Author Archives: Darcey Rosenblatt

About Darcey Rosenblatt

Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

Encouraging Early Activists

the-youngest-marcherIt is Martin Luther King’s birthday. It seems particularly important to pay attention this year to Dr. King’s life and the dreams he fought and died for. I have traditions for this day – reading the I Have a Dream Speech – listening to Shed a Little Light at least once and this year I will start a new tradition. It will include a yearly reading of Cynthia Levinson’s THE YOUNGEST MARCHER – The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist. It’s so fitting that Cynthia’s story, beautifully illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton would be launched this week as Audrey Faye Hendricks was the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest. This book seems a wonderful follow-up to Cynthia’s book WE’VE GOT A JOB which tells the story of the 4,000 black elementary-, middle-, and high school students who voluntarily went to jail in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

Thinking about Audrey got me thinking about other young activists. Many of us know the story of young Malala Yousafzai who was living under Taliban rule in Pakistan, where young girls were at times forbidden to attend school. She started writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC at the age of 11, detailing what life was like and sharing her views on education for girls. Her passion and activism earned her several television and print interviews. Unfortunately, in 2012, a gunman boarded her school bus, asked for Malala by name and shot her in the head. Although in critical condition after the attack, Malala eventually stabilized enough to be sent to a hospital in England to recover in safety. She speaks about the rights of women and girls often and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. She has been nominated twice for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize – the youngest person and only girl to ever be nominated.

Fewer have heard the story of Ryan Hreljac who in 1998, at six years old, learned that kids in Africa often had to walk several kilometers for clean water. This seemed wrong to Ryan. Using money he earned from household chores and funds he raised from speaking publicly at different events about Africa’s clean water issues, Ryan managed to fund the construction of his first well in a Northern Ugandan village in 1999. From there he established Ryan’s Well Foundation, an organization that has helped build thousands of water projects and latrines, bringing safe water and improved sanitation to close to a million people.

As 2017 dawns many of us are feeling the need to do more. As children’s writers we can make sure all children see themselves in the books they read and show them that they’re never too young to make a difference. Cynthia Levinson has raised this bar with THE YOUNGEST MARCHER. Join me in making this book part of your Marin Luther King Day celebration.

darceyhighres About Darcey Rosenblatt
Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

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In Praise of Resourceful Girls

nianmonstercoverIf you’ve been hanging out with us this week here at Emu’s Debuts you’ve heard a lot about Andrea Wang’s THE NIAN MONSTER and her spunky resourceful main character, Xingling. To continue the launch week celebration I asked Emu’s to talk about our favorite resourceful girls – real or imagined.

Christina Uss thought of SALLY JEAN THE BICYCLE QUEEN from author Cari Best. Christina says “She has the best can-best can-do attitude of picture book girls I know and love. When faced with the need for a bicycle that fits her properly without any money to get one, she uses her brain and her hands to get the job done!” Christina also loves one of my personal favorites – Hilary Knight’s ELOISE. “That six-year-old girl’s imagination means she’ll never be at a loss for excitement and adventure anywhere she goes.” I agree. When I was a kid ELOISE was serious a role model for me.

Christina was also moved to submit for our consideration Hillary Clinton growing up in Chicago in the first chapter of Cynthia Levinson’s DO ALL THE GOOD YOU CAN. Christina read this to her son and he said, “I like how Hillary doesn’t wait for a better time to do something, she jumps right in and does things that need doing right away.” Smart kid.

Jason Gallaher says” Great gillyweed, this may be the hardest question we’ve ever been asked on Emu’s Debuts. There are so many resourceful girls out there that I love! But I will say my favorite from recent reads is Alice in Tahereh Mafi’s FURTHERMORE. First of all, she’s hilarious. She has this dry sort of wit that reeeeeeally cracks me up. Second of all, she’s working to find her father in a dimension consisting of a gazillion worlds with different rules that she doesn’t know, yet keeps on going anyway. This girl rocks! Plus, she is a snazzy dresser who includes bangles in her wardrobe. Love her!” And if you know Jason you know he’s a great judge of hilarious and fashion.

Finally Andrea weighed in on this question herself – maybe giving us a hint about her inspiration. “I read I AM MALALA a couple of years ago and was just blown away by Malala Yousafzai. She started speaking out and fighting for girls’ rights to education when she was just a young teen. She found ways to keep learning even when her school was closed, and ways to keep speaking out even though her life was in danger. She has such inner strength!”

We are all so excited to see THE NIAN MONSTER make its way into the hearts and dreams of kids and for Xingling to join the ranks of resourceful girls we all love to talk about!

