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The Story Behind the Story of the Palace Rat

Updated: Oct 18, 2023


Art by Eva Santana

Yeehoo Press, 2023


Many of you who follow me have heard me describe my writing journey as "The Long and Winding Road." That phrase certainly describes the journey for this book.


It was sometime around 1991/2 when I got my first computer. At the time, I had a young son and after he went to bed, I'd write romantic comedy screenplays just for fun. This went on for a few years, until I had a computer crash and lost three basically complete screenplays that I felt strongly were worthwhile.


I loved writing, but not the loss of writing, so I decided to switch lanes and write children's picture books and to print out work in its entirety. Over the next few years, I wrote picture book drafts and finally, decided to take a course at the Institute of Children's Literature (and later went back to college for a focus on Writing for Children). As a result, I was always on the lookout for unique and complete children's story ideas.


While on vacation with my family in France in July, 1998, we visited the Palace of Versailles. While we waited for the tour guide to pass out our admission tickets, a rat ran across the courtyard. That kick-started my imagination: What if this rat was related to the rats of the French Revolution? What if that rat was the pampered pet of King Louis XIV? What if the Queen and Cook and Baker were tired of catering to the rat? What if they plotted to exterminate him? And so The Palace Rat was born, and the plot unfolded.

For years I molded and shaped this story. At the time I originally wrote it, fairy tales, folktales and fables weighed in at anywhere from 1500 - 2500 words. But as time passed in between revisions, each time I brought it out, word counts had gotten lower and lower. I did submit this for conference critiques and always received encouraging feedback, so I knew it had to change with the times.


I hadn't widely submitted this, as I was always worried about interest in a French rat. But many, many years later (2021) I saw a call for submissions from Yeehoo Press for cultural stories. It looks like they truly wanted to embrace a variety of cultures, so I said "why, not?" and submitted it.

I'll mention here that this is a story that I rigorously revised over the years as I learned and grew in my craft. I believed it had an interesting and engaging setting, entertaining characters, effectively fractured the City Mouse and the Country Mouse tale in a fresh way, portrayed a problem kids can identify with (being displaced) and an important theme (bloom where you are planted). So I also believed it was ready (after all the years of revision) to come to life on the page.


Not long after, I was pleased to receive an offer.


So the moral of this story is that it takes time for grapes to turn into fine wine. And some stories have a longer path to success than others -- this one from 1997 conception - 2023 publication. Be patient, learn your craft, do the work and enjoy the journey! And I hope you enjoy The Palace Rat.


About the Author:

Lynne Marie is the award-winning author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten -- art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School -- art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling / Scholastic 2019) and Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World -- art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project and The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project Coloring Book -- art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022), The Palace Rat -- art by Eva Santana (Yeehoo Press 2023), Broommates co-written with Brenda Reeves Sturgis – art by Nico Ecenarro (The Little Press 2024) and more, forthcoming.


She’s formerly an editor for a small press and currently an Agent Mentee at The Seymour Agency. In addition, she’s the Owner/Director of RateYourStory.org, ThePictureBookMechanic.com, the Creator/Host of March On With Mentor Texts (www.rateyourstory.org/march-on) and Mentor Text Talk by Rate Your Story), a Co-Host of #SeasonsOfKidLit (www.seasonsofkidlit.com) along with Heather Macht, a Cybils Judge since 2016 (www.cybils.org) and a Feature Columnist at Children’s Book Insider (www.writeforkids.org).


When she’s not traveling the world in search of story ideas, she lives in the heart of Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and a Mini Pinscher named Marlowe Charlotte. Visit her atwww.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland ofwww.theseymouragency.com.




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