January 16, 2019

Birth Stories for Books: ONE SNOWY DAY by Diana Murray

I'm so happy to share the latest Birth Story for Books: ONE SNOWY DAY written by Diana Murray and illustrated by Diana Toledano. I first became familiar with Diana's work when I read NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, back when I was doing market research in preparation for submitting my own pirate story to publishers. I soon learned that she has MANY fun picture books. Today we'll hear from Diana about: 

How One Concept Book Became Three

ONE SNOWY DAY (Sourcebooks, 2018) had a long, long journey beginning with the first draft of CITY SHAPES (Little, Brown, 2016) which I wrote around 2009. You see, CITY SHAPES sold in a two-book deal after I got my agent in 2012. There were some publication delays and it didn’t get released until 2016. Because it was a two-book deal, I began sending some options for a second book to the publisher around 2013. When you have a multi-book deal with a publisher, things move a little more slowly since you can’t send new work to other publishers until they’ve chosen your second contracted book. I found the wait frustrating since I’m very prolific. 

Anyway, the editor chose a manuscript that the team was interested in around 2014. It was a manuscript about the four seasons. But when I spoke to her in detail about her thoughts on it, it turned out, she wanted a major rewrite. It would basically be a different manuscript entirely and I’d have to start from scratch. I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but I finally garnered my strength and plowed forward. After discussing with my editor, I felt I knew what they were looking for. They wanted something similar to CITY SHAPES, a kind of companion book, even though the illustrator would be different. They wanted something lyrical, poetic, descriptive, and a bit more on the literary side.

So I sat on my patio (listening to the pitter-patter of a passing shower) and began to write SUMMER COLOR! (which was originally called “Summer Rain”). I deliberately set it in the country to contrast with the urban setting of CITY SHAPES. Going with colors as the concept seemed like a natural choice. I ended up loving the final result and felt fortunate that the collaborative process led me to a manuscript that I wouldn’t have written otherwise. Thankfully, the publisher loved it, too, and accepted it as their second book.

Now that my contract was fulfilled, I could do whatever I wanted. I thought, what the heck, maybe I should try a third concept book. I already had a city setting and a country setting, so this time I tried a small town setting with the concept of counting. Although all three books were concept books (not character-driven books with your typical problem/solution-based plot) they still needed to have a kind of story arc. For ONE SNOWY DAY, I used a day to night transition. In addition, the climax of the book involved a playful puppy stealing the carrot nose from the snowman. At that point, the numbers went from counting up to counting back down to one.

I sent it to the same publisher. My editor loved it, but it turned out, the publisher pretty much wanted an entire rewrite again. I adored my editor (and the whole team at Little, Brown), but after much thought, I decided not to accept the revision request. I felt that the story was solid, and although it didn’t fit with their particular list, I thought it might fit with the list of another publisher. After several years of writing, I had become more confident about knowing when something was generally working or not. This was a tough choice, but I’m glad I made the choice I did (and that my agent was supportive) because I ended up getting another offer from Sourcebooks and they had the same vision for the book that I did. Huzzah! It all worked out.

My journey with ONE SNOWY DAY was a good lesson in patience, hard work, self-reliance and tenacity.

Thank you, Dawn, for the opportunity to share my experience.

THANK YOU, Diana, for taking the time to share your experience. Your stories are so much fun to read. Thanks for providing a little insight about how they came to be! You've shown us the value of having a vision for your story and the importance of having confidence in your vision. 

Diana Murray is the author of over a dozen books for children, including CITY SHAPES (Little, Brown, 2016), GRIMELDA THE VERY MESSY WITCH (Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2016), NED THE KNITTING PIRATE (Roaring Brook/Macmillan, 2016), PIZZA PIG (Step-into-Reading/Random House, 2018), and UNICORN DAY (Sourcebooks, 2019). Her award-winning poems have appeared in magazines such as Highlights, High Five and Spider. Diana grew up in NYC and still lives nearby with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. Find out more at http://www.dianamurray.com .



  1. Congratulations, Diana! And best wishes with Unicorn Day too!

  2. I LOVE hearing your process and seeing the beauty of rhyming concept books! Thanks, Diana