Today is Porcupine’s Birthday!

I am so thrilled to be celebrating my very first book birthday! But Porcupine isn’t a newborn today. She’s not even one or two. Would you believe me if I told she is turning 12?

Porcupine’s Pie has been 12 years in the making, if you start at the very beginning. When I first started writing, I dabbled. A little here, a little there. Whenever I had some free time. (Which wasn’t very often since I taught elementary school and a teacher’s work is never done.) I took a few courses online. I read a handful of writing-prompt/inspiration-type books. I did this for 5 years.

It wasn’t until 2011 that I realized two things:

1.) I wanted to pursue writing more seriously.

2.) I needed to find my tribe.

SCBWI was the answer. After learning about this professional organization for children’s literature, I knew that joining SCBWI would be like fitting my piece into the greater kidlit puzzle. 

I started attending Mid-Atlantic regional conferences. This led to my first critique group, which in turn, opened my eyes to the bounty of online resources available in the kidlit world:

Supportive online communities: Kidlit411, Sub It Club

Challenges:  Storystorm, ReFoReMo, NaPiBoWriWee

Advice and critical feedback: Rate Your Story, Blue Boards

Pitch parties on Twitter: #PBPitch, #KidPit

Agent/Editor/Submission research: Query Shark, Manuscript Wish ListSub It Club

Online classes: The Writing Barn, Children’s Book Academy, Storyteller Academy

So many resources, so little time! But none of them would be worth anything if I didn’t actually write.

So I wrote. I revised. I put off doing the laundry. (Thankfully a writer can work in PJs!) And when it was ready, I sent my work out into the big, wide world. Sometimes …. crickets. Other times, form rejections. But once in a while, a personal response from an agent or an editor, which gave me the confidence I needed to keep going.

I started keeping track of rejections in 2015. I wanted to push myself and, for me, that includes accountability and data. That year, I submitted 25 times with no luck. I received 1 personalized rejection.

In 2016, I upped my game. My total of 53 submissions included: 4 personalized rejections, 2 agents that asked for more work, notification that I was accepted into the Rutgers One-on-One Conference, my first sale ever: a game/craft to Highlights Magazine, and, at the very end of the year, my first book acceptance. I had entered Porcupine’s Pie in the Beaming Books (formerly Sparkhouse Family) First Annual Picture Book Writing Contest (accepting submissions until Nov. 14, 2018) and I won!

My dream of a book contract had come to fruition but in my mind, I was just getting started. My submission counter started over for 2017. On April 28, 2017, I was already on my 46th submission. I hit ‘send’ and less than a half hour later, I had an offer of representation! I signed with my agent, Wendi Gu, in May.

So out of 124 submissions over two and a half years, 118 were rejections, 3 were magazine acceptances, 1 was a conference acceptance, 1 was a book contract, and 1 was my agent/client agreement.

Keep at it. Track your submissions. Cheer your rejections. Celebrate responses. Be patient. Even when you meet a goal, there is always more to reach for.

It has been nearly two years since I learned that Porcupine’s Pie would become a book. It feels incredible to hold it in my hands and share it with kids. Happy Birthday, Porcupine!

LAURA RENAULD is a former third grade teacher who now spends her days imagining and creating. When she is not writing picture books about porcupines, pirates, and pickles, Laura can be found on a trail, at the library, or in the kitchen. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their two story-telling sons. Porcupine’s Pie is her debut picture book. Look for her forthcoming picture book biography Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers in Fall 2019. Visit Laura on the web at, where you can also subscribe to her newsletter and blog. Follow her on Twitter: @laura_renauld, @notable19s.

3 thoughts on “Today is Porcupine’s Birthday!”

  1. Laura, thank you for sharing all of this – your journey. I am so touched and inspired by your perseverance. GOOD FOR YOU! What a wonderful testimony for anyone wondering if they should keep on trying. You are a GIFT.

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