On Saturday October 17 I had the unique opportunity to attend the 40th annual Rutgers University One-on-One Plus conference sponsored by the Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature. I was one of approximately 70 writers/illustrators accepted for this day-long, intensive experience.
The day began with a writer "strategy" session in which we poured through the packets of information given to us to identify those editors, agents, and authors we planned to meet throughout the day. We also heard from a "success story"--an author who attended in past years and received publication for her picture book as a result.
After a brief speech by the conference founder, Vivian Grey, I met my mentor for the day, two-time Newbery Honor Award winning fiction and nonfiction author Jim Murphy. We spent the next 45 minutes discussing my current nonfiction manuscript, Gray Matters, and how to refine it for future publication. Mr. Murphy is a wealth of knowledge. From simple tips about voice to more refined tips about nonfiction citations, I absorbed everything he had to say.
Next, all attendees gathered for a literary agent panel discussion followed by lunch that allowed us to mingle with agents and editors. I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Shauna Fay, editor from Penguin Young Readers.
Our third session involved a five-on-five meeting with five mentees and five mentors at one table. This table included Carolyn Yoder, editor of Calkins Creek, a U.S. History imprint of Boyds Mills Press, as well as Ammi-Joan Paquette, an associate agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
To close the day, we gathered for an incredible presentation from Judy Freeman--librarian, author, and one heck of a performer. Judy shares her passion for children's literature through song, poetry, movement, and plain old fun.
Overall, I left Rutgers with a sense of writing purpose and an invigoration that this craft is what brings me joy--a joy I want to share with my readers.
"Live, Learn, Teach"