Working Retreat: Experienced Storytellers In-Company

In-Person | Picture Books, Early Readers and Chapter Books, Novels, Graphic Novels, Novels in Verse, Nonfiction, Poetry, Illustration, Business of Publishing, Working Retreats
Have you been working in the children's book industry for a long time? You'll be welcome at this Working Retreat, where experienced authors and illustrators will gather to create and share concerns, goals and celebrations with their peers.

September 11 - September 15

Highlights Foundation Campus



In-person 5-Day/4-Night Working Retreat

This retreat for experienced authors and illustrators has been thoughtfully crafted to share, grow, and cultivate creativity when you’ve been working in the industry for a long time. Come retreat in-company with your peers about your career, challenges, deadlines, upcoming projects, and new dreams.

This Working Retreat is lightly structured with one lecture each day, informal conversations, optional consultations with faculty, and plenty of time to create in the comfort and care of the Highlights Foundation retreat center.

  • This is an in-person retreat for experienced authors and illustrators seeking time for inspiration and time to work on their individual projects.  
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins at 5:30pm Eastern on Wednesday, September 11
  • Ends after lunch on Sunday, September 15
  • 24 participants max

with Lesa Cline-Ransome

Lesa Cline-Ransome


with Jennifer Jacobson


with Juana Medina

Photo of Juana Medina


with Jane Kurtz

Jane Kurtz

Why This Working Retreat?

All creatives need time and space to accomplish their goals. This retreat strives for meaningful conversations about how to push the boundaries of your work, acknowledge the power of your recurring themes, and at the same time, find ways to break new ground and gain innovation.

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

Days will be spent on individual projects.  You choose what that means for you!  Maybe you’ll draft new words on the porch of your cabin, sketch in the Art Coop, finally get to the revisions that your work-in-progress needs, or rest.

In addition to your personal time, we’ve invited supportive faculty to work alongside you. They’ll offer one presentation and creative exercise each day during the retreat.

Finally, you can join fellow creatives for informal gatherings by the fire in the evening, at meals, or throughout the retreat as you wish to discuss creativity and publishing, share your work, and more!

This working retreat includes:

  • Presentations and activities intended to help you take creative leaps!
  • Time to write, illustrate, collaborate, and fill the creative well.
  • Shared studio and writing time in-company.
  • Industry Q&As and sharing.

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

A Venn Diagram that shows how A Kidlit Conference, A Community, and Writing and Studio Time overlap at a Working Retreat.

Learn.  Get Inspired.

Then put it to work in the company of people who believe in the power of story.

Learn more about Working Retreats at the Highlights Foundation, and see testimonials and a virtual tour.

I loved the routines we had where we got to do individual creative work and then come together during meals and after hours to bond and connect. It was just such a beautifully crafted atmosphere…The faculty was [also] amazing all around. They provided great insight in their presentations, and they were warm and welcome to discuss anything about the craft. I deeply enjoyed their company and their brilliance.”

Feedback Expected

  • Optional consultations can be scheduled with one of our faculty mentors. These opportunities are available at an additional cost, and can be added at the time of registration or during your retreat stay. No submissions will be required or accepted for these 1:1 consultation opportunities, but you will fill out a questionnaire in advance (in our virtual classroom) to prepare.  Consultations will include time to discuss where you are in your stories, and ideas for moving forward with drafting, revisions, and/or submissions.
  • There will be informal feedback opportunities and time to share work during generative creative exercises, and as you connect with fellow attendees.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You are an experienced author or illustrator looking to connect with peers at a similar stage in their careers.
  • You could use some creative inspiration. There will be daily presentations designed to spark new ideas, and you’ll have time to network and collaborate with the community.
  • You’d like a retreat where you can get to work. This retreat is not based on lecture. It’s time to work on your own projects, with the added immersive experience of presentations, activities, and time to connect over meals and informal gatherings.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.  Click on the headings below to explore the agenda in more detail.

