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1. The Making of Storybooks – Studio B

HAPPY LABOR DAY! 

Since it is now September, I figured I would post this opportunity for those children’s writers and Illustrators who live within driving distance in Michigan, New Jersey , PA, and New York to met David Small and Holly McGhee.

The third poster down: Studio B in Maplewood, NJ is bringing together five children’s author/illustrators to discuss the process of writing a children’s book.

You can see all the details in the posters below:

Bookbug-CATCH-THAT-COOKIE-PROMO1

Catch-That-Cookie-Maplewood-Library-smaller

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A COMPLETE LIST OF APPEARENCES:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 6 P.M., Kalamazoo Public Library

A Conversation with David Small & Hallie Durand

315 South Rose Street , Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Here’s the link.

Thursday, September 11, 2014, 5:00 P.M., Bookbug, Kalamazoo

Cookie hunt & Book signing

3019 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

And here’s the link for that one.

Saturday, September 13 2014, 3:00 P.M., Maplewood Library

Scavenger hunt & Cookie decorating, with a live rogue cookie!

51 Baker Street, Maplewood, NJ 07040

http://www.maplewoodlibrary.org/kids-events/

Sunday, September 14, 2014, 12:00 P.M., Paramus Public Library

Scavenger hunt & Reading, with a live rogue cookie!

E116 Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652

RSVP 201-599-1309

Sunday, September 14, 2014, Studio B Honcho

Scratches & Scribbles Event for aspiring or already arrived Writers & Artists

60 Woodland Road, Maplewood, NJ 07040

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/830322

Monday, September 15, 4:00 P.M., WordsMaplewood Bookstore

Hallie Durand & David Small

Quick Drawing Lesson, Shapes & Contours, & Book Signing

179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, children writing, How to, inspiration, opportunity Tagged: David Small, Hallie Durand, Mark Your Calendars, Studio B, The Making of Storybooks

1 Comments on The Making of Storybooks – Studio B, last added: 9/1/2014
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2. The Jane Lumley Prize – Poems

janelumley

The first annual Jane Lumley Prize For Emerging Writers is open for submissions till November 30th 2014!

The Jane Lumley Prize is awarded annually to a writer who has yet not published a full length book of poetry or prose. The prize alternates each year between prose and poetry, and the inaugural year will seek to recognize the brilliance of an exceptional piece of poetry.

ELIGIBILITY: 

The Jane Lumley Prize will only be awarded to writers who have not published a full length book. However, they may have published a chapbook, and/or found a home for their works in other literary journals. We also invite unpublished writers to submit their poems for consideration.

If you know the editor and/or any staff member of Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, you must not submit your work. If such a relationship is identified, your entry would be disqualified.

GUIDELINES :

You may submit a maximum of six poems for consideration in a single word document. The poems must be original and previously unpublished.We welcome submissions of all forms of poetry, including prose poetry.Each poem should not exceed 2 pages.​Please remove all identifying information from the poems themselves, for all the entries will be read anonymously. However, you may include a brief third person bio in the cover letter.We encourage simultaneous submissions, but we request you to withdraw your work in case it finds an acceptance elsewhere by clicking on the withdraw link on Submittable.

You must create an account https://hermeneuticchaos.submittable.com/submit/34128
Enter your information to create a new account below.

If you already have a Submittable account, please .

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, Poems, poetry, publishers Tagged: Emerging Writers, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Jane Lumley Prize, This year's Contest - Poetry, Unpublished writers

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3. Illustrator Saturday – Annie Wilkinson


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4. Illustrator Saturday – Annie Wilkinson

imageAnnie Wilkinson is the youngest of eight children and the mother of two. She works in a variety of mediums including traditional and digital, creating bright and whimsical illustrations for both books and products. She also has a background in design and as a fine artist, two skills that she calls upon quite frequently when illustrating. She is currently working on her own picture book.

Clients include:

Simon & Schuster –  Macmillan
LadyBird Books –
 Hallmark 
CJ Educations – American Greetings
Oxford University Press – Hasbro  
Yeowon Media – National Geographic

HERE IS ANNIE  EXPLAINING HER PROCESS:

All of my work is done on the iPad. For the project for Story Corner, the guidelines were really loose – the story was to take place in outer space, after that I had a lot of free reign to draw whatever I like.

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So I started with some quick thumbnails, using the app Paper by 53. I had some loose concepts – riding space beasts, hanging out in a space garden, swimming with ‘star fish’.

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I like to share the thumbnails with the client to see if they’re happy with the general idea and composition, and if they are I then work on more refined sketches. Mostly I use the Vellum app to create my sketches.

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There’s also an app called Art Studio that functions like Photoshop, I can make selections and move things around if I need to refine the composition a little.

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When the sketches are finalized, I create the colour versions in Paintbook, which is a vector drawing app.

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Sometimes at this stage, depending in the spread size, I might have to export the pdf file to my computer and add textures in photoshop.

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Since these we’re going to be playing cards, The iPad could actually handle their print size, so I added my textures using iColorama.

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If I find the textures wash out some of the details then I will paint over some of the edges and add more shadows and highlights using either Photoshop or procreate.

