Monday, December 28, 2009

It's finished!

So I finally had a moment of inspiration or motivation or both tonight and managed to finish off The Green. With the holidays and a giant pile of papers to grade I was really stressing and had to put it on the back burner for this last week. But I am SO happy it's finished! I have to say, I was feeling rather lame that I had managed 50,000 words in 30 days but couldn't quite figure out the last few. And now that it's time for revisions, who knows if it will look the same when it's all said and done, but it's a start.

I hope to start revisions this week, and maybe soon I will have a copy worthy enough of my critique group! We're writing New Year's Writing Resolutions for our critique group next week. I'll work on mine and have them posted by New Year's on here!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Dream Job

When you're a little kid and someone asks you what you want to be when you grow up, you have awesome answers like a Ninja Turtle or a Ghostbuster (well that was my brother and his friend, anyway). When I was 11, I wanted to be an author. By 16 I was sure I wanted to major in musical theater and be an actress. By the age of 19 I decided a major in musical theater meant a career as a waitress and switched to teaching. And now I'm 31 and I want to be an author. Funny how that works out.

At one of the schools I teach at, they interviewed me as a 'new' teacher (even though I've worked there before - whatever) and the student asked me the following question...

Is teaching your dream job?

So I, like any honest person, said no. And when I read the articles later, I was the only one who said no. I kinda felt like a jerk, but I didn't want to lie to the kid. I'm sure nobody read it, so it's not really a big deal, but seriously? Maybe teaching is a dream job for some people, but I call shenanigans because I can't imagine out of 20 people that I was the only one who thought teaching wasn't my dream job. (*Disclaimer* - I did say it was a good job, just not my DREAM job.)

When I think of a dream job, I think of what I would do if money were no object. A dream job is the job you don't have to get up at 5AM for. A dream job is one I can do from a lounge chair on the beach. But in all honesty, my dream job would be to not have to have a job at all. I suppose that is cheating though. I won't say a dream job shouldn't require you to work hard. I love to write and would be insanely happy if that alone was my job. It's hard sometimes, but the fact that you're creating something makes it so fulfilling for me. I suppose people could say the same about teaching. But again, no early mornings and beach as the office? I would say writing wins. Hands down. Now, only if it could pay the same...hmmm.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Submission update...

Unfortunately, most writers have day jobs, and I suffer from the same affliction. Said day job hasn't given me much time in the last 2 weeks or so to get much done in the way of *work* on my current project THE GREEN, or write any blog posts. I did make some time on Sunday though to take advantage of the *stickers* given out at Prairie Writer's Day last month. These stickers are apparently like the Golden Tickets of Willy Wonka fame. According to my writer friends, putting one of these stickers on your envelope to an editor or agent gives you a leg up on the competition. So I'm giving it a shot. (I'm picturing all of the stickered envelopes lovingly placed in a golden IN box, awaiting the editor's perusal while the rest rot in the corner. Hey, it's a nice thought!)

I can't say that I'm more excited about my stickered submissions than I was about the previous ones, but I sent them out with all the good vibes and positive energy I could bestow on them before I tossed them in the mailbox. Someday I know I will get the good letter/good email/good phone call back, but I also know that most of them have not turned out that way. But it's cool. Despite all the 'no', I really like submitting my stuff. It really makes me feel like a 'real' writer. Someone is looking at my writing. They may not like it, but that's okay. They saw my name, they saw what I had to offer. If it's sitting on the shelf, it's not doing anybody any good.

So these were the two submissions:

Sol and Luna: A Tale of Day and Night to Charlesbridge
Into the Shadows to Walker Children's books (Bloomsbury)

So I'll keep you posted on those results. I believe Walker's info sheet mentioned it could take 8-10 months. So I'm guessing it'll be awhile! In the meantime, over winter break I plan to get some major work done on THE GREEN so my ladies can read it in January. Got to put the pedal to the metal and many other lame cliches! I'm hoping to put out those submissions in March or April...time to try for an agent again! Maybe third times the charm...

