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I’ve been sitting on a secret for a while…but the cat is out of the bag at Publishers Marketplace today.

 
July 28, 2008
   
  Children’s:
Middle grade 
 
Kate Messner’s untitled book about a 12-year-old girl who has until the end of the week to finish her huge 7th grade leaf project, but she faces comic catastrophes (and real drama) at every turn to Walker Children’s, for publication in Fall 2009, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
 

 
I *heart* my new editor at Walker and am so excited to be working with her. 


Some of you have read about this book before, in various forms.  It used to be called SWINGER OF BIRCHES.  I’ve been working on it for a couple years, in between other projects, and this is the novel that caught my agent’s eye last November when I signed with her.  We changed the title to MAPLE GIRL before she started sending it out to editors.

By then, I’d been working on some other stuff, too — a picture book and a chapter book. Those ended up selling quickly– to Chronicle and Scholastic — making me the official write-while-your-agent-shops-your-book poster girl.  But I still had hopes for MAPLE.

One day this May, I was driving my kids to their various lessons/practices/friends’ houses, and my son asked a question about one of the other book deals.  Then he asked about MAPLE GIRL. 

“Well,” I said.  “It’s out on submission right now, but…”

“No one likes that one much, do they?” he said, with classic 11-year-old boy tact.

To my credit, I didn’t take away his dessert or cry.  I said. “Well, actually, lots of people like it.  But we haven’t found the editor who loves it yet.  That’s the person we need to find. And that may or may not happen.  We’ll see.”

Then he asked what was for dinner.  It was chicken (it’s always chicken).  I went home and made it and cleared the table and put the kids to bed and sat down at the computer.  In my email in-box was a note from Agent Jenn about an editor at Walker who LOVED my book. Loved it.  I went back and read that word over and over again.  There it was.

Happily, she was able to get the manuscript through the second and third reads and meetings that books have to go through before they become books, and in early June, they made an offer.  The editorial letter arrived just a few weeks later, and I’ve been busy with my latest revision ever since. We’re in the process now of brainstorming a new title (feel free to chime in with ideas) and hope to have something official soon.

For those interested in process…I blogged about revising this book a couple times in its earlier stages, here and here.

It makes me smile to read through those posts now. So much in this business we do on faith, hoping that our words will belong to real live kids some day instead of just to us.  But looking back, it’s a joy to remember how much I loved this story even when I wasn’t sure it would ever be a book.

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