I walked into the room with my notebook, fresh copies of revised manuscripts and the book, Anne of Green Gables…just in case I had nobody to talk to, there’d be something to read. Round tables of eight dotted the room, with writers and illustrators and even some students trying to get their one extra BSU credit; sitting here and there at different tables.

They looked as scared as I probably looked because afterall we are all strangers, passionately attempting to live out the same dream … to be published book writers or illustrators. But there was a slight air of competition as well … not pungent, just kind of lingering and it was a good, healthy thing. I thought anyway.

I sat at the front and realized after a few minutes that I was sitting at the “speaker’s table.” Embarrassing. I made an attempt to move but was assured that it was perfectly fine.

Here are some notes:

-Dont’ be afriad to revise. Once you get past the pain, it’ll be worth it.
-Write the same kind of book.
-Read your work outloud. You will pick up echoes and will hear it better inside your head.
-Got to have a hook! We only have the first two paragraphs to keep children’s…or even editors, interest.
-Weave the backstory in the beginning.
-No repetitive patterns in dialouge. For example, stacking of “I’s” all on the same side of the page.

Finally, the speaker Matthew Kirby quoted, and I paraphrase, “Make life as hard as possible for your characters”…and that will get the pages turning. He said to write our stories to satisfy questions that will make our readers want to make meaning out of them. Something our brains do automatically.

Through out the day I solicited advise from Sarah Tregay and Kate Kae Myers, debut authors who had their books just come out this past February. I told them my story about Grosset and Dunlap etc. and they all encouraged me to get an agent. They were very sweet.

So I tried to email a few agents to see what would happen.

Yesterday I got a return email from Alison Picard Literary Agency. She was willing to review a few chapters of my manuscript and the entire picture book text. I was so nervous that I had to take a walk around my neighborhood. We had record heat at 91 degrees and it was a beautiful day. This morning she REJECTED IT. Sadly.

But a sweet sounding agent, Ashley Grayson, also emailed me and requested to hear the details about which publishers were interested in my manuscripts and to review them. I still haven’t heard anything.

It was a good conference. Happy that I went!