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I'm often asked how I came up with
the idea for my picture book Daughter of a King. I usually laugh and
tell them it was a three-year journeyand it was. At least to finally
get the book published.
The Making of
Daughter of a King
The decision to write a picture book first came to me in January of 1999.
I was newly expecting my fifth child and was very sick. My editor had mentioned
that they were interested in publishing picture books and the wheels in my
head began to spin. I might be so sick that I practically had to crawl to
the computer, but writing a picture book had to be easier than a whole novel,
As I finished up the novel I was working on, I waited for an idea for a picture
book. I was confident something would make itself known, since I always had
more than enough ideas for novels floating around in my head. But nothing
came. Of course, I prayed for inspiration, and I also went to the library
and began to research picture books. Still no idea appeared. This was harder
than I'd thought!
Well, a writer can never stop writing just because of a simple problem like
the lack of an idea, so after finishing my novel, I crawled to the computer
one morning in February, determined to begin my picture book. While I waited
for the computer to boot up, I prayed. Then I thought about my purpose in
writing the story. What was the most important thing I could tell the child
I was carrying? If something were to happen to me and I couldn't be around
to raise the baby, what would be the one thing I could leave behind in the
book that would help him or her stay close to the Lord?
Suddenly, I knew what to write. If I could help my baby and my other children
understand that they were children of a loving Heavenly Fatherif they
truly internalized that facteverything else would fall into place.
They would obey the commandments, they would follow the Savior.
Of course, my children didn't always look or act like children of a Heavenly
Father. Sometimes they made mistakes. I began to type. The idea formed quickly,
as though all the inspiration I had lacked suddenly came rushing in all at
once. Soon I had the whole story of a little girl who was princess, though
she didn't always look or act like one. Yet she always knew where she had
come from and where she was headed because she had been taught that she was
the daughter of the King. From there I rewrote, trimmed, edited, passed the
manuscript around to friends, and then rewrote some more. After a week I
turned in the story.
I heard nothing from my publisher for seven months so I finally wrote them
a letter. They politely declined to publish the book. Since I was going to
have a baby the next month, I let the story sit. Five or six months passed
before I looked at it again, and that's when I decided to find another publisher.
I believed in the story and its message and was determined to get it out
to the market.
Meanwhile, I'd had a book/print signing with David Lindsley, a very talented
portrait artist and at the time we'd discussed the possibility of collaborating
on a project. I called him up in February 2000, a year after I'd first written
the book, and he agreed to read the story. I e-mailed it to him and he was
very touched by the message. We decided to work together.
The paintings were slow in coming. Models and costumes had to be found, time
had to be carved out of a busy schedule. But finally David began. In August
of 2000, he had one painting completely finished and several others nearly
so. I began to query publishers and agents in the national market. Many sent
back "good" rejections letters, which proved to me that we had an idea that
would sell if we could just find the right publisher. But we were unable
to find a good match. Finally, at the end November, we decided to once again
approach my LDS publisher, who had meanwhile changed managing editors. It
was the week of Thanksgiving. We went in on a Tuesday morning to present
the story with the four paintings David had completed and also several of
the ones he still had in progress. The next day the editor called and told
me they definitely wanted to publish the book. I think that was the quickest
reply I've ever had from any publisher!
More months went by as David worked on the paintings. At times he had to
stop to work on other deadlines, and I wondered if the book would ever be
finished. Another talented artist, Ben Sowards, was hired to complete the
vignettes (smaller pictures on the text pages) so that the deadline could
be met. As the time came closer to publication, an editor and I went through
the manuscript again. Finally, the book went to press at the beginning of
June 2001, with a release date of October 2001. (Picture books are often
printed in Hong Kong and usually take about four months.)
October came and went, but no books arrived. Then I heard that the boat my
books were on had hit into another boat in the Japanese Sea, sinking it (the
other boat sank, not the one with my books). The boat was forced to stay
in Japan while authorities reviewed the evidence, and my books sat waiting
on a Japanese dock. It was as though the adversary didn't want Daughter
to reach the LDS market at all. This delay was disheartening after working
past so many obstacles in trying to get the book published.
Another boat came from Hong Kong, picked up the first ship's
cargoincluding my booksreturned to Hong Kong for additional cargo,
and then at last set out for the United States. After passing customs in
California, Daughter of a King was finally on its way to Utah. All
sorts of jokes were flying around about the bookhow they and another
LDS book had been the only items salvaged after a boating accident. That
they'd been found in a sealed crate bobbing in the water. In reality, the
books had never been lost, only delayed.
Two months short of three years since I decided to write the book, Daughter
of a King went into the LDS marketwith a big bang. In three weeks
they sold out of the first printing and the publisher ordered more from nearby
Canada (more expensive but faster than Hong Kong). Two weeks later those
books were being shipped to stores. By the end of December 2001, a third
printing had been ordered from Hong Kong.
Daughter of a King is now in its eighth printing, a smaller board
book version with an abbreviated text was released in September of 2002, and a
DVD version in 2005.
Members from all over have written to tell me how they've used the story
in Primary, Young Women groups, and in Relief Societies. I feel this book
was inspired and pray that it will continue to touch lives all over the world.
I am grateful to have been a part of its creation.