July 23rd, 2007

book cover

Yippee Ai Yea!


I am deeee-lighted to share the news that the contract for my next picture book has been signed, sealed and delivered. 

OK, so they’re not going to print 12 million copies which was apparently the first US printing for H.P. But still, I’m kind of tickled.
My manuscript, which I’ll call Wind (in case its current title gets tweaked) has been lovingly adopted by the dream team of Harcourt editor Allyn Johnston and illustrator Marla Frazee.
I’m really tickled about that, regardless of the print run.
Pinch me.
Honestly, I’ve known about this for awhile but I’ve been on enough magic carpet rides to know that I oughta be absolutely positively certain before I sing it from the rooftops. So I buttoned my lips, which is saying something because I hate secrets – almost as much as practical jokes. They overwhelm me, both of them. I always sort of feel like people oughta be let in on ‘em.
But now I’m absolutely positively certain about this book and I’m feeling very lucky indeed.
Marla Frazee. Really.
Bring me the smelling salts.
Here’s the thing. I spent the first 30 years of my life writing all flavors of things and the next 10 discovering that children’s literature was my passion. I would say that I’d found my dream job, but that’d mean it felt like a job when really it feels more like a love affair.
I mean, one where I don’t have to be very well dressed or wear perfume, but still…
I love thinking about kids and about how kids perceive the world. I love writing about them and their perspective. I love reading to them and encouraging them to write. I love listening to them and speaking to them and adding a spine or two to their libraries.
But, whoa nellie, does it take time and tenacity to make it happen in this business. I wrote my first manuscript when my elder daughter was a baby and she’s nearly nine. This next book won’t be out, I think, ‘til she’s 11. In the meantime, I’ve written a small stack of other stories and have exchanged a treasure trove of notes and emails with a number of open and generous editors. I’ve taught my classes and raised my babies and believed that my books were really, truly going to be born. Except when I didn’t believe it, which was quite a host of days, I assure you. Faith is fickle that way.
But now I have this actual bird in hand, pretty and promising as a chickadee, and it feels quick, serendipitous and even kind of easy. Isn’t that weird? I spend years trying to fiddle with and finesse 300-some words and somehow I reframe the whole process in retrospect. Easy, breezy, lemon squeezy, as my kids would say. Maybe it’s like childbirth – if we really remembered the tough stuff, we’d never do it again.
Well, this I’ll do again. In fact, I’ve got a number of open documents on my desktop right now. It seems to me that the way to celebrate the coming of Wind is to keep on pounding on the keys ‘til I create another sibling or two. Well, that and a wa-hoo or two.