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1. Illustrator Saturday – Gregory Manchess

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Filed under: illustrating, Illustrator Sites, Illustrator's Saturday Tagged: Gregory Manchess

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2. Free Fall Friday – Results

Alexander SlaterI want to thank Alexander Slater from the Trident Media Group for agreeing to be November’s First Page Critiquer. All the agents and editors who have been Guest Critiquers are doing this for free because they want to help writers improve their writing. So please realize what a big deal this is to have an industry professional take their valuable time and share their expertise with all of us.

I also want to thank everyone who submits their work for the chance of review. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, but it is the fearless who end up making it to the published book goal line.

This is the last First Page Critique session for 2014. I will announce January’s guest in December.

Here are November’s winners and Alex’s thoughts:

 

TILENIKA, LEGEND OF DEO by Richard Bisbee – YA

Darkness surrounds me as I float, lost, on the wild sea…

“Ghemmi, you must take rest and come to bed this day,” Kiyami said. “Our Tilenika is away now three days. She is young; she cannot swim forever. Even you, stronger than most, would find difficulty swimming in these wild and powerful seas we now have. You also know,” she swallowed hard, “that the giant bullwah fish rise from their depths seeking prey in waters so restless.”

“I know Kiyami, but I will not leave this spot until she returns. I smell Tilenika on the wind and taste her on the sea spray. The waves whisper that she yet swims. Her heart throbs with life as surely as mine. I feel she has not parted from our world.”

Kiyami lowered her head as the wind whipped through her long black hair and blew the tears from her eyes. “I too wish to believe as you, my husband, but…I will pass by later.” She turned and slowly walked away.

Ghemmi’s deep blue eyes continued scanning the water as his floating samong community moved with the waves and currents of the sea. He thought, ‘Tilenika, your spirit is strong, but I feel you are weakening. Take care not to distance yourself from life. I sense you are close, so please come to the signal float I tend. Death only offers change of life…with understanding and wisdom too late to use.’ He closed his eyes as he rocked upon one of the bulbous seaweed kiila floats of the samong. His mind reached out to hers, rippling, spreading, reaching out, like circular rings expanding when a shell is dropped in still water…rippling…reaching out…reaching out.

Suddenly, he felt a strong tug on the line. He sprang to his feet and began pulling length after length of dripping line. “Kiyami!” he yelled, “Sound the alarm! We have a fight ahead!”

Here’s Alex:

TILENIKA, LEGEND OF DEO

The dialogue here has the old-fashioned feel of a 1930’s Hollywood film, with its grandiosity, detail, and heightened exposition. I see this style utilized in many high fantasy projects, as the ornate and otherworldly setting tends to mirror itself in the language. My problem is that I often have a tough time connecting to this lofty speak, as it might simply feel unnatural and overexposed, as in this sample with descriptions like, “stronger than most,” and, “rise from their depths seeking prey.” These are examples of dialogue that tell, rather than show, and in so doing, the voice feels forced, rather than organic. I would say be careful with such a high style, as it leads to easy traps where characters blend into the narrative, rather than stand out. Also, I think it would be for the readers benefit if Tilenika is given just a bit more description – I cannot tell from this first page if this name is that of a character, or a pet, or what, and therefore, it is difficult to get hooked immediately without that knowledge.

 

Fool’s Mate by Chris Friden – YA

Constance Yearly lashed out across the chessboard and stabbed an ice pick into the table beside her opponent’s king. She let it thrum. This pre-match ritual intimidated most foes, but Alastair “The Bellman” Brown didn’t flinch. He kept his focus on the black and white universe at their fingertips.

Constance sat back, concealing her pleasure in his brave resistance. Like so many boys, he was sure of his impending victory. Sure that everything in reach was his to take. Sure of his invulnerability, and that left him entirely vulnerable.

Constance watched him scan the playing pieces again while he tried to ignore the damnable space she’d left empty in the back row. She let that missing matriarch vex him and simmer his impatience as she waited for a sign of weakness.

And as reliably as a Caro-Kann defense, it came. Alastair’s left eye twitched.

Constance lowered her red-gloved hand into a Styrofoam cooler at her feet. She searched for her prize and an apropos expression. Revenge is best served cold? That expression didn’t do this justice.

“I’ll have the match before my Ice Queen melts,” she promised in a tone as chilled as the frozen figurine she dangled from the pinch of her fingers. She clinked her lady––clear except for the small drop of suspended red where a tiny heart might have been––onto the place beside her widower king. “Let’s begin.”

Here’s Alex: 

FOOL’S MATE

This opening sentence contains great action and violence. It’s captivating, original, and memorable. However, by introducing a universally known game like chess, prepare yourself for the reader’s intuitions. Sentences like, “missing matriarch,” confused me until I realized they were still setting up the game. Let that be clearer. Also, I am still left perplexed that Constance is able to stab the ice pick, “beside her opponent’s king,” leaving me wondering where Alastair’s queen is? The great reveal of her piece makes sense, but I’m still unsure of Alastair’s pieces. Overall, an interesting opening, with clear characters and mini-plot set to reveal itself. I like openings that feel they can stand on their own, as this does.

 

Mad Cow Science Club by Jennifer Swanson – Middle Grade

Nick Newton stepped on his shovel and pushed it deep into the dirt. Today was the day. He could feel it. He was going to find something amazing.

“Hey over, here!” Nick’s best friend Rudi Patel shouted excitedly. “Look at this.”

Nick’ heart beat fast as he raced to Rudi’s side. A treaure!

“Omph!” Nick tipped sideways as their other friend and fellow treasure hunter, Rebecca Raintree, elbowed him out of the way. “Take it easy, Beccs, this isn’t the lacrosse field.”

She snorted. “As if you could handle that.” Her dancing eyes and swift grin took the edge off the words. Nick flushed. Rebecca was right. He wasn’t good at sports. Especially lacrosse. Holding the stick while running, throwing, and catching a ball, required way more skill than his

awkward arms and legs could manage. Now science he could do. Nick was awesome at science.

“A skull!” Nick shouted. Yes, today was a good day.

“I thought we were supposed to be looking for dinosaur bones,” said Rebecca. “That doesn’t look like a dinosaur to me. It looks like a cow skull. What’s so special about finding that? This place used to be a farm.”

Nick thrust out his chin. “I think it’s great.” He wasn’t about to let Rebecca take the wind out of his sails. This was the first big discovery for their new science club. And it was going to have a place of honor in their garage clubhouse

“ This would make a great drawing.” Rudi pushed his glasses up on his nose, his brown eyes gleaming, and studied the rock intently.

“Who cares about a dumb ol’ skull, let’s go down to the river and see if we can clean up the shore. That’s what a real science club would do,” said Rebecca.

Nick sighed. Maybe Rebecca was right. This field was a bust. Nick was about to toss the skull aside when he stopped suddenly. His hand froze. Had the sightless skull just winked at him?

Here’s Alex: 

MAD COW SCIENCE CLUB

This first page sets up a fun premise that will seem to blend some fantasy and adventure elements, told with a light touch. I like Rebecca’s strong will, and especially Rudi’s contribution that the skull would make a “great drawing.” This subtle detail speaks volumes about Rudi’s character, and it works to allow the reader to discover Rudi on their own. I feel like more subtlety could be employed for Nick, rather than stopping the action with sentences like, “He wasn’t good at sports. Especially lacrosse.” I know these are essential lines to painting Nick’s character early on, but they stall the action for me in these important first paragraphs. I don’t care that Nick is more inclined towards science class right now – I already kind of understand that with the tension between he and Becca. What I care about is discovering, along with the characters, what they’ve dug up, so avoid characterization when your narrative is in the middle of plot-building.

 

Winter Hare By Laurie J. Edwards – MG

The wolves bared their teeth and slunk closer. Achen scrabbled for a foothold on a huge oak. Splinters bit into her hands and bare feet. Blood pounded in her head and made her ears throb.

A wolf lunged.

Achen yanked her foot upward, scraping it raw. The wolf’s teeth snapped shut, just shy of her foot. The damp breath from its nostrils heated her toes and sent tremors through her body.

Terror propelled her higher. Inch by inch, she dragged her shaking limbs above slavering tongues. Below her, the beasts fanned in a semicircle. Fangs glinted. Yellow eyes glowed, feral in the gloom of winter dusk.

Achen trembled. They waited only for her to tire and lose her grip.

A snarl pierced the air, followed by a high-pitched scream. Then a slab of meat, splattering blood as it flew, arced over the wolves’ heads. The beasts turned, growling, to fight over this chunk of flesh.

While they were occupied, a black-cloaked figure stepped from the trees, drew a bow, and with deadly accuracy sent arrows quivering into the wolves, one by one. When the last carcass lay twitching, the shrouded figure threw back its hood, revealing a mass of coppery curls.

“Mama!” Achen slid down the trunk, not caring that splinters embedded themselves in her palms. She flung herself into her mother’s outstretched arms. Drawing in a shuddery breath, she begged, “Please don’t leave me again, Mama.”

Her mother’s eyes shimmered with tears. “I must, dear heart. You know that.”

Here’s Alex: 

WINTER HARE

This is an action-filled opening that grabs the reader by the throat. I can see the scene, thanks to details like, “heated her toes,” “winter dusk,” and, “quivering into.” The use of fresh language, and spare details allows the reader to fill in the missing details, and that’s a rewarding experience. Trusting the reader always pays off. After re-reading, the only think I am concerned about is Achen’s age, or size. The feral request of not being left along feels rather young, while the ability to climb such a tree is difficult. I think providing the age in this opening would be a detail best kept for later, but again, a word about her size or ability might paint her clearer in my mind. Overall, compelling.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Editor & Agent Info, inspiration, revisions, writing Tagged: Agent Alex Slater, First Page Critiques, Improve Writing Skills, Trident Media Group

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3. Happy Thanksgiving – Inspiration & Winners

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Michelle Henninger sent this illustration in to help us celebrate Thanksgiving. Michelle prefers a traditional approach of pen/ink, and watercolor: with a touch of digital thrown in for good measure. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she was a New England SCBWI Ann Barrows Illustration Scholarship recipient. She was the first 2014 featured illustrator on Illustrator Saturday. She is represented by Christina Tugeau at CATugeau.

THANKSGIVING PRAYER
by Eileen Spinelli

Thank you for the world–still sweet.

Thank you for the food we eat.

Thank you for the honeyed sun

that spoons its light on everyone.

Thank you for the leaves that fall

in glowing piles near the wall,

for kindness in a stranger’s face

and every unexpected grace.

Thank you for the starry dark,

for children laughing in the park,

for cozy towns and sleepy farms,

for dreamers, dancers, babes in arms.

Than you for all hearts that sing

of hope in spite of everything.

Fall Favorites
by Carol Murray

Pumpkins, round, upon the ground,

and children playing ball,

Scarecrow tips his tattered hat,

and waves to one and all.

Sleek black cats on fuzzy mats,

reclining, large and small,

and every size has starlit eyes,

like diamonds at The Mall.

Wine is chilled, and home is filled

with friends, both short and tall.

Hooray! Hooray! Thanksgiving Day.

Favorite things of Fall.
by Carol Murray

A Thanksgiving Toast

Here’s to years of happiness

and months of sunny skies,

To weeks of reaching mountain peaks,

and days of caring eyes,

To hours of hope and tenderness,

and minutes of delight,

On second thought, we wish you love,

We’re giving thanks tonight.

Thank you to Michelle, Eileen, and Carol for sharing their work to help us celebrate Thanksgiving. Hope everyone enjoys the day.

Winners:

Darlene Beck-Jacobson won Gayle Aanensen’s book BETTER THAN GOLD.

Joanne Roberts won SPAGHETTI SMILES by Margo Sorenson.

Congratulations! Winner please send me your addresses so they can be sent out.

You may wonder why I did not post the poems for the Thanksgiving Poem Contest yesterday. That is because Carol Murray was the only one to send in a poem for the contest and the default winner. Thank you Carol.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Contest, Holiday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Better Than Gold, Carol Murray, Eileen Spinelli, Happy Thanksgiving, Spaghetti Smiles, Thanksgiving Poem Contest

5 Comments on Happy Thanksgiving – Inspiration & Winners, last added: 11/27/2014
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4. Publisher Call For Submissions

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ANNOUNCING NEW INSPIRATIONAL/FAMILY LINE!

HIGHLAND PRESS PUBLISHING
Actively seeking Inspirational and/or Sweet themed manuscripts. Think Hallmark Hall of Fame, Janette Oke, Little House on the Prairie, etc. Accepting full manuscripts for adults or young adult lines.

