Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hannah's Moon

Yesterday I mailed out a new idea for a children’s book. Titled “Hannah’s Moon,” I think it’s the most complete artistic statement I have ever made. It can, of course, still use some tweaks, but overall it is not bad.

This is the text:
Her room softly darkening with sunset, Hannah shines a flashlight. She calls the circle of light on the ceiling, “Hannah’s Moon.”

Hannah’s Moon glows one-two-three on the ceiling, the wall, and the floor.

Hannah’s Moon beams out the window and into the autumn winds.

On her hand, Hannah and her moon are one. In her room, Hannah and her moon are one.

Hannah turns the flashlight off, then on, then off. She loves the light and the time just after dark.

An autumn wind rushes across the window; Hannah’s Moon cannot catch it.

Hannah’s Moon slides around her feet, like a dancer.

Hannah knows a tune; Hannah’s Moon lines and shapes it.

Hannah’s Moon darts and flits everywhere in Hannah’s room. Glittering traces mark the path.

Hannah’s Moon washes the purple and the stitches of her blanket.

Hannah says “Oh!” when a teddy bear in the corner casts a wide shadow, because of Hannah’s Moon.

Hannah’s Moon stays very still. Hannah must be sleeping.

Hannah’s Moon is put away gently, gently. All through the night, the autumn wind promises that snow will fall soon.
I also sent the publisher what I hope is an effective cover letter:
Please consider the attached manuscript, titled “Hannah’s Moon,” in which a young girl transforms a flashlight spot into a cosmic lullaby of sight, sound, and imagination.

Evocative, rich, and serene, “Hannah’s Moon” will touch children and parents alike. A talented illustrator will be inspired and challenged by the two bound narratives of play and autumn nightfall. Together, text and images will create a cherished work for all ages and many years.

The text came about after my two-year-old daughter, Hannah, actually shined a flashlight onto the ceiling of our living room. “Hannah’s moon!” was what she called the spot of light. I loved her phrase and that special moment, so I went about trying to fashion verbal images around both. When by chance I came across “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” by Wallace Stevens, I used the poem’s world as a palette for bringing out the world of my story.

Currently, I have a children’s story called “Uncle Josh and His Shmate” being considered by Hachai Publishing. I have also published several academic papers, book reviews, business white papers, and web log articles. Having interned at Perseus Books, I understand something of the publishing business. I assure you of my personal commitment to the total success of “Hannah’s Moon” in the market.

If “Hannah’s Moon” does not meet your publishing needs at this time, please return the manuscript in the self-addressed, stamped envelope I have enclosed.

Thanks very much for your consideration.

Larry Tanner
One thing I didn't mention to them is that the last statement of "Hannah's Moon" is derived obliquely from the end of James Joyce's "The Dead." Not that it matters, but it's interesting.

Before I submitted the manuscript to this publisher, I had emailed an inquiry to Ms. Dar Hosta, who does a collage art that reminds some of Eric Carle. Her work seems a little too light for my taste, but that’s why I thought she might find the darker hues of “Hannah’s Moon” intriguing. This was Dar’s reply to my inquiry:
Hi Larry,

Yes, I get a good many inquiries like yours. Unfortunately, I am in the business of being both an author and an illustrator myself and also work as an editor, a separate responsibility, for an Italian children's book festival publication. This doesn't leave me much time for other projects and Brown Dog Books remains as it was originally intended--a platform for my own work.

I am thrilled you and your family enjoy my books. It makes what I do clearly the right choice. I don't usually give personal replies for manuscript inquiries, but maybe it's the moon in your book any case, I wish you the best of luck with your project and have included my form reply below because it has some of my typical advice for people such as yourself, interested in joining the world of children's picture books.

Thanks for writing.

Dar Hosta
I have high hopes for “Hannah’s Moon.” There has been no word yet on “Uncle Josh.” I wonder if this is a good sign. The waiting is difficult for me.

I discovered yesterday that “Uncle Josh” uses almost exactly the same narrative pattern as a short story I had written in college. I forget the name of the story, but I remember it won second prize in a school contest. Both stories have a sensitive protagonist who makes choices based on instantly gratifying sudden desires. Both have a victim that the protagonist actually cares for. Both have this kind of shadowy id character who helps precipitate the bad moral decision of the protagonist. I was stunned to realize the similarities between the two stories and wonder if I have some psychic baggage I need to unload.

I am maintaining 176 pounds these days. Need to lose half a pound. The road race is on Sunday, but it looks like it will be a rainy one.

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