Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Sweet Reception of Rejection

So it is official! I have heard back from two publishing houses thus far (David Fickling Books and Boyds Mills Press). Drum roll please.....both form rejections! If it seems like I am excited, it is because I am. Is it a bummer to be rejected? Sort of. But in all honesty, it just feels good to know that my work is being read by editors, even if its not their cup of tea.  I am actually proud of myself for getting my stuff out there.

And, besides, there's still hope. I still have 9 more publishers to hear from. If I would have started this process a few years ago, I probably would have been a bit more sad with these form rejections. Fortunately, I found Jane Yolen's website where she keeps a loose journal of her happenings.  If you do not know much about Jane Yolen, I can tell you that she is amazing. She has over 300 books published to her name, and has been called the Hans Christian Anderson of the USA. I really enjoy reading the things she posts because I think it's great insight into the normal life of a great writer. Something that really struck me is how often she receives rejections on books and proposals. After awhile I came to realize that rejection is just part of the game that helps develop thick skin. And I can always use thicker skin.

So bring on those rejections!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Power of a Public Library

I was incredibly blessed to have grown up in a town that had a fantastic public library. I remember when we moved to Venice, Florida: I was going into 4th grade and The Pagemaster had come out the Thanksgiving before. We drove past the library for the first time on our way to check out the school that summer. My faced was plastered against the back window as I drooled. "Its just like the library from The Pagemaster!" I thought. Of course, looking at it now, the Venice public library doesn't physically look like the one in the movie, but, to my 10-year-old eyes and heart, it might as well have been.

I vowed right then and there to read every single book on the shelves. And, boy, did I try! Once school began, I would take the long way home just so I could ride my bike past its large windows. Yeah, I was that kind of kid. Books were my refuge.

During the summer, the children's wing had the best programs and my sister and I would attend most afternoons.I would check out three or four books every week and finish them by the following Monday. If I only had time to read like that now! I am extremely grateful for the children's librarians that were always so helpful and patient with me and who worked so diligently on the summer programs and the general upkeep of the children's wing.

Fast forward 18 years and now I am married with a small child of my own. We've lived in a few cities since Venice, and all of their libraries have not lived up to my childhood standard--until now. We live in Provo, UT  and I finally feel that I have found a place with the same amount of wonder and magic as my childhood library. The librarians are fantastic, the children's wing is amazing and they even have a great summer program for the kids.

What's even greater, however, about the Provo public library is their Authorlink programs. I do not know if it is because we have so many local authors, but the library does a fantastic job of bringing in some great authors and illustrators. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear Brandon Mull and Lisa McMann speak. I've also heard Scott Westerfeld and Brandon Sanderson. Next week, they are hosting Lois Lowry! I mean, come on--does it get any better than Lois Lowry? Later in the month, they will host the Teen Book Fest where there will be a few more authors and there's always the children's book fest where children's authors and illustrators come to talk to the kids.

I guess the whole point of this library-rambling is to point out how influential a public library can be. Books carry so much power to the reader. But sometimes families cannot afford to buy their kids every book that comes on the market. Or maybe there are kids that need a safe place to go and explore during the summer. In steps the mighty library! Libraries can become so much more than a building full of metal shelves and books. They are places where children and adults alike can be swept away to wonderful places. Libraries can be where kids learn to love reading and learning. They can be a a refuge from more than just the summer heat.

For me, libraries are where magic and reality meet, mingle and share a cup of tea. And for that I am grateful.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Facing the Fear of Rejection

Well, I finally did it. After prodding and poking my Sam the Bedlamite manuscript, I decided it was time to get it out there. By "out there" I mean submitting it to the publishers, 12 in total. I researched a bunch about all the publishing houses, and I hope that at least one of the 12 is a good fit for my little picture book. But I'll have to wait and see. This is my first time around the block, after all. I've decided to pretty much forget that I sent it off, and then be surprised and excited to hear back, if that happens.

So far, the whole forgetting that I send the book out is going pretty well. But that may be that it has only be a few short weeks. I mean, I know that the envelope needs to get to the publisher (3-5 days), get sorted (another 3-5) and then sit on the slush pile for who knows how long. So yeah, its pretty easy to stay cool about it right now. Ask me how many times I am checking the mail box each day in about 3 months.

Surprisingly, I feel a greater desire to get my butt in the chair to write now that I have a story floating in (and hopefully to the top of) the slush piles. I guess finally facing the fear and anxiety of rejection has made it a little easier to start getting my other not-so-perfect stories out. Don't get me wrong--I'm not looking forward to being rejected--and rejected I will be--but at least I'm giving myself the change to be rejected. Three cheers for fear facing!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

That Gut-wrenching Feeling...

Well, here it is 3:23 AM and I feel like that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach has finally eased just a little bit.

Back in May of 2011, I finally typed up my first draft of a picture book named Sam the Bedlamite. It felt good to finally get it out on paper, and I have done 6 different drafts of my little 750 word story. The last revision I finished back in November.

The next step seemed like the largest, most daunting part of all: the dreaded query letter! I read somewhere that perhaps one of the reasons that agents/publishers require them is because it deters so many would-be writers from submitting, thus decreasing their slush pile. After having struggled for the last 10 months with how to even begin to write one, I completely agree with this statement.

My little query letter isn't very long, but the weight that it potentially carries is huge! I know I'll have to go back in a revise it a few times, at a more reasonable hour, but the worst part is over! I can start to move on in the submitting process. Hooray for me.