Picture Book Writers and Illustrators: A Working Retreat

In-Person | Picture Books, Illustration
Picture book writers and illustrators: set aside time to focus on your picture book project! Here is a special working retreat just for you.

August 23, 2023 - August 26, 2023

Highlights Foundation Campus

$999

Overview

In-person 4-Day/3-Night Working Retreat

Picture book writers and illustrators: set aside time to focus on your picture book project! Here is a special retreat just for you. A “Working Retreat” is lightly structured with one lecture each day, one consultation, one guided manuscript workshopping of a picture book, and informal conversations held fireside.

  • This is an in-person retreat for picture book writers and illustrators who have at least one draft of a picture book manuscript, or a dummy (mocked-up picture book).
  • Included in the cost of the retreat is a 1:1 consultation with an editor, a facilitated group discussion about your work, and the opportunity for a first page review by an editor.
  • This is not a fully structured workshop. The focus will be ample time to work on your own stories, connect with fellow creatives, and retreat.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins at 5:30pm Eastern on Wednesday, August 23
  • Ends after lunch on Saturday, August 26
  • 16 participants max

Why This Working Retreat?

All creatives need time and space to accomplish their goals. We invite picture book creatives to gather in a community of fellow writers and illustrators, and spend time focused on crafting picture books.

At the heart of this working retreat is the “work.”

Days will be spent on individual projects, whether that means sketching in the Art Coop, drafting new words on the porch of your cabin, or finally getting to the revisions that your work-in-progress needs.

In addition to your personal time, we’ve invited author Darcy Pattison, author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski, and their guest editor Eileen Robinson to retreat alongside you. Darcy or Leslie will lead small group workshopping discussions to help move your story forward. You will meet individually with our editor for a private consultation to discuss your story ideas and writing. There will be two lectures during the program. The retreat will conclude with an optional first-pages session with our editorial guest.

Along with your 1:1 meetings and small group discussions, you will have the chance to gather informally over meals and after dinner each night to chat about stories.

This working retreat includes:

  • Lecture and Q&A time about picture book components
    • Picture book structures & styles
    • Drafting focusing statements
    • Word choice
    • Making dummies
  • Discussion on a work in progress with each instructor
  • First pages feedback from the visiting editor Eileen Robinson
  • Time to write and revise and discuss your work again

Your retreat will be well appointed with space to create as every accommodation option includes a personal workspace. You’ll find various spaces around the grounds to get work done or take a nature walk if you need a change of pace or some inspiration.

Feedback Expected

  • Small group workshopping of one picture book work in progress. Please bring your manuscript with you to share during the small group workshopping.
  • A 1:1 consultation with our visiting editor Eileen Robinson.  No submissions for this 1:1 consultation. This time will be scheduled to discuss where you are in your stories and ideas for moving forward with your drafting, revisions, and/or submissions.
  • Optional participation in a first pages critique on the final morning of the retreat.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You’re looking for in-depth writing time combined with strategic feedback.
  • You are a picture book creative, at any level, in any style. This workshop is open to picture book writers and illustrators who are just beginning and those who have more experience. Of most importance is at least one completed draft of a manuscript or dummy (mocked up picture book.)
  • You are looking for feedback from a picture book creative. You have the opportunity to workshop your story in a small group facilitated by Darcy or Leslie, and meet with an editor for a 1:1 meeting to discuss your ideas and writing.
  • You enjoy discussing stories with fellow picture book creatives. Bring your up-to-date manuscript to be read aloud during our facilitated group discussions. You’ll gather ideas and feedback about your story in this supportive environment.
  • You’d like a retreat where you can get to work. This retreat is not filled with lecture.  At its heart, this retreat is time to work on your own projects with the added bonus of workshopping your stories and hearing feedback from our faculty.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

Pre-Workshop
  • You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow picture book creatives and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).
  • Remember to bring at least one picture book manuscript with you for feedback sessions. You will workshop one picture book in your small group with strong feedback from Darcy and Leslie. You will have the opportunity to discuss that manuscript (or others) in your 1:1 consultation, and that manuscript (or another) in the first pages session.
  • We encourage you to bring additional projects with you to the retreat at various stages in-progress, as you will have time to draft, revise, and polish your work during independent time. This retreat is not filled with lecture.  At its heart, this retreat is time to work on your own projects.
Day 1: Wednesday, August 23
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in.
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner (with introductions over dinner)
  • Following dinner: Expectations and goals for our time together.
Day 2: Thursday, August 24

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Lecture #1
  • Small group workshopping (half the group) and Writing/Illustration time

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Writing/Illustration time and 1:1 meetings

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day 3: Friday, August 25

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Lecture #2
  • Small group workshopping (half the group) and Writing/Illustration time

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Writing/Illustration time and 1:1 meetings

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day 4: Saturday, August 26

Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Writing/Illustration time
  • Optional first pages discussion with editorial guest Eileen Robinson

Afternoon

  • Lunch & farewells
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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 retreat. It is important to recognize that this is not a full workshop, rather a “working retreat” that combines opportunities for feedback with ample time to retreat and work on your own projects.

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 participating in the peer group workshopping, 1:1 consultation with our visiting editor, and the optional first pages critique. There is no submission required but we need you to bring at least one completed draft to workshop, and encourage you to bring multiple projects at varying points in process.

Testimonials from Our Community

“Darcy and Leslie encouraged, enlightened, and energized in a most personable way.”

“Darcy and Leslie were extremely accessible for advice, critique and casual conversation.”

“Really went above what was expected — offering mini-sessions on various topics, surprise picture book readings, and being available for any kind of questions or discussions.”

“It really gave me the focus I needed, to sort out my stories and make a strategy for submissions.”

Special Guests

DETAILS

August 23, 2023 - August 26, 2023

$999

Highlights Foundation Campus

362 Boyds Mills Road
Milanville, PA 18443

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.

LOCATION

All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops and retreats (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.

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Shuttle service is included from the local airport and bus stations, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.