As an added treat if you  leave a comment on this post (or any EMUs Debuts post this week) you’ll be entered into a giveaway for THE NIAN MONSTER.

darceyhighresDarcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

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LIKE MAGIC Launch Week: Our Biggest Summers

like-magic

Elaine Vickers LIKE MAGIC is a lovely story about Grace, Jada, and Malia, three girls looking to belong. It’s a story about the biggest summer of their lives, the summer so much changes. Talking about this special summer got Emus thinking about the biggest summer of their childhood. Twelve to thirteen seemed to be the sweet spot for these Emus.

Haley Barrett remembers the exact moment when she realized she wasn’t a little kid anymore. “It was a summer evening. I was at a 4H fair and on a carnival ride. We were flying and spinning and Heart’s BARRACUDA was blasting. I felt daring and pretty and like an almost-teenager.”

For Jason Gallaher his twelve-year-old summer was made special by his Grandma Joan. “She took me and my brother on a trip to the Mediterranean. We saw the south of France, the west coast of Italy, and Malta. It was the first time I had been out of the country. She may not have realized it, but Grandma made me realize how big the world was and how much of it I wanted to see. From that summer on, I knew I wouldn’t stay in my hometown as an adult – I’d go discover where on the planet I felt most myself.”

The summer Kate Slivensky was turning 13, was her second summer volunteering at the local zoo. She got to work with more exotic animals than the summer before. “My first day on the job that year, I helped a zookeeper separate fighting rhinos. I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t something they’d let a kid do. I must be growing up!’ I was really proud of myself. As an adult looking back, I have a different opinion of that moment (mild horror, to say the least). But as I write middle grade, I use it to remember what kids are capable of accomplishing. (Far more than adults give them credit for!)”

The summer Andrea Wang turned 13, her family moved from rural Ohio to a suburb of Boston. “I was a painfully self-conscious kid, and suddenly finding myself in a large, racially-diverse city was heaven. I loved the freedom of anonymity, of blending in, of being one of a crowd. I made friends with other Chinese American kids and felt seen and heard in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. That move made me feel like I could finally belong somewhere.”

Go get yourself a copy of Elaine’s LIKE MAGIC. The sweetness of the friendship summer will get you thinking about your own special summers. Here are some links where you can buy the book: Amazon, IndieBound, and B&N.


darceyhighresDarcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

 

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Finding Perfect, Finding Understanding!

finding-perfect-2It is launch week for my friend and agency mate Elly Swartz’s FINDING PERFECT. I was lucky enough to read an advanced reader copy of this book and I LOVED IT. This book is one of those books that is going to be life changing for some kids. Elly’s main character Molly is in middle school and dealing with worsening symptoms of OCD. The book is sweet and funny and truly sensitive to Molly’s situation. I know it’s going to be a lifechanging book that helps some kids understand themselves better and others to be more compassionate. To commemorate the launch of this special book I asked other Emu’s about books that changed their perspectives when they young.

As a kid, Debbi Michiko Florence loved reading – from Charlotte’s Web to the witch books by Ruth Chew and Judy Blume as well. When she was in 5th or 6th grade she came across FAREWELL TO MANZANAR by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, about Jeanne’s experience being interned as a Japanese-American during WWII. It was the first she’d heard about this event. This led to ask questions and she learned from her dad that he and his family had been interned. Debbi said, “It was the first book I’d read that was about and by a Japanese-American. While it was a story that saddened me, it also made me feel connected, gave me a sense of my own history. Until I had a Japanese-American teacher in 4th grade who set me straight, I actually believed my ancestors came over on the Mayflower, because that’s the way we were taught in elementary school back then. I was grateful then as I am now for Jeanne’s honest and heart-breaking portrayal of life in the internment camp, but also for the strength of those who tried to make the best of a horrible situation.” Debbie recently bought the book for her college-age daughter.

Andrea Y. Wang told me that even though Anne Shirley was nothing like her on the surface, reading about her in the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES books made her feel less alone and more hopeful. Anne was an outsider who was often teased by her peers, yet she had an inner strength that Andrea admired and tried to emulate. “Anne showed me that all I needed was one or two kindred spirits and I would be fine.” I felt the same way!

For me Madeline L’Engle’s WRINKLE IN TIME was hugely important. Meg Wallace showed me a character that felt like I felt – awkward and different from all the other kids I knew, but in the end resourceful and strong, partly because of those differences. I think that’s why both these books have lasted through the decades.

