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Cover of "The Curious Garden"

Cover of The Curious Garden

So I had the opportunity to meet author/ illustrator Peter Brown at the Tulsa County Library in Tulsa, OK.  I have liked his work since I first seen the book “The Curious Garden” several years ago.  I was searching for an illustrator and came across this book and fell in love with the idea and imagery in it.  It is about a boy who changes his world with just a simple idea.

One of Peter Brown’s other books (and I think I have blogged about it before), Creepy Carrots, received the 2013 Caldecott Honor.  It was a beautifully fun picture book.  My children have enjoyed it immensely.

So while getting myself hyped up for days about what to say  to him I asked someone for advice.  Nathan Bransford told me to “just be myself and have fun!”  This is exactly what I did.  I waited in line with my daughter and our four books, to be signed by Peter Brown, for more than thirty minutes.  As I got closer I realized that I will have to say something cool.

What came out was something bordering blubbering idiot and stalker fan.  I said, “I have loved your books for years.”  He made a joke about one of my child’s names and then it was over.  We were moved aside and left the library with our freshly signed books.

Okay I didn’t get him to look at my picture book manuscript and he didn’t ask me if I was a writer either.  But I enjoyed myself.  I realized that this is what I wanted.  I don’t want to work a job everyday in sales.  I want to visit schools and libraries talking about my books.  I want to sign my books till my fingers bleed.  (Maybe till they are sore anyways)  I know now that I need to follow my dream and keep trying until I finally become published.

 

Books to Treasure 2013 Featuring Peter Brown

Books to Treasure 2013 Featuring Peter Brown (Photo credit: Tulsa City-County Library)

 

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At the last writer’s conference I had received some feedback on a manuscript from an editor from HarperCollins.  She gave me more than a page of great insight to help me write the best picture book out there.  As I sat in the conference reading her notes the lady next to me said, “Did you get any critiques back?”  I answered ‘yes’.  She then wanted to know if the critique I received was nice also.  So I let her read mine and she said, “This is really good.”  We talked about where we were in our careers and where we wanted to be in the future.  I found that I could talk to her like a comrade in arms.  We both loved the conference and felt it was empowering and had a lot of great information.

When I went to my critque group the others in the group read the critique and there were words said like “this is golden” and “oh my gosh” and so on.  I knew that the critique was good but I thought everyone at the conference was just being nice.  But now I know that these words of encouragement from the editor were more than just words.

So I took the advice of the editor and tweaked just a few parts in the picture book manuscript.  Now it is so polished it could be the sword “Sting”.  I just knew that I could send it somewhere and get it published.

Well I sent it to HarperCollins and recieved a very useful rejection letter from an editor there.  It hurt a little more than the form or generic rejections I have received in the past.  But I see now that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Instead of getting upset I have deceided to put all my energy into finding the right avenue to have my picture book published.  Whether that be traditional or independent.

The world is changing and we are not seperated by countries or bodies of water.  Technology has made the world we “live in a planetary civilization”.  (p. 459, Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder)  Becoming published is easier than it has ever been before and the time is right for anyone to get their work out there.  People all over the world can buy e-books a lot easier than print.

So I am taking my writing to the next phase, and like someone told me recently to “just publish it.”  So keep an eye out for a children’s book with my name on it.

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