Beth Hautala

Children's Author

 

In Submission No More!!!

This post will go down in history as one of my favorites.

It is with great excitement and deep humility that I share some long-anticipated news. My book sold, and to a marvelous house—Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Group. I AM GOING TO BE PUBLISHED! I feel like I need to repeat that a few times, but I'll refrain and share the story of recent developments instead.

The journey toward this exciting announcement actually began a long time ago. A long, long time ago. Forgive me while I get historic for a moment. . . 

I remember the­­­ exact moment I realized that letters, when strung together, create words.

I was in second grade and I couldn’t read. The school district responsible for my education was trying something new—sight recognition in the elementary reading program. Phonics were out, memorization was in. For me, this meant a slow and painful death.

My mom taught me to read, and for that I owe her everything. Together we would sit on the couch, or lay stretched out on the floor and we would work on letter combinations, vowel sounds, and basic word construction. It was hard. My brain just didn’t want to hang onto anything.

But my mom is made of determination, and I can still see the look on her face when the moment arrived. There were tears and laughter and clapping, and I knew they were for me. 
In my head, a line of random letters had ordered themselves, stood up a little straighter, squared their shoulders, and became words. I saw it happen, and overnight I went from halting my way through “the cat sat,” to Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, Little Women, The Secret Garden, and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on. 
I was a pretty good kid, but when I really messed up, my Friday night reading privileges were taken away, and I would go to bed soul sick and repentant.

I was eight when I wrote my first book. I don’t even recall what it was about—probably because at the time, the story itself didn’t seem as important as the number of pages I could fill. And I’ve been working my way through those pages ever since.

The first time I saw my name in print left me breathless, and like an addict, that satisfaction, the feeling of validation kept me filling pages. But the highest and most unattainable goal remained unreachable. I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book. I wanted to share real stories with people who took the time to read through pages and pages of strung-together letters. And I wanted those letters to come from me. 

But like learning to read, learning to write a book, find an agent, revise (revise-revise-revise-revise), and then find a publisher, is a lot harder than I imagined. Even writing the thing—writing an honest story that you pray desperately will last—is harder than I imagined. I wrote three books (novel length stories that I praise God will never see the light of day) before I finally stumbled on the story that pulled me into the kind and capable hands of my agent. Rejection after rejection after rejection had gone a long way in chipping at my hope. I wasn’t quiet bitter, but part of me was broken. So when I listened to Danielle praise my little story—beaming and glowing over the phone—I didn’t quite believe her. She liked it? Really? She wanted to represent it? For real?

She did. For real. And she spent a considerable amount of time walking me through the process of revisions and cheering as we waited expectantly for an editor to claim the finished manuscript.

 And today, it is with shining eyes and a heart overflowing with thanks, that I can finally share my news: I’m going to be an author.

Those six words have been on repeat in my mind for the last few days, and setting them against the page is truly one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. There was a time when I was utterly convinced—completely certain—this moment would never arrive. Not ever. And that it would be in my best interest to let the dream die and move on. And there were periods of time where I tried to do just that. But they were short lived, because no matter how painful the rejection, I had watched letters string themselves into words that day I learned to read. And they have never stopped marching on ahead of me, pointing my heart in the right direction. 

But I’m not going to shout this from any rooftops and I’m not going to toot any horns on my own behalf. I’m just going to stand here in the quiet corner of my blog, hold this gift, and repeatedly whisper my thanks. —Because that’s exactly what this is. A gift—a blessing given to me by hands of grace—in the form of reading lessons, rejection letters, and the belief of people who took the time to read my scribbling.

Because of these I know letters strung together create words, and words strung together create stories, and stories strung together create books. Real, live, to-be-published books. 
And at least one will have my name on it.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me! Many of you reading this right now have been an immense source of encouragement and support, and for that I am forever grateful!