I have spent the past six days in intensive workshops in Honesdale, PA learning to put my books, writing career and myself in the spotlight. Internet marketing, public speaking, school visits, speaking to the media – these are only a few of the skills I learned from the workshop facilitator, Peter Jacobi (journalism professor and former ABC and NBC newsman among many other accomplishments), as well as several other guest speakers. The other six other workshop participants (whose blogs/websites will be soon added to my blog roll) are talented writers with great stories, fun personalities, and always encouraging feedback. I have only positive things to say about my experience with this workshop and the Highlights Foundation in general. For any serious writers interested in writing for children, middle grade or young adult, I’d strongly suggest that you check out the workshops and conferences they have to offer.
To give you an idea of what the workshop was like, I’ll give you a brief blow-by-blow.
Day 1 – Tuesday:
I drove from home to Honesdale in about 2.5 hours, which was an hour less than I expected, but still the farthest I have ever driven alone. Anyone who knows how I feel about driving will know that this in a feat in itself for me. And I didn’t get lost once!
First, we toured the Highlights for Kids magazine headquarters (pictured above) and their associated publishing house, Boyds Mills Press. Afterwards, we drove to the Boyds Mills House, way out in the boonies where there was lots of fresh air and no cell phone reception. We moved into our cute, individual cabins and made ourselves at home. At 6pm, we met for dinner in the Boyds Mills House for a delicious meal of chicken potpie and apple pie for dessert.
Day 2 – Wednesday:
We met around 8am for breakfast and then learned all about internet marketing and other forms of marketing from Kathy Temean. She had a wealth of knowledge on the subject and very generously shared as much as she could in a few short hours.
After lunch, Peter Jacobi put us to work on what was probably the hardest task of the entire workshop – extemporaneous speaking. Yikes! Having to speak in front of a group of strangers without preparation is one of my worst nightmares. We were given less than a minute to choose and audience and a topic before give a few minutes speech. You think that’s bad? It gets worse.
We were videotaped.
I chose to pretend I was speaking to my old high school about the power of perseverance in accomplishing goals. About two sentences in, I completely blanked and went silent for a few moments before re-gathering my thoughts and rambling on.
Well, we all stumbled and fumbled in some way or another giving these little speeches, and we laughed at ourselves and each other as we watched the tape.
Lesson #1 in Public Speaking – never go in to it unprepared! This was an effective way to learn this lesson!
Peter gave us loads of information on how to perfect our public speaking craft. You’ll have to sign up for the workshop next year to get all of those details ;-)
After a short break, we reconvened for hors d’oeuvres and dinner of vegetable lasagna and chocolate cake! You will notice that I frequently mention the meals during the workshop, and that’s because they are worth mentioning and definitely part of the workshop experience!
Days 3-4 tomorrow!