Programs

Begin Your Chapter Book Series: Workshop & Retreat

September 18 - 21, 2022

OVERVIEW:

In-person 4-Day/3-Night Workshop and Retreat

This workshop takes a deep look at the intersection of craft and commercial viability in writing and selling a chapter book series. This is an in-person workshop at our Retreat Center with mentorship, hands-on activities, presentations, and ample time for resting, writing, sketching, and more.

This program includes:

  • A 4-day/3-night retreat with 1:1 critiques, revision small group sessions, presentations, and more.
  • Begins with dinner on Sunday, September 18, 2022 (submission deadline is August 31).
  • Ends after lunch at 1:00pm Eastern on Wednesday, September 21.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • 16 participants max

FEEDBACK EXPECTED:

  • A 1:1 on-campus meeting with your faculty reader sharing insights and questions from your submission;
  • A small group discussion (facilitated by the program teaching assistant) to share sample pages, questions about revisions, and ideas for moving your series forward.

Informal feedback will also be offered via optional sharing opportunities during creative exercises.

Pre-course submissions: Deadline for both is August 31, 2022.

  • Faculty Reader submission:
    • Please submit a one page synopsis of your chapter book series, a cover letter detailing your connection to this project and the current status of the project, and the first chapter (up to 5 pages).
  • Small Group submission:
    • Please submit the first 3 chapters (no more than 15 pages) plus a cover letter detailing your connection to this project, the current status of this project, and, most importantly, questions that you have for fellow writers as you navigate drafting/revising this project.

 

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

Kids love to find chapter book series that not only entertain them, but engage them and makes them feel successful as readers. We can engage our chapter book readers through beloved characters, story arcs, plot development, and positive representation of their worlds.

Chapter books can be fiction or nonfiction, they can have a highly graphic component or no graphics at all. No matter their theme or style, they commonly fall at the intersection of craft and commercial viability.

Join chapter book writers Kashmira Sheth, Debbi Michiko Florence, and their guests to learn more about this exciting genre for readers!

You will:

  • Receive an overview of successful chapter book series, from past to present!
  • Work one-to-one with faculty on a project of your choice.
  • Gain tools for building a strong first page.
  • Understand how to plot a single book AND how to plot across a series.
  • Dig into character prompts and get to know your characters inside and out.
  • Enjoy free writing time so that you can stretch and work on your own projects.

THIS WORKSHOP IS A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You are a picture book or middle grade author. Curious about whether you can write a chapter book series? We’ll help you find out.
  • You have an idea for a chapter book series. You’ll get one-to-one feedback to help you strengthen your idea, and you’ll get an in-depth look at the elements needed to create a series.
  • You’re good at plotting, outlining, and meeting deadlines. Creating and sustaining a chapter book series takes a different kind of commitment than doing a stand-alone book.
  • You’d appreciate some retreat time. This course has plenty of built-in time to write, draw, hike, or rest–whatever you need.

 

TENTATIVE AGENDA:

Pre-Workshop

  • You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), and view submission details related to this course.
  • Faculty Reader submission (Due August 31st)

    • Please submit a one page synopsis of your chapter book series, a cover letter detailing your connection to this project and the current status of the project, and the first chapter (up to 5 pages).
  • Small Group submission (Due August 31st)

    • Please submit the first 3 chapters (no more than 15 pages) plus a cover letter detailing your connection to this project, the current status of this project, and, most importantly, questions that you have for fellow writers as you navigate drafting/revising this project.

Tentative Retreat Schedule

Day 1: Sunday, September 18, 2022

  • 3-5pm Eastern: Arrival
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner
  • Following dinner: Faculty and attendee welcome, intro with favorite chapter book series

 

Day 2: Monday, September 19, 2022

Morning

  • 8 – 8:45am: Breakfast
  • 8:45 – 10:15am: Overview of chapter book series
  • 10:15 – 10:30am: Break
  • 10:30am – 12pm: Small Group Workshopping: Part One

Afternoon

  • 12 – 12:45pm: Lunch
  • 1:30 – 3:30pm: Writing/Retreat Time & 1:1 Meetings with Kashmira and Debbi
  • 4pm – 5:30pm: Opening paragraphs for your chapter book

Evening

  • 5:30pm: Appetizers followed by dinner
  • 7:30pm: Informal fireside discussions

 

Day 3: Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Morning

  • 8 – 8:45am: Breakfast
  • 8:45 – 10:15am: Plotting across series: Ideas to story development
  • 10:15 – 10:30am: Break
  • 10:30am – 12pm: Small Group Workshopping: Part Two

Afternoon

  • 12 – 12:45pm: Lunch
  • 1:30 – 3:30pm: Writing/Retreat Time & 1:1 Meetings with Kashmira and Debbi
  • 4pm – 5:o0pm: Optional Character Prompts in the Barn
  • 5:00pm: Group Photo

Evening

  • 5:30pm: Appetizers followed by dinner
  • 7:30pm: Q & A with guest editor, Winsome Bingham

 

Day 4: Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Morning

  • 8 – 8:45am: Breakfast
  • 9:00-10:00am: Revision strategies that work!
  • 10:00-10:30am: Final Q & A with all faculty
  • 10:30 – 11:30am: BREAK / Pack

Afternoon

  • 12:00: Lunch and Farewells

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

Nervous about critiques? See how the Highlights Foundation approaches the process here.

Following the course you’ll be invited to take part in our Community Office Hours on Mondays at 12pm Eastern, beginning Monday, September 26 through Monday, October 31.

ABOUT OUR RETREAT CENTER:

All in-person 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 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:

Chapter books are an important part in a child’s reading development, allowing children time to develop the necessary skills, confidence, and love of reading that will put them on the path of becoming successful lifelong readers.

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. We build in breaks and 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 Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

Another commitment that will help you get the most from this workshop is submission deadline for your small group discussion and 1:1 faculty review. The submission deadline is August 31 in order to allow faculty and fellow writers ample time to familiarize themselves with your work in advance of your meetings.  If this is an issue, please let us know.

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

RELATED RESOURCES:

Winsome Bingham: From Workshop to Publication to Acquiring Editor
What Makes a Successful Chapter Book Series? Some Examples
4 Things to Consider Before You Begin a Chapter Book Series
Early Readers and Transitional Chapter Books: What Are They and Why Are They Important?
Picture book? Early Reader? Chapter Book? Where Does Your Story Fit?
Using Rhyme & Repetition to Build Reading Confidence
Scholastic’s Branches, a line of early chapter books.

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“The faculty was amazing, super helpful and I loved our interactions. My 1-on-1 was great.”

“I thought Debbi and Kashmira were very supportive and encouraging. Debbi was my MS mentor and I feel that she spent time reading my story and provided thoughtful comments that will help me revise.”

“I love the peer roundtables.”

“I loved how the faculty shared their own experiences while also encouraging us to explore our own rhythms and techniques.”

Faculty

Debbi Michiko Florence

A third-generation Japanese American, Debbi Michiko Florence is the author of middle grade novels, chapter book series, and a picture…
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Kashmira Sheth

Kashmira Sheth writes picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, and young adult fiction. Her books have received many awards…
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Tonya Duncan Ellis

Special Guest Tonya Duncan Ellis has had her nose in a book since she learned to read, so it’s no…
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Winsome Bingham

Special Guest Winsome Bingham is a soul food connoisseur, master cook, and a US Army war and disabled veteran. She…
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$1,199.00

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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