  • You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow creatives and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).  You can also fill out a questionnaire if you opt for a 1:1 consultation with a faculty mentor (at an additional cost).
  • We encourage you to bring 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 project.
Day One: Wednesday, September 11, 2024
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner
  • Following dinner: Expectations and goals for our time together with Jennifer Jacobson 
  • Welcome from Elizabeth Lilly
Day Two: Thursday, September 12, 2024


  • Breakfast
  • Presentation #1 with Lesa Cline Ransome
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect


  • Lunch
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Optional consultations (available at an additional cost)
  • Optional hands-on art session with Elizabeth Lilly


  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day Three: Friday, September 13, 2024


  • Breakfast
  • Presentation #2 with Juana Medina
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect


  • Lunch
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Optional consultations (available at an additional cost)
  • Optional Studio/Writing Shared Space


  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Fireside Q & A with editor Trisha de Guzman
Day Four: Saturday, September 14, 2024


  • Breakfast
  • Presentation #3 with Jennifer Jacobson
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect


  • Lunch
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Optional consultations (available at an additional cost)
  • Optional Studio/Writing Shared Space


  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Open Mic & Sharing
Day Five: Sunday, September 15, 2024


  • Breakfast
  • Open Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Publishing Discussion, New Ideas, and Final Remarks with Jane Kurtz


  • Lunch & farewells
Past Presentations
Note: Presentation themes are still being developed by faculty. Past In-Company presentations have included:

  • Perfectionism & the Artist
  • A Picture is Worth a Variable Number of Words
  • Living the Creative Life
  • Memory, Research, Imagination
  • Creating an Aural Landscape for Creativity
  • Word Play: Poetry
  • Tick Tock: Time Is on Your Side
  • The Best Tape in the World and What It’s Like to Turn Your Book into a TV Show 
  • Facing a Crisis of Faith

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 “jam-packed” workshop; rather it is a Working Retreat that combines opportunities for learning 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.

If you would like additional support from faculty, you can add on a private 1:1 consultation at an additional cost. There is no submission required, though we will ask you to fill out a short questionnaire in the virtual classroom prior to your consultation.

How It Impacts Kids

As a published author or illustrator, your work has already impacted the lives of children. What’s next for your characters or themes? What’s next for you? This Working Retreat gives you time and space to work on your projects, in a supportive environment.

Testimonials from Our Community

“It’s an amazing place to write and refill the well…being able to just sit with other authors and talk craft is just such a special thing. It fills you up in a different way.”

“I attended this course last year. It blew my writing process wide open. I highly recommend it for published authors who need a shot of innovation in the arm and a week of pampering and community that only Highlights and the talented Jennifer Jacobson can deliver.”

“I think of myself as a very creative author but I was needing to feel coaxed, pushed, nudged in new ways, so I signed up for the first published author creativity workshop and was it ever terrific! Responding to the guidance from the various workshop leaders led me to places I never would have found on my own. I had a breakthrough with a picture book text and also a novel-length project. It was great for spots where I knew I was stuck and also spots where I was stuck and didn’t know it.”

“It was, hands down, the best writing experience I’ve ever had. Too often educational encounters are competitive in nature. In this workshop I felt totally relaxed.”

“The cottage was perfect, the surroundings peaceful and relaxing. I was able to find a balance of work and play. So much thought and consideration has gone into providing an inspiring, rejuvenating environment.”

“This retreat was wonderful. There was so much positive energy, and it really gave me the momentum to keep working toward my goals.”

Books by Lesa Cline-Ransome

See More

Book cover; One Big Open Sky
Book cover: Leaving Lymon
Book cover: Not Playing by the Rules
Book cover: For Lamb

Books by Jennifer Jacobson

See More

Book cover: Crashing in Love
Book cover: Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Delores
Book cover: Oh, Chickadee!
Book cover: Twig & Turtle Big Move to a Tiny House

Books by Juana Medina

See More

Book cover: 'Twas the Night Before PRIDE
Book cover: Juana & Lucas Big Problemas
Book cover: I Feel!
Book cover: Elena Monta en Bici

Books by Jane Kurtz

See More

Book cover: Anna Was Here
Book cover: The Bone Wars
Book cover; Chickens on the Loose
Book cover: The Clues Are in the Poo

Special Guests


September 11 - September 15


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.


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 available from select locations for a fee, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

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.