So Many Surprises!!! And Oh Susanna – How Many MSS For Agent Querying?

Raise your hand if you’re happy it’s April!!!

April happens to be my favorite month.  The air is warmer and softer.  The light changes.  Nature is trying on all her new finery.  And some of my favorite people have birthdays this month 🙂

So in honor of April, I have surprises for you, my friends!  (And may I just say, I hope you all ate your Wheaties this morning because I have a lot to say – which I know you’ll find shocking since I’m normally such a model of succinctness :))

Surprise #1!

First, after much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, I have managed the MAP OF MY DREAMS for Phyllis’s World Tour.  It is so cool that you will be amazed!  Here’s what you can do:

You can zoom out and see all the places in the world she’s been at one time, or zoom in so you can easily click on each marker.

You can change the view from map, to satellite, to hybrid, to terrain!

You can click on the individual markers and they will tell you who she visited in that spot, show a photo you can click to enlarge and clarify, give a short description of her visit, and include a link directly to the associated blog post (it says website which I couldn’t change but click on it and it will take you to the blog post.)  (Also, I could only attach one link per marker, so for a couple people who posted 2 or 3 times, I put the main post.)

And it has purple markers for the main tour and yellow markers for the school tour!

Check it out!  (The only annoying thing is the ad I can’t get rid of!)

Here’s a screen shot that shows you the whole map without the ad 🙂

click HERE for interactive map

Seriously.  Is this a wonder or what???!!! 🙂  (and if anyone finds glitches, you must break it to me very gently because this took me a Very. Long. Time!)

Of course, it makes me notice all the empty areas, so if you know anyone in South America or Greenland or Turkey or such like who wants to join the tour, let me know 🙂

I know you will all want to try it out right away, but come right back, because more good stuff is coming!

In case you missed it over the weekend, Phyllis visited Rena in Alberta, Canada, (there was an enchanted castle and bull riding involved!) and one of Pam’s literacy groups in Atlanta, GA (very cute kids and Phyllis learned a lot about Dr. King, Ghandi, and Rosa Parks!)!  Pam will have more posts to come as Phyllis visits with other kids.

Surprise #2!

It’s been a while since the Valentines’ Contest, so what better way then a Fabulous Fun-Filled Contest to celebrate spring, and April, and writing for kids, and all the awesome April Birthdays (mine, my dad’s, my niece’s and my nephew’s, your friend and mine Renee’s of No Water River, and please, if anyone else celebrates this month let me know and I’ll add you to this celebrity list :))

Here are the rules:

Write a children’s story about a very creative or unique birthday celebration in 1-300 words!  (The 1 is for Cathy if she needs an extra challenge.. and Cathy? it also has to rhyme! :))

It may be prose or poetry, so those of you participating in Poetry Month can join in.  Those of you who are participating in the A To Z challenge may title it with anything you want to fit your letter of the day 🙂  Those of you who are participating in 12 X 12 will have your manuscript for the month!  And for those of you not participating in any of the above and feeling a little left out, this is your chance to be part of something far less time-consuming 🙂

Entries must be posted on your blog (or in the comment section of my contest blog post on April 21 if you don’t have a blog) between Saturday April 21 and 11:59 PM EDT Tuesday April 24.  Add your entry-specific link to the list that will go up with my special post that Saturday.  I will not post on Monday April 23 so the list will stay up.)  I’m still picking out prizes, but there will be prizes and they will be good and I will let you know when I decide what they are 🙂  (You are invited to suggest prizes if there’s something your little hearts especially desire :))  If there are fewer than 20 entries there will be one prize.  If there are more than 20 entries there will be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes!  The number of entries will also determine the number of finalists that will be posted for you to vote on Monday April 30.  (I’m trying not to skip Would You Read It or Perfect Picture Books or overload you with extra posts, hence the wait til Monday the 30th!)  (And if more than 20 people comment that they have too much to do in April and won’t enter, I will move the contest to May, even though *sob, sniff* it will no longer be The Birthday Month!)

Surprise #3!

I have a very special extra post that will go up tomorrow!  (Yes, tomorrow, even though I usually don’t post on Tuesday – it was either that or stuff it into this already overly long post!)  But you’re going to want to see this one.  It is a guest post from the lovely Cori Doerrfeld in which she will share with us how she created her newest book, Little Bunny Foo Foo!  Original and published mss will be included so you can see the difference, as well as her first vision of the art and how it morphed into the final version!  It’s not often you get to see so much process, and Cori has been very kind to share, so I hope you’ll all find a little time tomorrow (or when you have a few minutes) to read it.

