Saturday, June 6, 2009

Book of the week review and on the writing trail

MY BOOK PICK OF THE WEEK REVIEW: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch was the winner of the Newberry medal in 1956. It is a tremendous book telling the true life story of mathematical genius and self-taught man Nathaniel Bowditch, who saved many lives by creating The American Practical Navigator. What true character is revealed as Nathaniel, indentured as a boy because his father could not afford to keep him, much less send him to Harvard to take advantage of his mathematical ability, sails by "ash-breeze" through many difficulties in life to eventually write a book which saves the lives of many sailors by teaching every simple man to find his location on the sea. I was impressed by the strength of his character and the self-sacrifice which enabled him to teach sailors and even cabin boys the skills which would save their lives time and again. Also a tale of adventure on the high seas, our children were on the edge of their seats as we read this book with them. A must for every family's library of best-loved books.

On a personal note:

Okay. Down to brass tacks. This has a been a discouraging writing week, but I did send out Melba Sue and the Cactus Kid to two publishers. One as a query, so I should hear back more quickly from that one. The other as a full manuscript, which is more normal for picture books. But I'm also researching the magazine market, because picture books have word lengths which make them possibles there too, although the rhythm tends to be a little different. I feel good about getting something OUT the door. 

I'm going to contact the editor who has Diabolical Chickens and Hogwash in about a month to see what's up with those. (That's only because I know the editor, folks. I've worked with her in a typesetting capacity, and she said it was okay to send her two manuscripts. But since I didn't get her through the directories, I don't know their time frame for response on manuscripts. That's why I'll drop her a line to find out the status.)

And it's very demoralizing to have someone publish a picture book with the same name you have for your book (i.e. Hogwash) after you've labored over the thing for months. And I can't change the name. That's the problem. I can't call it Baloney, or anything like that. Believe me, it wouldn't be the same, although it is not about washing hogs. I may have to take that one to the magazine market, also.

But what I'm learning is that it's the journey that is really going to produce the results I want. It's a little like faith. The point of faith isn't to see the result. The point of faith is to believe no matter what you see. Also, the point of writing isn't necessarily to see it in print, although that's nice. The point of writing is to write. As you write, you grow and develop as long as you don't quit. So keep writing!


  1. Way to go! So glad you got Melba Sue out. She should do well. :) Unclear, did you send her for magazine or picture book?

  2. She's out for a picture book, but I'm researching to send it and others to magazines right now too.