Thursday, February 2, 2012


          If you read this blog, you know the Swagger Writers met at a Highlights Foundation workshop. Actually, I first met Rich Wallace at the HF Workshop at Chautauqua in 1999, and I took one of his HF Founders workshops in 2003. I met Jon Egan three years later at another workshop, and we all met up at Rich’s workshop in 2009. Why so many workshops? Why did I keep going back?
          I’m frugal. I clip coupons and shop for bargains, but when it comes to my writing, I want the best. For me, the HF workshops are that. I get questions answered and work critiqued. I get encouragement. I get treated as someone whose work matters. I come home with knowledge gained and notes on what to do next.
          Some who have never been to a HF workshop say they cost too much, but a bargain hunter like me has to look at what one gets for the price. I’ve gone to many one-day conferences that are cheaper, but there I am, one in a sea of participants. If I attend the night-before dinner, it costs extra. If I get a 15-minute critique, another extra fee. And, of course, there’s the cost of my hotel. If I want the most from it, it’s no longer inexpensive.
          At the Foundation’s workshops, all meals (cooked by chef extraordinaire Marcia Dunsmore, who makes my dietary restrictions taste fabulous!) are included. 
Gourmet meals are served at the Farmhouse when you attend a Highlight's Foundation workshop.
          My room (actually a cozy cabin in a gorgeous bucolic setting) is included. And the ratio of faculty to participants keeps me from feeling at sea.
Private cabins for sleeping and late-night writing.
            Rich’s workshops are not the only HF workshops I’ve been to. I attended ones with faculty like Joy Cowley, Patricia Gauch, & Peter Jacobi. These are experts, who know how to write & sell children’s literature, and they are willing and eager to share their knowledge. And they work one-on-one with each participant—& not just for a 15-minute critique.
            Since my first HF workshop in 1999, I have recommended the workshops to writer friends who might benefit from that one-on-one attention. One of those friends was Dave Richardson.
Kathy (back, fourth from left, and Dave Richardson, standing next to her), with other Highlight's workshop attendees.
Dave had already been published in Highlights magazine, and was a natural fit for the Chautauqua workshop in 2004. He talked to everyone there and made lasting impressions on many of them. One of those contacts led to his landing a job writing a book review column for Reading Today. 
          Another was Patti Gauch. The faculty for Patti’s HF workshop coming up this summer (Master's Class in Fiction Writing for Children & Young Adults, June 24-July 1) includes my friend Dave Richardson. It also includes special guests Joy Cowley & Peter Jacobi. Plus authors, an illustrator, editors, & an agent, all at one workshop. Wow!
          What can you expect from a workshop with Dave? You can read all his impressive credentials by checking out the faculty for the workshop at & you can find his blog at, but as someone who knows him, I can tell you he reads more books for young people than anyone I know, and he has a sharp eye for what a reader will love. We’ve been in the same critique groups for more than ten years and he offers tremendous insight into what works and what doesn’t. And he’s always thrilled to spot undiscovered talent.
          If you’ve never been to a Highlights Foundation workshop, why not give this one a try? And if you have been before, you can’t beat this wonderful faculty for a return visit. Check out the web site and see what you think. Who knows? You could meet a great group of friends to swagger with.
          If you sign up, come back to this blog and let us know. And be sure to give us a report when you get back from the workshop.

Kathy Cannon Wiechman


  1. I hear you! I was fortunate to attend the Whole Novel workshop with Carolyn Coman a few years ago. I'd love to go back.

    1. The Whole Novel Workshop is on my wish list, Kristin. Sounds like it was a good experience for you.

  2. The workshops are wonderful and so are the friends you make there. I'm happy to count both Kathy and Dave among mine. Great article Kathy. Make sure Jo knows about this!

    1. Thanks, Kami. I've met some great people at HF workshops, you included. I'll email Jo.

  3. Sounds like a winner! Good luck, Dave!