editor

NCTE in Boston – Amazing Weekend!

Last weekend, I attended NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English). What an amazing weekend. And, no…I’m not just throwing that word, amazing, around. It really did amaze me.

It amazed me to see so many kid & book loving people all in one place. It amazed me to see the sea of publishers’ booths. It amazed me to meet authors whose work I’ve admired for years. It amazed me to meet friends “for real” from my online community and The Nerdy Book Club. It amazed me to attend workshops given by these people for their teaching colleagues – and it amazed me how much it all made me miss being in the classroom. Inspiration everywhere!

And I left feeling just so, so grateful. Grateful that I have been blessed with this career. And grateful that there are teachers in the world like the ones I met at NCTE. I had many teachers and librarians thank me for writing, which I so appreciated and was humbled by. But, let’s face it–without the teachers like the ones below (and tons of others!) most kids wouldn’t pick up books, discover how opening the cover of a book can open up things inside of them that they never would have dreamed. Books do change lives. I’m proof of that.

So here’s to teachers and librarians! There are so many gifted, big-hearted people in the trenches with our kids every day. Thank goodness.

Here is my picture wrap-up of the most excellent NCTE, 2013. 🙂

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Hanging out in the Penguin Booth with the phenomenal Judy Blume. WOW! Also, there with Eileen Bishop Kreit from Puffin. Always so happy to see Eileen. :-)

Hanging out in the Penguin Booth with the phenomenal Judy Blume. WOW! Also, there with Eileen Bishop Kreit from Puffin. Always so happy to see Eileen. She’s a rock star in my book. 🙂

Happy to visit with lit agency friends! (Front:) Susan Meyer, Erin Murphy (my agent), Joan Paquette, Elly Swartz  (Back:) Jennifer Nielsen, Audrey Vernick, Nancy Tupper Ling, moi

Happy to visit with lit agency friends! (Front:) Susan Meyer, Erin Murphy (my agent), Joan Paquette, Elly Swartz (Back:) Jennifer Nielsen, Audrey Vernick, Nancy Tupper Ling, moi

My fabulous agent, Erin Murphy. Doesn't she have the best name ever? :-)

My fabulous agent, Erin Murphy. Doesn’t she have the best name ever? 🙂

Editor and Publisher, Nancy Paulsen, with "her girls" at NCTE. Beck McDowell, Nancy Paulsen, moi, Jacqueline Woodson

Editor and Publisher, Nancy Paulsen, with “her girls” at NCTE. Beck McDowell, Nancy Paulsen, moi, Jacqueline Woodson

Love these ladies!  Alyson Beecher and Cynthia Alaniz . SO fortunate to attend their panel :-)

Love these ladies! Alyson Beecher and Cynthia Alaniz . SO fortunate to attend their panel 🙂

Alyson Beecher who has been so very sweet throughout my debut journey. Loved meeting her for real!

Alyson Beecher who has been so very sweet throughout my debut journey. Loved meeting her for real!

Who doesn't love Jennifer Nielsen? Finally got to talk with each other in person!

Who doesn’t love Jennifer Nielsen? Finally got to talk with each other in person!

Dessert with some of my favorite Maine ladies: Susan Dee, Mary , Gigi McAllister, and Mary Lou Shuster

Dessert with some of my favorite Maine ladies: Susan Dee, Mary Bellavance, Gigi McAllister, and Mary Lou Shuster

Chatting with these great ladies about books. Thanks, Heather Jensen :-)

Chatting with these great ladies about books. Thanks, Heather Jensen and Amy Romanowski 🙂

Here I am with Gigi McAllister!! Yeah :-)

Here I am with Gigi McAllister!! Yeah 🙂

Here, I am with my editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen. I could write something very long about how phenomenal she is, but then she'd have to edit it. :-)  So, let's just say that I'm blessed.

Here, I am with my editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen. I could write something very long about how phenomenal she is, but then she’d have to edit it. 🙂 So, let’s just say that I’m blessed.

