Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 7, 2017

2017 Avalon Writer’s Retreat – Ten Reasons to Attend

Sharon James shares her thoughts about the Avalon Writer’s Retreat:

Kathy Temean’s Avalon Retreat in Southern New Jersey is near and dear to my heart, for so many reasons. Here are my top ten “bests” for Avalon.

1. Scott Treimel. I met Scott at Avalon 2015. I’m now represented by him. Scott is brilliant, collaborative, funny, and a great person with whom to spend several days at a beach house.

2. All the other writers – I can’t name them all – the list would be too long – but in additional to the incomparable Kathy Temean, I have made so many new writer friends through Avalon.

3. Long beach walks. Daily.

4. The food (hence the need for the walks) – this year the two highlights were Kathy Temean’s homemade cherry cheesecake (an annual highlight), Angela Larson’s incredible cake with Pina Colada buttercream frosting (oh my!) and my homemade sour cream chocolate cake with sour cream chocolate frosting – it was a bit lopsided, but it was consumed with gusto. (Happy Birthday, Scott).

5. The food (again) – an Indian feast prepared by writer Sindhu Vijayasarathy Avalon 2015 (Sindhu won the 2017 SCBWI Emerging Voices Award for her novel INSTANT KARMA, which she had critiqued in Avalon 2015). From left, Ann de Forest, me, Sindhu, and agent extraordinaire, Marie Lamba.

6. All the writers who have teamed up with agents after attending Avalon- besides me: Kathy Temean, Dianne Warner, Kelly Calabrese, Dee Falvo, Julie Phend, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, and Carol McAllister – Agent Offer.  

7. Avalon alums who have had books published – Darlene Beck, Karen Fortunati, Marina Cohen, Terry Jennings, Marlo Berlinger. Carol Murray.

8. Drinking French 75s (champagne and cognac) with Jessica Dandino and John Cusick at the first ever Avalon retreat. (2012).  We had a blast.

9. The Wizard of Oz experience – the day the door blew off the house in a storm and it took three writers to keep it from flying off to Kansas.

10. The Games – definitely NOT hunger games. Fun and crazy after dinner games. In 2017 it was four things no one would ever guess you did. In 2016 it was word games and serial stories with Jaida Temperly and Scott Treimel, both clever beyond belief. And wild conversations – a big shout out to Louise Fury and Suzie Townsend.

kitchen(Angela Larson and Sharon in the kitchen)

What about the rest of Avalon? What’s it really about, besides intense work with agents (and sometimes editors), consumption of great food and if desired, quaffable wine and cocktails, long beach walks, and the companionship of a diverse group of writers?

Whether you go to the first or second session (3 days each, two agents at each session), it’s a place where each writer receives an hour full manuscript critique (up to 80,000 words if a novel, or three full manuscript critiques for picture book writers) from one of the agents, and an half-hour thirty page critique from the other agent. It’s a place where writers receive full manuscript critiques from other writers. It’s a place where writers make connections with each other and with other agents.

I have gone to Avalon every year since Kathy started the retreat in 2012. I’ve gotten to know lots of agents and I’ve worked and worked and worked at my craft.

One cannot go to Avalon with the expectation that one will receive an offer of representation. But one can and should go to Avalon with the expectation that one will learn, if one is open to learning, and that one will have a fantastic time communing with other writers and industry professionals (i.e. agents) about words, life, food, wine, the beach, and above all our shared interest in and commitment to the creative endeavor we call writing.

(Tisha Hamilton)

Here are some quotes from this year’s writers:

“I had a fantastic time at your retreat. It’s amazing to be able to spend several days in a house near the beach with like-minded writers and great agents. I loved how fluid it all was — critiques and group meetings, sharing between writers, walks, dinners (delicious food!). Such a fantastic opportunity to get a full novel critique plus a 30-page critique, including face-to-face meetings with both agents. So fun and stimulating! I’m so glad I was able to make it this year. Thanks so much!”

                                                                            (Louise Fury and Andrea Cascardi)

“The retreat was a great experience! I’ve been to many conferences and workshops, but this one was especially terrific.”

“As participants, we had time to get to know each other as well as our two excellent agents, Scott Treimel, and Jennie Dunham. The atmosphere was totally supportive and so much fun. We critiqued, talked, walked on the beach, ate too much fabulous food, learned a lot, and enjoyed some good wine. I’m hoping to come back next year.”

                                                                  (Andrea Cascardi and Jennie Dunham)

“Great agents, great company, great food, 2 blocks from the beach. Your tireless efforts did not go unnoticed—or unappreciated. Thank you so much for organizing this great retreat.”

“Avalon was a fantastic experience. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around the sheer depth of information I got from the agents and the other people in my group. Thank you so much for arranging everything. I hope to see you in Avalon next year with a much shorted and better written novel. ;)”

(Karen Haas)


2017 Agent Andrea Cascardi, Agent Lousie Fury, Agent Scott Treimel, Agent Jennie Dunham

2016 Agent Christa Heschke, Agent Kurestin Armada, Agent Scott Treimel, Agent Jaida Temperly

2015 Agent Alex Slater, Agent Linda Epstein, Agent Scott Treimel, Agent Marie Lamba

2014 Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette, Editor Heather Alexander, Agent Sarah LaPolla. Agent Carly Watters

2013 Agent Louise Fury, Agent Suzie Townsend, Editor Karen Chaplin, Agent Louise Fury

2012 Agent John Cusick and Editor Jessica Dandino Garrison

Thank you Sharon for sharing your experiences with everyone. Besides getting the rare opportunity to get a full manuscript critique, the two things I love about Avalon are the group critiques (That’s where I always get new ideas for my books) and seeing how the manuscripts develop over time – so much fun.

Hope you will consider joining us in 2018. 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. this looks like a wonderful retreat for so many reasons


  2. Going to share this now. Looks so great!


  3. Looks and sounds like such a wonderful time! The fact that you also can hone writing skills at same time-served😊


  4. So happy to see this Sharon…and congratulations on being repped by Scott Tremel! I attended in 2013 and found the writer friendships have continued. It’s a great opportunity to have a FULL manuscript critiqued for a reasonable cost. And the food…


    • Thanks Darlene. I hope to see you one of these days!


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