I feel so lucky to have two new books out this year. “Seeds of Change,” which is officially out on February 6, 2024 literally started as a seed of an idea in my journal. During the pandemic I had started doing a combination of a drawing and a poem every day, reflecting on my life, and the world at large, along with a full page of journaling. I started this in April of 2020- and actually did it for a solid year.
On May 29, 2020 something happened that planted the first seed in my head:
The first seed was shock. I was in shock over the senseless murder of George Floyd.
Three days later, I wrote and drew this:
This seed was outrage. I was expressing my feelings the only way I knew how, and I was sharing these “Corona Life” pages on my social media, too. I wasn’t thinking about who was reading what I had posted, but to my surprise, my editor/friend Connie Hsu, who was my editor for “Once Upon A Memory” (and we share the same birthday) saw this and she sent a message to my agent.
The third seed was interest- and “Seeds of Change” started to sprout.
But books are always a journey. Ideas need water, food, time. I had actually helped myself by writing these notes:
So many of the seeds were there- and I wrote a first draft, and then a second, and a second version of the second one.
By July 7, 2020 Connie was definitely interested, and so was the editorial board. My original title, “Sow Seeds of Kindness” was changed to “Seeds of Change.” I just had to nervously wait for the acquisitions board at Roaring Brook/Macmillan to decide if they wanted to acquire it.
Then on July 23, 2020 an offer came in- and I was thrilled that “Seeds of Change” was going to be a book. Then the real work began. The first task was to find an illustrator. (I know. I am an illustrator. There are reasons that editors choose who they choose to illustrate books. I don’t always understand this, but I’ve learned to let go, and expand my horizons. I also got to help choose the illustrator.) Connie sent me some links to illustrators she was thinking about, but then just by chance, I discovered a young illustrator from Madagascar named Sawyer Cloud. She had not done any books in the US at that point, but I loved her style- the softness, the colors, her drawings of children- and it was all done in Procreate. I sent a link to her work to Connie and it started the ball rolling.
When sketches came in I knew Sawyer was going to do a fabulous job. We also had formed a friendship- messaging each other. I became a quasi-mentor- as the older woman who had done kids books for so long (this is my thirtieth year of being published) and I felt good sharing advice and encouragement across the world to Madagascar.
Sawyer got very busy. It seems that I was not the only person who discovered her- and it took years for the final illustrations for “Seeds” to come in. I was patient. I understand the process, and for the illustrator it is so much more work- creating something out of a few words. Sawyer brought more than her technique- she brought the story of life in Madagascar, dealing with bad weather, trying to build a garden, trying to build a community. My words became the soundtrack to her movie.
Connie asked us both to write an afterword to explain what “Seeds of Change” was for us. For me, what I wrote was more literal, as I discussed learning to grow my own garden, and that seeds are there- in the produce section of the grocery store- but from the very beginning this book was metaphoric for me, as it was rooted in wanting change, equality, growth and nourishment for all. People are seeds and they all have potential.
Sawyer wrote a beautiful note- you’ll have to read it. And I hope you will read our book, and “Seeds of Change” will grow in your heart. It certainly has grown in mine.