Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015 - Group Post

Can you believe it, The Picture Book Den is now three years old?

In order to celebrate our birthday and to usher in the New Year the team decided it would be fitting to share what we've achieved during 2014, what we hope to achieve and have planned for 2015. So here it is. We hope you enjoy.


Lynne Garner

Although 2014 was not my most constructive year for landing contracts I'm pleased with the fact they I had two books reach the shelves. The first was in February. It was the second picture book to feature Boris and Dog with their new friend Benji (Bad Manner Benjie!). My second book was completely different and was released in November. It is aimed at those who work with children in the early years sector and is called 'The Little Book of Print Making.' It was great fun to write, as I had to get my hands dirty to ensure the instructions were correct. So lots of messy 'play.' Sometimes this writing lark is a hard job.

Unfortunately I don't have any books due for release, however I intend to change that. I have a small library of manuscripts completed, which over the coming months I'll send out to publishers. I also have a few ideas for new stories and plan to start the process of plotting, writing, proofreading and editing in January. Once they've seen the red pen of the Picture Book Den critique team I'll send them on their way.

Jonathan Emmett

It’s slightly ironic that I joined Picture Book Den in 2014 as I’ve had no new picture books published this year, just new editions of previously published titles. However I have three (or possibly two and two-thirds) brand new picture books coming out in 2015.

The first of these is A Spot of Bother illustrated by my longtime collaborator Vanessa Cabban and published by Walker Books. This is a follow-up to The Pig’s Knickers and features the same cast of characters including the rather self-centred Pig. In this story Pig is horrified to discover that his spotless appearance has been spoiled by a cherry stain. His friends try to help, but the more they try to clean the spot, the bigger it gets.

This is the seventh book that Vanessa and I did together and I'm extremely sad to say that it will be our last as Vanessa passed away shortly before Christmas. She was a wonderful person, funny, mischievous and forthright, and a terrific illustrator to work with and I will miss her greatly.

Next up is The Clockwork Dragon. This book might only be described as two-thirds new because it’s a reworking of Tom’s Clockwork Dragon which was published in 2008. Unfortunately that book went out of print quite quickly but Oxford University Press decided that the story deserved a second chance and asked me to write a new draft which has been illustrated by Weasels and Nuts in Space creator Elys Dolan. Elys has a great flair for whimsical detail and, as well as completely reinventing the dragon, has populated the book’s illustrations with a supporting cast of wonderfully wacky characters. I've already written a second story featuring the book's young heroes Max and Lizzie so, if this book proves popular, they could be back with more clever clockwork contraptions.

And lastly, there’s Fast and Furry Racers: The Silver Serpent Cup, also published by Oxford University Press. This book is illustrated by Ed Eaves and the story was inspired by a set of souped-up vehicle models that Ed made several years ago for his college degree show. Ed sent me some photos of the models and suggested that they might plant the seed for a story – which they did. The Silver Serpent Cup is a rhyming story about a no-holds-barred race between a motley assortment of animals in an equally motley assortment of vehicles; cars, planes, boats, submarines – there’s even a tiger racing in a train. We’re hoping it will be the first of a series of Fast and Furry Racers books.

Abie Longstaff

2014 was really exciting for me. Two new Fairytale Hairdresser books came out:

The Fairytale Hairdresser and Snow White


The Fairytale Hairdresser and Father Christmas

as well as Just the Job for Dad.

 I did a loads of events, which was fun but exhausting!

and Lauren Beard and I won an award for The Mummy Shop :)

Here we are with the other winners

Next year there will be two more Fairytale Hairdresser books (The Little Mermaid, and The Sugar Plum Fairy) and a new picture book with Scholastic.

There will also be a brand new series, which I am really excited about. It's called The Magic Potions Shop and it's a chapter book about an apprentice who gets himself in all kinds of trouble learning to make potions (it was really fun to write!) There are 6 books in the series, so bring on 2015!

Jonathan Allen

Though not the most exciting year for me work wise, to say the least, my picture book 'Is That My Cat?' came out in Spring both here and in the US. My work seems to get simpler and bolder as I get older. Maybe I need better glasses ;-)

Next year sees the ten year birthday of Baby Owl! It was ten years ago that I took my idea (I'm Not Cute!) to see David Bennett at Boxer Books, (which also has its ten year birthday next year) and was told that he liked it, but I needed to make the drawings younger and softer. It was the start of a fruitful partnership, and a series of six "I'm Not" books over the years, (Cute, Scared, Sleepy, Santa, Ready and Reading) and several other titles. I now know what 'I'm Not Cute!' is in at least eight languages ;-) Well, I would if I could read Japanese or Chinese. .

