We’d like to thank Daria Peoples for this blog post. Daria is faculty, along with Brittany J. Thurman, for our online course Submission-Ready with Heart: A Hands-On Workshop for Author/Illustrators, which runs from October 19-November 11. Thank you, Daria!
It is always a fine story and a fine story does everything a story is supposed to do, but I believe the thing agents and editors don’t always clearly express, the thing they are looking for, or feeling for, when they read through picture book submissions, is a story that reveals what is invisible to the eye, a story that can only be seen through the heart. Rightfully so, because this is how children read.
They read our pictures when they can’t read our words and they judge our pictures to determine if the words we write tell the truth. Our pictures and words carve and shape their understanding of the world as they begin to form their own ideas and thoughts. Their minds are awakening to the world, and we are responsible for their first glimpses. We owe our readers extraordinary stories, stories that give them priceless gifts. Our sense of humor. Our sense of self. Our languages. Our traditions. The most important parts of who we are. Our light.
I cannot promise this guarantees a student’s work be published, though this is my one, true hope, but I do believe every book we loved as children gave us a gift we needed. And that gift came directly from the light in a creator’s heart.
Now Sheba Sings The Song by Maya Angelou with art by Tom Feelings
“Mother told her secrets to me
When I rode
Low in the pocket
Between her hips.
I learned the rhythm of her song.
‘Child, this world is not your home.’
History does not dissolve
Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield with pictures by Diane and Leo Dillon
I love a lot of things, a whole lot of things
My cousin comes to visit and you know he’s from the South
‘Cause every word he says just kind of slides out of his mouth
I like the way he whistles and I like the way he walks
But honey, let me tell you that I LOVE the way he talks
I love the way my cousin talks…”
I’m so grateful that these authors and illustrators chose to share the light in their hearts with me to give me the gifts I needed.
At our workshop, Brittany and I want you to find your gift to give readers, and offer you ways we think you should revise accordingly. We want you to discover how your story is connected to your heart’s pulse and give you opportunities to ask questions while you work. I’ll show you ways to think like an illustrator if you only write. Brittany will show you how to think like an author if you only illustrate. We’ll also talk about ways to help you protect and cultivate the light in your heart as an author and/or illustrator so that you have the energy and space to continue to share your gifts for your entire career. And together, we’ll help you develop a submission package with the most extraordinary parts of you.
Will you join us? Here are some ways you can prepare:
Daria’s debut picture book This Is It was published with Greenwillow/HarperCollins (February 2018) followed by I Got Next (July 2019) and America My Love America My Heart (April 2021). Daria is also the illustrator of Gloria Takes a Stand by Jessica M. Rinker, a picture book biography about the life and work of Gloria Steinem. Her upcoming book Show the World!, written by Angela Dalton, will be published in spring 2022.
Posted on: October 4, 2021