The Waiting

The waiting is the hardest part.
Every day you see one more card.
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart.
The waiting is the hardest part.

— Tom Petty

Let’s face it: Picture books take forever, and that’s when they stay on schedule. About three years ago I wrote a short, jaunty manuscript called, A Pirates Guide to First Grade. About a year later, it was accepted for publication at Feiwel & Friends. Then came the process of searching for the right illustrator. That was my publisher’s job, mainly the work of editor Liz Szabla and art director Rich Deas. Finally they found a guy I had never heard of — Greg Ruth. I went to his website and nearly jumped out of my socks. This guy had huge talent. I mean, wow. I instantly knew that he was perfect for the book, that he could take it far beyond anything I could have imagined.

A lot of time passed while Greg worked on other things. The book remains unscheduled for now, but I’d guess that it’s coming out in Spring of 2010. (This millennium, for sure; Liz promises!) It is due out, that is, about five years after I finished my end of the deal.

But here’s the fun part. The other day, Liz told me that Greg’s first round of black-and-white sketches were in. She said they looked really, really good. She explained that Greg does really tight sketches, as opposed to the loose, sprawling, unfinished kind favored by many illustrators. I could hear the excitement in Liz’s voice. She sent me an email containing the example below, which will eventually become a full-color, two-page spread in the book.

How great is that?! I mean, really. It’s so cool and fun, it’s just crazy. I can’t wait to see it all finished, to have that book in my hands. But like Tom Petty says, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

By the way, the text for that spread, or perhaps the page before, will read something like this:

“Fair winds!” I exclaimed, and headed for me ship.

And a great grand jollyboat it was!

“Ahoy, me hearties!” I cried. “Prepare to be boarded!”

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