I’ve never been a very productive writer in July. Yes, I’m sure if I was on deadline for a book, I would meet my deadlines. But, as a month when I write a lot–July is not one of them. Part of this is simply because I live in the Pacific Northwest and it’s extremely hard to be inside during the month of July. We have had an exceptionally hot summer and I have spent a lot of it at the beach–which usually is a chilly beach but this year, the Oregon Coast has been as warm as Southern California beaches. I would like to say I’ve read a lot of books, but I haven’t even done that. I’ve taken a lot of beach walks and spent a lot of time staring into the blue ocean waves.
But I don’t close up shop completely in July. I spend a lot of July teaching–both my teacher students at Seattle Pacific University and teen writers through the Loft Literary Center on-line classes for teens. I also continued to submit my completed books–there are four of them (a contemporary category romance, a memoir, a middle grade, and a chapter book). It’s summer, so the responses are very slow in coming and most will not arrive until fall.
But it is now August…and my teen class is over and it’s time to start looking at the writing again.
So what am I doing?
The first thing I’m working on is targeting submissions for my memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention. I have been “testing the waters” with that story for the last few months. I had a piece published in a literary journal for a community college on the Northern Oregon Coast and I did a reading of that piece in late May. The reading went well and I made a note that yes, people are very interested in this subject.
I’ve had responses come back from everywhere I sent to “test the waters.” I submitted to a couple agents who handle YA and a couple small University presses. The general response is: It’s not a YA book–it’s an adult memoir because it’s being told through my eyes and not the eyes of a teen. And it seems to need a publisher who has a bigger market than some of of the smaller presses. But overwhelmingly positive are the comments that this is an important story that needs to be told and does have an audience.
So, taking that response, I signed up for the Willamette Writer’s Conference in Portland Oregon coming up this weekend. It’s a pricey conference, so I’m just going for one day. But, the theme of the conference is Your Story and I thought it was important to go. I’m planning to pitch Kids in Orange to a couple editors at mid-sized houses and an agent who handles adult books. It’s a little scary because unlike my other books, this one is my story. It’s not a character having experiences, it’s me who is the character. But it is also the kid’s voices and they need to be heard, and it’s that need which pushes me forward.
So, this week, I’ll be working on crafting my pitch!
The writing this month is going to focus on working on a story I call The World is a Sniff. It’s a story about my dog Stormy and how he didn’t quite work out to be an agility dog, and he didn’t quite work out to be a therapy reading dog, but….the world is a sniff and all that training worked very well on the Oregon Coast beaches where dogs run off-leash. Although, after a scare up on Orcas Island last week where he ran into the woods and was gone for five hours, I may have to add another chapter………
So the writing doors will gradually be opening back up this month…