Where I write

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Our bed

This is our bed.  I love it!  I had bought this bed many years ago from a company in Vancouver, BC.  It’s hand carved and majestically sits in our bedroom like a room unto itself.  Or, more accurately, like a railroad carriage.

I do a great deal of my writing in the wee hours of the morning, sitting in bed propped up by a bounty of pillows and surrounded by six wee pups (who are fascinated by the laptop keyboard and all the tap tap tapping away I do on it).

Here’s what the bed looks like in situ:

Bed messy

Looks a bit messy because I jumped out it to snap a quick photo with my iPhone.

When I’m writing I turn off all the lights and do my writing by the glow of the computer screen (how romantic is that!).  And in my mind I imagine myself sitting alone in a darkened railroad compartment that I used to ride in when I first traveled through Europe, England, and Scotland.

There is something very reassuring about sitting in a railroad compartment on a long train ride through darkened landscapes.  You can’t see anything out the windows so your only options are: sleep, read, or write.

I generally chose to write.  There was something about the gentle rocking, and occasional lurching, of the train that was conducive to writing stories.

Our bed is about the same size as a first class old-fashioned railroad compartment and the perfect place to write.  I have fantasized about rigging up some sort of contraption to gently rock the bed to simulate the rocking motion of the train and the synoptic sound of the click, click, click as the wheels of the train clattered on the rails.

Just thought you might like to know what kind of surroundings I like to be in when I write.

Oh, and here’s the bed nicely made.

New Quilt 1

Settling down…getting to work

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STUDIO UPDATE: Before I can ever settle down to getting serious work done in the studio I always have to fidget, rearrange, find something that I absolutely must find, and draw a map. Just to organza my thoughts.

And I have to look up favorite quotes to urge myself on. Of course, ALL my favorite quotes are kept in my trusty, most beloved, Filofax.

Filofax. How many of you remember these when they first came out? ALL the intellectuals, on-the-go professionals had one (or some variation of it). Mine is about 35 years old. I bought when I first got published. At Bloomingdale’s! (of course). It cost a small fortune. It’s Italian. And I carried it everywhere with me in my leather shoulder bag (naturally).

Filofax

Filofax open

The Filofax is where you kept all your addresses (personal and professional); wrote your notes, carried your specially made Filofax maps of the cities that you absolutely had to find your way around, receipts, entered expenses (business and massage parlor), etc. No one would be caught dead without their Filofax. AND…I only bought my Filofax replacement pages/address pages, etc. in London! I WAS a writer-on-the go, after all.

The Filofax was replaced by the Palm Pilot, then Blackberry, then Smart Phones (iPhones). Everything that I now keep on my iPhone I used to keep in my Filofax. But, I still carry my Filofax in my shoulder bag everywhere I go. I just cannot imagine abandoning it.

It was my best friend, Wayne Wright, who had insisted that IF I really wanted to be a writer I had to, ABSOLUTELY had to, read (and understand) Gertrude Stein. When Wayne was dying from cancer I used to travel from Philadelphia to Boston to be with him. He slept a great deal when he was on chemo and was too tired to talk. So, to keep myself busy I began reading Gertrude Stein. All of is Gertrude Stein books. And her writing did change my life and perspective as to how I perceived myself as a writer.
So, tonight I just HAD to find this quote (see photo). It’s reassuring to me somehow. And now I can get down to work.

Quote

I recently discovered that a new friend is a terrific writer!  And he didn’t know it!   I told  him that he must, must, MUST read two books (that every writer should read): The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein and The Autobiography of Janet Frame (and then watch the film ‘An Angel at My Table’ that is based on her autobiography.

Other books that any writer worth his or her salt that are must reading as well are:  Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by Scott Berg and Dear Genius:The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom collected and edited by Leonard Marcus

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So now that I have read the quote I needed to find I can concentrate on settling down to work in the studio.  Some people  have to sharpen all their pencils before they can begin to work in earnest.  I have to read favorite passages/quotations.

Spring Cleaning

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I’m one of those odd ducks (or should I say goslings) that cannot function if the house, especially the studio, is a mess!  Spring cleaning has begun in earnest now that I am back at Henwoodie.

Cluttered Studio = Cluttered Mind and no productivity.

Uncluttered Studio = Uncluttered Mind and lots of productivity!

