October 19-21, 2018 Retreat Faculty Details

in Ft. Lauderdale
featuring Multiple Award-Winning Author
Gary Schmidt
Two and a Half Inspiring Days

OCTOBER 19th-21st


4p-8p Friday, 8a-6p Saturday, 8a-5p Sunday

Optional Intensives Friday 1-4pm

(for an additional fee)


A Keynote, a Reading,
Three Advanced Writing Workshops 
Printz Honoree, 
National Book Award Finalist,
Two-Time Newbery Honoree,

Gary Schmidt

Hands-on Workshops and Panels with:

Krista VitolaSenior Editor with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Julia MaguireEditor with Knopf, Books for Young Readers
Jess Regel, Agent with Foundry Media
Heather Flaherty, Agent with The Bent Agency
Reading with Donna Gephart
The Retreat Includes:
Seven MG/YA Hands-on Workshops
Two Editor & Agent Panels 
Two Evening Meet the Authors, Editors, and Agents Receptions
Drawings for an Extra Critique with an Editor, Agent, or Author 
One 10-page Critique guaranteed with an Editor or Agent 
(you decide who if you sign up early enough,
due by midnight Sept. 7th, otherwise you get an “on the spot” critique) 
Author Readings and Book Signings
Breakfast and Lunch
Enjoy an intimate setting with several opportunities to be face-to-face with acquiring editors, list building agents, and award-winning authors. 

Just added.

Picture Book IntensiveHow to Build Your Best Picture Book

with Julia Maguire, Editor Alfred A Knopf, BFYR

Price Includes Critique


The Faculty:

Gary D. Schmidt


Master Storyteller, Teacher, Author
Dr. Gary D. Schmidt is the author of novels such as “The Wednesday Wars” (a Newbery Honor book) and “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy” (a Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book), and “Okay for Now” (a National Book Award Finalist). His most recent is “Orbiting Jupiter,” and he is looking forward to the spring, 2019, publication of “Pay Attention, Carter Jones,” a middle grade novel. This fall, his “So Tall Within,” a picture book biography of Sojourner Truth, illustrated by Daniel Minter, will come out. He lives in an 1830s home in Alto, Michigan, and teaches writing at Calvin College, the MFA in Writing for Children at Hamline University, and at Handlon Prison in Ionia, Michigan. 

Krista Vitola


Senior Editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Krista Vitola is a Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and specializes in middle-grade and young adult fiction. Her interests range from voice-driven commercial narratives to emotionally layered complex stories that feature diverse characters. She will also never turn down a sports novel, even though she was (and still is) not very good at them. Her heart always gravitates toward strong friendship stories, sister stories, conflicting relationships, and environments that spark one’s imagination. She is not a fan of high fantasy or science fiction. Krista has worked with New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck, multi-state award winner Dana Alison Levy, award-winning author Donna Gephart, and New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noel. She is currently working on New York Times bestselling author, Tommy Wallach’s epic YA trilogy, Sean Easley’s middle-grade debut, The Hotel Between and Susan Hood’s middle-grade novel in verse about the true story of a lifeboat stranded at sea during World War II. Krista is eagerly acquiring literary middle-grade novels with commercial appeal. She hopes to find more beautifully written, visual stories that will steal her heart. 

Julia Maguire


Editor, Alfred A. Knopf, Books for Young Readers
Julia Maguire is an Editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers.Prior to that, she worked at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. She currently edits picture books and middle grade novels.She received her degree in communications from the University of Massachusetts and her Masters in Publishing from NYU. She started her publishing career interning at Bloomsbury Children’s Books in 2006 and has worked on picture books ever since. The best part of the job is collaborating with authors and artists to bring a book to life.In her spare time, she loves to run and has finished two marathons and several half marathons. She also loves to bake (hence all the running.) 

Julia is looking for:


Picture books that are sweet and silly, either conceptual or narrative. Realistic middle grade with strong characters in fully realized and tactile settings. Nonfiction that feels necessary and speaks to a larger narrative, either in context of school curriculum or the world readers are getting to know.

