When it comes to the kids’ writing community, I can honestly say that I’ve never been to a bad conference, workshop, or retreat. I’ve always met cool people, learned new things, and given my writing a jump start.
But now that I’ve been to a good many of them, a quick summary of the highlights:
New England SCBWI conference: I’ve attended this conference about three or four times, and have always loved it. They get top-notch presenters, and a good mix of established authors and new writers attend. Great workshops and the opportunity for individual critiques. http://www.nescbwi.org/conferences/spring/
Smaller regional conferences: I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few smaller conferences, including a small one in Connecticut and two in Europe (one in Madrid, Spain, and one in Munich, Germany). The European ones are awesome because, um, they’re in Europe, but in general, I also really like the feel of a small group where you can get to know more attendees and get to chat with agents, editors, and authors in a more relaxed setting.
Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature (RUCCL): RUCCL is a great opportunity to meet up with other serious writers. All writers are assigned mentors who will critique your work and you also get together as groups of mentors and mentees to discuss writing trends. It’s just one day, and you have to apply and get accepted based on your writing sample. http://www.ruccl.org/
Highlights Founders Workshops: These small workshops, held in Honesdale, PA, offer a great opportunity to focus on your WIP with an expert and other serious writers. I attended a non-fiction Biography workshop with the amazing Carolyn Yoder, but they also offer workshops on novel writing, plotting, and more. Another bonus to these workshops: you have an individual cabin to yourself with some time to write, as well as amaaaaaazing food prepared by an on-site chef. http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/pages/current/founders_top.html
Falling Leaves Retreat: This retreat is organized by the Eastern New York SCBWI chapter, and offers a great weekend with other serious writers and a group of editors. Time is divided between writing, group and individual critique, and lectures by the editors. You can also sneak in time to write and socialize with a great bunch of people. http://scbwi-easternny.org/conferences.php
Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) Novel Writing Retreat: The VCFA retreat is another great intensive weekend. The attendees choose between the writing and critique track, and everyone benefits from focused lectures and workshops led by the authors and editors who attend. It’s a great place to share your work (including out loud in front of the group!), to have time to write, and to make new writer friends. http://www.vermontcollege.edu/alumni/events/novel-writing-retreat
I would definitely attend any and all of these again, and I still look forward to going to many others I haven’t gone to yet: SCBWI NY, SCBWI LA, Chautauqua, Whispering Pines … the list goes on! What is your favorite conference or retreat?