Am I a wizard at rhyming or what?! 🤣
Grab a snack and a beverage, pull up a couch, and make yourself comfy!
Today I am thrilled to introduce you to a Making Picture Book Magic graduate, author/illustrator Beverly Love Warren, as we give you a glimpse of her charming debut picture book, HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE?
HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE?
Author/Illustrator – Beverly Love Warren
Publication date – March 1, 2022
Fiction, 4-7 years
A young bear loses his best friend, a mouse, and searches the forest to find him only to discover his friend loves him more than he thought.
SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?
BEVERLY: My husband and I take road trips occasionally. On a trip, while driving through the mountains in Idaho, I gazed into the forest at a fallen tree. In my imagination I saw a young bear sitting on that tree weeping. I wondered why and guessed that he lost his best friend. I had my notebook with me so immediately I began the first draft. My protagonist was the bear, but who would his friend be? I had many mice as pets when I was young, and I liked the contrast of the “big” with the “little” so I chose a mouse to be the best friend. Many of my ideas come from nature, or an incident in my life or that of a friend, or something I remember from childhood. When I’m beginning a draft, I ask the who, what, when, where, why, how and what if questionsof the character, the location or the story forming in my mind. These questions also serve as a tool to help me discover the theme or plot of the story – if I don’t know it ahead of time.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
BEVERLY: I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge in 2019. HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE? was November’s entry that year. I submitted it to the forum for feedback on Nov 16, 2019, and later with my critique groups. So, I had many eyes looking at the draft and subsequent revisions. The contract with the publisher was signed on July 6, 2020. I am also the illustrator for MOUSE and was working on the illustrations for another book at the same time as I was for MOUSE (see question 5, below). The illustrations, from sketches to final art on both books, took about 16 months to complete.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
BEVERLY: I keep hard copies of my drafts and revisions in manilla folders. Once the first draft is completed, I work on the revisions with my laptop. There were about 9 or 10 revisions of MOUSE after I sent the first draft to the 12×12 forum. Usually, I would write 4 or 5 revisions before I would submit the story for the first critique in the forum or to my critique partners. Most of the time I do several revisions of a manuscript then set it aside and work on another story for a while. This is so that both myself and my critique partners can see it with fresh eyes when the revision process resumes.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
BEVERLY: I knew once my critique partners didn’t have much else to say revision wise except for a few small punctuation corrections. Also, I know when there is a consensus in my group that the story is finished. From an artist point of view, I would want to have completed thumbnails and at least one finished illustration ready as well.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
BEVERLY: In January – February 2020 I took an illustration course with Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. At the end of the course the illustrations each student had been working on would be shown to a few editors. Shortly after the course ended, I was contacted by the Clear Fork/Spork publisher, Callie Metler. She had a manuscript by another author that she offered me to illustrate. After reading it I agreed. Sometime later as we were working on the other book Callie said she really liked the palette I used in Mira’s class. I told her there was a manuscript that went with it and asked if she would be interested in reading it. She graciously said yes. Later she said the story was precious and wanted to acquire it.
SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?
BEVERLY: Clear Fork/ Spork is a small publishing house. Because I was already working directly with the publisher on the other picture book it only took about two weeks after she read the story that I was told “yes.” I wanted to complete Mira’s course and have a book dummy, one piece of final art and the manuscript ready before I considered submitting it anywhere. MOUSE was ready at the time I offered it to Clear Fork/Spork.
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?
BEVERLY: This took a couple of weeks.
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
BEVERLY: My celebration was during a family birthday which was a few days later. While
the family was all together in the dining room, my husband announced that I had something to tell them. The look on their faces was apprehensive but quickly changed to smiles and words of congratulations, and excitement too.
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
BEVERLY: Because the publisher had told me up front that they are a royalties-based publisher, I knew there would not be an advance on the manuscript, but the royalties would be higher than usual. However, there was a small advance on the illustrations. The time between submitting the final art to the publisher and the launch date has been about five months. The publication timeline took a bit longer than I thought it would be.
SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?
BEVERLY: Thankfully, the editor’s vision for the story was the same as mine therefore there were only minor changes to the text such as removing dialogue tags. I did have a say in the placement of the text on the pages, but later a sentence or two of text was moved on to the next page for three of the spreads. I was concerned about this at first, but then realized that the change made the page turns stronger. The only changes to the art was to make the mouse smaller in a couple of the spreads.
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?
BEVERLY: Since I am also the illustrator of my story, I can share that process from the artist’s viewpoint. First, I was asked to submit black and white character sketches for each of the five characters in the book. Next, I sent the book dummy. This had been completed beforehand and it didn’t require much changing. After that they wanted character sketches in color and full-sized black and white sketches. Once all of this was approved, I went on to do the final art. For this book the art was created in traditional watercolor and Prisma colored pencils. After the paintings were completed, they were added to my iPad and touched up digitally. Watercolor doesn’t always transfer very well from paper to digital and since the art would be sent digitally, I needed to touch it up.
Here’s a little glimpse of Barbara’s illustration process:
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?
BEVERLY: I haven’t seen any reviews yet.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
BEVERLY: A little under 2 years.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
BEVERLY: I will be doing more, but at this point I am doing interviews on blogs such as Susanna’s. Thank you, Susanna. I belong to a marketing group called PB22Peekaboo. We support one another during our book launches. I will be going to local bookstores, libraries and doing school visits. And as I learn about more opportunities, I will take advantage of them as time permits – so I still have work ahead of me. Coloring and activities pages are on my website.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
BEVERLY: I began to write seriously when I signed up with Susanna’s class – Making Picture Book Magic. I took her class in the summer of 2017. HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE? was acquired in the summer of 2020. Art wise it took about two to three years to get my first illustration job. At that time, I mainly illustrated posters, curriculum and educational material for the classroom.
SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)
BEVERLY: I would agree with others about the necessity of attending classes, seminars, going to conferences and joining a critique group or two. It would be difficult traveling the road to publication alone. Feedback is essential. Encouragement from fellow writers and artists can keep you trekking when the road is rough with rejections and the negative self-talk we all deal with. It might be helpful to ask why you are writing. If it’s mainly to benefit young readers to put a smile on their face or hope in their hearts, then keep that goal in your vision and with perseverance keep moving forward. One more thing, I would be careful about comparing your journey toward publication with others. I am guilty of this and continually must remind myself that my path is different from others. We are each unique people and how our lives and opportunities evolve will be different as well.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
BEVERLY: There is one other thing about this book’s journey that I could share.
As I had mentioned above, at the completion of Mira’s class there would be an opportunity for some editors to view the students work. But I needed to leave the class a week before it ended because my mother became ill. I wrestled with this because we had false alarms before, and I had planned to visit her after the class ended. I didn’t want to lose this opportunity, but there was just one choice – I left the class. After 3,000 miles in the air and 4 days with my mother, she passed. I was thankful to have made the right decision. While I was away Mira entered my art in the display before the editors anyway – which brought me my debut book as an author. This was a terrific gift to have been given, especially during the season I had now entered with my mother’s passing. Good things can happen even during the challenges of life!
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Beverly! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from you! Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!
Readers, if you have questions for Beverly, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Beverly’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)
We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:
– purchasing their books
– recommending their books to friends and family
– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians
– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores
– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries
– sharing their books on social media
Thank you all for stopping by to read today! Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday! Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊
Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts? Check them out!
Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)
Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)
Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)
Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)
Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)
Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)
Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)
Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)
Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)
Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)
Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)
Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)
Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)