While I was in Dearborn John and I had gone shopping one day and bought a number of sturdy storage boxes.  I have to keep all my electronic cords and gadgets in one place and off the work tables in the studio.   Larger storage boxes will hold sketches and notes while I’m working on books.  Again, I like to keep things that I’m working on all in one place.

I had also brought quite a few new paintbrushes.  Gouache tends to be hard on watercolour brushes.  I buy inexpensive brushes that I don’t have to worry about ruining.  Whereas with watercolour I only use Winsor & Newton Series 7 sable brushes which can get quite expensive.

The pups are figuring out their spots to lay down while I sit at the drawing board for hours on end.    A small space heater is their personal heat source to keep them comfortable (the studio is unheated) and cozy.  Of course, they have a plethora of fleecy blankets to curl up in as well.  And treats.  And toys.   It’s like having pup daycare in the studio so that I can work done.

A Corner of Studio

Writing dialogue

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Many years ago my best friend, Wayne Wright, who was one of the best writers I know, urged me to “listen in” on other peoples’ conversation in order to hone my skills as a writer whenever I had to write dialogue.  Authentic dialogue, the way people actually spoke, not the way I imagined someone would say something.  He emphasized that this was especially true when travelling abroad.

I just came across an old writing notebook with lots of scribbled “dialogue”.

Here is one of my favorites:

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I must admit that NOT being FROM Philadelphia I had never heard this particular kind of speech pattern before.  I became totally caught up in the rhythm and pace of the monologue.  I don’t think I’ve ever scribbled in my notebook so fast because the speaker talked a blue streak!

More on writing

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I can’t remember if I posted this before:  In regard to how I work as a writer (not writer/illustrator)—I might spend nights, days, weeks, even months thinking about the writing I want to do.  I will often lay in bed (just before falling asleep) and will ‘write’ scenes or entire stories in my head.  I either imagine the story in words or I can actually see it frame by frame as movie stills.  Sounds weird, I know.

Night after night I will start from the beginning and think a story as far as I can go.  Often adding new details, new insights, new twists.  I don’t worry about whether the ‘writing’ in my head is logical or not.  I simply tell myself the kind of story I’d love to read…or live!

And once I’ve thought about the story long enough I just know when the right time has come to sit down and do the mechanics of “writing” the story—either with a pen and notebook or on my laptop.

I tend to write the first rough draft all in one sitting.  I don’t think about the writing I just do the writing.  I just let the story come, or, as I’m always telling John “Let the story wash over you.  Don’t anticipate.”

On my laptop, after all the thinking about the writing is done (in my head) I can tap out 10, 15, 20, or more pages in a couple hours.  I’m a fast, accurate typist.   I don’t worry about the technical aspects of the writing at this point: punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc.  I just write.

And I try NOT to think about the writing.

That is the great advantage in knowing HOW to type.  Typing is the most important aspect of the mechanics of writing.   I don’t watch my fingers, I never take my eyes off my laptop screen as I watch the words appear and just let them come.  Not having to think about the mechanics of typing frees my mind up to concentrate on the writing, the storytelling.

It is so painful for me to watch someone struggling with one or two fingers on a keyboard and trying to write at the same time.  HOW can they even think about words when they are so preoccupied with finding the letters on the keyboard.

My advice:  Take two weeks and learn touch typing.  At the end of two weeks you should be able to type at least 35 wpm.

It’s like driving a car.  NO ONE in their right mind would just get into a car and assume they can drive without learning the mechanics of driving.

If you want to write, learn the mechanics of writing.

Trust me, it works.

Writing

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STUDIO UPDATE: Writing is easy. Honest. It really is. It’s the thinking about the writing, coming up with a compelling, provocative, original story line, plot twists, planting clues, not leaving important things out, not putting too much in that is a bit more challenging and difficult (at times). And it is the unthinking the writing when you have to edit, rewrite, revise, edit a bit more, tweak a bit more, go back and rethink the writing that was already thought. Trust me, writing is easy. It’s all the other steps that can be a bit nerve-racking.

Surprise boxes delivered today!

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As a writer and illustrator I tend to work in near complete isolation and solitude (like most writers).   One day merges into the next without any real separation in time and space.

One of the nice things about writing is that you never know what might be delivered to your doorstep.  This afternoon two unexpected, unlooked for boxes arrived from my publisher!

Here’s what was inside:

Dutch BooksSix new Dutch editions of existing books as well as Gemma & Gus and Gus!

