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Sketches and paintings and ocassional ramblings of children's book author/illustrator Kristi Valiant.
Statistics for Kristi Valiant
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 37
Oh, how I love opening a box of new books that I've illustrated and getting to see and touch the real book in person!
WILLA BEAN TO THE RESCUE arrived and she's as cute and funny as ever.
Over the weekend, we hosted an SCBWI Picture Book Day here in Indiana at beautiful Turkey Run State Park. Our speakers were fabulous and even those of us who are already published learned a lot! Left to right: Tammi Sauer (Author Keynote Speaker), Katie Mitschelen (Indiana ARA), Jenifer Heidorn (Coordinator), Jeffrey Salane (Scholastic editor), Melissa Manlove (Chronicle editor), and myself (Indiana RA).
My PENGUIN CHA-CHA Book Launch party is coming up this Saturday! You're invited, of course. And this adorable penguin will be there. My mom made this dashing fellow. Here are the details on the Book Launch:
Evansville Barnes & Noble
2:00 Book signing and cake
3:00 Reading, Cha-cha dance lesson for kids, a craft, coloring sheets, and more book signing to follow.
I'll also have a couple stand-up cut-outs of my dancing penguins that you can stick your head through to be a dancing penguin. You won't want to miss that.
If you can't come to the real life Book Launch (and even if you can), I've given some blog interviews lately and a couple even have giveaways that you can still enter by leaving a comment over on that interview:
Elizabeth Dulemba’s Blog:
Kathy Temean’s Blog:
Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)
The blog of author Tara Lazar:
I illustrated this for the book, STAR BUBBLE TROUBLE, by Cecelia Galante, published by Random House. It's an early chapter book that has about 20 black & white illustrations inside the book plus a full color cover.
Chapter books are a lot of fun to illustrate, especially series like this one, because you get to draw the same characters over and over again and really get to know them. In this series, Willa Bean has such authentic, strong feelings and the way she reacts usually gets her into unintended trouble. She's funny and real and has a big heart. If you'd like to break into illustrating kid's books, you may want to try creating some chapter book illustrations for your portfolio.
Since my picture book, PENGUIN CHA-CHA
, launched last week, I've been featured on a few blogs. There's a giveaway and interview on Elizabeth Dulemba's blog
. Check out my guest post on the difference between illustrating someone else's text and illustrating my own text on Tara Lazar's blog
. Then dance on over to the Celebri-DOTS blog
to see my round penguin as a Celebri-DOT (inspired by Peter H Reynolds' picture book, THE DOT).
Today is my Book Release Day! Penguin Cha-Cha has hit the store shelves. Send me a photo if you find my book in your store or library. I'll be heading to Barnes & Noble tonight to see it there in the wild!
Dance on over to Tara Lazar's blog to read a guest post I did on illustrating my own manuscript versus illustrating other authors' manuscripts. Comment on that post for a chance to win a Penguin Cha-Cha prize pack! And then check back here in the coming weeks for other places to win.
If you buy Penguin Cha-Cha, you can still send me a self-addressed stamped envelope and I'll send you a signed bookplate with your name on it, a magnet, a sticker, and a bookmark. (Kristi Valiant, PO Box 8211, Evansville, IN 47716)
Happy Birthday to my dancing penguins! Let's all eat some chocolate! (You know you were looking for an excuse to anyway.)
My picture book, Penguin Cha-Cha, comes out in 2 weeks, and I have some fun swag for you!
If you pre-order the book from online or your local bookstore, send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I'll stuff your envelope with a signed bookplate to stick in your book (it's a way to autograph your book without me needing the actual book). Tell me who you want the book signed to. I'll also throw in a bookmark, magnet, and sticker. Yay!
