Fuse #8’s notice this morning that she won’t be attending the American Library Association’s midwinter conference, on top of The New York Times‘ recent article on “The New Austerity in Publishing” —

[C]ompanies are revising their budgets for BookExpo America, the annual spring jamboree at which publishers promote their fall lineups to booksellers.

— has gotten me wondering whether the economy will have much impact on the Texas Library Association conference in Houston at the beginning of April. Fewer publishing houses in attendance? Fewer librarians? Fewer reasons for almost-but-not-quite-officially-published authors (ahem) to attend?

But that’s still more than two months away. If you’re anywhere near Austin and have any interest in writing for young readers there’s a gathering tomorrow that’s totally free and sure to be well worth your while:

Writing for the Mass Markets: My Publishing Boot Camp

When: Sat, Jan 10, 2009 11:00 AM – Sat, Jan 10, 2009 12:00 PM

Where: BookPeople, 603 North Lamar, Austin

Speaker – Jennifer Ziegler. Discover what you can learn from writing for the mass markets. How does it differ from trade novels? Can it help or hurt your career? Will it improve your craft? Will it help you make valuable connections? Will your literary friends and associates still want to hang out with you? Jennifer Ziegler, an Austin-based writer and former English teacher, has been writing teen novels for twelve years – many of them for mass market YA series. ALIAS: RECRUITED (Bantam,2002) made the NY Times Best Sellers List for children’s chapter books. Jennifer will share her experiences on writing for the mass market. Her trade novels include HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR (Delacorte, 2008) and ALPHA DOG (Delacorte 2006).