Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blog Tour: This Thing Called the Future - J.L. Powers - When I'm Not Writing

J.L. Powers is here today with a When I'm Not Writing post courtesy of the Teen Book Scene blog tour for her new release, This Thing Called the Future. Thank you for being here today, J.L.! You can follow along with the tour here, or by clicking through the banner. Enjoy!
What I Do When I’m Not Writing
By J.L. Powers

Okay, if you had asked me a year ago to write about what I do when I’m not writing, I would have had to admit that when I wasn’t writing, I was—uh—writing.

That might mean I was providing written feedback on my students’ writing. Or providing written feedback on some other writer’s novel. I held a monthly writing club for teens at the local library. I taught a writing class to elementary school kids in my home. I spent up to twelve hours a day in front of my computer writing. And I used the weekends to catch up…with all the writing I didn’t get to during the week!

Of course, I have always been a big reader, too. Because how else was I going to become a better writer if I didn’t read?

“Put down your nerd tool,” my husband would tell me whenever he saw me devouring yet another book. Not that he doesn’t like reading. He does. He’s an English teacher, for God’s sake. But he knows that I’ve always been a little obsessive about my writing career. And reading for me is part of my job as a writer. A job that has been 24-7 for as long as I can remember.

Okay, I’m kidding. Sort of.

Besides writing, I’ve always travelled a lot. But that also had to do with writing. I travelled to promote myself as a writer, to do research for my books (for example, I planned three extensive research trips to South Africa for my latest novel, where I spent months hanging out with people, just trying to nail down my understanding of South African culture), and, yes, sometimes just to have fun.

The time I used to devote to my writing has all but disappeared since last September. In the title of the book written about my life, it would probably read, How J.L. Powers Got Knocked Up, Had a Baby, and Got a Life.

Emails make up the majority of my writing these days, though I try to carve out a few hours a week for the y.a. psychothriller I’m currently writing.

Instead, I’m doing a lot of fun things with my baby. We read books. We go for walks. We tickle each other. We play monster on the floor. We go to storytime at the library. We go swimming. We get our faces painted. We go to the park and hang out with other moms and their kids. Last week, I used special styling gel for curls in his hair to see what he would look like with extra curly hair. (He looked pretty crazy). We mess with the dogs. We go outside to say hi to the neighbors. We go to the mall and smile at strangers and play with the mall toys. We play “music” on the piano. (Okay, we bang on the keyboard a lot.) We bang on the African drum in our living room.

So that is what I’m doing these days, now that I’m not spending all my time writing.

I have always hoped I would be one of these people who have “balance.” I’ve always thought it would be ideal to write a few hours a day and spend the rest of the time living life, having other interests. But I don’t really know how to have balance. I do everything with gusto and I do it to the extreme. So right now, most of my life is being a mom…

But in a few years, I hope that I will have found balance between being a mom, being a writer, and pursuing other interests. Those interests include photography, playing the piano, traveling, and volunteer work.

For now, though, I’m just enjoying my son.

Awesome post, J.L.! Thank you for being here today!

J.L. Powers can be found on her website, on her blog, and on twitter


Khosi lives with her beloved grandmother Gogo, her little sister Zi, and her weekend mother in a matchbox house on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In that shantytown, it seems like somebody is dying all the time. Billboards everywhere warn of the disease of the day. Her Gogo goes to a traditional healer when there is trouble, but her mother, who works in another city and is wasting away before their eyes, refuses even to go to the doctor. She is afraid and Khosi doesn't know what it is that makes the blood come up from her choking lungs. Witchcraft? A curse? AIDS? Can Khosi take her to the doctor? Gogo asks. No, says Mama, Khosi must stay in school. Only education will save Khosi and Zi from the poverty and ignorance of the old Zulu ways.

School, though, is not bad. There is a boy her own age there, Little Man Ncobo, and she loves the color of his skin, so much darker than her own, and his blue-black lips, but he mocks her when a witch's curse, her mother's wasting sorrow, and a neighbor's accusations send her and Gogo scrambling off to the sangoma's hut in search of a healing potion.

J.L. Powers holds an MA in African history from State University of New York-Albany and Stanford University. She won a Fulbright-Hays grant to study Zulu in South Africa, and served as a visiting scholar in Stanford's African Studies Department. This is her second novel for young adults.
Synopsis taken from goodreads.

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