May 3, 2012

A Writers Life For Me or Do I Need a New Career?

It’s four months into the year and a good time to assess progress. In those heady post-New Year’s days, I had high hopes for finishing my novel, finding an agent and publisher, expanding my non-fiction business, and extending the reach of my myriad blogs, ezines and guest posts. All this while hanging on to the teaching job that pays the bills and provides my health insurance. The load of running a business was lessened when I started working with a small business outsourced HR company. If you decide to change careers, you should consider looking for a job you’re passionate about. For instance, if you’re fond of doing your nails, you may transform your passion into a career with nail courses you can take online.

So, you wonder, how’s it going? Where am I in my writing efforts? Truthfully, I find few things less interesting than yesterday’s dreams, except old stock market reports, but let’s do a run-down. The good news is, I’m about where I expected I’d be, a little ahead in places, behind in others, overall a constant state of uncivil war between my muses. I’ll run it down for you:

  • When I sent query letters out over the holiday season, I expected mixed reviews–some bad, some brutal. The fact that my husband loved the book I figured would have no relationship to its success. Much to my joy, I found an agent who likes the book as much as my mate. He sent me a boatload of edits for my 400+-page mss which I am working through. They were all spot on–only one did a have questions about. As I make the changes, I feel the story come to life. A few have been complicated–like rewrite the beginning. I had as much enthusiasm for reworking the opening five pages as I have for teaching in tight shoes. It required a chunk of cerebral energy (more time consuming than the physical stuff), but I’m through it now and I survived, not unbruised, but intact and happy with the changes. My goal is to have the edits done and back to him by mid-April. At that point, he’ll either send me more (pant pant) or we’re off to publishers. An interesting side note: My story (Twenty-four Days) is a military/techno thriller. Last week, there was a news headline that grabbed the gyst of my plot. If I were publishing next week, I’d be ‘ripped from the headlines’. Unfortunately, since I’m likely a year away, it’ll probably be old news by then.


  • I’m working on my next two non-fiction books–one on K-8 keyboarding and one on tech tips from the classroom (I know–reading technical books is like taking a cheese grater to your nerves, but hey, someone has to write them). I’ve put out sign-up lists on my blog for people interested in being notified when they’re ready. That approach has worked well for me in the past. My deadline with my publisher (a non-fiction textbook publisher) is mid-summer, in time for the new school year. I feel good about that date. They’ll be published as ebooks only, so much simpler than print.
  • Book sales of published books are OK–ahead of last year, but not by as much as I’d like. I’m working on marketing, but I’m a tad short on ideas. I’ve set up stores at Amazon, Google ebooks, Scribd. I’ve done the round of social networking, i.e. FB, G+, Twitter. I follow all the rules (comment on other people’s articles, reply to people who drop by my blogs, never let sleeping dogs take their nap). I’m actually considering some paid professional assistance, but have not been able to get to a comfort level with it. Anyone have good experiences to share?
  • One of my goals was to return to my favorite creative nonfiction theme, the paleo-history of man. I had planned to do that after finishing Twenty-four Days, but I may put it off. I have the prequel drafted out for that thriller. If I find a publisher who likes Twenty-four Days, he may be interested in the prequel. It’ll require at least all summer to pull together if not longer. My paleohistoric novel will then have to wait. I have tons of writing time over summer, but not enough for two full-length novels.
  • My blogs are going fine, but after all is said and done, a heck of a lot more has been said in my blogs than done. Their main purpose is to support my books and they are doing that. I continue to increase subscribers, though am far from where I need to be to find success. I know the likelihood of me becoming the next million-subscriber blogger is as likely as legalized marijuana. Well, I could move to San Francisco and up those chances…

Enough about me. How are YOU doing in reaching your goals?

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth, creator of two technology training books for middle school, and three ebooks on teaching tech to K-8. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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