Monday, July 6, 2009

Fouling Out Makes the List for Best Books for Kids & Teens 2009

I got a letter from my publisher last week, informing me that Fouling Out is included in The Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids & Teens 2009. According to the Centre, the criteria for inclusion is as follows: "excellence in writing and illustration; quality of production and design; relevance of subject matter; and entertainment and enrichment value." The publication is for purchase and you can go to Centre's site for more information. As so many outstanding children's books are coming from Canadian publishers, I am honoured to have my first novel receive recognition.

In other news, today is my first day of my yearlong sabbatical to pursue writing more seriously as a craft. You can follow my experiences on my new blog, Day Job Gone--It's Time to Write! Click on the link in the top right corner of this site.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How can you be a writer when you're a school principal?

How can anyone be a writer when working full-time at any other occupation? Sadly, that is the reality for most authors. Very few make enough money to quit their day jobs.

When I get that question, it sometimes comes with bit of a sting. It's as if principals are rule enforcers, stuffy folks with ties tightly wound around their necks. (Okay, I do admit to some discomfort whenever I must do up the top button and sport a tie. I imagine ties were invented by the wife of the man who invented girdles.)

Before becoming a principal, I worked as a teacher. I became a teacher because I loved marking papers. Just kidding. I chose the teaching profession because I love working with kids. It is still a treat to create lessons and work them out in the real world of a classroom. Teachers (and principals) can be some of the most creative folks on the planet. They just need to make sure the paperwork doesn't overwhelm them!

I must admit that, after a day at school, I do not feel the energy or the creative spark to write. I have read about authors who schedule in the time to write each day and stick to this commitment. I, however, am not one of those people. Yes, I could sit in my home office and write for the sake of writing. Maybe after an hour I'd have a sentence or two I could salvage, but more likely I'd have a pile of mush that begs for the delete button.

Everyone has his or her own style. I write when I am motivated, just itching to explore some ideas. I am most refreshed and motivated during summer, winter break and spring break. Beginning this summer, I am taking a year's leave of absence from being a principal. I will get to experience a full year of being a full-time writer. No more excuses about fatigue. No more distractions (other than my two schnauzers). Of course, I'll have to live a simple life given that I won't have a steady income. The idea makes me nervous--and excited about the opportunity!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ask the Author

Every occupation or pastime generates common questions. It's not that our curiosity has limits; rather, certain queries get the conversation started. Sadly, we often don't have enough time for deeper discussions. I shall devote the next blog entries to some of the questions people ask when they discover I have a book in publication or, better yet, after they read Fouling Out.

Some of the questions I will answer include:
  • How can you be a writer when you're a school principal?
  • Are you more like Tom or Craig?
  • Are the characters in Fouling Out based on real people you know/knew?
  • Do you really think the responses of the two mothers are realistic?
  • Is there going to be a sequel?
  • Are you writing anything else?
  • How rich are you now?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Seeking Student Feedback

I received an email today from a teacher I'd worked with at Ferris Elementary in Richmond. She informed me that Fouling Out is one of six titles on a Readers' Choice list for students at the school. I am pleased and honored to hear the news! (I am also a little worried about what the other books might be nominated. Oh, I hope I'm not up against works by J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer and Darren Shan! I'm not worthy!) It is particularly special to know that students at Ferris are reading the book since I began writing the book during Spring Break in 1998 while I was a teacher at the school.

Since I am a school principal elsewhere in British Columbia, I don't have enough opportunities for school visits to hear about student reactions to Fouling Out. I would be thrilled to have students post questions and comments on this blog. I will answer as promptly as possible.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Twit on Twitter

This week I listened to a podcast interview of author Neil Gaiman on Just One More Book. The interview focused on Gaiman's use of blogs and twitter to heighten his profile among readers. Although I have a few blogs, I have never explored twitter. With the podcast still in mind, I created a twitter account for Gregory Walters. (I had to go with the obvious. Why make things obscure when you are trying to be noticed?)

Who knows if I will maintain the twitter profile?! I have already reached a stumbling block in that all the photos of myself take up too much memory to be successfully downloaded. Yet again, I am perplexed my technology--this time the obstacle involves my digital camera and twitter. Why is it that I can download the same photos to my blog, but not to twitter?

I suppose the answer has something to do with the fact that everything is smaller on twitter. Wordy guy that I am, it seems trivial to post one-sentence remarks for browsers. "I am cutting my toenails." "I successfully cut a slice of bread and left all fingers intact." Hmm, this might be amusing after all!

Neil Gaiman has +17,000 followers on twitter. How about me? Anybody? Anybody?