Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Reasons to Go to A Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop

My Trip to Attend Highlights Foundation's An Introduction to Novels in Verse, Oct. 7-12, 2012


Imagine a week spent writing and taking writing classes with outstanding children's writers while staying in your own cabin in the Poconos. Sound idyllic? The Highlights Foundation offers several writing workshops in Honesdale, PA where you can do exactly that!

In mid-October, I was fortunate to attend the Introduction to Novels in Verse workshop. Initially, I wasn't entirely certain whether I should go since I don't primarily write verse novels. But I had started an attempt at one and thought I had better grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study with the talented verse novelists Virginia Euwer Wolff, Sonya Sones and Linda Oatman High.

And it turned out to be an excellent workshop and a delightful experience.

Since I live in a big city, I especially enjoyed getting away to stay in a cabin in the woods. Here are some photos of the charming and comfortable cabin where I stayed. So peaceful and free of television. No distractions or excuses not to write!

The workshop kicked off with dinner on Sunday night (the first of many delicious meals) and went through brunch on Friday. While it included time for writing, primarily it was a scheduled retreat with daily classes. The classes encompassed both basics (What is a Verse Novel?) and 'insider' information (Tips and Secrets with Sonya, Linda, and Virginia) and even branched out to cover book publishing tips. The balance of class and personal time worked well for me.
The generous and insightful teachers who taught the classes made this workshop special. They inspired us with their stories and words, gave creative writing exercises and prompts, and advised us in one-on-one critiques. Sharing daily meals with these writers offered a unique chance to get to know them and to learn about writing in a personal way.

The sixteen writers/students who attended really made this workshop zing.
We shared our stories and poems at Open Mic Nights, at the meal tables, in the classes, and sitting around the beautiful new barn where the classes were held.
Writers came from all across the country from Portland to Boise to Florida to  North Carolina.  Everyone seemed devoted to their writing craft and many shared both writing battle stories about the challenges getting published and success stories (here's my new book!). 

The Barn
It was great attending classes in the new barn built mostly from wood from old, local barns. The quiet rural setting included walking paths by a stream, the old Highlights family farm house, and a quaint 19th century post office down the road.

We also got to visit and tour the Highlights for Children Press building and meet the staff.

Finally, I have to mention the food at the retreat.  Local chiefs lovingly prepared their own recipes often with local ingredients. Delicious!

What a terrific workshop! I'll be sharing more about the the novelists who led the workshop and their books in upcoming posts, so stay tuned.

For more information on Highlights Foundation workshops, visit

Have you been on a writers workshop that you liked?

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  1. So glad to have spent the wonderful week with you! Great post, and happy writing!

  2. I've been to several of the workshops and retreats, and it is always a special experience. I recognize the view from you cabin. Marcia and the rest of the kitchen staff are the BEST!! Glad you had such a good experience. I thought about the Novel in Verse workshop, but just couldn't afford a third trip to Honesdale this year.

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed going there, too. Hope you get to go again soon!

  4. Hi, Kathy. I've always thought about going to a Highlights workshop. In fact, I actually applied to a picture book writing one with Jane Yolen once, but I didn't get in. I will have to try again sometime. Thanks for sharing your experiences...and your photos!