Like Debbi’s experience with FAREWELL TO MANZANAR, I’m sure FINDING PERFECT will inspire empathy and understanding and Molly will bring solace and inner strength to the many kids who see themselves in her. We are thrilled and proud to send FINDING PERFECT on its way!

Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

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It’s All About the Writing – Right?

FullSizeRenderI remember when I was prepublished having a published friend tell me to enjoy the time before I got a deal because it was all about the pure writing and it would never happen again and it was lovely. At the time I felt like I was getting close – I’d had lots of requests for full manuscripts and encouraging critiques at conferences – but I felt like I’d been close for a long time and that illusive sale was still out of reach. So when my friend told me to enjoy this time I was full of mixed feelings. Part of me appreciated her confidence that I wouldn’t be prepublished forever. Part of me wanted to shout at her – ‘You’ve sold three books – just shut the front door!’ I didn’t shout of course. I tried to hear what she was saying, but I will admit that I’m hearing those words in my head loud and clear now in a way I hadn’t before. I am approximately eight months from my book hitting the shelves and while I am still daily ecstatic that I got that deal, my to do list is growing with the tweeting and postcard ordering and library outreach and all the things I need to do to get my story noticed. So I remember back to that time when my writing life was all about the writing. I won’t say I’m nostalgic, but I have this work-in-progress that I AM GOING to finish and get out of my hands this summer. Fitting in good long writing time and holding on to that love of pure writing – I’m putting that at the top of my to do list. Anybody with me?
DarceyHighResAbout Darcey Rosenblatt
Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in spring of 2017. KEY TO HEAVEN, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

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by | June 30, 2016 · 11:05 am

My Empty Literary Nest

IMG_2992It wasn’t long ago that I fledged my one and only beautiful child – off to college – out in the world. I anticipated becoming an empty-nester with trepidation approaching dread, but when it actually happened, I was surprised how much the joy and pride of seeing her flourish helped me get used to the quiet house.

Now, as I get ready to send a book out into the world I’m a little dazed that I’m feeling that same trepidation. It’s not the fear of “will it do well?” and “what are they going to say on Goodreads?” Those are the fears I expected. What is surprising is how it will feel for this manuscript not to be a manuscript. It was over a decade ago that this idea grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Then it was a few chapters, then a rough first draft, then dozens more – a little less rough each one. Characters were added and subtracted, one character I actually had to kill off.

Over all that time it has been My Manuscript. A bulging folder transferred from old computer to new – passed around my critique group and to beta readers – hopefully sent after full requests from editors or agents. Always My Manuscript. But soon, very soon, it will be that no more. It is already more my fabulous editor’s manuscript than mine. Soon it will be an Advanced Reader Copy and then – gulp – a book-that-can-be-bought! It’s strange to admit that there’ll be a hole in my life where that manuscript has been. Yes – there are others coming up behind it, but this was my first to be rejected (many times) and my first sale – in short – my first to fledge out. I’m confident that, like my other empty nest experience, I’ll be proud watching this book fly on its own, but right this minute, indulge me in a moment of sweet nostalgia.

DarceyHighResDarcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in spring of 2017. Her story is historic fiction, telling the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater. darcomatic on Instagram and darcey_r on twitter.

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Janet Fox Adds to the Tradition of Scottish Magic

Silver Chatelaine—is it magic?

Silver Chatelaine—is it magic?

From the Loch Ness monster to King Arthur’s son Mordred, Scotland is full of myths and magic. Selkies, the creatures that live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land, have been sighted on the Scottish shores for eons. Tales abound of babies stolen from their cradles and replaced by fairies or changlings. At Clava Cairns, set in a peaceful grove of trees, are the remains of three stone burial mounds, constructed 4,000 years ago with a passageway that the sun illuminates with each winter solstice. That is certainly some kind of magic. And of course, perhaps the Scottish magic closest to our hearts, as writers of children’s fiction, is that Scotland is the location of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the magical village of Hogsmeade.

Now with the publication of THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE Janet Fox has given us a new world of Scottish Magic to explore. It’s World War II – Katherine Bateson and her younger brother and sister are sent to Scotland from London to escape the bombings. A school to remove children from the war torn cities has been set up in Rookskill Castle, an ancient, crumbling manor on the misty Scottish highlands. From the moment Kat and her siblings arrive, Kat senses something isn’t quite right.

What can Kat do about the nightmares that seem so real? Why do the castle’s walls and halls seem to move as soon as you walk past them? What is happening to their teacher who is changing before their eyes? Kat’s younger brother doesn’t care—he just wants to learn swordplay and other knightly skills. Her younger sister is sure the castle is full of magic. Even though Kat’s aunt sent her on this voyage with a chatelaine of magical charms, math wiz, Kat is sure there is a logical but possibly sinister explanation.