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How long have you been illustrating?

I have been illustrating as a job for about 6 years, but for about 5 of them I was also working as a web & graphic designer . This is the first year that I am solely illustrating. I have always loved drawing!

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Where do you live?

I live in Vancouver, BC Canada

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Did you go to school to study art?

I have not. I am completely self-taught, but I do dream about going to art school some day – maybe when the kids are old enough.

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What area of art did you study?

I took an independent course with Geraldo Valerio “http://www.geraldovalerio.com” a Brazilian illustrator who was for a time living in Vancouver. I had belonged to a drawing Meetup group, and on a message board there, several people had mentioned taking his course on illustrating children’s books and how it was better than anything offered by the universities or libraries.

After my first illustration job, when I started to realize it was something I might really like to do, I thought I should learn more about it and enrolled in his course. It was extremely helpful to have someone with experience to turn to! Even though he’s no longer in Vancouver, we still email every now and then and I still ask him for advice.

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What was the first art related work that you did for money?

Prior to working as an illustrator, I played in bands for many years, and toured a lot. These would have been my first paying art jobs.

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What was the first job you took after you graduated from school?

I did take a multimedia course about 15 years ago that was a very basic introduction to Adobe & Macromedia (who originally created Flash) software – it was just enough to get you going on everything and it was up to you if you wanted to take it further. I had expected that I would move into web design from there, but my first job after finishing that program was illustrating and animating Ecards in Flash for a Toronto company. It’s funny now that I think about it, it didn’t give me the idea that I would be an illustrator! I think probably because looking back at it my illustrations were fairly crude!

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How did you find your first illustrating work?

Robeez Baby Shoes gave me what I consider my first real illustration job – they had a job posting for a web designer, and I applied and sent them a link to my online portfolio, which also contained some of my artwork. They got back to me saying the job had been filled but would I be interested in doing the illustrations for their shoes. Prior to this it hadn’t even occurred to me to be an illustrator! (Robeez shoes designs)

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Have you done any illustrating work for a US publisher?

I have done work for a few publishers, including Simon & Schuster, National Geographic, as well as a handful of educational publishers.

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How did you start doing greeting cards?

Not long after the Robeez job I was contacted by the Bright Agency in the UK http://www.thebrightagency.com, and I have been with them ever since. Another illustrator who was also working for Robeez, Ken Gamage http://www.sparklefishworld.com told me about http://www.childrensillustrators.com which is based in the UK, and I believe this is where Bright found me. Bright works in both publishing and art licensing, so my greeting card work was through them.

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What made you want to illustrate children’s books?

I had not thought originally that I could even be an illustrator! I was always drawing but in my mind it was just a hobby. I met another illustrator when our bands played a show together, Jenn Playford, http://www.jennplayford.com, who I think at the time had just got her first illustration job, and her telling me about it put the idea in to my head. I didn’t really do anything about it until I got the Robeez job though! I guess children’s books seemed the best fit for me, given the way I draw, which tends to be cute and colorful.

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How many books have you illustrated?

I’m not sure I can count them all! I’ve done around 4 books for the Korean market, 1 in New Zealand, 3 in Canada, a few in the UK, and maybe 10-15 for the US market, which would mostly include the educational market.

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What was your first picture book?

My first picture job was with Rubicon Publishing in Canada, with AD Rebecca Buchanan, now over at Pajama Press, she was lovely to work with.

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When and how did that happen?

They found me on a portfolio site, practically the day I finished my How To course with Geraldo, so I was pretty glad I’d taken the course. It was called “Splish-Splash” and had 4 illustrators illustrating about 4 pages each, so it was the perfect job to start with.

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Of the picture books that you have published, which one is your favorite?

It may be because it was the most recent one I illustrated and so am not tired of looking at it yet! I’m actually still working on it, but it’s called Nanna’s Magic Globe for Benchmark publishing. Another favourite I did recently was for Story Corner, which is a brand new company in the Uk – not a picture book but illustrated story cards, where the child lays out the cards and then tells their own story – that was a particularly fun job for me because I was allowed input in what happened in the story, and also because it involved telling the story in a non-linear fashion. (Thumbnails in paper by 53, Sketches in Vellum, final art for Story Corner)

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When did you decide to get involved in children’s illustrtation?

A big thing that happened was having kids of my own, and reading books to them – there are so many beautiful picture books out there! I particularly love Isabelle Arsenault and Oliver Jeffers, whose work really borders on fine art. I also am a big fan of Sophie Blackall, Peter Brown, Giselle Potter – there’s so many!

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How did you connect with LadyBird Books?

This was a job through my agent – I had done a test illustration for The Secret Garden (which also happened to be one of my favourite books as a child!) and my AD thought my rendition of Dickon made a good Peter Pan, so I got to do both books.

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(The Secret Garden, Ladybird Books)

How did the get the contract to do My Wonderful Clothes for Korean Publisher, English Hunt?

I was approached by them, this book was slightly different than the other books I’d done in the Korean market as it was an English reader. I love working with Korean publishers as they are so invested in picturebooks!