Submission Guidelines

If you are interested in submitting your manuscript to Highland Press Publishing, please take a few minutes to review the following and acquaint yourself with our guidelines:

Highland Press is at the present particularly interested in expanding our Christian/Inspirational/family line—both historical and contemporary stories.

We’re looking for outstanding manuscripts of all genres and timeframes—with the exception of erotica. (Absolutely no graphic sex scenes, please!) We want love and romance. A HEA. Emotion. Not just sex.

While some swearing is understood, it is preferable that you use swear words as little as possible. One thing we are firm on is not using the Lord’s name in vain.

We want historicals similar to what many of us grew up with and fell in love with. This does NOT mean we want manuscripts with history dumps! Please ensure the history is sprinkled throughout your manuscript. Also, it is imperative that your historical facts are accurate. Please research your facts at multiple sites, not just one.

While we have predominantly focused on historical novels to date, this doesn’t mean we’re not willing to consider well written stories of every time period. We look forward to receiving them. We have released several Young Adult books, including our first Young Adult inspirational. We have a few non-fiction books, including a reference book we believe every author will want to have. Use it to help your creativity come to life.

Each manuscript e-query packet must include the following:

~ Cover letter with total word count, brief synopsis, and information about yourself (publishing credits, writing memberships, etc.)

~ Make your cover letter interesting; tell us why we’ll love your manuscript

~ Be sure to let us know what marketing strategy you plan for your book

~ First three chapters of your manuscript (in standard manuscript format)

~ Do NOT staple chapters; use standard binder clips

Each full e-manuscript submission packet (when requested) must include the following items:

~Cover letter with total word count, brief synopsis, and applicable publishing credits

~Include a one to two page outline of your specific marketing strategy

~One e-copy of the full manuscript in Word – in standard format

~ Since we write notes and see how much editing will be required while we’re using the e-copy, the version you send us will not be returned if the story is not accepted.

Do not send your full manuscript if we have not requested it.

Standard Manuscript Format:

~8 1/2 x 11 document

~Times New Roman 12pt font/black ink

~1-inch margin on all sides

~25 lines per page

~Align text left, do not justify

~Header containing author name, manuscript title, word count, and page number

Capital letters at the beginning of sentences and proper nouns

~Show new paragraphs by indenting first line of new paragraph to .3 (not .5)

~Do not add blank line between paragraphs

~Show scene breaks with ~ * ~ centered in the appropriate line between paragraphs

All correspondence must include:

~Name (and pseudonym if applicable)

~Mailing address

~Phone number

~E-mail address

~Web address (if available)

Due to overwhelming number of submissions, response time for manuscript submissions cannot be guaranteed at this time. We will do our best to get to your manuscript as expeditiously as possible.

Please note: We do not accept email submissions without prior arrangement. We must request the full document from you before you send it. Unsolicited submissions sent via email will not be considered.

Please direct all email queries in the body of an email (no unsolicited attachments) to: Submissions.hp@gmail.com

General questions about Highland Press Publishing should be addressed to: The.Highland.Press@gmail.com

If you wish to send a partial query via regular mail, please send the necessary cover letter, brief synopsis, marketing plan, and the first three chapters to:

Highland Press Publishing
Submissions Department
PO Box 2292
High Springs, FL 32655

Full submissions of your print document, when requested, should be sent to the same address.

Thank you for your interest in Highland Press Publishing. We look forward to hearing from you.

Submissions that do not adhere to these guidelines will be discarded.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: opportunity, Places to Submit, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Call of Submissions, Christian Stories, Highland Press Publishing, historical and contemporary stories, Inspirational Novels, New Inspirational Family Line of Books

2 Comments on Publisher Call For Submissions, last added: 11/25/2014
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5. Outlining Your Novel

outlining your novelI am a big believer in creating an outline of your story and keep telling other writers how much it will help them with writing their novel. They nod their head, when they really want to pat me on the head and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” So tonight read the beginning of K.M. Weiland’s “how to write book” titled, OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL, hoping to find someone else who could help persuade others to realize how much it will help them with their manuscripts. After reading the excerpt below, I bought the book and I hope you will check it out. She lays out some good reasons to outline.

Here it is:

Benefits of Outlining Your Story

 

  1. Ensures Balance and Cohesion

In an outline, you can see at a glance if the inciting even take place too late in the sotry, if the middle sags, or if the climax doesn’t resonate. Instead of having to diagnose and remedy these problems after the first draft, you can fix problems in the outline in only a few keystrokes.

  1. Prevents Dead-End Ideas

How many times have you started writing an exciting new plot twist, only to realize – 5,000 words later – that it’s led you to a cul-de-sac? You either have to spend valuable time bactracking and trying to write your way around the roadblock – or you have to cut the subplot altogether and start afresh. Outlines allow you to follow plot twists and subplots to their logical end (or lack thereof) in much less time. You can identify the dead-end ideas and cull them before they become annoying and embarrassing ploy holes.

  1. Provides Foreshadowing

It’s nearly impossible for an author to foreshadow and event of which he has no idea. As a pantser, when a startling plot twist occurs late in the book, you’ll have to go back and sow your foreshadowing into earlier scenes. Not only is this extra work, it can often be difficult to make the new hints of what’s yet to come flow effortlessly with your already constructed scenes. Because an outline give you inside knowledge about what’s going to happen in subsequent scenes, it provides you the opportunity to plant some organic foreshadowing.

  1. Smoothes Pacing

Like foreshadowing, pacing often requires inside knowledge. If the author doesn’t know the protagonist is about to be shot in the back, he can hardly adjust the pacing to introduce this shocking new event in the right manner. An outline shows you the places where your story is running too fast and the places where it is lagging and sagging.

  1. Indicates Preferable POVs

When working with multiple points of view it can often be challenging to know which scene should be written from which POV. Too often, we write a scene from one character’s POV, only to realize a different character’s narrative perspective would probably have offered a better experience for the reader. As a result, we’re forced to go back and rewrite the entire scene. Outlines allow us to make educated decisions about POV, thanks to insights regarding plot and character. Just as importantly, outlines permit us to look at the balance of you POVs over the course of the entire novel, so we can ensure each character is getting an appropriate amount of time at the mic.

  1. Maintains Consistent Character Voice

When writing without an outline, we’re often discovering the characters right along with the readers, and because our perception and understanding of our character often evolve over the course of the story, the result can be an uneven presentation of the character’s voice.

  1. Offers Motivation and Assurance

Writing a novel can be overwhelming. Typing thousands of words is an undertaking in itself – but when those words all have to hang together in a way that is sensible, entertaining, and resonant, that’s enough to make our knees start shaking beneath our desks. Outlines give us the assurance that we can craft a complete story; all we have to do now is fill in the blanks. And because those blanks are ones that fascinate us, outlines also motivate us to keep on writing through the tough spots, so we can get to the good stuff.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, How to, inspiration, reference, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: Benefits of outlining Your Story, K.M. Weiland, Outlining your novel, Reason to outline

1 Comments on Outlining Your Novel, last added: 11/25/2014
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6. Before the Sale – Book Appeal

Have you ever thought about how you decide to buy a book? In my case, unless it is written by a friend or someone has told me I must read a book, I first look at the cover. If the cover has a good title and the cover art grabs me, then I look inside. If the flap jacket pitch sounds interesting, then I flip through the pages.

I look to see if the book has good margins, short paragraphs, and good amount of white space. Long blocky paragraphs exposition, narrative, and description make me think… SKIP!

Studies show that using white space is important because it helps make a book look friendly. And, it is dialogue that provides the eye candy for a reader. As a potential buyer flips through your book, rapid back-and-forth dialogue will make your book more appealing before the reader even reads a word.

So paying attention to dialogue when you revise it is worth the time and effort. I would start by flipping through the manuscript for places that look dense and circle them. Later go back to read and analyze. Ask yourself, “Can I use dialogue to breakup this long paragraph? Would dialogue work better here than what I have now?”

Here are ten things that dialogue can do to help keep your reader reading.

  1. Dialogue draws a reader into your story.
  2. Dialogue adds immediacy, picks up the pace, and makes your text easier and more fun to read.
  3. Dialogue can give the writer a more effective way to provide information about emotional states and inner thoughts.
  4. Dialogue can reveal motive, insight into a character without overt telling.
  5. Dialogue can help set the mood of the scene. Example: “This doesn’t feel right… It’s too quiet.”
  6. Dialogue can intensify the conflict. A confrontation conversation between adversaries can ramp up the tension and remind readers what’s at stake.
  7. Good Dialogue moves the story forward.
  8. Dialogue is a useful tool to provide information the reader must know without slowing down the pacing.
  9. Dialogue is good to use to get out critical bits of information, back-story, and background.
  10. Dialogue can even be use to suggest a theme.

Of course, dialogue is only one thing to work on while you revise, but the above list can help you can see the many things it can help improve in your novel.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, Marketing a book, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: Book Appeal, Getting readers to buy your book

2 Comments on Before the Sale – Book Appeal, last added: 11/24/2014
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7. 2015 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Novel Competition

Welcome to the 2015 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Novel Competition!

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Please read all of the rules and guidelines before submitting your entry. You can find the complete rules and guidelines at us.macmillan.com/minotaurbooks/writing-competitions.
To enter, you must complete this form and upload an electronic file of your Manuscript.

Only electronic submissions, uploaded through this entry form, will be considered; do not mail or e-mail
manuscript submissions to Minotaur Books.

  • Before uploading, please ensure that your Manuscript is formatted as follows:
  • 1) The Manuscript must be either a Microsoft Word document or a PDF
  • 2) Text must be double spaced
  • 3) Pages must be numbered consecutively from beginning to end
  • 4) The Manuscript must be saved as “Manuscript Title_Entrant Name”

Because of the great volume of submissions we receive and the fact that 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.

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

If you have questions or need further clarification regarding the rules and guidelines of this competition, you may contact us at MB-MWAFirstCrimeNovelCompetition@StMartins.com.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Competition, opportunity, Places to Submit Tagged: Best First Novel Competition, MacMillian, Minotaur Books, Mystery Writers of America, St. Martins

0 Comments on 2015 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Novel Competition as of 11/23/2014 1:08:00 AM
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8. Illustrator Saturday – Leeza Hernandez

leeza_johnlithgow

Leeza Hernandez is an award-winning illustrator and children’s book author, hails from the south of England, but has been living in New Jersey since 1999. In 2004 she switched from newspaper and magazine design to children’s books, and hasn’t looked back. With a few books now under her belt, she’s currently working on three new projects: a follow up to Dog Gone! called Cat Napped; a sequel to Eat Your Math Homework called Eat Your Science Homework, other released this year. In 2013 she illustrated a picture book written by acclaimed actor and author John Lithgow. Follow Leeza on Twitter @leezaworks. She also took over my place as the Regional Advisor for the New Jersey SCBWI chapter and is doing a great job.

Below is Leeza at six years old with her cat Minnie Weasle!

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Here is Leeza explaining her process:

The cover of Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo took a fair amount of working out—between not giving too much away and showing to little that it looked too vague. The images show a handful of the different covers that were sketched up, then the progression of the final color cover.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

These are the thumbnail sketches for the book layout.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Because there were so many animals in Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo, I kept all my research pictures organized in a jumbo ring binder.

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But, no matter how hard I looked, I just couldn’t find an image of a yak playing a sax so had to use some creative license!

CreativeReference

Below you can see the process of the cover art.

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Below is an up close look at the final cover.

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What caused you to move from the UK to the US?

Work. I took an art director position at a newspaper in the late 90s which was the field I worked in back then.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

It wasn’t a conscious decision really, but in the early 2000s I discovered Illustration Friday (www.illustrationfriday.com)—a great source of inspiration but also a way to help you create illustrations for yourself based upon a weekly word prompt. Browsing through the site, one link led to another and I eventually landed at SCBWI (www.scbwi.org) and that was that!

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This image was created for the Illustration Friday prompt “Wisdom” and received an American Illustration selection back in the early 2000s. I added it to my portfolio among a handful of painted images and it was what art directors responded to the most. I was encouraged to create more!

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What was the first picture book that you illustrated? And how did that contract come your way?

Eat Your Math Homework was the first trade picture book I was hired to illustrate, which came about after attending a Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference (ruccl.org). I met an editor at the luncheon who took my promo postcard away with her and about six months later the designer reached out to my agent asking if I was available-yay!

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How did you connect with John Lithgow to illustrate his book, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo ?

