In 2005 I sat down to write a story, Nonnie and I. It was originally titled Nia and I. The name had to be changed to Nonnie because a publisher (not the one who ended up publishing it) showed interest, but already had a book with that name.
When I started the story I didn't have a path. I had zero conflict or problem, and no idea about the ending. But in a spiral notebook I wrote sentence after sentence as they came to me. I was intrigued seeing how animals interact with children and in turn how children react to animals. This is how Nonnie and I started. Additionally, I had seen a documentary on giraffe adoption in Africa and how people could get close to them much like one would a horse.
After a month of editing I sent Nonnie and I out to a big name publisher that at the time was still taking unsolicited manuscripts. Per rules I didn't include a SASE. About three months later a letter with the publisher’s logo arrived in my mailbox. The editor wrote that she loved the story, BUT not enough as she was unable to connect with "the voice." (Yes, I still have the signed letter).
I submitted again and again....and again. Only to receive several more personal letters from editors who loved it, BUT couldn't connect with "the voice."
I became a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and later I joined a critique group. The story was edited and sent out again with changes discussed in the group. I couldn't change my voice—it was my way of writing after all.
Then during a clearance sale at Borders I was finally able to purchase Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul (2009) a book I had wanted for some time, but put it off because money was tight.
After a failed 44 submissions I spent a total of two months reading Writing Picture Books and editing Nonnie and I. Then….I submitted it one last time.
Two weeks later I got an email from Xist Publishing. They wanted to offer me a book contract! The date was August 2013, eight years after I sat down to write the first sentence of Nonnie and I.
Nonnie and I was published on October 15, 2014 by Xist Publishing. Illustrations by Lisa M. Griffin.