* Goodnight, Dragons was written after two excruciating rejections within two weeks. I was determined I would write something that would be published by a big publisher, so I sat down and wrote Taming Dragons (original title) off the top of my head. My agent received interest within days. I don’t know why this worked, but I wish I could repeat it!
* One of the excruciating rejections was later reversed—the novel was bought by the same editor who’d rejected it. This is the forthcoming middle-grade novel-in-verse Serendipity and Me, due to be released by Viking in 2013. If the editor hadn’t rejected the novel first, Goodnight, Dragons would have probably never been written.
* My first payment for writing was in winning first place in a poetry contest at my high school when I was a senior. I was called at my workplace in a fabric store to confirm that the poem was mine. Names were kept confidential during the judging, and the retrieval system didn’t work somehow. The voice on the phone wanted me to say some lines from the poem I’d submitted and of course my mind went blank. I eventually came up with something that matched.
* The first poem I ever sold was never published. The publisher of the small magazine died before it went to press. Her husband sent notes to the writers explaining why the magazine would no longer be published. The magazine was called Pet Parade. The poem was a sonnet about cats. Thirty-some years later, “Sonnet for a Cat and Her Kittens” will be published in my new novel, Serendipity and Me, as a poem Sara’s mom wrote.
* When I worked at a publishing house in California, I compiled and wrote a skit book for them. Marketing came up with the politically incorrect title of Skitsophrenia. I couldn’t convince them it was a bad idea. In the reprint it was changed to Skitomatic because of customer complaints. Years later, I was asked by a magazine to do an interview with the father of a schizophrenic. I confessed to the editors about my unfortunate title of the past. They continued to want me to do the interview and article.
* The original title of Cups Held Out was Cups Held Out for Money. The longer title didn’t fit on the cover illustration of the cup.
* When I saw the first illustrations of Julia’s Words, I noticed an odd thing. I thought I recognized Julia. I contacted the illustrator and asked who she’d used as a model for Julia. She confirmed that it was a child I had done a bit of interpreting for in the child’s elementary school. Brooke, the illustrator, lived in Pittsburgh. I lived 6 hours away in Elkhart. It seemed like an odd happenstance.
*Most memorable way of finding out one of my poems was published–waiting for a concert, reading the magazine associated with the founders of the music festival, seeing my poem in the publication. “If It Was Now” can be found here.