I was asked to do some samples (along with some other illustrators) for a book written by a ‘high-profile’ author but I didn’t know who it was until I found out I was picked for the project. It was all very mysterious and exciting!

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Have you met John Lithgow?

Yes, he’s lovely. We launched the book together in New York, it was so much fun. He sang his songs. I spared the audience and did not sing!

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How long did you have to illustrate Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo?

This was one of the quickest turnaround books I have worked on and it was 40 pages. From initial sketches, through revisions and to final art was a little less than eight months total.

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I see you illustrated a second book with Ann McCallum this year, titled Eat Your Science Homework. Did you sign a two-book deal when you illustrated Eat Your Math Homework in 2011?

No two-book deal. It was simply an organic progression. Ann had an idea and submitted her proposal for the science book and a few months after they acquired the manuscript, Charlesbridge asked if I’d
illustrate it.

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Will there be a third book with Ann?

Yes! Eat Your U.S. History Homework is due to release in late 2015.

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I am assuming that Cat Napped! published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons came about due to the previous book you wrote and illustrated titled, Dog Gone! Can you tell us the story behind these two books?

Back in 2009 I won the Tomie de Paola portfolio award at the New York SCBWI conference—which was amazing. As a result, I was invited in to the Penguin offices to meet with an editor, publisher and art director and they looked at my work as well as a sample and manuscript for Dog Gone! and they took it. I was beyond thrilled and so, so grateful for the opportunity.

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During the time I worked on Dog Gone! I had this idea that I wanted to create a cat book in the same vein and I already had the title Cat Napped! noodling around in my head, but it took a while to flesh out the story. I remember having submitted the story along with a couple of other ideas to the editor and right after Dog Gone! released they took it.

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Have any of the books you worked on won any awards?

Eat Your Science Homework was awarded a 2014 Junior Library Guild selection—awesomesauce!

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Do you have plans to write and illustrate another book?

Hahaha, yes of course! I hope I never stop.

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What do you consider your first big success?

Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not sure I can measure one big success that easily. Having a book published is amazing, but I also consider the ever-evolving process as a series of successful stepping-
stones and I do a little happy dance each time I move to the next one—because they all teach me something about myself and/or my work. Creative folks are such sensitive creatures and it can be
intimidating to put our work out there in front of people, so each time we are brave and face our fears head on, that’s a success. Actually, when I attended a SCBWI conference for the first time, I was so overwhelmed I almost didn’t go back the next day—so I’d say not giving up right off the bat was my first big success!

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For pencil work, I use 2H, HB, 2B and 5 or 6B pencils on Arches hotpress 140lb paper.

PencilOnArches2What is on the drawing board now?

My schedule has been a little nuts lately so I am taking a rest-of-the-year break and finally getting around to updating my website, which has been somewhat neglected.

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Do you ever use Corel Painter or Photoshop when illustrating?

I ‘collage’ in Photoshop. I take all the pieces that I create by hand, scan them in, then slice ‘n’ dice them into a final illustration. I think of Photoshop as my digital scissors and glue, but I don’t actually illustrate with Photoshop if that makes sense, like, I’m not drawing or painting digitally using brushes and filters.

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Do you own a graphic tablet?

No. If you mean a Cintiq or Wacom, that is. I’ve seen them in action though, wow!

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Is there one thing that you did or happened that you feel really pushed your career to the next level?

I joined SCBWI. So far, this has been an amazing journey of education, connections, opportunities, projects and rewards, but it all started with this incredible organization that continues to play a role—LOVE SCBWI!

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Do you take pictures or other research before you start a project?

Before and during—yes. Having reference material gives me a much better understanding of what I am drawing than simply imagining. I like to begin by drawing realistically before I think about characterizing for a book because it gives me an accurate sense of anatomy, behavior, body language, etc., even though they’re very loose drawings. There were a number of animals in Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo that I hadn’t drawn before, so I filled a ring binder with reference just for that project.

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The original pick-up truck for Cat Napped! was a struggle, but after sharing with my editor, we realized it was too square and modern, so I went back and researched vintage trucks from the 40s and 50s. The end result was a bit of a hybrid but its softer, curvier edges suited the tone of the book far better than the angular truck I had originally drawn.

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The internet is a powerful tool—National Geographic (nationalgeographic.com), Nat Geo Kids (kids.nationalgeographic.com), NASA (nasa.gov), and Pinterest (pinterest.com) are some of my favorites but discipline is key. The amount of research I do depends upon the project but I have to be careful with the amount of time I spend researching versus creating the art.

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I use a timer to stay on top of it. And even if I am not researching for a particular project, I carry a sketchbook with me and either have my phone or camera for taking any pictures. Inspiration strikes when I least expect it so I like to be as prepared as possible.

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Have you found most art directors and editors give you a lot of freedom when illustrating a book? Do they want to be involved all the way through the process?

Once, I was given very specific art notes for an educational book but the turnaround time was tight, so the notes were helpful for me to jump right in. I’ve received minimal notes for nonfiction projects if there was a point that needed to be demonstrated visually for some specific text. For example: the Homework books sometimes have charts.

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For the fictional projects, I’m pretty much left to it for the first round of sketches, then the art director and/or editor and I discuss together. Sometimes, I’ll offer up additional sketch options for a handful of spreads if I have lots of ideas and can’t decide which direction to go. There can be a lot of back and forth on the cover, though.

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

My art materials—pencils, brushes, paper, inks, sketchbooks—I’d be kinda lost without them!

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

Yes, even if it’s only for ten minutes, that’s my rule.

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

To travel, keep making art, and continue creating books for young readers—that would be lovely!

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Thank you Leeza haring your journey and process with us. Can’t wait to see your career go forward. You can visit Leeza at her website: http://www.leezaworks.com to see more of her work.

If you have a moment I am sure Leeza would love to read your comments. I enjoy them too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: John Lithgow, Leeza Hernandez, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo

10 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Leeza Hernandez, last added: 11/24/2014
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9. Free Fall Friday – Mish Mash

CALL FOR HOLIDAY ILLUSTRATIONS – Needs to be at least 500 pixels wide. Send to Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com.

I forgot to give you the date for when I will announce the two book give-a-ways from my post on November 14th. I will announce the two winners on Thanksgiving. Good news! You still can leave a comment on that post for your chance to win up until Wednesday at 6pm EST.

Authors: Did you know that I am repeating what we did with the Halloween Poems? Please send in your Thanksgiving Poems and I will post them on November 26th and the public will vote for their favorite. The winner will receive a chit for a future post about them and or a book they have coming out.

undertheneversky2The first book of the UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy by Veronica Rossi price has dropped to only $1.99 for the Kindle version on Amazon.

From a New York Times bestselling author comes a dystopian masterpiece called “inspired, offbeat, and mesmerizing” (Kirkus Reviews). Though from different worlds, Aria and Perry must depend on one another for survival. “You won’t be able to put this book down” (Seventeen).

Great Buy! One of my favorite trilogies, BTW. Here is the link on Amazon.

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Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy 1) by Robin LaFevers is $1.99 on the Kindle.

From a New York Times bestselling author comes an Amazon Best Book of the Month with over 300 five-star reviews. In medieval Europe, Ismae discovers her destiny as a handmaiden to Death. But can she kill the man she loves? “A page-turner — with grace” (Kirkus Reviews).

Here is the link on Amazon

 

VOTE NOW FOR THIS YEARS GOODREADS 2014 BEST BOOKS:

http://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014?utm_campaign=final_round&utm_content=choice_vote_button&utm_medium=email&utm_source=GRCA_2014

 

From Publisher’s Lunch:

Children’s/YA Sales Drive Sales Again In August

The AAP released their monthly Stat Shot statistics from approximately 1,200 reporting publishers for August, with sales remaining true to the pattern from all of 2014: Strong children’s/YA sales — in all formats — continue to carry the trade, accounting for all of the gains and then some, as new release adult hardcovers (and thus companion ebooks) remain lackluster.

For August itself, adult sales of $415 million did rise slightly from $408 million a year ago, and children’s/YA sales of $170 million were up from $141 million last August. Adult hardcover sales were down again, though, and have been weak all year (down 7.2 percent for the first 8 months of 2014); adult ebook sales for August were $107 million, down 2 percent from $109 million a year ago. Adult ebook sales for the year are barely below flat, at $853 million.

Remember that the AAP is measuring net shipments to and from accounts, not consumer sell-through (except for ebooks); so the August numbers reflect stores bringing in inventory to prepare for the big holiday season — but the lack of adult breakout titles may show itself in monthly numbers later this year and early into 2015. Informally, publishing and retail executives have expressed concern over the past month or two over the lack of new, breakout hits pulling consumers’ attention in advance of those holiday sales.

But the smaller children’s/YA market tells a different story. Registering their best month so far in a strong year (children’s sales are up $225 million, or more than 20 percent), August children’s sales were $170 million. Children’s ebook sales gained $5 million, rising to $17.9 million, still leaving total ebook sales of $124.6 up slightly from $122 million a year ago. eBooks accounted for 21 percent of August’s sales.

At Little, Brown Children’s, Alvina Ling has been promoted to vp, editor-in-chief, overseeing the publishing program (excluding licensing). Pam Gruber moves up to senior editor; and Allison Moore is now associate editor.
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Last Friday, Wendy McLeod MacKnight was signed by the LKG Literary Agency in New York City for her children’s chapter book! Woo-hoo!

Check back next week for November’s First Page Critiques by agent Alex Slater from Trident Media Group.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Author, Book, children writing, inspiration, Kudos, Publishing Industry Tagged: 2014 Goodreads Best Book Voting, Children's YA drives Book Industry Sales, LKG Literary, Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky

1 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Mish Mash, last added: 11/21/2014
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10. Agent Looking to Build List

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Lana Popovic

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Lana Popovic

Lana Popovic holds a B.A. with honors from Yale University, a J.D. from the Boston University School of Law, where she focused on intellectual property, and an M.A. with highest honors from the Emerson College Publishing and Writing program. Prior to joining Chalberg & Sussman, Lana worked at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, where she built a list of Young Adult and adult literary authors while managing foreign rights for the agency.

Lana’s clients include Leah Thomas (Because You’ll Never Meet Me, forthcoming from Bloomsbury), Rebecca Podos (The Mystery of Hollow Places, forthcoming from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins), Michelle Smith (Play On, forthcoming from Spencer Hill Contemporary), and Marie Jaskulka (The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl and Random Boy, forthcoming from Skyhorse).

With an abiding love for dark themes and shamelessly nerdy fare—Battlestar Galactica and Joss Whedon are two of her great loves—Lana is looking for a broad spectrum of Young Adult and Middle Grade projects, from contemporary realism to speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. For the adult market, Lana is interested in literary thrillers, horror, fantasy, sophisticated erotica and romance, and select nonfiction. An avid traveler, she has a particular fondness for stories set in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, although she also loves reading about American subcultures.

Lana is accepting:

  1. Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction: Contemporary/realistic, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical, horror, sci-fi
  2. Adult Fiction: Literary thrillers, sci-fi, horror, romance, erotica, women’s literary fiction
  3. Adult Nonfiction: Pop culture, blog-to-book, literary memoir

Twitter at @LanaPopovicLit.

To query Lana, please email lana@chalbergsussman.com with the first ten pages of the manuscript included in the body of the email. Lana accepts queries by email only.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, inspiration, opportunity, Places to Submit Tagged: Boston University School of Law, Chalberg & Sussman, Lana Popovic, Yale University

0 Comments on Agent Looking to Build List as of 11/20/2014 12:50:00 AM
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11. Keeping the Flame Alive – Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here on…. 

Keeping the Flame Alive

The farther I dive into the world of writing, the busier I become. I have done small amounts of freelance writing for years, but about a year ago, in hopes of gaining experience and honing my craft, I dove deeper into the world of freelance. I wrote for a few online magazines like Honesty For Breakfast (aimed at girls in their 20s), I did some ghost web-copy writing for travel websites and a flower shop, am working on a project with RawSpiceBar.com , and do regular posts for Family Focus Blog with farm fresh recipes and family-friendly projects.

I learned a lot about my writing too. I learned that my instinctively conversational style makes me a natural fit for certain things and not others. I’ve found great success with product description writing and online course curriculum development, because I get to play with different styles of description and ways of engaging an audience. But grant or technical writing for things like computer software manuals… not for me.

So what’s my point? Well, between freelance writing and working on my manuscripts, I am doing hours of writing every single day. And while this has been great in many ways, forcing me to flex my writing and creativity muscles, working with deadlines and not being able to stop because I’m just not “feeling it”, it can also become cumbersome.

Bottom line: Writing is very hard work.

