Friday, May 28, 2021

The Other Side of the Rainbow--Patience, etc in the Publishing World

In our recent series about the three P's--Patience, Persistence and Perseverance--my fellow TA's have talked about them in the writing process. I'm going to a different area of the writer's world--publication--where the Three P's are every bit as essential to survival.

 By nature, I am not patient, persistent or persevering. However, I told myself that if I just kept practicing those virtues, I would some day be a published author. It took twenty years of consistent effort (and an MFA from Vermont College) but I finally sold my first book. Yay! 

May 2000, talking to my editor

Now I had an editor and a publisher. Smooth sailing from here on out, right? Wrong!

When I sold my first book in 2000, I had certain romantic notions of publishing, mainly about editors.  I had read the biography of Max Perkins, the legendary editor of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Wolfe and every other major American writer of the 1920's-40's. In general,I thought editors were Herculean beings like Mr. Perkins. Perkins was not just an editor, he was a "writer wrangler." He carved books from the massive manuscripts Wolfe presented him. He served as a surrogate father to Hemingway, whose gigantic ego masked deep insecurity. He never lost faith in Fitzgerald, no matter how chaotic that writer's life became. Unsurprisingly, I decided that editors were equal parts loving parents and literary magicians.

My editors have all been lovely, creative, intelligent people, who managed to find in my manuscripts insights I never suspected. But gone are the days of signing on with an editor for life (or at least until one of you becomes disenchanted.) With one exception, not one of my acquiring editors was around for the actual publication of the book. Some of my books have had as many as four editors shepherding it through the various stages of publication.

How did this happen? I might've taken it personally, but I realized that editor is a young person's job. There are still a few old school editors who spend their careers with one company they, but VERY few. A "newbie" editor (like mine) work punishing hours, and if they aren't asleep, they are reading. They job hop, from publisher to publisher. Some of them flame out and go into another line of work. One went to rehab. Some become agents. And some of them do things that don't allow for reading twenty hours a day. Like get married, have kids. Things like that.

Why am I going on about editors? Because the constant turnover in editors requires great amounts of the 3 "P's". Patience when your book is "orphaned" by the acquiring editor, and you wait to hear from the new editor, who has been "assigned" your book. Persistence in asking for updates on publication, as your book is pushed back from one year to the next. Perseverance as you ask...and ask...and ask again if an illustrator has been found for your picture book. And patience again as you learn where your book has landed on the illustrator's calendar. 

For example, I was beyond thrilled when the fabulous illustrator E.B. Lewis agreed to do my first picture book. SO thrilled...that I never thought to ask WHEN it would be published. My editor left for another house right after the final copy edits, so I not only didn't know when...I didn't know WHO to ask. A year later, I learned through a conversation with an agent, that Mr. Lewis had projects lined up for years...and that it would be at least five years before my book rose to the top of this schedule. Actually, it was four years... and well worth the wait!

Currently, I am dealing with THE longest wait of my writing life. I banged out a book in 2010. Sold it within 3 weeks. A new record for me! Yay! Did the edits, go paid my partial royalty (the rest to come at publication) all within six months. "I'm getting the hang of this writing thing," I thought. 

And then...nothing. 2011. I write my editor and learn she has gotten married and quit the biz. 2012. 2013. I am reassigned to an editor. 2014. New editor says they have a hot prospect for an illustrator. 2015. Illustrator thinks about the book...and decides it's not for her. 2016. I ask the publisher if they still plan to publish my book. The same in 2017, 2018 and 2019. At the end of 2019, I am on the verge of mailing back my royalty and asking to reclaim the interim editor writes me that I've been assigned to a NEW editor. right out of school who turns out to be younger than my daughter. We get together and talk. All goes well. New editor has some good new ideas. I incorporate them into the manuscript. New Editor has a hot prospect for an illustrator. (Hmm...where have I heard that before?) I turn in the final edits, March 6, 2020. It was a Friday.  The following Friday, the President announced a national emergency due to COVID-19. We all know what happened after that.

A year passes. In February, I hear from my editor again. Like everyone else, editor has been working from home. Good news...the illustrator is starting work on my book. Um...OK. I thought she had ALREADY started. So that means....yep...the publication date, which was supposed to be Fall 2021, is now Fall 2022. In other words, everything that could possibly happen to this book...has happened. I'm just happy that in the past 10 years this manuscript has stayed alive through multiple editors, illustrators...and national emergency. 

Even Max Perkins could not have done more  in a time of  pandemic.

Have a great summer everybody! Go out and chew some clover!

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

Friday, May 21, 2021

Write! Write! Write!

This time around, my fellow TeachingAuthors and I share the myriad 

of ways we keep keepin’ on.

Zeena and Joann underscored the importance of Patience, Persistence 

and Perseverance.

Each of these abilities could be my middle name. 😊

Indeed, upon the sale of my first picture book, I proudly declared 

myself The Susan Lucci of Children’s Books.

My “Rx for Moving Forward (Upright and Satisfied)" is but one 

of my many posts meant to keep writers writing.

Except for the reference to The Oprah Show, all references and 

resources remains true today.

I’m all about Writer Resources – for my students, my writers, myself 

and our Readers. Today I share three, to keep you – and/or your 

students -  keepin’ on.  

Remember: the name of the game is WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Young Writers will certainly delight in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s 

collection of poems - appropriately titled Write! Write! Write! 

(Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane, 2020), though truly writers of all 

ages will also find the fare delicious.  The twenty-two poems take 

“the new writer just learning how” through the ins and outs and ups 

and downs of any writer’s life and process.  Think: ideas (growing 

like peaches), patience, revision, edits and more. The writer’s 

first discovered “WOW!’ in time translates to POWER, and isn’t that 

grand? Ryan O’Rourke’s illustrations capture the wonder of it all.