Gemma & Gus 2

GUS

Both the U.S. and Dutch editions were officially published on 3 March.  You will notice the changes to the front covers that my Dutch publisher, Gottmer, made to the books.  And they put Gus’s name first for Gemma & Gus.

Along with these two brand new books being added to the Gossie & Friends series Gottmer has also published Ollie’s Halloween and Merry Christmas, Ollie!  I had no idea they were working on acquiring the rights to these two books!  I’m thrilled!

When I was in Belgium last year I took the train up to the Netherlands to meet with the folks at Gottmer in Haarlem.  It was a wonderful meeting and I really like these people!   We had discussed the possibility of the holiday books being translated into Dutch, but I wasn’t certain it was going to happen.

The other two books are original creations by Gottmer.  They have combined two separate books/stories into one book!  These editions look great!

Gottmer does quite a bit with the goslings and I am pleased with all that they do.

They even produced a stuffed Gossie toy and book combo that you can only purchase in the Netherlands.

Gonnie doll and bookIt’s been an exciting day here in the studio!

Review of “Nobody Likes An Ugly Child”

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Nobody Likes an Ugly Child by Olivier Dunrea

reviewed by Charlotte Delacroix

“The two best things about growing up in a poor family are: First, they have no expectations of you, except that you somehow survive.  And, secondly, they may not be able to read but they are the best storytellers.”  So begins one of the most provocative collections of short stories this reviewer has read in a long time.  The thirteen short stories in this collection tell the painful, often hilarious, and moving trials and tribulations of growing up poor in Chickahominy Ridge, Dismal Swamp, Virginia in the 1950s.

Dunrea’s extended family of parents, brother, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, and hardbitten, hard loving grandparents is one of the liveliest and loving families imaginable.  Whereas food and money may be in short supply stories and love never were.   Dunrea’s style is straightforward, unassuming and unsentimental.  Each story recalls a specific incident or time in the author’s life.  Several stories are “remembered” meaning that the story being told happened before the author was born as can be seen in the poignant story titled ‘Littie Pearl.’

In ‘Littie Pearl,’ one of the family’s favorite stories to tell time and time again, Dunrea tells the heart wrenching story recalling the birth of his cousin, Littie Pearl. One hot, summer day as his parents, grandparents, and aunts worked under the broiling sun in the fields in the mid-1940s one of the aunts, Aunt Mildred, goes into labor.   She is told by her father to “Mildred, honey, take a break, and go on and squat under that pecan tree and have that baby.  Your Mama  can help you if you need it.  There’s a an old shoebox in the back of the truck that you can put the baby in.   Then you get on back to work.  If’n that baby’s still alive at the end of the day, you can name it, and we’ll take it home.  If it dies, we’ll just bury it under the pecan tree and won’t say no more about it.”   The baby lives and is named Littie Pearl.

Each story is like a pearl.  Each one is a gem unto its own right.  When they are strung altogether into a complete strand a lively and detailed portrait comes to light of the author’s “dirt poor” childhood and his loving, if somewhat eccentric and erratic family.

‘You Don’t Know You’re Poor Until Someone Tells You’ tells the story as to how the author first learns at school that he is “dirt poor” from a teacher.  “Boy, you ain’t nothin’ but dirt beneath my feet and you ain’t never goin’ to be nothin’ but dirt beneath anybody’s feet.”    With no hint of self pity or regret Dunrea reveals the depth of his family’s poverty.  It occurs to him that it is a bit strange that the women and older girls in the family never actually sit down at the table and eat with the family.  Food is served first to the men and older boys with the younger children left to scramble for whatever is leftover.  It’s not until the author  heads off to college that his mother reveals the secret as to why the women in the family never starved to death.  “Oh, hell, son,” Mama said as we drove north on Rt. 13.  “We picked and nibbled the whole time we were cooking.  We were always hungry, but we weren’t starving.”

In the story ‘He’s Being Beautified’ the painful reality of not being a very attractive child is told in a humorous and no nonsense child’s voice when the author first starts school at the age of five.  His cousins and sisters attempt to tame his “big ass ears” with Scotch tape and the admonition that “Nobody’ll notice your ears are taped back.  Don’t embarrass us.”   Throughout the stories the recurring theme of “don’t embarrass us” is woven seamlessly into the narrative.  What the family lacked in money and education they more than made up for with “pure stubborn Southern pride.”

