What Ever Happened to Heather Hummingbird?

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There are some of you who have been following my writing endeavors for some years. If you’re among that crowd, you’ll remember when I announced I had a publisher for one of the books in the My Backyard Friends series of children’s stories. I was very excited and proud to broadcast on the book’s progress at the time, but I haven’t mentioned Heather Hummingbird for quite a while now. It dawned on me the other day that there are many of you who were waiting for the release of the book. I even had a list of pre-orders in anticipation of it. You deserve an explanation as to what happened to Heather, so let me tell you what happened.

All through my limited writing career, I have done things on my own. A negative experience as an undergrad turned me away from a major in English that would have sent me down the path to becoming a writer the right way, and I got a major in Psychology, which I’ve never really found a use for instead. And when I first set out to be a writer, I failed miserably, because I couldn’t afford the submission process via snail mail, which is all there was back then. Yeah, I’m an old lady.

But the development of the Internet changed all that, opening up opportunities for writers that didn’t exist previously, and I began writing a series of children’s stories with animal and bird characters based on the creatures that visited the backyard of my Colorado mountain home on a daily basis. I met an illustrator online. She’d become a member of a social writing site, called Writer’s World, which I was administrator of. She offered me a very affordable deal to illustrate that first book, Heather Hummingbird Makes a New Friend, with beautiful handcrafted illustrations. I immediately fell in love with the cover illustration she produced, and down the road, she arranged for the publisher she worked for to offer me a contract.

Now you see why I was excited? I thought that was the best stroke of luck to ever hit me. I had a publisher fresh out of the gate. I was ecstatic. I spread the good news across all of my social networks, announcing to the world that Heather Hummingbird was coming. Little did I know, I had embarked on a nightmarish fiasco into the world of publishing.

When the publishing date the following year came and went, and nothing happened, they said it had been pushed back. And it was pushed back again and again for the next two years, each time I broadcast to my friends and readers the updated release date. But I wasn’t hearing anything from the publisher or the illustrator. She’d sent me three illustrations and the cover, but that was it. Nothing more was forthcoming, and no explanations.

If I wanted to know what was going on with my book, I had to contact them via e-mail and ask. They didn’t even tell me when the release dates were pushed back unless I wrote to inquire. In 2013, the release date passed, although all edits had been completed, my illustrator answered an inquiry, saying the date had been pushed back again and she was no longer able to illustrate by hand. She sent me a digitally illustrated cover and ask if this would be acceptable. I didn’t like this cover as much as the original, but I thought it would do, so I agreed to have her do the digital illustrations.

The next release date came and went, and when I inquired, the publisher sent back an email informing me I would be getting a different illustrator. I inquired as to the reason for this change, thinking perhaps my illustrator was no longer with the publishing house, but this was not the case. For some unknown reason they had decided to have someone else produce my illustrations, which I had already paid the original illustrator for.

At this point, I was more than slightly annoyed. I expressed my displeasure in the arrangement and the publisher got snotty and said she would release me from the contract. So, that is how it was resolved, and I’m still trying to collect my money from the original illustrator. It feels foolish to say that seven years since Heather started out on her venture, I’m stuck with two covers and three illustrated pages, none of which I can use, no illustrator and no publisher. But that’s it in a nut shell. I still don’t have a published book.

So, where is Heather now, and what lies in her future? Well, I shopped her around to a few publishers, to no avail. At Western State I was taught that you have to get back up on the horse, so after one rejection, I pulled up the manuscript and re-read it with fresh eyes, in order to revise before sending it out again. On that pass, something profound struck me. Heather Hummingbird Makes a New Friend, was not Heather’s story at all. It wasn’t Heather who learned a life lesson in this story, but rather, she was the teacher. So, I did the revisions, rewrote the synopsis, and changed the title to Ethan Eagle Makes a New Friend. After all, Ethan is the character that learns about friendship from Heather. Once that was done, I launched it into the submission process once more, so we’ll see.

There you have it. I don’t know how many are out there who even remember there was a Heather Hummingbird book, but at one time I had a whole list of pre-orders from people wanting the book. I am sorry that I wasn’t able to fill those orders, and I thank all of you for your support. If anything ever does come of Ethan and Heather, you, my readers, will be the first to know. Thanks for hanging in with me.