Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Story Behind the Story: Crane and Crane by L.J. Singleton

By Linda Joy Singleton

My husband operated a construction crane and we live a half hour from a Sandhill Crane sanctuary. The perfect combination to write a book comparing/contrasting construction cranes and Sandhill Cranes! 

Yet that’s not why I wrote my picture book, CRANE AND CRANE. It started with an online challenge to write a picture book idea every day for a month.

I’d admired my friends who had accepted this challenge and filled sketchbooks with ideas and drawings for picture books. I can’t draw, but ideas come easily to me. Still coming up with a daily new idea for a month wasn’t easy. But in 2014 I decided to go for it and by the end of the month I had thirty ideas. Now the challenge was to sort the good ideas from the duds.

A year went by while I worked on my series, CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB. But when I was ready to dive back into picture books, I turned to my agent and she looked over my month of ideas. I was shocked when she picked the very first idea, CRANE AND CRANE because I wasn’t sure how to write a book told mostly in sound words. “Are you sure I can write this?” I asked my agent. And she said with certainly that I could do it. “Just write it,” she told me. 

I studied the notes from my Idea list:

Nov 1, 2014

CRANE AND CRANE – A bird lifts and carries and tried to be like a metal crane, making noises and scaring other cranes. Or maybe they think he’s crazy. But he can fly away when there’s trouble. It would teach leverage and have fun with heavy equipment.

Boom. Lift! (shows crane lifting equipment)

BOOM. LIFT! (Bird crane carries a big fish and lifts off)

Now if you’ve read CRANE AND CRANE, you know this initial idea is similar but not the picture book I published with Amicus Books. As I developed the idea, it transformed into a contrast of nature versus industry with a bird crane and construction crane building homes for a family. I wrote and rewrote; added and cut. And I amazed myself by writing an entire book with less than 30 words!

When my agent felt it was ready, she sent it out into the publishing world. Months passed. Almost exactly two years after I wrote down ideas for a month, I was at a retreat that my agent also attended. She arrived a little late and slipped into a seat next to me and whispered, “I have news.” And she told me my picture book had sold!

In June 2019, CRANE AND CRANE, illustrated by Richard Smythe, was published by Amicus Books! Click on the Title or Here: to get your copy!

And a companion book also illustrated by Richard Smythe, SUN AND SON, will come out in March 2022!

Fun Teaser: After writing CRANE AND CRANE, I looked for other homonym words that worked for a contrast-comparison plot. SUN and SON was a fun choice for a second book. But I could only find one other word that will work if I’m asked to write a third book. The first person who guesses the word will win an autographed copy of CRANE AND CRANE or a book of mine of choice.

Linda Joy Singleton's Bio

  • I’m the author of over 50 middle-grade, YA and picture books about magic, animals, psychics, mermaids, aliens, cheerleaders, clones, and ghosts. My middle-grade series, CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB, was inspired by a club I had with my childhood best friend. My picture books include SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, CASH KAT, A CAT IS BETTER, LUCY LOVES GOOSEY & CRANE AND CRANE. I also published YA series, REGENERATION, THE SEER & DEAD GIRL, some honored as YALSA Popular Paperback/Quick Picks. 

  • Kids series books are my passion. I write, read and collect them. My collection includes  thousands of girl series from the mid-1800’s to present, including Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and Trixie Belden. A fan letter I wrote at age 14 led to a life-long friend with the Judy Bolton series author, Margaret Sutton—I even co-authored a new Judy Bolton mystery, THE TALKING SNOWMAN, with her, and self-published it for fans.

  • I’m a long-time member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writer's & Illustrators) and Sisters In Crime. I’m also a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and writing conferences. I’m lucky to live in the country with my husband David, in Northern California where we’re surrounded by horses, peacocks, dogs, pigs, wild turkeys, and very demanding cats.
  • Learn more about Linda Joy Singleton by clicking HERE

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