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(My Wonderful Clothes, EnglishHunt)

What do you consider is your first big success?

Getting paid to draw! To be honest, it’s still an ongoing thing – I’m one of those people who can be their own worst critic, and I’m still trying to make art that impresses me as much as other illustrators work can.

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How did that come about?

Luck :)

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How do you promote your work to get more business?

I have a few portfolio sites that I try to keep updated regularly, and most of them have news sections which I find helpful. I also started sending out email newsletters to keep in touch with previous clients, I do one every 6-8 weeks or so. When things are slow I remind my agent I need work.

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What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

All my work is done digitally. Originally it was done traditionally because I was never comfortable drawing with a graphics tablet, where your hand is drawing in one place and your eyes are somewhere else. In the beginning I would have loved a Cintiq but couldn’t afford one, then I got an ipad. I went from oil pastel drawings to vector illustrations, because the limitation of the iPad is the print size of your drawings. I grew to love it so much that I only occasionally think about the Cintiq still.

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(Personal work, ipad)

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Do you use do any black and white illustrations?

I have not done many, except for the comics I like to do in my spare time.

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What type of paint and other materials do you use to when illustrating a picture book?

Everything is done on the iPad, even sketching. I discovered I hate the tedium of scanning! I tend to do thumbnails first, generally in Paper by 53 or a Bamboo Paper, sketches in Vellum, and color in Paintbook, which is like Adobe Illustrator except that it behaves much like a pixel based painting app, rather than making shapes. I usually export this as a pdf and then do final touch ups in Photoshop on my mac. The funny thing is that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with digital – it certainly makes it easier to make amendments and clients love layered files, but I just love the look of traditional materials. So I’m always trying to make that aspect better. Ultimately, a good drawing and good composition is the most important thing!

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Has your style changed over the years? Materials?

I’m really hoping it’s getting better! I am always, always trying to make my work better. I’m getting in to using textures a lot lately. There’s a great ipad app called iColorama which let’s you paint your textures using masks, and then I usually do a little finishing work using Procreate, which is a great painting app but can only print up to around 10-11 inches, which makes it difficult to do spreads. I have been known to deal with single pages when the app can’t handlethe spread size and then stitch them back together in photoshop.

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Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

I have done work for Laybug and Cricket in the US.

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(Cricket Magazine Nov/Dec 2013 issue)

Have you done any work for educational publishers?

Tons! A lot of my work comes from Educational publishers and so for that I am grateful :)

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

Given that I work on an iPad my studio is not one specific location, but I like it best when I have my ipod and dock to listen to music or podcasts while I work.

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

Yes, but I don’t think of it so much as that. I love drawing, so I have my work drawing, and my hobby drawing, which is usually playing around with different apps or doing comics. Another fun aspect if doing greeting card work or licensing art is just drawing whatever you feel like and maybe someone can turn it into a card. So I’m not consciously trying to improve myself unless I’m in the middle of the job, and mostly this happens at the sketching stage – can I make this drawing better, more visually interesting? Sometimes that is constrained by deadlines, though!

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(illustration of Mary Anning for http://www.coolchicksfromhistory.tumblr.com

Do you have an agent? 

I work with The Bright Agency, who are based in the UK but have offices in New York also.

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

Yes, lots on internet research. I’m currently working on a book that takes place in Kenya. I’m always looking at images of how things look, their clothes, their houses, vegetation, etc. Some clients want the pictures of trees, for example, to look like actual trees you might find in the area, some don’t mind if you make everything up.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. If it wasn’t for the internet I would probably have to move to New York and walk around every day with a hard copy portfolio.

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Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop along with a hundred ipad apps :)

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

I have an old Wacom Graphire tablet that I use for photoshop touch ups. I’ve tried all kinds of styluses for the iPad, but the ones I like the best are the microfiber tipped ones,as there is no drag whatsoever. I suffer from tendonitis, so when it gets bad I just start drawing with my finger!

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

I’d love to do more picturebooks, and maybe write one of my own.

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What are you working on now?

I’m currently working an interactive iPad storybook, which is my first. I’m also doing a small job for a family in the US who are doing a book as a gift for their daughter. I’m working on a second book for Benchmark while waiting for feedback on the final artwork for the first. And I have a couple more books coming up very soon with Cantata Learning, who are a new Educational publisher in the US.

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(Illustration for the Boston Family)

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.

For traditional materials, I love Koi watercolours and Holbein Acryla Gouache. Also I’m a fan of Caran D’ache oil pastels.

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

All the old stuff is true! Keep drawing as much as possible. Go to the library and find those illustrators that inspire you!

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

To see more of Annie’s illustrations visit her at:

Website: http://www.anniewilkinson.com/  

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anniewilkinsonillustration

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: American Greetings, Anne Wilkinson, Hallmark, Illustrator Saturday, Simon & Schuster

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5. Free Fall Friday – Critique Results – Holly McGhee

pippin

Cynthia Reeg                          FROM THE GRAVE             Middle Grade Fantasy

Monster Rule #9: A monster’s appearance should incite fear and significant revulsion to scare the socks off mere humans.

