LoonSongWriters need other writers. At every stage of a career.

The newbie dipping a toe into the icy water of agents and editors and contracts and marketing plans and publication.

The just-on-the-edge-of-success writer who has had one-too-many encouraging notes from editors and too few contracts in hand.

The mid-career pro who needs to step for a moment outside the isolation of the work, to create, connect, discover.

The long-time writer who simply wants to be with others who share the vision, to be renewed.

A couple of autumns ago, two Vermont College of Fine Arts alumni of the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Debby Dahl Edwardson and Jane Buchanan, and I, a retired faculty member from VCFA, gathered in Debby’s cabin on an island in a lake in northern Minnesota. We went there to dream of a retreat for writers for children and young adults, those just starting out and seeking information and encouragement and those long established and looking for a community of their peers. We knew that given a long weekend in this breathtaking wilderness we could nurture one another. And that is how LoonSong came into being.

Now the dream has come to fruition. The first LoonSong retreat will gather from September 8th through the 12th, 2016. It will have riches to offer for children’s and young-adult writers at every stage of their careers. And we will meet, not in a rustic island cabin, but in Elbow Lake Lodge, a gorgeous, lake-side resort.

Here are the outstanding faculty who have agreed to join us:

William Alexander writes science fiction and fantasy for middle grade audiences. His novels include the National Book Award-winning Goblin Secrets and the Eleanor Cameron Award-winning Ambassador.

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and many, many fun and rollicking picture books.

Kekla Magoon is the author of young adult novels including The Rock and the River, for which she received the ALA Coretta Scott King New Talent Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination, and X: A Novel, which was long-listed for the National Book Award in 2015. She also writes nonfiction on historical topics, including Today the World Is Watching You: The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for School Integration, 1957 and the forthcoming PANTHERS! The History and Legacy of the Black Panther Party in America.

Oh . . . and me. I’m on the faculty, too. (You can check my credentials if you like.)

And believe it or not, Katherine Paterson, our first National Ambassador for Children’s Literature, twice Newbery Medalist, named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, will be our keynote speaker!

Extraordinary literary agent Rubin Pfeffer will be there, and since he’s my agent, I can promise that he is truly extraordinary.

An editor, yet to be named, probably someone who works with one of the faculty so you’ll be able to see them interact, will be there, too.

Vicki and Steve Palmquist of Winding Oak, the folks who manage this web site and market all my books and do the same for many other writers for young people, will be there to teach us about marketing and to give individual consultations.

Vermont College of Fine Arts is sponsoring the conference and those who are interested will have an opportunity to learn about VCFA’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, the oldest and most prestigious program in the country. (I’d say “in the world,” because it is that, but that would sound pretentious.)

You can come to learn from masters, to connect with your peers, and/or simply to retreat and write. You create your own experience. In addition to lectures and panels and workshops, writing prompts and consultations, there will be quiet space for writing. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention bonfires on the beach, pontoon rides on the lake and a whole wild world out there, beckoning.

This is truly a boutique program with room for fewer than forty participants, so check it out now. I’m guessing it’s going to fill fast.

I’d love to see you there!

8 thoughts on “LoonSong

  1. Cheryl Blackford

    Marion, I tried to copy the URL for this page onto a post in a Facebook page for middle-grade writers but each time I got a Page Not Found error message. I’d love to spread the word if I can. Any thoughts on why the link won’t work?

  2. Cheryl Blackford

    Marion, I tried to copy the URL for this page to a Facebook group of middle-grade writers but got a Page not Found message every time. Do you have any ideas why that might be? I’d love to spread the word if I can.

  3. Joanne Toft

    Question I know you can’t answer but I need to say it out loud – so you are my listening ear – sorry about that! – How does a person who writes know if they are a writer who might publish? in my 60’s with several stories written and so many begun but left hiding in notebooks. I don’t know what is a good idea to be developed, a story worth following up on or is it best to just enjoy the writing and never share it. I have no fantasy that I would be a “great published writer” but think about it at times. All this comes from thinking about do I spend the money and take a valuable spot at this wonderful retreat for writers or do I leave that spot for the young who might really be a publishable writer?

    1. Marion Dane Bauer Post author

      I do have an answer to your question, Joanne. I can’t, of course, tell you whether you will ever be published. But I can tell you that being in your 60’s is no deterrent to your dream. Writing is not like playing an instrument where few people are ever successful who didn’t start when they were very young. The more life you have to bring to your writing, the more your stories will have to offer. So don’t hold yourself back to leave a space for someone young. Step out and see what you can discover. If the cost of this retreat is prohibitive for you, then connect with your state SCBWI, attend one of their very accessible conferences. You can’t know the value of what you are writing in a vacuum. You must make contact with other writers. All of us, at the beginning or after many years, need contact with other writers to test the reality of our dreams!


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