Falling Leaves Masterclass Retreat

Our Falling Leaves Masterclass Retreat is a car ride or train ride away in the Adirondack Mountains. And along with a lake and a forest full of trees, we have a limit of 35 attendees with four editors and one agent as faculty.

The weekend includes a one-on-one critique with one faculty member, masterclass-level workshops, peer critiques, free time for kicking back in an Adirondack chair with a warm drink, taking a lakeside hike, or reading by the fireplace in the lodge.


It has been over 15 years since our first Eastern NY SCBWI Falling Leaves master class retreat and we're still going strong! 

The weekend begins at Silver Bay on beautiful Lake George on Friday at 4 pm and ends after lunch on Sunday.  

Falling Leaves is application only.

APPLY HERE for Oct. 2024.

The theme this year is picture books.

Application deadline is June 15th, 2024.

Visit the Event Home Page for more details.


What does it mean “Application Only”

Every year we get between 45 and 65 applications to Falling Leaves—35 writers attend. Some people who are accepted don’t choose to come in this first round of acceptance for a variety of reasons and we then invite people on the waitlist. I don’t share any of these numbers or names because everyone invited, whether from the initial acceptance or the waitlist, all have work at a level that will benefit from a professional critique and are at the “Master Class” level. 

Because we consider Falling Leaves a matchmaking event—we work very hard to put attendees with the faculty member who has the best (current) ms wishlist for that manuscript and the faculty member who will give the best critique for that ms. So that means that someone can have a great manuscript, but if we don’t have a good match for them in our current faculty, they may not be accepted. 

We have a mix of published and pre-published attendees and everyone attending is serious about their writing and improving their craft. Be sure to talk to your fellow attendees! Get to know each other. We have had attendees become longtime critique partners and of course longtime friends! Writing and publishing are lonely and difficult, so writer buddies are an essential part of the journey. Falling Leaves is an excellent opportunity to spend quality time with other writers and make those lasting friendships.

And again, for the faculty critiques, the most valuable aspect of the critique is being able to analyze, "Is this a person I would want to work with in the future?" "Do they love the same things about my work that I love?" "Do they see what I'm trying to do and the story I want to tell?"

Be open to improving your manuscript, both from a craft perspective AND from the expertise the faculty have of the publishing landscape. They have insights on the market and marketing that we as writers may not be considering during the creation process!

What to pack?

Falling Leaves is casual dress! T-shirts and sweaters, jeans, shorts, or dresses. It’s a professional event, so no pajama bottoms! But no need for blazers either.


Just a reminder of the items we recommend you pack for a comfortable weekend at the beautiful Silver Bay Retreat Center https://silverbay.org/ 

Personal items:

  • A flashlight
  • Toiletries (only bar soap supplied at the Inn)
  • Water bottle
  • Travel mug (I am bringing an electric kettle to set up in our space. Pack your favorite tea bags or cocoa mix and definitely a travel mug or regular mug.)
  • Snacks (If you're a snack person)
  • A warm sweater (think layers for fluctuating temps from inside to outside, day to evening)
  • Umbrella or rain jacket
  • Proper shoes and attire if you think you’ll explore the grounds or trails: https://www.nyym.org/sites/default/files/SilverBayTrailMap.pdf
  • Cash for the ice cream booth (all other food is included)

For the workshop:

  • 1 printed copy of the manuscript you submitted to review before your one-on-one critique
  • 7 copies of 5 PAGES (print double-sided if you want to conserve paper) manuscript for peer critique Saturday morning (this does NOT have to be what you submitted for the critique. It can be something different!)
  • Notebook or computer to take notes or do writing exercises during the workshops
  • A list of questions! We will have 5 knowledgeable and experienced publishing professionals with us the whole weekend, so think about what you’d like to learn from each of them. Perhaps even a list of questions for your one-on-one critique about your manuscript, style, voice, etc. 
  • Your creativity and curiosity. This is a unique opportunity to focus completely on your craft with other people who are passionate about picture books. Think about what you'd like to focus on, what you'd like feedback on, and what you hope to take away from the weekend.