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From Library Desk to Library Shelf: My 10-Year Path to Publication

Welcome to our new Author Spotlight Series, which is launching today with a  guest blog post by Augusta Scattergood.
Welcome to our new Author Spotlight Series, which is launching today with a guest blog post by Augusta Scattergood.

 

IMG_0194_2Soon after my 2015 book was released, I made a pilgrimage to one of my very first schools. By that I don’t mean where I attended kindergarten. I visited the school where I first worked. Where I learned—in the trenches— to be a librarian.

Although the neighborhood looked unfamiliar and the streets were busier, once inside what we called the Library Resource Center (LRC), the years melted away.

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Could I dig deep into the “Everybody” shelves and uncover a copy of Caps for Sale I read more than once to first graders? Was there a dusty World Book volume bearing my fingerprints lurking in a backroom? Standing in front of kids in every possible shape and color, sitting exactly where I’d first seen their parents’ generation, something seemed very right.

I wasn’t introducing the visiting author. I was the author.

How had this happened?

Although in fifth grade I knew I wanted to be a librarian (I know, geeky kid and proud of it), I also loved to write. I was blessed with teachers who encouraged me to read, parents and grandparents who were storytellers, and librarians who inspired me. When I was in fourth grade, I won our newspaper’s poetry contest. In high school, I was an editor for the school newspaper. Childhood diaries and recent journals have trailed me from one state to another.

But a book? I never dreamed I could write a book! A book was what I opened with the tenderest of care, unpacking new boxes full at the beginning of each school year, stamping them, covering them, shelving them. A book was big time.

I had no clue how to begin.

I did have a dream though. And I had role model books. Mentor texts. Once I dissected my favorite middle-grade novels set in the South— books like Because of Winn-Dixie, Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia, Missing May, Shiloh— I understood how a setting that was such a part of me might intrigue kids, too.

Could my own experiences with Freedom Summer and my own childhood in a small Mississippi town be a story worth telling?

I left the library world.

I joined SCBWI and a critique group.

I took a class and a workshop or two.

Bird by bird, right?

One of my favorite bird-by-bird techniques evolved from Kirby Larson’s suggestion to write scene ideas on 3X5 cards.

(I had stacks and stacks— abandoned catalog cards!)

After a while, those cards morphed into Scrivener notes and folders, writing software I dearly love.

And I finished an untidy manuscript: “Junk Poker.” Over the next five years or so, I revised and re-titled it. I sent it around and around and around. When it finally found a home, it had been almost ten years since I’d booktalked or shelved or cataloged a library book.

IMG_0238What did I learn on this journey? Well, first of all, hard work does pay off. Reading many, many books is a good thing. And your name doesn’t have to be on a book to make you a writer. I know now that I was a writer when my teacher posted my poems. I was a writer when a critique partner praised a sentence I’d struggled to perfect.

And seeing that spine label and library stamp on The Way to Stay in Destiny and Glory Be where I’d started my career? Icing on the cake and a cherry on the ice cream. Truly, it doesn’t get any better.

 

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

(Posted by Stacey.)

  • This giveaway is for Augusta Scattergood‘s books, Glory Be and The Way to Stay in Destiny.  Many thanks to Scholastic for donating her books for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Glory Be and The Way to Stay in Destiny, please leave a comment about Augusta’s blog post by Wednesday, May 20th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Friday, May 22nd.
    • You must have a USA mailing address to be eligible for this giveaway.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Scholastic will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – SCATTERGOOD. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Comments are now closed.  Congratulations to Susan whose commenter number was chosen.

Updated on 5/29/15:  I didn’t hear back from the original person whose number I drew so I did another drawing. This time the book will go to wahooteacher.

There were so many things that I appreciated about this post because it has inspired me in so many ways! First, the reminder that the journey to publication takes time is something that is so easy to forget. This sentence also captured my attention: “I understood how a setting that was such a part of me might intrigue kids, too.” The power of the setting cannot be underestimated.

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44 thoughts on “From Library Desk to Library Shelf: My 10-Year Path to Publication Leave a comment

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. It made me remanence to my elementary school years of when I first realized I was a writer. One of the best teachers I ever had assigned our 3rd grade class to write a nonfiction story of one of our favorite memories. She surprised us by having our stories published individually into a binded book with the title and author’s name, yes, my name in print on a book, on the front in gold leaf. She then had them entered into the school library’s system and shelved. We were so eager to check out our own first and then everyone else’s for the last half of the year! It was ingenious. She showed us the importance and entertainment of writing and it helped shape my future. I went on to major in literature, work professionally as a journalist, and to become a teacher myself! She was one of the catalysts, behind my parents and grandparents (amazing storytellers), to spark my interest in the written arts. The school has the only book I have published, as of now, still sitting on their library’s shelf to this date!

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  2. I do believe this blog has the BEST readers and commenters! Thank you, everyone, for acknowledging how hard it is to write well and how much teachers inspire. Oh, and also, there’s a message for you and for your students in my story. If you love and believe in something, don’t give it up just because it’s hard or somebody tells you you can’t succeed. My thought for the day. 🙂

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  3. First, I love the titles! Secondly, I’m gratified to know that Augusta Scattergood’s journey to publication was years in the making. The thought of writing a book is so intimidating.

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  4. I love this new series! I think many of us who read and connect with this blog have a secret desire to write/publish a book some day. Reading about others’ journeys is inspiring. I had that teacher who encouraged me to write, now I hope to return the favor to my students.

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  5. What an inspiration you are! I loved Glory Be. Even though I’m quite removed from this place and time period, authors like you let me travel there. Thank you.

