Nothing warms your heart like a box full of books with your name written on them!
READY. SET. RACE!
In some ways, writers are much like race car drivers. We zip around the world of words. We press the pedal to the metal by pushing our creativity to the max, and we all dream of finishing in first place. Except we don’t win a trophy. What we get is so much better — a nice, shiny publishing contract with our words inside an actual book, on bookshelves, in real bookstores.
My race began a little over a year ago, while reading the picture book How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by the fabulous Jane Yolen. As I closed Jane’s book, I found myself in awe at the simple brilliance of a dinosaur saying goodnight in such a unique and fun way.
It was at that moment I decided I wanted my very own unique twist on a bedtime picture book. But what about? There were already so many fantastic bedtime picture books out on the market — how would mine stand out? What would make mine special enough for a publisher to say “Yes! I will buy that book!”
I thought and thought – and – yep, you guessed it…I thought some more.
One day, as I was staring at a blank computer screen, brainstorming the various possibilities of what on Earth I could put to bed that hadn’t been done before, it hit me. Full throttle! A race car! Kids love race cars and I’ve never seen a book with a race car getting ready for bed. That’s it! I shouted to myself. I gave myself the green flag and I wrote down the original first words of How Do Race Cars Say Goodnight?
At this point it wasn’t really a book. It was more of a platform of the book to come. Lists of cute race car talk that I thought should go into the book. After many critiques from my CPs and posting the first draft for feedback on Verla Kay’s Blue Boards, my little race car began to wind his engine and burn some rubber.
Soon, my little race car was hugging the curves and making his way to the finish line. But he still had a long way to go. After all, he was a rhymer. And we writers know what that means: Meter. Meter. Meter. The meter in rhyme has to be perfect. And lucky for me, I have a couple critique partners who have a great ear for rhyme and quickly pointed out where the flaws were. *Waves to awesome CPs*
Now that my little race car was humming and had a new title called Race Car Lullaby, it was time to take the story out for a little test drive. WriteOnCon was only a few weeks. Long weeks. I waited and waited. And waited some more. Unlike race car drivers, writers have a lot of patience. *Coughs* What? We do. Sometimes.
Wow! I couldn’t believe the amount of fantastic compliments I received. It was surreal. I felt as though I was in victory lane already. But one thing kept getting pointed out: the title. Lullaby just wasn’t working. Time for an oil change, so to speak.
Fast forward seven months to March 2015, a new title, and an awesome agent later, snagged with my little race car just a couple weeks before — and it was time to see how fast this race car could really vroom.
I soon discovered that my amazing agent, Jessica Sinsheimer, was as fast as my little race car. With her foot to the floor and her engine humming, she was tearing up the track to make my dream of seeing this race car in book form come true.
With a fabulous list of publishers and editors to vroom our little race car to, she hammered down on the track on March 18, 2015. And boy, oh boy, were the responses not only quick but amazing. Our little race car had a few fans already! Within thirty-five minutes we had several positive responses and one email letting Jessica know Race Car was going to an editorial board meeting the following week. Yes! Within thirty-five minutes! My dreams were one step closer to coming true and it all happened while I was – with my crazy work schedule — asleep! Can you believe that?
But don’t worry, Jessica already knew my crazy sleep schedule and she left me an email and a text to call her when I got up. We squeed for a few moments and then she carefully explained going to an editorial meeting didn’t mean it was sold. But it put us in a great position to shift the gears of our race car and go even faster.
Fast forward to the next week, lots of phone chats, lots of emails, and lots of work on Jessica’s end. At this point, all I did was wait and cheer and get super excited with every update. And then it happened. That moment all of us writers are waiting for, preparing for, dreaming about. And yet again, I was dreaming…for real. Again! I awoke to a text and an email from Jessica that we had an offer, not only for the one book but for TWO books!
Oh wow! That feeling! I truly think I could have vroomed around a track a few times myself, tooting my horn and burning some rubber.
