Whenever I mention to my friends that I'm counting the days until I'm retired, they make funny faces and say, "You already retired once," like they've proven (to their own satisfaction at least) that I can't possibly mean it.
It's true I did retire once.Well, sort of. It was before I wrote Life As We Knew It. My career had been in one of its traditional downturns, and I figured rather than saying, "I can't sell another book so why bother trying," I said, "I'm retired."
Only then I wrote Life As We Knew It, followed by The Dead And The Gone, followed by This World We Live In, followed by Blood Wounds, followed by The Shade Of The Moon. Now that I think about it, there might have been a couple of other manuscripts in there that nobody wanted, and of course it took more than one try to write This World We Live In and The Shade Of The Moon. So I've worked a lot in the 8 or so years since I announced I was retired.
The difference this time...Well, there are a lot of differences this time. The big one is I'm 8 years older, and thus 8 years closer to Social Security, and I have nice little royalty checks coming in (I got one this week for $39.68 for the Chinese version of This World We Live In, and that will definitely cover the cost of something that's $37.00 or lower plus sales tax). And while I'm perfectly willing to believe I still can't sell another book, I don't feel any pressure to prove myself wrong.
My mother, by the way, doesn't express any skepticism about my retiring. She simply asks, "What are you going to do?" which is a fine question and if I ever figure out the answer, she'll be the first to know.
Earlier this week, I had my last school visit. I've been visiting schools for about 40 years now. I've never been one of those writers who visits schools all the time, and there have probably been years when I haven't visited any. But it's always been a part of my career. Some of the visits have been great fun and some have been duds or worse.
I'm delighted that my last school visit (or at least the last one I know of- I will gladly accept any invitations to Hawaii or Paris) was so much fun. The school was amazing- The Academy Of Aerospace and Engineering. If you mosey on over to their website and check their summer reading, you'll see they had their sixth graders read Life As We Knew It, and their seventh graders read The Dead And The Gone and their eighth graders read This World We Live In.
In other words, this is the greatest school that ever existed.
Of course there was that teeny tiny issue that the students were all a lot smarter than me. After I'd spoken to all three grades, I was introduced to a few from each grade, who explained their projects (they each had to solve a problem I created in one of the books).
The only problem with their problem solving was if I'd been smart enough to think of what they did, there wouldn't have been any problems in my books for Miranda and Alex to deal with. So it's all for the best I'm not as smart as the students, because otherwise I wouldn't be getting royalty checks for $39.68 (actually, that was about a year's worth of royalties before I wrote Life As We Knew It, which is why it's a darn good thing I unretired when I did).
I really had a terrific time at the Academy, and it will be a wonderful last school visit for me.
Saturday I'm participating in the Warwick Children's Book Festival. Warwick is about 20 minutes from where I live, so it should be easy enough for me to get to. If any of you are in the neighborhood, drop by and say hello.
I should be pretty easy to spot. I'll be the writer trying to decide how best to spend $39.68!