What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<August 2014>>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
     0102
03040506070809
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Writing and Illustrating, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 1,502
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
Sharing Information About Writing and Illustrating for Children
Statistics for Writing and Illustrating

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 13
1. Writer’s & Illustrators: The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

— No Entry Fee
Prize: $5,000.00. Entry fee: $0.00. Deadline: 09-30-2014
The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest runs four times during the year, each awarding a first-prize of $1,000 to a promising or experienced author of sci-fi, fantasy, or dark fantasy. Second-place winners receive $750, and third-place winners receive $500. At the end of the year the judges award a grand prize of $5,000 to the best overall author.

This contest is open to original, unpublished stories and novelettes, up to 17K words. Authors must not have had a novel, novelette, or more than three short stories commercially published in any medium.

Enter the Illustrator Contest

L. Ron Hubbard’s Illustrators of the Future Contest is an opportunity for new science fiction and fantasy artists worldwide. No entry fee is required. Entrants retain all publication rights. All judging by professional artists only. $1,500 in prizes each quarter. Quarterly winners compete for $5,000 additional annual prize! If you have not read the contest rules, please click here before submitting.


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Competition, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: $5000 Prize, No Fee Writer's Contest, Ron L Hubbard Illustrator Contest, Ron L Hubbard Writer's Contest, Unpublished stories, Up to 17K Words

1 Comments on Writer’s & Illustrators: The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, last added: 8/21/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
2. Rebel Light Canadian Publisher

REBELIGHT_LOGO_4C

Submission Guidelines

What we want:

  • Manuscripts for middle grade, young adult and new adult novels
  • Well written and edited stories of any genre with riveting plots, dynamic and developing protagonists and antagonists we love to hate.
  • Work from Canadian writers that appeals to a worldwide market.

 Emerging writers and experienced authors welcome! Published authors, feeling stuck writing in one genre for your publisher and want to try something new? We are all ears.

What we don’t want:

Holiday stories • Graphic novels • Poetry • Short stories • Illustrations • Picture books • Non-fiction • Erotica • Previously published work (including self-published works)

Some helpful hints:

  • Have your manuscript edited by a third party who has a strong understanding of writing for young people. Your mother does not count, unless her name is J.K. Rowling.
  • A couple helpful reads: Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson and  Writing Great Books For Young Adults by Regina L. Brooks.
  • Your work has a better chance of serious consideration if it is presented in a professional manner, so please follow our submission guidelines below.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Rebelight Publishing Inc. is environmentally friendly and accepts emailed submissions only. Mailed submissions will be shredded and not responded to, a waste of your money (& trees).

In the body of the email (for security reasons attachments will not be opened), your submission should include:

  1. A one-page query letter
  2. Your author CV
  3. A one-page synopsis
  4. The first three chapters of your manuscript.
  • The email subject line should read as follows: “Submission – Your First Name Your Last Name, Manuscript Title.”
  • Do not send more than one manuscript at a time.
  • Address all emails, “Dear Editor:” (Yes, this goes against most advice given to writers… it’s OK. If your manuscript is accepted you’ll be introduced to your editor.)
  • We accept simultaneous submissions, however, as a courtesy, please let us know if your manuscript has been accepted elsewhere.
  • Should we request a full manuscript, it must be submitted in standard 8.5 x 11” format, typed in Times Roman 12 pt font and double-spaced. Submit as a Microsoft Word file.

Submissions are usually processed within three (3) months. Please do not contact us any sooner about your submission. Due to the volume of submissions, we cannot provide editorial comments on manuscripts. Email submissions to: editor@rebelight.com You’ve worked hard and shown perseverance to get a manuscript ready for submission. We look forward to hearing from you.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Canadian writers, email sumissions, Rebel Light, submission guidelines

0 Comments on Rebel Light Canadian Publisher as of 8/20/2014 2:31:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. Agent Looking to Build List

Leon Husock – Associate Agent at L. Perkins Agency.

leonlperkinsPrior to joining the L. Perkins Agency, Leon was an associate agent at Anderson Literary Management. He has a BA in Literature from Bard College and attended the Columbia Publishing Course.

Leon is actively building his client list.

He has a particular interest in science fiction & fantasy, young adult and middle-grade novels filled with strong characters and original premises, but keeps an open mind for anything that catches his eye. 

He is also looking for historical fiction set in the 20th century, particularly the 1980s or earlier.

He is not interested in non-fiction at this time.

Email: leon@lperkinsagency.com

Follow him on Twitter: @leonhusock

How to submit:

Please email a query letter containing the following:

  • brief synopsis
  • Your bio
  • The first five pages from your novel or book proposal in the body of your email.

Please keep in mind:

  • Attachments will not be opened unless specifically requested.
  • We only accept email queries. We do not accept queries by snail mail, phone or social media. All snail mail queries will be discarded unopened.
  • Please only query one agent at this agency. They will only consider one manuscript from one writer at a time to one agent at a time. If you have written more than one manuscript, choose the one you think is the most promising and pitch that. Do not pitch them all.
  • We have a strict NO MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS policy within the agency, so please be sure to only submit to one of us. (Though simultaneous submissions to other agencies are expected.) We work together closely, often passing projects along to other members of the team.

Send to leon [at] lperkinsagency.com.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent looking for MG and YA, Agent Looking to Build List, L Perkins Agency, Leon Husock, Sci-fi and fantasy and historical

0 Comments on Agent Looking to Build List as of 8/19/2014 12:49:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. No Entry Fee: The Payton James Freeman Essay Prize

The Payton James Freeman Essay Prize – “The Payton Prize”

$500, Publication, and a public reading and talk at Drake University

The Freeman Family and the Drake University Department of English invite you to submit outstanding unpublished non-fiction essays of up to 3500 words on the subject [[AFTER THE UNHAPPY ENDING]].

Students and faculty of Drake University will read all entries and choose the finalists. The winner will be selected by final judge Cheryl Strayed.

The winner will be awarded $500, published in The Rumpus, and brought to Drake University in February 2015 to read from the winning essay and speak at a public event. There is no fee.

Payton James Freeman was a bright, loving child whose ability to move — even to smile — was stolen by a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Diagnosed as an infant, Payton was expected to live perhaps six months. Instead he fought for five and a half years as his parents worked with doctors and scientists, fundraising in hopes of a cure. SMA ultimately took his life, but his story lives on in all those who continue striving against uncountable odds, and who struggle to put life’s most complex and trying events into words.

SMA is the #1 genetic killer of children under age two. The Freeman Family would like you to learn about SMA and remember Payton as you submit your essays and as we read and celebrate the winning essay.

HOW TO SUBMIT
Submit one essay of up to 3500 words via Submittable. Deadline September 30, 2014. Winner and finalists will be announced in December of 2014.

Authors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and must agree to attend and participate in the reading at Drake University in February 2015 to receive the award. Current students and employees of Drake University, The Rumpus, and/or Cheryl Strayed are ineligible for the award.


Filed under: opportunity, Places to sumit, Writer's Prompt Tagged: $500 prize and publication, After the Happy Ending, Drake University, Non-fiction, Submit your essays, The Payton Prize

2 Comments on No Entry Fee: The Payton James Freeman Essay Prize, last added: 8/18/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
5. Open Submissions: Pelican Book Group for Easter Lilies

Pelicanlogo2I know some of my children’s writer friends have written historical or contemporary romance adult novellas. If you have and it has  a 25 -35 year old main character, then this might be a good opportunity for you.

Pelican Book Group has opened submissions to Easter Lilies, an annual book series published under the company’s Harbourlight Books imprint. The series consists of only three stories, based upon a specific scripture, released on each day of the Easter Triduum.

Writers are invited to submit stories, 15K-25K words, with elements of traditional or modern romance. The protagonists should be 25-35 years old.

Deadline for submissions is September 30, 2014.

Nicola Martinez serves as Editor-in-Chief. Payment: royalties.

See more at: http://writingcareer.com/post/94736262426/6-book-publishers-seeking-manuscript-submissions-from#sthash.vZvtREnw.dpuf

Special Series Guidelines

Please note: These series guidelines are in addition to the general guidelines that apply to whichever imprint your submission fits, so please also familiarize yourself with our general guidelines as well.


Easter Lilies

2014 Defining Scripture for Easter Lilies is: Solomon 2:14 “Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”

Easter Lilies is our annual special release. Each year, one Easter Lilies story will be released on each day of the Easter Triduum. (Yes, only three stories per year.)

Submission Guidelines:

  • Easter Lilies are historical or contemporary romances. In addition to adhering to the guidelines for the White Rose imprint, the following is also necessary:
  • The defining Scripture for the year must be used as a basis for the story. (This scripture will change each year on October 1st)
  • Stories should be between 15,000 and 25,000 words.
  • Both the hero’s and heroine’s points of view may be incorporated, however, we’d like these stories to be “hero-driven”, so ideally, stories should focus on the hero’s love developing for his heroine. These stories may be historical or contemporary, but they must be set around the Easter holiday.
  • Heroes and Heroines should be between the ages of 25 and 35.
  • In addition to using the current year Easter Lilies scripture as the reference, some symbol of the Easter Lily must also be incorporated. Easter lilies have long been a symbol of purity, motherhood, the trumpet herald of the Angel Gabriel as he visited the Virgin Mary, of resurrection, and more. (Feel free to research and use different symbols. These are listed as example only). How you incorporate any of the symbols is up to you. Whether it’s an actual flower that the hero gives to the heroine (or vice-versa), or a piece of jewelry, or a spiritual experience. The use is up to you. Perhaps your hero is a Christian musician who plays the trumpet. Perhaps your heroine has lily earrings that have been passed through her family. Perhaps your hero had a “resurrection” of his faith through some experience past or present, or maybe your heroine is a mother. How you incorporate the Easter lily symbolism is up to you. It can be subtle or overt, but it has to be there.

Submissions for Easter Lilies are accepted August 1st through September 30th each year. Submissions for Easter Lilies that are received outside this time frame will be discarded without response.

Easter Lilies Special Submission form.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Royalties, submissions, writing Tagged: Easter Lilies Annual Book Series, Harbourlight Books, Pelican Book Group, Traditional and modern romance, White Rose Imprint

0 Comments on Open Submissions: Pelican Book Group for Easter Lilies as of 8/17/2014 3:11:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. Illustrator Saturday – David Small

 

Interview Questions for David Small

 

1. When did you first know you were destined to become an artist?

 

When I realised I was not fit for life in the real world and that any normal employment was out of the

 

question.

 

2. Did you always live in Michigan?

 

No. I’ve lived in Chicago, in Boston, in New Haven and in a small burg in Upstate New York. Also, you

 

should know that there are two Michigans: one is called Detroit, and I’ve done time in both.

 

3. What was the first thing you illustrated and got paid for doing?

 

An article in the NYTimes Book Review. I was in NYC for 2 months, trying to market my first children’s

 

book. (This was in the early 1980’s, before the Internet, when you had to be in NYC to get work there.) I

 

went up to the Times to the office of Steve Heller, showed him my portfolio, and then and there he gave

 

me an assignment for the Book Review. Since he wanted it the next day, I stayed up all night, working on

 

the floor of an empty apartment on W. 10th Street. (Some friends had loaned us their apartment while

 

they moved into another one, and the place had no furniture except a bed and a lamp.)

 

4. Do you feel getting your MFA at the Yale Graduate School of Art helped develop your style?

 

No. I had a far better art education getting my BFA at Wayne State University in Detroit, during the ‘60’s.

 

5. What made you decide to go to Yale vs. other schools for art

 

I didn’t make the decision. My mentor– a Boston artist named Michael Mazur–decided I needed to go to

 

grad school. Mike had gone to Yale, was good friends with the printmaker Gabor Peterdi, who at that

 

time taught in the Printmaking Department at Yale, and he used his influence to get me in.

 

6. Did you have a favorite class at Yale?

 

Life Drawing was always my favorite class, wherever I was. At Wayne I had had great instructors in

 

drawing the figure and Anatomy, so by the time I got to Yale all I really needed was to be left alone to

 

continue practicing.

 

You may sense a certain “distant” tone when I speak about Yale? At the time I was

 

there, in the early 70’s, the Yale Grad School of Art was a ruptured institution, with one part of the

 

faculty –the Traditionalists–at war with another, the Abstractionists. This tension got passed along to

 

the students, who basically stayed hidden away in their studios, coming out only for the faculty group

 

critiques of their work. These forums were staged in public, in an open pit, with people watching from

 

the balconies tiered around that space. They were like gladitorial games and they always devolved into

 

ideological screaming-matches between the professors, while students were frequently driven away in

 

tears. I got spared these ordeals because we Printmaking majors weren’t considered actual artists.

 

7. You mention in your bio that you began with writing plays. Do you think you will ever write another

 

play?

 

Making graphic novels is much like play writing, and it’s even more like film-making.

 

8. Do you feel getting your MFA at Yale opened doors for you?

 

Absolutely. In the world of academe, that Yale degree has genuine snob appeal. Out in the world of

 

actual illustration, Art Directors at magazines and publishing houses could care less where you went to

 

school. They don’t read your resume, they just look at your portfolio.

 

My opinion of art schools in general is they offer you two important things: 1) a place to work

 

where you can avoid having to be out in the world while you develop your art, and, if you’re lucky, 2)

 

possibly one or two good instructors who might encourage you. I still think the portfolio is more

 

important than the degree.

 

9. What was the catalyst for your first picture book, “Eulalie and the Hopping Head”?

 

My family. I grew up feeling my parents wanted to trade me in for a different model.

 

10. Where did you teach art? How did the job to teach art come along?

 

I first taught at the S.U.N.Y. college at Fredonia. I presume it was the Yale degree that put me in the

 

running for that position, but also, my work was substantial and I interviewed well. That job lasted 7

 

years. I left that institution -and tenure — when I was hired at Kalamazoo College ,which had all the

 

qualities I was looking for in a place to teach; it was small, it offered a real quality education, it had that

 

Georgian architecture ( the look of a little Parnassus-On-A-Hill) and –a big plus–there were very few Art

 

majors. That meant that my students came from other disciplines like the sciences and language, and so,

 

had other interests than flinging paint around.

 

After 4 years there, the Reagan Recession hit and colleges everywhere began cutting positions

 

to save money. My position was eliminated and my wife and I –both around 40 years old at that time–

 

found ourselves out on the street, with no jobs, no savings and no place to live. At the time it seemed

 

like a disaster, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. It pushed me out into the

 

world of work. If I had stayed in academe I think I might have withered away and dried up completely.

 

11. How did you land your gigs with The New Yorker and The New York Times.

 

I showed them my portfolio and, to my surprize, they hired me. Then they hired me again. But there was

 

absolutely no certainty that they would ever hire you after that. This uncertainly–to me– was

 

exhilarating, and stillis. It’s so different from academia, where you could relax and be assured that your

 

next paycheck would be coming in.

 

12. Do you still do illustrations for magazines?

 

No. Maybe things have changed now, but for the years when I worked for magazines, the work was

 

always very interruptive, the pay was low, and it all had to be done very fast. The pace got even crazier

 

with the advent of fax machines, overnight delivery and the Internet.