I called her right away, as per her request in my email. And we celebrated. Then, she explained in great length the details of the offer and what to expect next.
Are you excited yet? Because I sure was!
But hold on. It gets even better. With an offer firmly in place, Jessica didn’t idle her engine at all. No, not the least. She kicked it into overdrive and zipped around the track! She quickly sent emails to all the other editors who had race car in their inboxes, alerting them that an offer had been made.
Fast forward to the following week and a brand new shiny chrome-like email. Yep. You guessed it. Another editor was interested but needed some time to get the offer into place. Now we had two editors interested. They both wanted race car. And the last lap began.
Jessica, who I truly think is a race car driver in high heels, was right on top of everything the entire time. Countless emails and conversations on my behalf. Keeping me alongside her on the track the entire time and making some quick, smart decisions, and soon we saw that checkered flag not too far in the distance.
April 1st rolled and it was far from April Fool’s day in the Chriscoe house. Jessica had told me to stay close to the phone throughout the day. And this time it was a Wednesday and I’m off work on Wednesdays. YAY!
A phone call around lunch sent my entire family erupting in cheers. And Jessica back to work. Two official offers is a very big deal! And we wanted to choose the one that was best for us and our little race car. Neither Jessica, nor race car, idled down. I watched in admiration the swift coolness that Jessica handled the multiple offers and by that afternoon, a decision had been made.
So without further ado, racers please start your engines.
The newly titled Race Car Dreams zipped around the bend, hugged all the curves, and vroomed his last lap straight to the finish line of a TWO book deal with the wonderful Marlo Scrimizzi at Running Press Kids. And I was actually awake this time when the final offers were made and the deal was sealed. Afterwards, I drifted off to dreamland myself, dreaming of my very own dream that just came true.
Thank you Marlo and everyone at Running Press Kids for loving RACE CAR DREAMS. Thank you Jessica for seeing the potential in this little race car and in me. Thank you to my wonderful friends and critique partners for helping me to polish him until he shined. And thank you to my amazing family for always supporting my dreams.
Ready. Set. Go win your race!
Here is the official Publishers Marketplace announcement!
Sharon Chriscoe’s RACE CAR DREAMS, to be illustrated by David Mottram, about a race car preparing for bed—and, with his rims washed, book read, and engine humming, he drifts off to dreamland and vrooms to first place, to Marlo Scrimizzi at Running Press Kids, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2016, by Jessica Sinsheimer at The Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency for the author and Anne Moore Armstrong at The Bright Group for the illustrator (World).
Friday I received the ARC of my very first picture book to be released this September! Oh the joy of holding it in my hands for the first time. It looks fantastic and I cannot wait until this fall.
Thank you Katie Hall and Donna German from Arbordale Publishing for publishing The Sparrow and The Trees and thank you Susan Detwiler for the amazing illustrations!
WHEN THE STARS ALIGN…
…it’s a beautiful thing. Seems like my stars like to align all at once, rather than here and there. Long stretches of time pass with them all scattered about, not connecting, not communicating and apparently not in sync.
Last year, my stars briefly lined up and my very first picture book shined out of the dark sky.
The Sparrow and The Trees goes to print in April and will be out in the world this fall. I hope everyone enjoys it.
This year…my stars all aligned once again!
This year… I signed with an amazing agent and now I’m an agented author! It’s a dream come true.
Here’s what happened:
A few weeks ago, I entered the #agentmatch contest with the hopes of getting some nibbles or at the very least some feedback on what was working or wasn’t working for my chapter book. I ended that contest with three requests and one offer. I was excited! But that isn’t the end of my stars aligning. THAT is just the beginning.
The following week I had a lovely phone call with the agent who made the offer during #agentmatch. Now the offer was official. Time to send out ‘I have an offer’ emails to all other agents with my manuscripts. But I had a problem. One VERY important agent didn’t have any of my manuscripts at the moment and I was not about to sit idly by.
