Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Summer Break? Well....

What did you do this summer? Did you take a break from writing? Continue to write while you were on vacation? Change your writing habits at all?

- Frank

I don't take summers off but I do scale back slightly. My wife is a teacher, and so I like to free up more time during the summer to spend it with her. I accomplish this by putting my podcast Wrong Place, Write Crime on hiatus/season break from mid-June to mid-September, and by trying to commit to fewer projects during this time frame.

It doesn't always happen quite as planned. For instance, I've been working on the second season of A Grifter's Song this summer. As the editor for the series, that means coordinating and then editing five related novellas. The writers were great to work with, but it did take some time. After those five were done, I had to get busy writing number six and six-point-five (the bonus, subscriber only episode). Season two doesn't begin until January 2020, but these things have a lead time, as you know.

I also geared up for a dark comedy/mystery with one of my co-authors, though competing projects and summertime mode has resulted in this moving in fits and starts.

Luckily, another project (the third book in the Charlie-316 series with Colin Conway) reached finished first draft stage in May and has been sitting in the digital drawer and getting beta-read over the summer. 
Colin and I preparing to read
at Noir at the Bar Seattle

This has been the summer that I really looked at and modified my approach to marketing and connecting with readers. As any author (or business person) knows, this often requires a great deal of time and concentration. I've really focused on making that one-to-one connection via my newsletter, and it's been satisfying.

I made it to the Seattle Noir at the Bar event in July, along with my co-author Colin. 

I signed a contract with an illustrator and we got started on the pre-school age books in my Sam the Hockey Player series (written under Frank Scalise). Pretty excited to see this project rolling.

All the while, my next River City novel, Place of Wrath and Tears, has waited patiently, not completely finished, despite a 2019 release date. 

Believe it or not, this still represents easing off the throttle for me these days, in terms of writing and writing-related activity. Not bragging - I'm a full time writer now, so there's more time available to dedicate to the work.

But the question was about summer. And on the personal front, we did some fun things. I played co-ed softball for the first time in more than fifteen years. I found out how rusty I was, and got an education on the state of these aging knees, but it was fun.

Kristi with her cider and I
with a Guiness...
Kristi and I went to Ireland for almost two weeks. It was grand. Beautiful countryside, wonderful people, delicious Guiness.

Oh, and we got back into the gym after a long hiatus. Talk about initially painful! But it's been fun to work out together and to slowly see some results. 
Linus (l) and Malcom (r)

I spent some time with children and grand-children, the latter of which are empirically proven to be the cutest human beings on this planet.

Oh, and we took the dogs to the ocean for the first time.  They dug it. 

Wiley (black) and Richie (red)
Discovering the Pacific at age ten.

We didn't get in the kind of kayaking we would have liked (I could post a pic of the kayaks on the rack, untouched) but we did bicycle a fair amount. Kristi's bike has an old school bell on it that makes me smile every time she dings it.

Speaking of Kristi, she knocked out the home improvement project she was striving for (kitchen remodel), and I got to enjoy the finished product (one guess at who the handy one is in this marriage).

All in all, it was a good summer. I made progress on the writing-related front but still took the opportunity to hang out with Kristi during her time off.

With school back in session, I'll bring the podcast back online, and focus even more on my writerly to-do list. As fun as it can be to ease off the gas a little, it is just as gratifying to get things done and enjoy the accomplishment of finishing them.


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Paul D. Marks said...

As you say, Frank, "It doesn't always happen quite as planned," or the best laid plans of mice and men... But it does sound like you had a pretty good summer, especially that trip to Ireland.

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