 

13. Which books of yours were recreated into animated films and musicals?

 

IMOGENE’S ANTLERS was made into a great little mini-musical. Weston Woods has made films of SYWTB

 

President?, MY SENATOR AND ME, and– coming soon– ONE COOL FRIEND.

 

14. Did your illustrating and your wife’s writing bring the two of you together?

 

No. A mutual friend introduced us at a party and it was love at first sight. I loved her face, her intellect,

 

and the tiny vase of live violas she wore around her neck that night. We were friends for eight years

 

before we married.

 

15. Was it fun working on “The Gardener” that your wife Sarah Stewart wrote?

 

The word “fun” did not enter my work vocabulary on that project The story ,as you know, is set in the

 

Great Depression, and concerns a child whose family can’t afford to keep her. She is torn away from

 

everything she knows and loves and is sent off to work for her uncle in the city.

 

When I illustrate a story I have to make my own. That is, I have to find myself in it. With The

 

Gardener, at first and for a long time, I agonized over the pain and loneliness that child must have felt. I

 

couldn’t find any light in it. Also, I was familiar with the black and white photos from that era, of the

 

starving families in the Dust Bowl, of the urban bread lines … It wasn’t pretty. I decided it was beyond

 

my powers to illustrate that story, and I was ready to turn back the contract. Then came a breakthrough.

 

I had a talk with Lydia Grace Finch–the gardener friend of Sarah’s on whose childhood Sarah had based

 

her story. I asked Lydia what it was like growing up during the Depression.She said: “I was just a kid like

 

any other kid. I didn’t know what ‘the Depression’ was; that was just life. We all had to work, of course.

 

We worked hard, but we also knew how to enjoy ourselves. I had a lot of fun during the Depression!”

 

That conversation was an eye-opener for me. I put it together with my own childhood memories of

 

growing up young and innocent in Detroit, and suddenly things began to develop rapidly on paper. I

 

guess,maybe, at that point it started to be fun.

 

16. How excited were the two of you to win The Christopher Medal and receive a Caldecott Honor for

 

that book in 1997?

 

Very excited and surprised as well. It was stunning for both of us, to have such a private, personal

 

experience given such huge recognition by the larger world.

 

17. Did you see a jump in demand for your illustrating after those wins?

 

I suppose I did. I know I started getting offered a lot of manuscripts that resembled Sarah’s but that

 

weren’t Sarah’s, so I really had no interest in doing them.

 

18. Did you have any idea that “So, You Want To Be President?” by Judith St. George would win the

 

Caldecott?

 

I personally didn’t think that book would sell five copies. But, speaking of “fun?” that book

was fun to make! Maybe that’s why I had little hopes for it, because it seemed more like bad-boy

misconduct than work.

Once we realised that a Presidential election (Bush v. Gore) was coming up that very Fall, we

stepped up the production schedule and I had to work very quickly; I didn’t have time to fuss and fret

over every drawing. So, maybe my pessimissim about its prospects was related to my anxiety that

maybe I hadn’t done a “perfect job”. (Aways a worry.)

19. Was Imogene’s Antlers the second picture book that you wrote? How did you find a home with a

publisher for that book?

It was the fifth book I had illustrated, the second book I wrote. The editor of my first book– Alan

Benjamin– had just become the Senior Buying Editor at Crown. Nobody among the higher-ups at Crown

wanted to buy that book, but Alan made them publish it. He had a sense about it. He and I shared that

bad-boy quality in our taste for books, but Alan was also very suave, very urbane, and could be very

persuasive.

20. When did you meet your agent Holly McGhee?

It must have been 1997, the year she began Pippin Properties. I had given up on my search for a literary

agent because all of the ones I met, for one reason or another, I had found disturbing. (One of them — a

very famous kids book agent– was an outright crook. I had been warned away fro him by several of my

peers, but I interviewed him just to see if they were right. They were right. He met all red flag points on

the official “How To Recognize a Sociopath” list. After that creepy encounter I had decided to go back to

being agentless.

Then, Holly McGhee wrote to me. Her letter not only showed a genuine interest in– and

enthusiasm for — my work, but she already had an impressive list of clients including William Steig and Jon

Agee. When I met her face-to-face and found myself talking not to a self-inflated suit but to a genuine,

straight-talking human being, I was convinced. I knew that she could help bring some business clarity to

my life.

21. Where you Holly’s first client?

I was not the very first, but I was among them.

22. Was it hard to write “Stitches,” since it is so heartfelt?

It took me about 7 years to make that book, and yes, it was very very hard to make. But, that being said,

I was driven to do it. All the false starts, all the re-do’s, the frustrations and self-doubts, the piles of

material that ended up in the trash and the fifteen full-length versions (all of them different) were just

things that seemed very necessary to working out a coherent story.

Holly, by the way, was very involved with Stitches from the beginning. She edited the first 12

versions of it. When we finally had it in a form she thought she could present with confidence, she spent

a whole year of research to find a list of 6 editors at 6 different houses where she thought my book

would fit. After that, she and the other Pips spent months putting together a presentation package.

About that, Holly said, “I want this thing to be so extraordinary-looking that an editor will immediately

pop it into their briefcase and read it on the train ride home.” The day after she sent it out she

immediately got 5 offers.

23. Was that your first graphic novel?

Yes.

24. Which one of your books is your favorite?

Stitches is the book of my life, okay?–but it is in a much, much different category from the picture

books. Of those, The Money Tree (by Sarah ) and my own Paper John were probably the most

meaningful, because they both were pulled up from some place very deep in us both. As for the 50+

other picture books, I have to give the by-now cliched but still very-honest answer: I don’t play favorites

with my children. That said, there are a few of those children who–although I wish them well– I’d prefer

not to see again. You try the best you can every time, but sometimes the stars are misaligned .

something has gone wrong.

25. What is your favorite material to us when you do a colored illlustration?

I first draw in waterproof ink, then do the color in water color and pastels.

26. Have your materials changed since your first published book?

Yes. By the time I did So, You Want To Be President? I was getting tired of Realism and was ready for a

change in both my style and materials. That was when I loosened up my drawing style, began drawing

more with a brush, and working in some patches of pastel chalk, for more emphatic color.

27. Have you tried your hand at Photoshop or drawing with a graphic tablet?

I have. Like everyone else in this ramped-up age of publishing, I was seduced by the “apparent” speed

with which changes can be made with the computer, and by some of the impressive effects achieved by

a few of the artists who use it. But, when I started taking Photoshop lessons I realised that I disliked

more things about the medium than I liked.

Most of all I missed the disconnect between the hand and the image. I missed having inky fingers

and masses of art supplies surrounding me. I found out that being able to make speedy changes was not

necessarily a good a thing for me: it felt strange that a drawing could be instantly evaporated into the

ether, without having time to mellow and to reveal its good aspects. I should add that, when I go to an

exhibit of original art I prefer to see original hand-made art, not a digital print-out. From the former I feel

I’m always learning something useful about what the human hand is capable of doing, while from the

latter I generally learn nothing. I also see a lot of computer artists trying clumsily to imitate the effects of

hand-drawn work.

I’m not saying I’m against digitally-generated images, I’m only saying it’s not for me.

28. Do you spend any time promoting your work or does Holly take care of all that for you?

I spend Zero time in self-promotion. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. Holly is my advocate, my procurer

(heh) , my confessor, my confidante, occasionally (as with Stitches,) my first editor and one of my best

friends. As Artistic Director of her own company now, she chooses the best artists and authors she can

find, gets them the best contracts she can, and lets their work stand for itself.

Promotion is up to the publishers and their Marketing Departrments. What makes them get

behind a book –or not– is always a mystery, but I have to trust them. In any case, I’d much rather have

them out there, doing all that, than doing it myself. I have other fish to fry.

29. What do you feel was your greatest success?

You can have many different kinds of success. There are books that might have been commercially

successful that were not, in your own opinion, so successful as works of art or literature. There are

books you are very proud of from an aesthetic standpoint, which sink without a trace. There are books

that have a big critical success but which, for some reason, the public doesn’t go for. I’ve had all of

these.

The 2001 Caldecott Medal ceremony was the most astonishing public display of success I’;v

ever experieneced. I think almost everyone present, that night in San Francisco, felt that something

really significant had been done by the ALA. The crowd was immense and the air was electric. There was

something very daring and spirited about the committee’s choice that year. I am sure it had something to

do with the political miasma swirling in D.C. at the time, and with the sense that Judy St. George, our

editor Patricia Gauch and I had delivered some straight-talk to American children about the real human

beings–full of real talents and real faults — who have held the highest office in the land. So, it was an

enormous thrill being at the center of all that , but what I felt mainly was a fearsome lack of words with

which to express adequate thanks to the givers.

30. Since you have a separate studio, would you tell us a little bit about it?

We have two houses on our property. One is the house we live in, the other–a 3-minute walk along the

riverbank– is my studio, which occasionally doubles as a guest house. When I used to work at home

Sarah and I found the entertwining of our lives too distracting. Sarah needs absolute silence,while I need

music on, sometimes very loud, when I work. Sarah likes to leave the phone off the hook, but I don’t

mind interruptions. I enjoy emails, while Sarah has never touched a computer and won’t have one in the

house. Those are significant differences, but we both share a need for privacy, so having separate work

spaces –when we finally got them–was a big relief. That being said, I have to tell you that Sarah never

once complained while I was at work at home, but, when the opportunity came along for me to have a

studio, she was on it like spots on dice.

31. Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

No. I don’t have a stopwatch for the amount of time I put into my work , just as I don’t go over my Profit

& Loss sheets. I pay no attention to time and I pay even less to money. If I paid attention to those things,

my worries would be all about time and money. As it is, my worries are all about art.

32. Do you take pictures or do any types of research, before you start a project?

For things like architectural styles and period costumes one must have research tools, books and the

Internet. Computers are amazing tools for this, but I cherish equally my collection of books, which is big.

A book is a often a better research tool, especially when you don’t know specifically what you’re looking

for, you often find it by leafing through the pages.

33. Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Oh yes! I live on a prairie outside a small farming village, Population 800. There is a distinct lack of culture

out here. We have a very small library, but nothing else, no museums, no theatres. Even though Chicago

and Detroit are only 3 hours distant, we visit them only occasionally and for very brief stays. With e-mail I

communicate daily with business friends, editors and art directors in NYC and with close friends in

Boston, San Francisco, Mexico, Paris and Brazil. It’s fantastic.

34. Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I hope to keep working and to fall over into my ink bottle when I croak. If there is an afterlife I hope they

have a good art supply store there.

35. What are you working on now?

I have a book coming out with Dial this September, CATCH THAT COOKIE! written by Hallie Durand. Next

year will see GLAMOURPUSS by Sarah Weeks (Scholastic, Spring 2015.) At the moment I’m working on

finals for BLOOM by Doreen Cronin (Atheneaum, Spring 2016.) I also have a graphic novel in the works.

That will be published by Liveright.

36. Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the

best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

A few years ago I fell in love with a refillable brush pen made in Japan and distributed by Pentel. I buy

mine from Wetpaint in St. Paul MN. (On their website store, click on Brush Pens and it will be the first

item listed.) I drew most of Stitches with that pen, and I always travel with them to use in my

sketchbooks.

As for”How To” tips, I have two good ones:

A. Always carry a sketchbook with you and use it. If you’re self-conscious about people watching

you, wear tinted glasses and develop a “don’t mess with me” look. (You are, after all, at work, and you

have to focus at all costs.)

B. If you’re learning watercolor, try to put down no more than three layers of color, the first

having so little paint in it that you can hardly detect any color. This advice comes from good old John

Ruskin’s “Elements of Drawing” (1857.) When I can calm my own impatient impulses and follow it, a

painting usually works out beautifully. When I forget Ruskin’s tip, my painting gets muddy and has to be

done again.

37. Any words of wisdom you have on how to become a successful illustrator would be appreciated?

Sure. Don’t think about being a successful illustrator. Just try being a great one. Copy the old Masters

 


Filed under: Uncategorized

0 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – David Small as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Illustrator Saturday – David Small

MY PUBLICITY PHOTO copy-2I noticed that illustrator David Small’s new book, Catch That Cookie was hitting the bookshelves on August 14th, so I contacted him to see if he would like to be featured on Illustrator Saturday. He will be doing a book tour in September, so I’ll make sure I tell you all the ins and outs as soon as I know them. It will be a great opportunity to meet him and Hallie Durand, if they are coming to a bookstore near you.

Here is a little bit about David:

David Small was born and raised in Detroit. In school he became known as “the kid who could draw good,” but David never considered a career in art because it was so easy for him. At 21, after many years of writing plays, David took the advice of a friend who informed him that the doodles he made on the telephone pad were better than anything he had ever written. He switched his major to Art and never looked back. After getting his MFA at the Yale Graduate School of Art, David taught art for many years on the college level, ran a film series and made satirical sketches for campus newspapers.

Approaching tenure, he wrote and illustrated a picture book, “Eulalie and the Hopping Head”, which he took to New York, pounding the pavements and collecting rejections for a month in the dead of winter. “Eulalie” was published in 1981. Although tenure at the college did not follow, many more picture books did, as well as extensive work for national magazines and newspapers. His drawings appeared regularly in The New Yorker and The New York Times. A learn-as-you-go illustrator, David’s books have been translated into several languages, made into animated films and musicals, and have won many of the top awards accorded to illustration, including the 1997 Caldecott Honor and The Christopher Medal for “The Gardener” written by his wife, Sarah Stewart, and the 2001 Caldecott Medal for “So, You Want To Be President?” by Judith St. George.

“At the Caldecott ceremony in San Francisco,” said David, “facing that veritable sea of smiling faces — of librarians, of friends in publishing, of my family and other well-wishers— I was so overcome that I lost my voice and croaked my way through the speech. Having been turned from a frog into a prince by the American Library Association, before their eyes that night, I turned back into a frog.” To date he has illustrated over 40 picture books. At an average of 40 pages per book, that makes around 1,840 illustrations, though someone ought to check that math. Currently David is working on a graphic memoir about his problematic youth.

David Small and Sarah Stewart make their home in an 1833 manor house on a bend of the St. Joseph River in southwest Michigan. David’s studio is an 1890 farmhouse also overlooking the river, just a short walk from home.

Here’s David discussing his process for the cover of his new book, CATCH THAT COOKIE written by Hallie Durand:

JKT 1

Every picture-book has its unique set of problems in the making of it. This one had relatively few worries on the interior art but, what we didn’t know was: we had a long hard struggle coming up, trying to find a good title and a good jacket design as well. This was a first jacket sketch, from back in the summer of 2013, when the working title was “Searching for Gingerbread”, which nobody liked.

JKT 2

By December, Holly had come up with a great title. I still clung to that original pose for the Kid but, as you can see from my inked notations, we were already discussing a different attitude, one without the theatrical “Scout-Searching-the-Plains” hand over the eyes.

