The longer I am a teacher, the weirder it feels to not work in the summer. Granted with boat loads of freedom, an endless array of weather-warm options and minimal responsibility just seems… too good to be true. It was this gift of limbo-time that allowed me to complete the ungodly amount of things I accomplished this summer. Things like, visit seven states, ride six planes and drive for twenty-four hours in a twelve day period of time; things like celebrating the lives of two grandparents now gone to heaven; things like sell a house and move; things like plan and attend a class reunion; all without taking a single day off of work.
While this summer was busier than most, I did manage to use this weird, child-like time off to accomplish some writing. (It may not feel like it if you use my blog as a measuring stick, but I assure you, I did write… some.) Below are the writing highlights of my summer.
In June I attended a one week workshop at the Highlights Foundation. I spent five days in the Pennsylvania wilderness learning the ins and outs of the Educational Market. Unlike the traditional market or the self-publishing world, this writing niche is home to assessment text, classroom materials, purposeful fiction series and nonfiction book sets. I learned about the practical application of my writing skills and educational experience and made a dozen new writing friends a long the way. The quaint cabins and gourmet food were the icing on this piece of word-nerd cake. The week was capped off with a tour of the Highlights offices and Boyds Mills Press. I hope to return for another workshop in the future. If you are debating on attending, save your money and go. You won’t be disappointed.
In July I traveled to Glenwood City, Wisconsin to teach an all day young writer’s workshop at the incredibly beautiful Everwood Farmstead. Generous hosts Chris and Bill have created an artist’s haven. Nine young writers and I spent the day creating and polishing, playing and critiquing. I was blown away and humbled by the abilities of the writers who attended and beyond impressed when they braved the stage and read their stories aloud for parents and friends at the end of the day. Definitely put visiting Everwood, whether for a workshop, concert, or culinary event, on your bucket list.
Finally, I finished, truly finished, two manuscripts.
The first one, has been a long time in the making. A reallllly long time. The manuscript for The Birthday Cache has been through seven drafts, a couple of agents and their thoughtful feedback, an editor, and critiques from a writing partner and writing mentor. I had begun to feel like the story wasn’t even mine anymore. BUT, then I thought about the writers whom I had listened to over this past year in conference presentations, author panels, blog posts and online articles. They went through how many drafts? How many rounds of revisions from their editor? How many interns helped work on their text? When I felt like I was relying too heavily on others to create high quality work, was I really just becoming more professional? Instead of putting out low grade literary work all on my lonesome, was I really just working hard (really hard) and using the resources available to shine and polish and mold my story into its best possible version? I am choosing to go with this second line of thought. I now have a really great middle grade story that I can’t wait to get out there. Stay tuned for this first geocaching book in the exciting series Adventures Await.
The second manuscript was a MUCH faster ordeal. I started it in February and finished it last night. Six months, three beta-readers (thanks ladies!), two drafts, and thirty-five thousand words. Champion Chocolatier is being released next month by independent publisher Lovely Christian Romance. This book is part of a six book collection. Each author was asked to write a story that took place in a northern state during Christmas time and had hot chocolate play a major role in the story. I haven’t read the other novellas in the collection yet, but I can’t wait to see what everyone came up with. This book is my first non-self-published book and also my first book to be turned into an audiobook. Proud and excited do not even begin to describe how I feel about it. If you'd like to pre-order this book, please email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
So, tomorrow the summer ends. I start back too school with teacher meetings and orientations and technology trainings and a million other work-related tasks. So long to the summer hours and the lack of structured schedule. Sure part of me is sad, but there is another part that is ready for the school year and the order that it brings to our family’s chaotic life. See ya later summer, hello fall.