Sunday, June 8, 2014

For Frances

Today I pay tribute to my brilliant editor of 18 years, Frances Foster, who passed away Sunday morning at the age of 83.

It was my honor and privilege to have worked with her on ten books during those years.

She was smart, funny, gracious and wise.

She gave the world wonderful books that will live on and enrich readers for many years to come.

When she was honored at the Eric Carle Museum a few years ago, her authors were asked to write a short piece called What I Learned From Frances Foster. Here is what I wrote (with some inside jokes that only Frances will get):

I've learned the difference between walking UP the sidewalk and walking DOWN the sidewalk.
I've learned not to panic when a letter from her begins with the words, "Brace yourself."
I've learned not to panic when a phone call begins with the words, "I have a little niggle."
I've learned to appreciate humility when I receive an email stating: Thank you for reminding me how bad Fame and Glory really was before I got my mitts on it."
I tried to learn from her the proper use of ellipses, but I still don't get it.
I've learned patience, open-mindedness, tact, an appreciation for the creative process, and the importance of compromise.
And to quote the ending of some editorial correspondence I sent to her a few years ago, "As always, thanks for your insight, instinct, smarts, humor, respect, patience and safety-mindedness."
(The latter being a reference to a BB gun scene that I initially thought was hilarious but was reminded by someone wiser that it was very unsafe.)

You can read about her amazing career HERE.


Unknown said...

What a wonderful tribute! And what IS the difference between walking up the sidewalk and down the sidewalk?

Barbara O'Connor said...

Hahaha. Elizabeth, Frances and I had a rather hysterical conversation about that. It had to do with whether you're walking away from someone or toward them. Very important stuff. LOL

Robin Smith said...

I am sorry for your loss, Barbara. I remember Jack G. saying to me, "She just seems like a person who always wears cashmere. Even her pants." When I met her, I told her that, and she just laughed and laughed. She and Jeanne McD were always in love with your stories. That's how I first learned about your books. I am so very sorry.

Barbara O'Connor said...

Robin, that's a great story!!! Thank you for sharing that and for your kind words. Means a lot.

Valerie hobbs said...

Wonderful photos. I'm all weepy again but that's what kind of day this is. When I visited her at her office some years ago she had on that same Eileen Fisher jacket. I looked for one like that everywhere. She was so casually elegant, and so down to earth. What a woman.

Barbara O'Connor said...

Valerie, I know! So elegant.

lucie1067 said...

I am so very sorry, Barbara. I know how much you appreciated brilliant editing skills, and even more how much you appreciated her as a person.

gae polisner said...

Just read that tribute at her apartment this afternoon. She actually has a lovely book full of them from that night... the most common word that reoccurs in almost every note is the word grace. No surprise there, huh?

Sending love to you, Barbara.

Barbara O'Connor said...

No surprise, Gae. xoxo

Unknown said...

Lovely tribute, Barbara. On Saturday, we lost my sweet mother-in-law, who was a similar age. Sigh. Why can't the good ones last forever?

Kirby Larson said...

This is a lovely tribute to a lovely woman, one who made as big an impact on children's literature as you have Barbara. So glad you had ten books together. I know she is eagerly awaiting your next book and will probably send a few messages from editorial heaven, especially about those ellipses.