Follow this link for purchasing options, or contact me to purchase a signed copy!
Also, please check your favorite indie bookstore.
Follow this link for purchasing options, or contact me to purchase a signed copy!
Also, please check your favorite indie bookstore.
I’m not one to write a reflecting back on the year type of post. But, I have never before experienced a year filled with so many conflicting emotions. Maybe you’ve felt the same? Some of mine have been terror but peace, heartache but happiness, guilt but appreciation, fear of what the future will bring, but hope for a miraculous future.
I know God wants me to feel thankful, not guilty. I’m working on that. But it’s hard not to feel guilty for having a job I enjoy and great health, when there’s a pandemic taking other’s jobs and lives by the minute. Then today, I practically jumped up and down (my old, arthritic knees kept me from really doing that, but inside, I was JUMPING) when I opened the mailbox and saw the review copy of my book inside; while just last night, I couldn’t sleep because I worried about all the people who must be wondering how in the world they will pay rent, buy food, and everything else, when their unemployment runs out. I imagine I’m not the only one struggling with conflicting emotions.
I’m very thankful for my faith in God. And although I don’t understand why so many people have suffered this year – mentally from loss of loved ones, physically from illnesses, or financially from the pandemic; I do believe that someday I will sit beside God and get the answers to my questions, and then I’ll understand. I also believe that the answers will be deeper than I ever could have understood while here on earth. Until then I will pray with my whole heart for all who are hurting. I’ll pray for peace and healing for you and for the people you love.
Has this year made you feel helpless, too? Helpless and conflicted, boy am I a mess! I’ve decided the best thing I can do is to count my blessings every second, but also watch for ways where I can somehow brighten other’s days. I’m sure it will be in small ways for now, but who knows what God has planned for me to be able to help others.
May God bless you always.
My mind is swirling like the sugar in a cotton candy machine. So please forgive me if I babble.
When Margo Dill, publisher/editor of Editor-911 Books, told me she wanted to publish my middle-grade novel, I thought that was THE best day ever. Then, today, she sent me the link to the Amazon book page (above) saying that the pre-order for the Kindle version was live, and the print book will be available to buy on January 19th! When I clicked the link, my heart must have stopped beating for a second, because I seriously got a little light headed. All I could think was: This Is Really Happening!
Please check it out! I’m so proud of how both the novel and the cover turned out! I made the cover art all with cut and torn paper except for the face. I tried many times to make the face with cut paper, but those tiny eyes and mouth would not cooperate with my fat fingers, or even with tweezers, so I gave up and painted her face. A huge thanks to Jamey for modeling for me and to Jama for catching the perfect shot of her horse, Cowboy, for reference. The torn paper background was an interesting challenge since I had never tried collage! The straw field is torn paper with oil pastel. My biggest challenges, since I’d never made art for a book cover before, were finding a larger size that would scale down correctly for the final book dimensions, and being an amature PhotoShop user, adding the text and making even small corrections on a slow computer took me FOREVER. I kept telling myself, you know a ton of people who could do this for you in seconds, but I was determined to be able to do it all myself. I’m so glad I kept trying because it feels superfantastic to look at this book cover and say – I did that! I hope you like it.❤
If you would like a signed copy, by then I should have this site set up to buy a book, and I will mail it to you. You can also keep up with news about my book and other books by signing up for the Editor-911 Books newsletter here: https://margoldill.com/newsletter-sign-up
Thank you for listening to my excited babbling!
When I asked my publisher (I still love saying that!) if I could take a shot at creating the cover art for my book, I knew that book covers are more than just art, they are mostly marketing. Meaning, I needed to do some serious studying, and praying. It would be very possible that she would end up saying, “Yeah, nice … but we can’t use it.”
Still, I wanted to try!
After scouring online articles on book cover concepts, I researched other contemporary middle grade book covers, both best sellers and not, hoping to see a trend. Guess what? There were no trends. Not that I saw, anyway. I did notice that shades of teal and orange were very popular, but the style and art were all over the place! I found everything from cartoon characters to photographs, silhouettes, text only, and fine art. I also found nothing even similar to my art style or medium, which made me wonder if that was a good thing, or a bad thing. I hoped it would make my book stand out…in a good way.
