I can’t draw. Seriously, stick figures prove challenging. So even though I had an idea for a children’s book that I thought people would want to buy, I’d get stuck when it came to the pictures. I couldn’t draw my little giraffe, and I worried about handing control to a publisher and not getting much say in the style of the drawings.
I was stuck in a loop of fear and indecision, so little Allie sat quietly in a file on my computer. For years. (Read how Allie originated here.)
My Duh! Moment
About six years ago, this sweet woman emailed me to ask about my experience with the publisher for my fiction books. We seemed to get along well over email, so we kept talking and quickly became friends. That led to a friendship that astounds me when I think about it—we’re closer than many of the people that live just a few minutes away. I love her dearly, read all her books, and pray for her when life hits hard.
I knew she painted beautiful portraits, but I’d never thought about asking her to partner with me on Allie’s book. Until one day when God whispered: ask Joanie about Allie.
I Sent a Quick Email
Ok … so I’ve got a book concept for small kids — maybe 6-10-year-old range — about a giraffe and an animal jungle guard. Basically, it’s for kids in the military who move a lot and the story follows a young giraffe whose Dad just got orders to move, her emotional process, saying goodbye to friends … and ending where she makes her first friend in the new place. Would you be interested in talking about this more, maybe collaborating on the project—me doing the writing and you doing the drawing …
Can you hear the hemming and hawing? I really wasn’t sure what I was asking of her at the time. I didn’t know the children’s market, hadn’t researched what it took to put together a children’s book, didn’t have any idea how to get it on bookshelves. I didn’t even know how hard it would be to write the story or that Joanie would be painting—yes, painting!—each picture that appears on the pages.
But it was the start of a beautiful partnership that’s echoed and deepened the friendship.
Me? An Illustrator? Joanie’s Thoughts . . .
When Carrie first asked me to consider illustrating her children’s book, I thought she was crazy. LOL! I had never illustrated a children’s book before, and I honestly thought I couldn’t do it. Yes … I paint portraits, and yes … I’ve painted animals before, but to bring one to life on the pages of a book? No way.
In spite of that initial reaction, my strongest desire was to encourage my friend. Carrie is such a great author and has written many books helping military wives thrive, and I wanted to help her encourage and touch the lives of military children as well. After I read her first draft of the cute story, I agreed to think about it.
God Steps In
While praying earnestly about taking on this project, I felt God tugging at my heart. I started thinking about it in earnest, and before I knew it, I was sketching little giraffes, flipping through hundreds of picture books to learn about illustrating, and waking up in the middle of the night to jot down fun ideas to make the book appealing to children. I was hooked from that point on.
The hardest part of the whole process was the first time I tried to use the medium Gouache. The first page I painted was frustrating, and I wondered what I had gotten myself into by agreeing to paint thirty-two individual paintings with this infuriating medium. LOL! Then one day I was searching on Amazon and stumbled on the book, Painting in Opaque Watercolor by Rudy De Reyna. That book pointed out everything I was doing wrong. After I learned the techniques the author explained in detail, Gouache became my friend, and I fell in love with this medium.
Allie Comes to Life
After I learned Gouache’s secrets, the whole process became fun. It was a huge project—probably the biggest one I’ve ever done in my painting career—but to “hear” the smile in Carrie’s voice when she talks about little Allie through messages online and to feel the anticipation of seeing the sweet face of Allie come to life in the pages of a book made it all worth the time I spent. I hope our readers enjoy reading the story and the illustrations as much as I enjoyed painting them.
It’s a GIVEAWAY!
Leave a comment below to be entered to win a giraffe-themed keychain!
If you’re not sure what to say, let us know: Are you excited about this new release from Carrie and Joanie?
Winner picked at random from commenters on Monday, March 26th!
Releasing April 20, 2018!
Allie loves her home in Kenya. But her dad works for the Animal Jungle Patrol, and he just got orders to move their family to Somalia. She has many questions, and the journey will be long. Will the new place be like what she knows? Will she find friends in her new home? And will she ever see her best friend again? What awaits her in A New Home for Allie?