Programs

Whole Novel Workshop: A Retreat for Novelists (Summer Session One)

August 12 - 16, 2022

This Program is fully booked. Please click here to join the Waitlist. 

OVERVIEW:

In-person 5-Day/4-Night Workshop and Retreat

This intensive Whole Novel Workshop offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft (up to 80,000 words*) of a novel read by faculty, with detailed written feedback and two private consultations provided. Attention in an intimate setting makes this program one that guarantees significant progress in preparation for submission. This Whole Novel Workshop is specifically designed for writers of novels for children and teens.

  • Application deadline: May 20 (acceptance will be made by May 31)
  • Online preparatory and community building activities (via live Zoom Office Hours): June 9, June 16, June 23, then July 14 (all Thursdays at 7pm Eastern)
  • Complete manuscript and peer group submissions: by July 1
  • The in-person workshop at our Retreat Center includes inspirational sessions and opportunities for time in the company of fellow creatives.
    • Begins with dinner 5:30pm Eastern on Friday, August 12
    • Ends with lunch at 1:00pm Eastern on Tuesday, August 16
    • We include ample time to relax, retreat, and work on your own projects.
    • Lodging and meals are included at the retreat.
  • 16 participants max

Application Deadline: May 20, 2022
To apply, you will need to submit:

You will be notified of your acceptance status no later than May 31. Upon acceptance, you will receive a link to register for the workshop.

Please note: There is another session of the Whole Novel Workshop that will take place one week later than this one, with in-person retreat dates of August 19-23.  That session also has different faculty.  You can learn more about it here.. When you submit your application online, you should apply for your preferred session, but also note whether or not you’d be open to/available for the other session as well (in the available form field within the application).  Both sessions have the same application deadline date.

FEEDBACK EXPECTED:

  • You will be thoughtfully paired with a faculty reader who can offer insights and questions about your drafted novel (up to 80,000 words*), and help you prioritize goals.  You will receive this written feedback along with two private consultations to discuss feedback and goals.
  • A specially crafted “brain trust” peer group will be built with your needs in mind. This unique roundtable discussion will host no more than 8 fellow writers, and will be facilitated by a caring guide who sees that each group maintains a safe atmosphere and centers your needs during the discussion.
  • Informal feedback will be offered throughout the workshop via discussions and open sharing during free creative time.
  • Informal feedback will take place in the virtual classroom and in the online preparatory and community building activities included in the pre-workshop Zoom sessions.
Whole Novel Workshops

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

The Whole Novel Workshop offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft of a novel (up to 80,000 words*) read with written feedback and two private consultations provided, plus a week-long retreat opportunity to:

  • connect with fellow writers
  • plan revisions
  • hear inspirational presentations
  • discuss your personal writing needs, and
  • work on your novel in preparation for submission.

Attention in an intimate setting makes this program one that guarantees significant progress in preparation for submission.

You’ll move through this program alongside fellow authors who are in the thick of the creative process with you; from our experienced readers to your fellow attendees. Whether you’re working toward getting your first novel published, or working on the next (or the next!), this workshop can help you see your work in a new light.

Note: “Brain Trust” peer groups are small, carefully chosen cohorts of your fellow attendees, plus a facilitator. Your “brain trust” group members will come to the workshop having read your short submission and will have some familiarity with your work. Your “brain trust” guide will then help you bring your own questions and challenges to the group, so that they may offer you new perspectives and approaches to problem solving. The goal is to use those perspectives as you complete your revisions to bring out the best in your own story. Hear our podcast about “Brain Trusts” here.

With this workshop, you receive:

  • An editorial letter offering written insights and questions about your drafted novel (up to 80,000 words*) to help you prioritize goals.
  • At least two private consultations with your reader to discuss feedback, revisions, and next steps.
  • Time to stretch creatively with presentations and prompts.
  • Small group discussions and open space to process your revision ideas.
  • Connection opportunities with fellow writers.