“WRITE. RIGHT. RITE.”– a “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story” video 

series, gifts Young Writers with a whole lot of fun-filled ways 

to engage with Jason Reynolds, the 2020-2021 National Ambassador 

of Young People’s Literature. The series aims to teach 

“authentic” - not “correct” or “exact” – expression.  In each 

video, the award-winning author and singular storyteller first 

tells a story in his own inimitable style, then offers a prompt 

to keep writers writing, always making sure to brainstorm 

“get-you-going” questions.  Imagine a new writing device. Create 

a bobble head. Take an imaginary road trip. Write the first line 

of a story. Thirty in all, ending with Create an award for 


And, every writer needs to sit down with a cup o’ Something, then 

click here to watch and listen to Jason grab the mic himself and 

present the 2021 Zena Sutherland Lecture. Lots of WOW! and lots 

of POWER! as Jason shares an unforgettable story about his father, 

brilliantly linking its greater meaning to how we need to keep all 

children readingreadingreading, and thus writingwritingwriting. 

FYI: Maurice Sendak presented the very first Zena Sutherland 

Lecture in 1981.  In the video, The Horn Book editor Roger Sutton 

shares more about this most distinguished, life-changing professor 

and review editor in whose name these lectures are given. The Fall 

issue of The Horn Book will reprint Jason’s Lecture.

Finally, Christie at Wondering and Wandering hosts a special and 

surprise Poetry Friday today, celebrating Mary Lee Hahn and her 

37 years of teaching – and growing – writers and poets. You can 

participate by contributing a poem to honor Mary Lee at 

#PoemsforMaryLee and #MarvelousMaryLee.

The last lines of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Anything Can Grow” 

from Write! Write! Write! seem more than appropriate for Mary Lee.

     “I can turn day into night,

      I can do this when I write

      with my hand in black on white.

      Anything can grow.”

Mary Lee Hahn.  Yet one more Writer Resource to keep us keepin’ on!

Happy Resourcing!

Esther Hershenhorn


Friday, May 14, 2021

Three Ps in Spring and in Writing

Happy Poetry Friday! I'm back with another guest post in our series about patience, persistence, and perseverance. Zeena started the series with a look at how these traits apply to children. Now that spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin, I’m spending as much time as I can outside. Today’s post is an amalgamation of observations from walking and gardening, along with some thoughts about writing.

When I think of persistence, I remember my mother saying, "Try, try again."

chomping and building
beavers establish their world
tree by tree by tree

Writers build worlds and revise manuscripts one page at a time. Those pages add up! I've found over the years that I feel better when I write at least a little something every day. I  miss it when I don't.

I think of perseverance as persistence against an obstacle. Tenacity is required. Success includes a sense of triumph.

stuck in a tough spot
between maybe and no way
maple branches out

Finishing a polished draft requires perseverance. For me, teamwork is often involved. The obstacles to publishing are more easily overcome with trusted writing companions at my side, providing support and feedback.

Patience might be required while waiting for sprouts—or new ideas to appear.

plant a seed and wait
water but don't look too soon
magic is sprouting

Over the years, I've learned that the best way to wait is to keep myself occupied with another project. In my last post, I mentioned that Grow evolved over many years. Each time I put it aside or waited for feedback, I tried to find or start another manuscript to work on. 

The best techniques are the ones that work for you. Good luck!

Irene Latham has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Live Your Poem. Enjoy!


Friday, May 7, 2021

Persistence, Patience, and Perseverance in a Child-Centric World

Persistence, patience, and perseverance are all lofty goals that many have for our children.  Virtues that we extol.  Virtues of which we moralize to our youth. Virtues that we hope we will impose upon them. Virtues that we hope we will inspire them to aspire to. Sometimes we even write books that encourage children to learn to be persistent, demonstrate patience, and grow to persevere. 


Even in my own debut picture book, Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story, my protagonist impatiently can’t wait to grow up.  The implied message is, “all in good time.”  While the little caterpillar does finally grow up, it ironically does not get to do what  it spends the entire story longing to do once it’s grown.


I have mixed feeling about these three words that pack such a punch.


I often live in two worlds. Sometimes separately.  Sometimes simultaneously.  I can immerse myself in the adult-centric world just as easily as I can, the kid-centric world.  I love when contradictions live side by side and am a great fan of irony.

In the adult-centric world that tries to train its youth to grow to be the best people they can be, persistence is the capability to keep at something until you get it.  Patience is the ability to suspend your expectations and allow time to pass before you get what you want or have your needs met.  In essence, it’s the acceptance of a restructure of time. Perseverance is the drive to keep at something until you’ve achieved or experienced the desired goal.



I realize that these definitions are limited.  I am not trying to preach or moralize.  I do love to flip the perception just to experience what it might be like on the other side. .  

In a child-centric world, these three words hold the same definitions but look so different. Persistence is the child who won’t stop asking for that cookie no matter how many times the adult says, “no.”  Patience is the child who can watch a snail make its way across the grass for hours when the parent is dying to leave the park. Perseverance is the child intent on learning to cross on the play structure bars. Their insistence on mastery seems obsessive to the adult watching, as the child’s hands go from blistered to bloody.

It’s humorous that adults hold these virtues in such high esteem but find them so annoying when children actually display them.  I wonder if children find it humorous that adults are so serious about things kids do quite naturally.


By Zeena M. Pliska

Illustrations from
Hello, Litttle One:  A Monarch Butterfly Story
Written by Zeena M. Pliska and illustrated by Fiona Halliday
Published by Page Street Kids

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