Sunday, October 14, 2007

Report from Rutgers One-on-One

The Rutgers One-on-One Conference yesterday brought together about 90 writers and 90 published authors, agents and editors for a full day of educational sessions and mentoring. I was paired up with Meredith Mundy Wasinger, a senior editor at Sterling Publishing and a truly lovely person.

(Side rant here: I forgot my camera! I did get a shot of Meredith with my phone but as yet have not figured out how to get it from my phone onto my computer.)

According to the conference organizers, the competition to get into the event was tough ... about 250 writers applied for mentee spots ... and they regretted having to turn away so many, including some whose writing samples were very high quality, but they simply did not have enough mentors to take more.

Here were some of the highlights for me:

  1. My one-on-one session with Meredith was so encouraging and helpful ... she gave me a real "aha" moment when she suggested describing my story's setting - and my main character's reactions to that setting - as a way to evoke her internal thoughts and personality more. (My story is told in first-person POV.) It can be tough to describe setting and also to examine a character's personality when writing in first person, but exploring her reactions to the setting can effectively do both. I'm looking forward to playing around with that.
  2. I met Laura Arnold from HarperCollins, who will be critiquing a manuscript for me in a couple of weeks for the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Fall Conference. Laura is sweet and smart, and I am even more excited now to get her feedback on my submission.
  3. Tom Yezerski's talk reminded me that, though I have a long way to go with my writing, I need to occasionally take the time to appreciate how far I've come. Though I didn't write down the exact quote, he said something along the lines of "No matter how you define success, whether it be winning the Newbery or writing one really good paragraph ...." Yes, sometimes writing one strong paragraph is a reward in itself!
  4. Both Betsy Bird and Nadia Cornier gave some valuable advice re: blogging. Betsy said you want to reveal enough about your personality, thoughts, etc., on your blog to give visitors the sense that they know you (and therefore want to continue to come visit you), but you also want to maintain some sense of mystery about yourself and your work. Interesting! Nadia and a number of the other editors and agents I spoke with told me they definitely Google people whose work they are considering representing or buying and visit their blogs. So watch what you blog about! Nadia told the story of one prospective client who blogged for days about how she hadn't completed her manuscript yet and needed to hurry up and finish it because she had led Nadia to believe it was ready. Nadia has a great sense of humor, so she was more amused than upset at this ... but still!
  5. Betsy Bird handed out a list of "Blogs to Watch" and on the very short list (six to be exact) of Author/Illustrator Blogs was one of my personal favs: Sam Riddleburger's!
  6. Ann M. Martin gave the keynote. There was some dispute as to whether she has written 400 titles (as was reported in her introduction) or 250 titles (as she had in her own notes). And she's only in her early 50s! Astounding!
  7. Last, but certainly not least, was getting to know my two carpool buddies, Sydney and Laurie, and meeting so many wonderful children's writers from all over the country, especially those of you whom I've met online through the message boards and through your blogs.


Natalie said...

Thanks for the recap, Linda! It sounds like you had a wonderful time. The comment about setting and the MC's reaction to it is interesting. One of the things I loved about Markus Zusak's THE BOOK THIEF was how the setting (the sky, more specifically) becomes almost like a character in the story. Thanks for your post!

SamRiddleburger said...

My solution to writing about setting has always been to leave it out and then add little flecks at someone elses insistence.

I also think description is hard to do in First Person. I especially hate to write stuff like, "My tousled brown hair, cut in a pageboy style...."

But the way, my word verification her is
Nut Q. Acuf
Isn't that a relative of yours?

Kelly Fineman said...

One way to get the photo from your phone to your computer is to email yourself from your phone. Without a plan it costs a bit (50 cents? a dollar?) but it's totally worth it for the odd occasional great pic!

LindaBudz said...

Natalie, I had so many conversations about "The Book Thief" this weekend ... and I haven't even read it (except a handful of excerpts). That is NEXT on my list!

Sam, I see we have similar solutions when it comes to setting. I'm sure Dr. Phil would ask us, "How's that workin' for ya?" (And Nut Q. IS a relative ... but is persona non grata around the Acorn clan. He'd better never show his face around my word verification again!)

Kelly, Email myself? From my PHONE? Now, that's just crazy talk! You kids!

Katia said...

Linda, sounds as if you had a great time. Did you get to meet my friend and critique partner Sue Thoms? Her first book is coming out in March 2008, edited by... Meredith Wasinger! The small world of children's litterature.

LindaBudz said...

I don't believe I met Sue. But ... lucky her! I'm sure Meredith is amazing to work with. Would love to know the name of the book (if you're comfortable sharing that).

Kim Bookwriter said...

Hi Linda,
Maybe I'll see you at the Mid-Atlantic in a couple of weeks... although I'll be busy most of the day doing manuscript critiques. (So will miss some of the speakers. Waah!)

Isn't Meredith great? She's my ed at Sterling. I finally got to meet her last spring when we hired her to present at the Christopher Newport U writer's conf. where I serve on the advisory council.)

Best of luck with your books and with your critique at the Mid-Atlantic. I made my first sale that way!

Kim Norman

LindaBudz said...

Hi, Kim! Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for helping out with the crits ... I know they received close to 120 manuscripts for critique this year, so it is only with the help of folks with big hearts like you that they were able to accommodate them all!

I am looking forward to meeting you ... and I'd love to hear more about the writer's conference at CNU ... sounds interesting!

Leslie Muir said...

Hi Linda!

Unfortunately, I didn't have the pleasure of meeting you in person. I'm a fellow Blue Boarder. I just wanted to chime in to say that Meredith was my mentor in 2005. She's wonderful and we're still in touch to this day. I'm so glad you had an inspiring experience! I did too!

J said...

OMG! sounds like you had a wonderful time. A quick note about picture from phone to computer. There are a couple of ways. (1) email it. (2) slide out the card inside and slip it into your computer. Either will work, but emailing is probably easiest if you're tech phobic like me.

You remind me of one of the many writing things I need to do regularly, keep a list of upcoming conferences, register, GO. Thanks for the pitch tip, very helpful.

LindaBudz said...

Hi, Leslie! Sorry I missed you, too! That is one of the "frustrations" of the day ... so many agents and editors on hand to talk to, you don't get to spend much time with the other writers. (Not that I'm complaining!)

J, Sigh. I tried to figure out the emailing thing, but the only "Send" option it gives me is to other phone numbers. Maybe it's time I break out the dreaded operator's manual. (Shudder.)

J said...

Tell me why you are trying to do this yourself. Find a teenager. They can get it done for you in no time at all. They are the tech resource of life! Remember, use your resources wisely.

LindaBudz said...

Ha! Funny you should mention that ... just today I read Proverbs 12:15.

Tara said...

Linda, terrific recap of the event! This post is especially useful for me since I will be attending this year for the first time. Hope to meet you there!

LindaBudz said...

You'll have a great time, Tara! Hope we do meet!