Monday, September 27, 2010

Sept 22
This is the last day of summer, the autumnal equinox and I hope you all got to see the harvest moon. The time when the sun’s middle crosses the earth’s celestial equator is as good a time as any to launch my FALL CHALLENGE, which is: where should I send Broccoli for Breakfast next? Feel free to submit your comments, and I will post the best three in about four weeks. In your comment, tell me as much about the publisher as you can, including its address or webpage, the editor in charge of submissions (if possible), and why you think your publisher should be next..

Here is some background information: Main publishing “houses”, like Penquin, have a lot of “imprints” under their name, which are smaller divisions, called “houses” specializing in a particular type of book. In order to decide if the particular publisher is a good match, read the webpage and see what kind of book the publisher likes. What are they looking for? What kinds of books do they publish? Look under “submissions” or “contact us” and see what they require. Some publishers do not accept “unsolicited” manuscripts, which means the author needs to send them a letter, called a “query letter” in an effort to persuade the publisher to request the manuscript. Some publishers require the author to have an agent (I don’t). To find publishers to research, you can also check out the books that you like and see who published them.

These are the publishers that I have either been queried or sent manuscript materials:

Alfred Knopf
Arthur A Levine
Delacourt—YA division (I later felt that Broccoli was more of a middle-school manuscript, so I may try the middle school division later
Kane Miller
Marshall Cavendish

Some of the above publishers are still considering the manuscript, some haven’t responded yet, and some have rejected it. If a manuscript is rejected, the letter usually reads something like, “The project does not suit our list at this time. We wish you the best of luck in finding a publisher and thank you for sending your materials to us.” It only takes one “yes” to publish a book.

Assuming the book is well written, one of the critical questions a publisher has to consider is: Can this book make us money? They will not stay in business long if their books do not do this for them. Right now it is a fairly difficult economy, and a lot of change is occurring in the publishing business because technology is transforming it. How many of you have Kindles? I just bought one myself. It can read to you if the audio is enabled, and font size can be changed to make it easier to read!

So with all this new technology, YOU, dear readers, can help this book get published. How? By being involved in this blog. If enough people are interested in the manuscript, maybe a publisher will take a chance on it.

So what do you think? The Internet is a wonderful place. Let’s Blog!

This blog welcomes comments on its content and related subjects. Please know that it is moderated (by me) and comments will not appear until I have reviewed them and they are suitable for a middle school audience.

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11,2010

Hi Everybody,

It's been awhile. I have been busy with my daughter and new grandbaby. A good friend calls her grandchildren BOMBIES, an acronym for "babies of my babies." They are surely something special.

So now, back to my other baby--Broccoli. I have been doing something, mostly revising, revising and more revising. Sorry, those of you who don't want to revise anything more than once-the truth is, most writers spend more time revising than the writing the first draft. The first part of Broccoli needs the most work, since I really didn't know what I was doing in the beginning. I did have an outline tho, which functioned more like a flashlight than a road map since I altered it profusely.

The first place I sent my manuscript to was the Delacourt Contest. (run by Random House) for a first young adult novel. It didn’t win, but it lasted until the end of May, which is when I got the rejection notice. So then I revised the manuscript some more, and sent it to Clarion, which my research indicated would be a good choice.

They have published books by authors I admire like Katherine Paterson. They also publish historical fiction, which Broccoli is, since it takes place in Thompson, Ct. during the 2000-1001 school year.

A bit about the history:
The school system in Thompson is unusual, since the elementary, middle and high schools are all under one roof. The high school is a grand structure more than a century old, originally built and donated by the Tourtellotte family—more about this later.

If you are interested in the history, check out these sites:,_Connecticut

If you are in the area, the high school has a "Tourtellotte Memorial Room" which is a mini-museum and open to the public:

Tourtellotte Memorial Room
785 Riverside Drive, Route 12
Thompson, CT
Phone: 860-923-9303

Open: 2-4 pm, 1st Sunday of each month

An exhibit of 19th century antiques and furniture belonging to the Tourtellotte family. Located in Tourtellotte Memorial High School. Free admission.

