Tomorrow, Monday, January 9, I begin a new teaching job in a local rural district, and I am really happy and excited to be working with kids in-person again. I most recently taught in a virtual school program after leaving another district in late October. Thank you to my family and friends for their love and encouragement over the past semester.
AND, Tuesday, January 10, my latest YA novel, Find the Moon, releases! The book has been getting great reviews and even garnered a blurb from my literary hero, Chris Crutcher! Thank you to everyone who has supported Find the Moon’s launch!
I was walking my dogs this morning and the moon was still visible. Every time I look up to the moon, I think of Kylie, the protagonist of Find the Moon, telling her little sister to look to the moon every time she misses her, and of Kylie’s grandpa, Papa, encouraging her to look to the celestial bodies to see the answers held there.
It took a long time for me to to get to the starting line again. Sometimes I raced toward it. Other times I trudged. But I never lost the certainty that I could find it, even though I have no sense of direction, could get lost in a paper bag, and when I go somewhere new, if I don’t instinctively go the wrong way at least once, I feel as if I really haven’t been anywhere. Although it hasn’t been that long since I was in the classroom, leaving a well-paying but eviscerating experience for a virtual classroom and finding that I missed the personal interaction with students (so absent in my virtual teaching position) was revealing to me, because I had assumed that I was ready for retirement. I’m not ready, for a variety of reasons, including a thirst for people-connections, a need for a more substantial income, an awareness that I have skills and expertise that should not go to waste, and an awareness that I function best in a structured situation.
It took a long time to find a home for Find the Moon. When I completed the novel and searched for an agent, I found one, but publishers were not interested. Then my agent left agenting, I began an agent search again, and agents were not interested. So I reached out to an independent publisher in Texas, and it was the best move I could have made, because Progressive Rising Phoenix Press WAS interested, and they are incredibly supportive and share my belief in this book. Find the Moon is the most difficult novel I have ever written, as it is the least autobiographical in nature. I don’t have a close sibling-connection such as Kylie has with Aliza, and their relationship is the heart of the story. I experimented with a different writing style, one that communicates urgency and tautness and longing, and readers are “getting” what I was trying to do. I have yet to write a novel with a mother who can be counted on to do her damn job, but I’m trying to write one with my work-in-progress.
Here’s to new beginnings in 2023. May I never forget what it’s like to start over, may I never forget the feeling that it’s okay when new beginnings are needed, and may I work harder to recognize that others have a story of their own (the community around a school; agents; publishers. . .) and that rejection, even when it feels so personal to me, is about where they are in their lives, not where I am in mine. And, if all else fails, I will look to the Heavens and see what answers they have to offer.