Tibdits on my life & Asilomar Conference

Hi everyone,

if you are familiar with this blog, you know that I don’t share much about my life here. The focus is what is happening in the world of multicultural children’s literature; however today the post will be a little bit more personal. 🙂

Posting will be light in the days to come, as it has been this week. I’m in college and I have my finals in the next ten days. So much happened between January 1st and now that I have to rearrange my schedule, so that it can once again be balanced. I thank my critique partners for their advice and patience (you guys are fabulous!), as well as Greg Pincus who gave me the most insightful and wonderful media critique session at a conference I attended a few weeks ago. He reminded me that as a writer, I need to make sure that in the midst of all my activities I still have time to write. I needed to hear that. Thanks, Greg! The man is really amazing and you will find his story inspiring, once I find the time to dedicate him a post; which will be some time after this school session is over. If you can’t wait that long, click on his name! 😀

The main change I’m thinking of implementing regards posting, which will now occur three times a week: Monday (interview), Wednesday and Friday. Some posts might still appear Tuesday and Thursday, but that will be the exception.

Back to the SCBWI Asilomar Conference, I do not have enough time to give an account that will do justice to how amazing the conference was. Yes, the speakers were inspiring beyond words, but there is also something equally uplifting about being around other children’s writers, and sharing our experience, and laughing, and critiquing each other’s work. Conferences with a “small” (think 100-150) number of participants also allow for a more personal connection with editors and agents. I have noticed the atmosphere to be a bit more relaxed, and the guest speakers to be surprisingly approachable. I had the pleasure to converse with Ken Wright of the literary agency Writers House and Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency, as well as Scholastic Paperbacks editor AnnMarie Anderson and Tracy Gates from Viking Children’s Books. I met some of the people I interviewed such as Ann Martin Bowler and Marsha Arnold, Lea Lyon who is one of my favorite illustrators, and many others. If you are a writer and can ever attend a kid lit conference, whether it be a ALA, SCBWI, MLAG or other, please really consider doing so. Inquire about scholarships if your funds are low. There are ways to make it happen. I made it to Asilomar thanks to a scholarship, and I look forward to helping someone else attend it in the future.

From this point I’ll focus on the MC aspect of the conference, however for more accounts visit Sue Douglass Fliess’ as well as Linda Joy Singleton’s blog.

Though this wasn’t per se a “multicultural” kid lit conference, I was surprised to spend the weekend talking about multiculturalism almost all the time. Lots of people have much to say about it; the topic is definitely current and raises much passion in a positive way. Now, if this would translate in more book sales in the future, wow! I’m getting ahead of myself here, excited as I am about this year bestselling MC books. I’m watching several titles closely! 😀

The consensus from professionals in the publishing industry (agents and editors) seem to be: “put the numbers aside, the “MC books don’t sell” that we hear all over, and write what you are passionate about.” What I am adding here comes from personal conversations, so forgive me for not giving names at this stage. Those are arguments that we already know, but it doesn’t hurt to hear them again. Write your story, make it as good as you possibly can (strive for excellence), then fight for it. A professional was convinced that a good MC story will always sell no matter what. It is a nice thought, but it still takes a strong fight, with some authors forced to consider self-publishing when traditional publishers think there might not be a market for their stories.

A speaker particularly stood out in my opinion, in terms of multicultural kid lit, and that is Scholastic Paperbacks Senior Editor AnnMarie Anderson. She is the only one who specifically brought multiculturalism up during her presentation, stating that “we need more cultural diversity in children’s books!” Is she your she-ro yet? She totally rocks, and you know that I’m biased! 😀 Anyway, Ms. Anderson specializes in paperback series like Geronimo Stilton or Poison Apple, so please, do not query her with a picture book or a 100,000 words manuscript. She is looking for boy-friendly stories, as well as animal characters, think Warriors, Bunnicula–yep, a vampire bunny. How fun and original?! She also wants multicultural stories, wants to bring more minorities characters to the readers! Yay!

*Big sigh & smile* That was sooo refreshing to hear! Of course, a boy-friendly or animal story can also be multicultural, but it totally made my day that she clearly put cultural diversity among her principal interests.

Last but not least, allow me to introduce a fabulous literary agent: Marietta B. Zacker. What is so special about her? So many things, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with her background. Marietta has fifteen years of experience working in the publishing industry. She knows how publishers think, what they like, what they don’t, knows which doors are the hardest to push (yet she goes for it!). Marietta also owns a bookstore specialized in children’s books. As such, she is in a position that is not common for most agents, having an insight about booksellers and readers that is truly unique.

In any case, if you would like to know more about Marietta, please check the following links:
o Nancy Gallt Literary Agency
o From Hilary Wagner’s blog, one of her clients: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Agent Marietta Zacker!. Marietta took the time to answer various questions from readers for ten days.
o Her agency submission Guidelines
o Follow Marietta on Twitter

Marietta’s Interviews:
o @ Literary Rambles, interviewed by Casey McCormick
o @ Market My Words, an interview focused on marketing to indie bookstores, by MG/YA author Shelli Johannes

And this concludes today’s post! I hope that you had a fairly good week, and wish you a fantastic weekend. What will you read? 😀

Please, note that for the next ten days I will most likely not be able to respond to comments (though I might), and you might not hear from me by email as well, due to my exams. That said don’t punish me, and feel free to react to this post. Thank you for your patience.

Happy reading & cheers,

Nathalie

Edited 02.08.2011

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About Nathalie Mvondo

Nathalie Mvondo lives in Northern California. She is a writer, a blogger, a community organizer and a social entrepreneur.
This entry was posted in Literary Agent, Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Tibdits on my life & Asilomar Conference

  1. Greg Pincus says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Nathalie. As you know, I absolutely love what you’re doing here (and will love it 3 times a week or 23 times a week!).

    I also had a great time at Asilomar, though I didn’t get to hear the presentations. Pity, as I kept hearing such good things about them! Over the summer, though, I did hear Marietta Zacker talk and thought she was absolutely fabulous. I’m sure you’re in good hands with her.

    And thanks again!

    Like

    • Greg, I can’t believe you’re thanking me. I’m grateful that you answered all the questions I had about blogging, twitter, Facebook and just social media in general. Still processing the information. 🙂

      Like

  2. Bookewyrme says:

    Hey, good luck on your exams Nathalie! The Asilomar conference sounds amazine! 🙂

    Like

  3. Cheryl says:

    You got it going on girlfriend!! I wish you much success with your book, I know Marietta will find a home for it. I need to look into scholarships as well, as I am in dire need of making connections. Thanks.

    Like

  4. Casey says:

    Thank you for the link! Marietta is fabulous. Good luck out there on submission!!!

    Like

  5. How exciting for you Nathalie! Congratulations! I’ve heard some great things about your agent.

    Best of luck to you on your finals.

    Like

  6. Pingback: Monday Interview: AnnMarie Anderson, Senior Editor at Scholastic Paperbacks « Multiculturalism Rocks!

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