Now my story gets strategic. So…let the tactics begin.
A friend of mine, PJ McIlvaine signed with her dream agent back in October 2014 and we hatched a plan. After she had been with her dream agent for a while, she was going to send a referral to that agent for me…we had planned to wait six months. But my stars didn’t agree with that timeline. They thought four months was long enough. I sent PJ an email about my offer and off she went…telling her dream all about me. *Thank you PJ!J*
That following afternoon, when I got home from work, I had an email from PJ with the go ahead to send. I quickly responded back to her with several smileys and YAY’s and one oh my gosh which one do I send her? Picture book authors have so many manuscripts on hand and we always want to send what we think that agent will love. Without hesitation, she emailed me back telling me to send —– (Ha! Ha! Thought I was going to tell you which one huh? Well, I can’t give the title away in this post now can IJ). Back to the story, PJ ended her email with “It’s my favorite!” Turns out it was my first choice too. Now, off I went!
I cheerfully sent out a thank you email to ‘dream’ agent with my picture book attached. I thanked her reviewing it and I informed her I had many more picture books, as well as a Chapter Book, and a Middle Grade work in progress. I said a little prayer that my stars were all aligned and in sync. And I hit send.
I sat quietly…patiently by my laptop… Okay yeah, I know…that’s not how it happened right? All writers know that’s not possible. Truth is, I hit refresh every fifteen seconds. But luckily for me, all that refreshing ended in a matter of minutes!
Right there in front of me, I had a response saying, Send me all you got! My heart nearly leapt out of my chest. Could it really be? She was actually considering signing me. I let out a squeal and got busy sending all my picture books. My Chapter Book. And my Middle Grade work in progress. I typed up an email and told her I hoped my email didn’t crash her computer because there were so many attachments. I said another prayer, asking for those stars to please, pretty please align for me this time. And I hit send. This was February 24th.
Are you still with me? Good. Because that’s still not the end of my story.
The following morning, I also had something exciting going on in the background. See…told you my stars like to align all at once. Michelle Hauck asked me to co-host a picture book contest with her. Throughout the year, there are tons of contests happening but usually picture books are left on the side to watch and secretly whine. I happily accepted. We emailed back and forth some of the details and I gathered a list of agents for us to invite. At the very top of my list and the very first person I thought of when Michelle asked, was none other than the agent I had just said a prayer about and hit send to the day before with that very large attachment.
Later that morning I emailed ‘dream’ agent (we will call her that for now so it doesn’t spoil the fun) and asked her if she’d join us. Her response was lightning fast — she wanted to know more details! Well, since this was my first contest, and since it involved none other than my dream agent, I wanted to make sure I gave all the correct answers. I emailed her back telling her I’d get more details from Michelle and fill her in asap. Another lightning speed response (got to love that!) hit my inbox thanking me…BUT that’s not all!
In her email, she included that she was almost done reading my work and would have an answer for me soon…this time I squealed so loud I think my bunnies had the heart attack for me. They dashed into their house, probably sure I was a lunatic. (Don’t worry, they have come out from hiding and are back to their playful bunny selves.)
That night, I went to sleep dreaming that maybe…just maybe those twinkling stars were aligning for me and my wish of having my very own dream agent was about to come true.
Fast forward two days later to February 27th. I received an email that was so twinkly. So sparkly. That I now have that email copy/pasted and saved on my laptop. It was THE CALL email that I had been waiting for FOR years! I pushed my heart back down into my chest. A heart in the throat can make it a bit hard to squeal. And this email needed the biggest squeal yet! She wanted to talk on Monday! I squealed. I smiled. I blinked. I nearly cried I was so excited. But, I also needed to get work. I shot out an email thanking her, letting her know about my crazy, wacky work schedule and suggesting a good time to call. I gave her my phone number and my cell phone number, you know just in case I didn’t make it home from work before our phone meeting. Because the last thing in the world I wanted to was to miss THE CALL!
