Thursday, January 8, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: Book Publishing Secrets of Beverly Stowe McClure

Beverly’s Journey to Publication

When I was a child, I hated to read. Even though my eighth-grade teacher sent my poem “Stars” to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings, I hated to write.

In high school, book reports were a nightmare. I was shy and standing in front of the class to tell about a book was pure torture. Thank heavens for the jacket flap copy, as if the teachers couldn’t tell. In spite of my rocky relationship with books I attended Midwestern University, which meant more reading: one hundred children’s books for my Kiddie Lit. class, in addition to texts for the other subjects. What was I thinking?

To my surprise, I survived college and graduated cum laude. Then I became, of all things, a teacher. And in the process I discovered what I’d been missing. Books were fun. I also started writing. Happiness magazine published my first article. More of my work was published in Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr., and other children’s magazines.

Being daring, next I decided to write a novel. So I started brainstorming ideas, but couldn’t come up with a good one. On a visit to Charleston, SC, my family and I took a walking ghost tour of the historic district. The tales the tour guide told them about resident ghosts in many of the Victorian houses intrigued me. I’d write about a ghost. And my ghost was kind enough to whisper in my ear one evening and introduce herself. Yes, I hear voices, and they often turn into my characters. So I wrote Phoebe the ghost’s story.

It took me about a year and a half to write my YA novel, Listen to the Ghost. Then I sent queries to several of the big NY publishers. While I waited for replies, visions of new cars and houses and big advances danced in my head. It didn’t turn out quite that way. No one wanted my story. After a couple of years of generic form letters, I got discouraged and put the manuscript aside to concentrate on other writing.

One day, I was reading a message board that mentioned Twilight Times Books, a publisher of e-books. I knew nothing about e-books but checked their Web site anyway, and discovered the publisher liked paranormal stories. So I took the manuscript out of the filing cabinet, dusted off the cobwebs, edited the manuscript again, and sent a query. Lida Quillen, the publisher of TT, asked to see it. A few months later I had a contract.

The e-book was a finalist in the Dream Realm Award competition in 2003. But the best was yet to come. TT had started their print line of books, and in 2005, Listen to the Ghost was published in trade paperback. That’s almost as exciting as giving birth, and less painful. It only took 8 years for my dream to come true.

I now have two more YA books published: Secrets I Have Kept and my latest, Rebel in Blue Jeans.

Four more novels are under contract with various publishers: Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines; Just Breeze; I Live in a Doghouse; and Kate, Little Angel Sometimes.

Yay for small publishing houses. My only regret is that I waited so late to start reading and writing.

Beverly S. McClure started her writing career early—though she approached it kicking andYoung America Sings screaming—when her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem “Stars” to a high school anthology and it was published in . She graduated from Midwestern State University and became a teacher. As soon as she discovered Dr. Seuss and other great children’s stories, she willingly put pen to paper and had stories and articles published in Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr., U. S. Kids, Jack and Jill and other leading children’s magazines, including an article that was reprinted in a Scott Foresman Pre-K anthology and a breakout article that appeared in the June 2007 issue of Writer magazine. A multi-published author, Beverly’s Listen to the Ghost and Secrets I Have Kept are available in trade paperback. Her latest release is Rebel in Blue Jeans, and she has four more books under contract. A member of the National Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and their North Texas Chapter, Beverly is the mother of three grown boys and lives in the country with her husband, Jack, where an occasional deer, skunk, or armadillo come to visit. For more about Beverly and her work, please visit

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