Little Goblins Ten is a charming romp through a magical forest inhabited by monsters, skeletons, werewolves, mummies, zombies, and even a few witches. It is not only a charming tale about mommies teaching their beastie offspring how to behave on Halloween, it is a great way to teach your own little monsters to count to ten! The illustrations are adorable, perfectly complementing the clever rhyme.
There Can Never Be Too Much Starlight
I wrote the draft of my first book, Noelle of the Nutcracker (Houghton Mifflin, illustrated by Jan Brett) while sitting in a medical lab during a six-hour glucose tolerance test. Buried in a leather recliner, glugging down countless cups of disgustingly sweet syrup, I scribbled my Christmas story about a little girl and an ambitious ballerina doll.
I was taking a course on writing for children in New York at the time, and when my (very famous) writing teacher read my story she said, “If you want to get published, don’t write fantasy, don’t write seasonal material, and for heaven’s sake, don’t write about dolls!” She advised me instead to write about my authentic childhood experience.
When I complained to my husband about what my teacher had said, my normally supportive spouse responded with something so outrageous that I grabbed the nearest object (which happened to be a hideous green glass vase someone had given us as a wedding gift) and hurled it against the wall where it smashed into a thousand satisfying pieces.
What he said was, “Do you think she might be right?”
The truth was, my story about an ambitious ballerina doll was my authentic childhood experience. As I little girl, I had been impressed by the dedication and discipline of an exquisite ballerina doll my Aunt Ruth sent me from New York.
Since my writing teacher at the New School had told me that no knowledgeable, experienced editor would ever publish my story, I decided to send Noelle of the Nutcracker to an obscure regional publisher that might not realize seasonal doll fantasies were unmarketable. My friend Debbie disagreed.
“Send it to a major publisher before you decide no one else wants it,” she said in her authoritative-attorney voice.
My friend obviously had no understanding of the publishing market. Just to prove it, I queried an editor at Houghton Mifflin. I didn’t even try to make the story sound interesting.
“It’s a Christmas fantasy about a little girl and a ballet doll,” I wrote defiantly. The editor responded quickly. “Please send your story right away.”
I sent it off and waited. Six months went by and I didn’t hear from the publisher. Finally I worked up the nerve to call.
“I’m so glad you called!” the editor said. “We were just getting ready to offer you a contract.”
Nothing in my experience had prepared me for this moment. I was like the cartoon character who hurls himself at a closed door that opens unexpectedly at the last minute, sending him flying through. All my life I’d heard “No.” No, you’re not smart; no, you can’t write. No, you can’t have written this story (my eighth grade teacher, Mr. Eul). Suddenly I was hearing “yes!” I was practically speechless.
“What about revisions?” I managed to croak. I knew from my writing class that the editor would expect a major rewrite.
“I don’t want to change a single word, although the copy editor thinks there’s too much starlight.” The editor paused a moment, “But I don’t think there can ever be too much starlight.”
Now, twenty-six books later, I agree with that wonderful editor. In children’s books, there can never be too much starlight.
Pamela Jane has published twenty-six children’s books, including Noelle of the Nutcracker, which has been optioned for a film, and the “Winky Blue” and “Milo” series which have been recently made available in Spanish, big book, and CD editions. Many of Pamela’s books have appeared in Scholastic Book Club, on ALA “Pick of the Lists,” Weekly Reader, and foreign language editions. She also writes a web-based children’s animation series and conducts writing workshops and presentations nationally and internationally for schools and universities.
Pamela recently completed a memoir about her journey to becoming a children’s book author and is a regular contributor at Women’s Memoirs. She lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter, as well as Mittens the cat. In her spare time she reads, walks, and says she “plays the piano very badly.”
Enter to Win a Copy of Little Goblins Ten
Author Pamela Jane has generously provided one copy of Little Goblins Ten to be awarded to one lucky Colloquium reader!
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