Tag Archives: debut

THE CALL by Rebecca Van Slyke

I waited for a long time to get THE CALL.

You know the one. You’ve written a manuscript for a picture book/poem/article/non-fiction/novel and sent it out. Maybe you’ve written two. Maybe sixty. In any case, you wait. And wait. The weeks turn into months, and maybe– like in my case– years. You do the things you’ve been told to do. Be  patient. Keep writing. Keep sending out. Go to conferences. Join a critique group. Get an MFA in writing for children. Get an agent. Keep writing. Keep waiting.

And after awhile, if you keep doing this, you get– THE CALL.

Your manuscript has been accepted. (!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Now with all the practice that I’ve  had waiting, you’d think I would have prepared something semi-intelligent to say when THE CALL came.

You might think that. But you’d be wrong.

I got THE CALL on a Monday morning in early June, just after school got out. I was enjoying a leisurely morning of not having to go teach second grade. I’d had my tea, checked my email, and I was contemplating taking a shower. The phone rang.

Voice on the phone: Hello, Rebecca? It’s Joan.

Me (thinking): Joan? Joan who? It doesn’t sound like Joan, our retired school librarian…. Stall…

Me (out loud): Hello!

Maybe she’ll say something to clue me in.

Voice on the phone: How are you doing this morning?

No help there. Stall…

Me: Great! How are you?

Voice: I’m very well. I have some good news.

Good news is good. Wait! Maybe she said “Dawn.” It sounds a little like the Dawn I know who is getting married this weekend. She’s probably calling to tell me something about the wedding.

Voice: I got an email from Frances Gilbert.

Frances Gilbert? I don’t know a Frances Gilbert. A member of the wedding party?

Me: Yes?

Voice: She’s made an offer on MOM SCHOOL and DAD SCHOOL.

MOM SCHOOL? DAD SCHOOL? Those sound familiar. Wait. I wrote two picture books called MOM SCHOOL and DAD SCHOOL.

Suddenly all the pieces fell into place like a load of… very heavy things.


So I said… “Oh!”

That’s it. All my years of waiting, condensed into one brilliant syllable: “Oh!”

Little more than a letter, really. “Oh!”

Joan  had more to say, but I didn’t. After every sentence she told me– presumably details about the offer– all I could manage was, “Oh!”

I think I also said, “Thank you.” I hope I said, “Thank you.”

“So I’ll call you back with more details later, then,” Joan finished.

“OK.” Yay. Another letter added. “OK, then.”

We said goodbye. I think I managed a goodbye, too.

My family and I celebrated in secret because nothing was finalized. Champagne corks popped. We packed to go to the wedding, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to say anything to well-meaning friends who were sure to pat my hand and ask, “So how’s your writing going?”

I lamented the fact that all I had said was, “Oh.” I vowed that the next time I got THE CALL I would have something more to say than, “Oh.” Something intelligent. Something charming. Something gracious. I am a writer, after all, and writers are supposed to be good with words.

That very Thursday, before we left for the weekend, Joan called back. She had more details about the offer. I had some marginally intelligent questions to ask, and I even managed to take a few notes. Then Joan said, “Are you sitting down?”

“I could be.” I sat down.

“We’ve had an offer for another one of your picture books.”
Another CALL!! Here was my opportunity to be witty. To be erudite. To say something– anything– besides, “Oh.”

“Oh… my!”



Filed under Advice, Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anti-Advice, Celebrations, Happiness, Introduction, rejection and success, Satisfaction, Thankfulness, The Call



Picture this: your family has just returned home from a nice dinner out and gathers around the television a few minutes after America’s Got Talent begins. You are soon all enjoying the acts and discussing which performers should advance . . . when suddenly the program is interrupted by NBC Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams.

His message: America is under attack, by aliens! Would you believe him? I would. It’s the Nightly News!

In RADIO GIRL, Carol Brendler takes her readers back to a time when families gathered around a household radio rather than a yet-to-be-invented television—a time that many of our parents and grandparents can remember (it wasn’t that long ago). Their childhood evenings were often spent listening intently to not only critical news stories from around the globe, but also dramatizations performed by actors who brought fictional stories to life with vivid descriptions, believable character voices, and eerily accurate sound effects.

It is therefore understandable how true stories and fictional productions—sharing the same, limited airspace—had the potential of causing confusion.

orson-war-of-the-worldsNever was there a more exciting time to be tuned into the radio than on the evening of October 30, 1938, when mass chaos was created by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater company. Their radio broadcast on this particular night was an adaptation of a popular novel, The War of the Worlds, and even though it was clearly introduced as such, the production was so believable that thousands of people—who had somehow missed the narrator’s brief introduction—called radio stations, newspapers, and even the police, desperate for information about the alien invasion that was being broadcast live via the radio.

Not what you would call “mass chaos” yet? But wait, there’s more . . .

People ran out of their homes and pounded on their neighbors’ doors to warn them, families loaded up cars and headed out of town in droves, makeshift gas masks were thrown over terrified faces (the aliens, you see, were using poisonous gas), and women went into early labor. Miscarriages and even stress-induced deaths were blamed on the broadcast. It was madness, people. Madness!

But what exactly made the broadcast so darn believable? What was it about this time in our country’s history that created such a jumpy, easily-shaken atmosphere? Radio Girl holds these answers and many more entertaining and insightful tidbits about this fascinating era, all while following the daily life of fourteen-year-old Cece Maloney whose dreams of becoming a radio star put her right in the center of the pandemonium that’s stirred up by The War of the Worlds broadcast—and only Cece knows what’s really going on when her neighborhood goes nuts.

17351021Want to read the book for yourself? You can now find Radio Girl in bookstores or online. You can also listen to the original radio broadcast here, and watch a dumbfounded Orson Welles try to answer the accusatory questions of angry reporters—the day following the broadcast—here. Enjoy!

And congratulations to the fabulous Carol Brendler on the launch of her first novel!


IMG_0723-2Amy Finnegan writes Young Adult novels and is a host at BookshopTalk.com. Her debut novel, NOT IN THE SCRIPT, will be published by Bloomsbury, Fall 2014. You can follow Amy on Twitter @ajfinnegan, and Facebook (Amy Finnegan, Author). She is represented by Erin Murphy.


Filed under Celebrations