Friday, November 10, 2006

Off Days, Days off, and Prairie Writer's Day

My muse continues to cooperate. Although now that I'm on a roll, my girl's are home for a long weekend because of school conferences.

Having the girls home is a mixed blessing. I love the unstructured time. The lazing about the house in pjs until lunch. The talks over tea. The squeals of delight as my girls watch old favorites on Nick Jr. The respite from the routine is welcome. Unfortunately, the routine is what I depend on where my writing is concerned.

As a compromise, I've placed Post-it pads all over the house. By the end of the day, I need to search table tops, counters, and the dashboard for all the squares of paper I've generated. Writing in this way is less than ideal, but at least I feel like I'm making some forward progress.

A long string of post-its relate to my duties for tomorrow's SCBWI-Illinois Prairie Writer's Day. The popular day-long retreat offers novice and experienced writers the opportunity to connect with and learn from acquiring editors and agents.

Featured editors and agents scheduled to attend include:

Clarissa Hutton, Harper Collins
Beverly Reingold, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Julie Romeis, Bloomsbury
Stephen Fraser, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency

The retreat will be held at the Priory campus of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. With its vaulted ceilings, flagstone floors and stained glass windows, the Priory reminds me of a castle.

As PR co-chair of the Illinois SCBWI chapter, I'm on point for greeting the editors, agents, and special guests "at the door," introducing them around, ensuring they know where to sit, where they need to be, where to freshen up, etc. I'm thrilled and terrified by this opportunity. Thankfully, fellow crit group members, A and J, have offered to assist in this effort.

One of the most popular features of the day is the first-pages section. During this part of the program, anonymous first manuscript pages are read to the entire group (we're expecting 125 people or more), after which the editors and agents critique the sub, remarking on its strengths and discussing areas that raised questions.

Last year, one reading prompted an editor to jump up, asking, "Who wrote that?" Upon looking the elated author in the eye, he said, "We need to talk. Find me after we're done." Every writer's dream.

Since KM has evolved into multiple points of view, I submitted a first page from my antagonist's story. My fingers are crossed I don't embarass myself.

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