It would be a little silly if I didn’t break radio silence for this…

Are you seriously gonna quibble over the blurriness of the text in the foreground? IT'S A BOOK CONTRACT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD...

Greetings, people of the blogosphere! Salutations, citizens of the land of keyboard-induced repetitive motion injuries! Hola, amigos! Yes, yes, it’s been a while, and I’m won’t bludgeon you into senselessness with an overly long blog post now (ETA: I TOTALLY LIED ABOUT NOT WRITING A LONG POST) – my son’s with his mother in the other room, weeping, so I’m on red alert – but seriously, if there’s ever a day when I’m gonna at least make a sloppy, token effort to blog it should be this day. And if you’re even remotely connected to my online presence in other venues you probably know already that I have a book deal! I’m gonna be published! Wahoo! And you probably already know who’s gonna publish my book – in typical fashion, I’ve given it away in the picture that’s at the top of this post. Even so, just humor me a bit, will ya? Pretend you don’t know, if you’re willing. OH COME ON, JUST DO IT. Go back into the wavering mists of time with me…

I first got the impetus to write children’s books back in the mid-to-late 90s, when I was working as a preschool teacher. So of course I was reading a ton of picture books, and that was what I originally thought about writing! (I still plan on doing that one of these days, just so you know.) One of the PBs that I remembered most clearly from those days, and which I eventually bought a copy of for my own kids, was Peggy Rathmann’s OFFICER BUCKLE AND GLORIA. A nearly perfect marriage of text and imagery, neh? The kids asked for it over and over, and that was one of my first real moments of clarity around how wonderful and persistent the experience of reading a picture book could be.

A couple of years later I, like so many people, read the book that was almost certainly the biggest game-changer of all time, the book that altered everything. I’m talking about HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, of course. I remember one day when I saw people reading the book in three different places – a twentysomething-looking woman on the BART train, a college student working the information desk at the California College of Arts, and an older man at a table in a coffeeshop. Adults, all of ’em! It spurred thoughts about that whole silly “why are you reading that kid’s book blah blah blah” thing, and my own college-age experience reading DRAGONSONG, as I’ve previously blogged about.

Still the standard bearer for our hero.

A few years after that (and mind you, I still hadn’t done ANYTHING to pursue this “writing for children” dream, it was still just a dream), I read a book that upended the foundations of my psychological reality in a whole new way. That book, which may be an even greater influence of my writerly self than HP, was MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS by Lisa Yee, which in many ways is still the middle-grade fiction champ in my mind. Uproarious, laugh-out-loud humor, combined with a deep well of loneliness and alienation, with Asian characters, but a story that wasn’t about them being Asian, written by an author who didn’t get published until she was in her forties, an author who wrote several entirely new drafts of her book, an author who revised for six freaking years, an author who blogs, and puts pictures of her editor on her blog…

What Lisa Yee did with MILLICENT MIN was change my perceptions in a different way – not of what a children’s book could be, but of what (and who) a children’s author could be. And of course her blog gave me my first glimpse of the person who’d eventually become my editor.

The common thread shared by all three of these books? They were edited by the same guy, of course.

I first saw Arthur Levine speak in person a number of years later, after I’d finally, finally, finally started to pursue a kidlit career in earnest – he gave a keynote on the invincible resiliency of the picture book at SCBWILA08, which was a watershed event for me in many ways. Then I finally met Arthur in-an-actual-talking-to-a-person kinda way at SCBWILA10, when I took his master class on writing strong emotions. And I was unsurprisingly floored by his editorial acumen – he took the class’s writing samples, neatly flayed them open, and held each word and phrase up to the light, pointing out its frailties or strengths, defining its role within the greater organism of our stories. I was sold.

So, here it is! I have the green light to officially and publicly announce that my debut MG novel, GEEKS, GIRLS AND SECRET IDENTITIES, will be published by Arthur A. Levine Books! Even more exciting, Arthur himself will by my editor. Yes. ARTHUR #$%&ING LEVINE IS MY EDITOR!!!!!!

Holy cow. It’s hard to overstate how dazzled I am by the opportunity to join a cadre of such incredible authors and illustrators, or to work with one of the true giants of the industry – yes, I’ve been obsessively plowing through the AALB catalog, and the stellar quality of these books continuously knocks me over. I’m grateful to so many people! My agent, the fabulous Ammi-Joan Paquette! Everyone at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency! My compadres on the Blueboards! And of course Arthur himself. I’ve been told over and over that Arthur is a wonderful human being, and yo babies, he lives up to the billing. I think he’s gonna make me work harder than I’ve ever worked at my writing before, but hey, bring it on! BRING THE ROCK. Because I also think that Arthur’s editorial genius will spur me to produce absolutely the best book that I’m capable of creating.

