My journey with this book started with getting my agent. I had given Joan several of my manuscripts and was excited when she called and took me as a client.
She wanted me to add more people and Americana
She sent Blue Sky to my editor, and when Lucia saw this manuscript, she asked if she could call me.Of course I was very excited! I had just gotten a few rejections and I was planning on revising it. Lucia had a vision for this book right from the start. It was really her vision that brought it all together.
Of course that vision included Kadir Nelson as the illustrator. When I went to his website and looked at his artwork (this was before I knew who Lucia had in mind), it hit me that he was the perfect artist for this book, with his rich blues and deep browns. He has also done books that contained several of the subjects in my book, such as baseball and Abe Lincoln, and space.
When Lucia spoke with me on the phone, she asked me to revise. She wanted me to add more people and Americana to the text. So of course I brainstormed for months, thinking about the flag and words that describe it, that could also describe people.
When I write, I ask myself a lot of questions, so I asked myself, “Where else has the flag been?” And the answer was immediate. To the moon! And I knew I had my climax, even though this was a concept book. I had always wanted to be an astronaut so this was the perfect ending.
LINES ou t August 21 2017
For me, space is always the perfect ending for my books (see my upcoming board book, LINES).
Dial did decide that they were going to be doing special 4th of July displays around the country with this book, so I got to sign 2000 copies ahead of time, putting my signature alongside Kadir’s.
The only thing was, I got the books late, so I only had 4 days to do so.
Here I am signing some of my 2000 copies the first time
Then, later on, it ended up that the ink stuck on the previous pages, and so we had to resign 2000 copies all over again!
I doubt my small hometown will have the display at my local bookstore, but I hope people will send me photos if they run into one.
I also ended up doing quite a lot of backmatter, that the editorial team wanted me to do, last minute. So I had less than a month to research and write the backmatter for all the topics of this book. Non-fiction research takes a lot of time because there are contradictory facts and you have to dig deep to find the truth. In the end, they forgot to tell me that they had cut it. I found out when I got the final pdf, right before being sent off for printing. In the end, I think the current end pages match the tone of the story much better. I told my editor this would make for a good story someday!
So that is a little about this book and how it came into this world. Thanks for sharing my special day with me!