( http://www.vcfa.edu/) This school focuses on Master’s Degrees in the Arts and if you have an interest go to their website and check it out. There is music, illustration, fine art, writing, and film is coming. It is quite amazing and has a wonderful reputation.
For my program, you can apply to do a portion of the program with a focus only on Picture Books and receive 16 master’s credits. That was something I wanted to accomplish to hone in and get my children’s picture book writing perfected! The entire masters degree and my six month intensive is done on-line assigned with an adviser, but you have to attend Residencies every six months for about 11 days. (All of the advisers are published authors.) These Residencies immerse you in writing craft and you are taught by some of the best in the writing field. You are also critiqued by your colleagues and you participate in critiques. There is a guest illustrator that works closely with the picture book group and there is a guest author who comes and talks about craft. You spend a lot of personal time with both. You eat with the staff and the people you meet. It is a big writing community. I was accepted into the Program and the reality of going soon came to pass! This is the main building where most all of the lectures and classes take place. If you look right on the path, that is where I slipped the first day on black ice and nearly ended my life. I almost hit my head and landed so hard I was stunned and of course humiliated. It was cold as you can see. The campus is very beautiful! On January 9th I loaded my bags with bedding and warm clothes anxiously trying to prepare myself for being away from home for so long, living in a dorm (yikes) and living on a campus pretending like I knew what I was doing, People come from all over. One as far as China. Below is my home away from home. The Dewey Hall dorm! It was super clean and I was lucky enough to be on the first floor in a single room. Yippee!! Privacy!
But I went very naive of what to expect. Residency completely saturated you in writing from early in the morning until late at night. There were picture book workshops which began about two days in which were wonderful, but we spent only a few hours in them, Usually it was lectures on craft and readings. I felt a lot out of my league! I wished I could have spent more time in workshops more specific to picture books. But that wasn’t how the program was run at Residency. Another unique experience was the culinary arts students were the cooks for the cafeteria and the food was very…. adventuresome. But then I got sick…. More later!