What can happen in two years and eleven months? A newborn can grow into full-fledged toddlerhood. An adolescent can begin and finish an entire middle school career. A picture book manuscript can receive twenty-one rejections (one that included a request to rewrite and resubmit)…and finally, finally connect with an editor! It’s possible! It’s true!
I am so very excited to share my news:
Wendy McClure at Albert Whitman & Company has acquired Caroline Starr Rose’s picture book RIDE ON, WILL CODY!, an action-packed adventure on the Pony Express starring young Will Cody—better known as Buffalo Bill — as he takes his most famous ride. Publication is scheduled for Fall 2017. Tracey Adams at Adams Literary negotiated the deal for world rights.
In the summer of 2012, my family took a road trip to Denver and the communities nearby. While we were in Golden, CO, I happened to see a sign for a Buffalo Bill museum and asked my three guys to indulge me in a little side trip. We drove up a winding mountain to the museum on the crest. As I wandered through the exhibits I saw everything I love to write about — history, determination, and grit. That’s when I decided I’d like to try my hand at a Buffalo Bill story.
The following January I dug into researching this larger-than-life man, sure my book would focus on his Wild West show. But it was a story about his boyhood days riding for the Pony Express that really captured my imagination. According to legend, fourteen-year-old Will Cody took the third longest ride in Pony Express history. It covered 322 miles, required 21 horses, and lasted 21 hours and 40 minutes. The only time Will stopped was to switch horses.
I’ve written on the blog about this manuscript in veiled terms over the years (I’m not quite comfortable sharing my ideas until they are official):
A year and a half ago, I wrote about reworking the manuscript after an editor showed interest.
Last fall I shared about it being rejected ten months later by that same editor. Oh, it was disappointing and hurt a lot, too. But I walked away with a stronger piece, and I was grateful for that.
After realizing this spring that Ride on, Will Cody! probably didn’t have a future, I allowed myself to grieve and wrote this post that ran in early June. A few weeks before that post went live, I learned Will was “riding” to an acquisitions meeting.
It has not escaped my notice that a book about resolve and a long, long ride required a whole lot of determination from this author during its lengthy, circuitous submission journey. And did you notice the numbers? The third longest ride for the Pony Express. Three years on submission. 21 horses and 21 hours. 21 rejections. It’s almost as though it was meant to be this way.
I’m so grateful for my agent Tracey’s support, who ended every rejection email with “Ride on!” I know Will’s found his perfect match in editor Wendy McClure, whose publisher Albert Whitman makes beautiful picture book biographies, who writes about the West herself, and has an MFA in poetry.
Will and I are about to take off on the next leg of our wild ride. To that I say hee-haw!
Sarah M says
Oh that is so exciting, and I think it fits in beautifully with the other books they publish. Some of my favorite picturebooks are the biographical kind. The ones coming out in the last 2-3 years have really upped their game. Congrats to you, and we can’t wait to read it!
Thank you, Sarah. It’s not strictly a biography (those have been amazing these last few years!), more like a glimpse into one intense day. But there is certainly a similarity. I hope you enjoy!
Joanne Fritz says
Congratulations, Caroline! I’ll look forward to reading this book. You continue to impress me (and I’ve been following you since before MAY B. was published), especially with your persistence. “Never give up” has always been my motto, but I admit after 25 or 30 rejections on some of my picture books, I’ve stopped submitting them. And instead I write other things. Someday…
Don’t stop!!!! The hard work has already happened. Please consider dusting them off, rereading and reworking if necessary, and getting them out there again.
Laurel Garver (@LaurelGarver) says
Congrats, Caroline! This is another of those “it will make a good story later”–after the happy ending. In the middle of the process, it probably didn’t feel so great. Thanks for the reminder that persistence is so essential in publishing.
No, it was hard in the middle. Very hard. And I had allowed myself to grieve this one — told myself it was unhealthy to keep holding out hope. Sometimes we need to do that. Shockingly, the wheels were finally in motion, unbeknownst to me.
Faith E Hough says
Thanks for sharing this inspiring story! I can’t wait to read your book and share it with my children.
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Caroline, I’m so excited and happy for you! Such a long road, but with faith, persistence, and an agent cheering you on -the perferct home has been found. I love all the coincidences with the numbers as well. Thank you for sharing this journey, because it is an inspiration for us all.
Congrats and a what a fitting journey your book has taken given your subject. I think Will Cody is smiling down upon you!
Thank you, Mia. I’d like to think he’d find it fitting!
Shannon O'Donnell says
HUGE congratulations, Caroline! What wonderful news for me to discover on my re-entry to blogland. I couldn’t be happier for you! (and I’ve missed you, my friend) 🙂
Hello, hello, Shannon! I hope you’re well. We miss you at Project Mayhem.
Oh, I love this! Congratulations!!! Isn’t it wonderful when your family indulges you?
Yes! It’s amazing how time away from my normal routine leads to ideas like this, too.
Kerry O'Malley Cerra says
So happy for you, Caroline. Love that you and Tracey never gave on up that MS.
Me, too. She’s been good to me.
Connie Keller says