What I’m Working On (part 1)

Greetings Citizen.

Since this blog, in some ways, will track my efforts going from wanna-be to published, lauded and feted (not fetid) writer/illustrator I thought you might be interested in what I’m working on. Like many of you, I have several ideas cooking at any time. Although I have a virtual stack of “things I want to get at”, my attention is on two projects at the moment, the picture book and the middle grade novel. Both have been with me for a while and both are pretty far along. I’ll start with the picture book.

The Picture Book started life based on a true story. My older brother, Bobby, brought home a duck in a box. It got out. We chased it around the house. I was a toddler at the time and have no recollection of it, but it has been a family favorite at holidays for years. I used that idea as the starting point, and then twisted, pulled and distorted facts into the big chase, some family dynamics and the reveal that the animals Bobby has brought home over the years are still living in the house.

Sounds simple, right? Yet I’m on revision, oh I don’t know, twenty or so. Who said writing picture books was easy?

Along the way it’s been critiqued by my writing group, wife and the most amazing editor I’ve met (yeah, that’s a short list, but I think she’ll rank pretty high later too), Mary Lee Donovan from Candlewick Press (at the Cape Cod Writers Conference).

Mary Lee was incredibly generous with a newbie writer/illustrator and offered great notes and guidance. She looked at my simple dummy and then helped me work through the actual page count and layout of a 32-page self-ended picture book. She discussed the flaws in the story and offered ideas around them. Most of all, she made me feel like I wasn’t wasting my time and that I might have what it takes to get published. Hope!

No, she didn’t offer me a contract (fantasy #1) but she didn’t meet me with a shower of shredded manuscript and a kick in the redacted either (fantasy #2).

I’ve finally got the manuscript nailed down (he says for the millionth time), thumbnails sketched, and have worked up a dummy for the words (to get the page turns right). Next up are the drawing dummy pages, three of which will be part of my homework for the Illustrator Intensive at next month’s NESCBWI conference.

More on that, and the middle grade novel later.

One comment

  1. Matt Poepsel says:

    Like attracts like. It’s rewarding to see that your persistence and positive attitude have been rewarded through Mary Lee’s support. You’ve inspired and entertained countless folks by being Jim Hill, and it’s groovy to think that you’re about to be able to take that mojo to a new audience through your picture book. Great stuff – thanks for sharing!


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