Books and Movies: Sherlock Holmes

I've been reading the original Sherlock Holmes (I picked up the giant leather-bound collection at Barnes and Noble) and I am quite interested to see how the upcoming Sherlock Holmes movie (starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law) compares to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's masterpieces.

Just in the trailers for the film alone, we are introduced to a fast-paced, action hero Sherlock Holmes (who is rather hot, or dishy as those Brits might say!). Maybe because Sir Arthur wasn't that kind of guy, I've never gotten the impression in the book that Sherlock Holmes was anything but eccentric middle-aged guy who is a genius when it comes to solving crimes and may just use too much cocaine. No joke. In the books Holmes is in a drug-induced cocaine haze between cases because, as he claims, his brain gets bored.

I appreciate the fact that Sherlock Holmes (the movie) will introduce a new generation to the character so many of us know for his trademark hat and pipe. I just hope readers aren't put off by the fact that the books, while good classic detective stories, aren't quite the exciting production the movie promises to be. Nevertheless, I can't wait to see it!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Importance of Professional Organizations

About 9 months ago I was sitting in front of my computer banging my head on the keyboard. I had been submitting my manuscript for a couple of months to various literary agencies and had some interest, but no luck otherwise. I knew my manuscript needed work but I knew nobody in the biz, as it were, and had no idea what to do. Aside from my trusty Writer's Market book, I was basically on my own. I had read the blogs of other writers and knew that there were organizations for romance writers (Romance Writers of America) and sci-fi writers (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) but I hadn't heard of one that dealt with young adult fiction.

So I went to good old Google and typed in 'young adult writers organization.' The first thing that popped up was the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I was quite excited and read through the website, thrilled that I'd finally found what I was looking for. I signed up right away and emailed the names listed on there as local reps. I was lucky to find Writers' Groups in Geneva and Dundee (both 15 minutes from where I live). I have since joined both groups!

SCBWI provides a lot of opportunities and support for aspiring writers. It was great to be able to bring my work to the critique groups and get feedback from other writers. It also taught me how to be more critical of my own writing by critiquing others. It has also given me so many opportunities to meet and get to know other writers at all stages of the game. There are also the yearly conferences, both locally and in other states that offer so much in the way of learning about the business through editors and agents and how to be a better writer and improve your craft with pointers from published authors.

I'm looking forward to the SCBWI National Conference in L.A. at the end of July. I'm also grateful for all the wonderful and talented writers that I've had the luxury of working with these last nine months. I don't know what I'd do without Laura, Sarah and Natalie, along with the rest of our critique group members!

If you are starting down the path towards getting published, I encourage you to find the organization that fits your writing and join it right away. Get active about your career. I would say it is the best 75 bucks I've ever spent! Good luck!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Students = (cess)pool of characters

As I'm moving towards the end of my first decade of teaching, I really must thank the crazy fools that (aside from my family and friends) inspire my characters. They make the process of writing that much more fun.

1. They provide character names and personalities. It's great because when I need the overachiever, the cheerleader or the jock, as well as the cool lingo (like 'creeper') all I have to do is sit back in my class. I have a fish tank of potential characters swimming right before my eyes for 5 classes a day.

2. They are awesome cheerleaders. They always ask how the books are coming along, when they can read them and how long until it's published. Although it always reminds me of the fact that I'm not published yet AND sometimes I'm sure they ask about it because they know it's a sure way to get me off topic for 20 minutes, I appreciate their interest and hope to someday provide them with a finished novel. And I can sign it and they can brag that their teacher is a best selling author. *sigh*

3. They provide motivation to keep moving forward. On days when evil kids are stealing my books, swearing at me or won't shut up, parents are sending awful emails blaming me because their child is failing or the school district is kindly telling me my subject is just not interesting enough and I'm on the verge of running out the front door screaming and signing up to join a circus, I think about the fact that the only way out of this is to write many best sellers. (I realize that is the longest sentence ever.) Writing is sometimes my only sanity as it's the only world I can control.

So I thank my friendly students and hope they buy my books when they come out! hehe! They will most certainly see themselves in those pages!