The Story Behind LOLA SHAPES THE SKY
by Wendy Greenley
illustrated by Paolo Domeniconi
I started writing Lola Shapes the Sky in 2012. The idea had been noodling around in my head for a while, and I felt like I was finally ready to put it down on paper. It was going to be a book about clouds looking down at people. I wrote a humorous story, set in cloud school. I had it critiqued by my local critique partners, and eventually by peers at an SCBWI conference and then by an editor at the conference. The editor who gave me my critique seemed to like the story, and I had high hopes for it. Sky high hopes.
At the time, I was unagented, and I sent the manuscript to a few other editors who responded asking me to send more work, but saying that this manuscript wasn’t a good fit for them. I put the manuscript away and worked on other stories.
I decided to get more editorial input on my work and saved up for Picture Book Boot Camp at The Highlights Foundation. If you ever get the chance to attend any one of their workshops, I highly recommend it! My workshop featured Author/Illustrators Pat Cummings, Denise Fleming, Paul O. Zelinsky, agent Rachel Orr, Art Director Laurent Linn and author Bruce Degen. As part of the application process, I submitted a manuscript about a chicken, and my round-table group gave me feedback on it, but when it came time to discuss one of the manuscripts we loved with the agent and art director, I couldn’t get LOLA out of my mind, and I shared that story.
The Highlights workshop changed my literal and figurative perspective. I FINALLY realized that the problem with the manuscript wasn’t my words per se, it was that the physical viewpoint limited an illustrator. When I returned from the workshop, LOLA went back in the drawer to steep. Finally, about a year later, I couldn’t get LOLA out of my head and went back with fresh eyes, and rewrote the entire manuscript. It’s a totally different plot now. No school. More Awww, less Haaa! And that’s fine with me! My story about a cloud who doesn’t fit in and remains true to herself, realizing that she has to be who she is remains. The heart of the story beats stronger than ever. The new version of the story connected me with my agent and publisher. And now it’s out in the world for everyone to read.
Jacket Flap: “Lola is not like the other clouds. While they are busy making shade and rain and snow, as clouds do, Lola makes shapes. “Clouds make weather, not shapes!” thunders Thor. But while Thor’s thunder makes people run for cover, Lola’s fantastic shapes inspire awe and wonder. Clouds make weather and shapes, after all.”
Author Bio: Wendy Greenley doesn’t mind if you say she has her head in the clouds. With her recent picture book debut, she’s on cloud nine with her main character, Lola. Besides writing for children, Wendy has been a telephone interviewer (sorry), ice cream scooper, night security guard, microbiologist and attorney. Wendy graduated with her M.S. in microbiology from The University of Delaware and a J.D. from Villanova University. You can find seven of her nonfiction stories for adults in Chicken Soup for the Soup anthologies (and on a Chicken Soup dog food bag!).
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