PO Box 8211
Evansville, IN 47716
Please let others know too. Thanks and happy reading!
|Thank you, Lin and Steve, for creating SCBWI! I drew Lin Oliver, Steve Mooser, and their grandbabies in my Penguin Cha-Cha book to thank them for the marketing grant for that book and all SCBWI has done to help me with my career. |
Last weekend was the international SCBWI
conference in LA. It's a crazy huge conference with over 1200 attendees, lots of keynotes, breakout sessions, parties, and the works. You can read some notes from each of the sessions on the extensive conference blog: http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com
My favorite session was Mac Barnett
's keynote. He told us that kids who read his picture book about a boy with a pet whale can send in for their own pet whale. In reply they receive a letter from a Norwegian law firm saying the whale was held up in customs, but they can leave messages for their whale by calling a 1-800 #. The phone number has whale sounds and then a beep. Kids would call and leave messages for their whales, and Mac played a number of messages left by a sweet boy. Kids are so willing to suspend disbelief!
Below is my book trailer for my picture book, PENGUIN CHA-CHA! A book trailer is like a movie trailer giving a glimpse of what the story is about and hopefully it'll make you interested in reading the book. The book is available for pre-order from bookstores.
I made the book trailer myself in Photoshop CS6 and then Random House uploaded it to their YouTube channel. Yes, Photoshop does video! I illustrate digitally in Photoshop, so the jump to making a video in Photoshop wasn't too hard for me. I read up online and watched some YouTube videos on it. I found a great music site called Incompetech in which you can use royalty-free music in any project and either give credit or pay a small fee. I chose not to have credits in my book trailer, so I paid the small fee for the music. I'm not sure if having a book trailer will help sales of my book, but it sure is fun and the trailer is already spreading on Facebook. Have you ever seen a book trailer before?
My daughter had her very first dance recital a few weeks ago. It was super sweet! This is part of a painting I did of her and the other 4 little gals in her class in their bunny ballet costumes.
The Next Big Thing is a blog hop that was started in Australia and has gone global. The object is to bring awareness to authors and illustrators and their current work. Thank you, Leeza Hernandez
, for tagging me! I'll answer the 10 questions about my next children's book and then tag another author/illustrator to answer these questions about her newest book. Here goes...
1) What is the working title of your next book?
PENGUIN CHA-CHA. It's available for pre-order from Random House
(or Barnes & Noble
, or your favorite indie bookstore
).2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had drawn an illustration years ago of dancing penguins for my portfolio. I used to be in a performance and competition dance group and I like penguins, so I had combined the two for that sample piece. Numerous editors and art directors asked if I had a story to go along with that sample illustration. I said yes. Then I wrote story after story about dancing penguins. Some of my stories were good, but not great enough to be published by a major publisher. It took years and lots of critiques before I got the writing part right. In the case of this book, the illustrations came first before the writing.3) What genre does your book fall under?
It's a funny picture book.4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
The little girl, Julia, could be played by my dancing daughter in another couple years, and I think Dreamworks would need to handle the penguins unless you know of some quite talented penguins.5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Follow a determined girl named Julia as she tries to join in the fun of a mischevious group of dancing penguins. 6) Who is publishing your book?
Random House Children's Books
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I first drew dancing penguins in 2007. Writing the first draft of a dancing penguin story was quick, but then came complete rewrites with entirely different plots. This version was acquired in 2011 by Random House after an editor saw an illustration of my dancing penguins on my website and asked if I would submit my dummy to him. It will be published in August, 2013.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Dancing animal theme: Hilda Must Be Dancing and Prancing Dancing Lily
Penguin theme: One Cool Friend and Lost and Found
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
For years I performed and competed in a swing and Latin dance group called The Fourth Street Alley Cats. I loved it! Since being in that group inspired me to draw and write about dancing, I included my dance group in the first spread of the book.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Illustrators often put small personal touches in the illustrations that most people aren't aware of. I always stick a mouse, monkey, or hippo in each of my books. You'll find all three in this book if you search. For the random background people at the zoo in my illustrations for this book, I used a lot of my friends and family. Maybe you should become a close friend to a children's book illustrator and see if you end up in a book!
Now that I've answered, I'm tagging:Angela Dominguez
, the talented author/illustrator of LET'S GO, HUGO!
I had mentioned in my last post that I took a trip to Paris for research for my upcoming picture book. Well, the book has been announced in Publisher's Weekly, so I can officially sing out my excitement for it!