FRANK’S TALE

Shocktober 13, Year of the Scrull

Looking through the bus window, I tilted my nose up toward the sky’s “determined drear,” as Ms. Hagmire liked to call it. That was Uggarland—grim, gray, and delightfully desolate. From the bony skeleton trees, to the swampland grasses, to the lurking monsters. My itchy right palm brushed against my perfectly tucked shirt and my much too crisp pant leg. I should be an example of such determined drear, general disarray, and evil intent. Only I wasn’t.

“I saw a bat flying upside down last night,” said Oliver. My mummy friend sat next to me. His unwrapped, wrinkled brown finger skimmed down the page of the tattered book on his lap. “I’m trying to find out what that means.”

“That means trouble,” I muttered. The low rumble of voices from the other eccentric students on our bus seemed to echo the word. Trouble.

“Maybe its antennae were just damaged.” Oliver pointed to bold print on the right hand page.

I shook my head. “No. It means trouble.”

Our special Fiendful Fiends Academy Bus—otherwise referred to as OMO (Odd Monsters Only) bus—lurched to a stop in front of our school. We all climbed out, but as I tilted my nose upward again, I stopped in mid-step.

HERE’S HOLLY:

From the Grave, Middle-grade Fantasy, Cynthia Reeg

I was interested in Oliver and the first-person narrator, and I think it might be smart to start the story off with the dialogue about the bat. It’s important that the reader engage with the characters first, that we connect with them and care, before learning about the scenery of Uggarland. So I suggest moving the scenery further down in the story and pulling back on the detailed descriptions of clothing in order to laser-focus on the two kids. Hook us with them and then take us on a journey.

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Best Chocolate Cake and Other Dramatic Disasters by Julia Maranan – MG Novel 

Things I Am Good At

Field hockey

Music

Science

French

Chess

Baking?

Starting middle school on crutches had been about as bad as it sounds. While I was hobbling around trying to find all my classes after an “unfortunate accident” during field hockey tryouts, everyone else found all their friends and where they fit in. By the time I was back on my own two feet, I was pretty much invisible (except to Angie, who’d been my BFF since, well, forever). And it’s not like I hadn’t been trying things. I just hadn’t found the right thing. But today, that would finally change. I could feel it.

I took another look at the picture of the expertly frosted Best Chocolate Cake our home ec teacher, Mrs. Collins, had projected in the front of the classroom, and my mouth watered.

Baking is a good thing to excel in. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate cake? People are going to ask me to bake them things all the time! Maybe I can even get extra credit if I bake something amazing. I’ll have to find out what my teachers like before midterm grades are due…

I read through the instructions one more time: grease and flour the pan, mix everything in a bowl, and pour the batter into the pan to bake. This is going to be awesome.

“Do you want to grease the pan, or should I?” I asked my partner, Kate Nichols, who was the second worst person in the room Mrs. Collins could have paired me with.

“I think maybe you should just make your own cake. Over there.” She motioned vaguely to the counter by the sink, purple nail polish sparkling under the fluorescent lights.

“But we’re supposed to work together,” I said.

“But I want my cake to be edible,” she said, and took her pan over to a table.

HERE’S HOLLY:

Best Chocolate Cake, Middle-grade novel, Julia Maranan

I like the idea that the main character wants to find something to make her visible. But those first days of school are not here—those days with her on crutches, left out of all the quick-forming friendships circles. I would like to see them. That way I would make a connection, and I’d be rooting for this girl and her baking skills. Show us the character in her darkest moment, all those friends pairing and bonding while she can’t keep up, that anxiety and pressure, and then you’ll be set up to tell the story. I did like the list at the top! As for baking and home ec, I’m not sure when the story takes place, but in our schools, they don’t offer home ec anymore, sad to say, so make it clear what year the story starts.

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DOGS ON STRIKE! By Rita D. Russell – Picture Book 

All night long, Rufus snored and sniggled in his sleep. He dreamed about his birthday and getting super-duper treats. But when Rufus woke up… he got nothing.

“Not even a birthday card?” asked Dugan.

“Or pupperoni cupcakes?” wondered Nugget.

“Nothing,” said Rufus. “Not even the Happy Birthday song.”

The three mutts mulled over the situation while burying bones in the backyard.

“What’s the world coming to,” they groused, “when a dog gets less love than a mouse?” [Art: Rufus, Dugan,and Nugget watch a man mowing the lawn with his pet mouse peeking from his shirt pocket.]

“No walking in the park.”

“No dancing in the dark.”

“No purple pupsicle treat.”

“No cruising in the front seat.”

Something had to be done.

STRIKE???   [Art: Dogs vote at a meeting of the neighborhood dogs association.]

Rufus strode to the podium and proudly proclaimed, “Today dogs are changing the rules of the game. Our smiles and affection are no longer free. We demand nicer treatment. So until families agree…”

[Art: Families are shocked to discover…]

“No greetings at the door?”

“No footrests on the floor?”

“No herding cows or sheep?”

“No guarding while we sleep?”

“DOGS ON STRIKE!”

The cool cats stayed back. (They were not impressed.)

