My goodness, yet another author weighs in on alternatives to MFA programs for those of us whose real lives simply don't allow registering for formal study.
This time it's Julianna Baggott, poet, novelist, and YA author (also writing under the names Bridget Asher and N. E. Bode) who offers advice in her blog post How to Build Your Own MFA Experience. What I love about Baggott is that when she makes a suggestion, she gives you specifics. For example, she names conferences she trusts and gives criteria for ruling out other conferences from consideration. She lists editors who take on clients for manuscript reads and tutorials, and she gives you their links so you can contact them immediately. She also tells you about how she designed groups she put together in her own dining room that served almost as well (or as well as) a degreed program.
I have before discussed Baggott's blog, in my own post Stop Reading this Blog, in which I encourage to writers to take Baggott's suggestions and blog more seriously than my own, as I tend to ask questions, whereas she answers them. And she has the publishing history success to back her ideas up. We are lucky she is generous enough to share.