Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter Break is Coming

Yes, we teachers look forward to breaks as much as our students. Before you non-educators turn away or become envious of our breaks, let me defend it ever so briefly. First, I teach year-round, including summers. We get a brief break at the end of summer, spring break, and winter break. I will never be able to request time off for a cheap cruise in February or experience a different part of the country during the fall until I retire. Also, when your job is to teach/mentor/lead hundreds of young people (I had nearly 150 students this semester), one needs some mental decompression to be able to do it all over again. It’s not manual labor, but it is a very mentally challenging and exhausting experience.

Anyway, enough of that… winter break is coming! And with all of my breaks, I like to make a to-do list or bucket list of sorts. I love reading such lists from others too. So if you have some time off this holiday season and have some pretty cool things you hope to do, comment and let me know. It’s amazing how one’s goals can inspire someone else to reach similar goals. Some of mine are silly—the geek and relaxation time I need, and some are serious—my teaching and my writing, for example.

Here’s a nice quick and condensed to-do list that I will be adding to and revising throughout break. Because this blog restarted due to my writing goals, I’m going to share a little more about my current writing goals and status below the to-do list for anyone who is interested.

-         Play and beat an old NES game (Legend of Zelda?)

Play and maybe beat a new(ish) game (The Last of Us?)

Re-read an old favorite book

Read at least ten new books

Catch up on all movies I wanted to see in 2014

Plan a Turbo Kick/P90X Christmas party (glow sticks for Turbo workout!)

Re-watch my favorite episodes of The Newsroom, Breaking Bad, and House of Cards

Watch Christmas episodes of old favorites like Quantum Leap and MacGyver

Go for a long walk through the nearby cemetery after a good snowfall

Go sledding

Have a snowball fight

Build an alien-looking snowman or some kind of creepy snowman (Boy, it better snow sometime this winter break!)

Find an agent for my book

Have someone(s) new read and critique my query & parts or all of manuscript

Try new fitness classes and take a break from my own for one week

Improve strategy and organization for Cougar Karate

Complete a day by day outline of amazing and motivational activities for public speaking

Revise intercultural communication to align with new text book

Get out of town for at least one day

Organize all closets and cabinets

Begin writing book #2 (it’s already been outlined!)

Revise short stories I’ve written and saved that are over ten years old (publish to blog?)

Dinner or visits with family and friends I don’t see very often

And of course it goes without saying I hope to have lots of Christmas and New Year’s activities with friends and family

What would you add? What unique things would you like to do? I’d like this list to be dynamic and am open to ideas and inspiration!

And because I can ramble on and on, here’s some elaboration on a few of the above for anyone who is interested.


My biggest goal is to find an agent. I’ve revised and revised and revised a book I’m super proud of and I’m finally fishing for a good agent who can help me to take it to the next step. I don’t want to self-publish (no offense to those who do). I’m shooting for the stars here. But I’m not sending it to hundreds of people. That’s the difficult choice here. I’m researching hours a day reading bios and client lists and trying to find THE ONE. The one needs to be someone who loves thrillers, young adult stories, horror, pop culture, and nostalgia. It would be helpful to have an interest in the education system and teaching too, as I have a few good insights there. It would help if you love Stephen King (especially early King) and Ernest Cline. And it sure helps if you love to read the kind of stories that make you double check that your door is locked at night. Anyone out there? I’ve got quite the story for you.

So goal one: find THE ONE agent who sees as much joy and value in my story as I do. He or she is out there. It’s a big world, and so many agencies are very straight forward about how difficult it is if you don’t have big publishing credentials. I’ve got maybe 20 magazine articles—that I was paid for—on my “this is how I earned money writing” list. But that ain’t nothing when it comes to a book.

Speaking of which: Do I have any friends out there who would read my query and perhaps the first 30 pages? I haven’t posted much on Facebook about it. This blog is more for those who go out of their way to read it without me always posting on Facebook that I have a new post. (FYI: I do post it on Twitter, but that’s for the goal of connecting with others around the world with similar interests- We can learn so much from others.)

If you’d be willing to give me some honest feedback and are a good friend I can trust, let me know. It helps to have a few pairs of eyes. (And of course if you want to read the whole thing, we can talk about that too!)

So… what are your winter break goals?

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