It’s so funny that my last blog post was wondering about direction!

Yesterday I returned from the Highlights Foundation workshop on Graphic Novels. It was their first workshop on the genre and it was absolutely amazing!

The Highlights Foundation is the same that has been putting out Highlights Magazine for more than forty years!

The retreats and workshops are held at their facility in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It’s a very small town, rural setting, gorgeous views and hiking trails, idyllic!

I had never been!

The price can seem steep. The price for the Graphic Novel workshop was $1199 for Sunday to Wednesday.

But oh…it is worth it!!!

I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship. They are available. I got a scholarship for $900 so I ended up paying $299 ($300). That might have covered the food, which was gourmet and delicious!

Thing about scholarships though is that they always leave me feeling indebted. I had gotten a scholarship to Kindling Words which is another fantastic writing workshop you should look into, way back! And I was able to send them a cheque later on, to contribute towards future scholarships. I intend to do the same for Highlights Foundation.

As soon as I got there, I felt excited, and I did something I never imagined I would do.

You were supposed to take a project with you. Something short  you could work on and get feedback on. Well I took a project but at the last minute I stuck another story of mine, one I’d written about fifteen years ago, in my handbag.

Wouldn’t you know, that’s the project I ended up working on!

I had to leave home by 4 am on Sunday morning and I arrived at Highlights Foundation by around 1 pm, exhausted. I had planned to take a nap but instead of sleeping I ended up doodling a graphic novel dummy based on the second project I’d stuck in my bag.

All afternoon, I created panels of a graphic novel/comic book even before the first session began.

I figured I’d tire myself out and sleep well that night.

What a mistake!

Oh talk about intense!

We began the workshop at 5:30 Sunday June 11th. Basically getting to know each other, and it was led by Matt Phelan who is an accomplished graphic novelist and illustrator. He did the illustrations for the Newbery Award-winner The Higher Power of Lucky.

There was Kelly Light author/illustrator of the Louise Loves Art books who gave us insight into her process. She was such a hoot! At one point we were singing cheesy seventies songs together! Like: Billy Don’t be a Hero! and One Tin Soldier!

And there was Merrill Rainey, who’s a graphic artist and showed us how to show emotion!

And David Saylor the head of Scholastic’s Graphix imprint came by on Tuesday afternoon so we could pick his brains and he could give us a one-on-one session about our work. It was SO hard not to fangirl him!!!

I wasn’t the only author there. There were at least three of us who couldn’t much draw. But yeah mostly it was illustrators and I felt at a deep disadvantage.

It felt like my mind was literally opening up! Like my cranium was splitting open to dust out the cobwebs in my brain and let some sunshine in!

It was both painful and exhilarating at the same time!

That night, I was too excited to sleep. I started to see the possibilities of repackaging so many of stories that weren’t quite working!

If I’d spent the entire $1200 it would have been worth every penny! As it was I was bending over backwards with profuse thanks and gratitude for the opportunity to the point I kept telling myself, “Okay, shut up already!”

Too much gratitude can be kind of cloying. The best thing I can do is pay it forward!

I highly highly recommend the workshops at Highlights Foundation!

Here’s their website: