Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top 10 Best Things about the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference by Hannah Dills

The Rutgers Council on Children’s Literature sponsors the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference each year to help aspiring children’s book authors and illustrators. My friend, Hannah Dills, attended the conference this year. I am pleased to have her share about the experience.

Welcome to the blog, Hannah! What is the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference?

Thanks! It’s great to be here!

The Rutgers Conference provides authors with a unique opportunity to receive individual feedback on their work directly from one of nearly eighty industry professionals. The list of the 2009 Rutgers mentors, including editors, agents, and published authors, may be found at: Authors start the day with an individual one-on-one session. I was extremely lucky – my session was with Bloomsbury editor Caroline Abbey and she was fabulous! Caroline reviewed the first few pages of my manuscript, a synopsis and query letter. Her suggestions helped me enhance the materials that are key to catching the attention of an agent or editor.

Authors also get to participate in a five-on-five session with their mentor and four other publishing experts. I was excited to meet and hear advice from Shauna Fay (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), Annette Pollert (Simon Pulse), Alison Weiss (Egmont), and Becca Stumpf (Prospect Agency).

The day also includes a panel about trends in the publishing world and author guest speakers. Lunch provides yet another opportunity to personally meet and learn more about publishing professionals. The conference is held at Rutgers University in New Jersey and makes a fun fall trip.

How can someone sign up for the conference?

Information about the registration process for the Rutgers conference may be found online at Interested authors should complete the application and mail a three page sample of their work to the appropriate contact for one of the three categories: Picture Books, Middle Grade, or Young Adult. The application deadline was in early July this year and notifications were made for successful applicants in early August. The conference was held October 17th.

What was the best thing about the conference?

The best thing? That’s a tough question! How about the top ten best things : - ) ?

1. I really appreciated the individual feedback on my work; Caroline Abbey provided some fabulous input that helped enhance my query, synopsis and first pages of THE GUARDIANS: DESTINIES REVEALED that I hope will someday turn me into a Rutgers success story…
2. I loved the Success Story author, Karen Rostoker-Gruber, who inspired all of us at breakfast with her account of how she became a published author as a result of the Rutgers Conference…
3. I was happy to meet several of the wonderful Rutgers Council members who devote countless hours to making this event possible every year, including Marcie Aboff, Caroline Abbey, Courtney Bongiolatti, and Samantha McFerrin…
4. My five-on-five session (mentioned above) was entertaining and informative…
5. Little Brown editor Alvina Ling introduced me to one of my favorite middle grade authors, Wendy Mass in person (big fan!)...
6. I met authors from across the country and shared their hopes…
7. I traveled with a great group of writers from Nashville’s Mid-South SCBWI chapter – Sharon Cameron, Jessica Young, and Howard Shirley (or should I say the Charlie’s Angels : - )?)...
8. The trip to New Jersey was fabulous – we got a fall leaf tour of the northeast included in our conference trip thanks to Sharon’s navigation skills…
9. I was excited to see Candlewick editor Kaylan Adair (a fabulous critiquer) and Nancy Gallt agent Marietta Zacker again only three weeks after meeting them in Nashville…
10. And, the dream that Rutgers makes seem possible…that someday I may get my book published!

Would you recommend it to other writers and illustrators?

I would highly recommend the Rutgers Conference to my fellow writers. It is one of the best conferences I’ve ever had the opportunity to attend! I am very fortunate that one of my favorite fellow writers recommended this conference to me…thanks Rae Ann!!!

Thank you Hannah!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Inspiration (and fun) at the Southern Festival of Books

The Southern Festival of Books was held this month in Nashville. The highlight of the festival for me was hearing Kate DiCamillo speak. She is the Newbery award winning author of Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux and other fabulous books. The path to publication must have been easy for her, right? Wrong. She received 470 rejection letters before her first book sold. Four HUNDRED seventy. She talked about the importance of learning to write by reading good books. She also emphasized the importance of persistence in writing. To summarize in my own words: Keep writing and don’t quit.

I also attended the Sisters in Crime panel discussion, Researching the Mystery, talked to writer friends, and bought books. Since this book festival is held in Nashville, there is also music. I enjoyed some music at the Café Stage by Will Kimbrough and author/musician Tommy Womack.

For more info on the festival, click here.

[photo by John Parker]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meriwether Lewis Commemoration Ceremony

This week marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Meriwether Lewis, co-captain of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Meriwether Lewis died at Grinder’s Stand on the Natchez Trace on October 11, 1809. He died without family and friends at his side. Some say he was buried where he fell. Lewis never had a funeral. Last week, that changed.

The Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation and guests gathered on October 7 to honor Meriwether Lewis in a ceremony “Undaunted Courage: The Final Journey”. It was a beautiful ceremony with music from the 101st Airborne Infantry Band, dedication of a bust of Lewis that will be displayed at the Parkway headquarters, and words from descendants of Lewis and William Clark. There was a reenactment of Meriwether Lewis’s arrival at Grinder’s Stand followed by a procession to his gravesite with flag bearers carrying state flags of every state Lewis & Clark traveled through on the Corps of Discovery. Cub Scouts assisted in a wreath laying ceremony and also presented plants that Lewis discovered on the expedition.
For more information on the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and the Lewis & Clark Expedition, click here. To see the photos on the Foundation’s Flickr page of the commemoration ceremony, click here.