Also, Boxer are publishing 'The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say 'Moo!'' as a board book at some point in 2015, which is nice because it's a book that works very well with the very young.

So, I am looking forward positively to next year and whatever it brings. We are pretty certain to be moving house at some point, to get further out into the countryside. A big scary thing to do, but you have to keep having adventures in life otherwise a dull complacency can set in and before you know it you're old ;-)

Of course in 2015 I will no doubt think up a major best seller, become a millionaire and live happily ever after. . . Oh yes. . . Have a great new year won't you?

Pippa Goodhart

For me, 2014 saw new books in which text and pictures danced together, but which weren't strictly 'picture books'.  There were two new Winnie the Witch storybooks (published under the fake name of Laura Owen), illustrated in wonderfully wild fashion by Korky Paul ...

... and a Green Banana early reader book beautifully illustrated with clarity and humour by Amber Cassidy.

But there ARE new picture books by me on their way to publication, as well as more Winnie the Witch stories and early reader books.  I can tell you that there's one that is being illustrated at the moment by brilliant Sam Usher, and there are others that the publishers don't want talked about yet...  Watch and see.  
 Happy new year!

Jane Clarke

In 2014, I got lots of rejections as I do every year.  But I signed contracts for four new books, had fun doing author visits to lots of schools, became a grandma - yaaaay!  and turned 60 (not so yay!)

2015 looks very exciting - 10 books are due to be published, including two picture books and four toddler board books .  I'm hoping a new picture book series will get past the gatekeepers, and I've been invited on a school visit of a lifetime to China, and have another grandchild due in March. Life's not always a bed of roses, and I don't take any of this for granted.  I feel very privileged that I continue to earn a living from writing.  

Warmest Winter wishes and Happy New Year, Picturebookdenners!
May your year be full of good things (in between the rejections), too. 

Jane x

Malachy Doyle

2014 brought my first from Parragon Books (Peek-a -Book, with Rowan Martin); my first with my daughter Hannah and with Firefly Press (Pete and the Five-a-Side Vampires); and my 100th book (and first about death, sort of) Tad-cu's Bobble Hat, with Dorry Spikes.


2015 brings my second, third and possibly fourth from Parragon: The Nose that Knows, with Barroux; Sleepysaurus, with Hannah George; and Hide and Peek, with Rowan Martin again.
It also brings The Beast of Belfast, an illustrated storybook from Poolbeg Press, with Derry Dillon.
There are other pans in the fire, but we shall see.

2015 also promises my second grandchild, the wedding of my one-and-only son, and my very first venture east of Europe - a trek in the Himalayas.  Quite enough excitement for one year - and may you have an exciting one too!

Moira Butterfield

2014 - Where did it go? Was I in a timewarp, one of those films where someone returns home at the end, to find that only a minute has passed? I wrote what seemed like an unending line of books - about Anglo-Saxons and the Stone Age, about feelings, about the human body, about Halloween, about the weather....My first poetry for children will be published by Harper Collins in 2015, and hopefully my first picture book in a while - currently with the title 'I Saw A Shark'.  I've got board books coming out, too, with UK supermarket M & S.  It's all a bit of a mix and it's all very unpredictable. That's what it's like being a professional author for children.

Being a freelancer: I complain a lot when it's all a flurry, but when it's not, I start to worry.

Sorry I can't show you covers. I've left it too late to ask permission and the publishers have all gone away to their Christmas castles, where their butlers are now serving them their Xmas cocktails and lobster bites on golden sticks.

But I think it's OK to share one of the Harper Collins poems, which were written about weather.

Frost sneaks silently.
It weaves its white carpet
without even a whisper.

But if you touch it,
you can unlock its secret


Lauri Fortino said...

I am very inspired by all of you! So glad I found your blog. Wishing you all a very successful 2015!

malachy doyle said...

Good to hear it, Lauri. Happy new, and successful, year to you too.

Helen Dineen said...

A belated happy new year Picture Denners! One of my very favourite writing blogs. Congratulations on all books published in 2014 and forthcoming, and hoping the submission fairies are kind to you this year.