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Writing the Unreal: The Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy & Speculative Fiction 2014 | May 4 – May 11 Waitlisted

Do you write children’s or YA fantasy?  Alternate history? Science Fiction? Magical realism? Paranormal romance?  Fairy tale retellings?  Horror?  Bring it to The Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy & Speculative Fiction!

Who should come?
This unique workshop is designed for anyone – with a complete or near-complete draft of a middle-grade or young adult novel in fantasy or speculative fiction who wants a thorough manuscript critique and help making plans for revision.

We’re using “fantasy” and “speculative fiction” as umbrella terms for all kinds of stories that bend reality. We want your dragons and space operas, your  stories about real kids with strange powers, stories with monsters and ghosts and talking squirrels, apocalypses and dystopias, time travel, adventure stories with magic maps—of everything from the merest hint of magical realism to a fully invented world. If you’re wondering if something qualifies as fantasy or speculative fiction, then it probably does.

What can I expect from my critique?
The Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy & Speculative Fiction offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft of a novel read and critiqued prior to the workshop. You’ll get a detailed editorial letter from your faculty mentor along with a marked-up manuscript. We read your manuscripts very carefully and respond thoroughly in order to help you make your novel what it wants to be.

When you get to the workshop, you’ll have a one-on-one meeting with your mentor to further discuss your manuscript, and another meeting at the end of the week to map out a plan for revision.

What else happens over the week?
Mornings are free time at the workshop—you’ll have plenty of time to write, or take walks in the woods and think, or set up appointments with the faculty or grad assistants. In the afternoon, we’ll have lectures on craft and publishing, and discussions on writing and the marketplace. Evening  offers more writing time. And of course, there are plenty of opportunities to sit around and talk with your fellow writers.

What else can I expect?
Awesome people, delicious food, a private cabin or room in the middle of an idyllic setting, friends for life. People who have attended the Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy & Speculative Fiction have gone on to attend MFA programs and to publish articles, novels, and picture books. And that’s pretty magical.

About the Whole Novel Workshops
Founded in 2006, this session of the Whole Novel Workshop is specifically designed for those working in fantasy and speculative fiction. This unique program offers the one-on-one attention found in degree programs, but without additional academic requirements, lengthy time commitments, or prohibitive financial investments. Our aim is to focus on a specific fantasy, sci-fi, alternate-history, horror, or other imaginative work in progress, moving a novel to the next level in preparation for submission to agents or publishers. Focused attention in an intimate setting makes this mentorship program one that guarantees significant progress.

Our novel mentorship program includes:

  • Focused, one-on-one response to your entire novel-in-progress from an accomplished author and teacher currently working in the genre of fantasy & speculative fiction;
  • Group discussion and feedback;
  • Faculty seminars on technique, craft, query letters, and agent/editor submissions; and
  • Ample time to write and revise.

The Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop Difference:
The Whole Novel Workshop is limited to sixteen students. Each faculty member will work with only four students, providing undivided attention and several one-on-one sessions as well as a reading of your complete manuscript prior to the workshop.

Each attendee will have his or her own quiet place in which to write and revise. You will be lodged in either our fully-furnished, charming cabins, or our new lodge, which contains eight private rooms with private baths, and a great room for getting together with others, or just relaxing.

During your workshop, you’ll be able to focus—maybe for the first time—on nothing but your novel. You won’t hear a TV in the background or have kids demanding attention. You won’t have to stop to do laundry or cook or clean. You won’t be distracted by a constantly ringing phone.

The workshop takes place on the property of the former home of the Founders of Highlights for Children, tucked in the northern Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Sessions are held in The Barn, a rustic-looking conference center built from local wood and fieldstone, which provides a revitalizing space for writers to work and confer.


We are happy to announce that Laura and Anne will repeat this workshop in 2015, May 3-10.

Faculty & Special Guests