Please note:

  • Acceptance into the program requires a brief application, including the first 10 pages from the manuscript you wish to receive feedback on during the program + a one-page synopsis (due May 20, 2022).
  • You will be notified of acceptance no later than May 31, 2022.
  • Your full novel draft (up to 80,000 words*) is due on or before July 1.  *If your work-in-progress is over 80,000 words and you would still like to apply, please note the current length in your application.
  • Peer group submissions are also due on or before July 1 (cover letter, synopsis, and ten pages of narrative).

THIS WORKSHOP IS A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You have a complete or near-complete draft of a novel. You’ll get the most out of this workshop if you’re at this stage.  Your full workshop novel submission is due by July 1, and then you’ll workshop it in earnest, readying it for submission.
  • Your project is one of many fiction genres, a graphic novel, a verse novel, or a multi-genre novel. If you aren’t sure if your novel fits the program specifics, please reach out and ask.
  • You would benefit from receiving multiple feedback perspectives. In addition to a whole novel review by your faculty reader, you will lead a discussion for feedback from your “brain trust” guides and fellow writers.
  • You’re willing to work! This program is best for those who will dedicate time and attention to processing feedback, revising, writing exercises, and group sessions.
  • You’d appreciate some retreat time. This course has plenty of built-in time to write, draw, hike, revise, and/or rest: whatever you need.

DETAILED AGENDA:

Pre-Workshop

  • Apply for acceptance into the Whole Novel Workshop by May 20, 2022.  You will be notified of acceptance by May 31 with a link to complete your registration.
  • Shortly after acceptance: you will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to peers, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), and view instructions for submissions.
  • Your full novel draft (up to 80,000 words*) is due on or before July 1.  *If your work-in-progress is over 80,000 words and you would still like to apply, please note the current length in your application.
  • Online preparatory and community building activities (via live Zoom Office Hours):
    • June 9, 7pm Eastern (Introductions with Q & A)
    • June 16, 7pm Eastern (Canvas Overview & Details about Submissions)
    • June 23, 7pm Eastern (Let’s Write Together & “Brain Trust” Overview)
    • July 14, 7pm Eastern (Preparing for your retreat & reading)
  • Editorial letters from faculty readers will be sent for your review by August 5th.
  • With a virtual 1:1 scheduled some time between August 10 – 12

Retreat Details:

Friday, August 12, 2022

  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern:  Arrival and check in.
  • 5:30pm: Appetizers; Followed by Dinner
  • Following dinner:  Welcome, Introductions, & Opening Session

Saturday, August 13, 2022

  • 8 – 8:45am: Breakfast
  • 9 – 9:30am: Writing Prompt
  • 9:30 – 12pm: Brain Trust Sessions
  • 12 – 12:45pm: Lunch
  • 1 – 5pm: Writing & Retreat time
  • 5:30 – 7pm: Appetizers & Dinner; Followed by faculty session

Sunday, August 14

  • 8 – 8:45am: Breakfast
  • 9 – 9:30am: Writing Prompt
  • 9:30 – 12pm: Brain Trust Sessions
  • 12 – 12:45pm: Lunch
  • 1 – 5pm: Writing & Retreat time
  • 5:30 – 7pm: Appetizers & Dinner; Followed by faculty session & book discussion

Monday, August 15

  • 8 – 8:45am: Breakfast
  • 9 – 9:30am: Writing Prompt
  • 9:30 – 12pm: Brain Trust Sessions
  • 12 – 12:45pm: Lunch
  • 12:45pm: Group activity
  • 1 – 5pm: Faculty Readers & Writing/ Retreat Time
  • 5:30 – 7pm: Appetizers & Dinner; Followed by informal activity

Tuesday, August 16

  • 8 – 8:45am: Breakfast
  • 9 – 9:30am: Writing Prompt
  • 9:30 – 12pm: Faculty led activity
  • 12 – 12:45pm: Lunch & Farewells

Note: Additional informal sessions could include writing sprints, writing prompts, and lunch-and-learns

August 16 – 19: Need to stay a little longer for your revision? There is space on campus to have a personal retreat. Please click here for details.

A note about workshop agendas and how they change and evolve. 