HERE’S HOLLY:

Dogs on Strike, Picture book, Rita D. Russell

This is a cute concept and I like the idea of turning the dog-people relationship on its head. That said, I don’t know why this dog is surprised that he doesn’t have a birthday celebration. Has he had them in the past? What is the context? If you can figure that out and keep this very simple, with excellent dialogue, you might have a winner. Check out David Ezra Stein’s I’M MY OWN DOG, just published, for a fantastic example of role reversal.

___________________________________________________________

Carol Foote           FOREVER MAGIC                   Middle Grade

The hint of a whisper.

At first Elena thought it might be trees sighing or a faucet turned on somewhere else in the house. But the sound grew louder, as if coming at her through a long tunnel. She tilted her head to listen just as it burst out, filling the room.

El-e-naaaaaa…

Elena almost dropped the pickle jar she was preparing for a science experiment. Her knees wobbled, and she leaned against the kitchen counter.

El-e-naaaaaa…” The whisper swirled around her. Then it was gone.

She ran to the window and nudged aside the white lace curtains. Outside, her ten-year-old brother Connor was tossing a plastic bag in the air and attacking it with a stick.

“For the king!” Connor cried, slashing at his flimsy opponent. “Victory is ours!”

“Did you call me?” Elena shouted. Her voice sounded high and thin.

“No.” Connor impaled the bag and didn’t even look toward her.

“Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

Elena eyed the woods beyond the lawn. Not even a leaf rustled. Gram’s car wasn’t in its usual spot at the top of the long dirt drive. Elena crossed the kitchen and peered into the living room. The solid, stuffed chairs and dark, polished tables sat undisturbed. Only the steady ticking of the grandfather clock broke the stillness. Breathing in the familiar smell of old books and fireplace ashes, Elena forced her shoulders to relax. See? It was nothing.

She returned to her experiment where vapor rose from a tray of dry ice. Like a genie from a lamp. Her hands shook, and she spilled rubbing alcohol as she tried to pour just enough to saturate the black felt she’d glued inside the jar. Tightening the lid, she glanced around the room.

HERE’S HOLLY:

Forever Magic, Middle-grade novel, Carol Foote

I think this is a fantastic opening page! Keep going. I want to know more. But get a better title. Well done.

___________________________________________________________

Thank you Holly for sharing your time and expertise with us. It is a huge help to read you comments.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, demystify, inspiration, Process, revisions Tagged: Agent Holly McGhee, First Page Critique, Pippin Properties, Writing feedback

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6. Kudos

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Congratulations to everyone in this post. I am sure all of you are doing somersaults like Luther in this new illustration sent in my Amalia Hoffman. http://www.amaliahoffman.com

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Kirkus published a great review for Darlene Beck-Jacobson ‘s new book WHEELS OF CHANGE which is coming out in September. I read an advanced copy and wrote a review that is up on Goodreads.

Here are the links:

http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/darlene-beck-jacobson/wheels-of-change-jacobson/

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1023025140vesperrodeen-announce

Vesper Stamper proves that winning a contest can get you noticed and sometimes that is all you need to make things happen. Vesper won the NJSCBWI Illustrator Showcase at the end of June and six weeks later, that win landed her representation with Lori Kilkelly at Rodeen agency.

Yvonne Ventresca was featured in the August NJSCBWI Author Spotlight. Here is the link: http://newjersey.scbwi.org/author-spotlight/author-spotlight-yvonne-ventresca/

carly-watters-p-s-literary-agencyAt P.S. Literary Agency, Carly Watters has been promoted to vp, senior literary agent.

Julia Maguire has joined Knopf Children’s as editor. Previously she was an associate editor at Simon & Schuster Children’s.

Orion Children’s Books editorial director Amber Caraveo is leaving the publisher to become an agent, creating Skylark Literary along with Joanna Moult, officially launching in November. The agency will focus on YA and children’s authors.

The Simon Pulse imprint has promoted Liesa Abrams to vp, editorial director of Simon Pulse and associate editorial director of Aladdin. Plus, Michael Strother is being promoted to associate editor of Simon Pulse.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, inspiration, Kudos, Publishers and Agencies, Publishing Industry Tagged: Amalia Hoffman, Carly Watters, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Vesper Stamper

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7. No Fee: Real Simple Life Lessons Essay Contest

Real Simple’s Life Lessons Essay Contest

Prize: $3,000.00.
Entry fee: $0.00.
Deadline: 09-18-2014.

WRITING CONTEST WEBSITE

Real Simple magazine is seeking entries for its annual Life Lessons Essay Contest, which awards $3,000 to the writer who has written the best essay of non-fiction. Second-place wins $750, and third-place wins a $500 cash prize.

The theme is on sharing a “Eureka!” moment–a powerful thought that made you suddenly realize that something or someone had contributed to the happiness and/or success in your life.

To enter, submit online a nonfiction essays of no more than 1,500 words. The editors of Real Simple will judge all entries according to the these rules: novelty, creativeness, writing style, and relevance of theme.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Win, writing Tagged: A Eureka Moment, No fee Contest, Non-fiction, Real Simple Essay Contest

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8. When Do Writers Stop Writing?

erikaphoto-45When Do Writers Stop Writing? by Erika Wassall

So we’re writers… right?

