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We sometimes hear from former mentees about the sale of their manuscripts to publishers or about honors and awards they have received. We thought we'd pass along the good news to other aspiring writers.

October 2019

Becky Scharnhorst writes:

I attended the RUCCL One-on-One Plus conference in 2017 and was paired with Cheryl Eissing of Philomel. Cheryl immediately put me at ease with her thoughtful and encouraging feedback. We chatted easily about her suggested revisions (which were spot-on) and our mutual admiration of Oliver Jeffers. I felt fortunate to be paired with such a knowledgeable, fun, and kind professional. During our time together, Cheryl said she’d be interested in showing my manuscript to her team after I completed my revisions. A few months later, I sent her my revised manuscript and Cheryl offered a few more suggestions. In July, Cheryl shared it with her team. Even though they loved the manuscript, they weren’t sure about the setting. Once again, Cheryl generously offered to help me turn it into a school setting if I was interested. I was grateful for the opportunity to continue working with her, so I jumped at the chance. I’m thrilled to announce that my debut picture book P.S. Wildwood Elementary Stinks will be published by Philomel in 2021. Thank you to everyone involved in organizing and putting together this one-of-a-kind conference. It truly was life-changing.

June 2019

Kira Bigwood writes:

I am sorry to say I won't be applying to the RUCCL conference this year...because I just accepted an offer of publication for one of my stories!!! And I owe it all to last year's conference experience. So thank you! You paired me with a wonderful mentor who saw potential in one of my manuscripts and gave me valuable feedback. I went home and reworked the story, and submitted it to a different editor I met that day at lunch (who mentioned loving stories involving my same topic). After a couple of months of revising back and forth, I received an official offer from Atheneum, and then was able to take that offer and secure an agent. I am now repped by Jennie Dunham, and my debut picture book will come out in 2021! The One-on-One Conference was a complete game-changer for me. I wouldn't be going out for a celebratory steak dinner with my hubs if it wasn't for RUCCL:) I wish I could attend every year, but I will let another hopeful benefit from this amazing opportunity. Thanks again!

April 2019

Jennifer Robin Barr writes:

Since your keynote is Wendy Mass, below is a story about my experience with her as my 1-on-1 mentor ... Wendy (as my mentor) completely changed my writing path and I suppose I just wanted to share:

In 2009 I attended my first Rutgers conference, submitting a middle grade novel excerpt about a witch (that I can barely remember.) Late in my 1-on-1 conversation with Wendy I mentioned an idea that I had about a historical fiction middle grade novel involving baseball, community, and friendship during the Great Depression. Apparently my face and demeanor completely changed as I was explaining my idea, and Wendy basically told me to drop everything I was doing - including the witch middle grade, and concentrate on it. She was very strong in her opinion, and I left feeling encouraged and energized about the idea. Nobody outside of my critique group had ever been that straightforward with me before, but in a positive and excited way. I ended up talking about that idea in my 5-on-5 later that day, and not the story I brought with me to RUCCL. Wendy's reaction and enthusiasm also gave me the confidence to email Carolyn Yoder the next day, a historical fiction editor and 2009 RUCCL conference faculty member, who encouraged me to submit the manuscript to her imprint when I was ready. Looking back I'm not sure why I emailed Carolyn - I hadn't actually written anything yet. I can only attribute it to Wendy's confidence in the idea, and how that empowered me. I ended up attending Carolyn's 2010 historical fiction SCBWI workshop - something I might not have done without the initial RUCCL connection. It took a while (including several additional Rutgers conferences/mentors), but that idea became my debut Middle Grade novel, and Goodbye, Mr. Spalding was just released in March - almost 10 years after the 2009 RUCCL Conference. My editor is Carolyn Yoder. There were a lot of twists and turns, and additional things that had to fall into place to make this happen, but I will always attribute Wendy Mass with the helpful push to drop everything else and pursue it. I've shared a little of this story on Twitter, but I'm not sure Wendy realizes how impactful that 1-on-1 session really was to me.

Thanks for letting me share my Wendy Mass / Goodbye, Mr. Spalding story, and congrats on getting her to keynote your amazing conference.

June 2018

Abigail Rayner writes:

I am delighted to share my success story from the wonderful One-on-One Conference.

