Tight Deadline! New Book Project. Feedback Much Appreciated!
Long time no see! I love what everyone’s been up to on here.
I have a fresh new picture book project I’ve started working on a couple weeks ago. And I would love to hear your thoughts! I have two goals with this book. One is to enter it in a Professional Illustration Contest the second week of February.
I know, tight deadline!
My second goal is to use this book as a companion book for my recent release “Here I’m Happy.”
You can check out that book project here:
Typically when l write my stories its a long process of back and forth writing, editing and “pickling.”
It starts when I get an idea for a story I want to illustrate. I’ll jot down some notes, then let it “pickle” for a time. I’ll go back again weeks later with fresh eyes and work on the story some more then “pickle” again. And sometimes this process can take a year or more (I have one story that has been pickling for 10 years! lol).
Anyhow, my concern with this book project is that it’s only had a couple weeks to “pickle.” And hence, I realize I’m in great need of feedback.
My last story took me three years and I know it wouldn’t be the story it is today without all the golden nuggets of feedback, suggestions and critiques I received.
For this story, I would love any feedback, suggestions or comments to offer. Anything! Just to help speed up the Pickling process.
Thoughts about the story itself, the pacing, anything that seems to jump out that needs a smoother transition.
And I would love feedback for the art and illustration too (Of course right now the illustrations are just rough chicken scratches).
Bellow is the current storyboard:
I gave myself a limit of only 32 pages for the whole story including the “Title page” and “About the Author page.”
The line in the middle of each spread is the gutter.
And if you can’t tell, they are squirrels
Just like my last book, this book is based on my childhood when my mom was sick. I really did build a garden and I really did bribe my little brothers with candy to help me.
Sadly, candy doesn’t work anymore to bribe my brothers. . .
Now I use homemade bread lol.
Jeremy Ross last edited by
Hi @Elizabeth-Rose, cute story and thanks for sharing.
If it were me, I wouldn’t rush the deadline to meet a contest deadline, because you’re not giving yourself the freedom to make this book better than your last.
If you were working against a deadline for a publisher, perhaps I would consider, but even then, they give more than 3 and half months.
I see a lot of spot illustrations, but realize you still need to flesh them out more.
Wishing you the best! I’m sure it’ll be great!
@Elizabeth-Rose What a sweet story! And I love seeing your rough scribble sketches. It always makes me feel better to realize that other people draw like that too in the beginning and it's not just me lol! Just one thing I'm wondering about after reading. I want to know why she girl is making a garden if this is something she and her mom do every year? Usually garden spaces are re-used over and over with just some new compost/manure/mulch/other fertilizer added in the spring.
ArtistErin last edited by
What an adorable pickled idea! I love what you've come up with so far. One thing I wondered... I felt the jump to realizing mama wasn't there at the party needs more information somehow, don't know if you need to show a page where she's struggling or can't walk at some point earlier in the story? Just a thought. Other than that, I think it's ready for art
Oh my! You all have such good suggestions!
@Jeremy-Ross, That is good advice. I’ll ponder on that. I would much rather have quality over quantity. I was telling one of my friends about this book project and the deadline, and they said to me that I need to make time to enjoy the holidays too. Now that’s two against one
Hello @kirsten-mcg Hahaha! I’m glad you like my chicken scratch sketches! I see what you’re taking about. And I’ll work on clearing that up in the story. The idea is that the squirrel family has a family garden, but instead of re-planting the family garden since Mama Squirrel is sick, mama suggests to Little Squirrel to test her skills and build her own garden. The deeper meaning behind that is Mama Squirrel wants Little Squirrel to know Little Squirrel can do something on her own without her mama’s help. If you have any more ideas on that, feel free to share.
@ArtistErin Thank you! That is really good idea! One of my favorite elements of storytelling is the foreshadowing. I’ll play around with that idea. Maybe sticking Mama Squirrel in the background of one of the drawings somewhere.
@Nyrryl-Cadiz More good advice. I may be taking you all up on your discernment.
I was telling my dad how fun it would be to have this book released on the first day of Spring. I reckon that would be a more reasonable goal to aim for.
Tally is three to one now lol
Thank you everyone thus far for giving me your thoughts! They are golden. So far I have some amazing suggestions for the story and probably a new deadline (the Spring Equinox 2023).
Also my editor got back to me on her thoughts last night. She has a list of grammatical edits for me. And she has some good suggestions to put more struggle in the beginning when Little Squirrel starts her garden. Somehow show that Little Squirrel is not sure she could build and plant a garden on her own. That Little Squirrel has doubts.
I have this idea to show the struggle in the art and not really mention the struggle in the words so much.
For example: The words say this, “She built the garden beds.” But in the art Little Squirrel is all dirty and the rock garden beds are falling over and Little Squirrel looks frustrated.
Anybody else got thoughts on that?
Chantal Goetheer last edited by
@Elizabeth-Rose Was that clear to your editor? I was wondering a similar thing. It can be fun when the text is more dry and the pictures show all the jokes. But maybe you can find a way to play around with the words as well. To give the text more play and variation as well as the illustrations. Storywise they'd be looking for struggles that can be resolved again, purely text wise it is more descriptive indicating only the struggle when mommy's missing. And when you have an editor, why the rush for the competition when it can become even better by taking more time? Three against one .
@Elizabeth-Rose I love it. It is absolutely beautiful. It just about made me cry.
