How To Explain Christmas To Chickens

I finished the major editing work for “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” on Christmas morning. Approximately the last third of the novel takes place on the days leading up to Christmas and then Christmas day itself.

Each day, I edited what would happen on that day. This helped with details and continuity. Would the pomegranates still be ripe enough for Pearl to use them to make ink for her letter to Santa Claus? Would anyone be laying eggs during the shortest days of the year? Both of these were important elements to the novel’s ending which needed to be feasible to me. Now you may not believe that chickens talk with people who love them and can dance ballet, but as I see it, the other details need to be accurate. (If this seems a little idiosyncratic, I won’t argue with you. It seems that way to me as well.)

After Christmas, I began putting the edited text into publishing format which includes a final check of what I call “the ability to be easily read aloud.”

Everything was moving along nicely, but then on New Year’s Eve, I found a post on Twitter from a publisher in England. They were providing an open submission day – one day only – on January 2, 2020 in honor of their 20th year of publishing.

Honestly I had never considered the traditional publishing route. Who would want to publish stories about backyard chickens? Even ones who enjoy dancing ballet?

But perhaps it would be worth an attempt for no other reason than the publisher is named Chicken House, Ltd. They are located in England. Some of our very favorite readers are in England!

It seems sort of a natural fit, doesn’t it? When Gracie and I looked at their website, we found they were featuring a mystery book about ballet! When she saw that, she knew it was the right thing to do because the publisher must surely like chickens and ballet.

So I had a good deal of quick learning to do. In all of the books I’ve read about writing a novel, I’ve always skipped over the chapters about submitting to a publisher. I never felt that my odds would be very good.

But I kept reminding myself of all my chickens had taught me. I thought of fearless Amelia who launched herself on a journey to fly to the moon. (That story will perhaps be our next novel.) I thought about Pearl, eternally hopeful Pearl, who has never given up no matter how many times her goofy plans may fail. (That story is this current novel.) Most of all, I thought of what Gracie had told me.

“Life is a gift, and so is a talent. Wherever there is a gift, there is also a giver. But do not trust the gift. Trust the Giver of the gift.”

But you will read more about these things in “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” whether traditionally published or self-published.

For now, we are waiting the required six weeks while the folks at Chicken House, Ltd. review our pitch letter and first three chapters. If we have not heard from them, we will just continue with self-publishing as we had planned all along.

Gracie thought you might enjoy a peak at our possible cover design if self-published, and so that is today’s illustration. Hopefully it strikes the right balance between playfulness and seriousness. It could also serve as an illustration for the last chapter of the novel.

It is still difficult for me to say where this book would fit in a bookstore or library. My goal is for it to appeal to a wide age group without fitting into any particular standard genre. Sometimes I think of it as an adult book pretending to be a children’s book, and other times I think of it as a children’s book pretending to be an adult book. Either way, like a bank of snow, there is more than what you see.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

39 thoughts on ““How To Explain Christmas To Chickens”…An Update And A Possible Cover!

    1. Thank you so much, Judi. Either way, it will be okay. It was not easy to spread my wings and try something new. But I’m glad that I did it. Thanks for being one of our biggest fans! My girls and I wish you the very best always!


  1. Good luck with getting it published by a publisher, I hope you get through the selection process.

    This part of your post resonates with me,
    “Now you may not believe that chickens talk with people who love them and can dance ballet, but as I see it, the other details need to be accurate. (If this seems a little idiosyncratic, I won’t argue with you. It seems that way to me as well.)”

    Even with artistic licence some parts of a novel or story need accuracy. It seems strange but necessary in order to give the incredible, credibility.


    1. Yes! I’m glad you feel that way too. I think it was all of the other details which made the Dr. Doolittle books so believable to me when I was in elementary school in the 1960’s. I never questioned that he talked with the animals or that there was such a thing as an amazing pushmi-pullyu because of all the other real life details that were presented in such a way. There absolutely had to be a place named Puddleby-on-the-Marsh. Thanks, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good Luck with that.
    I’ve pitched (unsuccessfully) to a children’s publisher with a reimagined fairy tale – because children’s stories need illustrations and I’m no artist – but on the whole I gather the process is a lengthy one. At 70, I figure I don’t have spare decades ahead for pitching to agents or publishers and waiting for replies.
    But it would be great if you’re successful a reputable publisher like Chicken House.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Cathy. I know what you mean. At my age, I’m feeling time is so limited. Getting someone to publish feels like a second job…but then writing is a second job in and of itself! That would make getting published feel like a third job! Yikes!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. All of us – me, my inner child and my guardian – we love your illustrations and stories.
    There is no need for a categorization, in our view.

    Of course, we keep our fingers crossed….Chicken House, Ltd. => nomen est omen!
    We are very glad that you`ve introduced your creative work to a publisher.
    These are exciting news.
    Regardless of their decision, this step helps you.
    Just the preparation of the pitch letter & 3 chapters, and their submission to the publisher might have fanned a warm breeze under your wings.
    Determination sharpens the sword.
    And maybe, it is possible to get some valuable feedback..?


    1. Thank you so much, my dear dear friend. You are quite right, I am hoping to get some valuable feedback to make these illustrations and stories as good as they can be. Our friends like you have helped us to believe that a small little flock of backyard chickens can actually make a difference around the world! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I truly appreciate that. Thursday of next week will mark the end of the 6-week waiting period. I’ll know something then, one way or the other. Traditionally published or self-published, it’s a story that I feel compelled to share, one way or the other. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You should do that! Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have very good user-friendly platforms. If you do the document formatting yourself, there really is no out-of-pocket expense. Just going through the process is a valuable learning experience, and you already have quite a sizable online following.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement! I’m sorry for taking so long to respond. As you may be able to guess, things are a little unsettled right now. But we must keep going, right?! Thanks again!


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