JKT 3

Here the Kid’s pose is more dynamic, but still something was wrong. Nobody thought the Kid should be able to see the Cookie. They were right: it made it look like an uneven match.

JKT 4

Here their positions are reversed. The hiding cookie seemed okay, but the Kid has no verve. The thrill was going out of this jacket project. By now, six months had passed. It was February 2014, I was working from my studio in Mexico, and our deadline for a jacket was coming up very soon. We decided to get the creative juices kick-started by taking a radically-different approach. (We had no idea what that approach would be, only that it had to be radical. [Slide #4a:] Lily (the Art Director) and I decided to comb over some old movie posters for dynamic image ideas. Here is Mark Wahlberg as “Max Payne.”

JKT 5

…. and here is the Kid saying: “Stop right there, you darn cookie! Put your doughy little arms up or suffer maximum pain!”

JKT 6

Another wrong direction. The illustrator’s panic shows in the whole pose. I and Lily, Holly and two editors– were working every day, all day and often into the night on this. We had passed the deadline long ago and were nearing the drop-deadline. We had to find another way!

JKT 7

Some smart-thinking person (not me,) had come up with this “WANTED” poster for the back jacket. Another person (also not me,) decided it might work as the front jacket.

JKT 8

For several days we went with that, but nobody was getting buzzed. This one had too much text to read …

JKT 9

…this had less text but still no “Grab-Me-Off-The-Shelf” appeal.

JKT 10

How this– the final jacket design–evolved, was a similar ordeal full of false starts, wrong turns, bad decisions, do-overs and raw nerves but we finally got it. And that, in the end, is all that matters. I’ve shown you 10 examples here, but in my archives I have at least 50 different comps for this jacket, which doesn’t count all the others that went into the trash. It now seems amazing, unusual — even weird– that it took so long to get this right., but so it goes.

BELOW: DAVID ANSWERS TO THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS I ASKED:

When did you first know you were destined to become an artist?

When I realized I was not fit for life in the real world and that any normal employment was out of the question.

QUIET PLACE

Did you always live in Michigan?

No. I’ve lived in Chicago, in Boston, in New Haven and in a small burg in Upstate New York. Also, you should know that there are two Michigans: one is called Detroit, and I’ve done time in both.

MONEY TREE Jkt
What was the first thing you illustrated and got paid for doing?

An article in the NYTimes Book Review. I was in NYC for 2 months, trying to market my first children’s book. (This was in the early 1980’s, before the Internet, when you had to be in NYC to get work there.) I  went up to the Times to the office of Steve Heller, showed him my portfolio, and then and there he gave  me an assignment for the Book Review. Since he wanted it the next day, I stayed up all night, working on
the floor of an empty apartment on W. 10th Street. (Some friends had loaned us their apartment while  they moved into another one, and the place had no furniture except a bed and a lamp.)

COWS Jkt
Do you feel getting your MFA at the Yale Graduate School of Art helped develop your style?

No. I had a far better art education getting my BFA at Wayne State University in Detroit, during the ‘60’s.

goergecowsinterior
What made you decide to go to Yale vs. other schools for art?

I didn’t make the decision. My mentor– a Boston artist named Michael Mazur–decided I needed to go to grad school. Mike had gone to Yale, was good friends with the printmaker Gabor Peterdi, who at that time taught in the Printmaking Department at Yale, and he used his influence to get me in.

georgescowsinteriors2
Did you have a favorite class at Yale?

Life Drawing was always my favorite class, wherever I was. At Wayne I had had great instructors in drawing the figure and Anatomy, so by the time I got to Yale all I really needed was to be left alone to continue practicing.
You may sense a certain “distant” tone when I speak about Yale? At the time I was
there, in the early 70’s, the Yale Grad School of Art was a ruptured institution, with one part of the faculty –the Traditionalists–at war with another, the Abstractionists. This tension got passed along to the students, who basically stayed hidden away in their studios, coming out only for the faculty group critiques of their work. These forums were staged in public, in an open pit, with people watching from the balconies tiered around that space. They were like gladitorial games and they always devolved into ideological screaming-matches between the professors, while students were frequently driven away in tears. I got spared these ordeals because we Printmaking majors weren’t considered actual artists.

georgescowinterior
You mention in your bio that you began with writing plays. Do you think you will ever write another play?

Making graphic novels is much like play writing, and it’s even more like film-making.

BOOK WOMAN Jkt
Do you feel getting your MFA at Yale opened doors for you?

Absolutely. In the world of academe, that Yale degree has genuine snob appeal. Out in the world of actual illustration, Art Directors at magazines and publishing houses could care less where you went to school. They don’t read your resume, they just look at your portfolio.

My opinion of art schools in general is they offer you two important things: 1) a place to work where you can avoid having to be out in the world while you develop your art, and, if you’re lucky, 2) possibly one or two good instructors who might encourage you. I still think the portfolio is more important than the degree.

DINOS Jkt
What was the catalyst for your first picture book, “Eulalie and the Hopping Head”?

My family. I grew up feeling my parents wanted to trade me in for a different model.

EULALE Jkt
Where did you teach art? How did the job to teach art come along?

I first taught at the S.U.N.Y. college at Fredonia. I presume it was the Yale degree that put me in the running for that position, but also, my work was substantial and I interviewed well. That job lasted 7 years. I left that institution -and tenure — when I was hired at Kalamazoo College ,which had all the qualities I was looking for in a place to teach; it was small, it offered a real quality education, it had that
Georgian architecture ( the look of a little Parnassus-On-A-Hill) and –a big plus–there were very few Art majors. That meant that my students came from other disciplines like the sciences and language, and so, had other interests than flinging paint around.

After 4 years there, the Reagan Recession hit and colleges everywhere began cutting positions to save money. My position was eliminated and my wife and I –both around 40 years old at that time– found ourselves out on the street, with no jobs, no savings and no place to live. At the time it seemed like a disaster, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. It pushed me out into the world of work. If I had stayed in academe I think I might have withered away and dried up completely.

OCF Jkt
How did you land your gigs with The New Yorker and The New York Times?

I showed them my portfolio and, to my surprise, they hired me. Then they hired me again. But there was  absolutely no certainty that they would ever hire you after that. This uncertainly–to me– was exhilarating, and stillis. It’s so different from academia, where you could relax and be assured that your next paycheck would be coming in.

RUBY MAE Jkt
Do you still do illustrations for magazines?

No. Maybe things have changed now, but for the years when I worked for magazines, the work was always very interruptive, the pay was low, and it all had to be done very fast. The pace got even crazier with the advent of fax machines, overnight delivery and the Internet.

FRIEND Jkt
Which books of yours were recreated into animated films and musicals?

IMOGENE’S ANTLERS was made into a great little mini-musical. Weston Woods has made films of SYWTB President?, MY SENATOR AND ME, and– coming soon– ONE COOL FRIEND.

friendinterior
Did your illustrating and your wife’s writing bring the two of you together?

No. A mutual friend introduced us at a party and it was love at first sight. I loved her face, her intellect, and the tiny vase of live violas she wore around her neck that night. We were friends for eight years before we married.

friendinterior2
Was it fun working on “The Gardener” that your wife Sarah Stewart wrote?

The word “fun” did not enter my work vocabulary on that project The story ,as you know, is set in the Great Depression, and concerns a child whose family can’t afford to keep her. She is torn away from everything she knows and loves and is sent off to work for her uncle in the city. When I illustrate a story I have to make my own. That is, I have to find myself in it. With The Gardener, at first and for a long time, I agonized over the pain and loneliness that child must have felt. I couldn’t find any light in it. Also, I was familiar with the black and white photos from that era, of the
starving families in the Dust Bowl, of the urban bread lines … It wasn’t pretty. I decided it was beyond my powers to illustrate that story, and I was ready to turn back the contract. Then came a breakthrough.

I had a talk with Lydia Grace Finch–the gardener friend of Sarah’s on whose childhood Sarah had based her story. I asked Lydia what it was like growing up during the Depression.She said: “I was just a kid like any other kid. I didn’t know what ‘the Depression’ was; that was just life. We all had to work, of course.
We worked hard, but we also knew how to enjoy ourselves. I had a lot of fun during the Depression!”

That conversation was an eye-opener for me. I put it together with my own childhood memories of growing up young and innocent in Detroit, and suddenly things began to develop rapidly on paper. I guess, maybe, at that point it started to be fun.

GARDENER Jkt
How excited were the two of you to win The Christopher Medal and receive a Caldecott Honor for that book in 1997?

Very excited and surprised as well. It was stunning for both of us, to have such a private, personal experience given such huge recognition by the larger world.

gardenerinterior
Did you see a jump in demand for your illustrating after those wins?

I suppose I did. I know I started getting offered a lot of manuscripts that resembled Sarah’s but that weren’t Sarah’s, so I really had no interest in doing them.

gardenerinterior2
Did you have any idea that “So, You Want To Be President?” by Judith St. George would win the Caldecott?

I personally didn’t think that book would sell five copies. But, speaking of “fun?” … that book was fun to make! Maybe that’s why I had little hopes for it, because it seemed more like bad-boy misconduct than work.

SYWTBPres Jkt
Once we realized that a Presidential election (Bush v. Gore) was coming up that very Fall, we stepped up the production schedule and I had to work very quickly; I didn’t have time to fuss and fret over every drawing. So, maybe my pessimissim about its prospects was related to my anxiety that maybe I hadn’t done a “perfect job”. (Aways a worry.)

presidentroosevelt
Was Imogene’s Antlers the second picture book that you wrote? How did you find a home with a publisher for that book?

It was the fifth book I had illustrated, the second book I wrote. The editor of my first book– Alan Benjamin– had just become the Senior Buying Editor at Crown. Nobody among the higher-ups at Crown wanted to buy that book, but Alan made them publish it. He had a sense about it. He and I shared that bad-boy quality in our taste for books, but Alan was also very suave, very urbane, and could be very persuasive.

IMOGENE Jkt
When did you meet your agent Holly McGhee?

It must have been 1997, the year she began Pippin Properties. I had given up on my search for a literary agent because all of the ones I met, for one reason or another, I had found disturbing. (One of them — a very famous kids book agent– was an outright crook. I had been warned away fromhim by several of my peers, but I interviewed him just to see if they were right. They were right. He met all red flag points on the official “How To Recognize a Sociopath” list. After that creepy encounter I had decided to go back to being agentless.

Then, Holly McGhee wrote to me. Her letter not only showed a genuine interest in– and enthusiasm for — my work, but she already had an impressive list of clients including William Steig and Jon Agee. When I met her face-to-face and found myself talking not to a self-inflated suit but to a genuine, straight-talking human being, I was convinced. I knew that she could help bring some business clarity to my life.

imogeneinterior
Were you Holly’s first client?
I was not the very first, but I was among them.

imogeneinterior2
Was it hard to write “Stitches,” since it is so heartfelt?

It took me about 7 years to make that book, and yes, it was very very hard to make. But, that being said, I was driven to do it. All the false starts, all the re-do’s, the frustrations and self-doubts, the piles of material that ended up in the trash and the fifteen full-length versions (all of them different) were just things that seemed very necessary to working out a coherent story.

Holly, by the way, was very involved with Stitches from the beginning. She edited the first 12 versions of it. When we finally had it in a form she thought she could present with confidence, she spent a whole year of research to find a list of 6 editors at 6 different houses where she thought my book would fit. After that, she and the other Pips spent months putting together a presentation package. About that, Holly said, “I want this thing to be so extraordinary-looking that an editor will immediately
pop it into their briefcase and read it on the train ride home.” The day after she sent it out she immediately got 5 offers.

STITCHES jkt
Was that your first graphic novel?

Yes.

stitichesinterior
Which one of your books is your favorite?

Stitches is the book of my life, okay?–but it is in a much, much different category from the picture books. Of those, The Money Tree (by Sarah ) and my own Paper John were probably the most  meaningful, because they both were pulled up from some place very deep in us both. As for the 50+  other picture books, I have to give the by-now cliched but still very-honest answer: I don’t play favorites with my children. That said, there are a few of those children who–although I wish them well– I’d prefer not to see again. You try the best you can every time, but sometimes the stars are misaligned ….  something has gone wrong.

PAPER JOHN Jkt
What is your favorite material to us when you do a colored illustration?

I first draw in waterproof ink, then do the color in water color and pastels.

paperjohn
Have your materials changed since your first published book?

Yes. By the time I did So, You Want To Be President? I was getting tired of Realism and was ready for a change in both my style and materials. That was when I loosened up my drawing style, began drawing more with a brush, and working in some patches of pastel chalk, for more emphatic color.

paperhohninterior
Have you tried your hand at Photoshop or drawing with a graphic tablet?

I have. Like everyone else in this ramped-up age of publishing, I was seduced by the “apparent” speed with which changes can be made with the computer, and by some of the impressive effects achieved by a few of the artists who use it. But, when I started taking Photoshop lessons I realized that I disliked more things about the medium than I liked. Most of all I missed the disconnect between the hand and the image. I missed having inky fingers and masses of art supplies surrounding me. I found out that being able to make speedy changes was not necessarily a good a thing for me: it felt strange that a drawing could be instantly evaporated into the ether, without having time to mellow and to reveal its good aspects. I should add that, when I go to an exhibit of original art I prefer to see original hand-made art, not a digital print-out. From the former I feel I’m always learning something useful about what the human hand is capable of doing, while from the latter I generally learn nothing. I also see a lot of computer artists trying clumsily to imitate the effects of
hand-drawn work. I’m not saying I’m against digitally-generated images, I’m only saying it’s not for me.

jane and david
Do you spend any time promoting your work or does Holly take care of all that for you?

I spend Zero time in self-promotion. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. Holly is my advocate, my procurer (heh) , my confessor, my confidante, occasionally (as with Stitches,) my first editor and one of my best friends. As Artistic Director of her own company now, she chooses the best artists and authors she can find, gets them the best contracts she can, and lets their work stand for itself.

Promotion is up to the publishers and their Marketing Departrments. What makes them get behind a book –or not– is always a mystery, but I have to trust them. In any case, I’d much rather have them out there, doing all that, than doing it myself. I have other fish to fry.

HOOVER Jkt
What do you feel was your greatest success?

You can have many different kinds of success. There are books that might have been commercially successful that were not, in your own opinion, so successful as works of art or literature. There are books you are very proud of from an aesthetic standpoint, which sink without a trace. There are books that have a big critical success but which, for some reason, the public doesn’t go for. I’ve had all of  these.

The 2001 Caldecott Medal ceremony was the most astonishing public display of success I’ve  ever experienced. I think almost everyone present, that night in San Francisco, felt that something really significant had been done by the ALA. The crowd was immense and the air was electric. There was something very daring and spirited about the committee’s choice that year. I am sure it had something to
do with the political miasma swirling in D.C. at the time, and with the sense that Judy St. George, our editor Patricia Gauch and I had delivered some straight-talk to American children about the real human beings–full of real talents and real faults — who have held the highest office in the land. So, it was an enormous thrill being at the center of all that , but what I felt mainly was a fearsome lack of words with
which to express adequate thanks to the givers.

