April 12, 2016

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Best News Ever

I'm just going to be honest here, friends. I don't know how to start this post. 

Even the title. I can't get it right. Nothing fits, because nothing can contain my cartwheeling-on-cloud-nine euphoria and itchy excitement.

Finally. Finally! I can share the best news ever.

The children's novel in verse I've been working on for six years? It's going to be a book.

Take a deep breath with me, friends and cheerleaders. Here is the official announcement from the Publishers Weekly Children's Bookshelf.

Poet and educator Laura Shovan's debut middle-grade novel in verse, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, in which a class of fifth graders learns that their school will be torn down and replaced by a supermarket, and then takes their teacher's 1960's political teachings to heart as they fight to save it, to Wendy Lamb at Random House Children's, at auction, in a two book deal, by Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media (NA).

Any book that takes six years to write and sell must have a lengthy back story. I'll share mine another time. For today, I'd like to thank my agent, the amazing Stephen Barbara. (Did you see his name on this list of top 100 literary agents?) And how thrilled am I to be working with legendary children's editor Wendy Lamb? Most people dread editorial notes. I *can't wait*!

Here's a brief version of my book's back story:

In July of 2008, Stephen, children's author Lois Szymanski, editor Aimee Friedman, and I were at a local SCBWI conference. Over lunch, the four of us talked about novels in verse. Stephen and I were both fans of the classic American verse novel, Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters.

Read the full novel online at Bartleby.
That night -- that very night -- I sat in a college dorm room and sketched out my plan for a Spoon River-type novel set in a fifth grade classroom. 

Six years of revisions, emails with Stephen, critiques with experts and friends, visiting classrooms, more revisions, pitch contests, queries and rejections, and here we are.

If you'd like to read more about THE LAST FIFTH GRADE, this post begins a series about recent revisions to the novel.

Thanks to all of you for being the best cheerleaders around. I couldn't have made it through this marathon without shoulders to cry on and friends to drink champagne with.

Although THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY has evolved into a more narrative book than Spoon River, I'm indebted to Edgar Lee Masters wonderful series of intertwined persona poems.

Here is one of my favorite Spoon River poems.

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950).  Spoon River Anthology.  1916. 

40. Theodore the Poet 

AS a boy, Theodore, you sat for long hours
On the shore of the turbid Spoon
With deep-set eye staring at the door of the crawfish’s burrow,
Waiting for him to appear, pushing ahead,
First his waving antenn√¶, like straws of hay,         5
And soon his body, colored like soap-stone,
Gemmed with eyes of jet.
And you wondered in a trance of thought
What he knew, what he desired, and why he lived at all.
But later your vision watched for men and women  10
Hiding in burrows of fate amid great cities,
Looking for the souls of them to come out,
So that you could see
How they lived, and for what,
And why they kept crawling so busily  15
Along the sandy way where water fails
As the summer wanes.


MiMi said...

elated, looking forward to buying signed copies to give as gifts to family and friends!

Buffy Silverman said...

What joyful wonderful inspiring hopeful terrific news! Shout it from the rooftops!
Mazel tov! Congratulatations!! Celebrate!!!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

So, SOOOO happy for you, Laura! Can't wait to feature you and your wonderful new book on Today's Little Ditty. Congratulations!!!

Magdalena said...

Congrats babe. You deserve it. Ok, so that binder of yours is INSANE!!!!!! What the hell is that thing? I can't believe you can navigate through it WOW and kudos. That is so old school, I applaud you.

Jacqueline Jules said...

Congratulations! Can't wait to read this one!

Margaret Simon said...

Let me just say are my hero!

Jeannine Atkins said...

Laura, Laura, Laura! I took a deep breath, and I screamed. Such wonderful news in every way! I still can't quite breathe. Yay!!!!

Author Amok said...

Thank you so much, everybody. I've been blown away by all of the supportive messages today.

Uh, Magda. That is just *one* binder for this book. You'd die if you saw the complete set of drafts and revisions.

I'm so lucky to have the support of our wonderful writing and blogging community. Hugs for everyone!

Jeannine Atkins said...

I had to come back for another virtual sip of champagne. I can't leave this good news alone. And this time I had enough breath to read the Edgar Lee Masters poem. I wanted to mention that the audio version of Witness has a great Leonard Marcus interview with Karen Hesse, in which, among other things, she gives a grateful nod to the Spoon River anthology. Something to listen to while you wait for those editorial notes. And dance!

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, Laura! Congratulations! What marvelous news! So happy for you!

I hopped right over here from Buffy's when I saw that you were also featuring Emily Dickinson this week, and then I saw your exciting news. Congrats, congrats, congrats!

Robyn Hood Black said...


Linda B said...

Cannot wait to read this new and wonderful book by Laura Shovan. Sounds quite wonderful! (What I will write on my blog.) Congratulations Laura, what a day of celebration! said...

Congratulations, Laura! I love novels-in-verse.

Amy LV said...

Yayayayayayayayay!!!! Many many congratulations, Laura! I am thrilled for you and thrilled for us and thrilled for all of the children who will be holding and hugging your book under the covers with their flashlights. Cheers! xoxo

jama said...

Hooray hooray hooray!!! Way to go!!!! Thrilled for you!!

Tamera Will Wissinger said...

This is excellent news, Laura! Congratulations! I'll look forward to your novels!

Heather Ayris Burnell said...

Such wonderful news! So happy for you, and I cannot wait to read your book!!!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Woo-Woo, Laura! SO FABULOUS!!!!!!!!

Author Amok said...

Honestly, you guys are the best. I am so lucky to be part of the Poetry Friday community. I'm going to save this comments forever!

Violet N. said...

What great news!! Verse novels are such a powerful genre. Look forward to reading yours.

Irene Latham said...

YAY! So happy for you, Laura!!!! Such fabulous news. I am looking forward to meeting that 5th grade class IN PRINT, baby! xo

Julie said...

Joining the multitude to say congratulations, Laura - that's such exciting news. And thanks for the poem from Spoon River!

Author Amok said...

I must thank you all again. I've been overwhelmed by the support from the Poetry Friday gang and the larger kids' lit community. You're all awesome! Thanks for the pats on the back, the cheers, and the happy dances. I am SO looking forward to sharing this book with all of you.

Author Amok said...

I must thank you all again. I've been overwhelmed by the support from the Poetry Friday gang and the larger kids' lit community. You're all awesome! Thanks for the pats on the back, the cheers, and the happy dances. I am SO looking forward to sharing this book with all of you.

Carol said...

CONGRATULATIONS! I can't wait until this comes out!