I basically haven't looked at my blog since school started, so I figured I ought to check in lest people think I fell by the wayside when it came to writing too.
This school year has been brutal--the hardest I can ever remember. There is so much paperwork and jumping through hoops. Some of it is punishment for having been a D school for two years--clearly we teachers aren't doing enough. (I'm sure the powers-that-be would take exception to my labeling it a punishment, but the shoe fits, you know?) We also have new textbooks, and I feel like I'm reinventing the wheel at every turn. I've never worked so hard, nor felt like I was accomplishing so little. I feel like the sacrifices I make, the time I put in, the things I do well, are all largely unnoticed. The things I don't get around to, though--because there's so much to do I can't possibly get around to it all--are immediately noticed and commented upon. I get to work at 6:15, on average, and leave at 4 on average, and still feel constantly guilty for every second I'm not working.
Through it all, though, I haven't let the writing slip. In fact, I've done a better job this year of being dedicated to my art and craft than I did last year. Since I'm getting up early to do schoolwork, I'm giving myself the evenings to write. Every night I put in at least a couple of hours, and progress is slow but steady.
Good News: I think I mentioned that Vanishing Act was a finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Award in the category of Unpublished Young Adult Novel. Well it won! First place! So my record in contests continues to be pretty good.
As for the submissions process--some up, some down. I'm submitting to agents at a snail's pace, because it seems better to fire them out in small bursts and be able to use whatever feedback I do get, rather than to blanket the literary world and see what happens. I can still count the number of agents I've queried without taking my shoes off. I've had a grand total of one form rejection, which I think is some kind of awesome, even with as few queries as I've sent out. I got a rejection today from an agent I'd really been crossing my fingers on. It had good feedback on it--good points, though I'm going to have to sleep on things for a bit to figure out how to make the improvements she said the MS needed. (See? Querying slowly was a good call!) To be unbelievably arrogant, I kind of have a feeling someone's going to want to represent this book, but if it doesn't happen, hopefully this agent will like my next manuscript better.
Anyway, I feel like a loser for not updating this blog more, but right now my priorities seem to be work, parenting, writing, and reading. There pretty much isn't room for a fifth thing on my list right now, be it television, going out with friends, tweeting, blogging, or reading other people's blogs. I have a feeling next year won't be much better in that regard, because I'm helping to kick off a new IB program at my school, so I'll be reinventing the wheel yet again. Hopefully someday I'll find myself teaching courses I've taught before, using materials I've used before. Certainly I've been in my career long enough to have reached that point. Now I understand why my father, late in his career, didn't want to take on the opportunity of starting a new Computer Science program at a school that didn't have one.
Speaking of reading: I've been reading Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness trilogy. Why is it so hard to find in bookstores? I thought How to Ditch Your Fairy was fantastic, but I think these are better. Razorbill is not exactly a small house, so what the heck gives? Among YA authors, Larbalestier and Janice Hardy are the ones most writing the kinds of books I want to be writing. (Among science fiction writers, in case anyone's keeping score, the list would be Steven Gould--whose writing is often so close to YA as to blur any meaningful distinction--Mary Robinette Kowal, and Elizabeth Bear. I'm probably forgetting someone, but that's who comes to mind.)
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