For many years I taught a beginning writer’s course for the Institute of Children’s Literature. One of the company’s requirements stipulated that teachers attend a staff meeting in Connecticut each year. Although I was wary of flying to New York and staying alone there in a hotel, I felt eager for the chance to visit my agent and editors in person, so I’d make the trip. I’d call my agent ahead of time and tell here which editor I wanted to see. This worked well until one year when she told me that my editor at Scholastic couldn’t work my visit into her schedule.
I hid my disappointment and kept appointments with other editors. All went well until it started to rain. I had no confidence in my ability to catch a taxi in the rain and I had only an hour or so before I had to walk to the Port Authority and board a train to Westport, CT. The scholastic offices were very close to my hotel, so close I thought I could walk it I had to. So I called the editor who couldn’t work me into her schedule and asked if she didn’t have even a few minutes for me. She said to come on over and she would work me in.
So I walked in the rain to the Scholastic offices, looking very wilted when I arrived. But the ms. I’d brought to show this editor was dry in my attaché case and I pulled it out to show to her, giving her a brief synopsis of the characters and plot.
She considered the story, said she couldn’t us it right then, but she asked if she could make a copy of the synopsis for her file. Of course I agreed to this although I felt sure she was just being kind because I looked so wet and wilted.
So a couple of days later I went home from New York very discouraged that this editor hadn’t liked my ms well enough to accept it on the spot. Of course, I’d always told my writing students to keep their manuscripts circulating, that they’d never sell anything from their desk drawer or their filing cabinet. But I didn’t feel up to putting this ms. in the mail to another editor. I shaved it into my file cabinet. And I forgot it as gave up all hope of ever selling it.
Then one day—Surprise! I received a call from the Scholastic editor offering me a contract for that book, The Ghost of Graydon Place. You can imagine my excitement as I prepared the complete manuscript for her. The book came out in paperback and sold well. Years passed. I’d almost forgotten about that book until my new agent asked to see it. She was selling YA books from the 1970s to Thorndike for republication. So now The Ghost of Graydon Place is in hardback and my librarian says it is checked out frequently by reluctant teen readers who They are caught up in the mystery. It is also in demand by English Second Language students who are tired of reading stories for elementary readers and who welcome a real mystery.
I don’t think this story really has a moral. I still tell my students to keep their manuscripts circulating, that they can’t sell a story from their desk drawer or file cabinet. The memory of this incident reminds me that I have a few manuscripts written a while back that I need to revise and get in the mail.
My most recent book, Eden Palms Murder”–mini synopsis: KEY WEST VISITOR BAILEY GREEN FACES DEATH AT THE HANDS OF BLACKMARKET THIEVES WHEN POLICE IGNORE HER CLAIM THAT HE BOTHER’S HOMELESS FRIEND WAS MURDERED.