Wow! I had 106 people apply for my little mentorship program. This is overwhelming. I honestly thought there would be 12 to 20 applicants. I have read all the emails once; I’m now sorting through them. (Which is incredibly hard! Making this decision will be the hardest part of this program, I’m certain.) I hope to be making a decision by the end of next week. But no guarantees. Like my dad always tells me, Man plans, God laughs.
Just for fun, here are some of the things I’ve learned from reading all 106 emails.
1. The favorite dinosaur was the t-rex. Brachiosaurus was second. Earnest/Dear Santasaurus was also a frequent answer. (Who doesn’t like a little kissing-up?) Other fun answers included pteranodon or pterodactyl (technically not a dinosaur), birds (which are related to dinosaurs), thesaurus (haha), and “none” (which is crazy to me, but I like the honesty).
2. A lot of writers are vegetarians. At least 12 authors claimed to be herbivores and usually liked meat-averse dinosaurs.
3. All but 1 applicant was a member of SCBWI. Not that I can verify if anyone was a member or not. (Not that I’d want to.) But I strongly encourage every kidlit author to join. Go to a local conference. Read The Book cover to cover! (It’s online. I found my agent through The Book, and then she found me through the slush pile.)
4. So many people talked about the tragedies in their lives. Widows/widowers, cancer, children with disease, unemployment, divorce, and other incredible hardship. It’s heartbreaking. I wish I could do more than offer a single person a mentorship. So many are in my prayers and thoughts.
5. I have a new perspective on what agents’ and editors’ inboxes must look like. My 14-year-old read all the emails with me. After about 10 in a row, she’d suggest “deleting” any email that required us to scroll down. (Don’t worry. We didn’t. We read all of them. Even the ones that required us to scroll and scroll and scroll.) But remember, less is more. White space is good.
6. Most of the emails were from women. At least 90%. Most applicants had children. I’d guess 95%. And maybe 30% had grandkids. (I started tallying all this up, but got lazy. Now I’m estimating.)
7. The applicants came from all over the US and at least 1 military base. There were quite a few from New Jersey and Wisconsin. Go Packers!
8. I’ve met at least 15 applicants. Mostly at SCBWI conferences and WOW retreats, but also at parties.
9. There was 1 who professed to be an engineer. (As I was in a formal life.)
10. And there was 1 joke applicant from a Rita Onna (meant to be pronounced like write-a on-a). I fell for the gag for about two sentences. Then I realized it was my own kids. And it really made me laugh. (Rita Onna admits to writing mostly fan fiction. Her favorite: Magic Tree House—The Teen Years. Jack and Annie “tots belong together” after they learn they aren’t actually brother and sister.)
Thanks to all who sent emails. I will reply to the group once I make a decision.
Happy 2016, y’all!
11. No one mentioned Hamilton (my current obsession) in his/her email. That would have made this decision a lot easier. (Kidding! But if you have a spare ticket... KIDDING! Sort of.)