“The more you know about something, the better care you can give it.”

March 30, 2009

Dear Readers,

Sorry it’s been so long since my first (and only) blog! Since my new book, Henry the Impatient Heron, launched in early March, I’ve been super busy with book signings and school visits. But I love it and I’ve enjoyed meeting so many of the reading public. I particularly love giving children’s programs. So much to learn and do! And, I am especially grateful to my illustrators, Joyce Turley for  illustrating my first books, Loons and  Awesom Ospreys, (real winners),  and if I were the jealous type, I’d have lots to be jealous about Christina Wald! The first thing anyone comments on Henry is how great the illustrations are. And they are great! What a special talent both Joyce and Christina have. Where would children’s authors be without their illustrators!?! It takes a special kind of talent to illustrate what’s in another person’s (the writer’s) head. Both illustrators nailed it in my opinion. Mountain Press in Missoula, MT and Sylvan Dell Publishing in South Carolina found my illustrators for me so I am grateful to them, too!

At book signings espiring authors often ask me whether or not to have an illustrator illustrate their book for them and send it in complete. The answer to that is “it depends. ” It totally depends on whether or not you have want the book look exactly like you want it to, and it depends on what kind of relationship you have with the illustrator. If you have to have the book exactly like you want it, then have the illustrator illustrate a couple illustrations for you (or maybe you’re doing it yourself),  but don’t go to all the trouble and expense of doing all the illustrations until you have a book contract. Send in only a couple illustrations. Sometimes that works.  However, if you send it in with the illustrations,  it may be harder to find a publisher. Many publishers have their own illustrators and/or want (and/or need) to develop the illustrator. That’s cool, too. However, if you have to have it exactly like you want it, or perhaps you’re just working together with an illustrator friend and you have the time to wait for just the right publisher and the energy to keep searching for the right publisher, then do that. So, that’s my “that depends” answer to that question. And to tell you the truth, and sorry if I step on anyone’s toes if I say this, you absolutely have to write the manuscript first! I know that sounds funny to say, but I’m surprised at the number of espiring authors that want it the other way around. Actually, I do kind of understand that. It’s fun to see the finished product and hard to wait. However, you’ll have to do the work first. So, keep writing and sending in and writing and sending in…And keep the faith. I’ve always wanted to be an author and my dream didn’t come true until I was 45! So, hang in there and keep writing!

Oh, and I hope you enjoy listening to my Radio Blog from Book Bites for Kids, with Suzanne Lieurance.  I really struggled with explaining how a heron’s legs are inside its body cavity, but next time I’ll suggest that the listener go to any grocery store and look at a whole chicken, or at Thanksgiving take a good look at the turkey before it’s cooked or while carving it. (The drumstick is really the shin bone – the thigh bone and knee is inside its skin.) The purpose of a a bird’s knees being held tight against its body inside its skin is to keep its legs out the way of its wings. Or, I could have said, which I do in children’s programs, is to imagine the bird wearing a big t-shirt that comes down over its knees. That might help, too, but I sure didn’t think of that at the time! Oh well. That was my first live Radio Blog, so I was kind of nervous. I’m sure I’ll do better next time. And, I truly appreciate how kind and how easy Suzanne Lieurance from Book Bites for Kids was to talk to. What a kind person.

Happy Spring to all!


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