Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wide Open

“In time it could’ve been so much more

The time is precious I know

In time it could’ve been so much more

The time has nothing to show”

- Craig, M.; Moss, Jon; Hay, Roy; O’Dowd, George. “Time (Clock of the Heart)” Culture Club

School ended last Wednesday. (sigh of relief.) I hit the ground sprinting. As soon as I got home, I straightened the house (shoving a not-so-small pile of papers into my room, on top of my “clean” pile of laundry on the floor), ordered the children to clean up clutter, vacuum, and mop. And then I prepared a nice dinner for company.

Two of my children's friends slept over, so the next day, I fed them all breakfast. Thursday was spent reading for and meeting with the brand new critique group. Then I took my children to their Taekwondo classes.

I spent Friday washing, drying, folding and putting away laundry, and packing for our trip to New York to visit family. I even cleaned up the pile of papers in my room. I’m officially caught up on the house since the wedding a few weeks ago.

When I visit Long Island, very few days are open. On Saturday, my children and me visited a friend and her children, and my cousin came over afterwards. Sunday was my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. Monday morning my daughter began daily swimming lessons at the beach (don’t cry for me). In the afternoon, my poor husband left for home so he could go back to work. Yesterday was actually a down day with few obligations. This afternoon and evening I spent time with my mother. There are also plans with family and friends the next two days. Then my daughter and I head home.

My son is staying for another week with his grandparents. And my daughter just decided she wants to take a week of soccer camp. When I looked online, I realized (drum roll please…)

The soccer camp is NEXT WEEK.

This means I have NO CHILDREN next week!

What to do with my time?

The obvious: WRITE.

What to write?

I have the rough draft of Naked Eye waiting to move beyond chapter two. And I have to thank Lydia Kang who is a writer and part-time doctor: I asked her a question for “Medical Mondays” to do with this WIP. Her quick e-mail response means I can move ahead to chapter three. Thanks, Lydia!

My critique group sent me comments for chapter one of The Disappearances. While I may not incorporate a drastic change in the very beginning, I found other suggestions helpful. While I’ve incorporated feedback from one member, I haven’t worked on the other two women’s comments. I’m excited to query this soon(ish).

This story tackles environmental consequences, in an unpreachy manner. It also has a pair of best friends, one with unrequited love, and a love triangle (or two), so it should be appealing to teens. My protagonist has to find her voice and figure out what’s most important to her. Oh, and some pretty scary stuff happens too. Best of all, NO vampires.

My beta-reader, Aubrie just finished reading Aura. That manuscript has had more eyes on it than any of my other manuscripts. People seem to connect with and like it. And I’ve gotten the best feedback on this from agents and editors than anything I’ve previously written. The problem is… well… vampires. Even if she’s the vampire who doesn’t get bitten by a boy, so she’s not a victim and has a strong voice, the market is saturated with vampire stories. My recent rejection from an agent I admire:

“I'm really full to the brim with Vampires and other beasties…”

While I haven’t combed the world with queries, I don’t know how much harder I should bother trying. So I’m thinking of setting up a second blog and serializing it for fun.

Would you read it?

Of course, there’s the thorny problem of my job search. Not working full-time so long after my certification is hurting me. The economy is hurting me. Blah, blah, blah. It all feels like excuses, no matter how many examples I heap on top of my pile. So my time also must be spent figuring out a next step. At this point, I may need to call someone like a Dean to find out what would make me more marketable.

I have weeks stretching out ahead of me. But I also have a couple of family trips, visitors, and an out-of-state wedding. Somehow, the time is always snatched away before I’m ready. I already feel like I haven’t accomplished enough. Instead of relaxing, I’m: Barking. Snapping. Plotting. Fretting. Dreading.

I have one week, from 9:30 am until 2:30 pm. It’s like a gift. I want to use it well.

Teachers, how do you fill your summer?

Teacher-writers, how do you best utilize this time?

Writers, how do you budget your time?

“Oh, time is on my side, yes it is

Time is on my side, yes it is.”

