In March I finished a nonfiction picture book that I wrote and illustrated. My agent began to shop it around after a few rounds of revisions. You know the routine, rejection, rejection, rejection. Very nice, complimentary, rejections, but rejections none the less. It would have sold quicker in a better book-buying economy.
On the flip-side, several editors have shown interest, and it's currently in the hands of a fantastic editor. I’ve made a round of revisions with her, and it’s under consideration by the publisher. I'm confident an offer will follow soon. Fingers crossed.
In April, a month following shoulder surgery, I began sketching Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite, a picture book written by Anna Harwell Celenza. It’s slated to publish with Charlesbridge late next year. Recovery from surgery went much slower than my doctor predicted. He figured, guy like me — in shape, works out several times per week — would heal quickly. He was wrong. Three months after the surgery, I was still in intense pain, I could not raise my hand above my shoulders, and then my shoulder froze. I began two months of physical therapy.
Because of the time invested in physical therapy, and then the challenges of summer — family reunions, vacations, my grandpa's 90th birthday — I didn't finish the sketches until fall. So I'm a bit behind. But the book has turned out well, and I'm looking forward to painting it soon, this time, in watercolor and ink (I normally paint in oil or acrylic).
In October, She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story, written by Audrey Vernick, published with HarperCollins. Reviews have been favorable, and we even received a star from School Library Journal. Top it off, Audrey commissioned a wonderful book trailer that, to date, has received more than 500 hits -- it's gone viral!
Yesterday on Facebook, I announced my next book project: THE CART, written by the beloved and legendary Eve Bunting. It’s a brilliant story, unexpected, clever, creative, and it ends with a new twist. But that’s all I can say at this time. The book is going to require a bit of research, so I'm looking forward to making a little one-day trip to the east coast in the spring. I’ll visit museums and historic sites, and I’ll meet with a few author/illustrator friends in the area.
Recently I finished a first draft of another nonfiction picture book. The topic is a sports figure. Can you believe, me? writing about sports? Writing a nonfiction picture book about a subject not published before is nerve wrecking. I'm afraid at any day someone else will publish the story, and I'll have wasted my time, money and energy. That has happened to me before. I'd done some preliminary research, ordered and read some books on the subject, began a first draft. And soon afterwards another author came out with the same book -- same title and everything! Ug. Right now my sports book is out to a few critique buddies (I’m so lucky to have such friends) and I’m hoping to do another revision shortly after the new year.
I have only one regret this year. My first authored book didn't publish this year as planned. It was supposed to publish last spring, 2009. Then it was set for the fall. Then again this past spring, 2010. Then again this fall. Then spring 2011. And now it's off for the spring, and , well, no one really knows when, it's all up in the air. Sigh. I’m told this happens sometimes. I'm confident it will indeed publish, someday. I keep telling myself, It will publish when it is supposed to publish, and not a second sooner. That's a good thing.
It's been a great year, I can’t complain.