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Question about the Institute of Children's Literature

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I'm thinking of taking an ICL course, but I'd like some opinions from those who have enrolled. Do you think it was worth the cost? What were some of your experiences- good or bad? In my acceptance letter it said, "...your essay entitled "Blah, blah" impressed all of us." Is this standard, just wanting you to sign up? Thanks for your help!
#1 - March 23, 2009, 10:04 PM
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There have been several conversations about ICL previously which I encourage you to browse through.  One quick search revealed this thread:  http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?topic=4061.0

It is a bit old, but still relevant (but note that you can now do your lessons online).

Jessica
#2 - March 23, 2009, 10:43 PM

Hi Writermutt, thought I'd chime in here as I'm currently taking the first course, Writing for Children and Teenagers. First, let me say I was also a little put off by their marketing materials, seemed somewhat cheesy. But, I have had zero complaints with the quality of the course. The materials included a 500+ page instruction manual, very detailed lessons covering everything you need to know both craft and business side of children's writing. Supplemental exercises and reading materials have also been helpful. You also get two market guides (magazine and book markets), plus books on research, essentials of english, inspirational essays, etc. My instructor has been on target critque-wise and encouraging. I'm on lesson 9 out of 10. They focus on the magazine market but the final lesson you get to pick a magazine piece or the first 3 chapters and outline of a book. I feel like it helped take my writing to the next level, so for me, definitely worth it. PM me if you want to know more!
#3 - March 24, 2009, 06:36 AM
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I'm also an ICL grad.

I found the course materials to build on each other in logical progression.  My instructor was wonderful.  I also liked the flexibility -- when there were weeks I couldn't get my assignment in on time, I just called and got an extension.

I had a Masters in Dramatic Writing and had written in the past, but this really focused me and sent me in the right direction in terms of writing for kids.  It reminded me of the basics and taught me new things.

I really recommend it highly.
#4 - March 24, 2009, 06:47 AM

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I also found the content of the course to be very valuable; however, I was not overly pleased with my instructor.  Only once did she offer any constructive criticism (which I truly wanted); the rest of the time my assignments were returned with comments like, "Well done, good word count, great sensory details, excellent, etc."  These glowing reports were great confidence-builders at first, but (much as I wanted to believe that my writing was that terrific) I knew my work wasn't so good that it couldn't stand to be improved in some way.  This was frustrating to me and I probably should have addressed these concerns while taking the course, but I didn't. 

That said, I would highly recommend ICL, but would suggest that you learn more about your instructor before you sign on the dotted line (they all sound pretty good in the brochure, so dig around a little and maybe find out which instructors come highly recommended by blue boarders).  In the end, the quality of personal instruction you recieve will make all the difference in the world! 

Best of luck to you!
#5 - March 24, 2009, 07:16 AM

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I've taken 3 ICL courses early in my career.  I enjoyed all three ... but have a to admit that one of my professors wasn't as helpful or inspiring as the other two.  Thankfully she must've felt the same way ... and I was given a new (and extremely helpful) instructor 1/2 way through the course.
#6 - March 24, 2009, 07:58 AM

I appreciate your input, everyone! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the course. You've all been very helpful. And Karen, sorry, I can't PM yet. I haven't made it to 50 posts.
#7 - March 24, 2009, 08:28 AM
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Oops, didn't know you couldn't PM. If you have more questions you want answered off here I could PM you with my email.
#8 - March 24, 2009, 09:46 AM
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 That would be great, Karen! Thanks!
#9 - March 24, 2009, 09:51 AM
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I'm just over half way on the basic course, and I think it's been worth every penny. My instructor is awesome, but if you end up with an instructor you don't 'mesh' with, you can request a change. Even before I sent in my first assignment, I inquired if my instructor accepted assignments by email (some do and some don't) they offered to switch me to an instructor who does accept them. As I had already researched her and received her letter of introduction, I chose to keep her, but it is good to know that they will make a change if the instructor doesn't fit your needs.

I would recommend this course to anyone, but what you get out of it does depend on what you are willing to put into it. Good luck!

#10 - March 24, 2009, 10:16 AM
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I just completed the first course and LOVED it.  It's critical to have a well-matched mentor, so check out his/her books on-line or at your library before you proceed.  I "turned down" four mentors before I agreed to one who proved to be EXCELLENT.  In fact, I mention her in the acknowledgments for my forthcoming picture book.  (Shhhhhhh!)

Happy writing!

Jean Reagan     
#11 - March 25, 2009, 09:25 AM
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I enrolled in ICL about 5 years ago.  It was great for where I was at.  I wanted to get into writing for children, but had no idea how to really get on board.  They focus more on article writing in the first session, but that ended up being good for me.  At first I was disappointed, because I wanted to write books, but writing shorter pieces helped me work up to bigger things.   I have had a few articles published since taking the course, but lately I've focused more on writing novels. 

I thought it was worth the money and the time. 

I hope that helps!

Christy

#12 - March 25, 2009, 10:40 AM

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Here's my opinion about ICL--scroll down to the end until you see it:

http://www.pamcalvert.com/for_children_s_writers

If you're a pb writer, take Anastasia's class. If you just want a critique, Barbara Kanninen has a very well priced pb critique service. All my pb's have been critiqued by her. Well worth it!! Their links are within the page.
#13 - March 25, 2009, 12:30 PM
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If you're a pb writer, take Anastasia's class.

