In her blogging workshop at the Catholic Writers Conference, Moderator Sarah Reinhard gave us the assignment of using an object to inspire a blog. I closed my eyes, spun around in my chair, and my eyes landed on the name tag from the first Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature One-
on-One Plus Conference I was accepted to.
The letter came on a sunny, summer day 6 years ago. My daughter was only 7, and she'd come out with me to get the mail. Standing on the sidewalk in front of my dining room windows, I pulled out the letter and screamed. My daughter was alarmed, sure something was wrong since Mommy didn't usually scream like that, let alone in public.
But nothing was wrong. In fact, everything was right. I'd been freelancing for 13 years in the nooks and crannies of nights and weekends and summer vacations and on that bright, summer day, I stood on my sidewalk holding validation of my efforts.
The conference did not disappoint. It was my first experience rubbing elbows with authors, editors and agents and I felt like a fan on the red carpet on Oscar night. The highlight of my trip was being paired with acclaimed young adult author, KL Going, who served as my mentor for the day. She was down-
to-earth, generous and gracious and I felt as though I'd made a new friend.
I went back to the conference once more after that, but my first trip remains my favorite. I traveled with my friend and colleague Laurie Edwards that first time, and so the journey there and back was as much fun as the conference itself.
I don't remember the breakdown of costs for gas, fees, meals and the hotel, but I do clearly remember the sense I had of being a "real" writer.
And that was indeed priceless.