Now, to finish up this very long post (I always have so many things to share, and only 3 days a week to do it!) we have a quick Oh Susanna question.  (The inclusion of Oh Susanna isn’t a surprise on Monday, but the question is always a surprise, so it still counts :))

Carter asks, “How many submission-ready manuscripts should I have in my pocket before I begin querying agents?  I know which one I want to lead with, but I assume I should have a number of others for an interested agent to read when considering representation.”

I would say that, as with so many things in this business, a lot depends on the agent.  For some agents, one strong manuscript is all they need.  But I think most will want to see more, especially with picture books.  My answer would be, lead with your strongest manuscript and have 3 others waiting as back up – enough to show that you’ve got more than one story in you, and preferably a little bit of a range of your style (if you have a range of style.)  For example, if your lead manuscript is roll-on-the-floor funny, maybe one of your others should be a quieter/more thoughtful/different emotion type of story if you also write that kind of story.  However, that very much depends on your writing style – some authors produce funny, or emotional, or whatever every single time and that’s what they’re known for.  Basically, you want to have enough to show that the agent will hopefully like at least a couple.

What do the other writers out there think?  Would you recommend more than 3 back-ups?  Less?

Thank you all for sticking it out to the end of this post! 🙂  Please, have an extra donut on me!  See you tomorrow with Cori, and Wednesday with the March Pitch Pick and Delores’s Would You Read It pitch.  I hope you all have LOTS of fun with the map! 🙂

48 thoughts on “So Many Surprises!!! And Oh Susanna – How Many MSS For Agent Querying?

  1. Julie says:

    Phyllis's World Tour is such an exciting idea! Happy April Birthday! My mom almost named me April, but I was born at the end of March! Sorry I won't be able to participate in another contest due to A to Z, but I would love to try another time.

  2. Joanna Marple says:

    Great trips to Alberta and Atlanta!

    The interactive map is sheer brilliance, Susanna!

    From my reading, I would say a minimum of three strong manuscripts is a good idea, but not prescriptive, to have before submitting to an agent. They really want to know that you aren't a one-book wonder and that you will be able to continue to produce some good stories each year!

    I confess I am trying “My Name is Not Bob – April Platform Building Challenge” so don't think I will be submitting a story into your contest this month.

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'm so glad the map worked for you!!! Up until the moment, I wasn't sure it really would 🙂 Thanks for your input on the ms question, and for letting me know about the contest – if April is really too busy, I'd rather do it in May, so I'm glad you spoke up and hope other people will too!

  4. Rachel Schieffelbein says:

    The map looks great! Well done!
    I will start thinking birthdays. 🙂 I am at State speech that Saturday, though, so I might have to post late in the day. Is that okay?

  5. Iza Trapani says:

    Wow! The map is very cool. Can't wait for your tuesday surprise and as for the agent question, I agree completely.

  6. Catherine Johnson says:

    That map is fabulous! I must go and read Rena's post and there be others I missed. So cool we're doing another writing contest, I have missed those! I might just slip in a an extra blog post myself tomorrow, since I have fun news to announce, though probably not as fun as yours 🙂
    I love your answers to that question, I worry sometimes about having different types of pbs, but if that is a bonus – great! Have a lovely day!

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Glad you like the map! And I think you'll enjoy tomorrow's treat! And now you're the 2nd or 3rd person who seems up for a contest this month, so I'll have to keep a tally 🙂 Can't wait to see your fun news!

  8. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    Three seems to be the magic number I hear a lot. That's why I haven't submitted anything. Write. Revise. Repeat. And, one day I'll have the three. If I participate, then that would give me more inspiration for our birthday month in May. (So, I'm sort of on the fence, but will do my best to participate. I'll see what I can come up with on the elliptical this morning.)

  9. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    OK. You do the elliptical. I will have some food for thought (still working on that bag of jelly beans :)) I meant 3 in addition to the original one – so 4 all together. I will take note of your on the fence status as I continue to tally… 🙂 Loved your post today! 🙂

  10. Heather says:

    The map! It's so much fun and I am quite impressed by your computer skills. Ethan says thank you for including his home 🙂 I may enter the contest, but I have the NESCBWI conference the weekend of the 20th with a portfolio and book dummy to revamp before then. An idea popped into my head when I read your post, so who knows what will happen! Happy Birthday Month!

  11. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Glad you like the map, Heather, and Ethan is entirely welcome 🙂 I hope you'll be able to enter the contest… if I run it this month… I'm waiting to see what the general consensus is. Good luck with your dummy – I'm sure it will be brilliant!

  12. Carter Higgins says:

    What a post! A map! A surprise! A FANTASTIC line: Nature is trying on all her new finery. (I may have gasped a little when I read that! So beautiful.)
    Thanks for covering my question! That settles my brain a bit…now for some range!
    Thanks, Susanna!