JOURNEY Jkt
Since you have a separate studio, would you tell us a little bit about it?

We have two houses on our property. One is the house we live in, the other–a 3-minute walk along the riverbank– is my studio, which occasionally doubles as a guest house. When I used to work at home Sarah and I found the intertwining of our lives too distracting. Sarah needs absolute silence, while I need music on, sometimes very loud, when I work. Sarah likes to leave the phone off the hook, but I don’t
mind interruptions. I enjoy emails, while Sarah has never touched a computer and won’t have one in the house. Those are significant differences, but we both share a need for privacy, so having separate work spaces –when we finally got them–was a big relief. That being said, I have to tell you that Sarah never once complained while I was at work at home, but, when the opportunity came along for me to have a studio, she was on it like spots on dice.

FENWICK Jkt
Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

No. I don’t have a stopwatch for the amount of time I put into my work , just as I don’t go over my Profit & Loss sheets. I pay no attention to time and I pay even less to money. If I paid attention to those things, my worries would be all about time and money. As it is, my worries are all about art.

BANANA Jkt
Do you take pictures or do any types of research, before you start a project?

For things like architectural styles and period costumes one must have research tools, books and the Internet. Computers are amazing tools for this, but I cherish equally my collection of books, which is big. A book is a often a better research tool, especially when you don’t know specifically what you’re looking for, you often find it by leafing through the pages.

bananainterior
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Oh yes! I live on a prairie outside a small farming village, Population 800. There is a distinct lack of culture out here. We have a very small library, but nothing else, no museums, no theatres. Even though Chicago and Detroit are only 3 hours distant, we visit them only occasionally and for very brief stays. With e-mail I communicate daily with business friends, editors and art directors in NYC and with close friends in
Boston, San Francisco, Mexico, Paris and Brazil. It’s fantastic.

UNDERNEATH Jkt

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I hope to keep working and to fall over into my ink bottle when I croak. If there is an afterlife I hope they have a good art supply store there.

princess

What are you working on now?

I have a book coming out with Dial this September, CATCH THAT COOKIE! written by Hallie Durand. Next year will see GLAMOURPUSS by Sarah Weeks (Scholastic, Spring 2015.) At the moment I’m working on finals for BLOOM by Doreen Cronin (Atheneaum, Spring 2016.) I also have a graphic novel in the works. That will be published by Liveright.

interiorbowl

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

A few years ago I fell in love with a refillable brush pen made in Japan and distributed by Pentel. I buy mine from Wetpaint in St. Paul MN. (On their website store, click on Brush Pens and it will be the first item listed.) I drew most of Stitches with that pen, and I always travel with them to use in my sketchbooks.

As for”How To” tips, I have two good ones:

A. Always carry a sketchbook with you and use it. If you’re self-conscious about people watching you, wear tinted glasses and develop a “don’t mess with me” look. (You are, after all, at work, and you have to focus at all costs.)
B. If you’re learning watercolor, try to put down no more than three layers of color, the first having so little paint in it that you can hardly detect any color. This advice comes from good old John Ruskin’s “Elements of Drawing” (1857.) When I can calm my own impatient impulses and follow it, a painting usually works out beautifully. When I forget Ruskin’s tip, my painting gets muddy and has to be done again.

LIBRARY Jkt

Any words of wisdom you have on how to become a successful illustrator would be appreciated?

Sure. Don’t think about being a successful illustrator. Just try being a great one. Copy the old Masters.

B&WJKT 4a

Thank you David for sharing your journey, expertise, and process with us. Good luck with CATCH THE COOKIE. I hope it is a big success.

Here is the Amazon link for anyone who wants to check it out: CATCH THAT COOKIE by Hallie Durand.  Can anyone tell me who is Hallie Durand?

You can visit David at his website: http://www.davidsmallbooks.com

Please take a minute to leave David a comment. I am sure he would love to hear from you and as always, I would, too.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process, Tips Tagged: Caldecott Medal, Catch the Cookie, David Small, Sarah Stewart, Yale Graduate School of Art

11 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – David Small, last added: 8/17/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
8. Free Fall Friday Plus Alert

Writer Scam Alert!

The SCBWI put out this alert with writers. Didn’t want you to miss it:

Agents have been writing to us about a new type of “scam” they are seeing: agent middleman services. These are companies that, for a fee, will query agents for you. Agents overwhelming ignore queries from these companies. If you are having trouble getting an agent to represent you, your best plan of attack is to work on your manuscript and research the field. Join a critique group, attend an SCBWI event and make sure you are querying the right agents by searching though the agent directory in The Book. Paying a third party to query for you is not a fast track, it is just a waste of your money. How Not to Seek a Literary Agent: The Perils of “Middleman” Services

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

I know I’ve written about this before. But I’m seeing an increasing number of these kinds of “services,” and they are all worthless.

What am I talking about? Agent middleman services–services that, for a fee, purport to contact agents on your behalf with the aim of snagging representation and, hopefully, a publishing contract.

A particularly egregious example: Bookmarq.net’s Finding a Publisher service. (All errors courtesy of the original.)

Worth reading the full article. Here’s the link:

http://www.victoriastrauss.com/2014/08/12/how-not-to-seek-a-literary-agent-the-perils-of-middleman-services/

_________________________________________________________________________

Agent Holly McGhee is our Guest Critiquer for August. Holly McGhee opened Pippin Properties in 1998, after being an executive editor at HarperCollins and has built one of the most prestigious Literary Agencies in the Children’s Book Industry.

Holly says, “At Pippin we embrace every artistic endeavor, from picture books to middle-grade novels, nonfiction, young adult, graphic novels. We don’t follow trends—we encourage our clients to follow their hearts. Our philosophy, the world owes you nothing, you owe the world your best work, hasn’t changed, but as an agency we have evolved to keep pace with our clients.”

Among Holly’s celebrated clients are Kate DiCamillo, David Small, Doreen Cronin, Jandy Nelson, Kathi Appelt, Harry Bliss, Peter H. Reynolds, Sujean Rim, Jon Agee, and Holly’s very own big sister, Alison McGhee. Holly lives with her husband and three children fifteen miles west of the Lincoln Tunnel, and she also writes under the pen name Hallie Durand.

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in August:

Please “August First Page Critique” in the subject line. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Please attach your first page submission using one inch margins and 12 point font – double spaced, no more than 23 lines to an e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail and then also attach it in a Word document to the email.

DEADLINE: August 21st.

RESULTS: August 29th.

Use inch margins – double space your text – 12 pt. New Times Roman font – no more than 23 lines – paste into body of the email

You can only send in one first page each month. It can be the same first page each month or a different one, but if you sent it to me last month and it didn’t get chosen, you need to send it again using the August’s directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, need to know, writing Tagged: Agent Holly McGhee, Agent Middleman Services, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Pippin Properties, Victoria Strauss, Writer Alert

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday Plus Alert, last added: 8/15/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
9. August Kudos

jenniferReinherzcropped260It seems like I’ve been hearing from a lot of readers of this blog with good news. Some I can report now, Like Jennifer Reinharz who sent me this news:

The 83rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition notified me last week that my blog post, “A Pleasant Passover” was awarded 5th place in the Inspirational Writing category. 

She said, “If it wasn’t for your blog, I wouldn’t have entered the contest!”

You can read it on Jennifer’s blog: http://redsaidwhat.com/2014/05/01/128/

karen fortunati260Then I heard from Karen Fortunati. She told me after seeing my post about the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant, she submitted her Contemporary YA novel, The D-Day List, and WON!

Here’s a blurb about her book:

For seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski, life is intolerable with bipolar disorder and depression. There’s only one way out but before she can kill herself, she’s got to accomplish the one item on her D-Day List. And if she does, it may change everything.

I have a feeling I missed someone, so if I missed you please email me again. Thanks!

Here are some other industry changes. Many of you know the lovely Allison Wortche and Katherine Harrison. I was so happy to hear their news.

At Knopf Children’s, Allison Wortche has been promoted to senior editor while Katherine Harrison moves up to associate editor.

Phaidon has hired Cecily Kaiser as publishing director, Children’s Books and Meagan Bennett as art director for the division, both reporting to Deb Aaronson out of the company’s New York offices.

Jonathan Jao will join Harper on September 8 as vp, executive editor, reporting to Jonathan Burnham. Previously he was a senior editor at Random House.

Lauren Scobell has joined Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group as director, Swoon Reads.

You should get out your Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market by Chuck Sambuchino and make the changes.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Editors, Kudos, need to know, News, Publishing Industry Tagged: Jennifer Reinharz, Karen Fortunati, SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant, The D-Day List, The Pleasant Passover, Writer's Digest Annual Contest

7 Comments on August Kudos, last added: 8/14/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
10. Agent Looking for Clients

Alexander SlaterAlexander Slater from the Trident Media Group is looking to build his client list.

When asked how he became an agent at Trident, concentrating in the expanding children’s, middle grade and young adult businesses, Alex simply replies, “It was only natural.” While karma is not an established business concept,  it is clear that Alex’s career arc led him in this happy direction.

Start with Alex’s love of fiction, and in particular the stories that captivate the minds and imaginations of young people, from those so young that books are read to them, to young adults who get captivated by creative fiction. “I love to let myself go, and become the reader, whether the story is directed at a ten-year-old or a teenager,” says Alex.

Next is Alex’s experience at Trident, where he has been since 2010. He became a very successful agent representing the company’s children, middle grade and young adult authors in many licensing arrangements in the global marketplace for translation and in the English language in the U.K., having placed books with publishers in dozens of countries. Alex was Trident’s representative at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy, as well as the broader-based London and Frankfurt book fairs. His experience in representing fiction in these areas showed him what elements in stories work well, and how to maximize the value of what an author has created.

He is now building his list domestically at Trident, while keeping his focus on these areas.  As a Foreign Rights Agent, he sold international rights for authors such as R.J. Palacio, Louis Sachar, Jessica Sorensen, L.J. Smith, Rebecca Donovan, and many others.

Alex’s plan is to, “Look for stories that will rise above the rest with characters that will be remembered well past childhood, with the potential to cross over to other media and formats,” such as programming, games, motion pictures and merchandise. “Trident is the leader on taking advantage of the latest opportunities presented by changing technology,” says Alex, and, “I will be there to help make the latest innovations happen for my authors.”

“I believe that the most successful writers have a bit of the dreamer in them.” And Alex passionately believes that he can help turn their dreams into reality.

What Alexander is looking for: Alexander is interested in children’s, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction, from new and established authors.  As he says, “I’m looking for projects that will rise above the rest…characters you’ll remember well past childhood…books that translate well to film because within them contain incredible stories, not because they’re the latest trend.”  He particularly loves authors like Frank Portman, Jim Shepard, Jenny Han, and Rainbow Rowell.

How to submit: Send a query letter, pasted in the body of the email, to aslater [at] TridentMediaGroup.com. Your query should include only a paragraph about yourself, a brief plot pitch, and your contact information. Please do not send a manuscript or proposal until you have been requested to do so.

Follow him on Twitter: @abuckslater.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Alexander Slater, Trident Literary

2 Comments on Agent Looking for Clients, last added: 8/14/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
11. Matchmaking for Writers: Critique Partners

erikaphoto-45Jersey Farm Scribe here on:

Matchmaking for Writers: Critique Partners

It’s your baby, your pride and joy. It’s put you through countless cups of coffee, frustration and tears, drizzled with moments of incomparable joy when things just click. Fingernails have been shredded, dishes have piled up, and sleep?? You’ve basically forgotten what that is.

And now you’re supposed to let someone else actually READ it????

AND CRITIQUE IT???

But what if they don’t understand?? They don’t know the characters like I do!! How can I just hand it over to someone else, basically for the sole purpose of being criticized?

What am I? A masochist?

You want the honest answer? It’s simple. The answer is: Yes. Yes, you are. J

Here you are, actively seeking someone who will point out the flaws in your work… the more the better. And it’s going to hurt.

But you don’t want people to just tell you they loved it and what a great writer you are. Well… you do (or at least I certainly do! Sometimes I just need that motivator, that lift, that person that makes me feel good about my work, and myself). But that’s what your friends and family are for! If you do happen to be friends with your critique partners, you need to separate that friendship from the critique process.

It’s incredibly nerve-wracking to hand your manuscript to someone else. And it’s exciting at the same time. This means you have something complete enough for someone to actually read! Go you!! Now you have to be brave enough to let them.

Finding the Right Partners

There is a balance in a good critique partner that just fits. And like most relationships, it’s almost hard to put into words. (Unfortunately there is no eHarmony for us!) Finding the right person or people makes all the difference in what you get out of the process.

Here are a few things I look for:

Praise and critique combo: Everyone has a balance here. Rarely will you find someone who would just say “this stinks”. Most people will balance negatives will some level of positive. But personally, I want someone who isn’t afraid to tell me about major holes or plot arcs that they don’t think work, even if it means a huge re-write. But, for that ego side of me, I also need someone who can also point out a think or two that they DO like, and even better, WHY they like it. This also helps me see my own strengths so I can guide my writing in that direction in the future.

Relative Match in Style: While I don’t think the genres need to match, there does need to be some common ground. Someone who writes zombie thrillers may not be on the same page as a picture book author.   Personal beliefs can come into play here as well. Some people believe strongly in books that push boundaries, others in the value of simplicity and comfort more within those same boundaries. Certainly neither person is right or wrong, but the two would probably not make good critique partners.

They GET Your Writing: You don’t want someone who is going to push you to be anyone other than the true writer inside you, so you need them to appreciates your voice.   If your voice as a writer comes through as an edgy, jaded teenager from a broken home, and your critique partner only likes upbeat, bubbly writing, they’re going to want your writing to be less… you.   No one can (or should) please everyone.   No writing voice pleases everyone either.   You need someone who will encourage the voice inside you to come out.

You Love THEIR Writing: Critique partners is often set up as an exchange. My critique partners are people whose writing I highly respect, I enjoy reading their work, and I learn from their writing. You want someone who you can build a mutual relationship with over time, sharing the ups and downs and exchanging motivation.

Good Communication: Are you looking for just a few comments? Line edits? Overall thoughts? At different stages in the process you may be in need of completely different types of critiques. For example, if you’re submitting to an agent in two days, you may be looking for typos, simple fixes, odd word usage, but NOT major character or plot changes. You need to be able to trust that you can communicate that to them without a problem.

Good critique partners are worth their weight in GOLD. I have been so lucky to have found a few who are amazing, and it really is hard to put into words. Their feedback has been helpful, not just for that particular manuscript, but has given me perspective on my writing that flows forward into all my work.

And as I’ve said before, like Kathy said to me the first time she gave me a critique. critiques are SUGGESTIONS NOT INSTRUCTIONS. It’s important to be open-minded, and put serious non-biased consideration (at least as non-biased as possible) into every one. But don’t feel pressured to take them all. A good critique partner will also never be offended if you didn’t take their suggestions.

