February 13, 2017

All about Nonnie and I

Guest post by Savannah Hendricks:

In 2005 I sat down to write a story, Nonnie and I.  It was originally titled Nia and I.  The name had to be changed to Nonnie because a publisher (not the one who ended up publishing it) showed interest, but already had a book with that name.

When I started the story I didn't have a path. I had zero conflict or problem, and no idea about the ending. But in a spiral notebook I wrote sentence after sentence as they came to me. I was intrigued seeing how animals interact with children and in turn how children react to animals. This is how Nonnie and I started. Additionally, I had seen a documentary on giraffe adoption in Africa and how people could get close to them much like one would a horse.

After a month of editing I sent Nonnie and I out to a big name publisher that at the time was still taking unsolicited manuscripts. Per rules I didn't include a SASE. About three months later a letter with the publisher’s logo arrived in my mailbox. The editor wrote that she loved the story, BUT not enough as she was unable to connect with "the voice." (Yes, I still have the signed letter).

I submitted again and again....and again. Only to receive several more personal letters from editors who loved it, BUT couldn't connect with "the voice."

I became a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and later I joined a critique group.  The story was edited and sent out again with changes discussed in the group. I couldn't change my voice—it was my way of writing after all.

Then during a clearance sale at Borders I was finally able to purchase Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul (2009) a book I had wanted for some time, but put it off because money was tight.

After a failed 44 submissions I spent a total of two months reading Writing Picture Books and editing Nonnie and I. Then….I submitted it one last time.

Two weeks later I got an email from Xist Publishing. They wanted to offer me a book contract! The date was August 2013, eight years after I sat down to write the first sentence of Nonnie and I.

Nonnie and I was published on October 15, 2014 by Xist Publishing. Illustrations by Lisa M. Griffin.

February 1, 2017

The Five Senses at the Tennis Club

f work out three times a week at the Lexington Tennis Club.  The gym is upstairs and looks down on rows of tennis courts, so while working out you can watch people play matches or take lessons.

Each one of my workouts begins with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise followed by weight-lifting machines and hand weights.  The best time to go is right before lunch when the gym is the least crowded and I don't have much food on my stomach. When I get back it is time for lunch and then on to writing.

Here are the five senses at the Lexington Tennis Club before I come home to write.

I hear:  the whirl of a rowing machine
             the clunk of weights
             the squeaky wheels of an exercise bike
             boys grunting (I never hear this from the gals)
             music from my ipod
             the thud of an occasional tennis ball hitting the glass wall of the gym

I feel:    my tee shirt clinging to my back
             my hair damp against my neck
             my palms sweating on the handles of the bike
             the breeze of a ceiling fan cooling my skin
             my muscles tensing when I work out with weights
             a stiff white towel when I mop my face

I smell:  a strong Clorox-y clean gym towel
              a clean-smelling antiseptic spray used to wipe down machines
I taste:  an icy cool drink of water
             sweet peppermint gum

I see:   smiling friends that I know at the desk
            five brightly lit indoor tennis courts
            a young gal chatting on a cellphone while on a treadmill
            kids dressed in colorful tennis outfits horsing around and doing drills on a court
            a young guy with sock monkeys tattooed on both of his calves          
            rows of bikes, weight-lifting machines, hand weights, blue mats, a scale
            men and women playing some serious tennis matches

Remember you can read the latest news about Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell on the Maggie Project http://www.themaggieproject.blogspot.com