My new book, "Willa and the Bear", was created over a long period of time. It probably started long ago with a bear I received for Christmas when I was 7!
Many years later, I created an illustration of a girl having a tea party with a bear.
Believe it or not, it was several years later when I created the second image. I named the girl "Willa" and wrote a story about her being lost in the snow and found by a friendly bear. Sent my brilliant manuscript out to publishers - who promptly rejected it! The story was too long and complex.
I wasn't sure how to tighten it up, I wasn't even sure what the point of the story was, so I left it aside for several more years while I worked on illustrating other picture books.
When I had a stretch of time, I pulled out the old manuscript and it finally occurred to me what I wanted to do with this story - a tale of empathy! Willa no longer gets lost and she no longer directly meets the bear, but neither of those things needed to happen for them to care about each other.
With the help of my new agent, Scott Treimel (http://www.scotttreimelny.com) "Willa and the Bear" was accept by Meredith Mundy at Sterling Children's Books!