It was at my first RUCCL One-on-One Conference in 2015 that I met Beth Terrill, editor at NorthSouth Books. I was looking for a place to sit at lunch, and Beth invited me to sit with her. She introduced herself, and asked me what genres I wrote. I said picture books and middle grade. She asked what my picture books were about. I must have been a little overwhelmed with nerves because I said something like, "You know, this and that." Beth looked sort of puzzled, and then I took a breath and said, "Wait, I'm supposed to pitch to you now aren't I?" She laughed and said, "Umm, yes! Picture book editor here!" So, I told her about three of my picture books. She said she loved the sound of all of them, and to send them to her after the conference. So, I did. One of those stories was The Backup Bunny, which NorthSouth published in March. They also bought another manuscript from me, which is yet to be announced. It has been wonderful working with Beth and NorthSouth. I feel so fortunate that we found each other, and so grateful for the RUCCL conference that brought us together.

May 2018

Katrina Moore writes:

Thank you for putting together your incredible conference and making it so valuable to it’s attendees. The thoughtfulness and hard work that goes into planning the conference comes through in the well structured event, as well as the positive energy that buzzes throughout the conference. Even though there are as many professionals as attendees, it's not intimidating because everyone is encouraging and kind. I’m happy to share a success story!

When I attended the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference in October 2016, I was between agents and much in need of professional editorial feedback on various manuscripts. My mentor, Heather Crowley, provided exactly that. She helped me to see opportunities to strengthen my story and had insightful feedback on multiple projects. This invaluable one-on-one time, as well as the opportunity to learn from industry professionals in an intimate five-on-five session helped me to elevate my writing, as well as increase my knowledge of the publishing industry. It also allowed me access to make genuine connections within the industry and with other writers, fueling me with support and encouragement to push forward and achieve my dreams. As a result, I signed with my agent in 2017 and sold my debut picture book, ONE HUG, which is forthcoming in 2019 from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books.

April 2018

Jenna Gavigan writes:

Peter Catalanotto, my children’s book writing teacher at Columbia, encouraged me to apply to the Rutgers conference....I was thrilled to get into the conference and even more thrilled to be paired with Long Island’s very own Linda Epstein. We clicked immediately. She liked the idea of my book—at the time, Lulu was a picture book—but the book just wasn’t quite right.

Cut to the winter of 2016. Linda and I had remained friends. She and editor Liz Kossnar—who we met at the conference—came to see me in an off-Broadway play ...“Write it as a middle grade. There’s too much story in you for a picture book. When you have ten thousand words, send it to me.” Once the play closed, I wrote those ten thousand words faster than I’d written, well… anything, really, and on a crazy hot summer day Linda offered me representation. By January, Lulu was out on submission.

Cut to June 2017 and Introducing Broadway Lulu is purchased, at auction, by Running Press Kids. Now titled Lulu the Broadway Mouse, her official pub date is October 9, 2018.

April 2018

Jen Nails writes:

... I happened to sit by the same woman on the bus from NYC to Rutgers and then back from Rutgers to NYC. We found out that we were both going to the conference on the way there, but neither of us said what role we were playing: editor, agent, or author. This was refreshing. There was no pretense or subtext ... The conversation flowed easily. And when we both got off the bus at Rutgers, the conference was large enough that I didn't even see her once during that day.

But leaving that afternoon, there we were, sharing seats next to one another again. We talked about the conference, found out that she was an editor from HarperCollins who loved middle grade, and that I was a middle grade author. I sent her my novel weeks later (the one that the editor who'd I'd been officially paired up with passed on) and two months later received word that Harper wanted to publish it. One Hundred Spaghetti Strings came out in April of 2017. Working with the incredible Jocelyn Davies (who has since left Harper to pursue her own writing career) has been one of the major highlights of my career.

April 2018

Janae Marks writes:

... wanted to share that the middle grade manuscript I brought to RUCCL in 2016 landed me an agent in late 2017, and sold in February 2018 to HarperCollins Katherine Tegen Books! It is called From the Desk of Zoe Washington, and will be released in winter 2020. I did not find my agent at your conference, but the feedback I received from my editor mentor was very helpful as I revised the manuscript. I'm very grateful to have been there!

