Working Retreat: Picture Book Authors and Illustrators

In-Person | Picture Books, Nonfiction, Poetry, Illustration, Working Retreats
Picture book writers and illustrators: set aside time to focus on your picture book project! Here is a special retreat just for you. Join fiction and nonfiction author Darcy Pattison, author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski, and their guest Sara Gomez Woolley to immerse yourself in all things picture books.

November 10 - November 13

Highlights Foundation Campus

$1199

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. Join fiction and nonfiction author Darcy Pattison, author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski, and their guest Sara Gomez Woolley to immerse yourself in all things picture books. 

A “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 picture book writers and illustrators who have at least one draft of a picture book manuscript, or a dummy (mocked-up picture book).
  • This “working retreat” has light instruction and ample time to work on your individual projects.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins at 5:30pm Eastern on Sunday, November 10
  • Ends after lunch on Wednesday, November 13

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.

By your side throughout the retreat you’ll hear from fiction and nonfiction author Darcy Pattison, author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski, and their guest Sara Gomez Woolley. Each guest will offer one presentation and one informal session (see tentative agenda for more details.) In a round table group, discussion of your work-in-progress. You’ll receive feedback from both Darcy and Leslie about your story, as well as opinions from your classmates.

This working retreat includes:

  • Presentations and Q&A time
  • Discussion on a work in progress in roundtable groups with Darcy and Leslie
  • Dummy making workshop with Sara
  • Ample time to write, draw, relax… whatever you need from this picture book retreat!

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.

“Attending a retreat at the Highlights campus felt like a portal fantasy, in the best way possible. Everyone was so friendly, and I felt so taken care of while I was there. The campus itself had wonderful spots to get creative work done (shout out to the Art Coop…I nerded out big time in there!), and 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.”

What's It Like on a Working Retreat at the Highlights Foundation?

See a virtual tour of the campus, testimonials, and more information about the experience.

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.
  • A round table group discussion of your work-in-progress. You’ll receive feedback from both Darcy and Leslie about your story, as well as opinions from your classmates.
  • 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 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 write or illustration for fiction or nonfiction picture books. With faculty and guests who write and draw in a variety of mediums and genres, you are sure to connect with a faculty member who can help move your project to a new level.
  • You enjoy discussing stories with fellow picture book creatives. Bring your up-to-date manuscript to be read aloud during our facilitated roundtable 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 based on lecture. It’s time to work on your own projects, with the added immersive experience of presentations, generative writing exercises, and time to connect with fellow creatives over meals and informal gatherings.

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 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, research, 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.
  • You will bring one project for our time in round table discussion. There will be a round table discussion of your work-in-progress. You’ll receive feedback from both Darcy and Leslie about your story, as well as opinions from your classmates.
Day One: Sunday, November 10, 2024
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner
  • Following dinner: Expectations and goals for our time together
Day Two: Monday, November 11, 2024
Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Presentation with Darcy Pattison and Leslie Helakoski
  • Roundtable discussions of your work in progress (Part One)
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Optional 1:1 Consultations

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day Three: Tuesday, November 12, 2024
Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Presentation with Darcy Pattison and Leslie Helakoski
  • Roundtable discussions (Part Two)
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Dummy Building with Sara Gomez Woolley
  • Open Studio Time (art and words together!)
  • Optional 1:1 Consultations

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Open Mic on the patio (weather permitting)
Day Four: Wednesday, November 13, 2024
Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Optional 1:1 Consultations
  • Final questions, sharing, and closing

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 “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

Picture books are a beloved part of many children’s lives. This workshop is meant to support and inspire you as you craft a picture book for children.

Testimonials from Our Community

“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.”

“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.”

Special Guests

DETAILS

November 10 - November 13

$1199

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.

Our Mission in Action

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