One more day until I'm off to this year's SCBWI Conference in NYC. The economy has certainly had its effect on that small circle of writing friends of mine. Lots of tough choices out there. This year, however, I am so very proud of my two good friends, Ann Haywood Leal whose Also Known As Harper (Henry Holt) will be available in May (mine's on order) and Jame Richards' Three Rivers Rising (Knopf) will follow shortly thereafter in 2010. Yippee! Two more babies over the hump and into the marketplace.
Ann and Jame are truly magnificent writers, and to my good fortune friends of mine through Pat Giff's writing class. I do believe we own our seats there in the Dinosaur's Paw in Fairfield, CT. (There are only 20 seats in all!) We're dedicated to Pat and to her belief in us along with her knowledge of what works and what doesn't work on the page. There's a pattern and rhythm to her thoughts and ideas and if you stay long enough, you tend to infuse all those little understandings into the fabric of your work. Listening to Jame and Ann's work read aloud by Patricia Reilly Giff has been a little slice of heaven in my writing life.
Every year when the conference rolls around again, whether I'm attending or not, I get that sense of...okay, where am I in all of this? It has not been until recently that I have begun to market my work, and to feel that sense of urgency in doing so. Prior to that, I think I must've thought it'd get out there through osmosis, or even perhaps through the behind the scenes work of some all-knowing book fairy! Now, I've gotten that 'slap in the face' realism, in part, because of the state of the market, but also because I'm surrounded by a great group of friends in writing. We are each other's cheerleaders riding this shaky raft together. The conference bolsters me through those very cold mornings when it's just me and that blue light of the computer screen. It gives me a hope, a belief and a connection, which to a writer is everything and much more! For children's book writers and illustrators, this marks our New Year! (And for those who won't be there...it's dinner at Centro, that's for sure!)