February 13, 2017

All about Nonnie and I

Guest post by Savannah Hendricks:

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.


  1. Loved reading your journey to publishing, Savannah. It took me seven years forty two rejections to get my first book published. The one thing all new writers need to understand is that it does take a while, and you need to be patient and persevere. So many writers give up after a few rejections. Sounds like you believed enough in Nonnie and I to go the long haul! Congrats.

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