The wonderful thing about this story is that as readers we are solidly in Kat’s head – so unsure about what is happening around her. Is Lady Eleanor, who runs Rookskill Castle, harboring a Nazi spy or do magic and ghosts rule the whole castle? When her classmates begin to vanish, one by one, Kat is pushed to uncover the truth about what is actually going on—and who Lady Eleanor really is—before it’s too late. THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE is a rich historic fiction, full of wonderful characters, that adds to the tradition of Scottish magic. The magic in this story is so well done that I was surprised to find it wasn’t based on centuries of existing myth. Janet saw a picture on Facebook of a ring of charms and their magical properties were born. This is one of those “can’t put it down” books that I’ll save for rereading over the years.

DarceyHighResDarcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in spring of 2017. Her story is historic fiction, telling the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater. darcomatic on Instagram and darcey_r on twitter.

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When is it okay to call yourself a writer?

You hear authors say “I’ve been writing all my life” or “I’ve been writing since I was a little kid.” But for many of us I think the moment we actually label ourselves a “writer” can represent a significant step in this journey we’re on. This was true for me. In one of my early journals I wrote the following –

IMG_0152I couldn’t spell (thank the gods for spell check), but I obviously knew I wanted to write. I wrote all through high school, won a statewide poetry award, but then life got in the way. I wasn’t confident that I could make a living writing. I got interested in environmental issues and went a more scientific path. Even so the sneaky writing muse was watching out for me. I didn’t end up in a lab, I became a planner and project manager with significant responsibilities in, you guessed it, technical writing. But the writing I do for work is as far from creative writing as you can get while still using words.

For years I thought I couldn’t write creatively and do the technical work I was making my living at – then after a while (and I mean a decade or two) my thinking shifted. I give huge credit to my parents, they always remembered I was a writer when I forgot, and this helped me admit that since there were always four or five stories gamboling about in my head, I might as well write them down.

For a while it was my little secret. I didn’t tell family or friends. Then over time when people asked “what’s new” I would shyly admit that I was doing some writing on the side. It was well into my second full manuscript, that I realized two fundamental truths. First – if I called myself a writer, not only would others take me more seriously, but I would feel more grounded in the responsibility of putting butt in chair and getting the work done. Second, I’d been hesitant to call myself a writer because I didn’t have an agent and I wasn’t published, but in fact I was a writer. I was putting the words down, reading, honing my craft skills, and becoming active in this amazing world of other writers doing the same thing. So, if you are in that place between “doing some writing” and “being a writer” I urge you to take that leap. Honor your skills and the hard work you’re doing by calling yourself what you are. Print up business cards. Put it on your Face Book page. Then enjoy the journey.

P.S. if you want more in this vein, run don’t walk to pick up Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC. Empowering – I promise.

DarceyHighResDarcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in spring of 2017. KEY TO HEAVEN, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

Find her on Facebook or Twitter @Darcey_r

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What Will I Write When I Grow Up?

owenAs you may surmise, having a debut book deal is a real conversation starter. These chats are as varied as ‘Did you do the illustrations as well?’ (my book is a middle-grade historic fiction about war – not a lot of double spread color) to ‘Are you coming to the independent bookstore in my town?’ (even though his town is 2000 miles away and he is the only person I know in that town). Like I said – a lot of conversations. Recently I was having one of these conversations with a very supportive friend and she asked, “When are you going to write an adult book?” This is a friend who shares my love of books and reads outside the adult genre, but she was surprised that my immediate answer was ‘Oh no – that will never happen.’

This reminded me of a conversation several years ago when I was talking to a friend about what books we were reading. I was raving about a beautifully crafted YA trilogy and he said ‘Yeah, but I mean what real books are you reading?’ He realized immediately who he was talking to and that he had firmly stuffed his foot in his mouth. He fell all over himself trying to backpedal, but his instincts blazed like a billboard – real writers write for grownups.

Now don’t get me wrong – I have a long list of adult books that I love and I read a lot, especially adult fiction. But I have so many stories starring kids in my brain, so many kid characters living there, that my most precious sugary sweet dream is that I’ll live long enough to get them all written and into kid’s hands.

Looking back on these conversations has made me think more deeply about why I feel so strongly about writing for kids. One might venture that I’m simply a 14-year old geek in grownup clothing (and my friends who say I dress like Ms. Frizzle might argue that point). But there is truth in this – while I operate fine in the adult world, I still remember what it was like to be that nerdy preteen. That kid who was convinced my brain was wired different from every one else on the planet.

