There’s a Dragon in my Soup v3

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There’s a Dragon in My Soup!

 

Ginny Giant sat down to tea:

Her favourite soup – ham and pea.

Her mother went to get some bread

“Careful, it’s hot!” her mother said.

Ginny sipped; but what’s this she’s found?

Something big and hard and round.

Ginny frowned, “That’s not a pea!”

“What IS this inside my tea?”

As she looked, the round thing broke

And out of it came a puff of smoke!

“A dragon’s egg!” hear Ginny whoop

“There is a dragon in my soup!”

“Now don’t be silly, Ginny dear

What would a dragon be doing here?

Eat your tea, stop playing games.”

“Come see yourself, he’s blowing flames!”

The dragon climbed from Ginny’s bowl

By using her spoon as a pole

He flapped his wings to get them dry

But though he tried, he couldn’t fly.

Her mother looked and, sure enough

The dragon gave another puff.

“Well, I never!” Mrs Giant said,

“He’s wearing a peapod on his head!

I wonder how I brought him home?

Dragons are not known to roam.

Up in the mountains they survive

Where they are left alone to thrive.

I’ve never seen one in the trees

Let alone in soup with peas!”

Dad walked in, “Well fancy that

A dragon with a peapod hat!”

Ginny begs, “Please, can I keep him?”

But her parents both look grim,

 “A dragon would be hard to tame.”

“And there is danger from his flame.”

 “I promise, I will take great care,

To part with him I cannot bear.

He looks at me with childish glee

I think that I should call him Sweetpea!”

The dragon hopped on Ginny’s arm

As if to prove he’d do no harm.

With pleading eyes he seemed to say

‘I will behave, please let me stay’

“He’d keep us warm when winter comes

And we would be the best of chums.”

At last her parents were both agreed

Sweetpea would be a fine pet indeed!

 

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Daring to share: Update

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Following the field tests and feelers I’ve put out regarding my children’s picture book series, I’ve been studying the feedback anew.

A couple of people felt that the ending of the first story was a little awkward and disjointed, so I thought I’d try to address that criticism before I submit to any other agents.

I have therefore shuffled some lines and reworked the last two verses. I hope this makes it stronger.

Please feel free to read and compare the new version below with the old posted under the original ‘Daring to Share’ entry. Let me know what you think. Honesty appreciated, as long as it is tactfully delivered!

There’s a Dragon in My Soup!

Ginny Giant sat down to tea:

Her favourite soup – ham and pea.

Her mother went to get some bread

“Careful, it’s hot!” her mother said.

Ginny sipped; but what’s this she’s found?

Something big and hard and round.

Ginny frowned, “That’s not a pea!”

“What IS this inside my tea?”

As she looked, the round thing broke

And out of it came a puff of smoke!

“A dragon’s egg!” hear Ginny whoop

“There is a dragon in my soup!”

“Now don’t be silly, Ginny dear

What would a dragon be doing here?”

“The backstroke, mum, if I’m seeing it right

He’s really cute, but he gave me a fright.”

“Eat your tea, stop playing games.”

“Come see for yourself, he’s blowing flames!”

Her mother looked, and sure enough

The dragon gave another puff.

The dragon climbed from Ginny’s bowl

By using her spoon as a pole

He flapped his wings to get them dry

But, though he tried, he couldn’t fly.

“Well, I never!” Mrs Giant said,

“He’s wearing a peapod on his head!

I wonder how I brought him home?

Dragons are not known to roam

Up in the mountains they survive

Where they are left alone to thrive

I’ve never seen one in the trees

Let alone in soup with peas!”

“He’ll never get back on his own

He’s only young; he needs a home.

Can I keep him? Let’s ask Dad

He’ll be the best pet I’ve ever had!”

Mrs Giant shook her head,

“I’m not so sure,” her mother said,

“A dragon would be hard to tame

And there is danger from his flame.”

When Dad came in, he was concerned

“Your Mum is right, we’ll end up burned.”

“I promise, I will take great care,

To part with him I cannot bear.”

To make her happy, Dad relented

So Ginny Giant was well contented

“We’ll stay together to the end,

I’ll call him Sweetpea, my new friend.”

Nil Desperandum

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On Monday 10th March 2014, I sent off my first pitch to a literary agent with a view to getting my children’s picture books published.

On Monday 12th May 2014, the agent sent me my first rejection. Exactly nine weeks later, but given that Easter came in between, that is a reasonable timeframe. Most agents quote 6-8 weeks expected turnaround.

I always knew it would take a miracle to get accepted first time out. Whilst I hoped and dreamed with my heart, my head told me “no way.” So I determined to take the rejection philosophically and see it as the first step on the road to an eventual acceptance somewhere down the line. (Following a recipe of huge amounts of dogged determination mixed with a little bit of luck).

After all, how many times was JK Rowling rejected before Harry Potter was taken up? Over 80 if I remember right. Something like 13 years to become an overnight success!

