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It's funny how quickly things can change. I remember the first Eastercon I ever went to, 8 or 9 years ago, and how lost and uncertain I felt. I knew almost no one there. I had to nerve myself up to try to introduce myself to absolutely anyone I wanted to talk to throughout the entire weekend - which, for an introvert, was pretty grueling!

This time, within five minutes of walking into the con hotel, Patrick and I were surrounded by a group of old friends, with more spotted around the room and many more in the rest of the hotel. It was such a good feeling, like coming home. I love, love, love that feeling. And it was great to meet lots of new people, too, even if we only got bursts of five-minute conversation here and there.

That was the only downside of the con this year: major, MAJOR lack of time! Since I was trying to balance con-time with childcare AND rest, I ended up with only a few hours of child-free con-time every day, which never felt like enough. It forced me to be really ruthless with the time I had, so I didn't go to ANY panels or events except for the one panel I was on myself. I used all the rest of my time to hang out with friends (and, on Sunday, to prowl the Dealer's Room - I came out with five fabulous new books!), which was definitely the right priority.

We ended up coming home from the con a day late due to sheer exhaustion - on Monday afternoon, when we got into our car to drive home, we realized we just couldn't do it, especially after a sleepless night. (Poor MrD had a horrible cold.) So we ended up with one more night in a hotel, but that was actually nice too - more of a family vacation, without any schedule-juggling involved.

It wasn't the easy kind of con I remember from pre-parenting days, but it was definitely worthwhile.

And then I came home to a fantastic piece of good news! Kat, Incorrigible is on Bank Street's Best Books of 2012 list (for 12- to 14-year-olds)! That made me so, so happy yesterday, even though I was having a bad ME/CFS day as I paid the price for my big weekend away. I was so happy to see Kat on that list, and surrounded by such excellent company.

And - and! - I can finally, FINALLY announce my biggest news of this year so far, my !!!WILD!!! dream come true.

Last October, I found out - exactly ONE DAY before applications were due! - about the Literature Wales bursaries for writers, grants aimed at buying Welsh-resident authors the time to write their new books. Of course the ones that really caught my eye immediately were the Children's Writers' Bursaries.

Just as obviously, I was certain that I couldn't win one. What an insanely long shot, right? It would be crazy to even try!

Still, I was feeling a little bit crazy that day, so scared about money and desperate to believe, just for a moment, in that kind of wild dream. I printed out multiple copies of the first two chapters of my WIP, and I fast-drafted a one-page outline of the book. I filled in the application form. I put it all in the mail, paying the special express rate to get it delivered the next day, exactly on the deadline...

...and then I berated myself for WEEKS afterward. What had I been thinking? We were so worried about money, yet I'd just wasted all that money sending that heavy package off with expensive one-day shipping for a pie-in-the-sky dream! How could I possibly think that that was a worthwhile expense, when it was so obvious that I'd never win anything like that?!

Well. About a month and a half ago, I got a phone call - from Literature Wales. And: they're giving me a bursary! A wonderful, wonderful bursary, which is letting me finally focus on my beloved WIP for the first time since I started it. I had the choice of either taking the fulltime option for a shorter period or the halftime option for twice as long. Since I'd already made some (very cool) freelance commitments before getting the news, I chose the halftime option - but that means that for the next several months, I get to spend at least half of my writing sessions writing my WIP without guilt - in fact, I HAVE to, because I signed a contract promising to do just that! Whew.

Financially, it's an enormous gift, and I'm so grateful. But emotionally, and creatively, it's even better - talk about a wonderful infusion of confidence! (Especially since, apart from the Literature Wales bursaries panel and a couple of supportive friends, NO ONE has read any of my WIP yet - not even my agent or my editors! So this is the first real external judgment on the work that I've gotten.) I am so, so grateful to Literature Wales for believing in my novel and in me.

As I said, no one in publishing has seen ANY of this novel yet, so I have no idea when/if it will ever be published (or what the eventual title will be if it is!) - but I just signed a contract with Literature Wales promising to write Antonia O'Toole Takes the Low Road to Hollywood, my 1930s screwball comedy road trip with ghosts and gangsters and a heroine I adore. I feel so, so lucky to have this chance.

And I am so, SO glad that I can finally share the news here! (This is the !!!WILD!!! Dream that I said had come true, in an earlier blog entry - actually winning a bursary to write a novel. I can't believe it's really happened!)


Apr. 12th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on the bursary!! I'm so glad that sometimes dreams do come true <3
Apr. 12th, 2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! *hugs*

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