One Writer’s Journey

April 29, 2010

What I Learned on Retreat with Randi Rivers

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:32 am
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First of all — if you ever have the opportunity to attend a retreat led by Randi Rivers of Charlesbridge, do it!   It will be time and money well spent.

This was actually my second retreat with Randi.  The first time, she discussed characterization in the picture book and how to write narrative nonfiction.  This time, she discussed the all important revision letter and how to revise.

When she asks for revision, one of the things that she most often asks writers to alter is their organization, especially in nonfiction.  So it is probably no great surprise that when I met with her, she asked me to reconsider the organization and format of my manuscript.  I had never tried to write anything like this before and I prepared this piece for the retreat just so that I could see what I would need to change to sell this kind of manuscript.  The answer?  Quite a bit.  I need to re-research the piece and pretty well start from scratch.

Randi also suggested that we not take her comments and just run with them.  She wanted us to look behind them and see what larger issues she was trying to address.  Don’t use her fix, but come up with our own fix that would work within the manuscript we wanted to create.

In addition to organizational issues, I didn’t have quite enough material.   Randi suggested two different ways to reorganize and I played around with the one that felt most natural given what had inspired me to write the manuscript.  Then I dummied it and realized there still wasn’t enough material.  What if I added another section?  I went back to Randi with my new plan.  We noodled and chatted and realized that with my addition, a different section now felt out of place.  If I removed that section, things would again be too short but I’d have room to expand other areas into a more high concept approach.


What initially inspired me may not even make it into the final manuscript but I can’t say that I mind.  I love the new idea and can keep the other material for another project.  After all, how can you complain about a new organization that is much stronger?

–SueBE (who is off to work on the research)

January 4, 2010

Missouri SCBWI Event: Retreat with Editor Randi Rivers

Missouri SCBWI Presents

The Writer’s Revision Retreat


Charlesbridge Editor Randi Rivers


Novelist Kristin Nitz

April 23 – 25, 2010

Trout Lodge YMCA

Potosi, Missouri

“There is no great writing, only great rewriting.”
– Justice Brandeis
Authors love to write. We all adore the excitement of a new idea and the thrill of exploring a new character. It’s the agony of editing that we hate.
With the help of editor, Randi Rivers and novelist, Kristin Nitz, you will learn how to face that monster called revision.
You will spend a full weekend analyzing and revising your toughest project. Charlesbridge Editor Randi Rivers will meet one-on-one with you
to suggest revisions that will make your manuscript stronger. Both Kristin and Randi will give workshops on how to improve your writing. You
will also have time to make changes and meet with Randi a second time to go over your revisions.
Novelist Kristin Nitz will work with you to draft a query letter to an editor and help answer your marketing questions. It will be a weekend full of
writing, rewriting, and encouragement.

Staff Bios:

Randi Rivers

Charlesbridge Editor

Randi Rivers started her publishing career in the Los Angeles area, working as an associate editor for three motorcycle magazines. While living in California, she co-wrote a sketch comedy show and a play, both of which were produced onstage. Randi joined Charlesbridge Publishing in 2000. Currently an editor, she acquires and edits eight to 10 children’s books per year. She enjoys editing both fiction and nonfiction. Her favorite topics are nature, science, social studies and anything that tickles her funny bone.

Kristin Wolden Nitz


Kristin is a longtime student of the query letter and regards them almost as a separate art form. She regularly shares her insights on cover letters and query letters with students at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her short stories and articles have appeared in Cricket, Highlights, Hopscotch, and Boy’s Quest. She’s written nonfiction books for Lerner and Pearson Education. Her second novel, Saving the Griffin, is on the master lists for
the 2009/10 Kentucky Bluegrass Award 9 grades 3-5) and the Georgia Book Award.


The retreat will be held at the lovely Trout Lodge YMCA in Potosi, Missouri.
This peaceful setting, beside a lake with tree-covered hills, is a wonderful inspiration for writing. All rooms have two double beds and their own bathroom.
All meals and lodging are included in the cost of the retreat. Private rooms are not available for this retreat.
A special part of this retreat is receiving one-on-one feedback from an editor. You will be asked to submit the first ten pages of your novel, or one whole picture book by February 1st. Randi will read your manuscript and meet with you to go over any changes she recommends.
You will also have the opportunity to work on additional projects in a small critique group. You will receive more information about the small groups upon registration.
This retreat is limited to members of SCBWI who are on the PAL* list (*published and listed).  There is a retreat in July that is open to all writers published
or unpublished. To keep the retreat intimate, there will be only 14 participants. Please register early to reserve your spot. Registrations will be
accepted on a first-come first-serve basis.


3:00 – Check-in begins
5:00 – Opening remarks and introductions
6:00 – Supper
7:30 – 9:00 Session one – Randi Rivers
9:00 – 10:00 Social time
8:00 – Breakfast
9:00 – 10:30 Critiques with Randi and meetings with small critique groups
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 -12:00 Session Two- Kristin Nitz and finish critiques with Randi Rivers
12:00 – Lunch
1:30 – 4:00 Writing and revision time
4:00 – 5:30 Session Three- Randi Rivers
6:00- 7:00 Supper
7:30 – 9:00 Revision and writing time
9:00 – 10:00 Social time
8:00- Breakfast
9:00 – 10:30- Session Four-Kristin Nitz and revision meetings with Randi
10:30-10:45 – Break
10:45- 12:00 – Small-group critique meetings and revision meetings with Randi
12:00 – Lunch
1:00 – Wrap up and Good-bye

Registration Form:

_______ Yes! I am a PAL* member of SCBWI
(and yes, we do check!)
Name _____________________________
E-mail _____________________________
Phone _____________________________
________ enclosed is my check for $335.00
Cost of the retreat is $335.00.
This includes all sessions, overnight accommodations, and all meals.
Check payable to: Missouri SCBWI
Mail check and form to: Stephanie Bearce
18 Quiet Brook Ct. St. Charles, MO 63303
You will receive e-mail confirmation of your registration and instructions for submitting your manuscript.
*PAL membership of the SCBWI means published and listed. To register yourself on PAL simply login to SCBWI and update your profile information. Only people on the PAL list will be accepted for participation in this retreat.
Questions? Contact

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