My first sketches for any project have always looked super amateur – like a three year old drew them. My nerves were making these look even worse. I wanted to give up, but I kept sketching and sketching until I finally had one that was approved by my publisher and a few of my artist friends. So, I started choosing my colors and buying paper. Did you know they make papers in prints that look like leather? That was SO exciting! You’ll see why when you see the saddle I made.
A few days into the next phase, I panicked. I’d already taken so much time on the drawing and color scheme. What if I couldn’t pull this together, and my publisher would have to find someone else to do it? What if there wasn’t time for that? If you are imagining me laying awake at night with my brain in freak out mode, you are so right on.
I think it was the day I decided to experiment with making folds in the paper to make my girl on the cover’s shirt look more like fabric, the way I saw another paper artist do, that I finally thought, Wow, that looks pretty cool. I think I got this!
Here are a few photos of my mess, my color scheme inspiration, and a peek at my progress. I’m almost done with the cover now, and it really feels good to be using the creative gifts God gave me. I can’t wait to show you!!
I have some SUPER EXCITING NEWS!!
But first, please bear with me while I back up a bit. When I sat down to write this post for my website because I finally had something AWESOME to share, I saw how long it had been since I’d posted anything, and I wondered what had been holding me back. Browsing my website, I clicked on the About section. I realized that I have been avoiding my website because this section needed updated. And updating this section would sadden my heart. A lot.
I still live in central Illinois with my husband. Yay!! My daughter has graduated from college and lives less than an hour away. This part has been an adjustment but not that sad, since, thank God, she stayed close enough so she could still come home on Sundays. The free washer and dryer here may have something to do with this, but that’s fine with me. I’ll take her visits however I can get them!
That’s all good stuff, but changing the part about my best friends, Lucy and Harley (our dogs), is what I have been avoiding. Because after an accumulation of almost 35 years of unconditional love and laugh out loud entertainment, they have both passed on. I’m not going to lie; each loss took many months before a day passed without me crying. When friends or family who I have in my address book pass away, I can’t bring myself to erase or cross out their names. They are all still there. So, you can imagine how I have avoided updating my About page.
Now for my news!
I have posted before about my writing, my submitting, and my rejection. I started writing my first novel at least 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve completed another novel and several picture books. The first novel has been constantly re-written, as I’ve received feedback from other writers and gained skills from writing workshops and articles. It has been submitted to publishers and agents throughout the process and received TONS of rejection forms. But it also received some personal rejections with encouraging notes, and once it even made it to the acquisitions team before getting … you guessed it…rejected.
I’ve spent this past year doing a major re-write after finally investing in a freelance developmental fiction editor, Bev Rosenbaum, and then asking my cousin, Teresa, to use her mad editing skills to read my revisions and offer suggestions for improvement. I loved the new version, and I looked forward to sending it out on submission again. But this meant starting over the agonizing research for editors and agents and then waiting forever for a response, so I kept putting it off.
Then…an editor friend, who had worked on this story with me before, decided to expand her editing business of thirteen years and begin publishing books. She emailed me that she might like to publish my book, if I was interested. Was I interested? Was she kidding? OF COURSE, I WAS!
God is SO GOOD!
Below is a picture of me signing my very first book contract with Editor-911 Books – Publisher and Editor, Margo Dill. My middle-grade novel, Only My Horses Know, will be available on Amazon between middle December to early January! I am SO excited!!!
This book is about acceptance; accepting change – accepting lack of control – accepting differences – accepting judgement – and then, letting go of it all and accepting God’s help.
You can read more about it on page 2 of my editor’s blog. (I have an editor!)
I need to go and get busy because I will also be creating the book cover with my cut-paper design. Can you hear me celebrating? Finally!!! Yippeeeee!!! Whoohooooo!!!
Well I’m back in writer/submission land, and it feels pretty good.
Some people are able to create at a steady pace. Me, I work in spurts. Because of this, I really battle with negative thoughts. You know them, right? “I’m not a real (writer, artist…fill in the blank). I’ll never get published, because I don’t work hard enough. Whaaa, whaaa, whaaa.
But then I remembered the published writers and successful artists I’ve read about over the years who work in spurts-like me! I realized everyone has a different momentum to their muse. Just because some people thrive on the constant call of creativity doesn’t mean that others, like me, who get a little distracted with family and day jobs, can’t also become successful–in our own time.
