I’d wanted to publish a children’s book for as long as I can remember. Books factored largely into my childhood. I would check out 50 of them from the library, read all of them in two weeks, and return them for another pile. I collected books too—Nancy Drew and original hardcover titles from the early 1900s from L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
For me, there was no greater joy than reading. I thought that creating something which brought so much enjoyment to others must be incredibly fulfilling work.
Years later, when choosing college classes to fulfill my Creative Writing minor, I had to decide between a poetry writing class or a script writing class. The choice was easy—I didn’t want to take either of them! But I had to take one, so I went with poetry, figuring the pieces would be shorter to write. I certainly didn’t envision crafting any epic poems à la The Odyssey or Beowulf or Paradise Lost.
I was nothing short of shocked when I ended up loving the class. Professor Elton Glaser taught me more about words and the art of stringing them together than any other teacher, before or after.
Mr. Glaser told us we should pay close attention to language when writing poetry. Whether employing alliteration or onomatopoeia, assonance or consonance, or any other poetic sound devices, he stressed the importance of always choosing the right words. Mr. Glaser also instructed us that a poem should evoke an image.
In late spring of 2009, when my family was driving to Indianapolis, I started to write a story about a little ghost. He lived in a haunted house and, in order to fall asleep at night, would listen to the various sounds—bats flapping / footsteps tapping… spiders clicking / an old clock ticking…witches cackling / skeletons rattling….black cats hissing / the wind whistling.
I finished a draft over the course of that weekend and spent many months revising…and revising…and revising some more.
In the summer of 2010, I sent the manuscript to a vice president at Random House whom I knew on an email-basis—and she ended up buying it. I was thrilled. My childhood dream had come true!
When I heard about American Greetings ThankList initiative—recognizing those people who had helped shape our lives—I thought of Mr. Glaser. I wanted this particular teacher to know how directly he influenced my first (and hopefully not last) original book sale.
And so I emailed him.
And he responded!
He was pleased to hear that something I learned in one of his classes so long ago was able to be used later in life to bring me happiness.
He also asked for two signed copies for his grandchildren.
Now that’s my idea of a happy ending!