take me higher

             Will this ever be mine?

Last month I nibbled on all kinds of pie: fudge, strawberry, blueberry, honey, country, American, apple, even whoopie and moonpie.

They all went down real easy.

But one pie keeps eluding me. I’ve tried all kinds of crusts, mixed up the ingredients, started from scratch many times, put it to the taste test with some genuine-for-real pie tasters, but it still comes out half-baked. 

Let’s call it the I’ve Tried My Best But I Still Can’t Sell This Manuscript Pie. 

Some have liked it. Even told me how to make it taste better. But when all is said and done, I’m undone. Some things are simply out of my control. Picture books have been a hard sell for the past 10+ years. Especially quiet picture books. Harder if you don’t illustrate. 

The prize I want keeps taunting me, and seems agonizingly out of reach.

                   Do you know the feeling?

So recently I’ve been writing easy readers and chapter books. It feels liberating and exhilirating to have more space and words to work with. I don’t have to try to define a character in a couple of words or just one sentence. For the first time, I am allowed to say what something looks like, if I want to. 

I’ve had a lot of fun working on a humorous easy reader series about a duck and panda, two chefs with entirely different approaches to cooking. All my foodie blogging has been giving my characters the sustenance they need. I submitted a couple of the stories (separately) and have received some positive feedback. One editor likes the characters, but would like to see them cast in a picture book. Oh, mama. Here we go again . . .

Anyway, this month I’m doing Laurie Halse Anderson’s 15-minute-a-day writing challenge. I’ve been using this time to revise some WIP’s, but I’m also going to work on a new story for my animal chefs, featuring, you guessed it — pie! Of all the foods I’ve blogged about, pie is the most emotional.

I think my duck and panda chefs are up for the challenge, even though they know their final product may never be accepted by any of the bakeries who package it so everyone can eat it. Yes, I am finding the easy reader market is even smaller than the picture book market. *Significant hair pulling*

Writing has always been my pie in the sky. It keeps me reaching, my arms straight up, always wondering why this job chose me, why it never gets any easier; why, unlike other normal jobs people have, this one keeps shattering my self confidence, eroding my self esteem, and making me doubt every small and large idea, feeling, and fact I know that I know. Perhaps my biggest struggle is trying to accept that no matter how hard I work, the power to complete what I do lies in someone else’s hands. I’m getting real close to saying no pie for them, but if I do, I’ll be the only one who goes hungry.


Well, I need to do my 15 minutes. 

Time to pick up my wooden pin and start rolling.

Best of luck with whatever you’re trying to cook up!

14 thoughts on “take me higher

  1. Perhaps my biggest struggle is trying to accept that no matter how hard I work, the power to complete what I do lies in someone else’s hands.
    Isn’t that the truth…good luck. 🙂 And I love the idea of PIE books…who wouldn’t???


  2. Thank you. That is a huge compliment…and funny you should say that. I responded to an ad “looking for the next Erma Bombeck…” a while ago, and they never responded. Grrrrr!


  3. Yeah, how can that pie be so delicious and so frustrating at the same time. I know just what you’re going through.
    The animal chefs book sounds wonderful–why is it that a duck and panda sound funny, just thinking about them?! Good luck with your baking!


  4. How frustrating. And you’ve had books published. Isn’t it supposed to get easier after that??
    Anyway, you’re a good writer with a great sense of humour. Keep writing and submitting.


  5. let’s try that again
    I wrote a long comment and cyberspace gremlins stole it!
    As a teacher and an auntie who likes to give books as gifts, the small easy reader market frustrates me too. We had $600 to spend on independent reading books for the kindergarten last year and it was hard to find enough books for the $$. We wanted books a 4 or 5 year old could actually read, not just look at the pictures. And the leveling system provided by the publisher is basically useless. All level 1’s should have common properties,(text placement, easy words, good picture clues) and they don’t. Easy readers should be books the kids can read to themselves! We are trying to raise readers here, not picture-lookers!
    I am hoping you get yours published quick!


  6. Re: let’s try that again
    Thanks for your comment! It’s good to hear your side of things. It’s encouraging to know there’s an ongoing need for these books. Easy to read, hard to write! I’m noticing with the bigger publishers, like HarperCollins, many of their I Can Reads are done by author/illustrators in series format. Not too many stand alone titles by a separate author and illustrator. So I face the same problem as I do with picture books. I need to come back in another life as an artist!


  7. Ah, yes. It’s so elusive to come up with exactly the right ingredients for story, plot, character, conflict, resolution, and then find that editor who’ll savor it.
    Don’t give up, Jama. Mix a little perserverance into those pie fixings.


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