Highlights of the Highlights Retreat

illustration kidlit retreat workshop writing



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Whoah. Just whoah.

The Getting to Know Your Picture Book workshop and retreat led by Debbie Ridpath Ohi featuring Heidi Stemple was awesome. We spent weeks dissecting our manuscripts on an online forum, and then a month or two later, we met in real life and had 1:1 edition sessions and group round tables to discuss our stories. We were able to edit 2 of our manuscripts during this time, and the course was jam-packed with information and a wealth of knowledge.

So, the course itself was very much worth it. The interactions with other attendees and mentors was priceless.

How’s it work? Well, the first portion of the class was online (using a platform called Schoology). We had lessons online, reading, and exercises to follow. We commented on each other’s work and followed through with turning in manuscripts and portions of our stories.

Then we went back to the drawing/writing board and worked on edits and sent in our manuscripts a week or two before the in-person retreat.



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The retreat itself…

The grounds of the Highlights Foundation are at the foothills of the Poconos in rural Pennsylvania. It was gorgeous. I had lived in the Catskills for a summer, and it was very similar. We had a foggy morning or two and it was gorgeous, mysterious, dazzling.

It drizzled and there were so many songbirds, butterflies, walking paths. Because it was in September, there were a few hot days and a few cool days. I added an ‘unworkshop’ or extra day to my stay. I’d definitely check the weather before going, but be prepared for rain.

Our mornings began with a nourishing breakfast, informative lectures, a session or tour. Then we’d lunch, have more sessions, and we’d break for the evening. We heard from the seasoned editor-turned-agent, Rubin Pfeffer and he gave us a great overview of the publishing world. Heidi Stemple worked with us on getting to the nuts and bolts of our stories. We had artsy session with Lisa Cinelli and Kelly Light, and writing sessions 1:1 and in small groups. We walked trails, ate well, and learned from one another.



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Overall, I had a great experience, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The time spent in the course was very well worth it and the time alone with my story was too.

x

Adriana


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