Susanna Leonard Hill is back to continue her story of how PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS went from concept to contract. If you missed Part 1, you can catch it here.
Take it away, Susanna!
I wrote the first draft of Punxsutawney Phyllis. I didn't even know how to spell Punxsutawney - it's wrong all through that draft! The original manuscript was slightly over 2000 words.
Ahem! What did I say? No judging!
So I rewrote it.
I had some lovely passages.... "Down in the hollow, she could hear the water in the brook chuckling under the ice as the cold loosened its grip..." that had to go!
It was painful, but I cut and I cut and I cut. And as I cut, the story began to emerge. It wasn't just about Groundhog Day, or a girl doing what had traditionally been a boy's job, or wishing for early spring. It was about believing in yourself. It was about having the courage to stand for your beliefs even when no one else seemed to be listening.
My first final draft was still over 1000 words, but I sent it to my agent.
She had a few suggestions.
My second final draft met with her approval, so off it went to Holiday House. "They're looking for a Groundhog Day story," my agent said. "I think they're going to like this one!"
I waited some more.
I hashed over that manuscript in my mind. I should have done this.... I thought. I should have done that... I should have said this differently....
I waited some more.
You know, you hear these stories of people who send in their manuscripts on a Friday and by Monday there's a furious bidding war going on between 3 of the Big Six houses? That has not happened to me! :)
I did morning drop-off, noon pick-up, afternoon bus stop. I folded laundry and washed dishes and vacuumed and picked up toys. I read stories and played games, cooked dinner and gave baths, and I wrote new stories whenever I could, often by the nightlight in the bathroom when I had an idea at 2 AM.
And I waited some more.
And then one day, in the end of January, my agent called with those magical, magical words!
"I've got an offer for you!"
Holiday House wanted to publish Punxsutawney Phyllis.