2019 Resolution: To (Try to) Catch an Agent

Rosey with Pages 2018

My book! MY book. My BOOK!

My manuscript is winding up. I am sooo excited that I made such enormous progress in 2018. It’s alive!

That was one of last year’s resolutions that I actually made happen (and I lost some weight, too!). As a full-time elementary school teacher who also tutors (chess and piano) several hours a week, it is not easy to tackle another huge task during the course of a BUSY (2018 was PARTICULARLY hectic!) school year. I get tired, you know?

But there is only so much that can be done from summer to summer (not enough!), and I was NOT going to let another year go by with next to no progress.

Thank you to all those who supported me in so many ways, both practically and emotionally, chapter after chapter, revision after revision.

Thanks to SCBWI Midsouth for their wonderful conferences, resources, and friendships made.

Thank you to my occasional insomnia that allowed me an extra few hours a week.

Thanks to my cat Rosey (pictured) for hanging out with me in my office at all hours.

Hey, I know I didn’t get one accolade yet or win any awards. But I’m already thankful anyway! No matter what happens, I’m grateful for even getting to this point.

My resolution for 2019 is, after the manuscript is decidedly polished, to seek agent representation, and I already have my list of candidates and am drafting my first few query letters for the months ahead.

Yes, yes, yes. I’m well aware there are new challenges ahead, surely numerous disappointments included. I know. But those are signs of life.

I’ll be okay no matter what happens (I tell myself 😉 ).

And then, there’s always HOPE. I BELIEVE!

Here’s to 2019!

I’ll share much more about MY BOOK 😉 then.

 

 

Book Review: Penguinaut!

Who couldn’t love a little penguin with a big dream? Orville does not disappoint. This is a unique, sweet, and lively story that encourages individuality and at the same time demonstrates the importance of community. The illustrations are so entertaining and support the story well for young readers. All this and a penguin who strives to be an astronaut…what are you waiting for? Congratulations to the author and to Orville on a smash hit!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2RQJ0FADEVMLI/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0545848849

I’m back (in case anyone noticed I was missing)! And, I turned down a book deal.

Well, it’s been a while! That’s what happens when you are a full-time elementary school teacher.

I had a personal trainer (don’t be impressed, it only lasted a season!) who talked about her friend Nancy, and said this friend really was two different people: “Teacher Nancy” and “Summer Nancy”. The same holds true here. Only when the school year ends (as mine just did) does my head clear enough to be able to write even one post! Sad but true, at least for this past year (which was a very trying one for other personal reasons). Perhaps I’ll “disappear” again by the fall, but only time will tell.

Okay, so last month I turned down a book contract!!!

It was not an easy decision at the time.

The offer came about in an unexpected way and very quickly. It was a small publishing house, and I did my research and actually found out many good things about it. And no, it was not a vanity press. The offer included a fair percentage of royalties and did not require any money up front.

However, it just was not a fit. Once I got in deeper, I learned their other publications in my genre were limited, and they had a very small pool of people I would need to work with in ways that would enormously affect the style of the final product. They would not guarantee what I asked for in writing, as they refused to make any changes to their contract. There were some other concerns, but that was the final deal-breaker for me.

So I politely turned it down.

I feel good about it. It was not the right time or place, just not a match.

I wish them well!

I am now preparing a manuscript for the 2018 SCBWI Conference in Nashville this fall where I will receive another professional critique. The deadline for submission is next week, so once that’s done I can shop it around in its current incarnation.

Happy (almost) June!

All the best,

“Summer Victoria Winifred”

Chess Magic in School, Part 2: Meet the Parents!

UhOh
It was time for the first set of parent-teacher conferences since chess had taken over my classroom. I was concerned that families might not understand that chess is not “just a game”, and I was prepared to prove important strides were being made in every subject, thanks to having the theme of chess in place for our enrichment.

Along with all my student data, I had my “chess helps students learn” statistics stacked in a folder by my side and did not attempt to hide the many chess posters, chess sets, and demo boards spread around the classroom.

Enter Mr. Z., a very serious looking parent who at first did not have a lot to say. I embarked on my elevator speech about his son, with appropriate compliments and observations on his scores in math and literacy. I went on to discuss ways to prepare for the state exams ahead and offered helpful tips for home activities.

I thought we were done, but Mr. Z. remained seated. He looked down and pressed his lips together as though there was still unfinished business.

And then it happened. He looked up and stared me right in the eye.

“My son tells me you play chess almost every day in this room.”

I unsuccessfully tried to repress my big sigh.

Then as practiced, I reached for my folder and began.

“Yes, this is true. Studies have shown…”

Mr. Z. interrupted, “Can you teach me this game?”

I stopped talking.

He continued, “I would like to play it with my son.”

It was at this point I realized the man was not about to criticize me.

I was (and am) still learning.

This conference of inspiration sparked my additional practice of holding parent workshops on chess, where not only were they taught the game with the help of their own children, but I could share my fervor in detail for the wonders it works in an academic setting. Never have I experienced anything but mutual enthusiasm in return. That evening I realized chess is also a pathway to improved relationships within and between families, a connector across all playing fields, and an ever-flowing source for this humble teacher’s continuing education.

Snippets of Parent Feedback After First Family Workshop

parent chess feedback snippet picture.jpg

Phew