Thanks for the referral, Pam! I've had quite a few ICL graduates take my workshops over the past 10 years. I don't write for magazines. I write picture books, easy readers and short chapter books, so that's what I teach. 
#14 - March 25, 2009, 02:14 PM

Pam, great info on your website!
#15 - March 25, 2009, 11:55 PM

While I haven't taken a course from you, Anastasia, I've heard such incredible things!  Your website has such great information too.
#16 - March 26, 2009, 07:29 AM

I've checked out the suggested websites and found a lot of helpul info. Thanks again, everyone!  :thankyou
#17 - March 26, 2009, 07:54 AM
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Yes, I've also heard incredible praise about Anastasia's class ... and I plan on enrolling in summer!! (See you soon, Anastasia!).  :D
#18 - March 27, 2009, 10:48 AM

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I've taken three of Anastasia Suen's classes (Easy Reader, Picture Book, and Picture-book Characters) and, as I said in an earlier post, I just completed ICL's first course.  I also LOVED Anastasia's classes.  Yes, hers are more picture book focused and ICL's are more writing skills focused with an emphasis on magazine publications.  Another significant difference is their scheduling format.  Anastasia's are INTENSIVE four-week blocks.  I (eagerly) committed two hours a day for the writing and reading assignments.  The ICL course spans about eighteen months for eleven writing assignments which also require readings and research.  You pace yourself.

I'd strongly recommend either, depending on your writing goals and your personal schedule.

Good luck deciding!

Jean Reagan   

(Ooops!  My info about Anastasia's class is outdated.  Be sure to read her correction below!)
#19 - March 27, 2009, 07:47 PM
« Last Edit: March 29, 2009, 05:15 PM by jeanreagan »
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They focus more on article writing in the first session, but that ended up being good for me.  At first I was disappointed, because I wanted to write books, but writing shorter pieces helped me work up to bigger things.



ICL's basic course is more magazine focused. My instructor told me the reason for this is it's easier for them to teach and evaluate shorter pieces. My instructor doesn't mind if I submit a PB ms instead of a mag story so you can still make the course work for you if you are not interested in magazine writing only. I'm looking forward to going on the the advanced book course. I believe you can choose to write a novel or a number of PBs.
#20 - March 28, 2009, 10:47 AM
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Anastasia's are INTENSIVE four-week blocks.

Ah, the good old days! Two summers ago I had several students overseas who wanted to take the workshop during their vacations to see family in the US and Canada (so they could stock up on picture books). I started offering SELF-PACED workshops and now that's ALL I teach! EVERY workshop is self-paced. You have 21 weeks to complete the 20 lessons and you can start anytime you'd like. 
 
#21 - March 29, 2009, 02:43 PM

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Anastasia,

Thanks for updating my information about your class schedule.  I've added an "oops" to my comment above.

Jean Reagan
#22 - March 29, 2009, 05:17 PM
« Last Edit: March 30, 2009, 06:05 PM by jeanreagan »
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I believe a common mistake that "newer" writers make is to think they have written a picture book when really, what they have written, is a short story more suited to a magazine. I think the basic ICL course (and yes, I took it and learned a great deal) is perfect for teaching you the differences between the PB and the short story. This is really important when marketing your work! Another thing that is great about the ICL course is that it also includes non-fiction writing. I think ALL writers can benefit from practicing both fiction and non-fiction.

#23 - March 30, 2009, 02:00 PM
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Anastasia,

Thanks for updated my information about your class schedule.  I've added an "oops" to my comment above.

Jean Reagan

Thanks, Jean! I appreciate it!
#24 - March 30, 2009, 03:41 PM

Brenda Z

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Hello All...

I was just curious about the Institute for Children's Literature...has anyone taken a course through them?  Did you find it helpful?  Are they the real deal? 

Any and all information would be great...I tried to search for any post that might have been out there about this, but kept getting an error message...I hope we're allowed to ask questions about them...if not, I apologize for doing so...Thanks and hugs...Brenda
#25 - August 19, 2011, 06:48 AM

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Here's one of several threads on it: http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?topic=35292.0

(If you search with punctuation marks, you sometimes get an error here. We don't know why! And some people use abbreviations for it--ICL.) It's real, and some of our members have taught for them, even. I think what you would get out of it completely depends on where you are in the writing process and what you want to write. The first course I think is largely focused on magazine articles, for example, and after that, you can branch out to different genres.
#26 - August 19, 2011, 08:03 AM

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I believe there are other threads, too, since I know I've commented on a couple of them but not on the one olmue referenced.

I'm one of the ICL instructors on these boards. There are others of us. Yes, ICL is completely legit, offers a number of courses, and grants college credit. For cost-per-credit, you can't beat it.

Students enter the course at all skill levels, and while it's especially helpful to newer writers, even more advanced students sometimes take the course in order to go through the discipline of producing a number of submittable pieces on deadline with a mentor.

Yes, the basic courses emphasize learning fiction and nonfiction basics, plus marketing, with short stories and articles, as other college courses do, but the 10-lesson course offers a book option at the end. And there's an advanced book writing course for those who graduate from an earlier course. Novel, picture book, and nonfiction tracks are all possible.
#27 - August 19, 2011, 09:00 AM
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Thanks Olmue and mrh...

#28 - August 19, 2011, 11:35 AM

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