A few days ago I posted on facebook that I had 'Happy Feet.' Some presumed this might have something to do with penguins. And they were right. Only it is just one penguin, a very big one, actually the biggest and only penguin in the publishing industry - Penguin Group (Australia).
My feet are happy, because they have been dancing around the house for a few weeks now, ever since I first received an email informing me my manuscript, 'Pond Magic', was on the desk of Penguin's children's publisher 'for consideration'.
Fast forward through Christmas, holidays with friends, overseas guests and New Year. Even with all those distractions, my mind was very much on whether the children's editors at Penguin would enjoy my story.
I had submitted Pond Magic to a select few publishers 6 months prior and the waiting room I found myself in was starting to grow dull - after all I'd read all the magazines.
Then on the first working day, a Monday, after New Year I received the email which blew me away. The executive editor 'enjoyed my story' and said: 'It's great fun, with a strong voice, likeable characters and themes that will appeal to the tween age group.' What's more they felt it would make a terrific addition to their Aussie Chomps list.
Did I open the champagne? you might ask. Well, no. Firstly, my manuscript was nearly 14,700 words long and the Aussie Chomps maximum is 12,000.
'Could I cut it back, please?'
'Why, yes, of course.'
The very next day I set out my instruments, sharpened my pencil and took to my manuscript with the precision of a brain surgeon. How do you cut nearly 3,000 words from what is a relatively short story? Very carefully.
I created a table on word and then read through my manuscript once more (for the millionth time), carefully writing down every plot point, character development and humourous remark in each chapter. There appeared to be two chapters where not a great deal happened, although they did show more about the characters. I decided to cut back both chapters by half and then systematically cut 100 words at least from each of the remaining chapters. This worked and I loved doing it. Playing with words and language have always been a passion of mine.
After smoothing out any wrinkles the editing had created, I re-read the manuscript again (I can't remember how many more times) and emailed it to the Aussie Chomps editor at Penguin.
Two days later I received a formal offer of publication.
'Pond Magic' will be published in September this year in Penguin's Aussie Chomps series.
I'd like to thank the writers who have believed in me and supported me along the way to my first publication, (especially all the writers of the Kwd group):
Sheryl Gwyther for your advice,
Dee White and Matt Zurbo for your critiquing.
Narelle Oliver for your passionate belief in my manuscript 'Pond Magic'.
The Queensland Writer's Centre for the editorial consultation,
The CYA competition judges,
and The Gold Coast City Council 'Creative Juices' team.
Thank you also to my readers:
Nadia, for your support and feedback,
Daniela, for every time you obliged when I shoved a chapter under your nose,
Rob for bouncing ideas and brainstorming in the wee hours of the morning,
Peter (14), for reading the final edit,
Elesia, Rosalia and Craig for your enthusiasm
and Ellen (aged 11) who wrote the first review of Pond Magic on this blog back in May 2009.
I know this sounds like I have won an award, but I am truly grateful to be so blessed.