Scripts and Scribes Interview

I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Scripts and Scribes while at ALA Anaheim. The video below is that interview. I only stumble over my words once, which is pretty darn good for me.

I can’t thank the good people at Scripts and Scribes enough for producing quality footage of so many authors. Putting a face with a name means the world in a business with so many vying for attention. Allowing us to speak candidly for an audience is a step toward achieving that recognition. Thanks again for the work you do.

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What Excites Me About ALA

ALA Anaheim begins tomorrow. I am leaving on Saturday to be a part of this convention of awesome, and thought it might be fun to list what I’m most looking forward to. Ready? Here it is:

  1. Everything.

I’m not kidding. I’ve never been to any convention about writing. I’ve been to one local workshop and many education related events, but never anything strictly regarding the business of books. To say I’m excited is like saying John Green is an okay writer. He’s awesome and I’m losing my mind in anticipation.

I live in New Yorkand have been to Californiaone other time. I roamed San Franciscoand the Napa Valley and had one of the best vacations of my life. I have never been to Anaheim but know enough not to expect the funkiness of Haight Ashbury or the lushness of the vineyards. I will, instead, be in the heart of the city, surrounded by like-minded people: readers. We will all be there for one reason, the stories. I find that unbelievably compelling.

Additionally, I have a few events planned that I am thoroughly looking forward to: YALSA happy hour with fellow writer Bethany Crandell, dinner with my Running Press family and my signing on Sunday (1:30 – 3:30, Perseus booth #2476). And of course, the time in between where I’ll get to walk the floor and mix and mingle and enjoy the company of librarians, industry executives and other writers.

This may be the first time I am going to feel like a full fledged writer. I spend the majority of my time as an English teacher who has been published. Which is quite all right, because I love teaching and the insight interacting with my students brings. However, ALA marks a shift in this equation. Writing is being moved to the forefront and assuming an equal partnership with teaching. I like it. No, I love it.

Therefore, I want to extend my thanks to Perseus and Running Press and everyone there who has helped bring Tap Out to life. It is impossible to describe the swell of pride I feel knowing that so many not only considered my work and said yes, but that you keep doing so, are willing to send me to ALA, and are a vocal support of my work. This reader, turned teacher turned writer is ecstatic, and I have you to thank.

Now, if I can keep my head about me, I’ll be certain to report back after the weekend with a breakdown of the good times.

Until then.

Time to Till

The summer is when I get the bulk of my writing done. As a teacher it’s very tempting to sit out by my pool on a daily basis and watch the clouds pass overhead. Or sleep in and behave as if I’m retired. But I keep a very similar schedule as the rest of the year. I’m up early, albeit an hour later–6 am, and at the computer for as  long as possible. Usually that’s until I need to leave for work. Over the summer it’s however long the stamina lasts. Some days it’s a couple hours. Others, I’ve got to remind myself to eat.

I love this time and I hate this time. The pressure is truly on because if I don’t establish my next idea, if I don’t solidify a solid premise that I want to spend the next few months with…well, I’ve missed my window. It’s not that I can’t or don’t write well during the school year, it’s just that the time and consideration a new project takes is considerable. The hours I need are now. I cannot be wasteful.

I’ve been fortunate. Most of my seeds have come during June and July. Some as late as August. That’s not coincidence, though. Because as I’m working during the year, I’m also writing shorter pieces, taking notes about what my students are concerned with, overall just paying attention to the landscape I visit every day.

Now, with school finishing next week, I’m off to ALA and then some family time. But I’m already turning my starter stories in my palm, looking for the best. I’m outlining and thinking about hooks and hoping I have the germ of another sweet idea.

It’s time to plant, so that come fall I’ll know that the harvest with be bountiful.

For my other teacher/writers out there, happy sowing.

Ease of Mind

I submitted my WIP to Kate McKean right before memorial Day weekend. It’s a good thing I did so because I felt confident about the draft and I needed to clear my plate because my wife was having her wisdom teeth pulled. Based on her fragile health as of late, I knew the recovery was going to be consuming.

And it has been. But ten days out she’s doing much better and the dust is settling around here. However, the time away from writing has left me with two points to ponder: 1. What’s next. 2. Is that WIP really as good as I thought it was?

This is my vicious cycle: write, revise, worry. Tap Out is being given away at Book Expo America this week. By the end of the month I’ll be at ALA Anaheim supporting my work, and yet I know the entire time I’ll be in the throes of worry.

Writing is 24-7, and mostly in my head. I am constantly thinking about what story I want to tell next. I work with teenagers and am always considering their current struggles and how they fit within the market. When I’m not actively engaging with these thoughts, because life dictates my time otherwise, I’m left to dwell and to second-guess, even though I know better.

The fact that I have such consternation is not a fail-safe against poor writing, but it is a measure of self-monitoring that comes from experience. I know when I first began writing, I loved whatever I wrote, even though I knew it wasn’t publishable. Now, I love the process even more, but with publication comes responsibility. I worry about my writing like I do my own children. Am I cultivating it correctly? Am I teaching my girls the right lessons?

There’s no way of knowing beyond just writing. I have to get the words down and then have them reviewed. I have to be willing to let my daughters make their own decisions and hope the world is kind to them.

But it’s not easy.

I do have a plan, though–at least for what’s next. I’ve toyed with three possibilities and I’ll start in on whichever I’m most drawn to. Because the overwhelming element in the process is passion. It is because I care so damn much that I want whatever I put forth to be better than the last.

It’s the only way for my wind to be at ease. Until it’s not…

Watching My Back

Last week kicked me in the posterior. Hard. It began Sunday, when I woke up to no heat. Not a terrible situation with daytime temps in the 50-60s, but with the nights hitting 40 and below, the boiler needed to be fixed. That happened on Wednesday. My fireplace worked overtime.

Then my washing machine backed up, and instead of spending $2,000 on a new set (I need stackable), I fixed the machine, but in the process ended up ruining the laundry room floor. I had to pull the original and lay a new one.

I’m also dealing with a chronic wrist tendonitis and had a hand surgeon X-ray and review my issue during the week. He basically told me to wait six weeks and see if the numbness in the back of my hand goes away. Really, that was his advice. Fortunately, my chiropractor and some Graston treatment have already netted me some relief.

And then there’s my flash drive that died. I don’t believe there was anything important on it that I don’t have backed up, but I’ll never know, as whatever corrupted it wiped the entire drive. The tech guy just sighed and threw it away.

Amidst all this, there were two bright spots: my daughter won student of the month at her school on Friday, and on Saturday she successfully rode her bike without training wheels for the first time. It’s rare that I feel like I’m a success as a parent, but this week, especially with all the other nonsense, I think my wife and I should get gold stars.

Also, as I alluded to in my last post, I’m looking forward to ALA Anaheim. That’s right, Running Press is sending me to California for promotional events for Tap Out. Unreal. I get to rub elbows with people whose books I’ve read and admired. And most importantly, I get to spend time with the most significant conduits for YA books–librarians. I can’t express the degree to which I appreciate the role librarians serve in finding the right books for teens. I witness it every day at my own school and remember fondly the librarians’ guidance at my second home while growing up, the North Greenbush Public Library.

Therefore, I’m’ looking forward to a week with heat, clean clothes, a movable hand, accessible data–and who knows what great things my children will accomplish? I’m working on my WIP, and it’s going well. Soon it will be time to pass off the manuscript to Kate McKean. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I’m watching my back. I don’t need another week like this one to sneak up on me.