Miriam last edited by Miriam
@Elizabeth-Rose I agree with the advice already given.
I was really wondering about having to build the garden beds, too — since they had already been gardening year after year. Could you change the text to make it more clear? The mom could say something like, "Instead of working in the big garden this year, I thought you'd like to build a little garden all your own."
You could show the little squirrel struggling to clear out weeds.
I think it's pretty clear that the mom is very ill, since it says in the beginning that she's been sick all winter, and now she's not planning to garden as usual this year.
But if you want to add more to show why the mom wouldn't come at the end, you could have the kid invite the mom to see the progress in the middle of the story & have the mom say, "I need to rest now. You can show me the garden another day. I'm sure you're doing a great job." or something like that. Or have the little squirrel say, "Mom has been very tired lately, so I brought her some flowers to cheer her up." & show the Mom in bed.
Another thought: If the mom has to rest all the time, why wasn't she in bed when they brought the party over? She couldn't have been at the doctor, unless in was an emergency, since the party invitations were sent out & the daughter was expecting her to show up. If she was elsewhere in the house, she would have seen everyone coming through (and be more likely to make it out to the garden). The only thing I can think of is if she was in the bathroom, and even that would mean some coincidental timing that they happened to bring it over — right when she was indisposed. You could consider changing the "Oh, my!" scene to her reacting to them starting to come in.
More great thoughts!
@Chantal-Goetheer Hahaha! Yeah, after some thought, I’m going to take you all up on your suggestions about extending the time to work on this book project. Besides I do want to enjoy some down time for the Holidays. And I agree, I think it would be good to play around with the words some more. There are a few spots that don’t transition as smoothly as I would like. With my last book project, a lot of times I would simply add an extra spread a it would fix the probably. Next thing I’ll know I’ll be extending the page count too lol!
Awe @Pamela-Fraley Thank you!! That touches my heart
@Miriam Goodness! So many good thoughts here. Yes yes, and yes. Okay bellow I got the most recent storyboard and I’ve tended to some of those issues. I would love to know your thoughts on the updates.
Okay! The most updated storyboard bellow. It keeps changing! And yes, I’ve really been trying to push the highs and lows in the story. I already made one of my friends cry when she read it, lol!
My next book project, I’ll have to do something light-hearted I keep making sad books.
@Elizabeth-Rose This is such a sweet story! I love how it's evolving. I think you've cleared up the part about building a new garden beautifully. It makes perfect sense to me now. And the part where the goats get in adds some nice tension in the middle. I think the ending is just perfect. I really don't have any critiques at this point. I'm excited to see how sketches progress!
The rewrites look good & clear up the previous issues.
One question I have is: why are we looking at the two houses where it says, "But this spring was different. Mama had been sick all winter."?
(Also, the names of seasons—winter, spring, summer and fall / autumn—don't need to be capitalized.)
I like how the daughter is sitting by Mama's bed when she's looking through the seed packets. It shows that the mom has to stay in bed and rest a lot, but they can still do things together.
@kirsten-mcg Yey, that’s good to hear. I’m excited to start on the drawing and rendering too! Considering how much some of the story depends on the illustrations to explain whats happening, I feel like that will make things even more clear. I’m going to hold off one more week before I start on the thumbnails. Over Thanksgiving I plan to have a few more friends and family take a look at the story and get their input. This week I plan to draw up the character designs of little squirrels friends all decked out in their tea party gowns!
Hello @Miriam, Thanks so much for more of your thoughts. Your suggestions have been golden!
And yes, I can see how the two houses on the second spread would be confusing. The sketches don’t really explain them well at this point. The first house is actually the green house and the second house is the family home. I was playing around with the idea of little squirrel tending to the greenhouse on her own and potentially on the next render having Mama Squirrel peaking through a window from the family home. But I’m open to other ideas for this scene too if you have any thoughts on that.
And yes, I was wondering if that was correct in regards to capitalizing the seasons. I had a friend do some story edits and that was one of the edits she suggested. I’ll have to switch them back lol!
Yeah! That’s one of my favorite scenes now. The one with Mama Squirrel and Little Squirrel picking out seeds. Before that scene was added, I had several viewers suggest to have Mama Squirrel make an appearance in the center of the story. I think that new scene has helped the story a lot.
Anymore suggestions, comments or thoughts anyone?
@Elizabeth-Rose Thanks, I'm happy my comments have helped!
A greenhouse sounds pretty but I think it detracts from the story, since the story is about the little squirrel making her own garden instead of working in the family garden.
It feels like the greenhouse is coming from nowhere, and doesn't connect to the rest of the story.
Maybe you could change the greenhouse to a smaller garden shed, and show the little squirrel pushing a wheelbarrow full of garden tools instead.
@Miriam Oh, now that is a cool idea! Garden sheds are usually interesting too. Or maybe I’ve just always had a fascination with them. Lol And I love the wheelbarrow idea too. I have a wheelbarrow in the “Here I’m Happy” book. It would be cool for the wheelbarrow to have a re-appearance in this one
I’ll play around with that idea. Thanks again!
I’m working on some character design for the tea party guests. Here is Ms. Bunny bellow.
Garden sheds are usually interesting too.
Yes, they seem like they could be full of all kinds of interesting & useful things.
@Elizabeth-Rose she’s so cute!
And here is Miss Mousy Tidbit
Character design for Lady Skunk (she is the sassy friend)