In the story titled ‘This Li’l Chile,’ the author recalls the time at the age of four when he puts his hands on his hips and announces to his family that “This li’l chile is NOT going to stay in this swamp.  This li’l chile is moving to town.”  And sets off down the dirt road to find the town.  Throughout the author’s childhood he longs to live a life vastly different from the one he lives in Dismal Swamp.

Whether telling the emotionally charged story of one of his favorite uncle’s death, and how his aunt tried to climb into the coffin with him, to his mother’s insightful understanding of her son’s need to express himself and be different, these stories never disappoint.  In ‘No Eggs Will Die’ when, at the age of five, the author takes a dozen cold eggs out of the ice box (the family did not have a refrigerator) and puts them in a “nest” made from his old, tattered quilt.  “After I got all the eggs arranged just right I pulled down my pants and underpants and sat on them.  I don’t know why I thought I had to be naked to hatch out the eggs.  Somehow it just seemed like the right thing to do.”  He proceeds to pull down his pants and sits on the eggs only to be shocked by their coldness and breaks them all.    His mother’s “WHY are you so strange?” is repeated time and time again with love and patient exasperation.

‘Sunday Potato Chips’ tells how every Sunday one of the uncles bought a “big bag of Wise’s Potato Chips” to the grandparents’ house, where everyone gathered for dinner, and the once a week special treat of eating potato chips.  “We kids would sit on the floor lined up like China dolls waiting for Uncle Ray to count out each one’s fair share of potato chips.  It was never more than four or five chips and it was never enough.  Each of us placed a chip in our mouth and savored the salty taste.  We tried not to chew so as to make the potato chip last longer.  To wash down the salty potato chips each of us was allowed one sip from a bottle of Coca Cola.  We kids lived for those Sunday treats.”

Childhood and adolescence is never an easy time for anyone.  Dunrea relates one of his deepest regrets in life in ‘Why Do You Always Embarrass Me?’  When he was in high school his mother arrived to pick him up with curlers in her hair and was wearing  a “sad, worn out dress.” The author’s first words to her were “Why do always embarrass me so much in front of people?” He continues his attack with “And your Southern hillbilly accent is just as embarrassing.  Why can’t you talk properly?”  These words come back to haunt him many years later when he becomes a published writer and invites his mother to attend book signings, television interviews, and public speaking events, but she always has an excuse as to why she cannot attend.   Finally, when pressed as to why she can’t attend a particularly important award presentation, she tells him.  “I don’t ever want to embarrass you in front of people.”

Those words haunt the author from that day on.

Nobody Likes an Ugly Child includes stories with titles such as ‘Aunt Mary and Uncle Max,’ ‘Wild Pigs, Wild Times,’ ‘Granddaddy’ and ‘Um, How Do You Say Your Name Again?’

Story by story, pearl by pearl, Dunrea lets the reader get to know  him and his “crazy” family, as he likes to put it.   As we get to know granddaddy, nanny, mama, daddy, and a bevy of cousins and siblings, aunts and uncles, each one adds to the richness and liveliness of these stories.  Each voice, each story rings true and is told in a lively, staccato style.

The title of the collection is taken from the signature story titled ‘Nobody Likes an Ugly Child.’ Dunrea reveals that the word “ugly” in the South has a double meaning: not attractive or, as in referring to a child, misbehaving.  “Don’t act so ugly,” is a refrain that is heard throughout these stories.   When the author was two years old he recalls the time when his granddaddy called him over.  Thinking he was going to be given a treat “I waddled over to granddaddy on my short, bowed legs.  I was not an attractive child by any stretch of the imagination.  My granddaddy looked at me, I looked at him, expectantly waiting for something sweet to be offered.  Instead of the expected treat Granddaddy backhanded me hard across the face and said ‘That’s just for being so ugly.’  Mama, running to my defense said ‘Oh, daddy, I know he’s ugly, but don’t keep telling he’s ugly.’  I quickly learned that if you are the ugly child life is going to be rough.  And it’s best to discover what your talent is as soon as possible.  I discovered that I had two talents: I could run fast and I could read and write.”

In the final story ‘I Won’t Embarrass You’ Dunrea leaves his poor Southern family in order to pursue his lifelong dream of going to college ‘Up North.’   He never looks back.

