Highlights Foundation

Highlights Founders Home at Boyd's Mill in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania

Highlights Foundation

Whole Novel Workshop

in Fantasy

taught by Anne Ursu & Laura Ruby

What a great setting for a writer’s workshop: the Highlights Founders’ Home in Boyd’s Mill, Pennsylvania.  And what a great concept, the Whole Novel Workshop.  I’ve never had a teacher read my whole novel (let alone twice!) and work with me on it over a week.

The workshop I attended in May of 2010 was specifically on fantasy, and that was new, too.  Eight fantasy novelist students with two fantasy novelists-teachers and an assistant.

The creek at Boyd's Mill, just below the house

A very warm and inviting place to write

Out on the lawn

Our author-teachers, Anne Ursu and Laura Ruby, were supportive, the-universe-is-big-enough-for-all-of-us-to-succeed people, insightful and very helpful.  They set a friendly tone that pervaded the week and we talked writing and fantasy to our hearts’ content.

Anne & Laura

Every meal is a treat -- in food and in conversation.

Anne and Laura each took four students.  They gave us detailed written critiques of our novels and then we met with them at the beginning of the week and at the end.  In between we worked their suggestions into our novels and they were available to us whenever we wanted to bounce ideas off them.  They knew our novels so well that this was possible.

We participants also each read a chapter or two of each  other’s novels, so we were  able to talk about each  other’s characters, plots  and ideas.  It was a rich  way to be immersed in  our  work and get feedback on  what we were trying to  create.

Rilla, Pam, Amanda, Karen, Claudia, back row; Elizabeth, Ellen, Sylvia, christine, Laura and Anne

Highlights Foundation's Kent Brown talking with Rilla on the porch.

The grounds at the Founder's Home.



  1. Hey Claudia,
    It is wonderful sharing this learning experience with you and the Nithing. You know how much I enjoyed reading the excerpt of your novel, and having mealtime conversations with like-minded normal people (that is people who love fantasy) is such a treat. This whole place is magical and the pouring rain on my cabin roof is inspiring me to get back to my writing. Happy plotting. See you at lunch!

  2. Right back at you, Rilla. Aren’t we lucky?

  3. Miss you, Claudia.

  4. Miss you, Anne. Miss you all.

  5. Claudia and all of the fantastic eleven, what an amazing journey we have had. I miss you all and hope the time will come when we will be together again, perhaps in some new configuration. Come say hello to me on my blog at sylviapatience.wordpress.com.

  6. Me too, Sylvia. An amazing workshop, an amazing group of writers.

  7. Here’s to the writers of the whip and the gun! I’m glad to be home, but so sad to be away from all of you!

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