I needed a way to regularly stoke the fire, the furious passion that I’ve always had for the written word. A way to remind myself that writing is fun!

Once a week, I schedule two entire hours, where I sit down and write without a goal, and away from the computer. No deadlines, no projects, no one to tell me what’s wrong with it, just writing. It can be free association writing, prose, anything I want. I can use characters from my manuscripts, but I don’t allow myself to work on actual scenes. I write silly rhymes that follow absolutely no patterns, write sentences with horrible grammar, and break as many rules as I can in 120 minutes.

Sometimes I spend the whole two hours writing what turns into a sort of journal entry, and I am reminded of why I fell in love with writing in the first place… the hidden truths it has always seemed to bring forward.

Basically, I indulge myself.

For me, being away from the computer is an important aspect. I do my work from my computer as a writer and a business owner, so just sitting in the chair has innate associations with obligation. This is playtime not work time.

Curling up with a notebook, a pen and absolutely nothing but chaos to guide me connects with the teenager in me who found refuge in writing as words she was constantly scribbling in the margins seemed to bring her closer to understanding herself and the world around her.

Do I always look forward to it? Nope. Not at all. I’d say a solid 40-50 percent of the time, I’m going into this thinking, ech… this is dumb. I don’t have the time to waste just doing nothing. 

But (so far at least!) I have managed to convince myself to do it anyway.

The outcome?

Even when I didn’t FEEL like doing it, when the hours are up, I find myself unbelievably refreshed, both on a personal level, and as a writer. In fact, the times when I’ve wanted to do it the least have frequently been the times it’s had the most effect.

More often than not, I’ve sparked some new ideas for ways to handle scenes I was stuck on, or projects I wasn’t sure of. This means that these two hours actually end up SAVING me time, as I’m able to be more fluid in my work moving on.

And every single time, I renew that secret smile on my face that tells the story of how writing is a profoundly integral part of who I am.

So… do I think this strategy will work for everyone?

Well… sort of. (not exactly a deep meaningful answer there, I know. But bear with me!)  

I think finding a way to reconnect with the raw passion of your writing is essential for all of us. Will a two-hour scribble in a notebook once a week do that for you?

It just might. As writers, I’ve found that many of us have similar stories of falling in love with the written word. So I would highly suggest giving it a try. But if after a few times, you find yourself drawn to something else, don’t fight it. Let the wistful, playful side of you run this show, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

My two-hour decadent dive into the frivolous side of writing has become a stimulating catalyst for not only my writing but my own spirit and the spirit of my characters. And while I know it’s never always easy to find two hours of your time to put aside, I strongly believe that…

… you, and your manuscripts are worth it.

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post. I think everyone looks forward to your posts.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, Tips, writing Tagged: Erika Wassall, Freelance writing, Keeping the Flame Alive, Manuscripts

7 Comments on Keeping the Flame Alive – Erika Wassall, last added: 11/20/2014
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12. Little Pickle Press

In 2009 Rana DiOrio founded San Francisco-based Little Pickle Press, a 21st century publisher of high quality, high impact media for children.

Most of you know how I love reading journey stories, so when I noticed Emma Dryen’s great interview today with Rana on her blog, I thought you might like to read it too. It also made me want to check out Little Pickle Press. The first thing that impressed me was the quality of their website and books, so if they were to publish your book, you would not have to worry about placing your baby in their hands. I knew they were a small press publisher, but I thought they were only interested in picture books. I was wrong. They are open to receiving manuscripts all the way up to YA. And they are open to non-agented writers.

I am so glad I took the time to read Emma’s interview and visit Little Pickle Press because I would not be able to share the Submission Guidelines below and the opportunity to find a good home for your books.

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If you’re going to aim high, you need the right launch pad. Does your goal involve writing the next great children’s book or YA novel? Little Pickle Press wants to know about it, and we’re working with Submittable to make it even easier to share your best ideas with us.

Step 1: Write!
We can’t read your mind, so get those fabulous ideas written down. Bear in mind that while there are scores of topics to choose from, the mission statement of Little Pickle Press is your best guide to the sort of manuscripts that we’re seeking. These include (in no particular order and not exclusively):

Inspiration

  • Altruism (and other anti-narcissism, anti-entitlement themes)
  • Dare To Be Different
  • Tolerance/Acceptance
  • Non-traditional family structures
  • Choices: It’s Not All Black And White; Most of Life is Gray
  • Anti-Princess Themes
  • Strong, female protagonists
  • Creativity—the importance of it, fostering it, etc.
  • Divergent (vs. Convergent) Thinking
  • Systems Thinking
  • Self-Sufficiency/Taking Care of Yourself and Your Community/Planting the Seeds of Being a Locavore
  • Water as a precious, global resource
  • Creativity: the importance of it, fostering it, etc.
  • Forgiveness
  • Gratitude
  • What is a conscience? How do we foster it? Use it?
  • Leadership and/or Entrepreneurship

We’re growing with our readers, so don’t think you have to create a picture book if you have a novel rattling around in your brain. We’re seeking picture books for 5 to 8 year olds, chapter books for 9 to 12 year olds, and middle grade novels for 10 to 14 year olds. In addition, we’re now accepting manuscripts in the young adult novel category for readers ages 15 and up. We are open to the literary vehicle employed to convey the story—fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, creative nonfiction, etc.

Step 2: Get it ready!
Okay, so you’ve written your book. You’ve shared it with friends, family, and that neighbor down the street who’s known for disliking pretty much everything. They all agree that your book is the best thing since sliced bread. Now what?
Now you or your agent can send it to us! We’ve got a few uniformity guidelines to keep all submissions easy to read, and here they are:

  • As an MS Word document
  • Double-spaced
  • With Times New Roman font 12-pt
  • With your suggested title and name at the top as well as a word count
  • With pages numbered
  • Without illustrations

Relatively painless, wouldn’t you say? That’s because we’ve been saving the hard part for last. Everybody has a creative spark, and following instructions is a snap. Now for the really tough step.

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Step 3: Send it in!
Sending your carefully-wrought manuscript off to a real, live publishing company is one of the most exciting and stressful things that you can do. But don’t worry. We don’t bite. Follow the submissions link, take a deep breath, and click!

Step 4: Sit back, but don’t relax just yet.
We have lots of manuscripts to consider, so it will take up to 8  weeks before we get back to you. While you’re waiting, why not see what other great story ideas you’ve got? Children need and deserve books. Whether it’s an imaginative tale that encourages creativity, or an engaging story that fosters responsibility and social awareness, Little Pickle Press seeks to offer the very best in children’s literature. Will you help us?

Hope this information helps push you closer to finding a home for your book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Places to Submit, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Emma D Dryden, Little Pickle Press, Rana DiOrio, submission guidelines

7 Comments on Little Pickle Press, last added: 11/19/2014
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13. Format Your Book for CreateSpace by Roxanne Smolen

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Roxanne Smolen

Ever think about self-publishing a book using CreateSpace? Maybe you have hesitated because you were nervous about the expertise needed to digitally format the manuscript to look professional. Well, Roxanne Smolen has worked through the process, wrote up the step-by-step process below, and is willing to share it with you.

Here is Roxanne:

I think of myself as an Indie author, although I’m actually a hybrid. I have seven books published by a small publisher. Those books can be found in every book selling venue possible. But honestly, almost all my sales are through Amazon. I started thinking, why sell through a publisher and give them a healthy cut when I can make more money by doing it myself?

So I began self-publishing. I published two middle-grade books that I wrote with my young granddaughters (under the name R.A.P. Smolen), four writer’s advice books that I wrote with seven other authors (under the name of C. S. Writers), a science fiction novel that I wrote about a woman who literally goes to hell (Satan’s Mirror), and the first three novels of my current book series (The Amazing Wolf Boy).

wolfboy coverThe Amazing Wolf Boy is a humorous paranormal romance for young adults about a sixteen-year-old nerd who turns into a werewolf during Christmas Eve dinner. His parents banish him to Florida (That’s where I live. What a coincidence.) where he fails to fit in with the other kids. You can buy book one here.

I’m pretty proud of the book, not only because I wrote it but because I published it. Self-publishing does not carry the stigma it once did. If you are thinking about publishing your own book, my biggest piece of advice is to proofread and edit carefully. It’s so easy to publish a book nowadays authors are putting their work out there with all sorts of errors. You don’t want to be that guy.

The best thing, of course, is to hire an editor. But good editors are expensive, and many of us can’t afford such an investment. If you plan to do it yourself, I have a tip for you—change your font. Just for the editing process. Make it something a little difficult to read, like Broadway or Impact. Something to make you focus. Your brain doesn’t always read what your eyes see; it reads what you thought you wrote. That’s why we can read over a sentence with a misspelled or missing word twenty-five times and not pick it up. If you change your font, your brain will think it’s reading something new and it will pay attention.

PersnicketyI would also advise you to take care with your book formatting. Readers don’t have the patience to read text with large gaps or ragged indents. On that note, I have written a tutorial.

How to Format Your Book for CreateSpace

I get a lot of formatting questions, so I thought I’d put it all down in one place. If you find it useful, let me know.

Note: I use Word 2010. Your version of Word might look a bit different, but it should be similar enough for you to figure out.

And now, without further ado, here is how I format a book for CreateSpace.

Ready, Set, Go

  1. Open your Word .doc
  2. Set the margins. Go to PAGE LAYOUT –> MARGINS –> CUSTOM MARGINS.
    1. Under the Margin Tab, make the top 1″, the bottom 1″, the inside .9″, and the outside .6″.
    2. Orientation should be Portrait.
    3. Multiple Pages should be changed to Mirror Margins. That’s it for the Margin Tab. Don’t close the box yet.
  3. Then under the Paper Tab, change the Paper Size to the size of the book you are planning to publish. I like my books to be 8″ by 5″ so I change:
    1. Width to 5″
    2. Height to 8″. Then click OK to close the box.
  4. SELECT ALL (it’s over in the top right-hand corner.) Delete all tabs by using REPLACE (also in the top right-hand corner.)
    1. Go to the Replace Tab
    2. Click More
    3. Click Special
    4. Click Tab Character
    5. Leave REPLACE WITH blank
    6. Click REPLACE ALL
  5. SELECT ALL
    1. Click the corner box next to Paragraph.
    2. Under Indentation, go to SPECIAL
    3. Select FIRST LINE
    4. Under BY type .25
  6. SELECT ALL
    1. Change line spacing to 1.5
    2. Click both REMOVE SPACE BEFORE and REMOVE SPACE AFTER so both read ADD.
  7. SELECT ALL
    1. Change your font and font size. I usually use Georgia 12pt.
  8. SELECT ALL
    1. Justify your margins. Yes! Don’t argue with me.
  9. SELECT ALL
    1. Under PAGE LAYOUT, click Hyphenation and Automatic.
  10. SELECT ALL. Make sure you don’t have any double spaces after punctuation. (This is for all us older authors because we were taught that in high school.)
    1. Go to the Replace Tab
    2. Under FIND WHAT, hit the spacebar twice
    3. Under REPLACE WITH, hit it once
    4. Click REPLACE ALL
  11. Make sure the end of every chapter/short story has a new page character.
    1. Go to PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS
    2. Under Section Breaks, click NEXT PAGE (One caveat to this is if you are publishing a book of short stories. You want each story to start on the right-hand side, right? Or some people want each chapter to start on the right. In that case you would click ODD PAGE.)
    3. There should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on blank pages.

Front Matter Matters

In order:

  1. TITLE PAGE
    1. Use a larger font and make it bold.
    2. Type your book title about halfway down the page.
    3. Type your name at the bottom. (This should give you plenty of room to sign at book signings.)
    4. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  2. COPYRIGHT PAGE
    1. Type in your Copyright Notice.
    2. Example: This is a work of fiction. The characters and events described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or to living persons alive or dead. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written permission of the publisher except for brief quotations embodied in critical reviews.
    3. Copyright © (date) by (your name)
    4. ISBN (Type in the number provided by CreateSpace.)
    5. You can also add your publishers name, state, website, and logo if you have started your own company.
    6. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  3. DEDICATION PAGE
    1. This is optional. If you are dedicating your book to a loved one or an organization, type it here.
    2. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  4. TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. You should have a table of contents to list each chapter or short story.
    2. Go to REFERENCE and click Table of Contents.
    3. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  5. NOTES
    1. If necessary, add a blank page at this point (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE) so that the first page of your story starts on the right-hand side.
    2. There should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on the FRONT MATTER (or the back matter either for that matter.)