An amazing panel on multi-cultural literature with authors, Mitali Perkins, Christina Gonzalez, and Matt de la Pena. Also, teachers, Cynthia Alaniz, Teresa Bunner (standing) and Alyson Beecher

An amazing panel on multi-cultural literature with authors, Mitali Perkins, Christina Gonzalez, and Matt de la Pena. Also, teachers, Cynthia Alaniz, Teresa Bunner (standing) and Alyson Beecher

At a fun Tweet-up with Marianne Knowles, Ann Haywood Leal, and Emily Mitchell

At a fun Tweet-up with Marianne Knowles, Ann Haywood Leal, and Emily Mitchell

Ellen Hopkins and Erin Dionne. :-)

Ellen Hopkins and Erin Dionne. 🙂

I got to meet Melissa Guerrette! Yeah! :-)

I got to meet Melissa Guerrette! Yeah! 🙂

Such fun to meet Colby Sharp in person!

Such fun and an honor to meet Colby Sharp in person! Nerdy Book Ambassador Extraordinaire.

Meeting the great Donalyn Miller, co-founder of The Nerdy Book Club and renowned author, was such a pleasure. A sweet author moment for me.

Meeting the great Donalyn Miller, Co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club phenomenon and acclaimed author/literacy expert, was such a pleasure. Such a sweet author moment for me.

Nerdy presenter, Teri Lesesne (AKA Professor Nana!) WOW! :-)

Nerdy presenter, Teri Lesesne (AKA Professor Nana!) 🙂 Teri shared a bunch of cool online stuff to help teachers turn kids onto reading and help teachers organize including vine videos and livebinder.com

Nerdy Co-Founder, Colby Sharp presents with Author, Jenni Holm :-)

Nerdy Co-Founder, Colby Sharp presents with uber-talented author, Jenni Holm 🙂 “We want to give kids experiences that change lives.” ~Colby “Help your students make connections to authors via Skype, Twitter, and fan mail.” ~Jenni

Nerdy presenter, Kellee Moye  :-)

Nerdy presenter, Kellee Moye 🙂 “Set high expectations and hold the kids to them.” “You might as well be *that* teacher that talks books.” “Give the kids choices re: books.” “Don’t just hand out books. You must book talk them!”

A Nerdy workshop!

The Nerdy audience! 🙂

Nerdy presenter, Katherine Sokolowski :-)

Nerdy presenter, Katherine Sokolowski 🙂 Conferences with kids should be like talking around a table.” “Going forward–it’s all about relationships. I’m not talking about me–I’m talking about *them* ” “Slow down. Talk less.”

Donalyn Miller! :-) "Every reader has value and their own voice."

Donalyn Miller! 🙂 “Every reader has value and their own voice.”

Nerdy presenter, Cindy Minnich, and YA author, Beck McDowell

Nerdy presenter, Cindy Minnich, and YA author, Beck McDowell

cindyminnich

Cindy Minnich presents at Nerdy Workshop! 🙂 “Our lives are constantly changing and we need to change with them.” “Have kids keep log of their lives.” “If we know where we are and where we want to be, we can plan.”

jackie woodson

Me with Jackie Woodson. Amazing writer. Phenomenal person.

This was actually at AASL the weekend before, but I SO loved being on a panel with these ladies. We spoke on using books to teach resilience and compassion: (1st row:) Jo Knowles, Kimberly Newton Fusco, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Karen Day, (2nd row:) Leslie Connor, Erin Moulton, Me, Cynthia Lord  (not pictured: Moderator, Susannah Richards)

This was actually at AASL the weekend before, but I SO loved being on a panel with these ladies. We spoke on using books to teach resilience and compassion: (1st row:) Jo Knowles, Kimberly Newton Fusco, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Karen Day, (2nd row:) Leslie Connor, Erin Moulton, Me, Cynthia Lord (not pictured: Moderator, Susannah Richards)

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Categories: agent, author, editor, friends, inspiring, writing | Tags: | 4 Comments

Mentor Monday ~ Emma Dryden

Anyone who’s been seriously writing for children knows the name, Emma Dryden. She’s been in publishing 25 years and shows no signs of slowing down. During a nineteen year career with S&S, she earned the titles of Vice President and Publisher of both Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Emma has edited nearly 500 books and has worked with children’s literary stars such as Ellen Hopkins, Karma Wilson, Alan Katz, Kathi Appelt, Holly Black, Louise Borden, Lorie Ann Grover, Chris Demarest, and Shelia Moses. The list of major awards her books have garnered is staggering. A shock wave went through the children’s publishing world when she was laid off as part of a cost-cutting maneuver by S&S. I still remember thinking the person who’d told me the news had the wrong name.Emma Dryden still continues to give the children’s publishing industry her very best. Enter…Drydenbks, a multi-platform venture through which she will provide editorial and creative services to children’s book authors, illustrators, publishers, and agents. She will also conduct workshops and act as consultant to those seeking to break into or expand their presence in the children’s publishing arena. Emma also does some writing (mostly poetry), and keeps a blog.

