Thursday, December 19, 2013

With a lot of help from my friends....

When the Little Red Hen didn't get help from her friends, she said: "Then I'll do it myself"--and she did!

I've been more fortunate.  As luck would have it, two remarkably talented people have signed on to work with me on my book: Duck Dreams, City Boy to Farmer Boy.  First, Todd Sanders agreed to be the designer of the book (and turned out to be so much more).  I found Todd through Liane Norman, a dear friend who had used him for a number of attractive books--mostly poetry.  She recommended him highly and I'm so glad she did.  Not only did Todd make the book handsome in every detail, he researched costs, set up this blog, worked on my Author Page for me and more.  It would have been another year before Duck Dreams appeared in print without Todd's efficient and knowledgeable help.

Now I needed an illustrator.  Todd showed me a few drawings from the portfolios of 8-10 artists.  None seemed right--some drawings were more fantastic than my story; some more comic.  Then I had the bright idea that numerous artists posted samples of their work on the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) website.  Well, I was right, but there were hundreds of illustrators.  I didn't have the patience.

Suddenly I thought of Liz Jones, a member of my writing group who sometimes illustrates her own stories.  Her lovely impressionistic illustrations wouldn't work, but perhaps she knew someone whose work would fit this warm family story, historical fiction for middle-grade children.  Anni Matsick was perfect!  I was bowled over seeing her first sketches and then gradually viewing the characters come to life.  She worked very hard on three illustrations that capture my vision of Simon, his family, and his experiences.  She chose exactly the right scene for the cover.  This must have been difficult because few scenes in the book involve a close-up of Simon and a duck and it was Duck Dreams after all.  Anni remarked "I chose the one scene that represents a happy triumph," and she was right.  

Another example of Anni's acuteness: she asked if in the interior scene it might be a good idea to show a menorah on the mantelpiece.  It was a good idea indeed.  The menorah, the candelabrum which Jewish families light each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, subtly shows that this is a Jewish home.

Anni has gone on working for the success of our book.  She is very knowledgable about "spreading the word."  She advises me on arranging readings and such.  She lives in State College and makes a brief appearance fairly regularly on a TV station there.  Recently, she kindly featured Duck Dreams in her interview, showing how she builds a black-and-white illustration.

We learned while Anni was working on the illustrations for my book that we were both going to attend the western Pa. SCBWI conference in November so we planned to have lunch together.  It was delightful to meet.  We look forward to telling folks about the process of independent publishing as it worked for us.  Todd may attend the conference next fall too.

Todd signed on mid-July and Anni started work in August, I believe.  The first copies of Duck Dreams: City Boy to Farmer Boy  arrived at my home on November 22 or thereabouts.  A wonder indeed.

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