Back Matter Matters Too

  1. Add a page for Your Author’s Bio, headshot (I mean a photo, not an actual… although if you’re writing horror and you’re good with make-up…) website, and email address.
    1. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  2. Add another page for a list of your previous works and where to buy them.
    1. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  3. If you are writing a series, you can put an excerpt of an upcoming book here.
  4. Remember, there should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on the front or back matter unless you want to use Roman Numerals.

About Your Headers and Footers

  1. Go to the first page of your story. (Story, not Front Matter.)
    1. Click INSERT.
    2. Click HEADER.
    3. Choose your Header Style. (I usually use Blank.)
    4. Type the name of your book. (I recommend using a smaller font.)
    5. Highlight what you just typed and Right align it. (On the Home Tab.)
    6. Under HEADER & FOOTER TOOLS click ODD & EVEN PAGES.
    7. Make sure LINK TO PREVIOUS is not selected.
  2. Now go to the second page of your story.
    1. Click the Header and type your name.
    2. Highlight what you typed and Left align it.
  3. You should now have your Title on the right and your Name on the left on alternating pages.
    1. Check to be sure the header hasn’t shown up on your Front Matter.
    2. If it has, delete it and de-select LINK TO PREVIOUS on each page.
  4. Go back to the first page of your story.
    1. On the left-hand side of the HEADER & FOOTER TOOLBAR, you will see Page Number. Click it.
    2. Choose Bottom Of The Page.
    3. Choose your style. I use Plain Number 2.
    4. Note: You will have to do this twice—once for the right-hand (odd) side and once for the left-hand (even) side.
    5. Note: You may have to format the page numbers to get them to run consecutively. To do that, click Page Number again and scroll down to Format Page Number.

Easy Peasy

Kill the Widows and Orphans

Widow

  • A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the rest of the text.

Orphan

  • A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page/column.
  • A word, part of a word, or very short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph. Orphans result in too much white space between paragraphs or at the bottom of a page.

Word kills your widows and orphans by default, but the result makes a ragged bottom margin. I’m one of those persnickety people who feel that when you open a book, the bottom margin on both pages should match up. So I kill them manually.

  1. Click the corner box on PARAGRAPH.
  2. Click the LINE AND PAGE BREAKS Tab.
  3. Uncheck Widow/Orphan Control.
  4. Go through each page of your 500 page book and look for Widows and Orphans, adding or deleting words until the page looks right.

And Another Thing…

The first paragraph of each chapter and after a drop should be flush left, meaning don’t indent. Also, the first letter of the first word of that paragraph should be fancied up. I’m sure you’ve all seen the first letter in a different font with scroll work, etc. The problem is that it messes with the line spacing of the paragraph. The only work-around I know is to insert a picture of the necessary letter in the desired fancy font and then have the text wrap it so there is no problem with the spacing. But that is a lot of work for little gain. I just bold the first letter and leave it in the same font as the rest of the paragraph.

Easy Peasy

When all looks good, you need to save the book as a PDF. Word can do this for you.

FILE –> SAVE AS –> PDF

Now you are ready to upload the .pdf to CreateSpace.

See? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3… 4, 5, 6… Oh, you get the picture.

Thank you Roxanne for sharing this process with everyone. I know this will help a lot of writers, if not now, later. I am sure they will want to save this for future use. Here is the link to visit Roxanne’s blog: http://www.moonrox.wordpress.com/

Talk soon,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, demystify, How to, Process, Publishing Industry, reference Tagged: CreateSpace, Formatting your book

2 Comments on Format Your Book for CreateSpace by Roxanne Smolen, last added: 11/19/2014
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14. Highlights Fiction Contest

Highlights Fiction Contest

header_highlights-corp_logo-transparent

HIGHLIGHTS 2015 FICTION CONTEST GUIDELINES

CATEGORY:

Mystery stories

PRIZES:

Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit http://www.highlightsfoundation.org)

ENTRY DATES:

All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2015.

RULES:

No entry form or fee is required.

Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.

We welcome work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished and not found online.

Stories may be any length up to 750 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.

No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.

Entries not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned.

Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights.

SEND ENTRIES TO: 

FICTION CONTEST
Highlights for Children
803 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431

WINNERS:

The three winning entries will be purchased by Highlights and announced on Highlights.com in June 2015. All other entries will be considered for purchase by Highlights. For details about our purchase policies, please see our contributor guidelines: https://www.highlights.com/contributor-guidelines

Highlights for Children Fiction Contest Winners for 2014:

“Harold’s Hat” by Mike Allegra
“Easter with Baba Lena” by Vila Gingerich
“Heart Surprises” by Clare Mishica

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, children writing, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, writing Tagged: 2014 Highlights Fiction Contest Winners, Highlights Fiction Contest

6 Comments on Highlights Fiction Contest, last added: 11/18/2014
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15. Illustrator Saturday – Maja Sereda

majaMaja Sereda has illustrated number of picture books published in English, Afrikaans and other African languages. She has received 3 ATKV awards for best illustration (category ages 3–6) in 2008, 2009, 2011. And her book A kite’s flight written by W. Gumede won the Crystal Kite member’s choice award for the Africa region, 2011. Her latest book La Grande Fleur, written by Yves Pinguilly, was published in France (2013).

Maja tackles each project with great passion and enthusiasm, which she best communicates through her fun and quirky illustrations. Maja works in soft pastels as well as digital media. She loves drawing all creatures great and small, including little children!

Here is Maja explaining her process:

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I create a sketch for my illustration using a colour pencil on 60gsm paper.
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The sketch is scanned and rough colour dropped in.

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I trace image onto final pastel paper and start pasteling.

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I always work from left to right or from the center outwards in order not to smudge the pastel. It is a very delicate medium.

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To create details I use pastel pencils, whereas for the fine outlines I once again bring in a colour pencil. Most often a brown.

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Background is drawn last.

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Final Illustration

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Below: Snow Games written by Joanna Marple (www.utales.com) 2012

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LA GRANDE FLEUR COVER

la grande fleur cover

La Grande Fleur was published in France by Oscar Editeur in 2013.

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The book was part of the French/South African season.

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La Grande Fleur interior art.

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How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating books since 2007.

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What made your family move from Poland to South Africa when you were young?

My dad received a work contract and decided to take it. It was supposed to be a temporary move, but I fell in love with South Africa and persuaded my family to stay.

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Have you ever gone back to Poland?

I like to visit from time to time. I still have family and primary school friends living in Poland.

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What University did you attend and what did you study?

I studied BA (Information Design) aka graphic design at University of Pretoria.

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

I did a number of illustration jobs while working in the design/advertising industry, such as story boarding or product drawings. I believe the very first paid illustration job was my first book.

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

I moved to Dublin, Ireland for a year where I worked for a marketing company as a junior art director.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

It was in my final year of studies. I realized that I’ve chosen the wrong field. Design was simply not for me. It took me a few years before I could start freelancing and working as a full time illustrator.

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How many picture books have you illustrated?

Approximately 17 picture books, however I’m not counting illustration work done for educational books.

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Were any of them published by a US Publisher?

Unfortunately not, however I’m hoping it will happen one day soon. I’m always dreaming and wishing.

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What was the first picture book that you illustrated? And how did that contract come your way?

My sister put me in touch with a client who wanted to illustrate a story that her father wrote. It was small private project. Out of that book, an illustration of mine title ‘catching rabbits’ was born, which I sent to a local South African publisher. They replied immediately and asked me to pitch for a book. I had my first real book contract within in a week. I was over the moon.

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How do you connect with art directors and editors and find illustration work?

So far I’ve been very lucky. Work finds me. Nevertheless, from time to time I do like to contact a publisher via email and send them my updated portfolio.

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Are you represented by artist agency? If so, who? If not would you like to find one?

I’m not represented by anyone at the moment and I am currently looking for US representation. In South Africa, the market is very small and a freelance illustrator can easily approach publishers directly.

72354

It looks like you have illustrated books in many different languages. How do publishers help you work with a book that is written in another language?

Even though my Afrikaans isn’t very good, I do understand it and therefore am able to read a manuscript without translation. Many of the other African languages are sent to me with the English translation. I’m currently studying French. One of my latest books LA GRANDE FLEUR written by Yves Pinguilly, was also translated for me into English.

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

I do regular work for a local magazine Hoezit! It is also an Afrikaans publication.

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Have you done any work for educational publishers?

I work for educational publishers on a regular basis. This work however doesn’t inspire me and therefore doesn’t feature in my portfolio. I prefer to work on picture books for young children.

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What is your favorite medium to use to do your illustrations?

At the moment, it’s soft pastels. I simply love the medium – the intensity and variety of colour is incredible. Most of my recent work has been done in pastels. In the past, I’ve worked with gouache, acrylic, ink, oil and Photoshop.

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Has that changed over time?

I have grown a lot as an illustrator, I don’t think one ever stops growing and learning. When I started illustrating my focus was simply on creating sweet, quirky illustrations, but now I’m leaning more and more towards fantasy and also more personal work.

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What do you consider is your first big success?

My first book received an award for best illustration, it definitely inspired me to keep going.

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Do you ever want to write and illustrate a picture book?

Yes, mostly definitely. I write and sketch ideas often – my big aim is to set aside some time and only focus on doing my own book. Perhaps this coming year! Recent trip to Reunion Island was very inspiring and I would like to use some of the incredible imagery in my book.

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Would you be open to working with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?

Yes, and I have in the past although these projects are often tricky. There is the issue of budget, quality of the writing, etc.

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

I take photographs, I search the web, look through books. Research is vital for any project.

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Do you think your Polish roots or the South African culture is reflected in your art?

Little bit of both, however I do feel a stronger connection with my polish roots.

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

I have so many things, it’s difficult to choose! Pastels of course, but also colouring pencils. I find them fantastic to sketch with, much better than the graphite pencil.

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

As much as I can, but I don’t have a specific number of hours in mind. I also believe it’s good to take breaks from drawing and creating. I love spending time behind the camera lens as well, especially photographing birds and insects.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. Hasn’t it for everyone? It is incredible how we are all connected, we share our work and meet fantastic people online.

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Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop for my digital artwork. I also use to help me plan layouts.

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

Yes, I use a Wacom tablet.

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

I have many dreams, it’s hard to summarize them all here. Ideally I want to have the freedom to write and illustrate my own books. Also create a product line using my art.

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What are you working on now?

I have one or two potential books to create. I’m still deciding which one to take on.

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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 using 60gsm layout paper for sketching because it’s slightly transparent. I can always overlay my sketches and work over them.

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

Work hard, believe in your dream, make sure that the work you produce is of high quality and then be brave. Not everyone is going to be a fan of your work, but sometimes you simply have to look for the right audience.

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Thank you Maja for sharing your journey and process with us. Please let us know all your future successes. We’d love to hear about them and cheer you on. You can see more of Maja’s work on www.childrensillustrators.com/majasereda and see more of  her portfolio on:  http://www.facebook.com/MajaSeredaIllustration

If you have a moment I am sure Maja would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if I don’t always have time to reply. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Illustrator Journey, Maja Sereda, University of Pretoria

6 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Maja Sereda, last added: 11/16/2014
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16. Free Fall Friday – Two Book-Give-a-Ways & Poem Winner

OPPORTUNITY: TWO BOOK-GIVE-A-WAYS

greaterthangoldGayle Aanensen’s new 88 page novella, GREATER THAN GOLD hit the book shelves this week. It is now available on Amazon and will appeal to anyone who celebrates Christmas.

Greater than Gold is the story of two troubled boys and their two Christmases—Oscar in the present day, and Omar way back in biblical time. A good description would be The Polar Express meets The Book of Luke. After all, if a magical train ride can restore a boy’s belief in Santa Claus, why can’t an angel time-travel Oscar back to Bethlehem, where he discovers the peace, joy (and danger!) of the very first Christmas. Twelve-year-old Oscar Olsen is missing his soldier Dad, and he wants nothing (repeat, nothing) to do with Christmas this year! He acts out his anger on his Mom, his friend, Melissa, and even the strange new kid in church, Albert. A young, inexperienced angel, still struggling to control her wings, appears in Oscar’s bedroom. She tells Oscar that her official alphanumerical name is too long, so he can call her Earth Angel 10. She whirls him back to 2,000 years ago, where he becomes Omar, an orphaned camel-boy, riding with the Magi. Omar is a brand-new person in the traditional nativity story. Young readers will be drawn into the boys’ two parallel stories, told in alternating chapters.

spaghetticove2r

Ten days ago, I featured Margo Sorensen new book, SPAGHETTI SMILES and forgot to offer everyone a chance to win a copy her wonderful book illustrated by David Harrington who was featured on Illustrator Saturday. So we are offering the book give-a-way this week.

