Sunday, May 20, 2007

My Summer Writing Schedule

Summer vacation is supposed to be a time of relaxation, but that never seems to happen for me. Instead, my time away from teaching school is my window of opportunity for writing. This summer’s schedule is no different from any others, except that this year I’m going to graduate school at the same time.

Here’s a rundown of what I’ll try to complete in the 80 days between the time school gets out and when the teachers go back to work:

1. Finish the new romance novel I’ve been working on.

2. Finish the Middle Grade novel I started this year.

3. Finish the book guides for Books, Books, and More Books: Volume 2.

4. Write a screenplay adaptation of a novel I’ve wanted to see made into a movie.

5. Write several magazine articles and submit.

6. Continue my columns, blogs, and zines.

Then there is the marketing. These are my summer goals for the things that are already written, edited, and looking for a publisher:

1. Follow-up with editors and the agent for the three books already submitted.

2. Query publishers for three more books.

3. Search for a film agent for the three scripts I’ve written.

4. Check with the producer who optioned one of my scripts to see what’s happening with funding.

5. Query magazines and submit articles.

6. Do interviews and assemble podcasts to post to my blog.

Oh, and I can’t forget the editing.

1. Finish the 90,000 word manuscript that was dropped off to me this week.

2. Go through my own stack of edits from my critique group and revise my manuscripts accordingly.

3. Edit manuscripts for Precision Editing Group.

4. Get to critique group every week.

5. Meet with a fledgling critique group to help them know how to get started.

And at last, I’ll have time to read the hundred or so novels that publishers have sent me to review for my newspaper columns, educator magazines, or workshops I present.

Oh, no! That means I’m back at list one with more things to write! And they call this a VACATION.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Give Me a Break!

My entire life I’ve wanted to be a writer. Somewhere in my future scrap-booking projects box are copies of papers and poems I wrote clear back in grade school, as well as works from my high school and college years.

My computer hard drive is filled with more recent works—five completed middle grade novels, several film scripts, the new adult novel I’m working on, and countless non-fiction projects, both short and long. And, of course, the drafts of all those query letters and a chart filled with rejections from most of them.

All of this can sometimes get depressing, especially when I have a day like today. I was doing inventory in my classroom library and picked up a copy of Veggiemorphs: The Fungus Among Us, and I had to wonder, what on earth am I missing?

I slave for months—sometimes years—over a manuscript, doing rough drafts, research, and revising until I think I can’t look at the pages one more time. I follow the same process with the query, even running those past my well-published critique group. I study the guidelines for publishers and agents, then send my polished letters and manuscripts off into the world, hoping someone will love my babies enough to send me a contract.

But, when it comes to a novel or full-length non-fiction book, that hasn’t happened. And that’s why it was so depressing to see the Veggiemorphs book in my class library inventory. Not only did an editor offer a contract for this book, but someone—not me, I can assure you!—actually paid money to buy the book once it was published.

Granted, I hope what I write is much, much better than the quality of a Veggiemorph book (I’ll admit, I haven’t read one, but my students have totally panned the series). The book may not be a work of art, but at least that author got something published, got a foot in the door.

Why can’t an editor give me such a break?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Where Does the Weekend Go?

I always have such high hopes of getting lots of stuff done over the weekend. Alas, the stack of historical fiction papers from my 9th graders still sitting in my school bag, 23 books perched on the top of my desk awaiting guides, and two novels that absolutely must be read and reviewed before next weekend prove that the time I thought I have never seems to be enough to cover all the things I have to do.

As I write this blog entry, it’s nearly six o’clock on Sunday evening. I still haven’t sent my two weekly e-zines to subscribers, and the three thousand words I wanted to write this weekend on my new novel will be lucky to make it to two.

Of course, I have sent two submissions, written two newspaper columns, composed three blog entries, and graded a few student papers, but it all seems so insufficient compared to all that I still need to finish.

All I have to do is make it through 19 more days, and my time will suddenly be as free as that of a queen. School will be through, and I’ll be able to concentrate on all of those tasks that get set aside for when there is nothing else to do.

Ah, the luxury of it all—until August, that is, when the back to school panic once again sets in. But in the meantime, there is still so much to do!