We write…

And we write…

And then we write some more.

The problem is, sometimes it’s hard to STOP writing and say… okay, it’s done.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean “Done” as in you’ll never alter anything about it ever again. My title is of course not realistic. We never stop writing. And we’ll revise again and again with editors or agents.

But at some point, we have to decide, it’s ready to be submitted.

This is tough for a lot of us. We may have been working on something for years, and it’s evolved, morphed and been not just revised but re-envisioned (a term I took from Jill Corcoran’s videos) so many times. And each time, it’s become better, stronger and more complete.

We could go on with that forever, and it would just keep getting better… right?

But there is a line. There comes a point where we have to make the leap of faith and start submitting our work. Sometimes easier said than done.

I can’t tell you when your work is done. I’m not sure anyone can. Some people are lucky, they can just “feel it”.

Me? Sigh. I wish.

Not at all. I’m ALWAYS left thinking… maybe one more person’s critique will help, or maybe one more re-write of the this paragraph will be even better!

I like to have a checklist. It gives me a good basis for being sure I haven’t missed anything major:

1) First round of revisions – this is usually checking for consistency and flow, because my first drafts are a bit… rough.

2) Time off – serious time off, usually a month

3) The big change – almost all of my manuscripts have at some point had some major change or revision that has made things click. Some have had more than one. For me, it’s an important part of my process.

4) More revisions and feedback from other writers and people I trust.

5) Falling apart at some point and thinking it’s not any good. For me, if this hasn’t happened at least once, I’m not done. This usually leads to another short spurt of time off, a week or so of ignoring all writing-related thoughts.

6) The writer in me wins out and I dive back in.

Then I usually sit here in this stage for a while, bouncing around in revisions, critiques, thoughts etc. Problem is: me? I could sit here forever. At some point, I just have to pull the darn trigger!

If I can look back and know that I did right by myself and the story I have to tell, it’s time to start narrowing down the list of agents I’m going to target.

Plus, at this point, I usually have a few new ideas percolating in the brain, so they’re a good distraction to keep myself from revising that sentence just one more time.

Am I saying this is a good checklist for other people?

NOT AT ALL.

I think everyone’s checklist/process is different. But I do think it can be helpful to have some sort of checklist in your mind, to go through whatever steps you need as a writer and individual to make your manuscript the best it can be.

I have one final step after the checklist. This is usually the only way I’ve ever able to draw that intimidating line of saying IT’S READY NOW:

Create a deadline!

I can never quite get to the point where I say, “It’s done NOW.” But I AM able to say, “It’ll be done in a month.” And then stick to that.

And then I have to just tell myself, that’s it. It’s ready. I have to trust myself and commit that that’s my Final Answer.

An exciting time for sure, but finishing a manuscript and sending it out into the world often holds it’s share of anxiety of uncertainty. But it’s an important part of the process and guess what…

… your manuscripts deserve it!

Thanks Erika for another valuable post.

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!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, Process, revisions, Tips, writing Tagged: Erika Wassall, Guest Blog Post, When to Stop Writing

4 Comments on When Do Writers Stop Writing?, last added: 8/27/2014
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9. Agent Looking to Build List

siobhan-mcbride-literary-agentAbout Siobhan McBride at Serendipity Literary Agency:

Siobhan McBride grew up in the New York Hudson Valley and studied painting, drawing, and ceramics before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz.

She began her career in Publishing as an intern for the literary agency Objective Entertainment, and from there went on to work as a writer in the Editorial departments of various magazines including MovieMaker and Chronogram, before joining Serendipity Literary Agency in 2014.

Her passion for music and film led her to becoming the Music Editor of CriticalMob, eventually moving on to do freelance work with their parent company, Company Cue. Recently she has been tutoring young adults as a volunteer with 826NYC.

Siobhan looks forward to creating lasting relationships with her clients and wants to work closely with them to give life to the vision of their work. Holding positions on both sides of the editorial field gives her a strong grasp of what an audience is looking for and the knack to balance that with a writers’ artistic drive.

Siobhan is seeking voice driven narratives for Fiction, Memoir, or Non-Fiction. She has a strong interest in Literary and Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Adult Dystopian, Mystery/Crime, Historical, daring Young Adult, Thrillers and narratives with philosophical undertones. She say she gives bonus points if your thriller has a psychological bent. 

For Memoir and Nonfiction titles, she seeks Investigative, True Crime, and dark/bizarre History. Siobhan enjoys the dark, macabre aspects of life where paranormal fiction and horror are viewed an under appreciated art forms deeply rooted in psychology, and looks for authors unafraid to delve into these inner workings of the human psyche.

How to submit: Visit the submissions page on Serendipity’s website: serendipitylit.com. You can direct your submission directly to Siobhan by requesting her in the body of the submission form. The average response time is 4-6 weeks.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Looking for Clients, Serendipity Literary Agency, Siobhan McBride

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10. Lee & Low Books Picture Books Contest

Lee & Low Books New Voices Award

Cash prize of $1,000 and a publishing contract.