March 2017

Lisa Robinson writes:

I am writing to extend a HUGE thank you for your mission and the results it produces. I attended RUCCL this past October 2016 and immediately afterward began submitting one of my picture books to mentors. Two editors who attended the conference asked to take the picture book to acquisitions after some revision, and ultimately my story, Pippa's Night Parade, earned a contract with Amazon/Two Lions (Marilyn Brigham). As a result of this contract, I was able to obtain representation for this picture book as well as my YA novel with Alyssa Eisner Henkin of the Trident Media Group. She is currently submitting my novel as well as a non-fiction picture book.
... thank you so much for persevering with this conference! It truly does open doors.

December 2016

Hannah Holt writes:

I attended the 2015 Fall One-on-one Plus Conference on scholarship with my picture book text Diamond Man. At the time, I was at a crossroads in my career. I'd had a previous agent relationship that didn't work and was considering submitting to publishers directly. My one-on-one session with editor Katherine Jacobs changed my mind. She convinced me I needed an agent and provided guidance for that selection process. Her feedback was instructive, supportive, and validating. Within two months of the conference, I'd signed with my agent Laura Biagi, and a few months later I'd accepted an offer for my debut picture book, Diamond Man, with Balzer+Bray. Although my agent and editor weren't direct contacts from the conference, being able to talk with an industry professional in-depth was an invaluable experience for me. It steered me in a path of success. Thanks again and all the best!

October 2016

Connie Hsu at Roaring Brook has bought author-illustrator Jeanette Bradley's debut picture book, Love, Mama. The book is slated for winter 2018. Emily Mitchell of Wernick & Pratt negotiated the deal for world English rights.

Jeanette writes:

Dear organizers of the One-on-One Plus Conference:
I wanted to say thank you so much for what you do. I know the conference takes a tremendous amount of time and thought. I attended last year and it was an amazing experience for me. Meeting agents and editors one on one was new for me, and I also met so many other writers, many of them ahead of me in their writing journeys. I learned so much in that one day.

I brought two picture book dummies with me, and my mentor Emily Clement gave me great advice about both. I went home, spent the next several months revising based on her feedback, and then began submitting to agents. Just a bit over a year later, and I have this amazing piece of news to report about one of those manuscripts. I would not be here if it were not for you! Thank you RUCCL!

May 2016

Linda E. Marshall writes:

Dear RUCCL team:
Thank you!
In 2013, I was fortunate to be selected to attend RUCCL. There I was mentored by Literary Agent Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis. After reviewing my submission and several other projects, Christa signed me on. Yay!

My book, Rainbow Weaver, is about Ixchel, a young Mayan girl who wants to weave like her mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers before her so that she can help pay for her books and school, but the threads are expensive and her family cannot spare any for her to use ... An environmental as well as culturally diverse book, Rainbow Weaver, is forthcoming with Lee & Low. Elisa Chavarri is the illustrator. If all goes well, Rainbow Weaver should be available in late September, 2016. Thought you’d enjoy the good news of our success story! Thank you!!!.

Summer 2010

Congratulations! Monica Carnesi has been offered a two-book deal with Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group.

Monica writes:

"To begin with, I was offered representation by an agent that I met during the Five-on-Five session. Her name is Teresa Kietlinski (Teresa Dikun) from Prospect Agency, and a month after the conference she contacted me. And it gets better -- after she became my agent she saw an illustration I had done and posted on my blog about a story I had recently heard on the radio. She told me I should write a picture book about it and gave me the encouragement and assistance I needed to both write the story and put together a dummy. One editor who had seen my portfolio expressed interest in seeing the dummy and then another one also became interested in the story. The amazing result is that I was offered a two-book deal with Nancy Paulsen Books, a new imprint at Penguin Young Readers Group.

In less then a year, my career as an author/illustrator of picture books has taken off, and it's all thanks to the One-on-One Plus Conference!!"

Spring 2010

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski's first young adult novel, Dead Lines, will be published by Henry Holt in 2012.

Jennifer writes:

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! I just sold my first young adult novel Dead Lines and it's all because I was selected as a mentee for the October 2009 One-on-One Plus Conference.