Jess Regel


Agent, Foundry Media
Jess Regel, an Agent with Foundry Media,represents young adult and middle grade books, as well as adult fiction and nonfiction. In the nonfiction space, she represents memoir and pop culture, with an emphasis on female and diverse voices. She also represents children’s nonfiction and YA memoir. In the fiction space, Jess is passionate about discovering projects that are compulsive, contagious, and creative. She’s particularly interested in books that are “conversation starters,” novels that bridge the literary-commercial divide, combining a high-concept plot with beautiful writing, and voice-driven contemporary stories. She’s always looking for diverse characters that tell a story from a unique perspective, and through which we see the world differently. Jess is drawn to coming-of-age stories, ambitious women’s fiction, charming and stylized love stories, atmospheric magical realism, dark and twisty suspense, and genre-bending literary fiction. She is not looking for genre fiction, such as high fantasy, sci-fi, romance, westerns, chick lit, cozy mysteries, etc.


Heather Flaherty


Agent, The Bent Agency
Heather Flaherty, an Agent with The Bent Agency, grew up in Massachusetts and worked in New York City as a playwright during college. After much country hopping and some work in editorial, Heather became a Literary Scout, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood regarding what the next big book will be. Now as an Agent, she’s thrilled to grow authors for that same success.Currently, she’s looking for authors of Middle-Grade, Young-Adult, and Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction projects. For YA, she’s looking across all genres, and loves an authentic teen voice for contemporary and well thought-out worlds in fantasy. For MG, though she does love magic and adventure, she’s also looking for more realistic stories (either contemporary or period), about coping, coming-of-age, or situations seen through the eyes of a young person. On the Kids and YA Non-fiction side, she leans towards pop-culture, humor, social-media based projects, and young memoir. @HeddaFlaherty 


Donna Gephart


Donna Gephart creates humorous, heartfelt, award-winning middle grade novels for Penguin Random House and Simon and Schuster. She’s a sought-after presenter who inspires audiences to pursue their dreams, work hard despite obstacles and most importantly, be kind to one another. 
On Friday night, Donna will read from her newest book, IN YOUR SHOES, slated for launch on October 9th. 


Hotel information:

Ocean Sky Hotel and Resort
4060 Galt Ocean Drive 

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

Standard Room Rates: Single/Double: $139.00 Deluxe 
Suite Rates: Single/Double: $189.00 
Oceanfront Suite Rates: Single/Double: $269.00 
(All room rates are exclusive of 12% taxes)
To reserve this rate, please call the reservation department at (954) 565-6611 or 1-800-678-9022 make your reservation before September 19, 2018 and ask for Group Code: 122662


——Deadline——     September 7th     ——Deadline—— 

If received after the deadline, your one-on-one time with your chosen Editor or Agent will be an “on the spot” session.

Available on a first come, first serve basis. The earlier you sign up, the more likely you will get the person you want. You can buy additional critiques, as well, giving you more face-to-face time with the agents and editors.

Gary Schmidt will be doing five critiques. They will open for purchase on September 6th.  Please contact me if you are interested.

A gorgeous beach. 

A National Book Award Finalist and Author of two Newbery Honor books and a Printz Honor book.

Two top-notch acquiring NY Editors.

Two exciting NY Agents, looking to build their lists.

Our very own local MG author, winner of numerous awards.

An exclusive opportunity. 

Space is limited.

Will you be there? 
Register Now 

Gary Schmidt’s newest and most famous titles:


Newbery Honor   


Nat’l Book Award Finalist

Newbery Honor & Printz Honor book

                                                                            Newest  Novel  

                                               Nonfiction Picture Book, releases September 25, 2018


Donna Gephart’s most recent title:                                                                      Award Winning MG Novel
                                                Donna’s newest novel, releases Oct-09-2018
On Friday night, Donna will read from IN YOUR SHOES.
Books & Books will be available and onsite Friday to sell Gary Schmidt’s newest and most famous titles. They will also be selling Donna Gephart’s newest titles.  Please help support these authors by letting me know what titles you want available for you to get signed copies.  We want to have enough copies for everyone interested.  Please also feel free to bring your personal copies if you already have them for the book signing on Friday. Thank you!