I first met Emma Dryden as a wide-eyed newbie at Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat about 8 years ago. I remember her as being kind, quick to laugh, and having some darn cool sweaters. I also remember that during a first pages activity, she made some comments (along with author, Nancy Hope Wilson) about my work that changed the direction of my writing. I’ll be forever grateful for that, as that “direction” is now under contract.

Below, Emma writes about her blessing of having multiple professional mentors. Following the first piece, she writes a short piece about luminary, Margaret McElderry, and a humorous, fateful day twenty years ago. It seems that both Emma and Margaret were blessed on this frenzied August day….

Thanks, Emma, for your generosity in sharing these pieces with me.

Without further ado…

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Emma Dryden:

I have been blessed to have had several mentors in my professional life. I have been blessed by some people older than myself who by example instilled in me a regard for and understanding of not only the business of a business, but the humanity of a business; people who by example inspired me to learn from my mistakes, care about my reputation, conduct myself with honesty and passion, and strive to become a decent citizen of the world. By example, these people taught me, helped me, challenged me, and expected the best from me as they expected the best from themselves. They made me cry because they were tough. They made me laugh because they were playful. They made me think because they were thoughtful. They made me care because they were careful. And in the process, as I grew from being an assistant to a colleague to a peer, we became friends because we shared a deep mutual respect for our business, for one another, and for the future.

As I walk along the paths of my life and my work, I don’t always take the time to think of and thank these people who themselves never thought they were remarkable in any way, just doing their job, just doing what came naturally, just doing what was right. I stop now to think of them and thank them, for they were most remarkable indeed. Remarkable for inviting me into their offices and homes to witness them doing their jobs, doing what came naturally, doing what was right. To witness. And to embrace all that would become essential to my own growth into someone of whom I can be proud. A businesswoman, a colleague, a person of whom I sincerely hope they would be and are proud.

It is a wonder how deeply one person can touch another simply by being present. By listening. By suggesting. By living fully. And by laughing. Oh, the laughing! Would that everyone be as lucky as I’ve been to enjoy but one older person in their life by whose example they can be inspired in their work and their life.

In honor of Dilys Evans, Linda Hayward, Richard Jackson, Margaret K. McElderry, Ole Risom.

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My mentor and friend, Margaret K. McElderry, passed away at the age of 98 on February 14, 2011. Valentine’s Day. A day on which we celebrate and express love. And a day somehow wholly appropriate on which to say farewell to a woman who was full to overflowing with a passion for imagination, story, a beautifully crafted book, laughter, friends, fine wine and delicious food, blue skies over sparkling oceans, the quiet revelatory conversation and the raucous celebratory gathering—a woman so full of love and enthusiasm for all life has to offer professionally and personally.

Where our work ended and our friendship began, where our friendship ended and our work began, it’s hard to say. I suppose though, the working friendship and friendly working began the day in early August 1990 when I tried to reach Margaret to tell her I was accepting her job offer. Margaret was leaving that day at Noon for her annual vacation on Nantucket and we’d agreed I’d call her at home with my “Yes” or “No.” I made my decision. It was going to be “Yes.” That morning at eight o’clock, I called. No answer. I called again. No answer. I waited a half-hour and called again. No answer. I called over to Margaret’s office at Macmillan to confirm I had the right number. No one was in yet and I left a message to say I was doing all I could to reach Margaret to tell her I wanted the job and would they please let the HR folks know. I called Margaret again. No answer. I was getting on the subway to go to Random House where I was working at the time. I found a payphone to call my partner and my mother to ask them to please keep trying Margaret McElderry’s phone number while I was on the subway. They did. No answer. I got to Random House, called again. No answer. I left another message with Margaret’s assistant. I decided to come clean and tell Margaret’s friend, Knopf editor, Frances Foster what was going so she could confirm I was dialing the right number. I was.