- Ragovoy, Jerry. “Time Is on My Side” The Rolling Stones


  1. Wow! You've been busy and summer only just started. Very envious of your week without children. How I'd love to bask in the glow of silence!

    I don't know what to suggest about the vampires. On the one hand, it's selling, right? But on the other hand, if it you had a deal today it could be another year before it hits the shelves...will it still be selling then? Tough choice.

    Of course, if I were a mutant and had a THIRD hand (hahaha), I'd probably suggest you go ahead and query the sucker. What do you have to lose, really?

  2. Yep, you're a regular whirlwind you are. : j

    About you book, if you're reaching the phase where you're considering giving it away, you could try e-publishing it... Or even setting something up yourself, for example offering half for free and the whole for a low price like 2-5 bucks.
    Obviously the advantage of getting e-published is that you can reach a wider audience with less personal effort... The advantage of doing it yourself is that your are in complete control throughout the entire process BUT you have to make the effort of going out to pitch your book, but then when one finally does make it big, people will flock to it! ; j

    Sorry I can't answer any of your closing questions, none of them apply to me. : j

  3. vacation rocks! Sounds like you've got ALOT going on at the moment though. I hope you're able to find time during no-kids-week to write and take time for yourself. For me, the month of July is 'family' vacation. My hubby's off the whole month (8weeks vaca in france) and then its 'me' time!

  4. To Alesa (above) - e-publishing sounds cool ... I vote for that one :) It would be a shame to not be able to publish your work (in whatever form) after your efforts. Have a great, productive, kid-free week !!! :)

  5. Exactly Leah...
    And it would also be a good opportunity to probe that growing market.

  6. Oh please serialise away!! I'd read Aura!!:-) Good luck!!!!

    And summer is so here. Kids are off, the sun is out, the bank managers snapping at one's heels... LOL!! But seriously - you look like you have loads of WIPs in the running - I wish you well with them all!! My goodness!!! There's Aura and the Disappearances and Naked Eye. Phew!!

    Good luck!!! and yes please to blog no. 2! How exciting!

    Take care

  7. Wow. You've been very busy. So has everyone in your family. I guess you'll have lots of time for yourself next week.

  8. It sounds like you're already starting to fill up your summer! I finished school yesterday, but not the novel I'd hoped to finish before the end of June. But I'm looking forward to filling my summer with writing and revising two other stories I've gotten critiques on, preparing them for submission.

  9. Congrats on your upcoming chunk of free time! I hope you get a lot of writing done!

    Just so you know, I have a writing blog that I keep with two other people and not many people read it. There's so much out there on the internet, I think a lot of people tend to skip over long blocks of text.

    Good luck with querying The Disappearances!!!

  10. Happy writing, I am not sure I would give away your story, maybe the e-publishing route would be good.

  11. Wow the summer has just begun and already you are busy as a bee. Mid way through your post I had to take a breather because I was getting stressed out!! You're dedicated and I love it!

    Happy Writing! A week with no kids?! Full advantage for sure!

  12. @ Vicki, "bask in the glow of silence" - what a poetic way of putting it!

    Agents and publishers keep saying vampires are hot, but we don't know when it's going to end and your book wouldn't come out for quite some time. We already have vampires on our list.

    I could keep querying but I don't have high hopes due to the well-trodden path. And rejections are hard, even when I expect them. Hmm....

    @ Alesa, I would serialize it for fun. But epublishing feels like I'm giving up because I really don't want to put it out there like that unless I'm willing to put everything behind it. I don't know - I may change my mind.

    @ Nicole, I'm excited about it too!

    @ Creepy Query Girl, it must be nearly impossible to get much done with your husband home. Enjoy your July and have a productive August.

  13. @ Leah, thanks. I'm considering it. That was Aubrie's suggestion when I first mentioned serializing.

    @ Alesa, I wonder how many people would actually pay to read it.

    @ Old Kitty, that's one of the reasons I don't want to keep querying Aura - the idea of serializing is fun.

    @ Mr. Stupid, I'm excited about the time too!

  14. @ Andrea Mack, you are right near the end of your rough draft of a WIP. Congratulations! And two others to work on too - sounds like you'll be as busy as me!

