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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Over the weekend I attended the JambaLAya Kidlit Conference in New Orleans put on by the SCBWI Louisiana/ Mississippi region.  I am still such a novice in the field of children’s publishing.  I learned so much as well as networked with friends, new and old.

One of the perks of a regional conference is the agents and editors who attend offer to accept unsolicited submissions following the conference. This is both good and bad.  Good because I can polish up a manuscript and send it off.  Bad because I can polish up a manuscript and send it off.

Academy of the Sacred Heart, New Orleans.

The conference took place at The Academy of Sacred Heart in uptown New Orleans on St. Charles Ave.  The building breathes of history and catholic girls.  The library had many nooks for students to tuck into to read (and editors to critique).  I was welcomed by authors such as Angie Thomas and Jason Reynolds folded out on the librarian’s desk.

I signed up for a critique from editor Catherine Frank.  She sat sweetly in the corner of the library.  I took a deep breath and tried to relax.  Maybe I tried too hard to relax because the conversation with Catherine was easy and fun.  We laughed.  We shared our love of musicals.  Wow!  She had tickets to Hamilton for that night! And she told me she adored verse novels.

Then she said I had to make some changes if I wanted it to sell.  The breath caught in my throat.  I don’t know if I can do that.

“Of course you can.  You’re a good writer.”

She had me in the palm of her hand.  The teacher pleaser in me will go back to the manuscript (Did I mention I’ve been writing this one off and on for 10 years?), and  make the g.d. revisions.  I’ll let you know if I get a book deal.  It may take another 10 years, though.

This book writing business is hard work.  A Louisiana author and friend, Johnette Downing, reminded us, in her wonderful presentation about writing “From the Roots Up: Culture as Character,” that we are in the service of children.  A little poem from her talk:

Be the river.
Write what you know.
Write what you love.
Let the river flow.

The conference experience was too big for one post, so I think I’ll write part two tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

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