“Love is my Favorite Color,” my fourth collaboration with the amazing Melissa Castrillon came out on January 2nd, 2024 from Paula Wiseman Books at Simon & Schuster, and it could not have been a better way to ring in the new year! I had a horrible year in 2023, diagnosed with cancer in late January, it was a full year of chemo, radiation, two surgeries, and so many terrible things I don’t want to go into. The good news is that I am in remission and recovering, the even better news is that this book is here.
I am grateful that this book was in the pipeline, along with another book, which will be out February 6th- (More on that in the next blog post.), because I couldn’t work on new projects during treatment. But books take years to be born and ideas come in the strangest places and at the strangest times. I am going to share a little bit about how “Love is my Favorite Color” came to be.
“Love is my Favorite Color” actually started on July 23, 2018, when I was writing on my phone at my car dealership waiting for my Subaru’s first service. Then I added it to my journal- this is part of what I wrote. Many of my books have started on my phone when I’m away from home. Usually I’m walking on the beach or in the woods, but this time I was sitting in Dewey Griffin in Bellingham. I also wrote in that journal entry, “Trying to think of what Paula Wiseman (my editor) would accept as a third book to go with “Little Dream” and “Yellow Kayak.” Well, as these things go, “Love is My Favorite Color” wound up buried in my journal for years, and Paula chose “Dear Little One” as my third book for her with Melissa as illustrator.
Then the pandemic happened. In April of 2020 I started doing a daily “comic and poem” in my journal to try to reflect on everything that was happening in my life and the world at large. I also journaled a page to go with it. On March 8, 2021 I wrote, “Paula Wiseman has been asking for another text- she emailed again this morning. So I pulled out my “notes” on my phone- I had a bunch of partial poems- and I went back to one I had started July 23, 2018 called “Love is my Favorite Color” and I wrote the whole thing- puzzling and feeling my way through it. I wrote it on a sheet of paper, then typed it into a Word doc, editing as I went. Then I sent it to Laura… (my agent) and surprise- she replied right away- a good sign! Fingers Crossed.”
And the comic and poem were also what I drew and wrote in my journal that day.
Here is my official first hand-written draft of “Love is my Favorite Color.”
By April Fool’s Day, 2021, agent Laura emailed me a reply from editor Paula, and I was thrilled it wasn’t a joke. It said, “Here is where I am with “LOVE IS MY FAVORITE COLOR. In LOVE! I would like to make an offer for World Rights. What a gem of a book this will be! Take care. Happy Spring. Best always, Paula.”
As we all know, the pandemic kept going. Melissa Castrillon, by this time, had been doing gorgeous books of her own, and also illustrating for many other publishers, and she also got pregnant with her first child. She was pregnant while working on the illustrations for “Love is my Favorite Color,” and I want to think that all those hormones were bringing so many loving feelings to her art. She had a little girl this year- an adorable baby.
“Love is my Favorite Color” got a great review in Kirkus, and it was chosen as an Kids Indie Next Pick for January. It was also chosen by Parnassus Books, owned by author Ann Patchett for their Sprout Book Club subscription for January. It’s off to a great start!
I want to share a couple of spreads from the book- I couldn’t find an image of my favorite spread, which goes with my line: “Friendship is my favorite dance, there are so many dances to try.” Melissa’s art echoes that of Matisse’s “The Dance” in such a fantastic way. Here are two other spreads to savor:
This wonderful dog appears throughout the book.
And this is the title page spread- I wanted you to see that I dedicated the book to my sweet brother, my favorite brother, my only brother, David. It was about time in my now thirty year career that he had a book dedicated to him. Melissa dedicated it to her husband, Luke.
I also wanted to share the cover that graces the case. All four of my books with Paula Wiseman Books have had slightly different covers under the jackets on the case, and all of them have had gold foil stamping. They really make the book look like a treasure- and I hope that everyone will think that it is.
“Love is my Favorite Color” should now be available everywhere books are sold- in brick and mortar locations and online, but if you don’t see it, please ask for it. And if you live in Western Washington I will be doing a book signing for both of my new books- this one, and “Seeds of Change” at Village Books in Bellingham on February 7th at 6pm. You have to register to attend at EventBrite, but the event is free.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this- and to read books! Book people are my people, and I hope this book will become one of Your Favorite Books!