The Muse and The Marketplace Conference in Boston

Since my husband is my official writing coach though he’s neither a writer nor a coach, I paid attention when he said 2011 was the year to attend a writing conference. Of course his advice was obvious considering we’re expecting baby #4 the first week of November. It’s not as if 2012 will be “the year of the conference” for me unless it’s a weekend with La Leche League.

Once I got over the paralyzing fear of attending my first conference, I went on a research sprint, analyzing every option and weighing the pros, cons, and prices. The summer offerings from Wesleyan, Squaw Valley, Tin House and others look incredible, but most are a week or longer. Bryan’s supportive, but he’s not Mother Theresa. And I’m smart enough to want him to remember my four days away as a bonding time with the kids so idyllic he’s “coaching” me to go again in a few years.

Then I saw a tweet about The Muse & and the Marketplace taking place in Boston at the end of April. We got a BINGO ladies and gentlemen. The Muse & The Marketplace is a two-day conference jam-packed with small-group classes. The instructors are authors such as Jenna Blum, Elinor Lipman, Alice Hoffman, Danielle Evans, Michelle Hoover, Ann Hood, and Jennifer Haigh to name a few. I’m taking a session led by the editor of the New York Times’ Modern Love column for goodness sake. I’ll have the chance to meet some of the dream agents I plan to query in a few years when my novel-in-progress is ready.

I’d be sick with nerves about this whole adventure if not for Twitter and all the friendly faces I’ll see. Those of us going have been tweeting about it for months and making plans to see each other before and after the main events. (People on Twitter heading to The Muse: now would be a good time to replace the avatar of your pet with one of your face. Thanks.) The best part is I’m going a day early and staying a day late so I can make something of a writing retreat out of the time. Frankly, at this point I’m too excited for nerves. Mama’s getting out-of-town, people! Even the airport sounds obscenely delightful.

As for Bryan and the kids, nobody should worry. I’ve set up a system of help from my in-laws and from our friends that should make the four days a breeze. (Thank you in advance to everyone coming to Bryan’s aid.) As for baby #4, I’ll have more on that in the future–although not very much. I’ve got the pregnancy symptoms and even the sleep/feeding issues of the infant stage down by now. The parenting issues that interest me now are more relevant to my older two. Will my six-year-old ever stop using his shirt as a napkin? Will my four-year-old ever stop begging her friends’ parents for treats during play dates? Our big guys are very excited to have a new baby in the house. Our two-year-old keeps saying “baby crying.” Surprisingly, she seems to have the best grasp of what’s coming.

If you’re a regular on this blog, then you can guess THE ONE baby issue I’m planning to discuss. BABY NAMES!  But we have a long time to start worrying about all that. Since I’m in the post-nausea/ pre-heartburn/currently-freakishly-shiny hair phase, I plan to enjoy it with tons of writing. (And good hair.)

Have a great week everyone! Looking forward to seeing some of you in Boston. Nina :)

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Nina is a columnist at The HerStories Project and a contributing writer at and Her essays have appeared regularly at Brain, Child Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward and have been syndicated in Jewish newspapers across the country. Her short stories have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines, and she loved participating in the 2013 cast of Listen to Your Mother. Nina is a co-founder of The Twin Cities Writing Studio. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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58 Responses to The Muse and The Marketplace Conference in Boston
  1. Amanda Hoving
    April 27, 2011 | 8:42 am

    Congratulations, Nina — how wonderful! And shiny hair is always a bonus :)

    Can’t wait to hear about the conference, and, of course, looking forward to discussing baby names. Best wishes!

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 10:04 am

      Thanks Amanda! And yes, I will be taking copious notes at the conference for ALL of us. :)

  2. Ali London
    April 27, 2011 | 8:50 am

    Congratulations, Nina & Bryan! We are SO excited for you and look forward to welcoming the fourth little Badzin in November. Nina, continue to feel good – and e-n-j-o-y the shiny hair. Bring-on the naming posts… CAN’T WAIT! OH, have a wonderful time in Boston and we can’t wait to hear/read more about it. XOXO – Ali & Jon

  3. Melissa Crytzer Fry
    April 27, 2011 | 8:50 am

    The conference sounds absolutely wonderful -and what fun that you’ll meet your Tweeps! I’m jealous – but will put it on my radar for next year. Have a great time, Nina – and congrats on baby no. 4! Wow! And you still manage to get writing done. Have I told you how impressed I am?!

