Monday, October 30, 2006


Ah. Conference is over. I miss it.

In retrospect, the best part of the conference for me was sitting next to Katherine Paterson. I'm pretty sure someone needs to remind her that she is KATHERINE PATERSON, two-time Newbery winner and writing genius. While I sat next to her, I was kind of worried about standing up and speaking to the 250 conference attendees about various things that needed to be said about the conference, timing, and all of the other million details that needed to be thought of. It was like I was sitting next to someone I've known for years. She'd ask me to repeat something that was said by a speaker - I'd show her my notes - she'd tell me the small details I was worried about didn't matter and people were enjoying the conference. I think. I wish I had a recorder so I could remember every little thing she said to me. But, she was just so normal and warm - that I think I even forgot she was KATHERINE PATERSON.

And, I think a lot of other people forgot too. I enjoyed watching people stumble up to her, and ask her a question about the conference, thinking she was a volunteer or something. One person sat next to her with a big sigh of relief and was like 'I have my critique in a few minutes, are you waiting for one too?' And then the look on that person's face when they realized she was wearing a name tag that said, Katerine Paterson writing genuis and two-time Newbery winner (ok, it didn't say that, but it should have). Or when she moved into the audience to watch a panel for a better view. She just plopped herself down and watched, while the entire row of people straightened and probably missed the whole panel, staring at her out of the corner of their eyes, wondering if they were worthy of talking to her. And I knew they were thinking, "OMG Katherine Paterson is sitting next to me. I could die a happy death right now."

Otherwise people are saying this was the best conference we've had in years. I think so too, and (besides our 55 volunteers) I think it's because of our speakers. They were wonderful. The editors were so approachable and fun. They were good at talking to a group of people. They answered questions and gave wonderful critiques. I ate lunch with two of them, and dinner with one, and was wishing we could bring them back next year. I also ate dinner with a librarian that served on the Newbery Committee. That was really cool. We talked about books and she asked me about my writing. It came up that I went to Rutgers this year and when she heard I had tried twice, finally being accepted on my third try, she was so proud of me! I was like, "You decide who wins the Newbery Medal and your congratulating me on getting into a conference!" Goodness. Anyway she was not at all what I expected a Newbery committee member to be like. She had cool hair, wore a dress suit type outfit, and had a hip hot pink scarf/feather boa around her neck.

So I'm kind of feeling sad today because it's all over. It was fun. Every minute of it. And I'm wondering when we can start planning the next one. Although, I'm sure as soon as my conference high wears off, I'll be a little relieved to have a few months to recharge. Back to the real world. Time to get that revision finished, and sent off. And hopefully next year I'll have a little more than an acceptance into Rutgers to share. If not, that's okay too.


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