Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 25, 2012

Fantasy Middle Grade Novel Gets Signed From NJ SCBWI Conference!

Last week I received an email from Kit Grindstaff.  In it she said, “The NJ conference (the best I’ve ever attended, of any kind!) which, thanks to you astutely pairing me with the wonderful Michelle Poploff, has led me to a publishing deal, for which I’m so grateful.”
I asked her to share her success story with you:
The short story: Fantasy middle grade novel gets signed from the 2010 NJ SCBWI conference!
The long story: Session, submission, revision, more revision, contract.
In 2010, I attended the NJ SCBWI conference. Having weathered my share of of agent rejections (I won’t say how many), I’d kept working at those dastardly opening chapters until I felt they were ready to send out again, and signed up for the 3 critiques – agent, editor, author. I had my heart set on connecting with an agent, for the reason that we’re all aware: the Big 6 don’t accept unsolicited mss from un-agented writers.
Unless, of course, you meet one at a conference, who invites you to submit to them. Which is exactly what happened.
My editor session was with Michelle Poploff, Sr. Editor and VP of Delacorte Press. I liked her immediately. She seemed positive about the 15 pages I’d sent for critique, but as we chatted I couldn’t get a sense of how positive, exactly. So when at the end of our session she invited me to submit the entire ms to her, I almost fell off my chair and had to literally stop myself from saying, “you’re kidding, right?” Not kidding. Breathe. Stop grinning like a lunatic. Okay, grin like a lunatic…
As I was halfway through a “last” revision at the time, I sent Michelle the ms about 3 months later. It would be at least Christmas, I figured, before I heard anything. So when I received an email from her 4 weeks later saying she was interested in the book, I almost fell off my chair again.
However…it was far from in the bag. She loved a lot about the book, but felt it needed work. I received my marked-up ms the following day, along with her 9 page editorial letter – 9 pages! That, she said, was quite normal, and I shouldn’t be daunted by it. But I was. Seriously. Sagging middle? Mine, evidently, was almost dragging along the ground. But truth was, I had known that. I just didn’t know how to remedy it. After a pep talk by my husband, my “I can’t possibly!” gloom lifted, and, sustained by the words at the end of Michelle’s letter telling me that if I felt up to the task, she’d like to see the ms again with a view to acquiring it for the Delacorte list – I got to work.
Michelle’s suggestions were inspiring, and I ran with most of them – or rather, they ran with me. The old middle doubled in size. The old front slashed. Plenty of darlings, slain. Plenty of new, more vibrant ones, created. 9 months later, I sent my scarily long-for-mg ms back to Michelle.
Three weeks later came THE email. Normally at this point, Michelle wrote, she would call. But I’d told her I would be away overseas, and she wanted to let me know sooner than later: she was ready to move forward and acquire the book! Wow! Wow! Wow! It was really, really happening.
Now, another round or 2 of revisions later, the contract is signed, my ms officially accepted, and I, of course, am thrilled. And very very grateful to you for pairing me with Michelle. I’d heard of such “success stories”, but until it happened to me…well, I never thought it would happen to me!
Kathy, thank you again, so very much. And for the record, that conference is still the best I’ve ever attended. Sorry I couldn’t make the one in 2011 (though I did recommend it to several friends, at least 3 of whom attended!), but I’m looking forward to this June’s. See you then. Kit
See good things can happen.  Kit’s book, THE FLAME IN THE MIST will hit book shelfs in the first quarter of 2013.

Talk tomorrow,


  1. See, dreams CAN come true. But they don’t happen without taking the proper steps. Without question, attending a NJ SCBWI conference is the right step and worth every penny. I really can’t wait! SO happy for Kit!!!! And you must feel so gratified, Kathy 🙂


  2. Tears came to my eyes while I was reading Kit’s success story. I’m so happy for her. I’m sure that a lot of love and work went into those revisions. Congrats Kit, and congrats to Kathy and our wonderful chapter of SCBWI for introducing yet another amazing author (I’m sure) to the world. Hugs, Bettelynn


  3. Congrats, Kit! You put in a lot of hard work to make things happen. I’m so proud of the New Jersey chapter for being the catalyst for happy endings.


  4. I love hearing good news like that. Congratulations!


  5. Congratulations, Kit! What an inspiring story. I look forward to meeting you in June at the conference. I went last June for the first time and it was the BEST I have ever attended. They work so hard to make it so. Stories like this keep my fingers moving! Carole


  6. Oh, what WONDERFUL news!

    Thank you, Kit, for sharing the exciting ride with us!

    Looking forward to reading your book!!! WOW!!!

    ~ Eileen B.


  7. I am sitting here with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes! Congrats! What a wonderful story! 🙂


  8. love these stories! proves the belief that it’s 80% luck…after a LOT of work, and being in the right place at the right time….. and then a lot MORE work. 🙂 ALL worth it… congratulations!


  9. Excellent! And I love the SCBWI…if you are a children’s writer or illustrator you must join this organization.


  10. Oh, all you lovely ladies…I’m such a dork! I never realized there were any comments about Kathy’s post, lol…and now here I am 5 months later, so warmed by your congratulations! Thank you so much!

    What this means of course is that I missed meeting you at the recent conference, Carole – or any of you who were there, for that matter. Well, I shall go now and try to find each of you on Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads, and hope to connect! (I mean, who knows if you’ll even see such a belated reply at this point.)

    Good luck on your journeys!


    • Hi Kit! It was great meeting you, too!

      ~Eileen Balesteri


  11. I’m sorry I missed you, Kit. I shall find you on FB. Carole 🙂


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