When the world hands you lemons, make lemonade. I know I know. It’s a cutesy doilies-on-the-back-of the-sofa, wear-white-gloves-and-a-hat-to-church-on Sundays sort of statement. It’s also the name of a terrific verse novel for kids, written by Virginia Euwer Wolff. But I digress.
Back in November 2013 I learned that I’d been included on the longlist for Undiscovered Voices 2014. Last week the S.C.B.W.I. British Isles and Europe announced their list of twelve finalists for their 2014 publication and my novel was not chosen. After the requisite gnashing of teeth, beating of breasts and the teary Why am I always a bridesmaid? speech, punctuated by a glass or two of wine, I found my feet and gave myself a stern talking to.
Well… what actually happened is that my survival instinct kicked in. I got up the next morning (I should not have had a second glass of wine, but I digress again…) and opened the 2014 Children’s Writers and Illustrators’ Market. I GOT BUSY. I rewrote my synopsis for the bizillionth time – I suck at these and dream of a day when I might find a buddy to write it for me – and I started to plan my next move.
Confident that the new one-page, whole-novel synopsis did the job it was intended, I turned my attention to crafting a leaner, meaner query letter. At that moment I could have hugged the Undiscovered Voices Organisers if they were within reach. Part of their submission requirements included writing a 60 word pitch – something I’d worked on until it was so tight it could have turned carbon into diamonds. I plucked that pitch right out of my submission package and put it into the query letter. Hey Presto, I had a submission package I was pleased with. I was ready to submit. Again.
It Felt Great!
It felt so great I decided to keep going. I’ve been methodically studying my new 2014 Children’s Writers and Illustrators’ Market which is now filled with notes, submission dates, big black crosses over companies that don’t fit and tidy stars beside future possibilities. Riding the wave, I decided I may as well try a few agents as well. After all, I’ve been lucky enough to listen to some terrific ones at various S.C.B.W.I. events and I knew what I liked.
I admit, it sucked not be chosen. It reminded me of those grade eight school dances in the gym, where you’d stand around and wait, hoping THAT BOY, the cute one you’d been crushing on since Christmas would choose you. Take YOU by the hand and lead you out onto the dance floor.
Women’s Lib, baby. We don’t wait for the boys to ask us any more. I’m putting me and my manuscript out there. I’m the one doing the asking. And it’s a wonderful place to be. Exciting. hopeful. Full of possibilities.
It’s true that for every INVITATION – aka query letter or submission package – I send out, I could get rejected. But for me, there’s a whole world of possibility when I’m walking across that dance floor toward my heart’s desire. I imagine it’s like the feeling people get when they buy a lottery ticket – you never know – just might win.
Speaking of winning, may I suggest that you download (for free) the winners of this year’s 2014 Undiscovered Voices Publications. I’m not in it (except for an honourable Mention on page 173 – just saying…) but you’ll get a terrific read and the inside scoop on talent you’re going to hear a lot more about in the future.
Here’s a link. Hover over UV2014 and click on Download. You’re in for a treat.