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A Thanksgiving Letter To The Humber School For Writers

Bryce Leung and Kristy Shen

Antanas Sileika, the head of Humber's School for Writers, recently received this letter and, given that it's almost Thanksgiving, we thought we'd share this lovely story of hard work, perseverance, and gratitude.

Hi Antanas,

We're the couple that came up to you at the Word on the Street Tent and here's our success story.

Over the past five years we've made coming to the Wordshop Marquee tent an annual tradition while we wrote our first manuscript, and for most of those years we were content to quietly sit in the audience and just listen. On occasion we put our first pages into the "How am I doing so far" box, but as luck would have it we never got picked.

Well one year we decided to make the big scary jump from unpublished author to QUERYING unpublished author, and that transition was probably the most painful thing we've ever had to do in our lives. Rejection after rejection after rejection. We couldn't even get the first page of our manuscript read by anyone in the industry! If we had known this was what querying was like, we would have gladly taken up basket weaving or something far less painful.

But then September 2012 rolled around, and Word on the Street was coming up. Sure, we were thinking of quitting and becoming basket-weavers. But tradition was tradition, and one does not mess with tradition. So we came to The Tent, like we always did. And like we always did, we dropped our first page into the box.

That was the day that everything changed.

When we walked into The Tent, an editor from Dancing Cat Books named Barry Jowett was presenting. Now, what the topic of his talk is now lost to the winds of time, but I remember him saying something along the lines of "if you want get published, make someone WANT to publish you."

Well, that was that. So after the talk, as everyone was milling about wondering whether they should get a roasted corn before the next talk, we marched up to Barry. And even though we knew it would hurt a hundred times more if he rejected us right to our face, we pitched him anyway. And to our absolute shock, he requested us on the spot!

This was our first request.

It was the single most exciting experience of our entire writing careers, up to that point. Someone from the industry actually LIKED us! Someone other than our parents actually thought we were GOOD! And then in our excitement, while waiting for the next talk to arrive, we off-handedly pitched to your co-host Kim Moritsugu. She promptly scratched our names down on a napkin.

"How Am I Doing So Far" then came and went, and as usual our first pages didn't get picked. But then a week later, Kim emailed us and said she dug out our page to pass it on to a real pro. Someone who REALLY knew the industry, and would give us good, honest feedback.

That person...was YOU.

And in an email I'm SURE you've long forgotten, you told us you liked our first page, we had a good eye for tension, and in your words "Write On."

We wrote those words of yours on a post-it and stuck it next to our monitor to keep us going. It remains there to this day. "Write On. --Antanas."

The road to publication since then has been long and winding, and I'm sure you're thinking this email has already gone on FAR too long, but we just wanted to say that what happened in The Tent made us keep going, when every other person was basically telling us to quit.

Our book LITTLE MISS EVIL will be coming out in March, 2015 from Spencer Hill Middle Grade Press.

So that means, by the next time we see you again in The Tent, September 2015, our book will be out! Isn't that crazy? And I know we've said it before, but we'll say it again now.

Thank for doing what you do.

Bryce & Kristy

You're most welcome Bryce and Kristy, congratulations on your first published book and thanks for sharing your story!

UPDATE: Read the first chapter of LITTLE MISS EVIL here!


Read more about Bryce and Kristy on their website kristyandbryce.com or follow them on Twitter @kristyshen.

Little Miss Evil book cover