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).