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 10:08 am

      I will take notes for us this year, and next year, when I’m homebound, YOU take the notes! Deal? And I haven’t had great writing success the past few months. Between exhaustion, hormones, then spring break and Passover–it wasn’t so great.

      • Melissa Crytzer Fry
        April 27, 2011 | 12:12 pm

        I am so “game,” girl! I’m also going to a local three-day writing workshop that will have some well-known authors and agents. Happy to share tidbits with you as well! You should cut yourself some slack on the writing progress… You ARE battling a hormonal war. Have a great time at the conference.

  4. Anne Greenwood Brown
    April 27, 2011 | 9:09 am

    Geez, when you said you don’t announce a pregnancy until week 12, I didn’t realize you meant ANNOUNCE it!

    So happy for you and can’t wait for this weekend!!!!

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 9:15 am

      I know…it’s a little cheesy but it felt too big not to mention. And I’m almost 13 weeks. The fact I waited this long shows a new-found restraint on my part. 😉

  5. Frume Sarah
    April 27, 2011 | 9:12 am

    B’shaah Tovah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Jess Witkins
    April 27, 2011 | 9:12 am

    Have fun at the conference and in Boston! I loved that town! Went there last summer for vacation. The transit system is really simple to follow and you’ll have fun hanging out with all the tweeps who are going. Can’t wait to hear about the conference!

  7. Natalia Sylvester
    April 27, 2011 | 9:15 am

    That sounds like a great conference–wish I could be there! Congrats on going to your first one! You’ll love it. Every conference I’ve ever been to has been an amazing experience, and I still keep in touch with most of the writer friends I made there.

    • Natalia Sylvester
      April 27, 2011 | 2:59 pm

      OMG and Congrats on the baby!!!

      I got all excited about writing conferences I forgot to mention that in my last comment. So excited for you!!! (and can’t wait to read the post about more baby names 😉

  8. Amy Fellner Dominy
    April 27, 2011 | 9:34 am

    Congrats Nina! Wonderful news about baby #4. Enjoy the conference! It does sound like an amazing lineup of authors. Elinor Lipman is one of my favs! You’ll come home so jazzed–I’m wishing I could go too! You’ll have to share some of the things you learn.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 10:10 am

      Thank you! And I love Elinor Lipman too. The first chapter of THE INN ON LAKE DEVINE still goes down as one of my favorite first chapters of all time.

  9. julie gardner
    April 27, 2011 | 9:57 am

    Oh my! I am so happy for you (and also a tiny bit jealous. about the baby. and the conference and the opportunity to discuss names…not necessarily in that order).

    But mostly I am just happy for you.

    I was just thinking about you the other day (not creepy. promise) when I was hitting my tenth day in a row of not touching my novel-in-progress. Spring break was not kind to my writing goals.

    I actually did math in my head and thought, “Nina would have written at least twenty pages by now.”

    So what I’m trying to say is your an inspiration. Thank you.

    And now, I feel the need to attend a writers conference and get pregnant.

    Busy day for me, really.

    (p.s. One more time: YAY! You’re with CHILD!)

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 10:13 am

      Julie! No–get out the same pit. You’re in good company. I don’t know if you remember the post where I talked about scraping two books in the past three months. I wrote 50 pages one then 50 of the other and I’m done with both. Between nausea, exhaustion, spring break, and dealing with Passover meals, etc, I’ve done little more than PLAN and outline for the NEXT book idea. I’m very excited about my new concept, but I haven’t done much to implement yet. After the muse, I’m going back to my 2 pages a day. I NEED the discipline and it’s what got me those aforementioned 100 pages in the first place.

