And so it was that as luck, or Fate would have it, I ran into Susan McCombs of Tricycle Press at the Book Passage Children's Writers' Conference in July. Those of you who have read my previous blogs might remember that Tricycle has been sitting on one of my picture book manuscripts for quite awhile (a year and a half as a matter of fact, by the time I fortuitously bumped into Susan at the conference). I had received no word from Susan since October of 2007 when I sent her my revisions, and after not getting any responses to follow up e-mails, a phone call, and a letter, I had written the manuscript off as a lost cause with Tricycle Press.
I had already signed up for the conference when the week before I left, I found out that Susan was a last minute addition to the faculty. So, it was with great anticipation, and more than a little trepidation, that I prepared myself for a literary showdown of sorts (something akin to the Gunfight at the OK Corral, but with paper, pen, great wit, and barbed tongue). Okay, so this was merely played out in my head. In reality, I was readying for the inevitable, "Sorry, your revisions sucked, and we just discovered that you can't write to save your Life".
Thursday evening and all day Friday, there was no Susan sightings. Of course, not knowing what she looked like made the prospect of finding her a little more challenging. However, at lunch on Friday, I sat at a table with a woman who works in an office next to Ten Speed Press (Tricycle's parent company), and she said she knew Susan and would introduce her to me. Aaah--the Sixth Degree of Separation theory coming into play. So, at Saturday lunch, I looked for this woman without success. And then Fate stepped in.
A very friendly woman approached and asked if she could sit at my lunch table. I looked at her name tag, and lo and behold--Susan McCombs in the flesh! I quickly introduced myself, but before I could even blurt out the name of my manuscript, she said, "You're the one who sent me Go Dil Lok and the Three Chans! I want to talk to you."
So, to make a long story short:
• Susan is a lovely woman, not the cool, aloof editor with the "you're-just-a-lowly-writer" attitude I had expected.
• The manuscript was given to a young editor, Jo, at Tricycle who really wanted to work on it, but had to leave on emergency maternity leave, and the ball got dropped.
• Susan and I had a very productive chat about the story. She gave me a lot of encouraging feedback and helped me brainstorm and line edit the manuscript.
• She told me that they were still very interested in the manuscript and wanted me to send it to her directly when I was done with revisions.
• She will try and get it on the fast track when she receives it.
I'm happy to say that Go Dil Lok and the Three Chans hasn't died a slow, agonizing death underneath a mound of slush on some editor's desk. I'm currently working on revisions and hope to get the manuscript back to Susan by the end of this month or early November. By that time, Tricycle Press would have had this story for two years! Two years--sigh!--and still no contract. The good news is, they haven't rejected it yet either.
So, it's back to revising ... perservering ... and hoping ...