Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Catching Up

As the summer winds down I'm getting back to life as usual. It's been a busy time, what with driving back and forth from Tennessee to North Carolina (summer camp, family reunions, etc.). But with my son's school starting up again, I'll be home and blogging more frequently for the foreseeable future.

I do have one trip I will be making— to the annual Rutger's University Council on Children's Literature One-on-One Plus Conference. (Yowzers, is that a long name! Try saying it all in one breath.) I had the honor of being invited to attend two years ago; it's great to be going back.

For those who are interested in writing for children and teens, the Rutger's conference is one of the best to attend. It's by invitation only, based on a submitted writing sample of three pages— that's right, you have three pages in which to wow the conference planners with your manuscript. So simply getting in is a Very Big Deal. But what makes the conference significant is that all attendees are assigned a mentor for the day— a mentor who is either an editor, an agent, or an established published writer. Your mentor critiques your submission, offers manuscript advice, and can be an invaluable guide to point you towards the right agent or editor for your work— if they don't request it themselves. Attendees also take part in an intimate Q&A session with four other attendees and their mentors— that means by the end of the day, no matter what, five industry professionals (four of whom are probably agents and editors) will have met you, spoken with you face to face, and heard your pitch. But the biggest part of the deal is the lunchtime meet and greet opportunity, where you eat dinner at a table with editors and agents— you pick— and have the opportunity to go speak to as many editors and agents as you desire. These agents and editors are from major agencies and publishers— firms like Curtis Brown, Writer's House, Atheneum, Henry Holt, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, and more. So, yes, I am more than happy to be returning.

Also coming up in September is a local conference sponsored by the Midsouth regional chapter of SCBWI, which I'm looking forward to as well.

So it looks like the fall is going to be as busy as the summer— and that's a good thing.

--- Howard Shirley