So if you leave a comment to this post you will automatically have a chance to win GREATER THAN GOLD OR SPAGHETTI SMILES.

If you reblog, tweet, post on your facebook page you will get an extra ticket with your name paced in the hat. This will definitely up your chances for winning one of the books. You can comment now and then do the other things later, but please come back before the deadline and let me know how many things you did. Both will make a nice gift for the holidays. Good luck!

The Unusual Stew by Robert Zammarchi was voted as the best Halloween poem. His prize is a featured post right here on Writing and Illustrating. He can choose to use it right away or hold on to it for when he wants to talk about something special. Thank you to everyone who submitted poems and to everyone who voted.

I think everyone enjoyed this, so I am going to do the same thing for Thanksgiving. If you have a poem or an illustration inspired by the holiday, please email it to me at: Kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com – Please put THANKSGIVING POEM or THANKSGIVING ILLUSTRATION in the Subject Box.

Alexander Slater

Agent Alex Slater

Remember to submit your first pages for this month. It is the last one for this year.

The four winning first pages will be sent to Alex Slater from Trident Media for critique. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO HAVE YOUR CRITIQUE POSTED.

Here are the guidelines for submitting a First Page in November:

In the subject line, please write “November First Page Critique” and paste the text in the email. 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.

Plus attach your first page Word doc. to email. Format using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines. First page should not be submitted with two pages. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Last month a number of submissions were taken out of the mix, due to not following the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc.

DEADLINE: November 24th.

RESULTS: November 28th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Contests, illustrating, inspiration, opportunity, Poems Tagged: Agent Alex Slater, November First Page Critiques, Thanksgiving Poems, Two Book Give-a-Ways, Winner of Halloween Poem Contest

10 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Two Book-Give-a-Ways & Poem Winner, last added: 11/14/2014
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17. The GENEii Writing Contest

scgsheader
GENEii%20logoPresenting the 15th Annual Family History Writing Contest
Sponsored by Southern California Genealogical Society
Entries must be received in digital format between
Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014

email entries to:
wiedy_genealogy@charter.net 

More information and a sample cover letter can be found on the
SCGS website: http://www.scgsgenealogy.com.

Submissions, questions & comments may be submitted by email to
wiedy_genealogy@charter.net
417 Irving Drive
Burbank, CA 91504-2408
(818) 843-7247

GENEii Writing Contest Overview
The GENEii Writing Contest is for factual articles: either family history or local history, character sketches, or memoirs. Winning entries capture a sense of a family’s experience(s), the character of a locality, or reveal an individual’s character and personality. We feel the best articles help illuminate the human drama—and will also illuminate the era, and/or the historical or social context of the subject.

Prizes are awarded in two categories. Category 1 is for articles between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length. Category 2 is for articles under 1,000 words in length. Both categories are for family history or local-history stories, memoirs, or character sketches. Submissions may be either unpublished or previously published.

The GENEii Writing Contest is open to the public and is presented each year by the SCGS. Entries must be received between November 1 and December 31. The contest closes on December 31 for each calendar year. Winners are notified individually by May 1st of the following year. A listing of winning entries is posted on the SCGS website and the winners’ names will be printed in the summer issue of The Searcher, the quarterly journal of SCGS.

Entrants grant SCGS the one-time right to publish their articles in the SCGS journal The Searcher; and/or the SCGS website; and/or to publish their article in an anthology of winning entries. Previously published articles should include permission to reprint from the prior publisher.

In November, 2005, Heritage Books, Inc. published an anthology of some of the most memorable entries to our contest in the contest’s first five years.

The anthology is called Celebrating Family History. It is available for $5 plus shipping and handling through the SCGS shopping cart. View a list of family names included in this anthology. It is also available from heritagebooks.com. A number of previous winning entries have been published in the SCGS quarterly, The Searcher. A limited number of past issues are available for $5 plus shipping and handling. Contact SCGS for more information.

 


Filed under: Contest

1 Comments on The GENEii Writing Contest, last added: 11/13/2014
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18. New Agent Looking For Clients at Writers House

alec-shane-literary-agent-220x300Alec Shane has been promoted to agent at Writers House, which is one of the largest literary agencies in the world. It prides itself on providing an extraordinary amount of individual client attention combined with the full service benefits of foreign and sub rights departments, as well as a full accounting and royalty staff.

Alex began his career at Writers House as an intern in September of 2008 and simply refused to leave, so he was given the wonderful job of Assistant to Jodi Reamer. And while he continues to work under Jodi’s careful tutelage, he is now also in the process of actively building his own list and currently represent a fairly eclectic mix of Children’s and Adult fiction and nonfiction. He is eagerly looking for both.

On the fiction side, he loves mysteries, thrillers, bad-ass protagonists with a chip on their shoulders, beautifully told historical fiction (The Vietnam War, the Maccabees, and The American Revolution fascinate him in particular),well-researched adventure stories, and great horror. He says, “I haven’t been scared to turn off the light in far too long and something needs to be done about it.”

In terms of children’s books, getting boys to read again is especially important to him, and thus he’s particularly on the lookout for a fun middle-grade adventure series, ghost story, or anything else geared toward younger male readers.

On the nonfiction side, he’s attracted to odd, quirky histories, biographies of people he didn’t even know existed (but definitely should have), “guy” reads, humor, narrative nonfiction that sheds light on under-the-radar events and lifestyles, and all things sports. He is also currently up in the air as to whether or not he believes in ghosts, hauntings, and the supernatural, so if you have something that can convince me one way or the other, I’d love to see it.

Alex majored in English at Brown University, a degree he put to immediate use by moving to Los Angeles after graduation to become a professional stunt man. Realizing that he prefers books to breakaway glass, he moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue a career in publishing. Alec quickly found a home at Writers House Literary Agency, where he worked under Jodi Reamer and Amy Berkower on a large number of YA and Adult titles.

Twitter handle: @alecdshane.

He is looking for: Alec is now aggressively building his own list. “What I’m looking for in fiction: mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and books geared toward young male readers (both YA and MG).

What he’s not looking for: Romance (paranormal or otherwise), straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, travel memoir.”

PROJECTS/SALES/BOOKS:

SHARK WARS, EJ Altbacker
THE BOOK OF BLOOD, HP Newquist
MONKEY TOWN, Ronald Kidd
HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES, Mark Stein
SHARK WARS 6: THE LAST EMPREX, EJ Altbacker (Razorbill)
YOU MIGHT REMEMBER ME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PHIL HARTMAN, Mike Thomas (St. Martins)
SEEING AMERICA, Nancy Crocker (Medallion Press)

Submission guidelines: He accepts e-mail and snail-mail queries (although email is preferable), and will usually respond within 4-5 weeks. Please send the first 10 pages of your manuscript, along with your query letter, to ashane [at] writershouse.com with “Query for Alec Shane: TITLE” as your subject heading – no attachments please! If sending via regular mail, please include a SASE with proper postage.

Writers House
21 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10010
phone 212-685-2400

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Looking for Clients, Alex Shane, Fiction and Non-fiction

1 Comments on New Agent Looking For Clients at Writers House, last added: 11/12/2014
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19. Dealing with Rejection by Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here with…

FULL DISCLOSURE – Dealing with a Rejecting Critique

This past Friday the 31st, on Halloween, I had a fright like no ghost or goblin costume could compare to.

My first page critique of Daddy, What’s A Redneck! (see it here)

The full manuscript is a touching story of a father who finds himself surprisingly stumped on how to explain the history and pride of an important piece of his family’s culture. He explains the actual origin of the term, the ingenuity, fun-loving and family-oriented traditions that mean so much to him. Little Lainey’s excitement grows as she learns not only about a term and a family, but about herself.

Suffice it to say: Liza was not a fan.

My first response was the famous kneejerk: “I’m NEVER writing ANYthing EVER again,” supported by the ever-popular: “What’s the point??” and the sister thought: “What does SHE know anyway?”

To be honest, I clicked off the site, without even reading the critique in full. Said nothing to anyone. Ignored it. Told myself it didn’t matter.

But, I am proud to say that it wasn’t long before I took a deep breath and tried to take a more realistic look at what was happening.

Okay. So an agent had read my work, and not liked it.

Ummm…. that’s NOT new!!! I’ve had agents turn my work down before. Even successful authors get rejected.

I decided I would go back to Kathy’s site and read Liza’s comments in full, THREE TIMES before the NJ SCBWI event the next day.

The first time I read them, they made me angry. I disagreed with EVERY word, and rolled my eyes at LEAST half a dozen times.

“She just doesn’t GET it.”

A few hours passed.

The second read, I saw where she coming from with. I shrugged a few times where I had previously crinkled my nose and shook my head. I reminded myself that while my usual writing is exceedingly kid-centric, this manuscript in particular is not mainstream-minded.

I reminded myself of three things: (1) writing is an art, not a science (2) her critique was for MY benefit, she got nothing out of this (3) as a successful agent, she knows much more than I, (and that’s a fact, not an insult).

The next morning, I read it a third time. This time, I saw real value in her comments. She mentions a lack of motivation. WHY is the little girl asking the question in the first place?

Huh…. I guess that could set the stage a bit better….

She mentions the title not properly representing the story itself, that people may even be insulted and not read it.

My “darling” cried out to me to be saved…. But I LOVE the title… I crafted it with certain connotations, liking the idea of that it was counter-balanced by a story of love and honor.

But … um… HELLO??!!! They have to READ the story to know that. If they see the title and turn away, the power of the irony is useless.

By the time I left for the SCBWI event, I no longer felt that dejected combination of anger and self-doubt. After all, as I’ve said myself, rejections are PROOF that I’m a writer!

I’ll be completely honest that I still do not agree with all of her comments. And that’s okay too. It is an earnest somewhat “issue” driven story, which while not something everyone is looking for, can have its place.

But even the comments I may not fully agree with have given me insight into my writing. Some of them I found may even apply to other manuscripts or projects I’m working on.

This week, when I sat down to write my post, fueled by amazing speakers, and an afternoon of great workshops at the SCBWI craft day, including a chance to see my dream editor Amy Cloud (I just genuinely enjoy her personality), I wrote the opening paragraph to three different articles. None of them worked.

I looked over my notes from the workshops. Nothing felt right.

I looked at Kathy’s site, as I often do, and it hit me. I had a chance to write about dealing with critique in a very unique, painfully honest way.

So a big thank you to Kathy for the opportunity. And a genuinely GIANT thank you to Liza for helping me grow as a writer, and realistically, probably also as a person.

And to you… I give a heart-felt thanks for indulging me by reading my story. It has immeasurably solidified for me the importance of not only accepting but also truly embracing critique in order to allow for growth.

Because you know what? Our manuscripts are worth it.

Erika, what can I say other than thank you for giving us another great post. I think we all have experienced this, so I hope others will take note of how you dealt with the angst of a negative critique and benefit from your reaction and journey.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Author, demystify, inspiration, Process, rejection, revisions Tagged: Dealing with Rejection, Erika Wassall, First Page Critique, Guest Blogger

7 Comments on Dealing with Rejection by Erika Wassall, last added: 11/7/2014
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20. SCBWI School Visit Webinar

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Webinar – School Visits with Suzanne Morgan Williams

Date/Time
Date(s) – 11/12/2014
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

COST: $25.00 For All SCBWI Members – $30.00 Non-Members

Suzanne-Portrait-2012300dpi-150x150The best school visits are age appropriate, energetic, engage the students, and add value to the school’s curriculum. How do you design amazing presentations? Gain confidence in your performance, teaching, and negotiations? How do you get schools (or more schools) to hire you? Author, former teacher, and school presenter, Suzanne Morgan Williams, uses handouts, exercises, and the online presentation to help you plan programs based on your strengths, your books, and students’ needs.

She’ll share her best tips for connecting with schools and negotiating fair deals. If you’re serious about giving presentations that leave schools buzzing tune in for this one. The webinar will end with an optional online question and answer time.  Homework and supplemental information will be forwarded to participants as they register. A link to the online classroom will be provided 24 hours prior to the event.

Click HERE to register for:

So You’re Not a Juggler: Planning Amazing School Visits with Suzanne Morgan Williams

Suzanne Morgan Williams is the author of the middle grade novel Bull Rider and eleven nonfiction books for children. Bull Rider is a Junior Library Guild Selection, is on state award lists in Texas, Nevada, Missouri, Wyoming, and Indiana, and won a Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. Suzanne’s nonfiction titles include Pinatas and Smiling Skeleton. The Inuit, Made in China, Nevada, and her latest book, China’s Daughters.

