The Wonder of Highlights

The wonder and magic of Highlights Magazine has always held a special place in the hearts of children far and wide. As a kid experiencing a turbulent adoption, Highlights Magazine was used as a tool to help make sense of the world and find comfort and joy in expressing my feelings. It truly was as the motto declared, “Fun with Purpose.” I loved flipping thru the pages of each subscription and discovering wonderful new challenges along with reading the engaging stories cover to cover.

What awe I experienced learning how icebergs stayed frozen, or recognizing that Goofus didn’t make the best choices but Gallant knew exactly what to do.  The short stories allowed me an escape that took me on adventures down white water rapids, or scaling Mount St. Helens. The brain challenges were the best as I helped cartoon drawings travel through a labyrinth or quiz myself in twenty questions.  And of course no kid could resist uncovering every object within each Hidden Picture.    Each image, word, story, and poem seemed specifically chosen to help me develop a passion for learning, foster a love for reading, and embrace writing as a lifelong pursuit.

Fast forward some thirty odd years and that pursuit is still as prevalent as when I could be found sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room chair, swinging my feet too short to reach the floor, and reading a Highlights Magazine. What a great surprise it was for me to discover on Twitter that Highlights Foundation, parent company of Highlights Magazine offered Writer’s Workshops and Retreats under a variety of topics. I immediately applied for a scholarship submitting fifty pages of a completed middle grade novel full of football, friendship, and a mystery surrounding espionage and homeland security.  The Revision Retreat was being offered by top children’s book editors and although it was full, I was ecstatic when I was informed that I was awarded the scholarship and could attend.

The Retreat was AMAZING! It nourished my mind, spirit, and body. Tucked in the glorious Pocono mountains and 1300 acres of forest and creeks, I was sure to grow as a writer.  I had the pleasure of staying in both the Founders Farm house and lodge which were lovely.  Writers could also stay in one of the 21 cabins nestled together near the Barn at Boyds Mills. Farm market fresh meals were prepared every couple of hours along with local cheeses and wines which were all inclusive. But even more than the accommodations which showcased superior customer service, the writing workshops provided effective tools, resources, and writing support, including individualized feedback on submitted works.

Topics presented included:

  • Pacing and Progression
  • Character Motivation
  • Critique/Beta Readers
  • Line-editing
  • Structure

&

  • Plot Development

I had the pleasure to meet with the editors of Highlights Magazine, and Boyds Mills Press while touring their facilities. Cherie Matthews, Assistant Editor of Book Publishing loaded me with a ton of ARCS along with directional advice regarding my writing career.  All were exceptional presentations and as valuable as my English/Literature degree. The skills I gained will help me move my books from draft to publishing ready. And learning from publishing industry experts gave me the confidence to keep pursuing my goal for publication.

Writing is considered a solitary profession, however being among like-minded individuals who demonstrate a passion and commitment to producing quality children’s literature ignited a new commitment to persevere in the daunting publishing industry. I am excited about preparing each new writing for publication using the magic and wonder of Highlights as my muse.

“Each golden sunrise ushers in new opportunities for those who retain faith in themselves, and keep their chins up… Meet the sunrise with confidence.  Fill every golden minute with right thinking and worthwhile endeavors.  Do this and there will be joy for you in each golden sunset.”  

                                                                                                                                 Alonzo Newton Benn

I’m grateful to the Highlights Scholarship committee for allowing me to attend their Writer’s Workshop: Revision Retreat 2016, and can’t wait to announce my publication and book release dates.

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