And The Beatles. How many record labels turned them away? Now Sir Paul is one of the richest men in the nation.

So, a ‘no thanks’ puts me in good company.

Nil Desperandum – I’m on my way!

Of course, it helps that the rejection was in fact quite a positive one, considering it gave me negative news. If that makes any sense.

The email said:

“Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for sending me your manuscript.  There is an awful lot I like about it.  However I am afraid in the current tough market I do have to be completely bowled over by something to take it on and I’m afraid I didn’t feel quite this strongly about your work.

I know you will continue to approach agents and publishers and I’m sorry that it’s been a near miss for me.  Good luck with your further submissions.”

I could get disheartened and think ‘I’m okay, but I’m not good enough. Why bother?”

I choose to view the comments as encouraging.

It could have said, “You are totally delusional, don’t give up the day job.”

Instead, it calls the pitch ‘a near miss’.

So, I’m not a million miles off target.

Next steps:

Look over the material again, as objectively as I can. Look for any tweaks that would make it stronger, and if I can spot them, make them.

Pick two or three agents, and pitch again.

Cross fingers.

Wait.

Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Don’t give up!

 

 

SERENDIPITY

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ser·en·dip·i·ty

(sĕr’ən-dĭp’ĭ-tē)
n., pl., -ties.

  1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
  2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
  3. An instance of making such a discovery.

[From the characters in the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, who made such discoveries, from Persian Sarandīp, Sri Lanka, from Arabic sarandīb.]

serendipitous ser’en·dip’i·tous adj.
serendipitously ser’en·dip’i·tous·ly adv.

WORD HISTORY   We are indebted to the English author Horace Walpole for the word serendipity, which he coined in one of the 3,000 or more letters on which his literary reputation primarily rests. In a letter of January 28, 1754, Walpole says that “this discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word.” Walpole formed the word on an old name for Sri Lanka, Serendip. He explained that this name was part of the title of “a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses traveled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”

I’ve loved that word ever since I first discovered it. I love the sound of it, and I love the idea behind its meaning.

On Wednesday, I experienced it.

I was all set at work for the first meeting of a new book group for teenagers that we’ve been trying to set up.

I’d canvassed 13 to 16 year old customers for months, and had about a dozen express interest to varying degrees. The group was to be 6 – 8 members, so I was fairly confident of a viable take-up. One of the Chatterbooks group that has been running since before I started at the library was keen to join since he was too old to remain in the original group. I saw his dad on Tuesday and he told me how much he was looking forward to it.

I’d ordered in copies of Slated by Teri Terry as the first title to be read and discussed next time.

I’d printed out membership forms, and ‘get to know you’ questionnaires, and a register pro-forma with spaces to put in the item number of each book issued against the name of the member borrowing it.

My boss had even bought a pack of fairy cakes as a welcome.

So at 4.40pm, five minutes before the session was due to start, I went over to the children’s section with the books and papers and cakes, and some pens, to set up.

At 4.45pm nobody had arrived yet. My colleague said the ex-Chatterbooks boy’s dad had just phoned to say he’d come home from school with a sore throat and a temperature, so he wouldn’t make it.

While I was waiting for the rest to arrive, I decided to do some shelf tidying in the area. I’m never one to stand around idle.

I looked at the spinner of ‘red spots’ – books for children who have just become independent readers. This spinner contains Daisy Meadows’ Magic Rainbow Fairy books; Noddy; Dirty Bertie; Horrid Henry; Tiara Club; Magic Puppy, Kitten, Bunny etc.; Gargoyles and others on labelled shelves.

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One glance told me that some kids had been in messing around. Most of the books were back-to-front so that their spines were hidden and, once turned around, were almost exclusively on the wrong shelves. There were Dr Who and Scream Street titles from the Junior section which had no business on that spinner at all.

I set to, trying to organize them. I was nearly done – since the teenagers were all no-shows – when I spotted one of the Daisy Meadows titles that looked as if it had a loose page. I took it aside to see if it could be repaired or would need to be withdrawn from stock.

When I opened it, I discovered that it wasn’t a loose leaf at all. It was a piece of the paper that we leave out for drawing, which had been inserted into the book folded in half. I opened it expecting to see a picture of a fairy.

What I saw shocked and sickened me.

Someone had written in felt pen in large letters: “Your Mum is dead. Go home and see. Some N***a killed her.” [The word was written in full, but I won’t repeat it here.]

It was most likely done by a pupil from the local Upper School. We’ve had problems with them leaving obscene messages on our answer machine etc. before. Hitherto, only the staff have been targeted by their ‘pranks’. The school has been notified and a teacher will be coming to see if they can recognize the handwriting.

I can only thank God that nobody actually turned up for the teenage book group (as disappointing as that was), giving me time to tidy the spinner and discover its awful secret before a member of the public, most likely a little girl around 5-8 years old, found it and read it. I shudder to think of the distress it may have caused.

Serendipitous indeed.