Here are some excellent links for writing/publishing information and inspiration:
Miss Snark's First Victim: http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/
Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators: http://www.scbwi.org/default.aspx
Funds for Writers, Hope Clark: http://www.fundsforwriters.com/
I attended my first national SCBWI conference, including a day-long novel intensive with hilarious Meg Rosoff, brilliant Linda Sue Park, and prolific and poetic Jane Yolen. I'm still starstruck from this ridiculously inspirational weekend, which also included talks by my childhood idol Julie Andrews, the outrageously funny Mo Willems, and best-selling Margaret Peterson Haddix.
Every November, I participate in the Rochester Children's Book Festival--a free celebration of literacy and learning. As sponsorship coordinator of the RCBF, I work with my fellow organizers all year to put on a magical day with presentations and book signings by over 40 authors and illustrators. I had the opportunity to act as interviewer for a televised segment with some authors and illustrators. Check it out: http://www.292baby.org/vod.htm?2011bookfestivalRR.
I thought last year's NESCBWI conference was outstanding, but I must admit, I got more out of the 2011 Writer's Digest Conference in NYC.
  • Speakers Donald Maas, James Scott Bell, Chuck Sambuchino, and Janet Reid were fantastic, imparting specific advice on how to improve characters, plots, pitches, and query letters.
  • Several of the keynotes were dull and too general, and I sensed they were only included because they were sponsors of the event, BUT here's what Writer's Digest did exceptionally well: the Pitch Slam. Imagine a room full of 55 literary agents and 500 hopeful authors. You have the opportunity to pitch your project as many times as possible (in three-minute increments) during the two-hour session. I was able to see eight agents, four of whom requested my full manuscript and the other four partials. It was a thrilling, terrifying, confidence building exercise, and I am so glad I did it. If your manuscript is in pristine condition, but you just haven't connected with the right agent through querying, this conference is for you.    http://www.writersdigestconference.com/
Speaking of inspiration, I attended the 2010 New England SCBWI conference and it was FANTASTIC!!!
I now worship these goddesses of awesome I met at the conference:
  • Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency who, despite hating my query letter, was generous with her time and feedback. She even provided specific lines she'd like me to include before submitting my query to her for real. I love this woman!
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith whose keynote speeches were as funny as they were informative.
  • Lisa Papademetriou whose presentation about character-driven vs. plot-driven writing was so hilarious, she could easily be a stand-up comedienne.
  • Cynthia Lord, author of Rules, who couldn't have been nicer in talking with me during our two elevator rides together at the hotel. We have a lot in common: Our sons' diagnoses with autism spurred us to start writing in the first place.
  • Kate Messner who must have thought I was stalking her but was very kind to me anyway.
Here's a complete listing of the NESCBWI Conference Faculty, 2010.
Lesson learned: Conferences are well worth the investment. I hope to go back to this one next year.