Friday, January 15, 2010

New Years Resolution Conference
January 9, 2010 / Syracuse New York

I am so glad I went to this conference!  It wasn't overwhelming 
as some large conferences can be.  The presentations were also 
timely.  Even though the weather was freezing and snowy, the 
five of us---Karen McDonald, Jennifer Burrows, 
Stephanie Stussman, Roxane Chadwick and I---got there safely 
(thank you Karen for driving).

Karen, me, Jennifer

Stephanie and Roxane with our illustrator's mailing

There were three presentations before the four breakout 
sessions.  First, Carla McClafferty, the author of many 
non-fiction books, including Something Out of Nothing: 
Marie Curie and Radium and In Defiance of Hitler: 
The Secret Mission of Varian Fry, shared her process 
and research methods.  Even though I don't write 
non-fiction, the process is similar to fiction pieces with
factual information.  I am constantly researching facts 
about animals and settings that I need in my fiction work.
I also search for photos for references.  Carla was very 
personable and thorough in her step by step approaches.

Carla signing during lunch.

Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin, a husband and wife illustration
team, presented next.  They have received numerous awards for 
their children book illustrations. They passed around original 
work to handle and see up close.  I love layered texture and 
color, so this was a treat.  In the printing process much is lost 
from the original painting.  This couple was open and honest 
about the "agony" of being driven to create.  They wondered 
why they were illustrators.  Meeting deadlines was bad for their 
health:  junk food diets, no sleep, no socializing, edgy moods. 
The comedy dynamics was fun to watch.

Illustrators, Bob and Debra can finally relax!

I was thrilled that Randi Rivers, editor from Charlesbridge,
was speaking at this conference and the primary reason
I attended.  I had been researching Charlesbridge and
had heard positive things about them.  Charlesbridge Publishing 
published Yum! Yuck! written by Linda Sue Park, whom I 
know through RACWI.  I had already sent one manuscript, 
A Brunch of Grumps, which I had addressed to the
"submissions editor." But, I prefer to address submissions to an 
editor I have met.  Conferences are a great way to meet editors
and match your work to a particular editor. When I know an 
editor's personality, editorial skills, genre work, preferences, 
and quirks, I can send more confidently. 

Ms. Rivers spoke about how to get the most out of one's 
submissions.  I was familiar with a lot of the suggestions, 
but learned a lot about submitting a synopsis for longer works, 
which I have not needed to do yet.

After the three presentations, I chose the breakout session 
"First Pages" to attend.  It was lead by Ms. Rivers who actually 
read the first pages rather than the authors.  I thought that she 
was amazing!  After each reading she analyzed and assessed
strengths, gave reasons why she might continue reading 
beyond the first page and offered suggestions.  I felt connected 
to her after that!  I valued what she said and admired her skill.  
I would love to work with her because of her intuitiveness and 
insightfulness.  Within a few days after the conference,  I was so
pumped that I did a final edit of Lizzie and Isadora 
(three chapter early reader), had a final critique, and made a few 
more intuitive changes.  And off it went!  Addressed to 
Randi Rivers, editor.   I felt this manuscript was right for her and
Charlesbridge.  It was a good match.  That felt good.  A submission 
to a real person!  And a submission to the right house.  Doesn't 
mean it'll get published.  But, I did my research.

The night of the day I sent my manuscript, a butterfly was flying 
around my studio.  A butterfly!  In my house! In the dead of winter!
In New York State!  I'm not one to believe in "signs," but it was 
unusual.  Being the bug lover that I am, I made a syrup mixture 
and put it on a leaf of a flowering plant.  Then I gently placed the 
butterfly on the leaf.  The next day it was nowhere to be found.
How long does a butterfly live anyway?  



Eileen Loveman said...

Here's hoping you didn't send it into a sugar coma :)

Loved your descriptions of your friends both old and new - and fingers crossed you get the newest one published!

Jennifer S. Burrows said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer S. Burrows said...

Oops on the last post. :)

Butterflies live a couple weeks. you may see your friend again.

Great job detailing the conference. It was fun.

That picture is super! Can I use it?