    @ Aubrie, good point. It may be better for me to divide the chapters in half, so the passages aren't too long. I just have to make sure the smaller bits fit chapter parameters.

    @ Brigid, I'm not worried about giving it away. At ebook prices, how much would I make? I just want the story to get out there and I'll focus on other work. Maybe.

    @ Jen, I feel like life always moves too fast. Even when I'm sitting, my head is swirling with book ideas, anxieties, and plans.

    I will take full advantage!

  15. Hm, is there anything really unique you could do to that vampire to bring a fresh spin to the agents?

    In the summer, I try to focus on completing one main project, a book proposal or full manuscript edit, then take a few weeks off later in the summer when the blogs and publishing seem to slow down. It's amazing how quickly the summer weeks go by ...

  16. Hmm... Trying to sell it online is giving up, but giving it for fun is not?
    I ask that, but i see what you mean.

    Shrug, I was just suggesting alternatives.
    How well it would sell would depend on where and how you market it.
    The ebook market is expanding significantly from year to year. There is a market there, whether or not you can tap it is a different issue altogether.
    I dig Joanne's idea of making your vampires unique... but that would require a lot of reworking... Still I can imagine all kinds of fun takes on the subject.

  17. School just finished yesterday for me so I'm still in exhaustion/recovery phase :)

    Actually I plan to watch Wimbledon and do laundry & housestuff for the first week. My hubby's been doing some minor renovations around the house, so it's a bit upside down right now and we're going to try to put it to rights.

    I plan on spending at least 2 or 3 daylight hours on writing (revising, working on query & synopsis). I'm hoping to query in the fall - as long as I don't chicken out :)

  18. @ Joanne, an agent suggested I promoted what made it unique, so I reworked the query. That same agent rejected it with the quote above. An editor liked the fresh take but said her pub. co. would soon release a book about an epileptic vampire, so they couldn't take on another vampire book.

    You have a good summer routine.

    @ Alesa, good alternatives. I'm not ruling anything out, but since so few are serializing, I thought it would be something different.

    I think I have a different take, but I don't know how far to push it. I have the Jewish, not a victim thing going on with Aura, but...

    @ Jemi, exhaustion/recovery phase is a good way of putting it!

    Sounds like you have a good routine planned. Don't chicken out on querying!

  19. Would definitely read blog number 2. And as for finding time to write, as you saw from my last post, I'm finding it's very much a case of so much to do and so little time at the moment!
    Hopefully things will quieten down in a few weeks:)

  20. Well, I create targets. For example, now that I'm revising, I'm trying to go for at least 2 chapters a day. When writting, it's one ch a day. =)

  21. @ Olive, thanks for wanting to read blog 2. I hope things quiet for you in a few weeks too!

    @ Clara, I've never gone by any numbers. I like to find out other people's methods.

  22. Yay for summer starting! Yay for having the time to write! How lovely to have that dedicated time stretching ahead of you.

    Can't wait to hear what you choose to do and how it goes!

  23. I say write as fast as you can in the new manuscript. Get it out!

    And maybe don't serialize the vampire story. Wait until you've sold a different book and then maybe it will be easier to f/u with the vampire one when you are more of a known entity?

  24. That will feel so weird next week! Wow, all that quiet, what's a mom to do? I'm sure you'll use your time very well.

    Since summer began, I've made an effort to do work in the morning, and again later in the afternoon. That leaves midday to hang with the kids. Seems to be working so far!

  25. Unrequited love and a love triangle? Interesting, and I bet a lot of readers could relate to that. And of course I'll read your second blog, if you do set up one. :)

    Enjoy your week off. You've earned it! I'm supposed to be spending my summer doing research for my dissertation, but then again I'm supposed to do a lot of things.

  26. @ Talli, I can't wait to figure out what to do and how it goes as well.

    @ Rebecca, I could sit on the manuscript. I've sat on others because I didn't know enough about writing. But it will be a long time before vampires come back in book form. Maybe.

    @ Julie, I like your routine. When I have my kids and we're home, mine is similar.

