Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Well, we're two weeks into 2010, and I'm looking ahead into the new year. Last year had some ups and downs. No book sale yet, but I've built some connections and after my trip to the Rutgers Council on Children's Literature conference I have a number of queries and manuscripts for The Weaver of Atreia out "on the waters." Only three replies so far—rejections, alas— but two were very positive, with specific comments about the book and praise for my writing. Each was more of a case of "not the right fit" than anything else. The third was the beloved form response (oh, how we writers hate those). But I remain hopeful that the "right fit" is out there.

I'm gearing up for another round in that quest— attending the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in New York City in a few short weeks! I've been to the L.A. Summer Conference twice, but this is my first time to brave the icy cold of the North. (I plan on bundling like Nanook. Given that it's been in the 20s down here recently, I've had practice.)

This will be my fourth trip to New York: my aunt and uncle live in Manhattan across from Central Park, so they're excited to see me again. The last time I stayed with them was when I was 21, returning from a summer volunteering at a camp in Israel. It's been a loooong time since then. So it will be good to see them (and good to save on the ridiculous room rates in NYC too).

As the New York conference is shorter, I expect to cram a lot in. I was fortunate to get into the "Writer's Intensive" sessions which are held the day before the official conference start. I'm looking forward to sharing my work and hearing back from editors, agents and fellow authors.

What am I bringing, I hear you ask? (I'm a writer; I get to put questions in your head.) I will most likely be sharing my current work-in-progress The Knuckerhole, about a girl in the Civil War South, a runaway slave she befriends, and a very real dragon. There's adventure, danger, war, friendship, loss, and a dash of history; I think I've found a winner.

So stay tuned; I expect good things from this year! I hope you do too.

--- Howard Shirley

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