As far back as I can remember I have always wanted to illustrate children’s books. Many of my earliest memories involve books and reading, and especially drawing.
   At the age of four, I wrote letters to some of my favorite authors and illustrators. I told them that I too wanted to become an author and illustrator, and I included a drawing with each letter to show them I was serious. Joel Schick and Uri Shulevitz wrote letters back!
   At the age of eight, I submitted my first book to a publisher. It was an alphabet book of mazes that I had created with my brother. Every letter of the alphabet was represented. Some of the letters, such as W, filled the page and included every trick we knew to send the reader down the wrong path. Others, like the letter I, were easier, intended for our younger audience. We politely mentioned in our cover letter that we were submitting our manuscript to multiple publishers.

a b c

   We started checking the mail for responses the day after sending the book off. Several weeks passed without hearing a word. But eventually, one at a time, our self-addressed, stamped envelopes came back to us, each with a rejection letter enclosed.
   By the time the last submission returned to us, a rejected manuscript was easy to spot. What else would be in a large manila envelope, addressed to me in my own handwriting? However, this last one was different, my mother explained. She said that publishers typically sent out form letters with rejected manuscripts. This one was an original, typed by hand, signed with ink, and even included some encouraging words. This was cause for celebration!
   I was not so sure.

   Many more rejection letters would follow. But, of course, eventually everything worked out. I have been illustrating, and sometimes writing, children’s books for the last fifteen years and have had nineteen books published, with more in production. I still feel like I am just getting started.


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Text and images copyright Randy Cecil 2006