Today’s Cover Reveal is especially special. With #50PreciousWords just around the corner (ONLY SEVEN MORE DAYS TILL THE CONTEST OPENS), I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share the cover of a book that had its beginning as an Honorable Mention in the 2018 #50PreciousWords Contest. And when author and friend Cathy Stenquist reached out to offer a lovely prize for this year’s contest, I just had to ask her if we could do her cover reveal right here on the blog where it all started. Well, it actually started in Cathy’s big heart. What makes the book even more amazing is that Cathy’s daughter, multi-published illustrator Erica Leigh, did the pictures. And just look at this cover!!!!
I’m thrilled that Cathy stopped by to share some thoughts with us:
“Forever Home” began as “ Two Plus Two,” my 2018 entry for Vivian’s “50 Precious Words” contest. I was so excited when it became an honorable mention for stories about cats. I really liked the premise and always had a special place in my heart for supporting adopting from shelters. After the contest ended, I took another look at it and felt there was more of the kitten’s story to tell. Three years later, it has become my debut picture book.
Two Plus Two
Two little runaways
cornered in a barn,
rescued by a shelter,
keeping them from harm.
Two little children
browse the cages slowly,
looking for a friend.
Four little green eyes,
Look down to see four blue.
Thought they came,
for just one friend,
now going home with two
While still pursuing traditional publishing, I decided to collaborate with my daughter, Erica Leigh, an accomplished professional artist, who was completing her second book illustration project. She convinced me to work on getting one of my stories out into the world by self- publishing it.
When traditionally publishing, an author may not even meet their illustrator and rarely will have input into the illustrations. In my case, each week I felt absolutely giddy as her most recent spreads were emailed to me for feedback. We work so well together, brainstorming about the tiniest details in order to make the water color illustrations support and enhance the text. Erica has a keen sense of color and design and this project is taking her illustration to the next level. Sharing this creative endeavor has also brought this mother and daughter team much closer. We are already planning on our next project co-authoring a picture book.
WOW! Thank you so much for sharing all of that, Cathy! And I totally agree. What a wonderful experience to be able to collaborate so closely with the illustrator…and it was icing on an already amazing cake to be able to build an even closer bond with your daughter! Please let us know when the book is available for purchase – I know there are many cat lovers out there – in fact, I think the year you submitted the story, the first 3 or 4 stories posted were about cats.
Dear readers, if you’d like to find out more about this fabulous author and illustrator team:
Cathy Stenquist won second place in the 2020 Boston Author’s Club Picture Book Discovery Award for her MS “I Wish I Were” and had the chance to work with Peter H. Reynolds, who called her a “Magical wordsmith.” Her debut picture book Forever Home (which began as a 50 Precious Words entry!), is a story about two orphaned kittens searching for a place to be loved. It will be published this spring. Cathy is delighted to have her talented daughter @ericaleighart illustrating it. Cathy is a longtime member of SCBWI, The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, Mass. and Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge. You can find her at: Instagram @cathystenquist, Facebook: www.facebook.com/cathy.stenquist and on Twitter: @cathystenquist. Her website: www.cathystenquist.com will be launching soon.
Massachusetts native Erica Leigh is an accomplished muralist, portrait painter and digital illustrator. Inspired by her background as a musician and years of experience working with children, her art is filled with whimsical scenes, vivid colors and loads of texture. Erica was working as a freelance artist for over a decade before she found picture book illustration in 2019. In 2 short years she has illustrated 4 children’s books with 3 more on the way in 2021. Erica not only illustrates, but assists independent authors with book design and publishing – she truly enjoys being involved in all facets of the process as she brings people’s stories to life. You can follow Erica Leigh’s work and daily updates on Instagram and Facebook @EricaLeighArt. Her website is www.EricaLeighArt.com.
Dear friends, thank you for spending your precious time here on my blog – we have one more fabulous post coming up later this week: THE BIG BEACH COVERUP by Charlotte Offsay will be featured for Perfect Picture Book Friday. And we’ll kick off next week with a Book Birthday post for another #50PreciousWords winner, Julie Abery. Some of you will remember her Little Tiger snagged first place in 2016…and went on to be part of a beautiful board book series from Amicus Publishing. There are going to be two more additions to the series and they launch on Monday: LITTLE PENGUIN and LITTLE ZEBRA. Plus, there will be a double giveaway – Julie will give one book away to someone in Europe…and I’ll give one away to someone in the US. And then…it will be time for…#50PreciousWords! It will also be Read Across America/Literacy Week – in between reading all of your beautiful stories, I’ll be sharing my books during virtual school visits – I have seven visits scheduled, plus a webinar presentation for the New Hampshire Writers Project: CREATING A STORY: WHAT CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHORS NEED TO THINK ABOUT. Here is the link in case anyone wants to sign up to attend – it is Wednesday evening, 7-8pm EST and when you click on the link, it takes you to the NHWP events page and you need to scroll down through Jan and Feb: https://nhwritersproject.org/workshops
And here’s a peek at the awesome prize package Cathy is donating for #50PreciousWords:
I (and my two rescue cats and a rescue dog) am so pleased that you were able to make your 50 precious words into a book! I hope it does well.
I loved this post! So nice to see what can come from our contest entries. I also love the illustration the book – simply beautiful!
So inspiring to read this post. Can’t wait to see how the text of your 50 Precious Word entry evolved into a picture book.
What a joyful and inspiring post! Congratulations, Cathy, and thank you, Vivian, for the opportunity to create 50 Precious Words!
Thanks so much for the inspiration. Forever Home is beautiful and just goes to show what can be accomplished in just 50 words! Congratulations!
My favourite kitty was rescued from a box of kittens left alongside the road. Lacy’s a beautiful tortoiseshell who loves this story. She’s looking forward to seeing the pictures.
What a creative family! Thanks for sharing Vivian and Cathy!
What a wonderful story! A whole picture book from 50 Precious words and working with your daughter must be magical! Congrats and thanks for sharing!
Oh how I love this—cats AND rhyme. Can it get any better? I have a rhyming cat board book that may never see the light of day, but I loved writing it. My two cats give it a two paws up. Can’t wait for this one.
So beautiful! As you know, I’m a dog lover, but one of the boys I tutor has 4 cats and they are fun to watch.
What a stunning cover, and the story sounds so heartwarming! Thank you for sharing, Vivian and Cathy!
It’s hard to pick a favorite part from this post-but I have to go with #50PreciousWords leading to a mother/daughter collaboration! Thank you for sharing the background to this very special story!
It’s always exciting to read about #50 precious word success stories. I love this sweet kitten adoption story (having a rescue cat and dog myself). It is just wonderful that Cathy was able to collaborate with her daughter! Congratulations to them both.
What an adorable story about rescuing cats. And I love that it began with a contest entry on Vivian’s blog. Congratulations! Beautiful cover!
Ahh, I love how contests can help launch a writer’s work! Congrats on what looks to be a purrrfect read!