Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2019 L.A. Working Writer’s Retreat

Date(s) - 09/27/2019 - 09/29/2019
12:00 pm

Holy Spirit Retreat Center
4316 Lanai Rd - Encino, CA 91436

The retreat has sold out. Please sign up for a waiting list and
we will contact you if space becomes available.

Retreat Options:
Staying Onsite (Double Occupancy) – $515
Single Rooms* – $75 additional fee, for a total of $590
Commuter** – $450

The Retreat fees cover the following (pricing information coming soon):
– Four faculty-led critique sessions
– Two agents and two editors on site the whole weekend as faculty
– Two author faculty will be doing a panel on Friday and will be on hand all weekend for consultations for individuals/groups in between critique sessions
– One first page panel
– Accommodations
– All meals from Friday dinner to Sunday breakfast
– Snacks throughout the weekend
– Wine and Cheese Party (Friday)
– Karaoke Party (Saturday)

There are no guarantees that single rooms will be available. However, if a spot for a single room opens up, it will be offered on a first come, first served basis. An additional fee of $75 will apply.
Commuter spots are not guaranteed. These spots may only become available once all staying onsite spots have been filled. If a spot does open up, it will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

Select this option if the retreat is sold out. We will contact you if a space becomes available.


Stephanie Gordon – Author and Freelance Editor
Judy Enderle – Author and Freelance Editor

Once upon a time, Stephanie Jacob Gordon and Judith Ross Enderle met in a writing class at UCLA. Both saw their first published words in the pages of Highlights for Children magazine. Since then, they’ve co-authored numerous books, from picture books to young adult novels, including Smile, Principessa!/Simon & Schuster/McElderry, Two Badd Babies/Boyds Mills Press, and What’s the Matter, Kelly Beans?/Candlewick. In the works are a middle grade novel and a picture book. They are also eagerly awaiting news on several manuscripts under consideration.

On the bookshelf and in children’s magazines, you’ll find their work under their individual names and under the pseudonyms, Jeffie Ross Gordon and J.R. Gordon. Past writing experience includes over eight years as co-editors of the Fox Broadcasting Children’s Network magazine, Totally Fox Kids. They also served as story editors and writers for the first season of the Fox children’s television program, “Rimba’s Island” which received both NEA and PTA endorsements as quality children’s television.

“Language is fun. Our favorite stories are those that make young people laugh,” say Stephanie and Judy.

When they aren’t writing, they can be found sharing their stories in bookstores or lecturing at conferences, workshops, and retreats to adults who want to learn to write. In addition, Judy and Stephanie critique and edit manuscripts for other children’s writers through their business, Writers Ink. Visit their website at And please visit their blog, KidsBook Mavens, also featuring authors, Cheryl Zach, Dawne Knobbe, and Laurie Knowlton.

Stephanie and Judy are board members emeritus of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, both International and Los Angeles. Both now reside with their families in Washington State. Between them they have six grown children, a few grandchildren, a lot of fun, and a lot of wacky words yet to be written! Not “the end” yet.

Laurel Symonds – Literary Agent at The Bent Literary Agency

Laurel Symonds launched as a literary agent at The Bent Agency in Fall 2018 after nearly a decade of experience in the publishing industry. She began her career in the editorial department of HarperCollins Children’s Books/Katherine Tegen Books in New York City and has also held positions in the marketing department at a small publishing house, in a library, and as a bookseller at one of the nation’s best independent bookstores. As a literary agent, she is seeking children’s fiction and nonfiction, from picture books to young adult, particularly focusing on voices that have previously been underrepresented and stories that have been overlooked.

Genres She Represents:
Picture Books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult (Fiction and Nonfiction)

Projects/Books She Has Worked on:
“As an editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books/Katherine Tegen Books, I worked with Jodi Meadows, Mackenzi Lee, Katherine Applegate, Mindy McGinnis, Terry Pratchett, and many more fantastic creators.

As an agent, I am building my client list and our first projects will be published in 2020!”

Jennifer Chen Tran – Literary Agent at Bradford Literary

Jennifer Chen Tran is an agent at Bradford Literary, joining in September 2017. She represents both fiction and non-fiction. Originally from New York, Jennifer is a lifelong reader and experienced member of the publishing industry. Prior to joining Bradford Literary, she was an Associate Agent at Fuse Literary and served as Counsel at The New Press. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Northeastern School of Law in Boston, MA, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis.

Jennifer understands the importance of negotiation in securing rights on behalf of her authors. She counsels her clients on how to expand their platforms, improve on craft, and works collaboratively with her clients throughout the editorial and publication process. Her ultimate goal is to work in concert with authors to shape books that will have a positive social impact on the world—books that also inform and entertain.