You still with me? Okay. Good. Are you ready for some more stars to align? Me too!
Fast forward to Monday, March 2nd. The day I have been dreaming about and wishing upon star after star had finally arrived. And once again all those stars were aligning in perfect harmony.
My work day went smoother than ever before. It was a Monday which is usually a very long day. But the dreary winter weather had caused schools to close so my husband and I (we operate a bread route, by the way) had five less stops that day. Five less stops = getting done earlier…yep the stars were at work.J
I got home an hour and a half earlier than usual and immediately went to my laptop to check my emails. And there sitting in my inbox was an email from my editor, Katie Hall at Arbordale Publishing. My picture book The Sparrow and The Trees was complete and she had attached the FULL color illustrated book. I reread my picture book with the wonderful illustrations that Susan Detwiler had done for it and smiled. Oh the joy of the stars aligning!
I took a few moments to savor that first picture book in full color. And then I got right down to business. I laid out my notes. Some extra paper. Two pencils. You know, just in case one broke. I didn’t want to have to tell ‘dream’ agent to hold on a minute.
With all my preparations complete, I consoled with several of my writer friends *waves at each of you* to keep my nerves calm. Okay. Yeah. I know you guys are coughing a little and thinking console = obsess, but either way “Thank you all!”
Now for the moment I had been waiting for. It was time for THE CALL! And like clockwork, ‘dream’ agent rang my phone right on time. I pushed my heart down where it belonged, demanding it stay there this time and I answered.
To a pleasant, kind, cheerful voice on the other end. We talked a few moments about non-writing things (hehehe…I can’t tell you guys everything. Some things have to stay between an agent and her client right.J) Right away, ‘dream’ agent let me know she was calling to offer representation and I bounced in my seat. And yes. Demanded that my heart stay in my chest because I needed my voice.
We talked about several of my books that I sent in that very large email. Her passion for my work was so uplifting. So exciting. And so inspirational, I could hardly contain myself! We spent a great deal of time talking about my books, submissions, revisions and what’s next. I was on cloud nine.
Then, we wrapped up our call just talking. Chatting about various things. And just a little word to the wise…squirrels can be quite mean. So if you’re thinking of planting basil outside your window, I’d strongly advise against it. J We laughed and got to know one another and by the end of THE CALL I not only knew she was THE agent for me, I felt as though I had found a new, awesome, funny, witty, savvy friend.
We agreed to wait for one week for other agents that had my submissions to come forward with an offer. But I had already made up my mind…THIS was going to be MY agent no matter what. To find an agent who LOVES my work, feels as passionate about it as she did, AND to be able to feel right at home with her, laughing and talking —it was more than I could ever wish for upon those twinkling stars.
SO without further ado…I am extremely proud, very excited, and beyond over the moon to announce that I am now represented by the amazingly talented, super fun, awesomely savvy Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Agency!
My stars aligned for me once again in February. But this time, with Jessica by my side, I know I will not have to wait another whole year for those stars to align again. And I am ready to start this next phase in my career with my new agent and my new friend.
Thank you Jessica for believing in me and my books. Thank you for a wonderful fun conversation. And thank you for giving me THE CALL. I look forward to a lifetime of chatting, laughing, writing, revising, and selling books with you! Because when the stars align…
…it’s a beautiful thing.
This is me signing my agent contract! And if you are wondering why in the world I’m sitting in a bread truck, it’s because THIS is my mobile office :). My husband, Ricky and I own a bread route. The hours are long and I, like so many other writers have adapted. I have this bread truck filled with books, magazines, notebooks, pencils, and a tablet. And I’ve accomplished quite a bit of writing in my office on wheels. PLUS the truck is stocked with snacks ALL the time!
Will repost later. Saving Sapphire is under revision.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.
Arbordale has issued out their 2015 catalog and my Picture Book THE SPARROW AND THE TREES is on page 3!!!