    @ Neurotic Workaholic, my husband spent part of a summer doing his dissertation. Fun. Good luck!

  27. Yay! I hope you find lots and lots of time to write--and relax too.

    Sigh, I don't know yet. I've recently been struck by another idea, and I'm not sure how I will manage my time.

    I think just try to set a time frame that works best for you and stick with it, no matter what (and yes, I will let you know when I hop on that wagon too ;))

  28. @ WritingNut, thanks. Making time for idea strikes, especially when working on older pieces, is hard. Yes, let me know when you hop on the set a time frame wagon!

  29. Awesome! Thumbs up on the second blog. I started one myself and its working out great.
    I've been reading about vampires since Anne Rice. I can see why it's big with kids, today. They are making monsters sexy now a days...

  30. Yay for summer! I hope you'll get a lot of writing done next week. :)

    I'm terrible when it comes to budgeting time; it seems the more time I have, the less I get done.

  31. A full week without the kids! Sounds marvellous! :]

    To budget my time, I just read less and watch movies less often than I used to, because I REFUSE to write or read my manuscript quickly. Other than that, I really don't have any ways of doing it. Writing just happens somehow.

  32. I hope your week hasn't flown by too quickly and you got your planned writing done.

    Yes, I would read your story on another blog. Are you sure you are ready to give up on it though?

    Sounds like your summer is full of doings. Enjoy and good luck with the job hunt! Fingers and toes crossed for you. :)

  33. @ Barbra, vampires are sexy. I agree. Angels are pretty big now too. I'm still on the fence about this second blog. Sadly, I almost wanted to get rejections so I could try it.

    @ Sandy, I feel the same way. Most of my rough drafts were written during my busiest periods. But I'm making an effort to use this summer free time to be productive.

    @ Amanda, we have to give up something to gain writing time. It's hard.

    @ Ann, the week hasn't started yet, so I still hope to get all of my planned writing done.

    I don't know if I'm ready to give up the story. It's a quandary!

  34. The beginning of your summer sounds like ours - minus Long Island and Bar Mitzvahs. I just looked at the calendar and felt I must have been in some sort of time warp: How could we possibly have done all that we've done in one week? Two sleepovers; twice to the pool; twice to Fresh Pond; yesterday to the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary; numerous trips to Home Depot and one to get the car's inspection sticker; weeding, pruning and other yard and landscape work...I realize that I have accomplished more in one week with my children than in two weeks (or three?) without. How?

    This makes me worry for myself that I won't be able to get anything done in the week they are gone to camp in August. I, like you, want to concentrate on writing and spending that week taking care of myself. But I find that so hard to do. Guilt. Knowing myself the way I do, I'm sure I'll come up with some household project that needs to be done. Perhaps I'll lay tile in the bathroom, paint the kitchen, wash the windows...

    How do you put yourself and your writing first without feeling guilty? Or do you?

    I hope you are able to use your week for yourself, for your writing, guilt-free. It IS a gift. Enjoy it! (And share your strategy?)

  35. Hey! Angels....I like that, I mean it's been done before but I'll bet you could put a refreshing spin in them......You know, your second blog doesn't have to have postings everyday, I would still read it even if it wasn't at the pace of this one. After all, we do have a life you know....

  36. @ Selena, life with children is hectic - especially in summer. We went to Crane's Beach on Father's Day.

    Don't feel guilty. Write. That's one of the reasons you left your job.

    I used to feel horribly guilty. Once my husband told me to stop, then I kept getting job after job. So now I'm going to do my best to write at least four hours each day that week. Except Monday. I just found out my husband is off on Monday.

    I'll share my strategy as I figure it out. I think I have an old post that has some strategy. I can send you the link.

    @ Barbra, I have no angel ideas and I hope I don't get any. After the vampires, I want less-trodden paths!

    If I set up a blog for Aura, I'll post once per week.

  37. Enjoy your week of writing. Interested to know which one you ended up choosing.

  38. Missed Periods, thanks. I'm interested to know which one I'll end up choosing too.

  39. Happy writing!
    I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for this.

    All the best, Boonsong