My first MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, started out as a picture book. It's about a young girl and her grandfather and the journey they take toward becoming folk artists, transforming their home to a folk art environment. I loved the idea of illustrations showing how the house got wilder and more covered in whirligigs and metal sculptures as the story went along.

It obviously didn't stay a picture book. 

The editors who saw the original manuscript all told me they felt that the concept of folk art was too advanced for PB readers. They thought the idea was better suited for MG. A few even thought the writing sounded more MG. One editor sent along a box of MG books to give me a sense of what they were doing in the MG world.

The idea of turning a 1,000-word picture book into a 40,000-word MG was a bit daunting.

But I took that advice. I sent it back out. The book was rejected, revised, resubmitted...I sent it out to agents, and eventually signed with one. The book was sent out again--several more rounds of revisions and resubmissions later, it sold.

What'd I learn?


Look, I'm not going to tell you that you should jump on every single piece of revision advice you ever get. Some of it can do quite the job of leading you astray. BUT: If you are hearing the same criticism over and over, that should start to make some bells ring.

Be Open Minded

This goes for your writing (see previous paragraph), but it also goes for your business approaches. Try EVERYTHING. Conferences. Twitter pitches. Agents. Editor contacts. You just plain don't know what's going to work for you.


The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky was originally drafted (as that picture book) in 2005. It was published in 2014. It's my book with the longest publishing journey. But the book never would have been published at all had I not been willing to reinvent it as an MG. That would have been such a shame--because the true reward of this book wasn't the mere publication, but the teachers and students I've met who have read and used the book in class. This spring, I even met a class who adapted the book into a class play! None of that would have happened if I had shelved the picture book instead of rewriting it.


  1. My first book WHEELS OF CHANGE went through a similar evolution when the idea first seemed like a PB back in 2010. Isn't it funny how things work out? Thanks for sharing this journey Holly.


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