Another fantastic blog to follow, and a wonderfully inspiring Monday post!
A short excerpt...We've talked about the long odds in this industry from time to time, bros and she-bros, and so I thought I'd use this Monday morning to 1.) give you a realistic idea of how difficult it is to get your work published, and 2.) relate an inspirational, true story of one man, his 100+ published short stories, and his, uh... 11,100 rejections.
Late addition to this post (2/24/2010) SLUSH PILE QUEEN from Publisher's Weekly. Another--keep persisting heart warmer.
Here's a excerpt...In all, I have sold books by more than 40 writers found among the unsolicited submissions, sales made to heavy hitters at major houses: Crown, Dell, Doubleday, Holt, NAL, Putnam, Random House, S&S, Scribner, St. Martin's, Viking, Wiley, and others. Some of these deals brought in hefty six-figure advances. Several were in the high five figures—and most books earned handsome royalties.
from the venerable Vermont College of Fine Arts' Journal Hunger Mountain
Our children are lucky to have poets like J. Patrick Lewis writing and, thank goodness, publishing poetry. Children's poetry DOES matter. As Lewis says:
Poetry is the tunnel at the end of the light; prose, bent out of shape; the idiom of djinns; the sound of silence…amplified. Poetry predates books, predates the alphabet, and once we graduated from humming, it was the first vehicle to bring music to our ears. What are nursery rhymes if not the irresistible echoes of the siren songs of ancient whimsy?
Few if any adults are capable of convincing a ten-year old that poetry can be as much fun as volleyball or video games. Nor should we try. Entertainments are not a zero-sum game. Why should my increasing love of soccer diminish by an equal amount my affection for verse? Both can intensify our feelings for the world and an appreciation of our places in it.
...The answer to the question posed in the title of this piece may not be immediately obvious but consider this: decades hence some erstwhile youth, faced like so many of us with incalculable stress or sorrow, might just be able to pull from that inconspicuous hideaway, the heart, a few remembered and redeeming lines of verse.
Perhaps that is when children’s poetry can matter most.
HOW TO MAKE POETRY MATTER....
Children rarely gravitate to poetry on their own. It’s an acquired taste. They must be introduced to it early and often by their teachers and parents, the critical influences in their lives. And not in the way Billy Collins has memorably described—and vilified—by tying poems to chairs and beating them senseless until they finally give up their meaning. We do not look to poetry to find answers or absolutes. Nor do we investigate verse with calipers and a light meter, though at least one benighted school of thought has tried.
For those who don't know, Pat is not only a prolific poet but he is one of the most sought after classroom guests. He has made over 400 school visits, with a busy schedule already booking up for 2010. On his website he writes, "Getting children excited about the wonders of poetry--experiencing literature--is the reason I visit schools in the first place. I can't think of anything more fun than sharing poetry with kids and talking about reading, writing, rewriting(!) and making books. "
And I am so glad I have a place to post a note he wrote on facebook, that many of probably did not get the chance to see....
"Jill, I don't envy the author/illustrator breaking into school visits for the first time. Everyone stumbles until they realize what works and what doesn't. For me the key is to spend a lot of time on interactive material. Kids want to participate, they don't want to be lectured to. So I read a lot of riddles, math poems, science poems and tell picture book stories that allow me to emote much like an actor or storyteller. For the wee ones I have them up and bouncing to jump rope rhymes. After you have done it as many times in as many schools (400) as I have, you know your audience. School visits then become second nature. I don't mean in any way that they become boring because every school is different. I LOVE K-5 kids! And I like to think, at the end of the day, that the feeling is more or less mutual. That is almost sure to happen if you convince your young audience that there is no other place on earth you would rather be than hanging out with them. So break a leg! Pat"
And now, for your reading pleasure.....
MRS. PRAYING MANTISBy J. Patrick Lewis
Mrs. Mantis catches bugs, Squashes them with mighty hugs, Squeezes spiders even tighter, Mixes them all up inside her.
Sad to say she isn’t through— She swallows Mr. Mantis too! After that she sits and stares, Folds her hands and says her prayers.
You wear them briefly, And in short, You wear them chiefly For support. Whoever met you Without a pair Would not forget you- You'd be bare!
And from Pat's newest poetry book SPOT THE PLOT: A RIDDLE BOOK OF BOOK RIDDLES, Chronicle Books, Lynn Munsinger, ill. The riddles in it all concern famous children's books.
Dear Mr. Farmer,
The letter we’re typing goes under GRIPING! This barn is too cold, not climate-controlled. If we have to shiver, we don’t deliver. No bedding, no butter. No blankets, no udder.
Stop the madness. End the battle.
Sincerely yours, The Cattle by J. Patrick Lewis
The Difference Academic exegeses Labor over which is which. Simple. Verse is quick and easy. Poetry's a bitch. by J.Patrick Lewis
J. Patrick Lewis has published 65 children’s poetry and picture books to date with Knopf, Atheneum, Dial, Harcourt, DK, Ink, Little, Brown, National Geographic, Chronicle Books, Scholastic, Candlewick and others. His poems have also appeared in Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Dalhousie Review, New Letters, Kansas Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review, Santa Barbara Review, Fine Madness, Sycamore Review, Light, and many others. His first book of adult poems, Gulls Hold Up the Sky, is forthcoming from Laughing Fire Press.
Betsy is as generous and warm as she is smart. Her blog, and the enormous effort she puts into it, is a gift to all of us. She did not start her blog for money or publicity, but as the Forbes' article says:
The length of Bird's posts are unusual, even by blogging standards, causing even her biggest fans to brand her a maniac. A recent entry ran 8,000 words, with 51 images, 60 links and 11 videos. And that was just the first of a 19-part series. Bird says she only has time to blog four to five hours a night, given her full-time job as children's librarian at the New York Public Library. Those late hours have paid off. So far, she has parlayed her blog's popularity into four book deals and a recent appointment to the Newbery Prize Committee, dispensers of the Pulitzers of kidlit.
Bird launched her blog on blogspot in 2006 with the curious title of Fuse #8, named after a faulty car part. "The fuse that turned my car into Linda Blair," says Bird. Two years later her blog was discovered by staffers at School Library Journal, owned by Reed, who offered her $500 per month and a small cut of ad revenue to move the site to SLJ.
Thank you, Betsy! You and your amazing spirit are one of the elements that make the kidlit biz a great place to live and work. You Go, Girl and may many more amazing opportunities and book deals come your way. All well deserved.
Are you writing boy characters? Do your tough, jock boys sound like they are wearing skirts? Your nerds sound like they would rather do their nails than play video games? Your sensitive guys sound like they will break down in tears at any minute?
Oh, and if you want to know how to create a great web presence, Michael and Ben are again your men. CLICK on their names above to see Micheal's smart, fun and professional site for his SIMON BLOOM books/to be movie and to see Ben's uber-popular Video Game that he created for his YA book SOPHOMORE UNDERCOVER
JILL CORCORAN is a children’s book agent with Herman Agency. Her current interests include: high concept Young Adult and Middle Grade Thrillers, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Comedies, and Adventure manuscripts.