Saturday, June 28, 2014


I learned last night that Reclaimed was awarded Gold in the 2013 Foreword Book of the Year Award for Young Adult Fiction. It was announced at the start of the ALA convention in Vegas, though I learned about it while sitting in my living room wearing yoga pants. Glamorous, aren't I?

I'm thrilled and excited and humbled by the award. Reclaimed is my debut, so obviously it has a special place in my heart, but I also always believed in this book, even when it looked like it might get tucked away into a drawer.

The summer I revised Reclaimed was one of the best ever. I finished the draft in the spring of 2011, then let it sit until I was out of school. That summer I learned that a crappy draft really could be transformed into a readable manuscript. I learned about patience, and killing your darlings, and the joy that comes with finally getting the words to truly convey what the characters are feeling. It was such a wonderful experience watching that ugly draft change into something I was proud of. For the first time, I wanted people to read something I had written.

So if you are discouraged, keep at it. Know that the hard work will pay off in one way or another. For a year I couldn't get anyone interested in reading Reclaimed. Then I had a full request from Spencer Hill Press and an offer for publication one week later. I had an editor who understood my book and loved it almost as much as I did. Reclaimed had a home.

And now, Reclaimed has won its second award.

Thank you to everyone who has read and loved Reclaimed. You have a special place in my heart as well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finding Time to Write

Lately I've been getting this question a lot, so I thought I would re-post a guest post I wrote last year. You can find the original post here.
I’m often asked how I find time to write. I’m a high school teacher, which requires tons of time planning and grading and meeting and learning in addition to those hours between 8:00 and 3:30 when I’m actually teaching. I also sponsor the yearbook and the book club. I’m a runner. And a wife. I’m a daughter and sister, aunt, friend, and avid book lover.

I do not find time to write. I horde it like a dragon with his gold.

You are not going to stumble upon unused time. It’s not something to find. It’s something to cultivate. Once I decided to take my writing seriously, some things had to go.

The first thing to go was my clean house. Seriously. I spent a lot of time cleaning my house, thinking that it was necessary to always keep up appearances. One day I realized that when I got to the end of my life, I didn’t want to look back and be able to say, “well, at least my house was clean.”

So I don’t worry if there is a little dust on the tables or the laundry needs doing. I don’t ignore it completely. I get to it after my allotted writing time. But I gave myself permission to chase after my passion first. And while there is often guilt in that decision, there is never regret.

I don’t get to watch tv like so many other people. I’m behind on movies. But this was something I was willing to sacrifice.

Four years ago I turned my guest bedroom into an office. Every day after school I go into my office and work until it’s time to cook dinner. Sometimes I’m on Twitter too much. Sometimes I just stare at the blank page. But I am in my office, keeping to my schedule. And most of the time, I’m writing. Or revising. Or crying about how my characters have a mind of their own and why in the hell can’t they just do what I want?

I’m very protective of this time. I have to be. Otherwise I’ll squander it, and days, weeks, months will pass, and I’ll have nothing to show for it. I take days off – they’re necessary. But I’ve made writing a necessity.

I teach full time. But as I’ve said many times before, even if you don’t write full time, you write full time. Whether you have a day job or not, you still have to write the book, revise it, sell it, market it, just like those who don’t have another day job. If you want to be a writer, above all, you will have to learn how to balance your time between writing and the rest of your life.

But it can be done. There are a million and one different ways to do this. Don’t let anyone tell you there is only one way. If writing is your passion, don’t wait to find the time. Hunt it down, hold it tight, and don’t let anyone steal it from you.