  10. julie gardner
    April 27, 2011 | 9:59 am

    Oh seriously did I leave a ‘your’ in that comment instead of ‘you’re’ ? Ugh. I hate when my fingers do something on autopilot and I don’t catch it.

    Ugh. Twice.

  11. Helen Page
    April 27, 2011 | 10:03 am

    Dear Nina, what wonderful news all around. May your pregnancy continue nausea-free and your writing days teem with inspiration before “baby crying” sets in. I attended a writing conference with writer, Alice Adams and William Abrahams, the editor responsible for the O.Henry awards. It was a long time ago, but I still recall the thrill of meeting them and receiving their encouragement. I wish that excitement for you. Eager to hear all about it. Safe trip.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 9:13 pm

      Thank you so much, Helen. When I get back I look forward to studying your blog even more and getting extremely serious about a daily writing practice . . . something I’ve let slip in the past few months.

  12. Tracy Hahn-Burkett
    April 27, 2011 | 10:26 am

    WOW!!!! Congratulations! I like the way you sort of slid that baby news into the conference discussion. I actually went back and reread that paragraph in case just to make sure I got it right.

    We’ll make sure to celebrate this weekend. (When not buried in deep, writerly thought, that is.) How exciting!

  13. Lisa Pierson Weinberger
    April 27, 2011 | 10:48 am

    Congratulations — it’s always so great to hear about a baby coming! I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly. Wishing you all the best!

  14. Jael
    April 27, 2011 | 10:57 am


  15. Julia
    April 27, 2011 | 10:58 am

    Huge congrats on #4 (wonderful news, the best!); have a fab time at the conference — can’t wait to hear all about it in a blog! Can’t wait ’til you ask us all for our advice on names! :)

  16. Anne R. Allen
    April 27, 2011 | 11:20 am

    Congrats on the coming addition to the family!

    And what a great conference! That’s an amazing line-up. So many of my favorite authors in one place. If I could afford to get to Boston, I’d be tempted myself. I think you did exactly the right thing in choosing a two-day conference (with some “writer time” surrounding it.)

    Those week-long conferences can be exciting, but they are also for the very young and party-oriented. Sleep is not always an option. You can learn just as much and make quality contacts at a 2-day conference. Much more cost-effective. And a whole lot easier on your health.

    My favorite conference, for those on the West Coast, is California’s Central Coast Writers’ Conference. Under $150 for two days in what Oprah calls “the happiest town in the world.” And the third day, there’s a big book fair downtown, for people who want to stay over. Last year we had Nathan Bransford. This year agent Laurie McLean and the Smashwords guy. And me. Sorry for the shameless plug, but I thought people might like to know. There’s probably a 2-day conference near you. Maybe even in driving distance of home, so you don’t have to pay for hotels.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 9:16 pm

      I’d LOVE to attend a conference in CA one day. But your point about local conferences is well taken. Next year I hope to attend events The Loft, which is a wonderful writing center in Minneapolis. People don’t need to wait to attend one of these major ones on the coasts. There’s plenty of good stuff all over the country.

      • Anne R. Allen
        April 27, 2011 | 9:23 pm

        I actually meant that “you” to be collective–that is anybody can probably find one. Still, if I could afford it, I’d definitely go to Boston for that one. It sounds awesome.

  17. jennifer k
    April 27, 2011 | 11:25 am

    Proud of you for going to the conference. It is going to be a great experience. Now liss can be obsessed with your baby crying instead of mine!!

  18. liz
    April 27, 2011 | 11:31 am

    Congratulations! That’s so exciting! And I don’t know anyone who has ever had as crucial a naming decision as you soon will. :)

  19. Sharon Bially
    April 27, 2011 | 1:25 pm

    Oh, boy! (Or girl?) This is so exciting! Congrats! I’m always at a total loss for words to describe how awed and impressed I am by people who choose to have large families. Amazing.

    As for Muse — smart to skip the booze. (Although when I lived in France, the thumb rule for pregnancy was 1 glass of wine per day and one cocktail per weekend. Go figure.) And I”m going out of my skin with impatience to meet you there!

    Bon voyage!