July 1, 2010

Eighth grader Suzanna Cruz, the main character in my story, has to eat broccoli for breakfast. Not your typical wake-up food. Why does she do this? Only her author knows, so it will have to remain a secret until the book find a publishing home!

I was amazed at the healthful qualities of broccoli. I knew it was good for you, but I was so impressed as I did my book research that I went out and brought some broccoli extract. What do you know? An author can learn things from their own manuscript (it will become a "book" only when it is published.)

I have a confession: I am not much of a veggie eater, but since I want to be healthy, I try. I certainly do not wake up in the morning dreaming of broccoli juice.

So I have decided that part of this blog will be devoted to keeping healthy. After all, none of us will be able to sing or write or do the other things we want to do if we don’t feel well enough to do it.

So lift up your glass of broccoli juice. I actually made it. I added some pineapple to make it a little sweet though. I'm all about SWEET.

To life! Salud!

July 3,2010

Since I began writing this book in 2000-omgosh….a decade ago…probably longer than some of you have been alive-a number of broccoli breakfast recipe sites have popped up. I couldn’t believe it. Who besides Suzanna eats broccoli for breakfast? I’m not counting the tiny amount that might be in an omelet.
Here are some that you might find interesting:

I haven’t tried any of these but that last one intrigues me. My daughter and I joined a local organic farm share program, and so we have been trying to eat more greens. It’s hard for me...

August 10,2010

Besides the broccoli factor, writing the book has reminded me that it takes a team to get anything of value accomplished. Suzanna has talent and perseverance, but other people have to get involved to make her endeavors a success. One agent I queried asked: why did you write this book? This is what I answered:

I wrote Broccoli for Breakfast because I felt my students needed more fiction books about music, healthy eating and dealing with divorce. Personally, I wanted to show young people that parental problems are never their fault and that parents who divorce each other still love their children. I also wanted to show that optimism and persistence will overcome hardships, not only through the art of creative detouring but by faith. Miracles happen when others join in; that is what makes the Thompson Middle School production of The Music Man a reality. Finally, I wanted to show that love means letting others make their own choices, even when those choices are frightening. Suzanna has to let “her perfect family” evolve. When she does, she is able to let go of her terror and sing a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at her eighth grade graduation ceremony. On all of these levels she learns that love has the power to cast out fear, and putting that knowledge into action sets her free.

I can’t wait until you get to read this book!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1, 2010

Welcome to my blog. I never thought I would write a blog. I never thought I would own a cell phone or run triathlons either. Life is full of surprises. Bring it on!

I started writing poetry sometime around third grade. Actually, I wasn’t writing. I was printing, and I became an adept and swift printer. I shunned cursive writing in fourth grade because my teacher kept returning my papers back to me to re-write. So I printed until I got a new teacher who was less exacting about penmanship.

This teacher was more interested in the art of writing. So, I wrote about my dead pets. I wrote about my three younger brothers. I wrote a very long story in fifth grade about talking dogs. I went to college and took a lot of Journalism courses and ended up majoring in the teaching of English. I became a teacher, raised two daughters, wrote grants, poetry, one published magazine article and finally a 220 page manuscript I titled Broccoli for Breakfast.

This will be a blog about how the manuscript gets published, because it will get published--if I live long enough. Actually, my goal is to have it accepted for publication by the end of 2011. Goals are good. They help make that lovely connection between the chair and the derriere---and help me get to work.

I began writing Broccoli ten years ago. I have revised it numerous times (I think I lost count). So far, one professional writer, one middle school reading specialist, and one middle school honor student have read it in its entirety. Lots of other people who are still my friends have read parts of it. I brought the first few pages to the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) 2010 New York conference and also to my writers’ group, and received treasured feedback from both.

So I will sit down and write something for you once a week—maybe more if I get rolling. Your feedback is always welcome. Wish me Luck…!