When my son was 4 years old, we were living in England, courtesy of the US Air Force. It was a grand experience, spending 6 years living in a British village. We still have friends there.
Winters are dark, damp, and dismal, however. It makes it a little difficult to enjoy strolling through the countryside. One Sunday afternoon, Ben and I were taking a walk along one of the narrow country lanes, The hedgerows are usually busy with birds and rabbits and other critters, but this day, it was very quiet. Ben asked where the rabbits were. And I said they were inside their dens making cocoa and watching telly. Then he wanted to know where the hedgehogs were. And the foxes. And the pigs. And the beavers.
It became a game to think of what they could be doing when it was a good day to be inside.
My good friend Wendy Myhre is a marvelously talented illustrator. She took my ideas and turned them into a fantastic set of illustrations. We began circulating the picture book, “A Good Day to be Inside” to publishers in the UK and US. This was in 1985. Had a British publisher want to “do” the book, but we had to have it published in the US first because of some international laws and he did not have a US partner. Another said talking animals were not wanted any more; the market wanted realism, even for small children. Another publishers said their marketing people didn’t think it would sell.
So the book’s been sitting on the shelf. Every now and again, Wendy re-draws the book and we send it out to a few places, with less-than-successful results.
A few months ago, Wendy flagged me about the Big Sur Writers’ Conference for Children’s Authors and Illustrators. A very big deal. Registration only after submission and review of work. Heavy line-up of instructors and agents. Limited registration. We figured “nothing to lose” and sent in our book and other required materials.
And we got in!
So the first weekend on December, we arrive at the Big Sur Lodge for three days of learning, meeting, and planning. It’s exciting to think that 30 years after giggling over pigs doing aerobics and eating chocolate, the book might finally be picked up and be published.