! I REALLY love the pic of Jody standing on the post! 😀


  2. I attended first session with Louise and Suzie. It was fabulous. They are both lovely, funny, brilliant people and terrific agents. I learned so much from each of them. And we all had a great deal of fun hanging around in the evenings, laughing, and yes, learning social media skills for those of us who weren’t super adept at it. I was able to spend time with several dear friends of mine (met at previous conferences and retreat) meet several new friends, and learn from two of the best(and most generous and funny) agents in the industry. I highly recommend the retreat for any writer who wants a structured but informal in- depth, constructive review of her manuscript from professionals to push it the next level. Additionally the other writers review and critique each others manuscripts, which is always interesting.


  3. Sounds like it was a wonderful weekend. Love the pics!


  4. Thank you so much for putting this retreat together, Kathy. It was a fun and informative weekend and I had an absolutely fabulous time. Hanging out with other talented writers and getting to pick the brains of an editor and agent without any time constraints was fantastic! I would highly recommend the retreat to anyone and hope to be invited again!


  5. Thank you Kathy! What a great group of dedicated, talented writers and professionals! I hope to do it again. Well done Kathy.


  6. And I forgot to mention the awesome organization that went into this Kathy, and the incredible sense of group support. Xx Dianne W


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