Like most writers, I spend long hours in my home office, tapping on a keyboard in isolation. But every now and then I get to leave the computer and my current manuscript and my white cat, Casey, and venture out into the real world.
This past weekend was one of those "venture out" times. I just got back from spending three days in Maryland, in the towns of Frederick and Buckeystown. I flew Delta from the Atlanta airport and we landed in Baltimore about 3:45 Friday afternoon. Sue Poduska, member, and Naomi Wender-Milliner, Assistant Regional Advisor, of the SCBWI MD/DE/WV region greeted me at the Baltimore/WI airport, along with writer/teacher Teresa Crumpton.
Sue drove us all to the motel in Frederick and later that night we got to meet author Edith Hemingway, who also happens to be the Regional Advisor of this region of SCBWI, and other speakers at the conference, including authors and keynote speakers Margaret Peterson Haddix and Joyce McDonald, authors Bonnie Doerr, Marc Aronson, and Carolyn Reeder. Also Highlights for Children senior editor Debra Hess and art director Kelley Cunningham, plus author Carolyn Crimi, and author-bloggers Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old. Also Karen Nelson, freelance art director and cover designer, and Louise May, VP and Editorial Director of Lee & Low Books, and agents Elana Roth and Stephen Fraser, fantasy author Amie Rose Rotruck, author Lois Szymanski, and Green Willow Books Assistant editor Michelle Corpora.
Michelle Poploff also was there. Michelle, who is VP and Editorial Director of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House Children's Books, and an author as well, just happens to be my editor and also is Edie Hemingway's editor. Our debut solo novels, Gone From These Woods and Road to Tater Hill, came out at almost the same time in 2009. For more information about Edie's book, which won a Parents' Choice Gold Award recently, visit her website. To read more about my book, click here.
This summer conference was held at The Claggett Center in Frederick County, Maryland. In addition to breathtaking mountains views out the windows, the conference center served delicious cafeteria food each day. I had never been to a SCBWI conference outside my own Southern Breeze region, so speaking at this Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia summer conference about my book, GFTW, and how I used inspiration from real life to create a fictional story with fictional characters and a setting taken from my own backyard and surrounds was a real treat for me.
One of the best things about traveling to Maryland for the first time and speaking at the conference was the opportunity to make new writer friends, including Kathleen Thompson, who lives in Birmingham, is a member of the Southern Breeze Region of SCBWI, and writes a charming blog called "Word Spinning by Kathleen." I also got to meet Patti Zelch, who has a new picture book out from Sylvan Dell Publishing called Ready, Set, Wait!
I also got to know Bonnie Doerr, author of the YA eco-novel, Island Sting, and enjoyed exchanging conversation and getting to know writers Teresa Crumpton and Gayle Payne, plus many more.
If you live in the SCBWI MD/DE/WV region and/or just want to read more about this regional writers and illustrators group, visit their great blog, As The Eraser Burns.
Thanks again to Edith Hemingway and everyone in this region for inviting me and hosting me this weekend. I enjoyed my trip up North and look forward to visiting again.