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New Picture Book on Submission

Morning, Mourning Doves sneak peek
Morning, Mourning Doves girl and fledgling

I apologize for my lack of posting lately. I've been busy, busy painting and creating art for two big games which successfully Kickstarted earlier this year, Paradise-Opoly and CastleScape. (see more about those on my company website, Imagine That Design)

I've also been creating a new picture book which I'm very excited about, Morning Mourning Doves. I wrote it, sketched it, painted three final spreads and created a dummy book. I shared various drafts along the way with my agent and she loves it. It has flown out into the world with the first round of submissions to editors. So exciting!

Anyone who follows me on social media has seen the photos I took in the summer of 2020 of the birds #Inmywindow. I was delighted to wake one morning with a mourning dove couple setting up home in our top floor window in the back.

A mourning dove papa stands over their nest with an egg inside
In My Window

Over the first summer of the pandemic I was privileged to watch the development of two families from the same couple and I was inspired to write a story about it.

I tried writing this story in prose -- blah -- long winded with no real passion. So I put it aside for a while. I was struck with inspiration during January's Storystorm event, hosted by Tara Lazar, where writers write a new picture book (or anything really) idea each day for a month. Awesome! A guest blog post by Amanda Davis, Storystorm 2021 Day 29: Amanda Davis Keeps Creative Juices Flowing with Haiku From Two was just what I needed. She encouraged haiku writing as a warm up exercise. Bingo! I would write this story in haiku!

I hadn't written haiku since elementary school. I remembered enjoying it, so I gave it a try and fell in love. I was obsessed counting syllables, ticking off on my fingers, over and over. Short punchy language, to the point, no excess, and I found the story! THIS is how the mourning doves story needs to be told. I also created a couple exploratory illustrations.

Art of a mourning dove couple in a top floor barred window with hearts
Mourning Dove Love

a girl spreads her arms in front of a window with a mourning dove taking flight
Fly mourning dove, fly!

Lilly wakes to hear...

Coo cooing in the window.

"Morning, Mourning Doves.

That was my first stanza, the first page start of the story with a girl main character who is learning about mourning doves. Haiku was a great device to keep my writing simple and use as few words as possible. Picture books are short and sweet -- under 500 words if possible. I feverishly wrote the story all in haiku and sent it to a couple of my critique partners, nervous and excited. They loved it and had some great suggestions, including for me to really lean into the haiku. Again, obsessed, I wrote and rewrote and researched (haiku and Mourning Doves), and came out the other side with something I was very excited about.

Buds burst on branches.

Sunny daffodils.

Scent of wet cement.

My first stanza, setting the scene of mourning doves in a big city. I moved away from a parallel story with Lilly and the baby birds to a narrative nonfiction voice.

You awake to hear...

Male calls Coo-OOO-woo-woo-woooo.

Morning, Mourning Doves.

Again I sent it out to my various critique groups who helped immensely in shaping, pushing me acknowledging the truth of the story, encouraging and making amazing suggestions for comp titles and for changes until I had something I was very proud of and excited to share with my agent. This was now mid April.

My agent loved it but wondered if I would be willing to try it in prose. Of course I would! I had it in the back of my mind to do this, but I had to complete this stage first. I rewrote it, keeping the short and lyrical language and style and again created something I love! More CPs. I also worked out the visual story in thumbnails and sent another round to my agent. She wasn't sure how the non-fiction snippets would fit in, and she wanted to see a full dummy book. Full steam ahead!

I decided to add snippets to each spread vs. having all the information in the back matter to reinforce the information presented with the prose and with the art on each spread. This would also target multiple types of readers -- those who like story/fiction and those who like facts and information.

Morning, Mourning Doves thumnbails
Morning, Mourning Doves thumnbails

Working on Morning, Mourning Doves sketches

The full sketching began -- sketches, thumbnails, pushing pulling with the idea of nature in the city with unique angles, flying, freedom of the skies among the buildings of the city. I added text borders, structure, elements, fun facts. I spent time on the roof in the garden, sketching, taking photos, imagining flying above, perching in the mulberry tree, seeing my apartment building from above, below -- exploring the angles and perspectives that I feel make my book unique.

When I got to a point where I was excited to start painting, I knew I had something. I painted a couple spreads and sent it back to Samantha with nervous energy. She is wonderful in getting back to me quickly -- she loved it and wanted a few minor revisions and another color sample. Wahoo!!

With all the revisions made and another color sample painted, I sent the final dummy to my agent, Samantha Wekstein, and got her final approval. Yes! In mid September, out it flew into the world. Fly well my little Mourning Doves!

Morning, Mourning Doves cover sketch
Morning, Mourning Doves cover sketch

Stay tuned for more information -- hopefully a YES from an editor. I hope you enjoyed my creative journey so far on this book. Thanks for joining me here!

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