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Monday, March 7, 2011

Writing for Appleseeds Magazine

Besides creating picture books and working as an editor,
photo by Sergey Melkonov
I write articles for children.  Last year, when the award-winning, social studies magazine Appleseeds posted that one of their upcoming themes was “horses,” I knew I had to submit. I envisioned writing an article about Visionaire, the Derby race horse that one of my friends co-owned. 

Living in Kentucky and having witnessed the 100th running of the Kentucky Derby, I felt that the editor would welcome my query. But before I could think about the query and the article, I had to meet Visionaire.

Visionaire is now retired and living at Crestwood Farm in Lexington.  One frosty November morning, manager Pope McClain, Jr. invited me to meet this chestnut beauty.  After interviewing Pope and taking photos of Visionaire, I returned home to outline the article.  I drew up questionnaires for Visionaire’s co-owners and for the trainer (none other than Michael Matz, trainer of the 2006 Derby winner Barbaro).  Several weeks later, I worked up a rough article.

I polished a query and sent it months in advance of the deadline (August, 2010).  By the end of August, I was heart-broken.  I never heard from the editor.   Having faith in the piece, I decided to place it elsewhere.  Then, toward the end of September, I received an intriguing email.  The subject line read:  Appleseeds Assignment.  When I opened the email I discovered that the editor liked my proposal and wanted to publish it.  So awesome!  

I had three weeks to send in the completed article.  The word count had to be trimmed down.  More research had to be completed.  I edited my article accordingly and had my loving editor (my husband) peruse it.  But, he pointed out that the article lacked excitement because it was written in third person.  So I re-wrote the piece in first person, reflecting my thrilling encounter with Visionaire.  Then, I sent it off to the editor with photos and photocopies of all of my resources.  Several months later, I received the contract and word that “The Road to the Derby” will be a three-page spread in the Appleseeds spring, 2011 issue—just in time for Derby Day.  

So what did I learn from this experience?  Have a vision.  Follow through.  Let nothing get in your way.  Tell the story like nobody one else can.

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