Critiques are an important part in the journey of writing and publication. It may take a few tries to find the partners that work best for you. But it’s important to keep looking, because good critique partners can really help you bring your manuscript, and your writing in general, to the next level.

So take the plunge, send work out to be read by others, and find the critique partners that work for you.

Because your manuscripts are worth it!

Thank you Erika for another super article. I am sure everyone will enjoy reading this.

If you are looking for a critique group, you should look first to your local SCBWI Chapter. They should be able to set you on the right path. Plus, don’t forget you can find other writers from around the country to work with online.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, Process, Tips Tagged: Critique Partners, Erika Wassall, Jersey Farm Scribe, Matchmaking for Writers, Writing and Illustrating

2 Comments on Matchmaking for Writers: Critique Partners, last added: 8/13/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. No Fee: Ordinary Guru Project Contest

guru

In the international bestseller, And Then I Met Margaret, real estate entrepreneur  and founder of Mind Adventure, Inc. Rob White recounts 21 stories of personal transformation brought about by his encounters with everyday, ordinary, unassuming gurus who crossed his path over seven decades of living. These stories chronicle how “everyday, ordinary gurus” surround us and come into our lives when we need them most. The overwhelming response from readers who were eager to share their own stories and personal shift of perspective for “guru spotting” inspired Rob to found the “Ordinary Guru Project.” Now Rob invites you to share your own story of personal transformation with a chance to win $5,000 and become a published author in a book tentatively titled The Ordinary Guru Project.

We’re looking for short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, cartoons, and poems about ordinary gurus. Ordinary gurus teach us what we  need to know in order to expand our view of ourselves and the world. These gurus aren’t just people— they can also be anything in nature that offers you an insight or life-lesson, perhaps a pet, a wild animal, or even a tree that helps you see yourself or life differently.

Whomever/whatever the ordinary guru, your story must embody a personal experience. Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 1,200 words, and can be as short as a few sentences. Your story must be an original creation. It can detail a recent encounter or it may be related to an ordinary guru from your past. Additionally, we will need a 50-100 word bio. If your entry is selected for inclusion in The Ordinary Guru Project, your bio will be positioned directly after your story, so as to allow for maximize exposure of your blog, website, or previous publications and works.

We welcome and look forward to reading your tales of transformation!

PRIZES:

  • First Prize: $5,000
  • Second Prize: $2,500
  • Third Prize: $1,500.

SUBMISSION FEE: There is NO fee to enter.

TIMING: The contest will run from 12:00 AM Eastern Time (“ET”) on April 1, 2014 to 11:59 p.m. ET on August 31, 2014.

JUDGING: The contest will be judged by the team members of Mind Adventure, Inc.  Winners and finalists will be announced on or about October 1, 2014. All contest entrants who enter will be notified by email of the judges’ decisions, which are final. (See the Official Rules for details of judging and other aspects of the contest.)

Submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Authenticity & believability (33.3%)
  • Relevance to theme (33.3%)
  • Heartfelt feeling (33.3%)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE CONTEST!

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Competition, Contest, earn money, opportunity, Places to sumit, Win, writing Tagged: No fee Writing Contest, The Ordinary Guru Project

0 Comments on No Fee: Ordinary Guru Project Contest as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Agent Talk: 7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With

carly-watters-p-s-literary-agencyA few weeks ago, Agent Carly Watters on her blog talked about after you write a great manuscript, how does an agent decide to work with someone after that? She has seven tips.

7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With by Carly Watters:

1. Open to revisions

Right away, I know if an author is going to be a fit for me based on how they react to revision ideas. Agents are looking for writers that are open to feedback and collaboration. If I gave you an R&R did you connect with my notes? Did you ask questions that take my notes from suggestions to big picture changes that make the novel better?

2. Always wants to get better

A line I like to use is “trust your future self.” What that means to me is if you can write good novel, you can write many more. Getting defensive about your novel means you are holding on to it when really you should be willing to let it go and work on the next. Agents are looking to represent authors for the long term, so what we need is the faith that you want to be the best writer, every time you write a new book. We know there will be ups and downs, but it’s that drive to succeed that will separate many writers from the ones that don’t make it.

3. Treats assistants and senior industry members alike

From time to time we get people who respond to our query letter auto-response with condescending and mean emails. It doesn’t matter who is on the other end of those emails, our principal agent or our assistant, you have to be friendly to everyone–not just the people who influence your career. Those mean emails just reinforce our decision to pass without a second thought.

4. Asks questions

I love it when authors want to know more about the process. Don’t be shy about wanting to know how the business works. Whether it’s a Twitter #askagent session or when you’re on ‘The Call’ with an agent, make sure you ask the important questions that help your understanding.

5. Trusts us

The number one way to work with an agent for a long period of time is trust. I know this isn’t built over night, but you have to trust your agent to have your best interests at heart. This is one of the most important long-term author/agent relationship requirements. Only query agents that you see yourself working with and that you already trust (whether it’s a referral, their taste or client list).

6. Communication

This is part of trust, but authors have to be up-front with agents. Did you self publish before? Have you had an agent before? Can you share your sales numbers from your previous book? It’s the little things that add up when it comes to communication. We need to know everything if we’re going to represent you well.

7. Professional on social media

As easy as it is for authors to Google agents to see if we might be a fit for you, when we fall in love with a query or manuscript the first thing we do is Google you back. What agents love to see on social media is a personality (not just link blasts). You don’t have to have a ton of followers (but points if you do!) to get our attention. It’s all about the balance between promotion and personality. We love it when authors are part of writing communities and support other authors. That means, when the time comes, those other published writers will support you too.

You should check out Carly’s Blog: http://carlywatters.com/blog/

PS Literary is looking for an intern. Carly has information about working remotely for them. If you have any aspirations to become a literary Agent, this would be something to consider.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, article, authors and illustrators, list, opportunity, Social Media, Tips Tagged: 7 Ways to Make Yourself an Easy Author to Work with, Carly Watters

3 Comments on Agent Talk: 7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With, last added: 8/10/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
14. Illustrator Saturday – Rebecca Caridad

I would like to introduce you to illustrator Rebecca Caridad. I think you will enjoy reading the interview I had with her and getting to know her through her playful artwork. Here is Rebecca:

rebeccapicFor me, illustration is the key to my secret garden, my golden ticket, my looking glass, my glass slipper. I draw and paint as a way to free my mind and escape into the many worlds of the written word. Whether it be for the pages of children’s books, greeting cards, gifts, or decor; I incorporate children, adults, animals, fantasy creatures, and landscapes in a unique and imaginative way in order to tell the story. I work digitally to bring my characters and environments to life and transport the viewer to a place of dreams.

Sep 2003 – Present, Whippany Park High School, Art Teacher

Sep 1997 – May 2001, University of Delaware, Bachelor of Fine Arts; concentration: Photography

Jan 2002 – May 2003, William Paterson University, Initial Certification Program; K-12 Teacher of Art

Jun 2010 – May 2014, Academy of Art University (AAU), Master of Fine Arts; Traditional Illustration Program: Children’s Book Illustration

2014 MFA Illustration Spring Show

Here is Rebecca discussing her process:

rebeccaSecretGarden_reference

I shot a reference photo for the girl (this is a picture of my cousin’s daughter) and used this to draw out the pose. I found other references for the animals using Pinterest.

rebeccaCaridad_Sketches

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage1

Then I began sketching. I had an idea of the composition, but I drew out my characters separately first so that I could scan them and make the arrangement and adjustments in PhotoShop.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage2

I change my sketch layers to blending mode: multiply so that I can see through them and I start to build my layers of color. I start with my background color and a few background elements.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage3

I then start to build up some of the surroundings – adding layers of textures.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage4

In this particular image, I added the archway next, this provided the frame for the composition.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage5

I painted in my characters with their basic colors and shapes.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage6

I then turned off the visibility of the arch sketch and added in the detail and the layers of ivy.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage7

I turn off the visibility of the sketch layers and put in highlights, shadows, and details of the characters.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage8

Work to finish the highlights, shadows, and details.

rebeccaScreen Shot_showing layers

View of screen and layers in Photoshop.

rebeccaSecret Garden_resubmit2wText

Final illustration.

How long have you been illustrating?

I haven’t been illustrating long. I just finished my MFA program in May and I have just started to promote myself as an illustrator.

rebeccacharlie

I see that you got your BA at the University of Delaware; concentration: Photography, what made you choose to get an MFA in Illustration from Academy of Art University in San Francisco?

I actually started as a painting major at the University of Delaware. I always knew that I wanted to do something that involved art, I just didn’t know what exactly.   It wasn’t until I took a photography class as one of my BFA requirements that I fell in love. I loved capturing an image and then watching it emerge on paper in the darkroom. I decided to pursue photography after that experience and was even able to do a study abroad trip to New Zealand during my time as an undergraduate. Soon after graduating I realized that I wanted to be able to share my passion for the arts, so I went back to school for my teacher’s certification. I have been teaching ever since. I truly love sharing through my artwork, and I thought what better way to do that then through illustration. I still remember the artwork and stories that I read as a child and how they shaped me. I wanted to be a part of that experience and help express the words of a written page into a world that any child could enjoy. I chose the Academy of Art University to pursue these dreams because of its excellent reputation and the convenience of taking my classes online while I continued to teach full time.

rebeccacharlotte

Since you live in New Jersey did you do most of your studies online? If so, can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

At first I was a bit hesitant about pursuing an art degree online, but the way that AAU runs its classes is pretty incredible. I didn’t miss trucking my supplies to different classrooms and I was able to enjoy being part of a University with peer feedback and discussions and professors that were extremely helpful and available! Artwork is submitted digitally, whether you work traditionally or not. If you are working on an oil painting, you shoot photographs of your work, if you are drawing, you can scan it, and if you are using Photoshop you just save it. Classmates and professors review your work and make comments. Many of the professors would mark up the files using what they called a “whiteboard” and even left audio files of their comments. Demonstrations could be viewed as videos, so that they could be reviewed whenever you wanted. I thought the experience was fantastic and I am so glad that I was able to do it.

rebeccacinderfloor

Does getting your MFA online, help to cut the cost of getting your degree?

The MFA program was not any less expensive then taking traditional classes. You still pay tuition and buy the supplies that are needed. What was better about the online degree was that I was able to attend a university across the country and work on my artwork and lessons when I had the time… evenings and weekends.

rebecca snow

Does the school promise to give you help in getting established with work?

They didn’t promise an established career, but they certainly prepared me to head out into the world. All of the professors were working professionals and their expectations for us during our classes were to prepare us for working in the industry.   Previous to graduation we were required to take a Professional Practices course that shared valuable resources and pushed us to do research that would get us started on our path to be recognized by art directors and agents. During that class I was able to create my first promotional postcard and business card, as well as a list of 50 contacts in order to start my promotional mailings.

rebeccadoctor

What was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

The very first artwork that earned me money was in high school. I painted a fantasy garden mural for a baby’s nursery that included a frog prince and fairies of my own design. I babysat for many years and it helped me pay for my teacher certification program after undergrad, but creating artwork for the families to decorate their children’s spaces helped me earn even more.

What type of work did you do after you graduated with your BA?

I have been teaching high school art, photography, and graphic design now for 11 years and in that time have designed, built, and painted the scenery for the dramas and musicals, designed t-shirts and posters for the school, and have even been the head yearbook adviser. I have continually found ways to share my artwork no matter what I was doing. I have even done event photography, event décor, and face painting for an event planning and rental company on the side.

rebeccaboydog

Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?

The classes that I have taken have definitely influenced my style. I feel that with each course I took I was able to learn more and develop more through the experiences and expertise of those that taught each class. At first I had a hard time keeping my characters consistent, but after taking a Character Design course with the Animation department I was able to start to develop set character traits that could be used in multiple poses and more dynamic gestures. And, of course my medium of choice changed as well… I was able to try everything from oil, to watercolor, markers, collage, and digital painting. After several classes where we were able to choose our medium, I really started to pick up digital painting and I thoroughly enjoy it now.

rebecca4

When did you do your the first illustration for children? 10. How did that come about?

My illustrations for children started back while I was babysitting. I was inspired by the kids that I saw everyday and I would draw and paint things that I knew they would enjoy. Not all of it was for profit, but it made me happy because it brought smiles to their faces.

rebecca2

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

I decided I wanted to illustrate books during my years of teaching.   I have been an avid reader all of my life. I love all forms of books… the children’s book section is a place of wonder and inspiration, YA books are fun to read with the fantasy worlds they evoke, whether reality based or imagined, and I wanted to be a part of it! I have been teaching book cover design in my graphic design classes for years and it is one of my favorite units. I thought it would be incredible to be able to create books for real!

rebecca5

Have you worked with educational publishers?

I am just getting started as a professional illustrator and have not been published yet.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No, but I would like to.

rebeccadragon

Are you open to illustrating a self-published picture book for an author?

I am in the process of self-promotion so I am examining all options. I’d have to make sure that the author was serious about their venture, but I believe it would be an excellent opportunity for me.

rebeccaad

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own books?

I have tried writing in the past and although I want to illustrate picture books, my words and stories always seem more suitable to chapter books. After attending the NJSCBWI conference this past June, I was re-inspired to try it again. Maybe one day I’ll go for it, but in the meantime I would love to be able to illustrate for the stories of others.

rebeccabug

Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who? And how did you connect with them?

If not, would you like to have one?

I do not have an artist rep., but I think it’s an excellent idea to get one. It is one of my goals to try to connect with a rep. through my promotional mailings or even online.

PenguinLogo_line

What types of things did you do to market yourself and get your work seen?

So far, I have designed promotional cards, a business card, and updated my resume. I have a website, a Facebook page dedicated to my illustration, a Twitter account, a Behance portfolio account, and a Linked In profile. I have been submitting my work to contests and shows in hopes of getting recognized for my art. So far I was honored to be a part of the Academy of Art’s MFA Spring Show, an honorable mention from 3×3 The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration in their International Show (both for my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover design concept), and I am submitting work to Creative Quarterly’s competition this month.   I also think attending the recent NJSCBWI conference was a great start to the process of getting my work seen, because I took part in the Juried Art Show and the Portfolio display. I was also able to meet many new people in the industry that have been incredibly helpful and friendly!

rebeccapenquintwins

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love to dabble in just about everything, but my medium of choice is definitely digital.

Has that changed over time?

The reason I prefer digital painting is the easy clean up. There really isn’t any, plus it is safe, odor-free, and I am able to make corrections fairly easily without having to start over, like I might with watercolor paints. I was terrible at digital painting in the beginning, but I have grown and learned so much through my MFA courses and I think I have really developed a style through it.

rebeccadowntheshore

Do you have a studio in your house?

