Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rest in Peace - Dan Fogelberg

One of my favorites singer-songerwriters, Dan Fogelberg, passed away this morning from Prostate cancer. You can check out more of his work at
Nothing to do with writing for children, but his songs are like stories and his music has always meant a lot to me.

These are the lyrics of one of my favorite songs...

Same Old Lang Syne

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve
She didn't recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried
We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totalled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged
We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness but neither one knew how

She said she'd married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn't like to lie
I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I saw doubt or gratitude
She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly but the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness but neither one knew how
We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence, another 'auld lang syne'

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out and I watched her drive away
Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned in to rain...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Carus Publishing Company, part 2

Sometimes chance encounters can make life interesting. My aunt and uncle met President of Carus Publishing Company Jason Patenaude through a mutual friend. Through this chance meeting, I was invited to contact Mr. Patenaude. At first I was nervous – do I write or call?
What should I say? Could I avoid sounding like a babbling idiot?

I endeavored to do what any aspiring writer would do…consult the boards (specifically the “blue board” at, and the folks on the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Yahoo Group). Both groups were happy to provide helpful opinions and suggestions, though the results were a dead heat between the “write” camp and the “call” camp.

In the end, I did both. I wrote first to introduce myself and provide a memory cue, and then I called to follow up. I wasn’t sure what to expect – after all he didn’t know me from any other writer (or writer’s relative) he might meet any day of the week. After several minutes on the phone, Mr. Patenaude invited me to visit the home of Carus Publishing in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He also indicated that there might be an opportunity to meet some of the editorial staff. After silently composing my inner “squee,” I graciously accepted the invitation.

For those that are not familiar with it, Carus Publishing Company ( publishes 14 magazines for children ranging in target age from birth through high school. The Peterborough office publishes six non-fiction titles for 4th grade and up including Cobblestone (American history), Calliope (world history), Dig (archeology around the world), Odyssey (science), Faces (people, places and culture), and Appleseeds (general social studies for grades 3 and up). The Chicago office produces the “bug” line including LadyBug, Cricket, Spider, and Cicada, among others.

Jason Patenaude is a thoroughly approachable and likeable man. He was warm and friendly, and gave me realistic and helpful insight into the publishing industry from the children’s magazine perspective. He bought me coffee at a coffee shop across from his office and we spent a nice hour talking about the trials and tribulations of writing for children (and writing in general). He was encouraging and treated me like a professional writer.

After our meeting, Mr. Patenaude had arranged for me to meet with Lou Waryncia, the Editorial Director of the Peterborough office. Mr. Waryncia spent an additional hour with me talking about the magazines under his auspices, as well as the children’s magazine and book markets in general. He gave me samples of his magazines, and the handout from his recent presentation at a writer’s workshop. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to spend such a considerable amount of time with these two impressive industry insiders.

After my meetings with these two generous and insightful men, I admit that I’m as motivated as ever to continue writing. I know that the market for picture books is tough to break into. I will continue to aspire to that lofty goal. However, in the meantime, I’m going to query Cobblestone with a proposal or two for upcoming issues. Their themes and deadlines are easily located on their website for all to review. It would be an honor for my work to be associated with professionals such as Mr. Patenaude and Mr. Waryncia.

I hope to run into the staff from Cobblestone again at the April SCBWI conference in Nashua, NH. Who knows what chance encounters might happen there?
My advice for anyone who might find herself in a situation where a friend or relative says “I’ve got a publishing contact for you” – don’t merely think about writing or calling, just DO IT!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Carus Publishing Company

Through a relative, I made a contact with the president of Carus Publishing. Located in Peterborough, New Hampshire, I've been invited to visit the company next week. I have a short story submitted to one of their several magazines, and I'm hoping to get some feedback on that manuscript.

I'm looking forward to getting an inside view into the publishing industry.