If you’re reading this, you have probably read one of my posts before. And if you’ve read one of my posts before, then you may have noticed that I have been writing and thinking a lot about the power of student publication. And, if you are reading this, you are likely my friend or my mom 🙂 and so you may have heard me (many times–sorry :/ ) talking about my goal to write a book proposal around the topic of student publication.

So, I thought, because if you are reading this you may be interested, that I would share that on Friday, in St. Louis, MO, at NCTE I did something brave. Well, a few things that felt brave (which, basically, just means they felt really scary).

First, on Wednesday night, I saw Troy Hicks, author of several books that I have been reading more of to inform my own writing. I approached him and told him that I have been playing with some ideas and would he ever have a moment to listen and give advice? Sure, he said, he would be happy to grab a coffee or Skype and, by the way (since I had just given myself away for not having read the NCTE program yet), he said, I am doing a session on Friday afternoon to give advice to teachers who want to write books. I’ll be there, I thought, and, maybe coherently, blubbered.

On Friday I was there, my chair a bit out of the circle, my shoulders a bit rounded to squeeze between other aspiring authors so Troy could see (and maybe recognize?) my eager face and true-to-my-word presence.

After sharing a bunch of super helpful tips that we all scribbled down like (rightly so) our dreams depended on it, Troy threw out one more idea. “Or,” he said, “If you are feeling really brave, you could walk over to the Heinemann section after this session and say, ‘Is there an acquisition editor available?’ and then say, ‘I would like to know the process for submitting a proposal.'” As I later said in a thank-you email to Troy, I was feeling brave.

The acquisition editor wasn’t available but I was directed to a marketing manager. I tried not to read directly from my notes when I said, “I would like to know the process for submitting a proposal.”

In a less dramatic way than it plays out in my memory, he asked for my pitch. I gave it. He pulled out his card and said that when I get home from St. Louis, I should email him that summary and he would make sure an acquisiton editor got it.

Friday night, I couldn’t sleep. To not wake up my conference roomie, I sat in the bathroom and drafted my summary in my notebook. Saturday afternoon I saw the marketing editor in the lobby. I reintroduced myself, told him I had worked on my summary, and it would be in his inbox soon. And, thanks again.

Yesterday, I told Deb Kelt, my director, colleague, friend, and cheerleader, about this brave (or just stupid and naive, depending on who I tell, apparently), thing I did. When I told Deb, I told the right person.

I told her just as a session was starting and so she jotted her reaction on the back of a reused sticky note.


I stuck it in my notebook, as a way of collecting the strength to keep doing scary things.

And she’s right. Whether or not I hear a positive response or just crickets, by doing scary things, I am claiming my voice.

2 thoughts on “Claim Your Voice

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