I have a room dedicated to my work and art. It has everything I need in it for my digital painting process. I have a drawing table, a light box, a bookshelf with inspirations and supplies, a computer, a scanner, a printer, and my wacom tablet.

rebeccatree

What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

I could not live without my Wacom Drawing Tablet. I love to be able to paint using what feels like a brush or a pencil, instead of my laptop’s track pad mouse. It has controls right on it, so I can easily zoom in, or change my brush size, or even pick up new colors. Eventually I would love to trade up to a Wacom Cintiq tablet. That would allow me to “paint” on the actual surface of my artwork, instead of next to it. I think it would feel more like the natural painting process and I look forward to that – someday….

rebeccahappy

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I dedicate a bit of each day to my artwork. Sometimes it’s actually working on a painting and other times I am sketching ideas, either way it helps me realize my ideas.

Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

I like to shoot references for my drawings/paintings, but if that opportunity isn’t available look at myself for expressions and poses, or use the Internet (google images or Pinterest).

rebeccastaurt

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

The Internet has definitely opened doors for me after all I was able to earn an entire degree online. It is a great resource for references (although I prefer to shoot my own) or inspirations. Most of all, I think it has provided me with many opportunities to share my work with people that I may not ever have the chance to meet in person, or even know about. Social networking has brought about many more chances to network.

rebeccapenquinyellow

What do you feel was your biggest success?

So far my biggest success was earning my MFA. It has allowed me to realize my dreams and create a body of work that really reflects my style.

Do you use Photoshop and/or Painter with your illustrations?

I mostly use Adobe Photoshop, but sometimes I will bring my illustrations into Corel Painter to enhance some of the textures. Sometimes, I will even use Adobe Illustrator to draw or even refine my sketches.

rebecca8

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

Yes, as I mentioned before, it has really made the painting process so much more natural. I love it!

rebecca1Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I would love to illustrate a children’s picture book and have it published. I know that many of your reader’s have already achieved this goal, but I’m so excited and passionate about reaching it!

rebecca7

What are you working on now?

Right now my goal is to develop more portfolio pieces and character designs. Much of what I took away from the workshops at the NJSCBWI conference was that the ability to develop a strong character (and show him/her in multiple ways) could get you noticed by an art director or agent. Strong characters mean the possibilities for additional stories or even merchandise. So I am continuing to draw and paint, and of course trying to promote my work and get it seen.

rebeccapajama

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I like to use Non-Photo Blue pencils as I begin to sketch. It allows me to rough out gestures and poses and make mistakes and corrections without interfering with the final result. The great thing about them is they will not copy. So, I can go over the lines I want to keep with a graphite pencil and only see them when copied. If I scan my drawings, I can easily remove the rough blue lines in Photoshop and just keep what I need to get started in my painting. I like the quality of line and movement that you get when you are first drawing a subject. If you have to trace the lines later, I often feel like they stiffen up.

rebeccamouse

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Since I am just starting out I don’t feel like I can properly impart any words of wisdom, but I know one thing… enjoy what you do and never lose your passion. It is what has gotten me where I am so far and I’m hoping it leads me to fulfilling my dreams.

rebeccaoil

Above: One of Rebecca’s oil paintings.

Thank you Rebecca for taking the time to share your process and journey with us. We look forward to hearing about your future successes.

To see more of Rebecca’s illustrations you can visit her at:

Website: http://www.rebeccacaridad.crevado.com  

Please take a minute to leave a comment for Rebecca, I know she would love to heard from you and I always appreciate it. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: MFA Children's Book Illustration, Rebecca Cardid

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Rebecca Caridad, last added: 8/11/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
15. Free Fall Friday – Holly McGhee

Holly_McGheeI am very happy to announce that Agent Holly McGhee has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for August. Holly McGhee opened Pippin Properties in 1998, after being an executive editor at HarperCollins and has built one of the most prestigious Literary Agencies in the Children’s Book Industry.

Holly says, “At Pippin we embrace every artistic endeavor, from picture books to middle-grade novels, nonfiction, young adult, graphic novels. We don’t follow trends—we encourage our clients to follow their hearts. Our philosophy, the world owes you nothing, you owe the world your best work, hasn’t changed, but as an agency we have evolved to keep pace with our clients.”

Among Holly’s celebrated clients are Kate DiCamillo, David Small, Doreen Cronin, Jandy Nelson, Kathi Appelt, Harry Bliss, Peter H. Reynolds, Sujean Rim, Jon Agee, and Holly’s very own big sister, Alison McGhee. Holly lives with her husband and three children fifteen miles west of the Lincoln Tunnel, and she also writes under the pen name Hallie Durand.

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in August:

Please “August First Page Critique” in the subject line. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Please attach your first page submission using one inch margins and 12 point font – double spaced, no more than 23 lines to an e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail and then also attach it in a Word document to the email.

DEADLINE: August 21st.

RESULTS: August 29th.

Use inch margins – double space your text – 12 pt. New Times Roman font – no more than 23 lines – paste into body of the email

You can only send in one first page each month. It can be the same first page each month or a different one, but if you sent it to me last month and it didn’t get chosen, you need to send it again using the August’s directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Publishers and Agencies, submissions Tagged: First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties

1 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Holly McGhee, last added: 8/11/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
16. Amazon Reviews and Ebook Price Reductions

reviews

  • Give out a ARC to people who have a large following on their blogs, but ask them to commit to reading your book and doing a review. Need to work on this months before your book is released. Remember the more reviews you get the better your book will do, but they need to be good reviews.
  • For the people who you gave an ARC to, ask them to pass on the book to another person to read to expand your audience.
  • Ask everyone who does a review on Amazon to also put it up on Goodreads, too.
  • If you have an ebook, consider having Amazon offer it on their Deal of the Day. Reducing the price for a few days or a week, will boost your sales and start word of mouth.
  • Have family/friends/colleagues/fans buy your book during a ‘soft’ launch (pre-advertising, or promoting your book on social media).
  • Price your book at 99 cents (the lowest allowed by Amazon) and drive as much traffic as you can during your ‘soft’ launch window.  Once you have the bar filled you can re-price your book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, How to, Marketing a book, need to know, reference, Tips Tagged: Advanced Reader Copy, Amazon Ebook Price Reduction, Amazon Reviews

1 Comments on Amazon Reviews and Ebook Price Reductions, last added: 8/7/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
17. Amazon Strategies: Sales Page

amazonsalespage

If your book is up on Amazon, you can have an Author Page. This is another opportunity for you, so use it. Here are a few tips:

1. Think of your book’s Amazon.com page as a ¼ page ad in a glossy magazine. You want to build excitement, hype, and the urge to buy rather than dutifully explaining your product.

2. Watch out for typos and grammar, so you put your best foot forward. Make sure what is written makes sense. If you can’t write a good Author Page, most people will think you can’t write a good novel, either.

3. Include review quotes. You want to draw someone into buying your book.

4. Put up book trailers, interviews, and videos on your Amazon page.

5. You can show recent blog posts and twitter entries.

6. List places your events and the dates.

7. Another thing you can do is to encourage a discussion with your fans on this page.

Let’s take a look at Yvonne Ventresca’s Author Page:

yvonneauthorpage

Yvonne has included a lot of the tips on the above list, but I’d like to see her add a few quotes from reviews of Pandemic, a book trailer, and to work on getting a video interview she can put up on the page. Adding these things will maximize the free space Amazon has given her and help increase the sales of her new book.

Good job, Yvonne!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Book, list, Marketing a book, Publishing Industry, Tips Tagged: Amazon Sales Page, Maximize Book Sales, Pandemic, Yvonne Ventresca

2 Comments on Amazon Strategies: Sales Page, last added: 8/6/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
18. Amazon Strategies: Look Inside

amazonlook inside

blondeops

Let’s take a look at another feature that Amazon offers anyone who sells their books on their site.

Don’t miss out on using this feature. This is another reason why it is important to make sure your first chapter sings.

Personally for me to buy, I look over five things:

Price: I buy lots of ebooks that are offered at $1.99 or less, without having read anything about them.

Cover: I don’t buy books where I don’t like the cover, unless someone else said they were good. I guess I believe in first impressions.

Reviews: I read what book is about and a couple reviews. A few bad reviews don’t stop me from buying, since I’ve read many top-seller books that I thought were great that received a few terrible reviews.

Publisher: I check out who published the book. If it is from a well-known publisher, that could seal the deal right there.

Look inside: If I have not clicked the button to buy, I will “Look inside”. That’s when I put on my editor/agent hat and only give five minutes to the author to grab me before I make my decision. Sometimes the problem is that the book really grabs you and then you have to read the whole thing, even when the desk is piled with work and the kitchen needs to be clean. Many of those books have been self-published, so don’t stick your nose up at them or else you might missed something really good.

Here are some tips on using the “Look inside” feature.  

1. Keep front matter to a minimum. You want to make sure the reader can get to the meat of the story quickly. This is also important to do this with the full ebook.

2. Amazon Reviews. Work hard to get as many as you can when you launch the book. This will help raise your ranking and buyers who have read the first pages will look at this, especially if you are self-published.

3. At the end of your book you should ask the reader to write a review. Stats show that this helps you increase your sales numbers.

4. Hot New Releases List on Amazon should be in the forefront of your mind when planning a launch. Talk to your publisher to see if they have planned your novels launch based on other similar books coming out. If there are too many it will hurt your chances of making the list. The list is only good for the first 30 days of a books release.

5. Making sure your blog followers know about your book and doing book tours can help get the word out. It’s nice to get the buzz going, but you need to make sure you keep the big guns for the launch date.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, authors and illustrators, Internet, Marketing a book, Process, Publishing Industry, Tips Tagged: Amazon Look Inside, Amazon Strategies, How to Sell More Books, How to Sell More Books Workshop

7 Comments on Amazon Strategies: Look Inside, last added: 8/7/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
19. Working Out the Details

erikaphoto-45Hello again! Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

PATIENCE: Working out the Details

Speaking from my own personal situation, I just did a major revision on my chapter book. It brought my story a bit more full circle, drawing some of the ending and pulling piece of it into the beginning.

Exciting stuff and I love the way it’s reading now.

But that was a pretty major revision for me, and I’m realizing that in some ways, it’s set me back a good bit. There are parts that don’t flow as well now, character reactions that don’t make sense and redundancies that are just plain annoying.

While I knew it would happen, to be honest, it’s quite frustrating.

Grumble, grumble… I JUST went over all this stuff…

There is a part of me that instinctively desires to push things back the way they were so I can make certain scenes read through properly again.

Plus, I have this crazy voice in the back of my head. It keeps thinking about the SCBWI conference I attended at the end of June, the people I talked to, the editors and agents who showed interest and who I have this amazing opportunity to submit to. And the voice says:

YOU MUST SUBMIT IT NOW!! 

Voice absolutely hates the idea of letting too much time go by. It thinks that the agents and editors will wonder… what took so darn long???

And while you may get different opinions from different people, the logical side of my brain knows that Voice is simply wrong. They knew I had revisions to do, and I’m talking an extra month or two, not years.

Agents and editors, of all people, KNOW how long revisions can take. All the ones I spoke to, not only understood, but respected writers for taking the time to do revisions correctly and present the absolute BEST manuscript possible.

Now, don’t get me wrong, deadlines are important, and being realistic is important. In this case, there is no “deadline”. But still, I don’t want the agents and editors who were open to seeing my work to wait an entire year to see it. Largely because the chances of them still remembering who I am drop pretty dramatically. And if at all possible, I definitely want that little light to go on.

But revisions often lead to more revisions, and I think it’s important to ride that train until it naturally evens out and becomes the story that it’s meant to be.

So whenever making a major revision, keep in mind that you may end up producing more necessary changes than you expect. And don’t be afraid to change things that may cause large re-writes or entire character redevelopment.

After every major revision, I remind myself that I need to take the time to do what I call domino revisions

How did my revision affect the arc and rhythm of the story? Is there too little or too much action at any particular point now? Does a chapter break or mini climax need to be altered?

How did it affect the characters? Experiences shape our interpretation of everything around us. If a character’s experience changed at in my revision, their reactions to things later on may need to change as well.

Did my revision involve the scene, timeline, family dynamics… anything where I need to check for congruence throughout the rest of the manuscript.

The list goes on.

Manuscripts develop like the people created on their pages. Growing up can take much longer than we’d like, and the stage before we become adults can be the most frustrating part.

Who hasn’t met a teenager who makes dramatic changes? It’s not easy. But whether they stick with those changes or not, they are often a big part of what shapes them as an adult.

Our manuscripts need a lot of patience, as they are becoming the living beings they are meant to be. But you know what…. they’re worth it!

Thank you Erika for another great article to help all of us improve our skills.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, authors and illustrators, Process, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: Erika Wassell, Jersey Farm Scribe, Revision Tips

5 Comments on Working Out the Details, last added: 7/29/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
20. Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales

Thought you might be interested in the information I presented at the “How to Sell More Books” Workshop I gave at the NJSCBWI Conference in June. You might want to use it as a general rule of thumb when checking out your book (on other books) on Amazon.
amazon rank

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book, demystify, How to, list, need to know, Publishing Industry, reference Tagged: 2014 NJSCBWI Conference, Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales, How to Sell More Books

4 Comments on Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales, last added: 8/2/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
21. Agent Looking for Clients

MarykAgent Mary Krienke: Mary joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2006 after receiving her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She now lives in Brooklyn.

Mary works with Sterling Lord and represents literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic YA that pays close attention to craft and voice. She is especially drawn to new and emerging writers who seek to push boundaries of form and content, and she responds most strongly to writing that reaches great emotional and psychological depths. She is equally interested in work that illuminates through humor or by playing with genre. Her other interests include psychology, art, and design.

How to submit: You can email Mary with your submissions. For fiction, please send a synopsis and the first three chapters or a 50 page sample. If submitting non-fiction, send a detailed proposal.

Queries should be sent to info @ sll.com with “Attn: Mary Krienke” in the email subject line. Cover letters should be in the body of the email but send the actual submission as a Word document attachment.

You can find Mary on Twitter: @MaryKrienke.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Mary Krienke, Sterling Lord Literistic

0 Comments on Agent Looking for Clients as of 7/31/2014 3:56:00 AM
Add a Comment
22. Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenny Bent

patricia Pinsk summer_pinsk_02
This Goldilocks illustration was sent in by Patricia Pinsk. It was done as a paper collage with ink, watercolour, digital textures. Her work includes multi-media drawing, illustration, photography, glass-work, sculpture as well as Web-based graphics for the corporate world. Website: http://www.patriciapinsk.com Twitter: @PatriciaPinsk

Below are the first page critiques done by literary agent, Jenny Bent. We can all learn a lot from what Jenny had to say.

Deena Graves – TERRAZA – Young Adult

Pizza sauce, garlic, and beer did not mix. Not when all three meshed, creating a gag-inducing stench in the faded black fibers of my Perky Pepper T-shirt. Dixie would shoot me dead for sure. The last time I came home from the pizza shop smelling like a garbage disposal, she threatened to hose me down in the front yard before I’d “ever step one soiled foot” into her home.

Shrugging into my fleece jacket, I ignored the stink of my shirt and shoved my dark-framed glasses back up my nose. I scowled down at my beat-up Mongoose and the flat tire forcing me to walk my happy ass home.

