SCBWI members have the opportunity to query Zonderkidz all May. This is nice since Zonderkidz is usually closed to unsolicited manuscripts. At first I hadn't planned on submitting anything, but after noticing that they have a number of leveled readers, I thought about The Missing Smile. It was fresh in mind since I'd already been turning three pages into black and white samples for my portfolio (you can visit my website to see them if you want). I thought it would be a good project to give myself the month to redo the dummy and sample images (yes, this meant painting the same spreads I'd just done into color; it helped that all my values had been worked out).
If any of these look familiar, about three years ago I worked on this dummy and created finished pieces for my then portfolio (you can see how they differ from today's here and here.) The Missing Smile was actually published in Clubhouse Jr magazine in 2007 when my youngest was a baby. Once he was in school and I had a lot more time to work on my career, I thought that this story was a good start for a leveled reader. So I did some tweaking of words and worked on the dummy (which was hard and satisfying work). It was my 3rd dummy, but I still felt very much like a beginner.
This time around, I felt very confident in putting everything together. SVS has been integral in teaching me better ways of doing this, as has learning about Marla Frazee's process. It's kind of amazing what good instruction and a lot of practice can do!
And now, I'm on to my next dummy!