    As a teacher of writing, I love these lines: “I know now that I was a writer when my teacher posted my poems. I was a writer when a critique partner praised a sentence I’d struggled to perfect.”

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  6. I loved reading about your life as a writer, the different phases and the process of getting published. It’s a nice lesson to teach the students that it takes hard work and perseverance. You also show how important writing workshop, sharing with peers, is for any writer- not matter if you are a student or an adult. I love writing myself, and would be interested in joining some kind of writing group to share and collaborate ideas.

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  7. Wow! It took courage to just turn away from a job and to take on writing full time. The journey was clearly worth it. Loved this line – your name doesn’t have to be on a book to make you a writer. Priceless!

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  8. I sure enjoyed this “conversation,” which is exactly how it felt. I loved “Glory Be,” and am on the waiting list for “Destiny.”

    I think we can all harvest many concrete gems from Augusta’s comments, especially the ones about reading a lot and also working HARD all the time. It took her years and years of revisions before “Junk Poker” turned into “Glory.” And about “Bird by Bird,” the book by Anne Lamotte. It helped me a lot when I felt overwhelmed with notes and gripes from my editor and art director. One at a time and do the best you can.

    This was great.

    Sharon

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  9. I love the new feature of an author spotlight! Augusta’s journey from a librarian to an author was a pleasure to read. It emphasizes what we believe about the reading/writing connections and how being an avid reader helps you as a writer.

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  10. Loved hearing about the journey. “I understood how a setting that was such a part of me might intrigue kids, too.” – this struck me as such a pivotal moment…one that resulted in more focused writing, with fabulous results. Such an inspirational story!

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  11. Librarians have the ultimate respect for books and writers share that intensity and appreciation. Augusta you have given me hope. As a former librarian, now teacher and budding writer I am inspired by your journey! Thank you for offering an insight to the path to publication.

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  12. Inspiring. I had wanted to teach when I was in college and Prop 13 and life’s twist and turns postponed my journey by 30 years. I also want to write but imagine it will be a while or in my next lifetime- you give me hope it will be in this one, with just a little more patience:)

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  13. How exciting- I love this new Author Spotlight series.

    I also loved Glory Be, and can’t wait to read The Way to Stay in Destiny.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Augusta Scattergood!

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  14. A dream, a love of books and libraries, persistance, and some mentors were the ingredients for your journey. An inspirational story that I will share with my 5th writers.

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  15. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s inspirational and gives me hope for that book I want to write (although I’d like to write a professional book for teachers). I loved Glory Be and look forward to reading The Way to Stay in Destiny. What a powerful line…And your name doesn’t have to be on a book to make you a writer.

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  16. Augusta Scattergood is one of my heroes. Ever since I sat near her first book, Glory Be, at Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, MS for my own first book signing. My home town in her home state. I feel we are kindred spirits. I loved meeting her at NCTE. Her story gives me hope. I want to follow in her footsteps all the way to Scholastic. Big dream, but hey, why not?

    (Don’t put me into the drawing as I have 2 copies of each book already.)

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  17. There were so many things that I appreciated about this post because it has inspired me in so many ways! First, the reminder that the journey to publication takes time is something that is so easy to forget. This sentence also captured my attention: “I understood how a setting that was such a part of me might intrigue kids, too.” The power of the setting cannot be underestimated.

    Like

  18. Your story is so inspiring to me as a wanna-be writer. This line spoke to my heart: And your name doesn’t have to be on a book to make you a writer. I am trying so hard to believe this. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  19. I loved these lines: And your name doesn’t have to be on a book to make you a writer. I know now that I was a writer when my teacher posted my poems. I was a writer when a critique partner praised a sentence I’d struggled to perfect.
    Just what we want all our students to feel.

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  20. Thanks for sharing your journey. I know how much fun it is to unpack a box of new books. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have the books be the ones you have written!

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  21. I have to agree with others that your post was very inspiring. As I struggle to write the books I dream of publishing, knowing how much time it takes helps me to have patience and not give up. Thank you for this message.

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  22. I loved Glory Be, and now I’m headed off to the library site to request your new book. I love following your blog and your adventures. So about this new Author Spotlight Series here at TWT. Congrats on being the first author to kick it off!

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  23. This is such an inspiring post. It must have felt really amazing to be the author rather than to be introducing the author. I love all the tidbits of advice and inspiration sprinkled through this post. Can’t wait to read your books Augusta.

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  24. I went from classroom teacher to librarian and back to classroom teacher, all the while thinking about books I could write. I haven’t done it yet, but your journey let’s me know that I should keep at it. Thanks for telling us your story.

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story, Augusta! It’s always encouraging to be reminded that writing a book is a long and circuitous journey that ultimately makes our writing stronger. Who knows what discoveries we’ll make along the way? Looking forward to reading The Way to Stay in Destiny!

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  26. Thanks for sharing your journey. As I just begin to walk the writers path after many barefoot years with my toes just feeling the grass along the edges, it is good to hear stories like yours, and that being on the writers path makes you a writer, even if you never find your name on a book.

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  27. Love reading about your writing process, grit, persistence, and knowing you are a writer even before the icing on the cake aka publication, that’s plenty of inspiration for today. Thank you Augusta.

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  28. Thank you for sharing your story. I love this line especially: “And your name doesn’t have to be on a book to make you a writer.” My readers who are loving Destiny will be moved to know you said that, too.

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  29. I am fascinated to read other people’s journeys in life. Yours is no exception, Augusta. I follow Kirby Larson’s advice myself when I type up entire early chapter books to see where things fall on a real sized paper. Thank you for sharing.

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