PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz 2019

About This Event


Go beyond the basics to understand the “whys” behind current picture book bestsellers.

Everyone loves picture books! But writing stories that sell means going beyond a fun idea. In addition to structure, word choice, and plot, have you considered voice, style, rhythm, layout, rhyme, audience, tone, and sound? This workshop with award-winning picture book authors Darcy Pattison and Leslie Helakoski digs deep into the many layers that create strong creative stories.

What You’ll Learn

Go beyond the basics to understand the “whys” behind current picture book bestsellers.

Dissect books with that elusive read-again-and-again quality and learn how to entice readers with your own writing.

Find new ways to understand story.

Get reviews on personal manuscripts from our three faculty members and receive feedback on your work from an acquiring editor.

Hear an editor discuss why she chooses the books she chooses and hear her feedback on the first page of your manuscript.

Investigate how art enhances writing and inspire yourself to make room for the art as you write.

Who Should Attend

This course is best for:

Anyone with a serious interest in writing picture books. Experienced writers as well as beginners will benefit from understanding what makes a book sell and how structure and voice help tell the story and satisfy the reader.

Those who have completed two or more drafts of a picture book manuscript.

Those who want professional feedback on their work.

Anyone who is not afraid to dig deep into revision and dissecting what makes books work.

If you like playing with words and story and want feedback on your work, this is the place for you.


What Space in Children’s Literature Can You Own?

Picture Book Components: Character, Plot, Getting the Story Down

Writing Exercises

Focus and Structure: Focusing Statement and Three-Act Structure

Format: What’s the Best Way to Tell this Story?

Word Choice

Round Table Critiques

Free Writing Time

Verbal Music and Read Aloud Qualities, Page Turns, Interaction

Open Mike

Making Room for Art, with guest art director

Rhythm and Rhyme

Scoring Successful Picture Books

Guest Editor Presentation

Re-envisioning your Picture Book: Quantum Leap Revisions

“First Pages” with Visiting Editor

Working on the Next Picture Book…Ideas

Dummy-ing Your Story

The Business of Publishing


9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid

Are You Ready to Write a Children’s Picture Book?

Writing Picture Books That Soar

Short and easy, right? How hard can it be to write a picture book?


“Leslie, you were actually one of the first people to really believe in this manuscript and it never would have come to be if it wasn’t for you and Darcy. It had a completely different setting and style until you and Darcy challenged us to rewrite the beginning of one of our manuscripts on the first night of PB&J. I tend to cling tightly to my first ideas so it was the perfect exercise (and your critique was the perfect reminder) to not settle for the first thing that comes to mind. I have already shared with my writer groups what an amazing experience that workshop was and gave it my highest recommendation.”

“The faculty was excellent – knowledgeable, focused, and generous with their time.”

“The PB&J workshop was delicious! Darcy and Leslie encouraged, enlightened, and energized in a most personable way.”

“This conference was great! A perfect mix of learning and practicing our craft.”

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


Venue Highlights




Thank you!

We're glad you've joined our retreat community. See you around :)

Return to my event ×

Why Retreat?

We asked people why they go on retreat, here's what they said:

My last retreat at SMC was so inspiring and so relaxing. But i'd love to have more time there to spend at the Stupa, visit the Kami shrine, and generally interact with the beautiful enlightened society happening on that entire land. Brett

Retreat Guru's Vision

We believe human beings are innately wise, strong and kind. This wisdom, although not always experienced, is always present. Going on retreat is a beautiful way to reconnect to our basic sanity and health. Our aspiration at Retreat Guru is to inspire people to experience authentic retreats and reconnect with their innate wisdom, strength and kindness.

Don't have an account? Sign up.
Or connect with Facebook

Already have an account? Log in.
Or connect with Facebook