A Weekend of Peace, Love & Writing

Click this! It's a poster you can buy!

Click this! It’s actually a poster you can buy!

This weekend I was a mentor at the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus Conference. This is the third time I was invited and attended this conference and I was really looking forward to going. But this year it was kind of a pain in the neck for me to get there. You see, I had double booked myself! Without looking at my calendar I had also bought lots of tickets to the events at the Woodstock Film Festival! So I was up in Woodstock, NY (peace out, man) on Thursday and Friday, watching tons and tons of indie movies and panels and stuff. Then I woke up on Saturday before sunrise, hopped

Woodstock Film Festival Program

Woodstock Film Festival Program

in my car, drove a gazillion miles to New Jersey, and went into agent/mentor mode. Then I drove back to Woodstock, had dinner at my client Ric’s restaurant, New World Home Cooking, and did more Film Festival stuff on Sunday. Why did I do that? Because 1. the Rutgers conference is pretty special; 2. I love eating at New World; 3. The Woodstock Film Festival is super fun and interesting; 4. Autumn in the Catskills; 5. I want it all!

Let me tell you about the Rutgers Conference… Each mentor is assigned a participant. The mentors are editors, agents, and published writers. The participants are writers who have applied to attend the conference. We get to meet for a full hour with our mentee, discussing a writing sample they’ve submitted; have lunch with them; sit in a discussion group with them. It’s kind of awesome to be assigned to hang out with a writer for a few hours and talk to them about their work. Usually at conferences you get about 10 minutes with someone. For someone like me (who talks too much) that is so insufficient. But at Rutgers I get the opportunity to connect a little more deeply and hopefully to make a real difference for someone. My mentee this year is an actress. I mean, that’s her day job! How cool is that?

And of course there are also panels and keynotes and stuff. And there’s this awkward mingle hour where all the mentors go into a kind of stuffy room, with tall cocktail tables (but no cocktails… what’s up with that?!), and we’re supposed to use that time to “network” with each other. Holy awkward nerd herding, Batman! When I feel insecure and shy I talk too much and say stupid things, trying to be funny. Epic Linda. I did hand a few folks my business card though. And I met a few editors that I’ve wanted to meet in person, as well as some new names and faces. Somehow I got in a pretty intense, kind of personal conversation, over lunch with someone I’d just met (about tattoos, fairy tales, being present in life!). That’s writing conferences, yes, but that’s also the Rutgers conference. It’s pretty awesome.

But basically, I had an awesome weekend. But I drove too much. But I bought a 32 lb pumpkin! But it was great. How about you? How was your weekend?

Make sure to check back here next week, for the inaugural interview in my new series “5 Questions for an Editor,” with my first victim guest, editor Andrew Harwell from HarperCollins. I’m shooting for interviews about once a month.

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Happy Intrepid Explorer Day!

330px-Christopher_ColumbusSo, today is Columbus Day, which if you live in the New York area anyway, pretty much only means the kids are off from school. In other parts of the country, and all over the world, it doesn’t even mean that. I have a difficult time celebrating Christopher Columbus for “discovering” the Americas, given there were already plenty of people here (+ there’s evidence Vikings had already come here a long time before anyway). But, I get it, Columbus was an intrepid explorer, and he “discovered” the New World as far as the European and African folks were concerned. So yeah, Columbus sailed the ocean blue and all that. And I can celebrate the spirit of adventure that takes a man or woman into unknown territory, facing who-knows-what. I mean, isn’t that what writers are all about, after all? There’s the blank page. It’s unknown territory, even if you think you know where you’re going. Because once that story starts coming out, who knows what’s going to happen next?! Right? So yeah. Happy Intrepid Explorer Day! For all my writer friends. For all my friends who explore different ways of self expression. For my friends who are explorers of new knowledge. For my friends who explore their capacity to love, to make music, to live a fulfilled life. Whatever “exploration” looks like to you, I raise my glass and salute explorers!

What are you exploring in your life? Does it take bravery?

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Inside Scoop: Dish From a Literary Agent Intern – More on Queries

8025427_1For my second official blog post as Linda’s intern I’ve decided to write about queries. I know, you’re thinking another query blog? Well, yes! Because no matter how many times the specifications of what is asked for when sending in a query are discussed, there are people who (ready for it?) STILL don’t do it correctly. *Gasp*

What I’m going to be talking about today are the parts of the query where you pitch. That’s right folks, believe it or not they matter. Not just the pitches about your manuscript, but the pitches about yourselves too. Since I’ve been reading so many queries and seeing just how people try to sell themselves and their manuscripts I wanted to point out a few things.

  • Don’t sell yourself more than your manuscript. It happens. Sometimes there is a bit about the manuscript, promptly followed (or sometimes preceded) by the 15 literary awards that the author has won, the numerous associations they are part of and countless other facts, both related and not. Please include information about yourself, but do it with some humility in mind. That is not to say giving information about your successes isn’t important. Awards are great, just let them be relevant to your writing or your manuscript. If you are sending in a YA novel, I don’t need to know you have won awards for making pottery.
  • Do not compare your manuscript to 3 other books that have no common thread. It does not make more sense or give an idea of what your book is actually about. Do not say it’s a cross between Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird with a twist of Gone with the Wind. That does not give a clear depiction of what your book is about or make much sense. Instead, give a picture of the story you created, using your own words and thoughts. It’s ok to include comps when they truly describe an aspect of your manuscript you can’t describe any other way. But describing your manuscript with your own words can give a much better idea of what it is and how you see it.
  • Make sure you give a concise summary of your manuscript. We want to be able to get a sense of what you are talking about. Being bombarded with too many thoughts about your manuscript can muddle the clear depiction you want to give. You want to make sure you will grab the interest of whoever is reading your query so they will want to give your manuscript a chance. Keeping it down to a couple of paragraphs is more than enough to tell about your manuscript.

Kim Photo BioSo that’s what I have for you this month! Thank you for taking the time to read my pointers and I hope this was helpful in your pursuit of finding an agent. I wish you continued luck on your journey and I’ll talk to you soon! Let me know in the comments section below if you have specific things you’d like me to blog about in the future.

Kimberly Richardson is currently interning for Linda Epstein at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, while pursuing her Masters degree in Pace University’s Publishing Program. You can follow Kimberly on Twitter @kimberly_ann688.

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