ABOUT OUR RETREAT CENTER:

All Highlights Foundation workshops (including this one) are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation.

Your workshop tuition includes all pre-workshop Zoom sessions, plus lodging, farm-fresh meals with snacks, and shuttle service from our local airport or bus/train stations if you need it.  For more information about attending a workshop or retreat here, visit the Barn at Boyds Mills website.

HOW THIS WORKSHOP IMPACTS KIDS:

Your novel can make a big impact on a child’s life. This workshop helps you take steps toward bringing it to market in a way that is authentic to your voice and your story, because that is just what your reader needs.

Why do we mention this? Learn about the Highlights Foundation mission. 

COMMITMENT REQUIRED FOR THE BEST EXPERIENCE:

As an in-person event at our Retreat Center, you’ll have a chance to step away from everyday life to experience the workshop. This program has a good amount of independent time so you have space for your personal needs. While we encourage participation in all group events, we know that as an adult learner you can decide if you need more time to yourself. Please let someone from our staff or faculty know if you plan to step away from group activities.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our code of conduct prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

Read some ideas about planning for the right level of commitment.

APPLY NOW!

Application Deadline: May 20, 2022
To apply, you will need to submit:

You will be notified of your acceptance status no later than May 31. Upon acceptance, you will receive a link to register for the workshop.

Please note: There is another session of the Whole Novel Workshop that will take place one week later than this one, with in-person retreat dates of August 19-23.  That session also has different faculty.  You can learn more about it here. When you submit your application online, you should apply for your preferred session, but also note whether or not you’d be open to/available for the other session as well (in the available form field within the application).  Both sessions have the same application deadline date.

RELATED RESOURCES

8 Articles to Help You Write a Kidlit Novel
Nicole Valentine and Rob Costello talk about the braintrust critique method
Listen for Stories
Podcast: Jennifer Jacobson talks about writing retreats, the Whole Novel workshop and taking your creativity to the next level
Transform Introspection into Dialogue
Podcast: Nancy Werlin on Reviewing Your Whole Novel
Eulogy Virtues
Podcast: Melissa Wyatt on Writing Prompts
Is Your Novel Opening as Strong as It Can Be?
Walking through the Woulds with your Character
An Na and Lilliam Rivera Talk About Writing Novels

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“Everyone on the faculty was genuinely interested in helping each student to succeed. They were great about having small or one-on-one conversations as well.”

“The faculty were warm, inspiring, wise, encouraging, helpful, and funny. The workshops were as inspiring and as helpful as the presenters. I couldn’t have asked for more!”

“The faculty were awesome. I’ve been through an MFA program in creative writing, so I know top-notch writing instructors when I see them. Learned some very valuable things about my writing at Highlights.”

“The guest speakers were lovely, accessible and thorough with their feedback and guidance.”

Faculty

Nancy Werlin

Nancy Werlin is the author of eleven young-adult novels that range from contemporary realism to mystery to fantasy, but her twelfth…
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Rob Costello

Rob Costello (he/him) is a queer man who writes contemporary and dark speculative fiction with a queer bent for and…
Learn more

I.W. Gregorio

IW Gregorio is a practicing urologist by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. She is author of the Schneider…
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Nicole Valentine

Special Guest Nicole Valentine (www.nicolevalentinebooks.com) is an author of middle grade fiction. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children…
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K.X. Song

K. X. Song is a Highlights Foundation Diversity fellow and a HG Wells Turnill Prize honoree. Her picture book, My Elastical…
Learn more

Sarah Aronson

Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then,…
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Mia García

M. García Peña / Mia García (she/her) was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She got her MFA…
Learn more

$2,199.00

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks.

Free shuttle service is available from the local airport, train, and bus station, or you can park on site. Get more logistics information here.

Pay in full or secure your spot with a deposit of $200 and payment plans as low as $75/month. We'll be in touch with details after you register.

Do you want help finding a workshop or resources that will fit your needs? Talk to one of our ambassadors.

workshop information

Our all-inclusive price means we provide transportation to and from the airport, lodging, all meals, unlimited snacks, and wireless Internet access.

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