No, it isn't Goldilocks who came to Montreal and slept on our futon (not too hard, not too soft... just right!).
It's Christie Harkin, publisher and children's editor at Fitzhenry & Whiteside, a Toronto-based publishing house.
Like me, Christie was speaking yesterday at the Imagine A Story conference, organized by YesouiCanscaip, and held at Dawson College here in Montreal.
So, not only did I get to hear Christie speak (together with Toronto literary agent Patricia Ocampo), I also had the pleasure of Christie's company over the weekend.
And because, dear blog reader, I am always thinking of YOU, after supper last night (prepared by my husband, hey thanks, Mike!), I took out my pen and notepad and asked Christie whether she had something clever to say that I could share here. "Say, 'Monique has a chocolate drawer!'" Christie answered. But I knew, dear blog reader, you'd want more than that! So I asked Christie to tell me what, for her, makes a manuscript jump out from the slush-pile (the industry term for the pile of manuscripts that arrives every week in a publishing office).
Christie's answer surprised -- and pleased me.
Here's what she said:
"One thing I look for when I acquire any kind of children's book is one sentence or phrase or paragraph that just makes me stop. If I find more than one of those beautiful sentences, I'll find a way to make the book work," she said.
Then Christie gave me an example of what she meant. When she was reading a manuscript by Natalie Hyde, she stopped at the line, "But there will be cake." That manuscript became the novel Saving Armpit, one of Fitzhenry & Whiteside's greatest successes.
I'd say there's a message there for all writers at every stage of our careers: we need to give readers (and editors) lines that will make them stop...