“Hey, Luc!” a voice called from behind. I kept walking, stealing a quick glance over my shoulder. Max jogged toward me, holding up the sides of his pants. I snorted. If he didn’t wear them so low, maybe the stupid things would stay up.

“Wait up, man,” he panted, pulling up beside me. “You know bikes were designed to be ridden, right?” Max eyed my flat and sucked in a breath. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” I tossed him the souvenir I’d found wedged in the rubber tread. “And they ride better when the tires aren’t shredded.”

He inspected the chunk of weird black glass about the size of a half-dollar, tossing it from hand to hand. It weighed next to nothing, and no thicker than my pinkie, but its wicked, chiseled edge had almost cut my finger trying to dislodge it. “This was in your tire?”

I nodded. “I bet it was Manager Mike, the douche nugget.” I scowled out at the dark, Edison Square of squat, brick buildings. The stretch of small-town antique shops, specialty clothing stores, and trendy eateries had long since closed for the night. A brisk October wind cut through my fleece jacket.

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

Terraza

Lively voice which is great, I’m seeing too many flat voices in YA contempt these days. Not sure the voice is always completely authentic– “gag-inducing stench” doesn’t feel to me something like a teenaged boy would say. I did like the voice overall however. And line by line the writing is strong here.

I would like to see this author push themselves a little more to write a really “wow” first page. The skill level is there. But I am not sure from reading this that the book is beginning at the right point. I like the hint of mystery that someone sabotaged his bike. But the writer is starting with a conversation, which can be a tricky way to start a book, particularly when the conversation is not necessarily a very interesting or illuminating one.

I would try instead to either start in a place that is a bigger moment for the character or a place with perhaps more emotion for the character.

Alternatively, the author could perhaps have the character show/feel a little more here. What is his mental state as the story opens? We don’t know, beyond annoyed, and I’d like a little more on that. What is his general frame of mind as the story opens? What is he thinking about as he leaves work, is there anything significant on his mind? How does he feel about his friend Max beyond the thought about his pants, I can’t tell. If the author gave us more access to thoughts/feelings, we could get a better sense of him right away. Also, perhaps these two could banter a little more and we could get a sense of their personalities and relationship that way. Right now their conversation isn’t that interesting. It’s there to convey information about the bike, some of which we know already (there’s a flat tire) but it should serve more purpose than that–it should also illuminate character and it should also entertain. And is there a different way he could react to the flat tire? Something funny or unusual that would really intrigue the reader?

And finally, I would love the author push him/herself a little more with the opening line. The opening line to a book should be the best sentence the author has ever written. It doesn’t have to be necessarily super action-packed or dramatic, but it should instantly intrigue, or amuse, or create thought. I fear that this one is a bit of a throw-away.

__________________________________________________________

Helen Landalf – CLEO – YA novel 

The minute I slither into my sequined tank, Joan starts to disappear. I yank it down to show a little cleavage, slide on my black lace over-the-elbow gloves, and she fades even more. Then I squeeze into a pair of velvet leggings that hug her queen-size thighs, top them off with a flirty skirt, and step into my red stilettos. She’s almost gone.

“Joan,” comes Mom’s voice from outside the bedroom door. “Are you in there, honey?”

Elizabeth Taylor, in her Cleopatra gown and headdress, gazes down at me from the poster above my dresser. Ignore her, she seems to say. You’ve got work to do.

I glance at my phone, but there’s no text from Matt. Grabbing the bottle of foundation, I slather the cold, sweet-smelling liquid along my skin. The little potholes left over from Joan’s acne outbreak back in middle school? Gone. Next comes blush, the soft brush whispering glitter and bone structure onto Joan’s chipmunk cheeks, followed by eyeliner that sweeps into a dramatic V at my temples, adding flair and width to Joan’s squinty eyes. I glance up at the poster again and paint it thick and black, just like Liz’s.

The doorknob wiggles. “Joan?” Mom says.

“Be out in a sec.” I fluff my limp brown hair to create the illusion of fullness and then dim the lights on my makeup mirror. Leaning forward, I suck in my cheeks and survey my work. Not bad. All I need now is a dab of lipstick, and my transformation will be complete.

Just as I’m snatching up the tube of Burgundy Plum, the Lady Gaga ringtone blares from my phone.

“Hi, Matt,” I say. “Hang on, I’m coming.”

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

CLEO:

This is another one with strong writing that could have a stronger opening line. For inspiration, here’s a link to 20 great opening lines in YA fiction:

http://www.epicreads.com/blog/20-amazing-opening-lines-in-ya/

I like the concept here that we are watching someone’s transformation. And there is a great use of physical detail here. But again, as with the last critique, there’s not enough information about this character’s state of mind as this is happening. I want to know more about her and I’m not getting anything about her personality from this–all I’m getting is physical characteristics and perhaps that she is pretty hard on herself about the way she looks.

I love the part where the poster of Elizabeth Taylor seems to talk to her, that gives this a little edge that it really needs. But let me learn more even about this character from her inner thoughts or her dialogue, make every line really work. Maybe she could say something funnier or more interesting to Matt? To her mom? Think something interesting while she is doing this that lets me know something about her or her state of mind while she is doing this? Why does she need to transform? What about transforming makes her feel strong or special? Why does she love Elizabeth Taylor?

I think adding this level of detail and characterization, as well as working on the opening lines, will give this already strong first page some extra added oomph. Remember that you never have much time to hook the reader and focus on making this character as vivid and lively as possible.

_________________________________________________________

Mieke Zamora-Mackay               SHADOW                                     Young Adult

The hall is buzzing. Not the usual humdrum of the first hour of school. It’s a serious buzzing. Whispers about someone. Murmurs about something that’s happened.

In the woods…

Junkie…

Huffing…

Dead…

These are the words that float above the din.   No one looks my way, but there’s enough space for me to walk through the sea of bodies. I’m used to it. Everyone always walks around me, like I’m encased in some bubble. Protecting their personal space, they’re probably afraid that if they brush up against me, I’ll know everything they keep hidden inside. See into their dark hearts and thoughts, their misdeeds, acts of violence and carnal desires. It comes with being the daughter of a self-proclaimed medium; the local town kook.

The truth is, I don’t know any of their secrets. I don’t see anything they have to hide. Instead, I see spirits, ghosts – lost souls.

I see the part of every person that has left their physical body. Usually, they’re just trying to find their way home, or revisiting a part of their life they wish to say goodbye to. Some just really don’t know what’s happened to them.

I reckon that’s how the fresh one walking in my direction is feeling.

I keep my eyes down low. I don’t want him to catch me looking. He’ll know instantly that I can see him, and that won’t do. Lost spirits are never up to any good. The fact that they don’t have a clue about what’s happened to them in the first place is an indication of that. And this one’s got trouble written all over him.

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

SHADOW

I like this one a lot! The voice is strong, the first line is good and the opening page shows us a lot of information about this person and their place in the world of the school without “telling” us too much. There’s a real attitude to the writing, which I like. I also like that the author sets up the character and tells us about who she is in an interesting way and then starts right into the action. It’s great that she sees this particular dead person and immediately forms an opinion about him that is intriguing to the reader. I want to read more because I want to know more about this ghost and why he’s trouble and what will happen between these two. I also like that the writer starts at a moment of interest in the action–the school is buzzing about something–what is it? And then he/she gives us a lot of information about the character by telling us that she’s an outcast–everyone is buzzing about something, but she wouldn’t know because no one tells her anything. This is a more interesting way of showing us something about her rather than simply telling us that she’s an outcast. There are plenty of question marks to keep us reading but enough information is provided that we don’t feel confused, which is an essential balance.

If the writer wanted to go a little further, she could give us a little more info about the particular state of mind that this character is in as the book opens, or how she feels about the fact that she is an outcast, but overall this is a very strong opening page indeed.

_________________________________________________________

Peter McCleery       THE STAND-IN           Contemporary Middle Grade

Middle-school is a lot like prison. There is a precise routine and schedule overseen by an all-powerful warden (the principal). There are authority figures who roam the halls and enforce strict rules (guards/teachers). You are allotted a certain time and place to eat grub. There’s a Supermax cell block for repeat offenders (detention). There’s even a rec yard and communal showers. And, of course, there is a very specific hierarchy of cliques and social groups among the inmates. You better know who you can trust and who you can’t.

In my line of work, I can’t trust anyone. If this were prison instead of Glenview Middle School I’d be called a Fixer. The guy who runs the black market. I like to think of myself as a businessman. Or entrepreneur, if you want to be fancy about it. I sell things to the inmate-students that make their 3-year stint here a bit more comfortable. At a fair price, of course. In prison, a fixer deals in cigarettes and shivs. Here, I deal in contraband junk food and fake doctor notes. Now, some of these things may or may not be “appropriate” or “legal” per se, but they do fill a need. I provide a valuable service. There is supply. There is demand. And there’s good, ol’ Digby Fisher in between making a little money. Is that so wrong?

The answer is no, by the way.

Shortly after my mom and I moved to Glenview (which should just be called The Affluent Town of Glenview because that’s always how they describe it the newspaper.) I knew I had a good thing. These kids get more allowance money than my mom gets in her paycheck. One day the vending machine went out of order (I had nothing to do with it, I swear! Just a lucky coincidence.) It just so happened that my mom was doing a Costco run that day. I added a few items to the shopping list. Snack-size Doritos, gum, M&Ms. The next day I sat next to the broken vending machine with a backpack full of snacks and sold out before third period. I provided a needed service. In many ways I was a hero. After maintenance fixed the machine

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

THE STAND-IN

I love the idea of this one and this is a good first page in that it has tons of voice and sets up an interesting, resourceful character that the reader will want to spend time with. However, to my ear, the voice was a little older than middle-grade at times, slotting into that awkward 14/15 year old territory, and in the second paragraph maybe even more 16. Examples of places I would loosen the voice are, “precise routine and schedule overseen ” and “a very specific hierarchy of cliques and social groups” – phrases like this feel a little formal for the target market. The age issue might just be because of Digby’s very in-depth knowledge of how a prison runs, even down to knowing the word shiv. It left me wondering whether he knew someone in prison or just watched a lot of old movies. The opening has a journal feel to it, but I would lose the direct talking to the reader halfway down as this can pull you out of the story. I liked some of the examples of the things Digby can source, like doctor’s notes, and the story about how this ‘job’ started was short enough not to feel like too much up front backstory, although I’d hope the present day plot starts on the next page, with the inciting incident following shortly after.
________________________________________________________________

Thank you Jenny for sharing your time and expertise with us. Your advice is invaluable.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, demystify, inspiration, Middle Grade Novels, Process, revisions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday - Results, Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency

4 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenny Bent, last added: 8/2/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
23. Illustrator Saturday – Sharon Lane Holm

sharon1

Sharon Lane Holms is a published children’s book author/ illustrator with over 20 years of experience. She has illustrated over 65 children’s books; trade, mass market, board books, workbooks, school/library, craft books, fiction and non fiction, and recently released 2 Itunes Apps which she wrote and illustrated- “Kids Counting Kitties 10-1″, and “Kids Counting Kitties 1-10″ (available in English and Spanish). She wrote and illustrated “Zoe’s Hats” (a color concept book)- published by Boyds Mills Press.

Sharon graduated with honors from The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale with a degree in Visual Communication- ie: Advertising Design. She says, “I have always wanted to be an artist, I have always just wanted to spend my life drawing pictures. Advertising Design offered the most illustration classes at that time. Upon graduation I was offered a job at Hallmark but turned it down.”

sharoninterview 2She was an art director in S. Florida for 4 years winning several advertising awards for advertising design work. As much as she loved design work, Sharon still missed drawing pictures.

Sharon says, “With a move to Connecticut and a child on the way, it was perfect timing to transition into children’s illustration. I was fortunate to acquire a children’s artist representative my first time out.”

Her client roster includes but not limited to- Boyds Mills Press, High Five, Dutton, ABDO, Twin Sisters, Harcourt educational, Child’s World, Kids Can Press, Lerner, Flowerpot Press. She is also, a licensed artist of greeting cards, puzzles and calendars.

She teaches a literacy/art course for grades 3 through 5 for the local school system’s PTO and just earned/received a black belt in TaeKwonDo, martial arts.

Here is Sharon explaining her process:

sharonprocess3

Initial concept or idea, very loosely sketched.

sharonprocess4

Overlays of tracing paper refining, tweaking original concept.

sharonprocess5 (1)

Refining the art till I have it to the degree of “tightness” I want to take the art to

sharonprocess6

Transfered the sketch onto 140lb. Arches HP brite white watercolor paper. I traced the art using a #2 Ticondergo pencil for this piece. Sometimes I will outline with a pigma micron marker, for a more graphic approach. This time I wanted a softer pencil line.

sharonprocess7

 

I sprayed workable fix over the pencil lines. And painted a light ochre wash over entire art. The ochre base color adds a slightly different “dimension” to the paint colors.

sharonprocess8 (1)

 

Final painted piece. I paint using Golden fluid acrylics, gouache, even acrylic craft paint. I then add some highlights with Prisma color pencils.

sharonhats9

How long have you been illustrating?

Professionally for over 20 years. I have illustrated everything from trade books, mass market books, board books, educational books and readers, science/nature, craft books, workbooks , lift the flaps -even cloth and bath books! I have been drawing pictures all of my life, I won a Scholastic Art Award in High School. Drawing has always been the only thing I have ever wanted to do with my life.

sharonkitties10

What made you choose to attend the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale?

I lived in South Florida at the time. Art school was a highly intense 2 yr. art program and college was 4 yrs, I was also in a bit of a hurry to get started in the art field.

sharonpraire

What made you choose to go for a degree in Visual Communication- ie: Advertising Design?

It offered the most drawing/design classes – while its very important to draw well, I feel it is equally important to know how to design the art to work on a page. Where will the art go, how well will it work with the type treatment, will my art tell the same story as the words?

sharonthanks

What were you favorite classes?

All the illustration courses, advertising design and hand lettering.

sharonbook_04

Did the School help you get work?

Yes and no. They did not help with job placement, but I feel the education I received from the Art Institute helped me get to where I am today.

sharonbooks5

What was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

In art school I did some illustrated logo designs for which I was paid.

sharonbooks6

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

Working in advertising agencies, started out doing paste up and mechanicals. I learned even more as to how to design a page. How to grab your attention. I went on to become an art director/creative director winning several awards for advertising design along the way.

sharon26

Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?

Maybe to a degree. I believe we all have our own sense of style which develops over the years. I have been told I have a bold graphic approach style of illustrating which may have evolved from the years of illustrating for advertisements, brochures, logos. I can look back at art school illustrations and see the same graphic like approach I have now. Only over time my illustrations have gotten much better!

sharon15 (1)

When did you do your the first illustration for children?

Aprox. 25 years ago. It was a baby wrapped in a quilt.

sharon12

How did that come about?

We moved from Southern Florida to Ct when my son was born. I interviewed with an art representative when he was 2 who wanted to take me on. But my comfort zone was still in advertising so I started my own advertising studio. I was fortunate that a few years later they called and asked if I might be ready at that time to get into children’s art. By then I was more than ready. I was with them for 13 years.

sharon19

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

I have always wanted to illustrate books. The opportunity arose while doing educational artwork.

sharon17 (2)

What was the title of your first picture book that you illustrated?