Now I’d not only essentially given notice to Random House without actually accepting the job offer from Margaret, but it was getting on towards 11:00 and I was frantic. I knew darn well you don’t promise Margaret McElderry you’ll call her and not call her. I called Macmillan again and was told my messages had started to set off great concern. Publisher Judy Wilson was putting McElderry Books’ art director Barbara Fitzsimmons into a taxi at that very moment to send her down to Margaret’s house on Washington Square to see if everything was alright. Oh, and by the way, Judy Wilson was delighted, I was told, that I wanted the job. I called again. No answer. And then, just before Noon, my phone rang. Judy Wilson was on the line to tell me it seems Barbara got to Margaret’s house in a progressively nervous state, and was pounding on the door and holding her finger on the doorbell – only to have a rather put-out Margaret McElderry open the door, take one look at Barbara’s pale face, and say something to the effect of…”What are you doing here? Did you all think I was dead?” Well, in fact, yes we did. And, in fact, while Margaret McElderry was clearly very much alive, her telephone line was completely done for. It seems not three minutes before Barbara arrived, she’d just figured out what was happening when she’d quite irately picked up the receiver to call Macmillan’s HR department to tell them QUOTE “If that Emma Dryden doesn’t have the common decency and courtesy to call me at the time we arranged for her to call me, I don’t want her working for me anyway.” UNQUOTE.

Margaret and I never did speak that day, but I started as her associate editor on September 19, 1990, a week or so before she returned to the office, tan and energized, from Nantucket. And when we saw each other, we hugged and laughed and had some rather choice things to say about AT&T. The rest is history and we told and retold that story over and over again because it said something about our partnership and it made us laugh. Such a remarkably unexpected beginning to a remarkably unexpected friendship and collaboration. I’d give anything to call you right now, Margaret, to tell you how much it all meant to me—professionally and personally—to accept that job offer, to accept that gift. And this time, we’d use our cell phones.

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Publishers Weekly has a wonderful tribute, written by several kid lit professionals (including Emma Dryden) who knew and loved Margaret McElderry. Reading their pieces makes me wish that I’d been able to meet this one-in-a-billion woman! Her loss is a loss for everyone that loves children’s literature.

Categories: editor, inspiring, Mentor Monday, publisher

The Editor Letter and Revising—(A.K.A. Slaying the Self-Doubt Monster)

Today, at the Emus Debut blog, I posted a blog entry on receiving my ONE FOR THE MURPHYS editing letter from Nancy Paulsen. What an incredible experience it is to receive such a letter–once you slay the self-doubt monster, that is!

The Emus Debut Blog

Peace,
Lynda

Categories: courage, editor, EMLA, writing | 2 Comments

SCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat, 2009

Photo L to R:

Jennifer Rees, Senior Editor, Scholastic Books

Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Author/Illustrator

Anna Webman, Agent, Curtis Brown

Sarah Shumway, Senior Editor, Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)

Printz Award winning author, Ellen Wittlinger


Hey, All!

Well, as director of the SCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat, I’m gearing up for another year…And apparently, many others are as well!

The retreat’s weekend slots were filled in about two days and the “day slots” are going quickly! Overall, I’m pretty excited! As always, it’s lookin’ like a nice group of people–some old friends with some new people folded in (Ouch! Sounds painful!)

As I head into another year, I always think back on past ones… Last year was a blast! Above is a pic of our 5 mentors and they were terrific! Such talent and professionalism and tons of laughs!

I’m always nervous going into the weekend. Those of you who’ve organized events such as this know that you plan for months and months and then pray it goes off well. True—I have to have my ducks in a row, but in the end, a retreat like this is only as good as its mentors–so this retreat was pretty great! Pretty great…

Ahhhh, though…It’s time to look to the future! With the lineup we have this year, the future is looking pretty dazzling! The future’s so bright I gotta pull shades…

Forgive me for I know exactly what I do….

Categories: agent, editor, friends, SCBWI, Whispering Pines, writing | 1 Comment

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