I'm illustrating a picture book that was written by Danielle Steel about a stylish teacup chihuahua called PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS. It'll be published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers/Random House in fall 2014. Cute pooch, fashion, Paris, super fun picture book! My husband and I took that trip to Paris in January so I could get a real feel for the city of lights. I took thousands of reference photos to make sure I draw Paris right in the illustrations - small things like electrical outlets look different there and I want to make sure I draw those details correct in the book. We also visited Danielle and her own sweet chihuahua named Minnie at their home in Paris. Danielle was so warm and friendly, and we had such a lovely trip.
Thanks for sharing in my excitement with me!
From the book BE BRAVE, WILLA BEAN! It's in a series of chapter books I'm illustrating for Random House about a messy-haired cupid named Willa Bean. Right now we're working on books 5 and 6. Super-dee-duper cute!
I just got home from a lovely research trip to Paris for an upcoming picture book that I'm illustrating. More details on that book coming as soon as the publisher makes the announcement. Paris was absolutely stunning as you can see:
Toward the end of January, I spoke at a wonderful school, the Thelma B. Johnson Learning Center, in Henderson, Kentucky. They went all out for my visit! Quite impressive. They set up really cool activities that went along with my picture books CORA COOKS PANCIT and DANCING DREAMS.
They made pancit using the recipe from in CORA COOKS PANCIT and gave out aprons to the kids.
They brought ballet, ballroom, and broadway dancers to demonstrate some of the dances in DANCING DREAMS.
And a librarian taught parents how to read with their child in a dialogic fashion.
So what did I do? Well, I gave a presentation on how picture books are created and then worked with the students in the audience to come up with our own new character. After I sketched our character, the students helped me decide what our character likes and doesn't like and then we created our our own story based on our character. The kids learned how a story is structured and how to come up with story ideas. We had lots of fun, and, as always, I was in awe of the imaginative answers the students gave.
The cover of a book I'm currently illustrating for Random House
called WILLA BEAN TO THE RESCUE!
May your year be filled with faith, hope, and love.
Guess what came in the mail from Random House? The F&Gs of my picture book, PENGUIN CHA-CHA! Yay!!!
F&G means "folded and gathered." They are sheets from a print run, folded, cut, and gathered together but without binding them together and without the hard cover that the final book will have. It shows us what the final pages will look like, so the publisher and I can approve the way the colors are printing and to see if we need to make any little changes before the real print run. Sometimes F&Gs are sent to reviewers before publication as well.
PENGUIN CHA-CHA is my first picture book that I've both written and illustrated; all the others I've illustrated but not written. So this one is extremely exciting for me. Yay for sneaky, dancing penguins!
The publication date will be October 2013.
I wrote out all the entries, mixed them up in a box, and had a non-biased person pick the winner. Congrats to Nessa Morris
! You've won a copy of the 2013 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market!
The second most clicked-on blog post I've ever written was about sending promotional postcards to publishers. So I thought I should devote another post to covering that topic in depth.
What is my most clicked-on blog post, you wonder? An illustration I did of Peter Rabbit for Theatreworks USA's production. You wouldn't believe how many people search the web for "Peter Rabbit" every day!
Back to promotional postcards. If you're an illustrator looking for work in the children's book industry, one of the ways to get your art considered is to send promotional postcards to publishers.
I would say the first step would be to go to a bookstore and read, read, read the kinds of books you want to illustrate that are currently being published. Learn how the illustrations interact with the text. Study the illustrations and the publishers. Write down the publishers of the books that you think match your own artwork. If you love drawing dragons and sword fights, then sending postcards to that publisher who seems to publish only baby bunny books would be a waste of postage. Writers, you do the same thing here to find publishers who would be a good match with your manuscript.
|2008 postcard sent to publishers|
Ok, now you have some publishers. Google their websites for submission guidelines. Some only take submissions from agents, but there still are a good number that will take unsolicited submissions. Also, check out more publishers listed in the annual book, Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM)
and search their websites for a catalog of books to see if they would be a good match for you. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
also has a listing of publishers. I would highly recommend joining SCBWI if you want to write or illustrate for kids. I volunteer as a Regional Advisor for SCBWI because the organization has helped me so much with my career and continues to help me with marketing my books and making neat connections with publishing professionals. Join SCBWI, go to your local and regional events, get involved by volunteering, and meet friends in the children's book industry. So important!