The author states that his “wild imagination and love of stories, and later, books, saved his mental sanity” through all the chaotic insanity of growing up poor.  “We really were dirt poor, as I slowly came to accept.  Stories were our lifeline.  What we lacked in money we made up with in words.  Words were our currency.    And my family could spend with the best of them.” 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this quirky and ribald family.   I shared their triumphs and their tragedies as if they were my own.  Nobody Likes an Ugly Child is one of those short story collections that you hate to see come to an end.  We can only hope that Dunrea will share more of his family’s stories with us.  

Postscript to How Did I Get Published

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As I was typing the four parts of “How Did I Get Published?” so many memories, stories, anecdotes came flooding back to me.   Believe it or not, those four postings were the condensed version as to how I got my break in New York publishing.

I thought it might be interesting to include a few anecdotes and afterthoughts here in this postscript.

I think I made a mistake in my recall in creating the dummy for No One Will Come to Dinner.  I distinctly remember that we were living on Midvale Avenue in Philadelphia at the time that I worked on that dummy to take on the rounds of the meetings I had set up with editors and art directors.  That means that I actually worked on that dummy in 1978 and took it to New York City in 1979.

I’m a stickler for details and accuracy!

One of the first art directors I worked with was David Rogers at Holiday House.  He was much older than me and literally took me under his wing and called me “Pussycat”.   It was David who told me not to pay attention to the negative reviews that criticized my generous use of “white space” in my illustrations.   He said: “One day, Pussycat, all that white space will make you famous and make your work stand out from the crowd.  Don’t stop using it.”

Not knowing how unusual it was to sign multiple book contracts before I had ever had anything published I honestly didn’t quite know what I was doing.  I had no agent and no expertise in contract negotiation (I DO now!).  It was the contracts manager at Harper & Row, the renowned Barbara Dicks, who called me and pointed out that “…in that you are signing multiple contracts with various publishers there is a clause you might want to strike out…the first right of refusal to your next book…you can’t very well grant that right to any of your publishers, not even us, in that you are signing so many contracts.”

I will be forever thankful to Barbara for pointing this technicality out to me so that I didn’t make a huge legal blunder and get sued by any of the publishers I was signing contracts with!

Then I discovered the best reference book I could ever have come across:  The Writer’s Legal Companion.  This book gave definitions to all the myriad technical contractual terms and their use (and misuse) by publishers.  I still refer to this book even today if I don’t quite understand a clause in a contract or come across a clause that I have never seen before.

At the start of my career I used to make numerous public appearances and do book signings (NOT anymore!).  Obviously, I spent a great deal of time waiting in airports and on airplanes (in 1993 I was in 37 states from Maine to Alaska!).   I am not the most comfortable flyer/passenger and back in those days reading material was crucial.  I always travelled with a number of books or manuscripts that I was working on—notebooks, NO laptops back then!

I came across an ad in the In-Flight magazine that struck a chord and made me think.  The headline in the ad read: BUSINESSMEN GET WHAT THEY NEGOTIATE, NOT WHAT THEY DESERVE.

Aha!  If businessmen can negotiate deals and contracts why couldn’t I?  I learned that contracts are slanted 90% in favor of the publisher (or whoever is offering/writing the contract).  As the party on the other side of the contract I realized that it was in MY best interest to 1) ask questions if I didn’t understand something in the contract and 2) negotiate better terms and percentages wherever possible.

The business side of publishing is something that is learned: from experience, from books, from other writers and illustrators. And even from editors.   An honest editor will inform a writer or illustrator about any clauses that they might want to take out or renegotiate.

Since 1979 I have worked with more editors, art directors, book designers, contracts managers, subrights managers, marketing folks, etc. than you can shake a stick at.  I have learned something from each and every one of them.

There is an old adage: Forewarned is forearmed.  To paraphrase that as a writer I always think “Better informed is forearmed.”  I make it my business to ask questions and understand that everything in a contract is negotiable.

I might ask for the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars knowing full well that I might only get the Sun and Moon and not the stars.

Understanding the terms of any contract is vital to anyone’s success.  And there is no reason why writers and illustrators should NOT understand what they are signing and what they should ask for.  ASK QUESTIONS!

The final thought is: As in any business the more you know about your particular business, the better your understanding will be as to how YOU fit into the overall scheme of things.