I am very, very happy, my friends. I can not fully express the depths of my happiness. And I’m about to use a terrible cliche, something I’m sure Arthur won’t let me get away with, but hey, this is just a blog post, and cliches become cliches in the first place because initially at least they contained some powerful nugget of truth about the human condition, right? So I hope you’ll forgive my lapse into hackneyed copy, folks. Because I say this with every drop of sincerity in my possession – this is a dream come true.


54 thoughts on “It would be a little silly if I didn’t break radio silence for this…

  1. What a story. This is definitely a match made on the celestial bookshelf. Way to go, Mike! I know this is just the first of many successes for you, so enjoy every minute.

    Angela @ the Bookshelf Muse

  2. YAY, MIKE!!! (*throws confetti*) I knew you could do it! Yippee! Couldn’t happen to a nicer emperor, I mean guy.

    And Arthur himself. Whoa! That is so cool. I think you’re entitled to a few cliches.

    Congrats. Can’t wait to read an ARC of your book (hint hint, do I smell a contest?).

  3. Again — oh, cliches, cliches — I cannot express the depth of my happiness for you! You totally deserve it, and I am *so* sure that this book will be epicly hilarious. 🙂

  4. Mike, I’m so thrilled for you! And, after reading this blog post, I am EVEN MORE thrilled for you than I was before (if that’s possible)! Such huge congratulations to you! I will be anxiously awaiting the day I can read your book.

  5. Mike, this is wonderful news! I’m sure you and Arthur will put out a fantastic book. I heard him speak about PBs at SCBWI in LA and loved what he had to say. And I always appreciate what you have to say, too. So you two should do well together.

    1. Thanks Sally, I really enjoyed his PB talk at SCBWILA too! I have high hopes for working with Arthur, he’s really great.

  6. Holy Cannoli, Mike! Arthur Levine?!!!!! *faints* Having a baby wasn’t good enough, was it? You had to go and have a book baby with Arthur Levine?!!!

    Super huge congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Mike, you and I feel the same way about both Lisa Yee and Arthur Levine. We’re lucky to work with him, and I can’t wait to read your book. Congratulations!

  8. I’m so, so, so happy for you Mike! Thanks for sharing your story here. Fun to read; I can’t wait to read your book too. It’s nice to know that dreams can come true. Yay Mike!

    p.s. Lisa Yee and Millicent Minn was a big book for me too.

    1. Thanks Stephanie! Yeah, MILLICENT really made a huge impression on me, and Lisa’s online presence is so funny and effective too.

  9. Mike, I’m honored to have been a part of your dream. Arthur’s the best.

    Even though it’s after midnight here, I’m gonna break out the mint M & M’s and eat them in celebration of your wonderful news!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Lisa! You really have been a source of inspiration, and your Arthur-and-Peepy photos really show a fun side of both your personalities. Not that it was a giant shock or anything… 😉

  10. Holy cow! Holy Cow! HOLY COW! I’ve been out of it a while on the blueboards (behick108) so I didn’t see this until today on the blog board, haha just another day! Arthur is my dream editor and I’m sure everyones dream editor. HUGE Congrats!!! You’ve worked hard for this and now you get to work even harder with Arthur Levine at your back. Wow, happily envious.

    1. Thanks Rebecca! Yeah, Arthur’s been my top choice from the get-go, so it’s a little hard to grasp that I actually get to work with him.

  11. Every word of this post made me smile. So thrilled for you, Mike. Enjoy that dream-come-true feeling. I can’t wait to read your book!!!!

    1. Thanks so much Nan! I think that “howling at the moon” episode was an important part of my developmental process, don’t you? 🙂

  12. Ack! I was out-of-country when this came down, so here I am, showing up as all the other guests leave. Or maybe the party’s still going strong? At any rate, I bear virtual champagne. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Awesome news, Mike!

  13. Hi Mike — Can’t remember how I found you…maybe Twitter? In any case, so glad I did. Congratulations! That is fantastic news. As a middle grade writer getting ready to traverse the land ‘o agents, I find this post inspiring, encouraging, and just plain smile-inducing. I’ve been enjoying some of your older posts, too.

    Best to you~

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