TIME TO RHYME: Following my Passion (and Celebrating my First Picture Book Contract!)

I’ve always loved the sound of words and making meaningful patterns with those sounds using rhythm and rhyme. Maybe it’s because I spent my childhood years in France where even the simplest sentence possesses a poetic quality. Maybe it’s because I’m still a kid at heart who loves word play. Whatever the reason, I love telling stories in rhyme.

When I first started writing for kids, I naturally gravitated toward rhyme and even sold a couple of poems. But somewhere along the way, I got the message that poetry, and especially rhyming poetry, was not in demand. There was no future in it, or so I believed, so, for the next few years I devoted myself almost exclusively to prose. Since I love telling stories, especially stories for kids, I did well in the children’s magazine market. I also explored picture book writing and even drafted a middle grade novel. But, deep down, I missed my first love – rhyme.

So seven years ago, at the suggestion of my sister who’s always been a champion of following one’s passion, I purchased a new composition book, labelled it “POETRY”, and started rhyming again. I was in heaven. Determined to hone my poetic skills, I joined a couple of on-line picture book and poetry critique groups. In the process of both giving and receiving critiques my poetry blossomed. Soon, I was regularly selling poetry to children’s magazines and building a portfolio of rhyming picture book manuscripts to submit to agents.

In November of 2010 I queried agent Mary Kole about representation. She liked the picture book manuscript I sent, but wanted to see more, so I sent her several more rhyming picture books, as well as a description of my middle grade novel and a narrative picture book manuscript for older readers. Finally we arranged to speak over the phone. While she liked my work, she thought my special strength was rhyming for youngest readers. Would I mind focusing on that? she wondered.  Would I mind?!! I’d LOVE it! And that’s exactly what we’ve done.

Now with a drum roll and three cheers for following one’s passion, I’m delighted to announce that Zonderkidz has acquired GOODNIGHT, ARK, my rollicking rhyming picture book about bedtime on Noah’s Ark.  Thanks are in order, both to Mary Kole for her enthusiasm and expertise in guiding me along the path to this first sale, and to my writing friends and family for encouraging me to stick with my first passion- rhyme!

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28 thoughts on “TIME TO RHYME: Following my Passion (and Celebrating my First Picture Book Contract!)

  1. Woo-hoo! That’s a great testimony to stick with your passion and follow through! Congratulations! We love reading your poems and stories in Clubhouse Jr!

  2. Oh Laura, how wonderful! SO excited for you – CONGRATULATIONS!!! Goodnight, Ark sounds like a delightful idea, and I will be first in line for my signed copy. When is it due out? (Knowing the world of picture books I’m guessing Fall 2014 or Spring 2015?) YAY!

  3. This is absolutely a testament to knowing your strengths, believing in yourself and following your passion. A hearty and well-deserved congratulations, Laura. I couldn’t be happier for you.

  4. Way to go, Laura!!! I cannot WAIT to see this story come to life! I can already see the cover! I’m so glad your passion won out. And I’m glad Mary was quick to recognize your gift. Many, many congratulations!! (Yay for rhymers!)

  5. Congratulations, Laura! This is wonderful news! I will be among the first in line to buy your book for my kids. You’ve inspired me. It pays to pursue the things you love.

  6. From your posts (in prose) it’s clear you have a poetic eye. That you are a natural rhymer makes your writing an organic fit for PBs. For all the admonitions not to rhyme, they are meant for most of us, not for writers like you.
    Celebrating with you, Laura. ‘Firsts’ are fabulous, and here’s to many more!

  7. Oh, Laura! This is such exciting news! I am not surprised since I know first-hand how skilled you are at rhyming and writing stories. I look forward to seeing your first book on the shelves! Way to go!!!! 🙂

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