Where did July go?

I knew it had been a while since I posted anything new to the blog, but I was honestly surprised to see that it’s been almost a month since my last entry.  That was followed quickly by the surprise that the month of July is nearly over.  I don’t know where it went.  But the end of July means that I’m soon headed to the SCBWI annual conference, something I always get really excited for.  I’ve gone the last several years in a row, and I’ve never regretted it.  The conference gives me the opportunity to learn, to be inspired, and to participate in a very large community of children’s book writers and illustrators.  Writing is such a solitary activity, and I find it invaluable to be reminded that I’m a part of something much larger than myself.

But the end of July also comes with the realization that I am not as far along in the new book as I’d like to be.  It took a little while to find my footing on this one.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a very linear writer.  When I hit a rough spot, a character or scene that’s not working, I’m not someone who can say, “I’ll skip ahead and come back to this bit later.”  I need to work it out before I move on.  And since I didn’t have the beginning worked out to my satisfaction, I didn’t exactly make a lot of headway on the book.  I think I wrote five or six different openings before finally striking on what I think is the true beginning.  Some of the credit for the breakthrough is owed to my editor.  Lisa and I had a long conversation about it, and she helped me find my way into this story.

Now that I’m inside it, I’ve made great progress, and I hope it will continue to go smoothly.  It’s requiring a lot of research, more than The Clockwork Three, or Icefall.  The other day I went and got a community card at the local university library, and checked out an intimidating stack of books.  I’m trying to research a few steps ahead of where I’m writing, so I can keep up the kind of pace I’ll need to meet my deadline in October.

But something wonderful and unexpected has come from my research.  It sparked an idea for a completely unrelated story, something that I think may turn into a series.  It’s too early to really talk about.  The idea needs to age in the cellar of my subconscious for a while before I really know what I have.


The Clockwork Three has been shortlisted for the 2011-2012 West Sussex Children’s Book Award, an award voted on by young readers in, appropriately enough, West Sussex in the UK.  This is some of the first recognition the book has received outside the U.S., and I’m especially thrilled by it for that reason.  Congratulations to the other nine shortlisted titles and authors.

The Clockwork Three has also been named an Honor Book for the Judy Lopez Memorial Awards for Children’s Literature, given by the Los Angeles chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.  Congratulations to Kate Klise, who won the award for her novel Grounded, as well as my fellow Honor authors Rita Williams-Garcia (for One Crazy Summer), Lewis Buzbee (for The Haunting of Charles Dickens), and Jewell Parker Rhodes (for Ninth Ward).


I’ve got quite a bit of travel coming up in the next few months, to Denver, Chicago, Texas, and Baltimore.  I’ll post more details on my schedule later.

And check back soon to see the final cover of Icefall.

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4 responses to “Where did July go?”

  1. Matthew — I picked up “Clockwork Three” after it was recommended at the BYU Books for Young Readers Conference this year. It is a wonderful book with a great cast of characters. I couldn’t put it down. Thank you. –Bart

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