Writing is ultimately a solo activity, but it doesn't happen without a lot of help. I wouldn't be writing without my help.
Vermont College of Fine Arts
I received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. Also known as Brigadoon by students and faculty, it becomes a mecca of writing for children twice a year during its residencies in Montpelier, Vermont. (Yes, one is in January!) For ten days, you live and work with other students and exceptional faculty and live and breathe your kind of writing. Sleep is sacrificed for the learning that never stops.
Writing conferences and retreats help to keep you learning and connected. I've benefited from Alumni conferences at VCFA and various workshops and writing retreats. But my favorite conference now is Loonsong, held each fall in the northern lakes region of Minnesota. Created by my writing buddies Debby Edwardson and Jane Buchanan as well as famed author Marion Dane Bauer, it provides craft talks, editorial and publishing info, and great camaraderie in a lodge on a gorgeous lake that's away from it all. The cell phone coverage may be spotty, but the experience is rich.
The world needs to know about the wonderful work done by the Highlights Foundation to support the development and practice of children's book writers. Tucked away in northeastern Pennsylvania, the former homestead of the Highlights owners has been turned into a haven for writers, including facilities for workshops and accommodations in private cabins and a lodge. I have learned from its workshops as well as benefited from writing retreats there, always enlarging my amazing community of fellow writers in the process.