Editors really do want to publish interesting and original stories/manuscripts.   But they also expect writers to know the marketplace and who publishes what.   Many writers set themselves up for rejection simply by submitting a manuscript to the wrong publisher who has no interest in their particular subject matter or story.

Do your homework.  Know which publishers publish what.  There are numerous professional reference books on the market these days that provide exactly this kind of information.

I always quote Gertrude Stein when it comes to how I regard my own writing: “I write for myself and strangers.”   I LIKE my writing!  I LIKE my stories!  Even when no one else does.  I write the kind of stories that I find interesting in one way or another.  IF you don’t find your own writing interesting/fascinating why should anyone else.

Something to think about.

How did I get published? Part Four

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It took about three years in order to secure those first book contracts.  I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard to carve out a career for myself as a writer and illustrator.

The final footnote to this story involves why I was never published by Harper & Row.

During the two years that I was constantly drawing specific “ideas” for T—-, it never occurred to me that nothing would ever come of it.   As Fate would have it, one day when I was bringing in another batch of requested drawings to show that I could draw ‘whatever’, I bumped into the editor who had the office next door to T—-.

Her name was B—-.   We literally bumped into one another and when she figured out who I was she burst out with “I love your work!  If T—- doesn’t want to work with you, I would love to!”

I was astounded!   Here was an editor that I had never met, but who had seen all those drawings I had been slaving over and she was excited about my work!

B—- invited me into her office and explained to me that she worked for a subsidiary publishing house at Harper & Row called Thomas Y. Crowell.  Her speciality was nonfiction picture books.

She said: “If I knew you could write nonfiction I’d offer you a contract on the spot!”

I replied: “I can write nonfiction!  In fact, I would love to write a nonfiction picture book on a fascinating prehistoric village that I visited in 1978 and have gone back to explore every year since!”

B—- said: “Well, if you want to show me a manuscript about it, I’d love to read it.”

This was a Friday.  I took the train back to Philadelphia and spent the weekend writing my first nonfiction manuscript titled: Skara Brae: The Story of a Prehistoric Village.  

I called B—- first thing Monday morning and announced that I had finished the nonfiction manuscript.

B—- said:  “You’re kidding?  YOU wrote an entire nonfiction manuscript about an archaeological site over the weekend?”

I replied:  “Yes, I did.  And it’s good.  I know the story of this village and how I’d like to tell it like the back of my hand.”

We made arrangements for me to take the train the next day back to her office so that I could show her the manuscript.

B—- read the manuscript while I sat quietly in her office.  When she finished she took off her glasses and put the manuscript down.

“This is really good,” she said.  “I want to publish it.  Do you have any sketches of this place?”

Of course I had sketches!  Tons of them!

After looking at the sketches and glancing through the manuscript again B—- went on to say:  “I not only want to offer you a contract for Skara Brae, but I would like to offer you a second contract for you to write a nonfiction book for children as to just HOW an archaeological dig is done; how a site is uncovered/discovered, and all that.  Think you could do it?

Naturally, I said “Of course, I can!  But, I will need a bit more time to do some research in order to come up with just the right way to tell the story as to how an archaeological dig is done.”

And this is my first author photo published on the back inside flap of Skara Brae:

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I tried very hard to look like a serious writer to be taken seriously!

Note:  It never occurred to me that editors were in competition with one another in securing manuscripts, writers, and illustrators.  I learned that T—- never really did have any real interest in publishing my work, but she thought I had talent and she didn’t want another editor to offer me a contract.  It was a hard lesson learned, but I learned it well.

So, now I had contracts for Eddy B, Pigboy and TWO nonfiction picture books.  I had one last appointment to meet with an editor at an independent publishing house called Holiday House.

M—– was as energetic and enthusiastic about books as I am.  She was tall and angular and was one of the most talkative editors I’ve ever met.  When I arrived for our late afternoon meeting I was so excited as to how my day had gone that I had to tell her my great news!  I was being published by two editors!

M—– was taken aback with the news and jumped right onboard.

“WHAT projects do you have left that haven’t been signed up?  I want them!”

And that’s how Ravena (No One Will Come to Dinner) was signed under contract along with Mogwogs on the March!, Fergus and Bridey, and a blank contract to be filled in when I had a manuscript.

During the course of one week I signed seven book contracts!

I never did fill out that application for the Wharton Business School.  I still wonder IF I ever had a chance of getting accepted.  But, then again, why wouldn’t they have accepted me???

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