— No Entry Fee
Prize: $1,000.00.
Entry fee: $0.00.

Deadline: 09-30-2014

WRITING CONTEST WEBSITE

To recognize the talents of children’s picture book authors, Lee & Low Books (est. 2000) is inviting U.S.-based authors of color to submit manuscripts (up to 1500 words) to its 15th Annual New Voices Award for a chance to win a cash prize of $1,000 and a publishing contract with the company.

A second-place winner will receive $500.

The judges accept unagented, original, unpublished children’s stories only. Categories include fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appropriate for kids, ages 5-12.

Submissions should focus on the necessities of children of color and engage young readers with relatable stories. You can submit up to two entries per application.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: children writing, Contest, picture books, Places to sumit, publishers Tagged: Lee and Low Books, New Voices Award, Picture book authors

0 Comments on Lee & Low Books Picture Books Contest as of 8/24/2014 2:41:00 AM
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11. Illustrator Saturday – Annie Wilkinson


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12. Illustrator Saturday – Inés Hüni

inesphotoineInés Hüni was born in Mendoza (Argentina), the land that produces the finest Malbec wine grapes in the world.

She remembers that as a little girl, she always dreamed about having her “taller de arte” with lots of small “frasquitos”, colored pencils and brushes of all sizes.

She moved to Buenos Aires – the big city – when she was 11.

During high school, in her spare time, Inés was always involved in drawing and arts & crafts activities. She could not wait to finish high school in order to begin studying what she really loved: Arts.

She graduated from Fine Arts with major in drawing and engraving. Inés also studied humoristic drawing and animation with some of the finest professors in Argentina and USA.

Ines is a great observer of the world that surrounds her. She loves the challenge of interpreting every brush stroke of reality and capturing it in her artwork.

Already married and with two daughters, she moved to México. What was initially supposed to be a 3-year-experience, but it has now turned into an 8-years-one, tasting and living Mexican flavors and colors. The family has recently added a fifth member, her little Mexican daughter named Mora.

Inés is a versatile creative professional. She illustrated children magazines, scholastic manuals, worked for animated movie studios, developed characters to be used in murals and posters and has illustrated several children’s books from renowned Editorial Houses from many countries.

Some of her customers are: Animation: Heart of Texas Productions (Texas, USA) in films for Disney Studios, Warner Bros and Lyric Corporation – Illustration: Garcia Ferré, Infantil, El Gato de Hojalata, Guadal, Perfil and Quipu (Argentina), Richmond, Mac Millian, Cordillera, Trillas, and Bilineata (Mexico), Santillana (Puerto Rico & U.S.A)-   Everest (Spain).

Here is Ines explaining her process:

This is one of my illustrations in “Mymini moleskine.” Myninimoleskine is a little red sketchbook that I take everywhere, especially if I travel.

The idea is to draw women in different poses and moments of their lives, in one small space, that’s a challenge!

inesMyminimoleskine 1 blue prismacolor

I start the sketch with the blue pencil and on it I remark with black pencil.

Here we have a sketch of a woman who is a football (soccer) fan. She is celebrating a goal with all her soul. That’s an example of how I like to start with the blue PRISMACOLOR  col- erase pencil and then remark with black pencil.

ines1woman of cats sketch 1

Woman of the Cats: here you can see the hole process and my work space.

ines2 woman of cats sketch 2

After scanning I clean it up with Photoshop.

ines3 my desk

This is my workspace with my lightbox, I use this table to trace and transfer the illustration to a good paper. You can also see all my painting materials, including color inks and watercolors.

ines4 woman of cats

You can see how I start to paint the big areas and views of my desk and materials.

ines5 woman of cats

Continue to paint.

ines8 woman of cats

With the whole illustration painted, I begin adding details with color Prismalo Carandache pencils.

ines9 woman of cats

Illustration almost done.

ines10 woman of cats

Finished Illustration.

inessketch3

Character sketch.

inesKazurá color1

Finished illustration

inessketch5

Sketch

inesCover KZRa

Finished illustration.

inesKazurá

Finished Book.

inesChamula Chiapas The mayan sky2

Here are several drawings I made after a trip by the south of  Mexico, in Chiapas State.  I was delighted by this place, especially by a town called San Juan Chamula, it’s church, and it’s popular market.

ines18010bigger

How long have you been illustrating?

I always drew, but it has been 20 years since I started to illustrate.

inesChamula Chiapas The mayan sky

How did you go to school to study art?

I wanted to study Fine Arts since I was a little girl.

I finished school since I needed to, in order to pursue a University Degree in Arts.

When the time came to choose a career I had no doubts in my mind: Fine Arts. At the same time, I took a course in Humoristic Drawing in another school.

It was a lot of fun since I realized that everything that I was learning was really interesting to me.

ines50991
What made you move from Argentina to Mexico?

We moved to Mexico with my family due to my husband’s job. It was supposed to be a 3 year experience but it has been almost 9 years already!

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Do you think the culture of Argentina influenced your style?

