Main Dish – Baked Spaghetti

From Idea to Contract


I told some of my students over the last few weeks about the process of going from idea to publication. Since I signed a contract this week, I thought I’d share with you the process as well.

Over the last few months, I’ve been submitting poetry to Highlights for Children, the kids’ magazine that I remember from childhood always being in my dentist’s waiting room. I loved the hidden pictures and Goofus and Gallant columns. Last fall I sold my first piece, and this week made my second sale to this highly circulating kids’ magazine.

About two years ago, I first experienced thundersnow here in Chicago. I learned all about this rare phenomenon, and proceeded to write a short poem about it. It’s probably about 50-60 words and explains the right conditions for thundersnow.

So I wrote the poem and then it sort of languished in a file for about a year until I got it out a few months ago when I was preparing for a Highlights conference I attended in Oct. 2013.

After the conference, I made a few tweaks, and then sent it to the editor at Highlights. 

I waited around two or three months, and then got an email from my editor. She asked for a few changes. I spent a few days mulling over the revisions, brought it to a critique group for ideas, and then re-submitted it via email.

Finally, last week, after about 4 or 5 months of waiting, I received word that my editor would suggest the poem for purchase, but first, I needed to send my sources since it was nonfiction. I should have created a bibliography from the beginning, but wasn’t sure what I would do with the poem, so I had to look those up. After I did that, another day or so later I received my emailed contract. I don’t know when the poem will appear in the magazine, but now I’ll get paid and they’ll plug it in whenever they have space.

As you probably know, I’ve written several books for children. That process is even more involved and requires many, MANY revisions, lots of back and forth between writer and agent, agent and editor, etc.

But the process of getting a poem published in Highlights is sort of a microcosm of how the system works. My students were amazed that it would take that long and be that complicated a process for only a 10-line poem. But–as with most things worth doing–they seem easier than they actually are.

Like I mentioned, this week is going to be pretty spotty blog-wise since I’m leading a writing workshop. I’m SO looking forward to it. I’ve been on the receiving end for these sorts of things many times, but never have led an entire workshop on my own. I’ve got tons of ideas, games, writing exercises, and lots of tips for good writing. I’m looking forward to meeting 10 new writing friends!

Baked Spaghetti

This simple and satisfying dish was not only easy to put together but also filling. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the consistency came out perfect. I was worried it would be runny as it seemed so before putting it in the oven. But it came out perfectly.



This will be great for my lunches for the next two days! Thank you, Marian F. for this great contribution!

P.S. For some weird reason, I had it in my mind that the Turkey Sloppy Joes recipe was from Joan H., but it was actually submitted by Laura P. Sorry about that, Laura! Thank you for the recipe as it has sustained us all week with dinners and some lunches too!

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