Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 3, 2019

Avalon Writer’s Full Manuscript Retreat

Many of you know I run a full manuscript writers retreat in Avalon, NJ each year at the end of September. Besides getting an agent or editor to read and critique your full manuscript, help you polish and give you ideas to help get it published, it is small enough with only eight writers and two agent/editors to allow everyone personal time with the two professionals.

I rent a very nice house in the ocean resort where we all work, eat, learn, and have fun together. Everyone gets a full manuscript critique with one of the professionals and a 30 page critique with the other. We split into two groups. Each group reads the other three writers manuscripts and critiques them. Each writer will get one hour in the group to go over their manuscript. I have found the group critiques to be invaluable. We also have a first page session during the retreat and I have some new games and brainstorming sessions planned to improve your writing in the evenings. There is plenty of time to talk about and revise your manuscript if needed. Plus, there is free time to walk the beach or swim in the pool. Space is limited to eight writers.

Cost varies according to room starting at $830, all include three night housing, meals, and critiques. Please send an email if you would like to secure a spot. Put “Avalon Writer’s Retreat” in the subject area and let me know what you have written – Grade level – Genre – Word Count – brief description.   kathy.temean(at)


FIRST SESSION: September 21st – 25th 2018

Rebecca Kim Wells, author of SHATTER THE SKY on left with her editor Catherine Laudone holding the book coming out this summer.

Catherine Laudone – Editor Simon & Schuster

Catherine is looking to acquire contemporary, fantasy, historical, coming of age, romance, humor, or literary young adult fiction with a strong narrative voice and original hook, and middle grade fiction that captures the magic of being a kid. She is also acquiring fiction and nonfiction picture books, and commercial chapter books with series potential. She is especially interested in stories featuring friendships, and sibling or parent-child relationships, as well as characters with unusual hobbies or passions.

Since joining Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in March 2013, Catherine has had the pleasure of working with a number of talented authors, such as Heather W. Petty, the Fan Brothers, Jessie Sima, A.L. Sonnichsen, Susan Hood, and Stacey Kade, among others. Catherine has some fabulous debuts on her list as well, including Lauren Spieller’s Your Destination is on the Left, Janice Lynn Mather’s Learning to Breathe (Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalist, a Junior Library Guild Selection, SLJ starred review), Kat Helgeson’s Say No to the Bro (a Junior Library Guild Selection and 2018 Illinois Reads Pick), Rebecca Kim Wells’ Shatter the Sky, and Hanna Cha’s forthcoming picture book Tiny Feet Between the Mountains.

Prior to starting at Simon & Schuster BFYR, Catherine graduated with a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and completed several internships at children’s publishing houses and literary agencies, including HarperCollins and Sourcebooks. When not reading for work or pleasure, Catherine can be found watching her favorite Gilmore Girls reruns while enjoying a cup of chocolate tea. Follow her on Twitter @CatherineLaud

Wendi Gu – Agent at Janklow & Nesbit

Wendi was raised by hardworking immigrant parents in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Shortly after graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Creative Writing and Anthropology, she started working at Greenburger under the mentorship of Brenda Bowen.

Wendi likes puns, quirky humor, girl power, and cute animals in picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. She’s also looking for literary middle grade, young adult, or adult fiction on the first-generation American experience. Wendi loves a middle grade with that classic vibe and any book that makes you want to hug someone.

Although she leans towards contemporary fiction, Wendi first and foremost appreciates anything character-driven with a strong voice.

SECOND SESSION: September 25th – 29th

Alexandria Borbello – Editor Atheneum

Alex joined Simon & Schuster in April 2015 as managing editorial assistant but was drawn more to story editing than copyediting, so she moved down the hall to Atheneum in May 2016. As assistant to Caitlyn Dlouhy and Richard Jackson, Alex has been lucky enough to work with award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Jason Reynolds, William Joyce, Ashley Bryan, Cynthia Kadohata,  Alison McGhee, Kathi Appelt, An Na, Sharon Draper, Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin, Ian Falconer, Judith Viorst, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and Brian Floca—just to name a few. Alex is drawn to quirky, irreverent picture books; middle grade that balances tough subjects with light, accessible narratives; YA with a strong voice that has something to say; and humor in everything. She is particularly interested in acquiring literary stories featuring characters with disabilities, LatinX representation, and unusual storytelling structures.

She earned a B.A. in English and Communications from Rollins College, and holds a M.S. in Publishing from NYU. Follow her on Twitter @Alex_Borbolla.

Check out yesterdays post that featured Alex –

CLAIRE FRIEDMAN – AGENT Inkwell Management.

Claire Friedman is a literary agent at InkWell Management. Originally from Salt Lake City, Claire spent three years working for local indie bookstore, the King’s English, before moving to New York to attend Columbia University. Prior to joining InkWell in 2016, Claire worked at Macmillan, Time Inc., and Don Congdon Associates. She is building her list and it looking for picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, and narrative non-fiction.

Looking for smart, literary YA with a bite. Anything a little edgy, a little dark, or a little weird has my name written all over it. She loves fantasy and sci-fi, but can also sink her teeth into stand-out contemporary work — as long as the voice is strong, the genre doesn’t matter to me. In the middle grade space, I’m looking for witty, unexpected books in the vein of Pseudonymous Bosch or Lemony Snickett.

Hope you consider joining us in Avalon this year. Send me an email if you are interested in attending. Look forward to hearing from you.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Hi Kathy, I can’t seem to reach you via e-mail about attending the retreat. Is there a better email address I should use? (I used the hotmail address)


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