Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flex Time

When I stop teaching, I’ll be trading a full-time job (teaching) and a part-time job (writing) plus a busy volunteer commitment with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for a full-time job (writing) and the same volunteer commitment. I’ll have more time for promotion of my books, including making school visits and going to book fairs both here and abroad.

You might think that I don’t need any more time. I get a week off at Thanksgiving and in the spring, a few weeks in the winter, and of course, four months in the summer.

The problem is that this schedule is inflexible. If I take a day off at some time than the scheduled breaks, whether for illness or because of a writing commitment, I have to scramble to find someone to cover for me, or adjust my syllabi so that my students aren't shortchanged. College professors don’t have a pool of substitutes to call on—there aren’t many people out there who can come in at a moment’s notice and teach a class in, say, Italian Composition—and we pack a lot into a semester, so it doesn’t take long to fall behind if I need to go to a conference or make a school visit.

I teach in a very cool building.
I'm grateful that my department chairs have, for the past few years, allowed me to arrange my classes so that I have one day off a week. This is great for local school visits, but it still makes travel to other states difficult, and weekend conferences and book fairs impossible, if I need to take a weekday for travel to wherever the event is being held.

Fortunately, some of these events take place after my semester has ended. In the last ten days of April, starting pretty much the second that classes end, I’ll be in four different states doing book fairs, conferences, and school visits!

A lot of associations have conferences and workshops where I could learn more about writing and promotion, and where I could potentially make a contribution of my own. So, what events are on my wish-list when I have the freedom to travel during the school year?

News flash: After I had compiled this list, Kristin Tubb sent me a link to a state-by-state listing of book fairs. She's also writing an article about them for BorderLines, the SCBWI-Midsouth newsletter.

Writer friends, what am I missing?


  1. Wishing you lots of fun and success when you get to follow your dream of traveling to these events. It sounds exciting!

  2. So glad you included Bologna, Italy -