Please welcome Linda Joy Singleton to the blog today. I met Linda Joy eons ago at a North Central CA SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference, when I was an unpublished author. She is one of the hardest working and most persistent writers I know and I am delighted to host her here today, celebrating something entirely new and different!
FOLLOWING AN IDEA TO A NEW GENRE
In 2009 I finished the final book in my young adult DEAD GIRL trilogy, my THE SEER series continued to gains fans, and I was working on other YA ideas.
So why did I suddenly switch gears and write a picture book?
It all began with a photograph….
I’d long admired the wonderful picture books by my SCBWI friends. They were so beautifully written and illustrated. I longed to write one of my own but I’d learned the short picture book format was the most difficult to write and I was intimidated. Some of my favorite picture books are less than 300 words—whereas the novel I had just finished was 66,000 words.
But then I saw the photograph. I was at an elementary school for a presentation by my writing friend Verla Kay. I sat in the audience with kids and teachers and watched Verla’s power point presentation for the first time. As authors often do, she started off with a photo of herself as a child. In this black and white photo, she and her sister were building a snow dog. The image of the snow dog stuck with me.
The next day, I was driving with writing friends to an SCBWI event. Words suddenly slammed into my head—all about a snow dog. When we stopped for lunch, I grabbed a napkin and wrote down a story about Ally who wanted a dog more than anything, but dogs made her “achoo.” So she built dogs out of snow and sand.
I thought my story was perfect—until I showed it to my friends. They liked it but saw room for improvement. So I listened to their advice then rewrote and rewrote and rewrote.
I thought it was perfect so showed to my agent who discussed it with her agency. They liked it but saw room for improvement. So I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote. An editor showed interest and suggested a major improvement of adding two more dogs to teach kids about all the seasons (flower dog and leaf dog). Suddenly my book had another layer–it was educational. But the market had tightened and picture books weren’t selling so it took a while for my book to find a home.
Five years after I wrote my picture book, it was published by Albert Whitman with doglicious illustrations by debut illustrator Jess Golden.
Now, I’ve added a new title to my career: picture book author. And I have written several more picture books while I’ve continued to write middle-grade and YA. I love all my genres. And I hope readers will enjoy my first ever picture book, SNOW DOG, SAND DOG.
Do check out Linda Joy’s charming picture book. And for more info and teacher guides, visit her website!
Nice of you to host Linda, Kirby. Hi, Linda. Great to see you here. I’d heard you had written a picture book. Thanks for sharing your process. Very interesting. See you on the 5th at the conference.
Snow Dog Sand Dog will be in the bookstore at the conference.