Suzanne has presented to adult and children’s audiences and taught writing workshops at dozens of schools, professional conferences, and literary events across the US and Canada. A former teacher, she has an M.Ed, teaching credentials, and a Montessori teacher certification. She’s been commissioned to create teacher’s guides for other writers as well as to write and support community cultural and literacy projects such as Nevada Hispanic Service’s/Nevada Humanities’ Great Latinos Biography Project. Visit www.suzannemorganwilliams.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Author, Events, inspiration, opportunity, organizations, Uncategorized Tagged: school visits, Suzy Morgan Williams, Webinar

4 Comments on SCBWI School Visit Webinar, last added: 11/6/2014
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21. Free Fall Friday – Alex Slater & Book Winner

THE WINNER OF VOYAGE BY KAREN ROMAGNA IS ELLEN RAMSEY.

Alexander SlaterAlexander Slater from the Trident Media Group has agreed to be November’s Guest Critiquer.

He is looking to build his 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 Alex 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.

The four winning first pages will be sent to Alex Slater from Trident Media for critique. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO HAVE YOUR CRITIQUE POSTED.

Here are the guidelines for submitting a First Page in November:

In the subject line, please write “November First Page Critique” and paste the text in the email. 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.

Plus attach your first page Word doc. to email. Format using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines. First page should not be submitted with two pages. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Last month a number of submissions were taken out of the mix, due to not following the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc.

DEADLINE: November 24th.

RESULTS: November 28th.

Ellen Ramsey please email me your name and address to receive your book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, New Adult, opportunity, Places to sumit, revisions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Alex Slater, Trident Media, VOYAGER

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Alex Slater & Book Winner, last added: 11/7/2014
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22. Illustrator Saturday – Sholta Walker

MeSholta Walker was trained and graduated as a painter in 1988 and since 1995 he has worked professionally as a full-time artist and illustrator.

The great majority of his work has been for children, with clients across the World, including Harper Collins, Random House, Egmont, Annick Press, The BBC, Macmillan and Oxford University Press.

Most of the illustrations you see here combine digital techniques with more traditional skills and media. He uses vigourous ink line work, which is usually digitally coloured and enhanced. This has given him an opportunity to produce illustrations for my clients which give great scope for expressing ideas.

Some of the work shown here is also available as limited edition
prints.

His published books include Long Grey Norris, King Arthur, Bug Wars and The Beastly Beast.., a compendium of short stories by author Garth Nix. I have recently completed work for a book by Michal Kozlowski called Louis, the Tiger Who Came From the Sea.

Here is Sholta discussing his process:

Creating ‘Bug!’ and Brer Fox

Image 1a

I made these drawings a few years ago. Both at the time were fairly experimental, but borrowed heavily from methods I was already regularly using. Brer Fox was a character I was asked to develop along with his nemesis Brer Rabbit, for a UK publisher. Bug! I made when I worked briefly with an animator-friend while he was working on his Masters Degree in animation.

Image 1b

 

The picture always begins with a drawing on paper. If I’m working on a character I always rough him or her out in pencil. It usually takes several attempts to create the character I’m after. It’s important to get this stage right. Any decisions made now will set the tone for the whole image and are likely to remain with you to the end of the project. The drawing process helps inform the image you have in your head, which then feeds back to your drawing. At its best this busy two-way street of drawing and imagining is a marvelously efficient creative process.

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When I have the character I want, I either trace it through a lightbox or work directly over the top in Indian ink with a dip-pen. The type of commission will dictate how free and expressive I am with the pen. In the case of Brer Fox particularly, I was trying to work very freely. One way I do this is to create all the initial pencil sketches as quickly as I can. When I find the drawing I like I then reproduce it by drawing over the top with my pen at a similar speed. This gives the drawing energy and enables me to exploit the naturally temperamental nature of a traditional drawing nib when it’s loaded with ink.

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While still fairly loose, Bug! was a little more considered. Also, I created the bug character and his background as two separate drawings and combined them in Photoshop later.

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Once the ink is completely dry, any pencil marks are erased and the drawing is scanned and opened in Photoshop. The ink line now has to be separated from the the paper surface. To help improve definition I usually increase the contrast before selecting out the black lines in one piece. The drawing part of the scan is then pasted into a new document, creating a new layer over a white background layer. The original scan is now discarded. At this stage I take the opportunity to have a good look at the image and to erase any dust specks and unwanted ink spots that were picked up in the selection. I may also make any adjustments or small additions to the drawing using Photoshop’s pencil and brush tools. Finally I ‘multiply’ the layer to prevent any whitening of the pixels in the final artwork. Because I like the honesty of a hand made ink drawing I make no further digital enhancements to it.

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Image 3b

In the case of Bug!, the character’s colour was created in Illustrator. I imported the line drawing (without the garden) into Illustrator, then, on a new layer, between the white background and the drawing layer, I put in the colour in a series of simple, fairly roughly drawn shapes. In more complex images I may create the colours on several layers, but on a simple image like this, one colour layer is sufficient. Brer Fox was slightly different. He stayed in Photoshop because in this case I didn’t want the flatter look that Illustrator tends to give my drawings. The layering technique however is identical, with the basic under-painting on the figure created using the lasso tool to make a shape into which I drop the colour. Further painting, shading and colour were then added with various brush tools. A basic background layer is also quickly rendered at this stage.

Image 4a

Image 4b

To create the textures in Brer Fox I went back to paper and ink. All the effects in this image are made using either ink applied through a mouth diffuser, (a simple breath-powered spraying device) or from an old toothbrush. The results are then scanned and separated out as in the original drawings. They are then collaged into the artwork, each on a separate layer. For Brer Fox I also experimented with some scans of torn paper. With Bug!, only the garden received this treatment. Once colouring of the insect character was complete in Illustrator, I returned him to Photoshop and combined him with the garden scene that I had drawn and coloured separately in Photoshop using the textures I made in a similar way to those previously described.

Image 5a

Image 5b

Finally, I added any extra bits and spent some time continuing to tweak the drawing. Some layers are switched off or discarded and occasionally some basic effects are added as in Brer Fox’s drop shadow. I’ll often go back at this stage and draw some new elements (extra flowers maybe) that I think might further improve the image. These will then be scanned and added to the drawing, colouring them up as necessary. A key feature of much of my work is that the process remains very fluid right up to its completion.

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How long have you been illustrating?

Full-time, around twenty years. I spent a few years before that working part time on occasional commissions that came my way.

 

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What made you choose to you study art at Cheltenham College of Art in London?

That’s Cheltenham College of Art in Cheltenham, England. Cheltenham is a large town about one hundred miles West of London. I had a bit of a shaky start in fact. In England, most visual arts degrees begin with a year-long Foundation Course, which most students are expected to complete, usually at a different college, before beginning their three-year degree proper. My foundation year was very enjoyable and successful, but I left still unsure in which direction I was going to take my art. Eventually I chose Fine Art with a painting specialism, but I think my lack of certainty was picked up during the several interviews I attended at various art colleges and found to the surprise of most people that knew me that I wasn’t offered a place at any of them on the first round. So I got a job and tried again a few months later. I was finally accepted at Cheltenham. I’d like to say this was the college I had my sights on all along; that I had studied the work of the tutors and lecturers there; that I was drawn to the verdant Cotswold Hills that rise majestically above the town, but none of that would be true. Nope. It turned out they were the only college that would have me.

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

I’m not too sure, but I think it was probably a tiny drawing for one of those classified small ads you see in the back of newspapers. It was around 1986.

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

When I graduated I had no idea what to do. Looking back I think plenty of ex-students, particularly with art degrees find themselves in a similar situation. I’m not sure how it is now, but there was absolutely zero consideration given by the colleges as to what their students would do when they left. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing because fine art courses should not be job-training courses. So when I left I discovered two things pretty quickly: first, I needed to earn some money and second, degrees in Painting do not make you very employable. I was no longer comfortable at home, so I moved to London where most British students seem to pitch up after graduating. I worked briefly at the famous Cornelissen and Son art shop near the British Museum. The shop’s been trading since 1855 and has and still does supply materials to some of the greatest names in British Art. Then I bought a bike and spent a year as a bicycle courier, risking life and limb on the London streets.

 

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How did you decide you wanted to go into the freelance art business?

After a year or two of struggling to pay my way in London, I thought I needed to make a decision. As a child, making pictures was always something I enjoyed doing and was good at. My degree had pointed me towards traditional oil painting but at that time I could see no way that I was going to be making oil paintings for a living. It was a very slow start. My dad was publishing a music magazine at the time and he managed to convince the editor (thanks Paul!) to ask me to try illustrating a few things. The jobs were very occasional and fairly straightforward, but it was these simple commissions that really got the ball rolling for me. I continued working in various low-paid jobs, but it was those occasional illustration commissions that gave me a sense of purpose. Doing something I enjoyed while being paid to do it. I decided fairly quickly that this was what I needed to pursue.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I never decided, my work seems to lend itself to that. When I began as an illustrator I just drew stuff. I had no idea what the illustration business was like and never gave a thought to the idea that illustration could be classified into ‘types’. After my degree, my first portfolio consisted mainly of miniature versions of what I had been producing at art college. Many were very dark and introspective, typical art student stuff really. The colours were full of dark reds and blues. Lots of angst. I was still somewhere between a painter and an illustrator. All my techniques were from three years’ training as a painter working in oils on canvas, so as an illustrator I really had to start from scratch. That meant finding new materials and methods that suited my approach and were practical. As my work developed, much of it became brighter and I found I could express and develop in my work a kind of knowing humour and a sense of the absurd that I have always enjoyed and has always been a part of my character I think. Adults seem to like this at least as much as their children and it appears in most of my best work. I think that this has always been there in my work even during my student days, but as I’ve evolved as a working illustrator I’ve learned to refine it and make it more accessible.

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How did you get the job to illustrate Buzz and Bingo in the Starry Sky with HarperCollins?

Wow, that one was quite a while ago. It came through my agent. In fact, now I think of it, it was probably the first full book commission I had with Harper Collins. I think it was also the first book I illustrated digitally. It was actually part of a series for young readers and as far as I’m aware has been very popular in British schools. I have met several parents over the years that know me by name and then realize their son and daughter is learning to read with one of my books. It’s always nice when that happens. My sister lives in Spain and she called me one day to say that her daughter was reading a book I had illustrated as part of her reading program. That was perfect because I had included a dedication to her and her brothers on the title page. I think my sister cried.

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Have you done any other books with HarperCollins?

Yes several. At least four or five.

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What was the first picture book that you illustrated? And how did that contract come your way?

My first picture book was probably one of the Buzz and Bingo series. I had illustrated a few books before that, but they were more for slightly older readers, so they weren’t strictly speaking ‘picture books’. I had worked on other commissions for Harper Collins prior to Buzz and Bingo so I had built up a bit of a track record. I often think that is, at least in part, how it works. Once a client is happy you can make a deadline, you are professional and reliable and assuming they like what you do of course, you are likely to be asked to take on bigger projects.

 

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How many books have you illustrated?

Well, if you mean both part books and as full cover-to-cover commissions, then the answer’s probably hundreds. If you mean whole books, then probably around thirty.

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Before you had an Art Rep., what did you do to help connect with art directors and editors and find illustration work?

It was a long and painful process. Once I had set my mind to being a professional illustrator I knew I needed to start building a portfolio to show round. I put together about fifteen drawings that included several of the commissions I had been picking up as well as some of my own work. One idea I had was to buy a few magazines and find articles in them that I felt I could illustrate. If they were successful I would then include them in the portfolio. The next step was to travel to London from Bath where I was by then living and show my work around. In those days, before the internet and online portfolios, this was the only way to do it. I must have spent a fortune on fares, not to mention postage for all the mail shots I made. I picked up very little direct work from all this effort and expense, but I don’t regret it at all because I really got to see what it was I needed to do while showing me what the publishing, design and advertising world outside my studio really looked like. I also still remember to this day some of the dozens of busy art directors and designers I saw who, almost to a person, patiently leafed through my portfolio and usually sent me away with some valuable words of advice. Anyway, I did that for a year or so until I decided it was time to reassess the situation. It was then I turned my mind to getting an agent. I thought if I found the right one, they would do all that work for me.

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How did you connect to your artist agency, Illustrationsweb.com? How long have they been representing you?