  20. Leigh Ann
    April 27, 2011 | 1:27 pm

    B’Sha’ah Tovah! I’ll be thinking of you and trying to stay only a little bit jealous as everything progresses. 😉

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 9:17 pm

      You channel that energy into some good Jewish name choices for us! Bryan and I (neither with Jewish names, actually) can’t agree on ANYTHING for #4.

  21. Erin
    April 27, 2011 | 1:36 pm

    Hi Nina! Congrats… sounds like you have your hands full! I’m glad you have the pregnancy and new-baby stuff down… I’m on #3 and I still can’t seem to get a grasp on dealing with these horrible pregnancy symptoms. *sigh*. Anyway, good luck!

  22. ramblingsfromtheleft
    April 27, 2011 | 2:06 pm

    Nina, congratulations on your new addition. It sounds like you and your family are more than ready.

    The conference sounds so interesting and I am certain you will make the most of being there. Take notes and report back for those who can’t make a conference this year :)

  23. Ashley Graham
    April 27, 2011 | 3:02 pm

    I didn’t know you were expecting! CONGRATS! You’re going to have a blast at Muse. I hope you’ll post pictures and everything you learned when you return to share with the rest of us! I SO wanted to go to this conference, but the plane ticket and conference fee together were ridiculously expensive for last minute. I’m hoping to go NEXT year…who knows, *I* may be expecting by then! Speaking of Boston, I love it as a baby name. I’m trying to talk my husband into letting me use if we ever have a boy — Boston Graham. Doesn’t that sound like a cool musician or baseball player’s name? Anyway, no one in my family likes it. I’d be happy to brainstorm names with you! Have fun at Muse this weekend!

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 9:21 pm

      I’ll tell you what I told Melissa. I’ll take notes this year. You take notes next year when I won’t be able to go!

  24. Lara Taylor
    April 27, 2011 | 5:22 pm

    OK, first of all, how did I miss that you were preggo?? geez! Congratulations!! How far along are you then? :)
    Secondly, congratulations (boy this comment is gettin repetitive!)–I’m too nervous (ok and too broke!) to go to a conference, but maybe next year. Please make sure you give us ALL the details when you get back and if you can, sneak in some tweets! :)

    • Nina Badzin
      April 27, 2011 | 9:22 pm

      You didn’t miss it! I’m just entering my 2nd trimester and didn’t mention it before!

  25. Linda K. Wertheimer
    April 28, 2011 | 1:37 pm

    I’m biased but you made a terrific choice. Long before motherhood and marriage, I did go to Wesleyan. Loved it. Highly recommend it. But when time is tight, something like the Grub is perfect.

    Look me up, of course, when you get there. I just taught a pre-seminar for Grub Street focusing on honing your networking skills – and the best way to prepare for such a conference.

    I also sought the advice of established authors, editors, agents, to pass along at the pre-seminar. One of favorite tidbits came from a writing friend and literary journal editor, Jessica Keener:

    “Think of the conference as one step in a series of endless steps in your journey as a writer. You can prepare, but unexpected things will occur that may throw you off balance. … The author you adore might be rude to you. … Listen to what your gut is saying to you. Too nervous to speak up? Maybe you need to be the listener for now. Try not to push too hard. Let things unfold.”

    Most importantly, just have fun and soak up what you can. Hope our paths cross.

    Linda (on twitter, @jewishmuse)

    • Nina Badzin
      April 28, 2011 | 8:50 pm

      Linda! I’m so looking forward to meeting you. It looks like there will be a “tweet-up” Saturday at the end of the day. Will you stick around for that?

  26. Camille Noe Pagán
    April 28, 2011 | 2:08 pm

    Nina, congratulations! So wonderful. I’m jealous you’re going to Muse – this year, no conferences for me (have a 4-month-old).

    • Nina Badzin
      April 28, 2011 | 8:51 pm

      I hear you! That’ll be me next year with a 6 months old. But you already have your agent, book deal, etc. So I’m WAY more jealous!! 😉

  27. KLZ
    April 28, 2011 | 3:38 pm

    Congratulations – what great news to be past the nauseau stage!

