From the Dawn Publications newsletter archives, by Jennifer Ward, author of Forest Bright, Forest Night.
I am a writer. I am also: a parent, a daydreamer, a quiet observer, a voracious reader, obsessed with picture books, and highly fond of nature and animals.
Not a day goes by that I don’t observe something in nature that I’d love to communicate to children in the form of a book. As I sit here writing this on a chilly winter morning, I note a hint of spring as I state out my office window and spy a finch playing tug-of-war with the old mesquite that guards my office. The bird the victor, off it flies beak full of green, with an addition for its nest. Viewing this, I am given nature’s promise of a new season, one that will offer new growth and new lives.
With my book Forest Bright, Forest Night, I wanted to communicate diurnal & nocturnal animal activity, using juxtaposition in a manner that would be fun and simple. The original manuscript I wrote was set in a desert, something I know very well, as it’s my home. I’ll never forget when Dawn Publications rejected this manuscript. The publisher called me on the phone to tell me they wouldn’t be publishing my story. Now that’s not as dire as it sounds. As a matter of fact, I was elated to get the phone call. It’s not everyday a publisher telephones to reject you! (Usually they simply mail your manuscript back to you with a ‘no thank you’ letter.) Dawn stated that they liked the nocturnal/diurnal concept very much, and they liked my writing style, but would I consider rewriting the manuscript set in a different habitat? Hence, the seed was planted and a new book was born.
I love writing about animals. I read a lot of non-fiction as it is, but each writing project I embark on gives me an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer and as a nature enthusiast. Of course, I jumped at the chance to resubmit a different version of my diurnal/nocturnal theme to Dawn. I read and researched and scribbled and crafted and wrote and revised over the course of months.
I spent time observing animals in the wild while visiting my hometown in Illinois. Driving by a clearing near a forest one early evening I spied a flock of turkeys,: Strut and woddle, turkeys gobble. A verse was born (my mind often thinks in terms of text!), and a page came to life.
Camping with my family in the Colorado mountains, my daughter and I patiently observed chipmunks quickly and warily dashing to and fro from under a large boulder: Chatter and chase, chipmunks race.
Visiting my parents, my childhood home, afforded a great opportunity to spy on squirrels and jays. Seems that squirrels were always gathering and jays were always jabbering when I was a child. They still are today! Store and stash, squirrels dash. Jabber and talk, blue jays squawk.
And so, I embraced my book. With it I have had many new opportunities, too: the opportunity to meet new friends as I travel and speak and share my writing with others. I hope my book brings new awareness and growth to others as well – an appreciation of nature and earth, and a love of reading and books.