An Author’s Journey Through 2023

Last year—I can’t believe it’s actually “last” year already—was a whirlwind, and now that it’s over, I realize I didn’t get around to posting a lot of the photos I took with full intentions to post throughout the year. So, here’s a marathon look back at my 2023:

Author Samantha M Clark posing with her GEMSTONE DRAGONS books at an event at the Lark & Owl Bookstore in Georgetown, TXJANUARY

I did a fantastic signing of the GEMSTONE DRAGONS book at Lark & Owl Booksellers in Georgetown, TX, helping the kids make their own paper dragons. It was so fun.

Author Samantha M Clark at a table with her books at the Library Technology Conference in Victoria, TXFEBRUARY

I taught librarians about creating stories at the Library Technology Conference in Victoria, TX. The attendees were wonderful. I always love chatting with librarians.


I spoke on an author’s panel with Jacquetta Nammar-Feldman and Evan Griffith at Laura’s Library in Austin. It was so fun being able to present with these amazing authors, but I was also so impressed by the questions from attendees.

I also signed GEMSTONE DRAGONS stock at BookPeople in Austin in March. They told me the books were flying off their shelves! I’m so happy readers are connecting with these dragons. I love them so much.


I got to do a school visit in Austin for Freadom To Read Day and it was wonderful! I did my GEMSTONE DRAGONS presentation where I show kids how Imagination Is A Super Power and how they ALL have a wonderful imagination. They easily proved me right, coming up with amazing ideas as we created a whole new world.

Sign held up at the Llano County Library protesting the proposed closure of the library because a parent had tried to ban a handful of books. The sign says "Nazis also banned books"

That month, I got a clear example of the need for Freadom To Read when I joined author friends Christina Soontornvat and K.A. Holt to protest the proposed closing of the libraries in Llano County, TX. That’s where I saw someone with this fantastic sign. The library closures had been decided after a few parents complained about a few books, including a very necessary educational book about the body and a comical book about farts. The community came out to protest, showing their love and need of the libraries, and we joined them. It was really emotional when we got the news that the libraries were being kept open for the time being.

I was also at my first Austin HERPS Exotic Reptile & Pets Show! My fabulous friend and author Jessica Lee Anderson and I paired up to share our books. Jessica shared her NAOMI NASH chapter book series about a girl who helps her neighbors better understand snakes, and I shared my GEMSTONE DRAGONS chapter book series, since dragons are snakes’ fictional cousins. Attendees loved them and we loved being part of the event.

Framed illustration of a cow and owl with the words Thank You Samantha, YAY!, 2013-2023 A Decade of Awesome!! SCBWI Austin, next to a pile of books written by Samantha M Clark


I presented about novel writing at the 2023 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. It was also our first in-person conference after COVID and the 10th and last conference I organized as the Regional Advisor of the Austin SCBWI chapter! It was amazing to be around so many kidlit creators again. I was also honored to get this fantastic plaque illustrated by Austin SCBWI member C.S. Jennings. I unsuccessfully held back tears when they played a surprise video featuring members who had signed with agents and sold new books during my time as RA. It was their work that made that happen, but I am so happy I could help them in their journey.

Lark & Owl Booksellers shelf with Gemstone Dragons: Ruby's Fiery Mishap, Arrow and a sign promoting story time with author Samantha M ClarkJUNE

In June, I was back at Lark & Owl doing a Summer Story Time with the GEMSTONE DRAGONS. So fun.

Photo of the book GEMSTONE DRAGONS: OPAL'S TIME TO SHINE with the Literati Exclusive stamp on the cover


The first GEMSTONE DRAGONS book, OPAL’S TIME TO SHINE was a book club pick for the Literati Book Club! Check out this fun cover of the book with the book club stamp. I love the Literati Book Club and Book Fairs, so I’m honored they chose the GEMSTONE DRAGONS to be part of their collection.

Also in July, I started a FREE newsletter on Substack to help, inspire and support other writers. It’s called Your Writing Mentor and you can subscribe here.


I officially retired as the Regional Advisor of the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators at the end of August, after 10 years! It was a wonderful decade and I’m so proud of the work we did during that time. Me and my team provided programming and opportunities for our writer and illustrator members that led to many new books on bookshelves—including mine! I didn’t have an agent when I took on the position, but when I retired, I not only had an agent, I had published 7 books with publishers Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House and Bloomsbury. SCBWI changed my life and I’m so happy the work I did with the organization helped others too.


I traveled to England to see family in September and took my cousins’ kids some Gemstone Dragons that I had crocheted just for them. They had requested them after they saw a picture of the dragons I had crocheted when the books came out and asked for them all year. They were excited to get them and I was so happy they loved the toys.


My October was really busy. I do virtual author visits with the Spooky Middle Grade group of authors throughout the year but our schedule is packed with often more than one visit a day in October. It felt great to talk to so many children about reading, especially with so many book bans in the news. It was also incredible to get to be part of a panel at BookPeople on book banning on Oct. 7. The panel was part of a Read Banned Books Day and I was on it with PEN America‘s Kasey Meehan and librarian extraordinaire and co-founder of Freadom Fighters Carolyn Foote.

Authors Samantha M Clark and Kacy Ritter at the Great Texas Dragon Day at Brazos Bookstore in Houston TX

Later in the month, I got to share in a Great Texas Dragon Day at Brazos Bookstore in Houston with fellow dragon story author Kacy Ritter. I talked about my GEMSTONE DRAGONS books and Kacy talked about her new middle grade novel THE GREAT TEXAS DRAGON RACE. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s super fun. There were even dragon crafts. I loved it.


The busy continued with the New Braunfels, TX, Local Author Fair at the New Braunfels Library, which is gorgeous!

And the Texas Book Festival the following week, where I was at the Austin SCBWI booth one day and the Writers League of Texas booth the next.

I also got to be on the Writers On the Air radio show on KOOP FM! It was my first time being in a radio station and I loved it. I can talk about writing for hours.

AND my friend Bethany Hegedus spotted Opal in the Literati Book Fair catalog! I love seeing the dragons out in the world.

Authors Samantha M Clark and Jessica Lee Anderson with their books at a table at the HERPS Austin convention.


I finished out the year with Jessica at another Austin HERPS event! It was so much fun.

AND I celebrated the one-year anniversary of the GEMSTONE DRAGONS being in stores with a visit to them in Target. It never gets old.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

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