Trucks all Around, Dutton and Playskool were the publishers.

sharon11 (1)

How did that contract come your way?

Through my agent.

sharon21 (1)

I see that you wrote and illustrated It’s Silly Time (Read and Sing Along). Did you do the singing, too, on the CD?

Unfortunately, I did not write Silly Time-that credit belongs to Kim Thompson of Twin Sisters. I did the illustrations. We are also fortunate that it wasn’t my singing either!

sharon22

How did you get the idea and contract with Twin Sisters Productions?

I got my contact with Twin Sisters Productions through my second agent. I have had the pleasure of working with Twin Sisters for many years, illustrating more than 7 board books, readers and puzzles.

In 2009 “Five Trick or Treaters”, which I illustrated, for Twin Sisters was awarded the National Parenting Seal of Approval.

sharon13 (1)

How and when did you get involved in licensed art?

I illustrated a “color pencil by numbers” for Dimensions crafts. I have done some greeting card designs on and off for few years. I recently did advent calendars for Vermont Christmas Company. I would love to do more licensing of my artwork.

sharon14

How many children’s books have you illustrated?

Over 65. That includes many educational readers, trade books, mass market books, board books, craft books ,workbooks.

sharon18

How many books have you written and illustrated?

I wrote and illustrated “Zoe’s Hats”- a color concept book, published by Boyds Mills Press.

In 2012 “Zoe’s Hats” was recognized by Libraries Unlimited ABC-CLIO as a Best Book to Enhance Content Area Curriculum for grades Pre K- 2. I also have two Apple/Itunes Apps which I wrote and illustrated that were released in 2013- “Kids Counting Kitties 10 to 1, and Kids Counting Kitties 1-10.”

sharon20

Did you always want to write?

Always. I still have my first book, written and illustrated in 3rd grade.

sharon24 

How did you end up working with Boyd’s Mill Press? Did you attend Chautauqua? How many books have you done with them?

I did attend Chautauqua. That was quite a wonderful experience! I had met the president of Boyds Mills Press (at that time) at an adult education class-who insisted I submit something to them. I had taken the class to meet him and find out how I might be able to illustrate for Boyds Mills Press. I ended up getting a scholarship to Chautauqua and they accepted “Zoe’s Hats.”

Sharon23 (1)

Have you worked with educational publishers?

many many many

sharon29

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

Yes, Highlights and Highlights High Five

sharon30 (1)

Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who? And how did you connect with them? If not, would you like to have one?

Right now I am networking myself on my own although I am being brokered by Janet De Carlo of StoryBookArts Inc. She was in a partnership with my last agency PortfolioSolutions. I left Portfolio Solutions a few years ago to be on my own .I often think a literary/art agent might be the way to go in the future.

sharon28 (1)

What types of things did you do to market your work?

I do postcard mailings on a regular basis. I have my own webpage-www.sharoholm.com, I have online portfolio pieces/pages on CBIG, PictureBookArtists,ThatsMyFolio and Jacketflap. I also have a blog that I wish I kept more current- sharonlaneholm.blogspot.com.

sharoncolor8

What is your favorite medium to use?

I’m still “old school”. I love the feel and touch of paper and pencil. I love the look of pencil on tracing paper. I still paint traditionally and send the art digitally. I paint with Goldens fluid acrylics, qouache, prismacolor colored pencils, pigma microns(for black line art), even craft project acrylics.

Sharon27

Has that changed over time?

I like to think my style is evolving- I’m trying to draw looser, not so tight. The process of sending art has changed- now its scanned into Photoshop, clean it up, tweak it and out it goes.

sharon16

Do you have a studio in your house?

yes

sharoncolor9

What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

Mechanical pencil and tracing paper.

sharonJune illokathy temean art

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I try to create or work on art and/or writing every day.

sharoncolor5

Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

Yes, my family have been posed as models numerous times. Google and Yahoo are a good way to find reference material.

sharon72-piggie-blog

 

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. Besides being able to digitally send art to my clients, its a great source for online portfolios, networking with other artists / illustrators, and writers. I met you, Kathy online and I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your time and consideration in interviewing me.

sharoncake for relay

What do you feel was your biggest success?

Zoe’s Hats was a great success for me. It was the first book I ever submitted. But success to me is measured in many ways- my biggest success is having had the opportunity to have a successful career doing what I love the most. Drawing pictures and writing stories.

sharoncolor6

 

Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop mostly at this point to scan, clean up and tweak my traditional paintings. I am taking Photoshop lessons at the moment. I can do art in Photoshop but feel much more comfortable with traditional paints, for right now.

sharonchristmas

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

I do own a cintiq.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I would love to have more of my own stories published. I have several stories/dummies in varying degrees of “ready” to submit. But I get the elephant in the closet syndrome, where I’ll submit to a few places , even get a positive rejection, and back in the drawer it goes.

Sharon25 (1)

What are you working on now?

Currently I am illustrating religious craft book. I have 1 dummy circulating and several more stories/dummies started.

And I am continually trying to update my portfolio.

sharonlinework1

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I love working on Arches 140 lb HP for painting. I order all my supplies through Dick Blick.One method I learned which I don’t use often enough- scan your tissues/tracings into Photoshop, and then print them out directly onto your WC paper. Saves you a step in transferring your art. You must run the paper through a printer that accommodates archival inks and the weight of WC paper. I have an older Epson Stylus photo printer which handles this.

sharonlinework5

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Draw and try to create your art every chance you can. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cant be what you want to be. With patience, persistence and passion you can make your dreams come true. I did.

sharonms_-song-bd

Thank you Sharon for taking the time to share your process and journey with us. We look forward to hearing about your future successes.

To see more of Sharon’s illustrations you can visit her at: Website: http://www.sharonholm.com Blog: http://www.sharonlaneholm.blogspot.com

Please take a minute to leave a comment for Sharon, I know she would love to heard from you and I always appreciate it. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Sharon Lane Holm, The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, Zoe's Hats

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Sharon Lane Holm, last added: 8/3/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
24. No Fee Mystery Novel Competition

Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition

— No Entry Fee
Prize: $10,000.00. Entry fee: $0.00. Deadline: 10-15-2014
Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic, imprints of St. Martin’s Press, is inviting mystery fiction writers to enter this year’s Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. The judges will award a $10,000 standard publishing contract to the author who has written the best book-length story in the mystery genre.Submission guidelines:
1. Submit one manuscript of over 65K words written in English.

2. The manuscript must be original, unpublished, and the work of the author.

3. The author must not have had a mystery book previously published.

4. Murder, mystery, and/or crime should be the core elements of the story.

5. The characters, both the innocent and the presumed guilty, should know one another. The suspects should display valid intentions and logical possibility to have executed the crime. The protagonist must be the “detective” who solves the crime.

The $10,000 prize is offered as an advance against royalty payments.

 

Official Rules for the 2015 Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

Void where prohibited.

Sponsored by Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic

1. The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any Published Mystery Novel (including self-published works and ebooks), as defined by the guidelines below, and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a mystery novel. Employees, and members of their immediate families living in the same household, of Minotaur Books or Malice Domestic (or a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of either of them) are not eligible to enter. Only one manuscript entry (the “Manuscript”) is permitted per writer. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Please read all of the rules and guidelines before submitting your entry. If you have questions or need further clarification after reading the following rules and guidelines, you may contact us at MB-MaliceDomesticCompetition@StMartins.com.

2. To enter, you must complete an online entry form and upload an electronic file of your Manuscript. The entry form will allow you to upload one electronic file. Only electronic submissions, uploaded through the online entry form, will be considered; do not mail or e-mail your manuscript submissions to Minotaur Books.

To be considered for the 2015 competition, all submissions must be received by 11:59pm EST on October 15, 2014.

a) Manuscripts must be submitted as Microsoft Word documents. All manuscripts must be double-spaced, with pages numbered consecutively from beginning to end. All manuscripts must be saved as “Manuscript Title – Entrant Name.”

b) Each entrant should keep a copy of the Manuscript for his or her own protection.

c) Because of the great volume of submissions we receive and the fact that our judges are volunteers with full-time responsibilities elsewhere, it is important that you submit your Manuscript as early as possible. Submissions will get a more careful reading if the judge does not have to contend with a flood of last-minute entries.

The entry form is available HERE.

3. Entrants must have a valid e-mail address. In case of dispute as to identity of an entrant, entry will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address provided to Minotaur Books. “Authorized Account Holder” is defined as a natural person who is assigned an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) responsible for assigning e-mail addresses or the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic are not responsible for technical, hardware, software, telephone or other communications malfunctions, errors or failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, website, Internet, or ISP unavailability, unauthorized human intervention, traffic congestion, incomplete or inaccurate capture of entry information (regardless of cause) or failed, incomplete, or delayed computer transmissions which may limit one’s ability to enter this Competition, including any injury or damage to any computer relating to or resulting from downloading any materials in this Competition.

4. All Manuscripts submitted:

a) must be original works of book length (no less than approximately 65,000 words) written in the English language;

b) must be written solely by the entrant, who may not be the author of any previously published mystery;

c) must not violate any right of any third party or be libelous, and d) must generally follow the Guidelines below.

GUIDELINES

a. Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story. Whatever violence is necessarily involved should be neither excessive nor gratuitously detailed, nor is there to be explicit sex. The suspects and the victims should know each other. There are a limited number of suspects, each of whom has a credible motive and reasonable opportunity to have committed the crime. The person who solves the crime is the central character. The “detective” is an amateur, or, if a professional (private investigator, police officer) is not hardboiled and is as fully developed as the other characters. The detective may find him or herself in serious peril, but he or she does not get beaten up to any serious extent. All of the cast represent themselves as individuals, rather than large impersonal institutions like a national government, the mafia, the CIA, etc.

b. WHAT CONSTITUTES A PUBLISHED NOVEL: For the purpose of this Competition, a “Published Novel” means a work of fiction of at least 40,000 words in length that has been published or distributed, in part or whole, in paper or electronic format or in any other medium. This does not include a chapter excerpt on an author’s website, subject to the conditions that: (i) the excerpt is the only text that exists for public viewing; (ii) the excerpt is not for sale to the public, and (iii) the number of words in the excerpt does not exceed 10% of the total number of words in the work as a whole. (The decision of the Competition’s judges as to whether or not an entrant or a Manuscript qualifies will be final.)

5. Nominees will be selected by judges chosen by the editorial staff of Minotaur Books, and the winner will be chosen by Minotaur Books editors on the basis of the originality, creativity and writing skill of the submission. The decision of the editors as to the winner of the Competition will be final. Minotaur Books reserves the right to cancel or modify the competition if, in the sole opinion of the editors, an insufficient number of qualified Manuscripts are received.

6. An attempt will be made to notify the Competition winner, if any, by telephone or U.S. mail no later than April 1, 2015. If the winner cannot be contacted, an alternate winner may be selected.

7. If a winner is selected, Minotaur Books will offer to enter into its standard form author’s agreement with the entrant for publication of the winning Manuscript. After execution of the standard form author’s agreement by both parties, the winner will receive an advance against future royalties of $10,000. On the condition that the selected winner accepts and executes the publishing contract proposed by Minotaur Books, the winner will then be recognized at the Malice Domestic Convention in Bethesda, Maryland in May 2014.

THE WINNER WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY OTHER PRIZE AND WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY PART OF THE ADVANCE UNTIL THE STANDARD FORM AUTHOR’S AGREEMENT HAS BEEN EXECUTED BY BOTH PARTIES. Those terms of the offer not specified in the printed text of the Minotaur Books standard form author’s agreement will be determined by Minotaur Books at its sole discretion. The entrant may request reasonable changes in the offered terms, but Minotaur Books shall not be obligated to agree to any such changes. Minotaur Books may, but will not be required to, consider for publication Manuscripts submitted by other entrants.

8. No critical evaluation or commentary will be offered by the judges or the editorial staff of Minotaur Books unless, in the sole opinion of the editorial staff, evaluation or commentary is appropriate in the case of a Manuscript being considered for publication.

9. General: No cash substitution, transfers or assignments of prize allowed. All expenses, including taxes, relating to the winner’s publishing contract, are the sole responsibility of the winner. By accepting a prize, the winner releases Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic, and the parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, suppliers and agents of each of them from any and all liability for any loss, harm, damages, cost or expense, including without limitation property damages, personal injury and/or death, arising out of participation in this Competition or the acceptance of the publishing contract. If, for any reason, (including unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other cause beyond the control of Minotaur Books which corrupts or affects the administration, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Competition), the Competition is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic shall have the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Competition.

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Competition, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Publishing Industry, submissions Tagged: Minotaur Books, Mystery Novel Competition, No Entry Fee, St. Martin's Press

1 Comments on No Fee Mystery Novel Competition, last added: 8/3/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
25. Amazon Sales Strategies

This week we will look at a few strategies you can use to increase the sales of your books.

amazoncats

If you buy any books on Amazon, you may have noticed they list the Best Selling Books. You should give these categories some thought. It may help you get on one of their lists and getting on one of the lists will greatly improve your chances to get noticed and bought.

1. Try to choose a niche category on Amazon. There are less books, so you will have a better chance to be listed at the top.

2. By clicking the book ranked #100 in any given category, you can consult the Rank to Sales Estimator to see how many sales you need to qualify for that categories Best Seller List.

3. Self Published authors get to choose two categories.
Traditional publishers get to choose up to five categories. Make sure your publisher knows how the system works and how they can use it to their advantage. Choosing “Fiction” might not be the best category due to so many books. (over a million)

4. Example: Kindle Store> Kindle ebooks > Fiction> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense> Thrillers> Political. Your books will still show in all the categories above the one you chose.

A few scenarios:

Fault in Our Stars [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#6 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) This a list of all books (no categories)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary
#1 in Books > Teens > Love & Romance

Isla and the Happily Ever After [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#11,151 Paid in Kindle Store
#100 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary

The First Third [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#172,765 Paid in Kindle Store (See how this book was able to make the Top 100 List by picking Social Issues? That’s because there is less competition. This helps give the book a chance to be seen.)
#100 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Social Issues

The Year We Disappeared: A Father – Daughter Memoir [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,006 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Social Issues
#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Biography
#33 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Children’s Nonfiction

Neverwhere [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,867 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Classics
#11 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Fantasy
#79 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror

5. Make sure you check to make sure the category you pick is on both the book side and the kindle side if you have a print book. Some of the categories do not match up.

6. If you are self-published you will need to do this for yourself, but don’t assume your publisher is choosing the best categories. Do your homework and discuss what you have found with them. But make sure you do this before they list it on Amazon.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, demystify, How to, Marketing a book, need to know, success, Tips Tagged: Amazon Book Sales Strategies, Amazon Rankings, How to Sell More Books, NJSCBWI 2014 Workshop

9 Comments on Amazon Sales Strategies, last added: 8/4/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts