Monday, July 16, 2012

Aimee Reid

Week of July 15, 2012: How I Got My First Picture Book Deal
Monday, July 16: Aimee Reid—A Swimming Pool and an Agent

Aimee Reid
Little Grey—Summer 2013
Random House

There are many moments I remember along my path to publishing my first picture book.  

Moment One:
Setting: my daughter's room 
Time: bedtime

She says, “Mommy, when I grow up and you grow down . . .” She went on to describe her plans for us should our roles be reversed. This could be the premise for a picture book, I thought.

Moment Two:
Setting: SCBWI Canada East Retreat in Golden Lake, Ontario
Time: Fall 2010

I attend my first SCBWI event and read aloud a rhymed manuscript for a picture book based on my daughter's bedtime words. Emboldened by kind comments, I begin to submit to publishers. Although the piece garners praise, it does not sell.

Moment Three:

Setting: My room at the Hyatt Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California
Time: August 2011, One day before the Summer SCBWI Conference begins

I wake up with a new story—a twist on the earlier, rhymed version—fairly writing itself in my head. I grab for paper and a pen and scribble down words until the rush of ideas slows. Now the book is a conversation between a mama and her child. I sense they are animals, but what kind?

Moment Four:

Setting: The pool at the Hyatt Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California
Time: The same morning as above!

As my fingers flutter through the water, I am hit by a realization: the characters are elephants! I race back to my room to write and write and write.

Moment Five:

Setting: Patio outside the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California
Time: Monday of the Summer 2011 SCBWI Conference in LA

Rob Sanders and I chat over lunch after meeting each other in Leonard Marcus intensive on writing non-narrative picture books. “Theres a conference in Miami in January,” he says. “We always have good picture book tracks.” I look around at the palm trees. I think of sleet and snow. This Canadian girl is interested. “Miami in January?” I answer. “Now you’re talkin’ my language.”

Moment Six:

Setting: Pool at the Sheraton in Miami, Florida
Time: After the SCBWI Florida Winter Conference, January 2012

I am swimming. Once again, the water is rippling through my fingers as I review the fantastic conference. Jill Corcoran, agent extraordinaire, walks onto the patio. She's waiting for her plane. We get to talking, and she asks about the critiques I had.

Jill realizes I may be the writer whom an editor had mentioned. She asks to see my manuscript. I retrieve it from my room, and over dinner Jill offers representation. (Read Jill’s version of the event here:

Moment Seven:
Setting: My home office
Time: Two months after meeting Jill

An email appears in my inbox with a little red exclamation mark beside it: “OFFER FROM RANDOM HOUSE!!!” And so begins my relationship with my incredible editor, Jennifer Arena, of Random House.

Meditation on the Moments:
When Rob asked me to write this piece, I realized there was a great deal to this story but most of it doesn’t have the driving action you might be hoping for. In truth, these moments are highlights in a long stretch of keyboard-typing and staring-out-the-window-brainstorming time. My story unfolded slowly as I steadily learned my craft.   

I think even this condensed version of my path to my first picture book contract offers some wisdom, though—besides swim in the pool at SCBWI events!

First, go to SCBWI events. Connect with talented and generous people like Rob Sanders. Learn. Listen. Revise. Write more.

Second, you never know where inspiration will tap on your shoulder, and it can happen in the most ordinary or unlikely places.

Third, you never know when the next friendly face will belong to someone who loves your work and has the power to publish it.

Finally, you can’t plot for the turning points. You can’t will the high points into existence. But you can be ready. You can read. You can connect. You can write and rewrite. You can show up for all the moments in between. They are what make the highlight moments sparkle like the water in a sunlit pool!   


Leslie Gorin said...

What a wonderful, encouraging story! I love the notion that you can't will the high points into existence, but you can be ready by showing up for all the moments in between. Thanks for sharing, Rob and Aimee

Helena Juhasz said...

Thanks for sharing! Wonderful and inspiring :)

Lori Ann Stephens said...

Thanks for sharing. Congrats! Jill is amazing, isn't she?

Augusta Scattergood said...

Such good advice. I love this blogpost. Way to go, Aimee!

Tina Cho said...

I remember reading this account on Jill's blog. It's fun reading the story behind the story from Aimee's point of view. An inspiring post. Thanks!

Donna said...

This post is just the inspiration I needed this morning. Congratulations!

kathleen duey said...

SCBWI functions like a guild, I think. I love their conferences--both as an attendee and as a speaker. They have raised the bar,improved children's books and enhanced each writers' learning every way.

Aimee Reid said...

So true, Kathleen. And we get to meet wonderful authors like you!

Aimee Reid said...

Lori Ann, I wholeheartedly agree.

Aimee Reid said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments. Isn't Rob's blog terrific? I'm glad to have met many of you and hope to meet the rest sometime soon!

Aimee Reid said...

Augusta, I clearly remember your book talk at SCBWI Miami in January. So much of it rang true. Thanks for cheering me on as I cheer on Glory Be!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Aimee!!! I loved hearing the play by play (and the pool by pool :-)Posts like this one are such an encouragement!

Rob Sanders said...

Thank you, my little Canadian friend. So glad our paths crossed in LA and that we are critique pals!