Mailbag – questions about publishing process

Crystal writes: I am doing a research project for english.  I was just wondering what your favorite food was.


Lauren K. writes: I’m an eight grader at Clifton T. Barkalow Middle School in Freehold New Jersey. I am doing a book report on a book you wrote. The book is Speak. About the repot, their is a part of the report is about the author. I was wondering if you could help me. If you do, it would really help. Here are some of the questions that you might be able to help me with:

How many books have you written? 23, think.
What do you enjoy to do? Writing, reading, hanging out with my family and friends.
What inspired you to start writing? A rather lively imagination.
What is your favorite book out of all the books you have written? I’m proud of all of them.
If you could give one piece of advice to young writers, what would it be? Be nice to your parents. If you are going to try and make a career out of writing fiction, you will wind up living in their basement for a long time.
Where do you like to write? In my attic.
Where do you get your ideas for a story from? Everywhere!!

Tom writes: Hello, Ms. Anderson. Have you ever/Would you ever post the query letter that eventually led to the publication of Speak? It would not only be entertaining, but could also serve as a model for those reading your LJ who are in the query-writing process.

That is a great question, but I’m afraid I don’t have it anymore. (I submitted SPEAK in 1997.) My query letters tended to be very brief: A paragraph with (I hoped) an interesting one- or two sentence summary of the book, a paragraph that briefly detailed my writing qualifications, and a paragraph that said thank you for considering my work. Let me point out for the record that SPEAK was plucked from the slush pile. I sold my first 4 picture books, my series, 2 novels, and a couple of work-for-hire jobs without an agent.

Kashia writes: I believe that you met my teacher at a conference recently. She was so happy to meet you and I wanted to hear everything about it. To my surprise she was really nervous to meet you. I never would have thought of my teacher as a nervous person before. She really looks up to you maybe even more than myself.

But any way I was wondering what procedures you took to get your book published? was it hard? Did you have to go through a lot of editors and stuff or can you simply walk into a publishing office and say “I want to get a book published.” And did you start out with picture books or was Speak your first book? And the last thing I was wondering is how old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer? I am very interested in what you had to do to become a writer!!

I did it the old-fashioned way. I borrowed books from the library that taught me about the publication process (librarians rock), I borrowed more books from the library that had lists of publishers’ names and addresses, I wrote manuscripts and sent them to publishers. The first four years I was writing books for kids, I got rejected – over and over and over again. But I kept trying to improve my skills and it paid off. I started out with picture books because my kids were little back them. (I was about 30 years old when I decided to try and write for kids.) If you want to be a writer, you need a good day job to pay the bills, a passion for storytelling, a willingness to learn about craft, a wicked stubborn streak, and patience.

Who is still in the Dance?

George Mason. George Mason?

::sighs deeply::

OK, this is the hand we’ve been dealt. I’m hoping for UCLA vs. Florida. (If that happens, cousin Sue, I’ll bet you a cup of tea that UCLA will win.) Big shout-out to my Georgetown boys for making us all proud to wear blue and grey again.

Is there life after basketball? Not really, unless you count the reading and writing stuff. I made it home from CA in one piece and will post photos of the gorgeous Cerritos library later. Today I’m writing WIP2 and when the right patch of shade hits the front lawn, I’m going to rake dead leaves and pick up sticks. BH says we might have a bonfire tonight. That will be cool.

Good news about Oklahoma – the concept of parental freedom to choose for their children might not be dead! Here is an update from an Oklahoma librarian, which I took from the ASIF blog:

“HB 2158 has been assigned to the education subcommittee of the appropriations committee of the State Senate. This committee has until April 7 to take action on the bill. If the measure comes out of committee and is scheduled for Senate debate, then we’ll be doing another letter/e-mail/phone call campaign to state senators. The good news is that the Senate leadership has assured our Oklahoma Library Association lobbyist that HB 2158 will not come out of committee — it may not even make it on an agenda for discussion. Administration tells us to remain “watchful” though, as the issue is far from over. While the bill might be dead, it is possible that another piece of legislation could be amended with the language of HB 2158.”

If you live in Oklahoma, please research this bill and contact your state representatives and senators with your opinion!!

Quote du jour: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

The madness marches on..

Duke lost? Duke lost! OMG. And Gonzaga lost, too. I didn’t stay up late enough for that game, but I saw Adam Morrison’s press conference on TV this morning, and I have to say, I am developing a wicked crush on the guy. He played his heart out and his team lost. He took responsibility, saying “I missed the shots.”

But the best moment? With the game over, Morrison in a heap on the court, heart broken, UCLA team celebrating, Arron Afflalo of UCLA stopped. He went over to Morrison to comfort him. A few teammates joined him. Here is what Morrison said about the moment. “They had enough guts as a man to come over in their moment of victory, pick somebody up off the floor. If I could thank them, I would. That’s just a sign of great people and great players. It’s more than basketball.”

So now I have a crush on Arron Afflalo, too, and the entire UCLA team. If Georgetown can’t make it, I’m rooting for the classy guys from California.

I holed up in my hotel room yesterday and wrote, venturing out for sushi twice. It will be more of the same today, except I’m having lunch with a West Coast buddy.

If you live in LA and have nothing to do, come join me in Cerritos. I’m speaking at the Cerritos Public Library tonight at 7pm. Call (562) 916-1342 for more information. (Yes, I’ll be speaking while Georgetown is playing. Mom always said life wasn’t fair.)

the perfect high school?

First things first. Thank you, thank you to the students, staff, and parents of the Chadwick School (esp Kim Sonnenblick!) for making my visit so relaxing and enriching. I enjoyed the last two days so much!

Now I am in Cerritos. The ride from Palos Verdes here was mind-boggling; a typical LA mild-traffic jam kind of experience. I guess living out in the country is having more of an effect on me than I realized. I kept thinking who are all of these people? Where are they going? And how do they live so close to each other??? The driver of the car pointed out houses that cost millions of dollars that are – literally- separated from their neighbor’s million dollar house by only a few feet. I cannot get my head around that.

Today is catching up on work day, so I’ll keep this entry short. I have a question for you before I go: if you had a magic wand and were going to create the perfect high school from scratch, what would it be like?

Cali pictures