It was an honor just to be selected to spend the day in the company of such talented people. After attending the conference, I submitted sample chapters of my YA novel to several participating mentors. Three agents requested the full manuscript and in December one of those agents offered me representation. In March 2010, my new agent, Kerry Evans (now Kerry Sparks) of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency Inc., sold my manuscript to another Rutgers mentor, Eve Adler, at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. I know writers aren't supposed to use clichés, but selling this novel is a dream come true for me.

Before attending Rutgers, I had been trying to break into children's book writing for about nine years. I regularly attended workshops sponsored by SCBWI through which I met several writer friends who all encouraged me to apply to the One-on-One Conference. I'm so glad I did. As of now, my book is scheduled to be published in 2012.

I would like to thank the Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature and everyone involved with the One-on-One Plus Conference for the doors you opened up for me. I can't thank you enough."

Fall 2009

Jean Reagan reports that the manuscript she submitted to the 2008 One-on-One Plus Conference, How to Babysit a Grandpa, will be published by Knoph.

Jean writes:

"I have no doubt the excellent mentoring by Emily Mitchell and the contact list distributed at the conference created this sale. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Both years I participated were incredible."

Jan Donley 's YA novel, The Side Door, submitted to the 2008 One-on-One Plus Conference, will be published by Spinsters Ink Press in 2010.

Spring 2009

Audrey Vernick's nonfiction picture book, My Brother's Up, submitted to the 2008 One-on-One Plus Conference, will be published by Clarion in 2011.

Sue Douglass Fliess's first picture book, Shoes for Me, will be published by Marshall Cavendish in 2011.

Sue writes:

"Thank you to everyone involved with the One-on-One conference for providing me the unique opportunity to spend an entire day in the best company ever! The quality of attendees and mentors was top notch. My mentor Lynn Polvino of Clarion was amazing and really helped me shape the first pages of my YA. She was also generous and gave me many wonderful books to take home with me! That afternoon I had lunch with Marilyn Mark of Marshall Cavendish and, in passing, mentioned to her that I had submitted a couple of manuscripts to her. I firmly believe that meeting her in person prompted her to move those manuscripts to the top of her pile when she returned to her office. Two months later she asked for revisions on one of them, and four weeks later she made me an offer on my story. Now Shoes for Me, my first picture book, is going to be part of their new line of Pinwheel Books, due out in the spring of 2011. I am absolutely thrilled!"

Ammi-Joan Paquette's first picture book, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies, is being released April 2009. Ammi-Joan was a mentee from 2005 to 2007.

Summer 2008

Rebecca Barnhouse's middle grade historical novel, tentatively titled The Book of the Maidservant, has been bought by Random House and will be on their spring 2010 list.

Rebecca writes:

"How can I ever thank you enough? You have changed my life. For years, I have been sending out manuscripts and getting encouraging rejection letters, often letters that asked me to revise and resubmit, but that always ended with another rejection. Then I applied for your conference, and the second time around, you accepted me. You paired me with Diane Landolf... Diane asked me to send me the entire manuscript of the sample she had read—and then she accepted it.

But wait—there’s more! On the basis of Diane’s offer, Anna Webman at Curtis Brown offered me representation. She is currently working out the details of a second contract with Random House, for a novel to be published the following year.

Without your conference, I would never have known about Diane and I would currently be adding to my stack of rejection letters—not to mention thinking about whether I should try to quit my writing habit. I am so glad I applied. I am so glad you accepted me. And I am thrilled beyond belief that you introduced me to Diane Landolf.

Thank you."

Former mentee, Bob Krech, author of Rebound (see Winter 2006 below), tells us that he has two more books coming out:

Bob writes:

"Two more books are now under contract. Upper grade novel, "Love Pupplies, Corner Kicks, Haggis, and Me" with Dutton Children's Books, slated for Spring 2010 and a YA novel, "One Leaf Turning" also with Dutton Children's Books, Fall 2011. Thanks for all your help."

Spring 2008

Gayle C. Krause has sold her picture book Rock Star Santa to Scholastic Book Club.

Gayle writes:

It was at the 2006 Conference where I met my editor, Jenne Abramowitz. So, thanks to the Rutger's Conference on Children's Literature I will be published with a major house.