This month I have been revising a novel; I love revision but this one is a challenge, and I refuse to let it kick my butt. I finished a picture book that I LOVE, and I pray someone in the industry will too! I’m stirring up some ideas for cut-paper pieces that could be marketed for children’s room decorations. And, yep, I still have that HUGE canvas waiting for paint. Most importantly, after a long lull, I’m submitting my writing again. Stay tuned, wish me luck, and NEVER GIVE UP!
Yes, I am still here! Still trying to get published, still working on improving my art, still struggling with calling myself a writer and artist.
I have a middle grade manuscript that I’ve been submitting to literary agents quite a bit, well…tons. I’ve read all of the articles on when to give up and drawer a manuscript, and according to the experts, this manuscript has not reached that point….yet. But there are so many rules, so many opinions, and I am certain I have gone against many of them on this journey to get published. Just this year, I made the mistake of setting my hopes on the perfect agency. I waited, and waited on them to get back to me after they requested I send them the full manuscript; and while, yes, I was finishing another novel, I should have been sending this one on to more agents. I’ve written before about my need for closure before I can move on, and sadly I still have that problem. So eight months later, they finally rejected me. (well not me, my manuscript) I gave myself a couple of weeks to sulk before pulling my big-girl pants on and researching a new list of agents to query. Imagine tying your shoes with horrible hangnails on both thumbs and forefingers to get an idea of what this was like. Maybe ‘excruciating’ is an exaggeration, but close. Because in order to find this new list, I had to go through my pile of rejections to make sure I didn’t give anyone the honor of rejecting me twice. After that, I just wanted to delete the manuscript permanently, crawl under my covers, watch a chick-flick, and cry. But I didn’t. Instead, I concentrated on the ones who had requested to read the full manuscript and the ones who had sent personal positive rejections (I know, a positive rejection is an oxymoron!) Eight agents I found were looking for what I write, and they all seemed to be a good fit. So I picked the top three, took a deep breath, said a prayer, and sent a query and sample pages off to them!
With the New Year around the corner, cheers to all the brave writers out there. May we all have a successful, published year!
Finally finished! Hope for Smooth Landings, Acrylic on 36×24″ canvas. This is an intuitive prompt painting I started over a year ago with a group of artist friends from an online group called The Paint Circle. This group was a spin off of the Flora Bowley Ecourse I took in 2012. Each member suggests a prompt to get you painting such as: write a letter to yourself on the canvas, paint something you find outside on your canvas, paint with your opposite hand..until you get an idea of what the painting wants to be. I decided to paint a goose after painting feathers, so I found a reference photo and then many, many layers later…done! The photo doesn’t show the colors and textures as well as I hoped, but I’m so happy I kept trying because I really love it.
Yep, it’s still winter. Yuck. At least below zero wind chills and blowing snow gives me an excuse to still be in my pj’s at close to noon. It also gives me time to think about the children’s stories I have tucked away – not feeling brave enough to drag them out, dust them off, and send them out on another round of submissions to publishers.
Last night, I participated in a webinar called, “”Writing Cover Letters and Pitches that Agents and Editors Want to Read” presented by Mira Reisberg with the Children’s Book Academy. I’m glad I signed up, but most of her information seemed geared toward people very new to children’s writing. I’m certainly no expert, still super unpublished, but I have done my share of research on cover and query letters. The part I need serious help with is writing a 30-50 word pitch! THAT is torture for me. So, I enjoyed listening to her take on the pitches that were sent to her ahead of time. Sadly, she didn’t have time to get to my pitch, so I’ve decided to post it here and ask for comments. (Snow days must make me brave!) What do you think of this pitch for a 450 word picture-book manuscript titled Fancy Firefly? (You can also see the characters in my Gallery 1 cut paper art)
Fancy Firefly wants to make friends, but she has no idea she is scaring them off with her blinkity-blinking fanny. She encounters a barkity-barking dog, a rowdy raccoon, and fat frog before discovering that what she seeks is right where her journey began. The story is suitable for ages 3-7.
Only good thing about a COLD-snowy weekend is finishing a painting that has been so close for too long. Felt really good to get him finished. Quite a while ago, my friends suggested names for him. My favorite was King Strutt, and most popular was Fred. I decided to compromise with King StruttFred for now, but may change to something more psychedelic eventually. 🙂 I hope he brightens your day like he does mine. And in case you are wondering, I haven’t given up on illustrating for children’s books! I’m just enjoying learning to paint for now. Stay warm! Cinda