Katherine Field Rothschild (katwinn on QT) has signed with agent Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency.
I love this question, because it’s so important for newer or younger writers to see that writing is a journey—and a long one. I’ve been writing my whole life. I wrote my first novels in tri-color ink on binder paper in Mr. Zedaker’s seventh grade biology classroom. If you’re curious, it was a teen camp romance—of course! And I kept writing from there.
I was accepted into UC Irvine’s undergraduate creative writing program, and studied with Michelle Latiolais and Geoffrey Wolf. At the end of my senior year, Geoff Wolf pulled me aside, and flat told me to go to graduate school. He said something like “If you don’t continue writing, it will be a mistake. Go to grad school.” So I did. I attended St. Mary’s MFA program and studied with Lynn Freed, John Fleming, Rosemary Graham, and Lou Berney, who are all amazing teachers and award-winning writers.
But the most important thing I can say is that although I earned an MFA in Creative Writing in my twenties, I didn’t start what I think of as “seriously writing” until I realized the kind of writer that I am—and that’s a children’s book author. For a long time after graduate school I tried to be something I’m not—an adult author. It was a frustrating time of incomplete manuscripts and terrible short stories. But in that same time, I became a wife and a mom—and that’s what brought me back to who I really am. It was when I was pregnant that I stopped trying to write adult fiction. I was working on a historical fiction for which I had to read these huge research texts, and I just couldn’t do it. I had preggy-brain in a big way. But I wanted to read and I wanted to write, and my dear friend Jennifer Bertman of Book Scavenger fame said, well, I’ll send you some books. And she sent me Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. And it changed my life. I was like: OH. This is the kind of book I want to write. And that’s OK.
I felt like giving up sooooooo many times. This question should be an entire blog entry, really. If it weren’t for my critique group partners, both past and present, and for the children’s book community at large, I would have stopped querying. I just didn’t know how hard it would be. And of course that’s not the case for everyone. But for me, it was very difficult. I’d been querying for about a year when I got the most heartbreaking rejection from an agent who’d LOVED my book and said a zillion nice, super specific things she loved about it, but she just didn’t think contemporary was selling well right now. She even said if she’d seen me two years ago, she would have signed me in a heartbeat. I mean, come on. It was devastating. So, I said to myself—well, that’s it I guess! This is the best rejection letter ever, and that’s as far as this book is going to go. By then I’d already drafted and was revising my second book, and figure that my first book just wouldn’t sell, and that would be OK. Then two of my published writer friends, Darcey Rosenblatt and Lisa Schulman, cornered me at an SCBWI retreat and staged a writer-vention. They both said: You are so CLOSE. Don’t stop now. Don’t stop now!
I blew them off, but Lisa kept at me and wanted me to read her some of my book, and she just said: you’re good. Don’t give up.
So I didn’t. And they were right—I was really close. So—guys: don’t give up.
You know how you can read a poem like ten times and still not get it? After Sabine’s dad dies mysteriously, she gets it. She has the ability to Totally Get Poetry, a ramshackle mansion in a small town, and a box of her dad’s old letters—like any of that will help.
But when a man who claims to have known her father befriends her mother and moves in with them, those three things lead to the truth: he was her father’s longtime lover and the mansion was their love child. Now all she wants is to find a real home, but the only way to get rid of the mansion is to sabotage its renovations. When her efforts uncover a town scandal, she must decide if she’s willing to fight for the legacy of a father she only thought she knew, or if there’s a way to find peace with the dad she really did. HOPE AND OTHER FEATHERED THINGS will appeal to fans of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere, Emily Dickinson, and Nina Lacour’s Hold Still.
I'm an Assistant Professor of English at St. Mary’s College, I teach Arabic dance at Girls Inc., and I Twitter-follow food trucks obsessively. My first-person essays have been published on KQED/NPR, in The San Francisco Chronicle, and several other Bay Area/California publications and I’m the recipient of a Vermont Studio Center Artist’s Grant. I have an MFA in Creative Writing and I’m a member of the SCBWI.
Thank you for your time.