    Why can I never spell that word? nauseau naseau nausea

    Ok there.

    Congratulations on being past the nausea stage!!

  28. Jack@TheJackB
    April 28, 2011 | 6:21 pm

    B’Sha’ah Tovah. You might not know this but there is a long standing tradition within the Jblogosphere to let bloggers name your child. No really, it exists there is even a Gemara about Hillel and Shammai arguing about it.

    Anyway this post needed some testosterone and I wanted to say that I am excited for you. It all sounds great. Looking forward to being able to tell people that I knew you back when you were aspiring to be published as well as afterwards.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 28, 2011 | 8:53 pm

      First, thank you for the good wishes and the faith in my future career. (I go back and forth on that–the faith part.) And, OF COURSE I’ll do some kind of post about names. I think I have to. My “Please Let me Name Your Baby” post was my big “break out” post.

  29. Meganne (@megfab)
    April 28, 2011 | 6:56 pm

    Congratulations on your happy news! I agree that twitter has been a great place to get over the pre-conference jitters (or some of them anyway). I look forward to meeting you there! I’ve been thinking of going for a couple of years now, and I’m glad I am finally taking the leap. You will be too…safe travels…

  30. Kara Thom
    April 29, 2011 | 8:37 am

    Nina! Congratulations! We will be in the Four Kids Club together!!

    • Nina Badzin
      May 2, 2011 | 8:51 am

      Oh good! And it will be my dream to look the way you do in jeans after. :)

  31. Hallie Sawyer
    April 29, 2011 | 9:51 am

    Congratulations on all of your news! One that you are pregnant with lucky child #4, another for obviously having the patience of a saint, and third, for taking the time for yourself and getting to a conference. That is a serious lineup of great authors! I can’t wait to read all about it. Hashtag the hell out of it, will you?

    Have fun!

  32. V.V. Denman
    April 29, 2011 | 4:06 pm

    Have fun at the conference. I’m so jealous of you.

    And congratulations on Baby #4. So exciting!

  33. Perri
    May 3, 2011 | 12:02 pm

    Hi Nina,

    I’m just back from The Muse and still in a state of exhausted (and mostly happy) shock. It’s too bad we didn’t run into each other. I hope the experience was a good one.

    I’ve sent an award your way (This blog is definitely on fire!) Come by and pick it up!

  34. Girl Detective
    May 12, 2011 | 9:29 am

    Nina, I attended a children’s literature conference at the loft when my younger son was 2 months old. I had him in the Maya wrap all day, and when I needed to, I ducked out or to the back, and nursed him discreetly in the wrap. It was very affirming. Lots of people smiled at me, and said how neat it was to be able to bring him along, and it made it easier to identify myself in post-conference letters to editors and writers. I’ll share my favorite advice for women writers, from author Lee Smith:

    My advice for young women writers is just do it. Don’t wait for some ideal point in your life when you will finally have “time to write.” No sane person ever has time to write. Don’t clean the bathroom, don’t paint the hall. Write. Claim your time. And remember that a writer is a person who is writing, not a person who is publishing. If you are serious about it, you will realize early on that (particularly if you expect to have children) you can’t take on a high-power career in addition to writing. You probably can’t be a surgeon, and have children, and “write on the side.” (On the other hand, you could marry a surgeon, thereby solving the whole problem.)

    • Nina Badzin
      May 13, 2011 | 4:10 pm

      Hi there! I love what you said here. I 100% subscribe to the “don’t wait” theory. I never would’ve started writing if I had to wait for the kids to get bigger as I keep having them. 😉 I also saw your response to my comment on your blog. So glad we’re connected again. I have not tried google reader yet but everyone swears by it. I guess it’s time to try! Nina :)

  35. […] my husband? He’s the guy who lovingly supports our fiction aspirations, encourages trips to writing conferences, preaches delightfully quaint parenting advice, and gets constant praise on this blog. Well, forget […]

  36. […] my husband? He’s the guy who lovingly supports our fiction aspirations, encourages trips to writing conferences, preaches delightfully quaint parenting advice, and gets constant praise on this blog. Well, forget […]

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