Thursday, December 3, 2009

Look Mom, I'm in Highlights!

Do you remember reading Highlights Magazine in a doctor's office as a kid? Remember the page where other children sent in poetry and drawings? Didn't you always want to see your own work displayed in those pages?

Children's writers and illustrators still aspire to be published in Highlights. For many of us, it's a milestone that once we reach it, we feel that we've finally "arrived."

Joyce Hostetter, and I can now proudly say we have reached that milestone and gone beyond. Yesterday, a staff member of the Highlights Foundation sent out an e-mail quoting articles which Joyce and I had written in Talking Story. For those of you who may not have read them, here is what was delivered to thousands of in-boxes throughout the world yesterday (with the addition of a few pictures):

What I Did on My Summer Vacation
By Joyce Hostetter and Carol Baldwin
Excerpted by permission from Talking Story, a newsletter by Joyce Hostetter and Carol Baldwin.

By Carol
When Joyce suggested this title for an article, we both laughed. How many of you remember writing that familiar essay?

I was fortunate to travel five times this summer. The most exotic destination was fourteen days in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany. The most writing-intensive destination was the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop in Chautauqua, New York. For years I dreamed of attending; and when my writing buddy decided to go, we took the plunge, paid our deposits, and signed up.

Joyce said it would be life changing. I'm expecting she'll be right.
If you're serious about writing or illustrating for children, this is an event you want to attend. For five days, one hundred-plus participants are surrounded by a faculty of twenty-two authors, illustrators, and editors whose desire is to see you produce your best possible work and get it published. Workshops, speeches, networking times, and critique sessions with faculty stuff each day to the brim.

I was challenged by both Patti Gauch and Harold Underdown (my critiquer) to find out what the character in my historical novel truly wants. Patti said that this desire must be the "arrow that drives the book." I learned about dialogue from Donna Jo Napoli, a sense of place from Kim Griswell (pictured below), and about beginnings and endings from Peter Jacobi. There were forty-five workshops offered—more than enough to inform and saturate every participant.

One of the benefits of the intimate atmosphere was schmoozing with other aspiring writers, famous authors, and accessible editors. I think I'll never forget the image of Jerry Spinelli (pictured below), walking hand-in-hand with his granddaughters to the bus taking us to a picnic. With his flannel shirt and jeans, he is the most casual famous individual I've ever met. (His granddaughter, by the way, had an autograph book and was collecting autographs of other writers. I think she was sweetly oblivious to the fact that her grandfather was probably the most famous writer there.) I enjoyed meeting Carolyn Yoder, Joyce's editor, and Andy Boyles, the science editor at Boyds Mills Press, who expressed interest in my glass book.
Life changing? Stay tuned. I'll let you know as the year progresses and I practice what I learned in beautiful Chautauqua, New York.

By Joyce

I, for one, would love to go to Chautauqua every summer. But Chautauqua is more like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So I didn't let my mind dwell on that idea.
Instead I planned to mostly stay at home. I was tired of traveling during the school year and wanted to save my away time for a writing retreat in late summer.
So during the last full week of August, I indulged in a week in northeastern Pennsylvania at one of the Highlights Founders Workshops. These events, no matter the workshop title, are writer's heaven. At each one I've attended, I've grown as a writer and made new friends.
This event was a writing retreat with my Calkins Creek editor, Carolyn Yoder, and ten alumni retreaters.
I enjoyed
my own cabin with coffeepot and drinks in the fridge;
one-on-one critiques with Carolyn;
writing all week!;
writer friendships;
phenomenal food; and
Sunning weather.
It was the perfect summer vacation!

For more information about the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua or our Founders Workshops near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, visit or contact Jo Lloyd at
Please feel free to share this e-mail with others who may be interested.
Talking Story is a newsletter produced by authors Joyce Hostetter and Carol Baldwin
Highlights Magazine, HIghlights Founders Workshop, Calkins Creek, Highlights Writers Workshop, Joyce Hostetter, Talking Story


elysabeth said...

Oh oh, looks like someone messed up - I didn't get my issue of your newsletter - wahhh :(( - the boogeyman ate it - I think - lol - but sounds like fun and lots of wonderful experiences you guys had - E :)

Faith K said...

Cool, Carol! I loved Highlights as a kid.

Donna Earnhardt said...

I am so proud of you ladies! I'm excited that folks are sitting up and taking notice. I am also a wee bit jealous that you went to Chataugua and I didn't! ;)

Seriously, my friend - congratulations. I bet you are grinning ear to ear!


JoyceHostetter said...

Thanks, Donna. I hope you get to go sometime. Start saving those pennies now! And you know they do give scholarships too. It's something to shoot for!

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