My editor says I can share the cover art for my picture book, OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW. Ready to think snowy thoughts? Here it is!
OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW is the story of a girl who goes cross country skiing with her father and discovers the secret world of animals living under the snow.
A little snowy trivia now…
- The illustrator for this book, Christopher Silas Neal, also did the cover for the book I’m reading aloud with my 7th graders right now, Laurie Halse Anderson’s CHAINS.
- OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW is actually the first book my agent sold for me, though it’s coming out after four other titles she sold later on.
- I wrote the first draft of this book on the back of a middle school attendance sheet, on a bus returning from a snowshoe field trip in the Adirondacks. The ride was bumpy. The draft was messy. But it worked out.
OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW comes out this fall from Chronicle Books.
My students and I tromped into the Adirondack woods on snowshoes for our annual animal tracking excursion at the Visitors Interpretive Center at Paul Smiths. It was breathtakingly snowy and white, as always.
I’ve loved this field trip since we started taking it five or six years ago, but this year was extra special because I got to tell the naturalist who works with our kids that his trip inspired a picture book. You see, during last year’s field trip, we spotted a set of mouse tracks that disappeared next to a crevice in the snow, and that sparked a discussion of what goes on in the subnivean zone…the network of airy tunnels that forms between the ground and the packed snow. I was enchanted. And I loved that word…subnivean.
On the bus ride home, I dug a pencil out of my backpack, smoothed out my wrinkled attendance sheet, and on the back of it, wrote a very rough draft of a story about a girl who goes cross country skiing and learns about that secret world under the snow. I revised and tweaked and eventually sent it to my agent, who found my snowy little story a home at Chronicle Books.
Fast forward a year…
I just turned in my revision, based on a brilliant five-page editorial letter. Chronicle has found an amazing illustrator for the book — Christopher Silas Neal. This weekend, I’ll get to meet my editor in person, since we’re both attending the same retreat in Vermont.
But first, I have one more day of hiking through the snowy woods, following the tracks that tell stories in the snow.
If you were reading my blog back in April, you might remember this post where I was all over-the-moon about my picture book, OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW, being acquired by Chronicle Books. It’s about a girl on a cross country ski trip who discovers the secret kingdom of animals living under the winter snow. Today, that snowy story is another step closer to being a real live book. My editor emailed to let me know while contracts aren’t quite signed yet, I can go ahead and share the news that we have an illustrator on board!
You might know him from his artwork on this cover…
It’s Christopher Silas Neal – an artist whose work I absolutely love. I’ve been bouncing off the walls ever since his name came up in the illustrator discussions. The sample spread he created for SNOW is stunning, and I’m thrilled that he’s going to illustrate this book.
Consider me all over-the-moon, all over again.
There are so many exciting steps along the way in a writer’s journey. Some of them, like getting books in the mail or doing a first book signing, you’ve heard about and expect to be amazing experiences. But some of the other milestones have taken me by surprise. Like when my editor emailed me last year with the ISBN number for Spitfire, my first regional historical novel.
ISBN number??? I have an ISBN number? I have an ISBN number!!!
I was so giddy that a slightly snarky friend suggested I have the number tattooed on my forehead.
Today was another one of those memorable milestones. I got an email from Melissa, my editor at Chronicle Books, which is publishing my first picture book, Over and Under the Snow. She’d just come from a meeting with Chronicle’s design department, and she wanted to share the short list of illustrators under consideration. They are all amazing. I spent half the night online, looking at websites and portfolios and requesting picture books from the library. Obviously, it’s way too early in the process for me to share much. But I can share this…
Wow. Just wow. It’s humbling to think that someone with such incredible talent will create art to tell a story with my words.
I’d love to hear thoughts from those of you who have been through this process. I can’t begin to imagine how exciting it will be to see the final illustrations.
I know there’s more work to do with this manuscript. There’s editing. I still have to fill out that long author questionnaire (I’m working on it, really…). And I’m sure there will be bumps in the road before my picture book is a book. But for now, what a gift – to be able to look at the work of such amazing artists and imagine what each of them might bring to SNOW with their unique styles and moods.
Tonight, I’ll be dreaming in pen and ink, watercolor, mixed media, and everything in between.