  13. Natalie says:

    A contest! A contest! A contest! I can't break tradition and not enter….But I'm not sure that I'll have a single drop of creative juice left in my by the 21st of April! We'll see….this could get ugly!! LOL 🙂

    Can't wait for tomorrow's post. I have always wanted to see an original mss. next to the finished product! Great idea!

  14. Hannah Holt says:

    Wow! I'm always amazed by all you do. I could view the map, but couldn't interact, but I use a Linux OS (and sometimes things like this are glitchy). So DON'T change anything. It looks beautiful.
    I probably won't be up for a contest this month. We're still sleeping in sleeping bags. Our stuff from CO doesn't arrive until tomorrow. But I reserve the right to change my mind just in case I become magically more organized.

  15. Julie Hedlund says:

    I agree that you should have at least 3 manuscripts. What a bummer if the agent/editor asks to see more and you don't have any!

    Map = AWESOME!

    Contest = EXCITED!

  16. Carter Higgins says:

    You know what's funny about that? I took a birthday element out of one manuscript cause it just didn't work…but I can still picture that party and know it's perfect for SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE!

  17. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    doo doo doo doo (that's me making twilight zone music) It's meant to be, Carter! 🙂

    Carter Higgins wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    You know what's funny about that? I took a birthday element out of one manuscript cause it just didn't work…but I can still picture that party and know it's perfect for SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE!

    User's profile
    Link to comment

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'm so glad the map is working and everyone likes it! 🙂 AND I'm glad you're excited for the contest!!! (I hope that means you'll enter – it will be a dumb contest if we only get 2 entries – I'll have to make up stories from my dogs or something to add in :))

  19. Kirsten Larson says:

    Susanna, your map is awesome, except…. I didn't see her visit to Palmdale, CA. I know it was SO LONG AGO. 🙂

  20. Tracy Bermeo says:

    Love the map. I didn't even know that having additional copies of a MS was required when querying….. On a side note, spring has totally hit NJ and that means I've been on my deck. 🙂 Love the new writing contest and I LOVE birthdays!

  21. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Awesome map! Awesome contest! Awesome info! Awesome upcoming post!
    Yes, Susanna…you are the queen of Awesomeness.
    Oh, yes, and the donut was awesome as well. 🙂

  22. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh, YAY! I'm glad at least a few people seem keen on the contest! And I didn't mean to suggest additional copies of a ms, but rather that you should have 3 different separate mss polished and ready to show an agent who is interested in the first one you sent – follow ups if you will.

  23. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I had you down as Lancaster, CA – was that wrong? And yours is kind of hidden behind someone else's – you'd have to zoom in a lot to get the markers to spread out. Sorry about that. Let me know if I need to change the town, and if you can see it when you zoom!

  24. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh, I hope you'll have enough creative juice for the contest! Your entries are always so good! You can do it! As for tomorrow's post, I have bad news. I don't have all the pieces after all, and the pre- and post-mss are going to have to wait for a later date. It wasn't an April Fool's joke – really! – it's just things got in the way… but soon!

  25. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    She could NEVER forget you!!! You were her very first stop! You let her fly a plane! And climb a Joshua Tree! And play with your boys! Forgetting is not possible 🙂

    Kirsten Larson (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    My mistake. When I zoomed in, her visit is there. I didn't want her to forget us.

    Link to comment

  26. Cathy Mealey says:

    Throwing down the gauntlet for the one word, rhyming birthday story? Hmm…Since MY birthday is October 31, it will probably have to refer back to my very first ever Susanna Leonard Hill blog contest entry, the Halloweensie contest! Or not…
    Great map, great Oh Susanna subject. Thanks!

  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'm just fooling' with you, Cathy 🙂 since we were joking about this back at the Valentines contest 🙂 Of course you are welcome to submit an entry with as many as 6 words :)Glad you liked the map and the Oh Susanna question!

  28. Tiltonph says:

    Love the map — I would never figure out such a thing! A lot of people with April birthdays — are you Aries or Taurus? Mine is in May. Lovely idea for another contest.

  29. Cathy Mealey says:

    And PS – I suggest the contest prize be a signed copy of BEER IS ZO MOE. That has to be the most fun-to-say translated title ever!

  30. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I could do that… 🙂 Here, I'll give you a sample so you can see if it continues to seem fun. The first sentence goes like this: Op een mooie lenteochtend geeuwt Mama Beer diep. Ze rekt zich uit en zegt, “Het is lente, Kleine Beer. Tijd om op te staan!” Try reading that out loud. Or better yet, saying it three times fast 🙂

    Cathy Mealey (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    And PS – I suggest the contest prize be a signed copy of BEER IS ZO MOE. That has to be the most fun-to-say translated title ever!

    User's profile
    Link to comment
    IP address:

Leave a Reply to Susanna Leonard Hill Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s