2024 WORDS IN THE WOODS: Allerton

Apr 29, 2024 - May 01, 2024

Online + Allerton Park & Retreat Center, Monticello, IL

Can't see the forest for the trees at large conferences? Join our 10-week intensive and overnight retreat to take your WIP to the next level. Your dummy, manuscript or graphic novel will be placed with either our agent, Laurel Symonds or senior editor, Orlando Dos Reis by the planning committee based on format and genre.


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JUST ADDED: Orlando Dos Reis, Senior Editor | SCHOLASTIC

Our team welcomes Orlando Dos Reis to our faculty! He will give feedback on Graphic Novels, Middle Grade and YA Novels to both writers and illustrators.


Join our free WELCOME CELEBRATION 4/29

The WORDS IN THE WOODS Team describes all the opportunities of our 10-week intensive and amenities in the retreat to follow. Your questions, answered. Celebrate our Masthead Contest winner, Darcy Day Zoells and Becky Mabry Scholarship winner, Tracie Amirante Padal . LIVE | Recorded | 60 minutes with Q&A


RECEIVE: Initial Industry Insider Feedback

One of our industry insiders (Laurel or Orlando) will provide your initial written critique of your dummy, manuscript or graphic novel script.


RESOURCES: 10 Weeks of Professional Programming

11 Practicing professionals and industry insiders offer resources on craft and industry topics to take your work-in-progress to the next level. Recorded and available for one month after each program.

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REVISE: Weekly Critique Groups

Each week, meet with your conference critique group to introduce your WIP, share feedback, create a plan for resubmission, and revise your story with fellow professionals who share your goals. Critique groups are arranged by format and genre and serve to create lasting connections long after our retreat ends. Meets Tuesday nights/attend LIVE/not recorded to encourage participation and feedback among conferees.


RECONNECT: Daily Power Hours

Join our WORDS IN THE WOODS team of volunteers weekdays at 7AM CDT for an optional POWER HOUR to reconnect daily with your work, incorporate program resources into your story, and remain on-track for revision + resubmission deadlines.


RESUBMIT: Based on Initial Industry Insider Feedback

After reviewing your initial feedback, discuss your revision plan with your conference critique group and resubmit your WIP for in-person, roundtable feedback at the July retreat with your industry professional.



Review revised resubmittal with your editor or agent in a roundtable setting with your critique group at the retreat. Refresh with time to work + play among formal gardens and trails. Reconnect with your critique group and industry insiders over good food celebrating your great work.


SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITIES: Submit with industry insider information

Our agent and editor have agreed to respond to EVERY POST-EVENT ATTENDEE submission per their guidelines. No more wondering if your work was received.


OPTIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Critiques from Practicing Professionals

Our Practicing Professionals are offering specialized critiques based on their 10-Week Intensive Programming. (Optional written critiques for an additional $55 fee.)


The Becky Mabry "GO FOR IT" Scholarship

Congratulations to our winner, Traci Renee!

Click below each image for more information


10-Week Intensive

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Weekly Critique Groups



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Retreat Roundtables

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Optional Critiques from Practicing Professionals


GUIDELINES for Professional Feedback




Professional Policies + Conduct


Becky Mabry Scholarship


Any author or author illustrator who is craving community and critique groups and wants plenty of opportunity to revise their current work-in-progress for multiple kinds of feedback!

Attendance is capped at 40 persons for maximum feedback and in-person interaction at our retreat, July 13-14.

More about Allerton Park & Retreat Center, Monticello, IL

Click for EXPERIENCE ALLERTON video on YOUTube


Registration opens 3/15 at noon CDT.: $645 USD

01 MARCH: Becky Mabry Scholarship open See BECKY MABRY SCHOLARSHIP for application and details.

15 MARCH: Registration opens here at 12 noon CST. Premium Member fee $645

29 MARCH: Deadline for application to Becky Mabry Scholarship

01 APRIL: Becky Mabry Scholarship Winner Announced.

29 APRIL: 10-WEEK INTENSIVE begins and goes through July 9 (NOTE: Week 11, live presentation will occur Tuesday, 07/09, instead of Monday.) See INTENSIVE

30 APRIL: Weekday POWER HOURS begin 7AM CDT

02 MAY: Registration closes.* Cancellation deadline to get a refund, minus a $100 cancellation fee. After this date there will be no refunds. Fees for Optional Professional Feedback are non-refundable.

03 MAY: Virtual Folder mailed to all registered attendees, complete with WIP upload links, weekly Zoom | Power Hour | Critique Group links and industry insider submission information.

04 MAY: Deadline to upload dummy or manuscript for Initial Industry Insider Feedback from agent or editor. Please see the GUIDELINES page for details.

07 MAY: Weekly CRITIQUE GROUPS begin and go through July 08. (NOTE: Week 11, Critique Group will occur on Monday, 07/08, instead of Tuesday.) See WEEKLY CRITIQUE GROUPS SCHEDULE

25 JUNE: Initial Industry Feedback (SCBWI Gold Form) emailed to attendees.

06 JULY: Resubmit revised work-in-progress (optional) to industry insider for roundtable feedback at retreat.

13 JULY: Retreat check-in at 9AM CDT at Allerton Park & Retreat Center, Monticello. Overnight accommodation check-in 3PM. Double-occupancy included in attendance fee. Additional $60 for private rooms. Register early for first choice. See RETREAT

14 JULY: Farewell Celebration ends at 12 PM / noon CDT. Overnight accommodation check-out 11AM.

20 JULY: Deadline to submit WIP for optional critiques with Practicing Professionals. See OPTIONAL CRITIQUES

31 AUGUST: Optional, additional critique SCBWI Gold Forms returned via email to attendees.

 *Please be aware, WORDS IN THE WOODS has traditionally been a sellout event, and may fill before registration closes.



Your Premium Member fee includes:

  • Initial Industry Insider Feedback from agent or editor See FACULTY
  • 10-Weeks Intensive of Professional Programming See INTENSIVE
  • Hosted Weekly Conference Critique Groups See WEEKLY CRITIQUE GROUPS
  • Hosted Weekday Power Hours (Optional, included for all attendees.)
  • Opportunity to SUBMIT your work-in-progress for Initial Industry Insider Feedback, then REVISE & RESUBMIT your work-in-progress based on that Initial Industry Insider Feedback.
  • In-Person Roundtable Review with Industry Insider: review of your initial feedback OR of your revised resubmittal with fellow critique group members at the retreat. See RETREAT ROUNDTABLES
  • All-inclusive day & night extravaganza of a retreat at Allerton Park & Retreat Center includes comfortable rooms, private baths, catered meals, group activities and Portfolio Showcase. Enjoy time to mix n' mingle with industry insiders or just relax and refresh walking the trails and formal gardens. See RETREAT
  • Guaranteed response to all post-event submissions with industry insider information.

Optional Practicing Professional Feedback: $55 See OPTIONAL PRACTICING PROFESSIONAL FEEDBACK

QUESTIONS? Email Deborah Topolski, Co-RA