Yet another trip to London in around 1995 with a list of illustrator’s agents in my pocket finally brought me together with Illustration, which is Illustration USA Inc’s parent company. At that time they lurked up a flight of stairs in a dusty old office in the heart of Soho, West London. They were called Garden Studio then and had been since 1929 when they were first established. It was there I met the excellent Harry Lyon-Smith who took my portfolio away and told me to come back after lunch. When I returned he offered to represent me and that was that.

The Tin Soldier

Tell us a little bit about the 200-year-old building in your backyard and the studio you have in there.

I think it was once just a simple stone outbuilding. It was converted to something reasonably habitable about twenty-five years ago and given an electricity and water supply. I’m in Somerset, England, so everything older than about a century is built from stone. The walls are two feet thick, which is normal in old buildings here, but it makes mobile (cell)-phone use next to impossible. If anyone needs to call me at work it’s landline only I’m afraid. Oh, and the roof leaks a bit. I sit beside a window that looks out onto our garden and an apple tree that produces a rare local apple called Ashmead’s Kernal. If you can ignore their gnarled and crusty appearance and take a bite you’ll find they’re incredibly juicy and sweet.

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No, not so far.

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What is your favorite medium to use to do your illustrations?

Dip pen and Indian ink. Then Photoshop and Illustrator.

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Has that changed over time?

Yes. When I began as an illustrator I developed a way of working that had its beginnings in my pre-art college mid-teens. I would create a pencil drawing that I would render in water-colour and gouache. I would then work over the whole thing in coloured pencil, before putting an ink line drawing on top. This made for beautifully vibrant illustrations, but was hugely labour-intensive. It meant I would often be up all night for even the simplest commissions. I realized this wasn’t sustainable, so in around 2000 I bit the bullet and bought an Apple Mac. Over the next year I figured out a way of working that still retained plenty of me, but was just far more efficient.

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What do you consider is your first big success?

Probably Louis, the Tiger Who Came From the Sea. It’s a difficult question really because I’m very self-critical and I’m usually reluctant to pore over past work too long. I’m always thinking about the next opportunity to get it ‘right.’

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How did that come about?

Apparently out of the blue. It’s how all the best work comes. You’re sitting around one day trying to remember how you ended up doing what you do when the ‘phone rings. Or the email arrives, as it usually is these days. In the case of Louis the Tiger, Colleen Macmillan at Annick Press contacted Stacey at my agent’s New York office and offered me the commission. They had seen my portfolio and decided I was the one they wanted to illustrate Michal Kozlowski’s wonderful story. It’s great when that happens.

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Do you ever want to write and illustrate a picture book?

Yes

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Would you be open to working with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?

Absolutely. In fact I’ve illustrated a few of these already. Initially I was quite wary of working with self-publishing projects because commissions like these can lack structure and any real management process. I worried the job could really get out of hand. Before you commit I think it’s important to read the manuscript (don’t forget they’ve usually not been through any kind of editorial process) and also try to get a clear idea of what the client (author) is expecting from you and what if any experience they have of producing a book. The great thing about self-publishing commissions is they often give you great creative freedom because there are no sales departments controlling the process as so often happens with established publishers.

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

Very rarely. If an illustration requires a certain animal for example I usually reach for one of several natural history or wildlife reference books I keep. I recently completed ‘How to Slay a Werewolf’, a new book for Conran Octopus here in the UK. The story’s set in early Twentieth Century England so I had to get the clothes more or less accurate and then there was the werewolf of course, which required a fair bit of preliminary work. The internet has changed everything. In the past research usually meant repeated trips to the local library and bookshops and owning shelves groaning with reference material. Now most research is a mouse click away.

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Have you done any work for educational publishers?

Yes, lots.

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Has all your work come from European publishers?

No. I have worked on projects from around the world. My agent has seen to that. As well as most of Europe, I’ve worked for clients in the USA, Australia, Canada, South Korea and South America.

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

My bicycle, hanging on the wall.

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

I don’t usually need to make a conscious effort to because I’m usually busy. This was one of the reasons I was drawn to illustration in the first place. I knew if I was a working illustrator and I was getting regular work, the commissions would keep me busy – I wouldn’t have to risk being stricken too often with that dreaded lack of motivation so many artists can suffer from.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely! Having my work on the web is like having a private art gallery in every home and office on the planet that has access to the internet.

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Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

Photoshop.

160-82920Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

I couldn’t work without one. Working with a mouse is about the same as drawing with a bar of soap.

160-86961Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

One or two. I really need to write and illustrate a book.

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What are you working on now?

I’ve just completed the front and back cover art for a self-publishing project actually. Very imaginative. Very weird…

160-86754Do 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.

Yes: If you work digitally invest in the best and biggest display you can find. Preferably two. Don’t forget it’s your canvas. If you make your pictures on paper, remember, if you want your work to outlast you, use the best paper and media you can find.

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

Whatever you do don’t follow fashions. Be you and keep being you.

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Thank you Sholta for sharing your journey and process with us. Please let us know all your future successes. We’d love to hear about them and cheer you on. You follow Sholta on Twitter @Sholtawalker
or visit his agency at: http://www.illustrationweb.us/artists/SholtoWalker/view

If you have a moment I am sure Sholta would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if I don’t always have time to reply. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process, Tips Tagged: Cheltenham College of Art in Cheltenham, England, Ilustrationweb.com, Sholta Walker

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23. Few Weeks Left For WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign

WNDB_Infographic_square

You can help make a difference by making a donation.

 

There are lots of things you can receive by contributing to the cause. Example: AGENT critiques and EDITOR critiques from editors at Big 5 publishing houses.

An unforgettable opportunity to have a private dinner in NYC with incredible bestselling & award-winning authors Jacqueline Woodson AND Matt de la Peña

Coming soon – a limited number of discounted registrations for Fans of SCBWI – including a VIP critique at their annual LA conference in 2015! Many thanks to Lin Oliver, Sara Rutenberg and Kim Turrisi for offering this. Can’t wait to see how quickly they go!

Here’s the link to the WNDB campaign: http://igg.me/at/diversebooks Maybe even find something you could give as a holiday gift with your donation.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, children writing, Editors, Events, need to know, opportunity, Publishing Industry Tagged: Agent and Editor Critiques, Matt de la Pena, Private Dinner in NYC Jacqueline Woodson, SCBWI Discounted Registrations, We Nee Diverse Books

2 Comments on Few Weeks Left For WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign, last added: 11/10/2014
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24. Guest Post: Thinking About Scrivener?

scrivenerThinking About Scrivener?

By Pamela Brunskill

You’ve probably heard about Scrivener, and if you’re wondering if you have time to learn how to use it or whether it’s as great as everyone says it is, take half an hour and try it. Scrivener allows you to organize your drafts, using tools effective writers have been doing for ages, but all in one place. You don’t need to use all that Scrivener has to offer, and it can still transform your writing process.

For a relative beginner writer like me, Scrivener has been incredibly helpful in learning how to write and manage all the details in a lengthy manuscript. There are a LOT of great features, but some of my favorites are:

• On the main screen there’s a binder on the left hand side that allows you to add folders, chapters, and research. You can import websites, images, and research there, too.
• You can split your page horizontally or vertically to see two versions of the same piece at once. Or you can use it the split the view to two different parts of your manuscript, or a chapter and a website at the same time, or…you get the idea. You can also view your manuscript as a single page.
• There’s a synopsis tab you can view on the right hand side that allows you to jot down the purpose of the chapter and keep notes you can utilize in the chapter. I like to view this tab at the same time I’m working on a chapter to remind me how to focus my writing, to keep me from going on tangents.
• By changing the view mode, you can look at your chapters on a virtual cork board where you can rearrange the note cards that represent your chapters, just as you would on an actual cork board. But, when you’re done, the program has already rearranged the corresponding chapters in your binder.

Write, structure, revise

scrivenerwin-writing_studio

 

This is an example of what your screen looks like on Scrivener.
Image taken from Literature and Latte’s website.

Scrivener isn’t magical—it won’t write your book for you, but it can certainly help you turn that first draft into a brilliant one. And once you’re ready to send off your manuscript to a critique partner, editor, or friend, there’s a compile button. You check which sections of your manuscript you want to include, and then you can print, save, or export it in various formats, such as Word, PDF, ebook, and Web Page.

I am still learning all the great tools Scrivener has available, but within an hour of downloading it, I got the basics. If you’re worried that it will take a long time to learn a new program, don’t be. Literature and Latte, the company that developed Scrivener, provides tutorials to get you started. In this ten-minute video, Keith Blount, the original designer of Scrivener, demonstrates how to do all of what I mentioned and more.

 

Click on the image above to view the video

If you need more help getting started, Literature and Latte offers several video tutorials, and there are a number of blogs out there devoted to the subject. Children’s and YA author Dee Romito also has a great, step-by-step overview to set up your first project at I Write for Apples. And, of course, there are books and Scrivener coaches out there as well if you want to really get into it. But, even with a minimal understanding, Scrivener can help manage your big projects and keep you organized.

I use Scrivener for my adult non-fiction and for my picture books (it’s great to see the double-page spread and visualize page turns), but there are templates for all different forms of writing.

scrivenerwin-order_from_chaos

If you want to test out Scrivener on your computer, Literature and Latte offers a free 30 day trial. The best part is that the days don’t even have to be consecutive—if you use it one day, and then again a month later, you have only used two days! If you’re wondering, I bought the program after the first day, and it’s been well worth the money, at least in my book. Right now, Scrivener costs $45, and for the month of November the company is offering discounts for those participating in NaNoWriMo. Either way, to get the software, go to Literature and Latte and download it. It’s worth it.

Thank you Pamela for writing this up for everyone to read. I started the 30 day trial after talking to you about the software at Craft Day.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Author, Book, opportunity, Technology, writing Tagged: Free 30 day trial, Manage Manuscript, Scrivener, Writer's Software

11 Comments on Guest Post: Thinking About Scrivener?, last added: 11/11/2014
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25. Three Tricks For Showing Rather Than Telling

Three Tricks For Showing Rather Than Telling

 by Trish Wilkinson

trish20131226_D800_trishwilkinson_family_5447_trish_2x3-225x300For readers to become invested in a story, they need to “see” characters’ movement and action within a setting. Writers often hear, “Show don’t tell,” and sometimes we think, “But I did show – didn’t I? How do I fix this?”

Here are a few quick tips for showing rather than telling:

  1. Use ACTIVE VERBS rather than passive ones wherever possible.

Keep this list of passive verbs near your computer until you get in the habit of using them sparingly. (I tell my students: “If you must use passive verbs, limit them to no more than one or two on a page.”)

  • Forms of be to AVOID: is, are, was, were, be, being, and been
  • Auxiliary verbs: am, did, do, does, can, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, has, have, had, could
  • Adjectives (describing words)
  • Adverbs (words used to modify verbs that tell us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent – words ending in –ly; other examples: yesterday, here, barefoot, fastest)

Telling/Passive: She was running quickly to the dilapidated shed because she needed a place to hide.

Showing/Active: She sprinted to the shed, slipped inside, and crouched under a sawhorse behind a stack of paint cans.

  1. Place your characters in a setting at the beginning of every scene, so your reader can “see” them.

Begin every scene with a few words of setting BEFORE a character shares thoughts or engages in conversation. Otherwise, fuzzy talking heads float in space until the writer gets around to putting the characters in a specific location.

Example:

I heard the T.V., so I went to the living room and found my dad on the couch rubbing his temples.

            “You got it wrong,” I said. “Someday these time-wasting doodles will make me rich.”

A quick aside: Forget all the fancy words you learned in middle school – replied, chortled, stuttered, etc. – and use SAID, which is considered the invisible dialogue tag.

  1. Write ACTION TAGS within conversations rather than dialogue tags wherever possible.

If your characters shove their hands in their pockets or tuck a curl behind an ear or move to the other side of the room, action tags can show details and movement, adding to the depth of the scene.

Example:

I heard the T.V., so I went to the living room and found my dad on the couch, rubbing his temples.

“You got it wrong.” I dropped my drawing in front of him on the coffee table. “Someday these time-wasting doodles will make me rich.”

These three things: active verbs, establishing the setting, and using action tags in dialogue, will transform your scenes from flat and fuzzy into mental motion pictures.

Trish Wilkinson is a writing coach, content and line editor. You can find her at: www.write-to-win.com

Thanks Trish for sharing your expertise with us. I am sure it will help many of the new writers who visit and also help remind the rest of us to always strive for an active voice.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, How to, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Action Tags, Active Verbs, Trish Wilkinson, Write to Win

6 Comments on Three Tricks For Showing Rather Than Telling, last added: 11/14/2014
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