Carmen Oliver: Is This the Right Picture Book Workshop for Me?

The always-delightful Carmen Oliver is faculty, along with Bethany Hegedus and Salina Yoon, for our workshop, The Ins and Outs of a Picture Book and Its Many Forms.

Is this workshop right for me?
That was the question I received from a potential Highlights Foundation attendee a couple of months ago. I’d received an email wanting to know if I’d be open to having a telephone conversation about the course. The writer wanted to make an informed decision about investing in herself.  Of course, I was happy to speak with her. I’ve been in her shoes many times before, too. And I thought perhaps others might gleam a broader perspective if I shared some of that conversation in a blog post.

Is this course for the beginner or advanced picture book writer?
It’s designed for both. It’s choreographed to challenge the writer to go deeper with their writing in the development of story, character and the elements that make a stand-out picture book. It’s also to equip you with confidence to be an advocate for your stories in the market place and beyond.

Do I need to have finished picture book manuscripts?
Yes and No. Let me explain. Those who have finished manuscripts please come ready to be critiqued. We’ll give you tips and tools and feedback to strengthen them. The seeds will be there in your manuscripts. Trust me. We’ll help you deepen and flesh out the story only you can tell. On the “No” front, come with an open mind to learn new ways to shape and develop a story. There will be hands-on activities to demonstrate this process and spark your creativity.

How do I know if my story is any good?
We will help you figure out the more important questions. What is it you are trying to say with this story? What is the takeaway you want to leave the reader with? Why do you have to write this story? How can you tell this story in a way that will compel and connect to your audience?

What kind of mentoring will I receive?
You will receive 110% of our time while at Highlights. We are there for you! To nurture and instruct. To inspire and motivate. To critique and inform. To build your confidence in your abilities and see you push yourself beyond where you currently are.

How do you know if this workshop is right for you?
Nobody can make that decision for you. It’s a deeply personal one. There are many factors that go into that decision from financial to family and self-reflection. I can tell you this. Salina’s strengths are in art and writing and sparking creative ideas. Bethany brings a plethora of experience in honing nonfiction picture books to deepening your craft of writing. As the creative director at The Writing Barn, she’s mentored many students who’ve gone on to sell multiple books and find literary agents under her directorship. My strengths are in language and structure and revision. Between the three of us, we have something for everyone! Whether you choose to take our course or another Highlights Foundation workshop, please keep investing in yourself. As Natalie Goldberg said, “If you love the work, it will love you back.”

Posted on: May 21, 2018

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