Sunday, July 29, 2012

People Who Have Helped Me

I was reading an article by Robin Roberts in Guideposts magazine called, "My Mom, My Inspiration." In the article, Robin talks about giving a commencement speech she thought had gone quite well. When her mom didn't offer compliments, Robin asked what was wrong. Here's what she said:

You forgot to mention all the people who have helped you. We never do it just on our own. There are all those people behind us, our teachers, coaches, pastors, mentors.

That gave me pause because so many people have helped me along my writing journey. So many people over so many years that it would be nearly impossible to name them all.

I learned how to write by taking correspondence courses through the Institute for Children's Literature. After graduating from ICL, I continued to make progress due to The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and to Highlights Foundation Workshops. I owe special thanks to former NJ Regional Advisor, Kathy Temean, to Florida Regional Advisor, Linda Bernfield, and to editor Carolyn Yoder.

Without a doubt, the person who has helped me the most is fellow author Cynthia Chapman Willis. When I first decided to try writing a novel, Cindy read the novel chapter-by-chapter and gently pointed out my beginner's mistakes.

When I finally had a first draft, teacher and mentor Joyce Sweeney helped me refine it.

Over the years, I've belonged to three critique groups. Each member of those groups strengthened my writing and provided needed encouragement. Jeannine Norris became more than a critique group leader...she turned into a dear friend.

Many authors further along in the process have shared their knowledge with me. Richard Peck critiqued the first chapter of my novel at an SCBWI conference. He then generously gave me his address and asked to read the completed manuscript. Though he didn't think it was quite ready for publication, he offered advice and encouragement. So I kept revising it. Augusta Scattergood, Barbara Krasner and Joyce Moyer Hostetter have all shared marketing tips with me.

If not for my husband's financial support, this journey would have been nearly impossible. And my son has shown patience and humor when I'm lost in a story.

After my agent resigned, her partner Deborah Warren stepped up to represent me.

But in the end, I owe the biggest debt of gratitude to Stephen Roxburgh. I still remember what he said to me. "This novel really is delicious and exactly the kind of thing I'm looking to publish." To which I now respond, Hallelujah!


  1. Really great post. There are so many people who help us along the way.

  2. I can imagine that moment when Stephen said, "This novel really is delicious." Wowsie!

    Tis' true, of course!

    Thanks for the shout out.

  3. Joyce, I almost had a Fred Sanford moment. You know where he grabs his chest and calls for Elizabeth!

  4. I suspect I’m not the only one who likes to read the acknowledgements in books. This is when we get the sense of how many people had a part in the birth of each book, and we know this is the tip of the iceberg.
    Loved reading yours here, Shannon.

  5. I believe you, Shannon. Bet you were cool as the backyard pool, though, weren't you?

    I also love to read the acknowledgments.

  6. Joyce, I was so gobsmacked that I barely remember what happened next! I do know that I was biting my lip and trying not to cry.

    Mirka, I love reading acknowledgements! I usually read them first. The children's book community is a small world after all.

  7. So many familiar names here. I enjoy reading acknowledgments to see who supported the author.

  8. thanks for sharing.