My wiggly, wobbly path to publication
Once upon a time, there was a young moose …
I’m writing this post just before the release of my debut picture book Wade’s Wiggly Antlers. On May, 2nd Wade will be released into the world. I cannot express in words (maybe by doing cartwheels!) how excited I feel.
In a real sense, my story chose me, rather than the other way around. Actually, my character chose me. I happened upon him while camping one summer at Lake Superior Provincial Park. I was walking back to my car from my campsite for some essentials, and had just turned onto a wooded path when I stopped in my tracks. A young moose stood in the distance, looking directly at me. For a few moments, we stood alone on that path, staring at each other. I almost said hello! Then he silently slipped into the forest. He struck me as a little moose who liked to play and have fun. From that moment on, I knew I would write about him.
It took me seven years to finally come up with the story that clicked.
In that time, I:
- Named my character Wade after learning that moose are great swimmers.
- Daydreamed about possible story ideas. This went on for a few years, with
- many scribbles in notebooks and several failed attempts to launch a narrative.
- At the library, I found a book about moose that described how they lose their antlers every year so that bigger ones can grow. This was new to me. I thought their antlers just grew as they did. Huh. I jotted a few notes about that.
- Soon after, I read something about moose antlers looking like handlebars. Aha! I could picture a little moose giving his friends rides. Then I asked myself: What would it be like for a little moose to lose his antlers? Would he be worried? I finally had my story.
- After taking a 12 week writing course (which gave me a solid deadline to get the story down), I then submitted my polished manuscript to the 2014 Writing for Children Competition, sponsored by CANSCAIP and the Writers Union of Canada.
- Wade’s Wiggly Antlers was selected as a finalist, and sent to three Canadian children’s publishers.
- A few months later, I opened an email from an editor at Kids Can Press, and …
You may have heard my squeals of delight that warm summer evening. From that moment on, my life would become as adventurous as Wade’s, and my learning curve in the world of children’s publishing would be as steep as Wade’s favourite tobogganing hill. What an exciting ride it’s been.
Louise Bradford’s other stories have been produced by CBC Radio and CBC Television, and published by the Canadian Authors Association. She is a two-time recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Artists and Community Collaboration grant for her filmmaking program with at-risk youth. Louise was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and now lives in Ottawa, where she writes speeches for grown-ups.