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by Susan Macartney

Tara, thank you! I’m so happy to share my success story. Spoiler alert: It’s never too late to embark on this journey!

“Winding” doesn’t quite do justice to my meandering, zigg-zagging road to publication as an author-illustrator. I’ve always been drawn to both the arts and the sciences. So maybe I could have saved some time if I’d made a beeline for narrative nonfiction! Didn’t happen… First I studied zoology and anthropology and then ended up working in graphic design for 20 years. No question—a convoluted, interesting path, and along the way I continued to tinker with writing and illustrating children’s stories.

I joined SCBWI in 2012, was full of enthusiam about joining a writing “community”… and then my partner and I moved overseas. Temporary hold on my writing while all of “life’s dust” settled… Fast-forward to 2015, my desire to write and illustrate was still strong and I reached out again to the wide world of kidlit.

To give you an idea of how far I had to reach: I’m Canadian. I was living in Sweden. And Tara’s picture book webinar was being hosted by SCBWI… out of France! The host gave us the link to Tara’s blog and told us we should really try the November PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) challenge—and the rest is Storystorm history.

Well, not quite… I moved again! But now the Storystorm challenge with all its amazing writing and illustrating advice was waiting for me wherever I landed. On January 5, 2018, I looked at my blank Storystorm entry page, armed only with the goal of gently exploring the theme of self-awareness. And oh yes, I knew I wanted an animal main character and for envirornmental issues to figure in the subplot. I first learned about the Galapagos Islands when I was seven. And it wasn’t long before the engaging Blue-footed booby waddled into my mind as a potential candidate—what’s not to love?

Two years later after many drafts, CP reviews and edits my debut picture book, BENJAMIN’S BLUE FEET: Pajama Press, was published.

Yay Storystorm! The discipline of a defined daily challenge enhanced by professional advice for ONE creative month, worked for me on so many levels.  I’m goal-oriented and an early riser and embraced the habit of piggybacking my Storystorm entry with my morning coffee. Take note! Having that pen and dedicated notebook within easy reach also helped to minimize all the usual self-inflicted roadblocks to being creative.

Now my story ideas weren’t loose bits of inspiration scrawled on scraps of paper anymore, or worse, those “best” ideas that never even got recorded.  They’re all there in black and white – no excuses, no delusions (about how great that idea actually was) – just lots of ideas to return to, mull over and mine!

It is never too late to set forth on this journey. Remember that there is a WIDE world of like-minded people out there – learn to reach out, relish the small joys along the way and PERSEVERE!

Blog readers, Sue is giving away a signed copy of BENJAMIN’S BLUE FEET!

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected soon!

Good luck!


Sue has taught art to children around the world and currently works as a nature sketch artist at The Bateman Foundation in Victoria, BC. You can find Sue online at suemacartney.com and on Twitter @suesumac and Instagram @suemacartney.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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