But more to the point, I remember so clearly the startling glimpses I had that there might be others who saw the world through my skewed glasses. These glimpses all came from the books I read with a flashlight under the covers. I was odd, but so was L’Engle’s Meg Murray and Spinelli’s Star Girl and dozens of other characters who came to me as friends when I most needed them. So as I think back, this is the core of why I can’t imagine writing for adults. Adults appreciate and enjoy stories, but they don’t need them the way kids do. As we get older, stories are simply not life-changing the way they were when we were younger. Maybe I’ll change my mind, when I grow up, but as long as there are kids who might finally find themselves in my stories, it’s not likely.
DarceyHighRes Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in spring of 2017. KEY TO HEAVEN, an historic fiction, tells the story of of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

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The Day Everything Changed

We all know selling a debut novel is not a life changing event from a financial standpoint, but I’ve found it changed my life in ways I wasn’t exactly expecting. My “day” was actually several days separated by about five months. The first was in December 2014 – the day the fabulous Erin Murphy said yes! A little back story – over the course of 2009 and 2010 everyone at EMLA had rejected my manuscript! It was rejected in the nicest way by Erin, then Ammi-Joan, then Tricia, all with encouraging words, but rejected none the less. I was sad, but not bitter. Over the next several years at conferences, I met all three of these wonderful people and remained a huge fan of the agency.

In the summer of 2013 I was lucky enough to win one of the SCBWI Work in Progress grants for my historic novel KEY TO HEAVEN and I felt it was the time to up my agent search. One hiccup was that at a conference the previous year I’d had a great conversation with Erin about a story percolating in my head and she gave me some great ideas. It felt a little odd to be taking this story to another agent without giving her a heads up. When I sent that heads up, Erin decided she’d better take one more look at the manuscript she’d passed on. My many revisions must have paid off, because after several conversations back and forth, Erin offered me representation – December 15th, 2014!

So this was the beginning of the sea change for me. I’d been working on this book for over 10 years and as much as your family can love it and your friends tell you it will get published, 10 years is a long time to wait. For Erin, who makes her business selling stories, to value my story enough to champion it was truly important. Even though I’d been writing pretty seriously for a decade, this made me feel legitimate in a way I had not the day before.

Even with the flurry of holidays, Erin was able to have conversations with a number of editors who expressed interest. With fingers and toes tightly crossed, my baby went out to ten editors in early February. By the end of April we had only two no’s and serious interest from Sally Doherty at Henry Holt – by the first week in May she had scheduled an acquisition meeting. Did I mention I’d been writing for a decade? I knew the statistics on acquisitions and had seen many a friend come away with disappointing news from acquisition meetings. Still, butterflies took up permanent residence in my solar plexus.

May 6th was busy at my day job (an environmental planner) and I was working full tilt, but obviously part of my brain was in New York. I’m on the west coast and when 3:00 came along and I’d not heard (6:00 in New York – surely even busy editors  have finished meetings for the day) I decided I’d wait until 3:30 and if I’d not heard I’d call Tara, Erin’s assistant. I tried to focus on the deadlines I had that day. At 3:16 my phone flashed Arizona. I think I swiped before the ring ended. All Erin had to say was “We have a deal.” Much squealing ensued.

Then came several heady days where two other editors requested more time to decide if they wanted to make offers (Yee-gads), but by the end of the week, we had a decision. KEY would be published in “early” 2017 by Henry Holt. Sally Doherty’s excitement about bringing my story to the world was clear and I was over the moon. Over these few days there were hugs and clinking glasses and much celebration (my friends and family are awesome in the true meaning of that overused word), but as the dust settled, I kept thinking of something one of my dear writing friends said in these days. I’d said, “It’s unbelievable.” And she said, “No, it’s not unbelievable, it’s unexpected and wonderful, but you worked so hard and stuck with it, it’s not unbelievable at all.” And I guess that’s what brought this change into focus for me – I realized somewhere in my gut I’d always believed this was a story that I needed to bring into the world and over the decade I’d come to believe (again deep and often hidden in my heart) that it would happen, even though there were times when the many “almosts” made it hard. To have that belief in myself and my story born out means the world to me and means nothing is quite as it was. Am I still squealing? Of course I am, but I’m also working on my next story!

DarceyHighRes

Darcey Rosenblatt is a farmer of stories – most live in that special place that dances between middle grade and YA. Her debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in early 2017. KEY TO HEAVEN, an historic fiction, tells the story of of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and almost grown daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

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