Should you send postcards of your art or your whole portfolio or what? Read the submission guidelines of each publisher carefully. Some may only take email submissions. Some only want postcards. Some want to see more. The vast majority will accept postcards. Postcards are easy for them - no envelopes to open and no scary virus possibilities with attachments - and they can see at a quick glance if your art is something they'd consider. You MUST put a website on your postcard where they can see more of your illustrations. When I was sending postcards to publishers, I liked to have one illustration and my website on the front of the postcard. That way, if someone tacks it to a board, they have my website right there on the front. This postcard of the little drummer boy I sent in 2008 to hundreds of editors and art directors. Editors have a say in choosing illustrators too, so send postcards to editors and art directors who work with the kinds of books you'd like to illustrate at each publisher. You can find names in CWIM, SCBWI's lists, Harold Underdown's "Who's Moving Where" section
, SCBWI conference faculty, etc.
|2010 postcard sent to publishers|
What illustration should you use on your postcard? Only what you want to illustrate. Of course, that makes sense, but really, be careful with this. If you don't want to draw bicycles, don't put an illustration with a bicycle on your postcard. The best image for a postcard is one that is narrative (children's books tell stories and so should your image), and that shows a character (children's books have great characters, not still lifes). If you're better at animals, show animals. If you're better at people, show kids. If you like to do both and both are high enough quality, show both.
What should you put on the back of the postcard? The rest of your contact info and you can list other books you've illustrated. You can also include some little spot illustrations like these penguins on the back of my postcard from 2010. I had written a manuscript about these dancing penguins and sent this postcard as an art sample. In case an editor would be interested, I included a line saying, "These illustrations are from my WIP dummy, Penguin Cha-Cha-Cha
." There were a few editors interested who contacted me to see my manuscript after receiving this postcard! Another editor found the illustrations on my website and asked to see the manuscript and then acquired it! PENGUIN CHA-CHA will be published by Random House Oct 2013!!
|Current postcard marketed to people buying books|
Where do you get the postcards printed? There are loads of online printers. I've used Vistaprint
and Overnight Prints
with success. I've also ordered samples from PrintRunner
and plan to order stickers and magnets from there.
What size? I like the 4" x 6" size because it's cheapest to print and mail. You can do larger sizes if you want to include more detail or info on it, but check with the post office to see at what point you need to buy a full price stamp instead of a postcard stamp.
The first trade children's book that I illustrated was a direct result of a mailing I did. I had sent art samples to Shen's Books that had a little Asian girl on them because I knew they were a multicultural picture book publisher. Right then they were looking for someone to illustrate CORA COOKS PANCIT
and the timing was perfect! I had been sending illustrations out for some time before that bite, so don't give up if this is what you'd really like to do. I had been fine tuning my illustrations to work for trade books by attending SCBWI conferences and getting portfolio critiques by children's book art directors. Those critiques and conferences were instrumental in helping me develop my work along the way, and I still go to them to continue to grow!
|Current postcard marketed to people buying books|
Now I have an agent, the wonderful Linda Pratt from Wernick and Pratt Agency
, so Linda submits for me. I still make postcards, but now my postcards are to set out at conferences and book signings. So instead of marketing my postcards to editors and art directors, now my postcards are marketed to people buying my books. I have one book per card and I list the awards and accolades, like on these postcards for THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN
and CORA COOKS PANCIT
. I also created a postcard for my upcoming PENGUIN CHA-CHA picture book, and had been handing that out at conferences and book signings. I'm about to update it with the typography from the cover of the book instead of the font on it, which was something I used on the postcard before my cover was finalized.
|Recent postcard about my upcoming book|
Best wishes on your postcards!
Note to conference planners: This is a subject that I would love to speak on at conferences!