Kami Kinard recently sold two early chapter books to G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Kami writes:

Susan Korman, my mentor at Rutgers, helped me realize that my characters were under developed. After much revising, the manuscripts were purchased by Putnam. Thank you for organizing a great event that not only helps writers meet successful people in the industry, but that also helps us to become better writers.

Winter 2007-08

Jessica Dimuzio has won the Kimberly Colen Memorial Grant for fiction.

Jessica writes:

Good things come to those that listen to their Mentors. . . . Everyone I have met in this competitive world of children's book authors has been generous and supportive. I am so thankful to be a part of this "family" and hope to be a "published" member soon! Thank you for providing such an excellent learning experience as the One-on-One Plus Conference. I am truly grateful for the wonderful people who donate their time to help newcomers!"

Selene Castrovilla's first picture book, By the Sword was published by Calkins Creek Books/Boyds Mills press last Spring. Her second picture book, Upon Secrecy, currently being illustrated, is also being published by Calkins Creek Books/Boyds Mills Press.

Selene writes:

"I want to thank you again for the incredible opportunites you afforded me in the children's writing field."

Spring 2006

Marie Lamba's first YA novel, What I Meant (Random House), was published this past summer (2007).

Marie writes:

"Your conference is truly a gift to aspiring writers. Where else can you spend so much time with so many professionals who are all there with the sole purpose of helping you succeed? I've attended the conference twice, and last time I was paired with the very kind Alvina Ling, editor at Little Brown. Alvina was generous with her time and her advice, and because of her recommendations, I was able to land a fantastic agent. My agent negotiated a two-book deal with Random House, and as a result, my first YA novel WHAT I MEANT... will be coming out summer 2007. Endless thanks."

Winter 2006

Sudipta Bardhan recently sold two picture books, one to HarperCollins and one to Putnam.

Sudipta writes:

"...Actually, Harper liked the manuscript so much that they offered me a 2 book deal. I have to say, the suggestions that my mentor made at Rutgers were instrumental to the sales – thank you!"

Paul Acampora's first novel, Defining Dulcie (spring 2006) has already received several starred reviews. He also has a short story in Every Man for Himself: Ten Short Stories about Being a Guy (Dial), which was published last September.

Paul writes:

"I attended the One-on-One Plus conferences in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Each time, I have been assigned the most wonderful mentors in the world (Susan Korman, Nancy Mercado and Leann Heywood.) Their help plus the advice and encouragement from guests, mentors and attendees like Tracey Adams, Joyce McDonald, Sally Keehn, Karen Riskin, Bob Krech, Gail Carson Levine, David Lubar, Laurie Halse Anderson, and many, many others have been invaluable to me. I have had the pleasure of seeing many of these same people outside the conferences and now count them as friends. Thank you so very much!"

Crissa-Jean Chappell's YA novel, tentatively titled Happiness of the Garden Variety is under contract to HarperCollins.
Update: Crissa-Jean's novel first YA novel, now titled Total Constant Order is available from HarperTeen.

Crissa-Jean writes:

"I just wanted to share my happy news with you. Thanks for encouraging me!

Bob Krech's YA novel, Rebound, was recently published by Marshall Cavendish.

Bob writes:

"I would like everyone involved with the One-on-One Plus Conference to know that as this book developed I received input from four different editors, all of whom I met at One-on-One Plus. I received encouragement from them as well as my one-on-one pairing from two years ago--Elvira Woodruff... I think the professional network and support available to mentees is unmatched anywhere."

Many One-on-One Plus mentees have gone on to major success and many have returned as mentors. Some have been guest speakers for our annual One-on-One Success Story, and others have served on our Council. A few of our former mentees include:

Marcie Aboff, Laurie Halse Anderson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Pat Brisson, Pamela Jane, Denise Lang, Gail Carson Levine, Dianne Ochiltree, Coleen Paratore, Pamela Curtis Swallow, Rita Williams-Garcia, Kay Winters and Elvira Woodruff.

If you are a former mentee and would like to share your own success story, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact us at

Watch some of our past Success Stories talk about how the One-on-One Conference has helped them.

Have a Question? Contact us at: