Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 13, 2015

Avalon Full Manuscript Writer’s Retreat


Each year I run a Full Manuscript Critique Writer’s Retreat in Avalon, NJ.  It is always a small group of MG/YA novel writers who want to advance their manuscripts and careers. I rent a nice house for the week two doors from the beach where everyone can stay and work on their manuscripts.

During the week two retreats are scheduled. The first group arrives on Sunday September 27th on and departs in the morning (no program) on Wednesday September 30th. The following agents are confirmed for the first session.

Agent Alex Slater from Trident Media Group

Alex is now building his list domestically, while keeping his focus on children’s literature. He likes Historical Fiction novels, Middle Grade Novels, and Young Adult, including Edgy. Alexander Slater is a graduate of the University of Connecticut. He joined Trident Media Group in 2010 and after two years as an assistant, he spent two years selling translation rights for the agency’s middle grade and young adult titles.

Linda Epstein from The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency

Linda looks for unique, well-written children’s literature, from picture books through young adult, including both fiction and nonfiction.

MIDDLE GRADE: I like character-driven fiction with lots of action and mysteries, fantasy, scifi, realistic contemporary, historical, and when the lines between genres blur. I want you to make your middle grade characters relatable and knowable, or your awesome plot will feel hollow.

YOUNG ADULT: I like realistic contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, historical, GLBTQ, literary, funny, serious, nonfiction, fiction, re-tellings, epistolary, novels in verse, and I’d take a collection of linked short stories (but otherwise I don’t represent short stories). No dystopian or post-apocalyptic and almost anything with vampires, demons, mermaids, genies, etc… unless (because there’s always an exception!) you’re bringing something totally new to it.

PICTURE BOOKS: I like a strong voice, funny, quirky and unusual. If you’re too didactic and teachy-preachy, it’s not for me. I don’t mind rhyme if it works for the story, but if you’re jamming your story into a rhyme scheme it’s not going to work, for the manuscript or for me. I’m looking for authors and author/illustrators. Have more than one picture book manuscript.

The second session group arrives on Thursday October 1st and leaves on Sunday morning October 4thThe following agents are confirmed for the second session.

Alexandra Penfold from Upstart Crow

Alexandra Penfold is an agent at Upstart Crow Literary and has been working in publishing for more than a decade. Formerly an Editor at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, she represents young picture books, middle-grade fiction, and young adult.

Agent Scott Treimel from the Scott Treimel Agency

Scott Treimel has worked for a literary agency, a literary scout, two book publishers, a newspaper syndicate, a book club, and a movie studio, either buying, selling, packaging, editing or creating intellectual property—all for children. He represents picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult novels. He has a 98% sales success rate.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a picture book writer and would like to attend, please let me know. If there are five picture book people, that would make up a group. Picture book writers would get three critiques from both agents, instead of what is described below.


This is how it works:  There are ten writers and two agents. One of the agents will read and critique your full manuscript and the other agent will read and critique the first 30 pages of that manuscript or another one that you are working on. There will be five writers in each retreat and you will receive the four manuscripts from the writers in your group to read and critique before the retreat. Each person in your group will have an hour with the assigned agent and an hour with your group to discuss what works and what could be improved. There will also be a first page session with the group and the agents during the retreat.


All meals are planned with the agents and are included in the price of the retreat. We are used to gluten free writers. Evenings are spent socializing and having fun. Usually there is time to walk the beach or swim in the pool that belongs to the house.  Everyone helps with the cooking and clean up. The house has Wi-Fi access, so you can use your computers, cell phones, and ipads to work and keep in touch with family and friends.


This is not an SCBWI event; just a group of dedicated novel writers who have been working hard to hone their manuscripts and skills. These retreats are better than anything I put together while I was New Jersey’s SCBWI Regional Advisor and the agents have enjoyed joining us. Great mix of books and fun in a beautiful upscale ocean resort.

The cost is as follows and space is limited. 

2 – Top Bunk Beds $695
2 – Bottom Twin Beds to the bunk beds $830
4 – Twin Beds $830

1 – Single Bedroom Queen Bed $925

Send an email if you would like to secure a spot at one of these retreats. Put “Avalon Writer’s Retreat” in the subject area and let me know what you have written – Book level – Genre – Word Count – brief description.

PLEASE NOTE: YA Novels have a 80,000 word limit.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow! What an absolutely incredible opportunity. Thanks for setting all this up Kathy!


  2. That sounds like fun! Unfortunately, I am not an adult and therefore would not be able to join you. However, I would be very interested in how this retreat turns out! Wish all the writers good luck!


  3. Definitely interested. Depends on the well- being of my piggybank and my 95 year-old mother-in-law.


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