(CWIM giveaway winner coming up later today!)
Here's a turkey coloring sheet for Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy it!
I love this time of year when we make a point to name our blessings out loud. Thankfulness is really an attitude of the heart that we're trying to teach our kids to have every day. Most days there's some little thing that doesn't go my way, and instead of getting frustrated and letting bitterness build up, I'm learning how to thank God. And when I stop and thank God, I slow down and notice other small joys. Right now my two toddlers are napping - what a joy! And when they wake, we'll carve yet another pumpkin and they'll laugh at it's funny face, and those giggles are pure joy too.
In the words of Junior Asparagus from Veggietales:
"I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!
For our home on the ground,
For His love that's all around,
That's why I say thanks every day!
Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have,
That's an easy way to start!
For the love that He shares,
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!"
The Hart family printed my Halloween coloring sheet and sent me this picture:
Aren't they adorable?
Have you used CHILDREN'S WRITER'S AND ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET
, also known as CWIM? It's a wonderful resource for those who write or illustrate for kids and young adults. It's updated yearly and has over 650 listings for publishers, agents, magazines, and more, including who to contact, how to submit your work professionally, and what they're looking for. It also has interviews and articles.
A new feature this year is a roundup with more than 20 SCBWI
Regional Advisors who share their best advice on how to get your children's book published. I'm one of those!!!
CWIM is edited by the knowledgeable Chuck Sambuchino. I've asked Chuck some questions:Kristi: In my own journey to being published in children's books, I had first sent art samples to publishers using the list of publishers in CWIM and was able break into illustrating children's books before writing them. When I began writing, I was hesitant and scared to submit my manuscripts to publishers. How does a writer know when they're ready to submit for the first time?Chuck: In my opinion, a manuscript is ready for submission when it lacks any major problems. What happens is this: You write a book, and then you'll need to get other opinions on your writing -- be that from a professional editor or your own writing peers. These other readers will point out problems with the work -- e.g., how the writing is weak in the middle, or how the book starts too slow, or how the ending is not believable, etc. It is then your job to address these issues and try to fix them, one at a time. Once all the major issues of your book have been fixed, and readers start to respond to you with no more needed fixes, then I believe the book is ready for the world.
Kristi: Now I'm blessed to have a wonderful agent, Linda Pratt, who submits for me. What can published writers and illustrators with agents still learn from CWIM? Do you consider CWIM a beginner's resource?
Chuck: It is certainly used mostly by beginners, but the book can be great for advanced, published authors, as well. Let's say you're a published author or illustrator who has made inroads in the book world -- but now you want to make more money writing for magazines. CWIM lists kids magazines. Perhaps you want to sell more books and build your writer platform through more public speaking. CWIM lists conference opportunities and contact names. Plus, it always has 120-180 upfront pages on the art and craft of writing & illustration. It's great instruction, and we must never stop learning.
Kristi: Congrats on your new book, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM, coming out soon. Can you tell us a bit about platform and why it's important?
Chuck: Your writer platform is your visibility in the marketplace and your proven ability to sell books. A platform is built through success in arenas like a blog, social media, public speaking, media appearances, newsletter creation, article writing, networking, organizational contacts, etc.
Platform is important because the number of publicists in the publishing world continues to dwindle. The pressure is now on for writers to be the lead marketers of their own books. In fact, nonfiction and self-published authors absolutely must have platform if they want their books to be successful. Fiction writers and illustrators not need platform, but do indeed want it -- because platform translates to book sales. And if you can personally sell more of your own books, you can make more money for yourself and also for the publisher. That makes you a more valuable, in-demand author that will get future book deals.
Since I've contributed to the 2013 CWIM, I'm holding a giveaway! Simply comment on this post by Nov 30 for one entry, and post a link to this blog in your favorite form of social media for an optional second entry (let me know in the comments). Leave me your email address or a way to find your snail mail address in case you win. Must live in the US.
From a WIP manuscript I've written. Her name is Wing.
"I've got my eyes on you!"
Print them out, color them in, send me a photo, and I'll post them on my blog!
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