Jennifer is very interested in diverse writers and #ownvoices from underrepresented/ marginalized communities, strong and conflicted characters who are not afraid to take emotional risks, stories about multi-generational conflict, war and post-war fiction, and writing with a developed sense of place. In non-fiction, she loves books that broaden her world view or shed new light on ‘big ideas.’

Genres She Represents:
Women’s Fiction (Contemporary, Upmarket, Literary), Select Young Adult (must have distinct voice), Select Middle Grade, Graphic novels and visually-driven projects, Narrative non-fiction (biography, current affairs, medical, investigative journalism, history, how-to, music, pop-culture, travel), Cookbooks & culinary projects, Lifestyle (home, design, beauty, fashion), Business Books (social entrepreneurship, female and/or minority-led businesses, and innovation), Select memoir with an established platform, Parenting, Relationships and Psychology, Mind, body, spirit

Projects/Books She Has Worked on:
Creator of The Modern Caravan – Kate Oliver’s visually-driven DIY design and renovation book featuring diverse mobile living spaces, from Airstreams to buses, throughout the world (Chronicle Books, 2020);

Mother of famous free solo climber Alex Honnold, Dierdre Wolownick’s memoir, where she reveals the challenges of becoming a late-stage athlete, after spending the better part of her life enduring a failed marriage while raising her two eco-conscious children, confronting questions regarding the nature of fear vs. courage, the responsibility of parents to protect yet give their children the freedom they need to become their best selves, and reminding readers that it’s never too late to reach new heights (Mountaineers Books, 2019);

Ted Anderson’s FAMILY TREASON, featuring a seemingly normal teenage girl who discovers that her mother is a secret agent who has programmed her with command phrases that activate her super-spy skills, including infiltration, martial arts, and speaking eight languages, all of which she will need to stop her mother’s nefarious schemes;

Former litigator turned chef and founder of Austin’s The Peached Tortilla, Eric Silverstein’s cookbook GET PEACHED: Recipes and Stories from the Peached Tortilla; raised in Japan and Atlanta, the author’s bi-racial background and cultural roots influenced the creation of Asian comfort food dishes with a southern twist, such as Pearl Meatballs, Hainanese Chicken and Rice, Banh Mi Taco and the JapaJam Burger (Sterling Epicure, 2019);

Erin Callahan’s debut THE ART OF ESCAPING, in which a Houdini-esque teen girl leads a double life as an escape artist until a popular varsity athlete with secrets of his own stumbles upon her new world of lock picking, straitjackets, and aquarium escapes (Amberjack, 2018).

Taylor Norman – Editor at Chronicle Books

Taylor Norman is an editor at Chronicle Books who works on picture books and novels. She has a passion for honest books that don’t patronize their readers but reflect the world those readers actually experience. She is the editor of such books as Forever or a Day, by Sarah Jacoby; Her Right Foot, by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris; and the upcoming Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt. Above all else, she is most interested in honest human interaction, and stories that explore what it means to be human—books that matter. She looks for three key factors in the books she acquires: very strong writing, an honest voice, and no condescension. She looks to edit books that employ and encourage new perspectives, make readers think, connect people and ideas thoughtfully—and most importantly, treat their readers with respect.

Genres She Represents:
Picture book, middle grade

Projects/Books She Has Worked on:
Tomorrow Most Likely (Dave Eggers & Lane Smith); Astronuts (Jon Scieszka & Steven Weinberg); Nothing Rhymes with Orange (Adam Rex); Everything You Need for a Treehouse (Carter Higgins & Emily Hughes); Libba (Laura Veirs & Tatyana Fazlalizadeh)

Joanna Cárdenas – Editor at Penguin Randomhouse

Editor Joanna Cárdenas has worked on such critically-acclaimed award-winning books as The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez and The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. She is on the steering committee for Latinx in Publishing, a nonprofit organization that promotes literature by, for, and about Latino/a/x people. Joanna also is co-founder of the Representation Matters Mentorship Program for aspiring editors of color. Follow her on Twitter: @joannananamc.

Genres She Represents:
Board books, picture books, chapter books, middle grade, YA

Projects/Books She Has Worked on:
Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller; The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho and Jess X. Snow; The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez; The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya; Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim


We are not responsible for any technical difficulties that may arise during registration.
For the waitlist: You will be given the choice of whatever accommodation is available if your name comes up when processing the waitlists.

Please note: $30 administrative charge for refunds before September 2, 2019. Any refund requests after September 2 will be granted on a case-by-case basis and there will be a $100 administrative charge. E-mail your refund request to the Los Angeles region

The retreat has sold out. Please sign up for a waiting list and we will contact you if space becomes available.