Every experience a person has gone through contributes to defining you as an individual. Regarding specifically my illustration style, I think I have influence from many places, not only from my Argentinian background, but also from other places I have visited, books that I read, movies that I watched and also from some of my colleagues’ works.

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What was the first art related work that you did for money?

That is a tough question! I started out by doing Christmas Cards and painting T-Shirts with original designs. I guess my first customers were my parents and my family.

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Did you start out doing freelance art or did you do other work to pay the bills?

It was really a mix. At the same time that I looked for free-lance jobs, I worked in a greeting cards editorial house (similar to Hallmark) and also worked in a company that made sticker albums.

ines50994

How did you get involved with animation with Heart of Texas Productions (Austin,Tx USA) in films for Disney Studios, Warner Bros and Lyrick Corporation?

Wow, that was one pretty chance! My husband and I had just moved to Austin, Texas to study a postgraduate and a neighbor of our condominium worked in that study of animation. When the person who rented us the apartment learnt that I was an illustrator, she made arrangements for me to visit the studios. After the tour, I asked if I could show my portfolio. I think that they had not finished telling me that I was already leaving my folder with them. A few days later I was called to sit for a test and then I was chosen. In Heart of Texas, we also worked for larger studios such as Disney, Warner and Lyric Corporation and that is how I ended being part of films like Aladdin, The Quest for Camelot and three children’s animations on St. Francis and his friendly world.

ines79118
Do you still do animation?

No. Animation was a great learning experience and I learned it well from the inside: I was trained while I worked in Heart of Texas. In addition to that, I attended College where I experienced going through the whole process of designing: from scratch, to filming my own short (very short) animated movie.

I soon found out that the process of making animation was like a very long, mechanical chain, where one is just a small link and the only way of applying your own creativity was by designing the characters, backgrounds or the story itself. So I turned completely to illustration, which is less mechanical and a greater challenge, because each job order demands my own imagination and creativity.

ines79145
What type of work did you do right after you graduated?

I worked doing typographies and some illustrations for greeting cards.

ines79124
When did you decide to get involved in children’s illustration?

Well, as I already said, while I was studying Arts, I attended another school for humorous drawing, where I learned the basics on how to create characters and move them from side to side, to explore and to draw different topics and to make comic strips… But while I was studying, I realized that it would be hard for me to come up with a joke every day to go with an illustration, like the comics in newspapers. That was when I said to myself: my thing is children’s illustration. I do come up with cute illustrations that can actually be funny but are still not the daily joke or comic strip.

ines50988
Have you ever illustrated a children’s book or book dummy?

Yes, I have several illustrated books:

inespalabrerio

The collection Palabrerio by Infantil.com

inesHadas

The collection Hadas Virtuosas – Editorial Guadal, El Gato de Hojalata

inesHadas Patitas - Edit. El gato de Hojalata Guadal.

Collection Hadas con patitas – Editorial Guadal, El Gato de Hojalata

inesSantillana USA

Several pedagogical publications with Santillana of Puerto Rico and the United States.

inesBiblia Everest

Historias maravillosas de la Biblia [Wonderful histories of the Bible] – Publishing Everest.

inesel deseo de mateo armado

Deseo of Mateo [Mateo’s wish] – For Kraft, Oreo

inesKazurá

Kazurá.Un manifiesto infantil – Editorial Quipu

 

inesKazurá color2

It looks like you have a friend who writes and you do the illustrations. Could you tell us about how the two of you connected and how many books have you done?

Yes, my friend Agustina, another coincidence in my life! One day in Mexico, I went to a birthday party where new comers had just arrived. I ended up sitting next to one of the new ones, and the host looked at us and said: “Inés, this is Agustina and she writes. Agustina, this is Inés and she illustrates. You must know each other!” Just a few days later, I was contacted by a publisher to make a Christmas Story for Kraft Foods about the Oreo cookie. They wanted it immediately but there was no story yet and they requested the cover and an inside page… I told them that I knew two writers and we could see if they already had something written to adapt into the project… So I contacted both writers. Agustina responded immediately with a story, thought and written especially for the project. It was called “El deseo de Mateo” [Mateo’s wish].

It ended up being a beautiful book, and the best part was discovering what a wonderful team we made together. Then, new projects came up and we continued working together.

Recently our book “Kazurá” was published. It is an illustrated children’s book that we presented in Buenos Aires Book Fair this past July and continue to promote here in Mexico.

ines18050
What do you consider is your first big success?

I believe that my biggest success is to be able to turn my passion into work, to let my imagination fly, to face challenges with each job order, which sometimes can be something completely new in my life. I sometimes worry but in the end, I always come up with something that I like, and that amuses me!

Each stage of my life had its own hit, like working for Disney and Warner Bross or winning a contest for and important hospital: My character became the Pediatrics’ mascot!

Success for me also meant travelling to the greatest Illustration Fair in the world (Bologna) and being contacted for different jobs after those interviews. And lately, success meant to materialize one of our projects with Agus: our book “Kazurá” recently published.

ines18177
How did that come about?

The most recent success was our book “Kazurá”, which we worked jointly with my friend Agustina, designing each word and each illustration so that each of us, in our own specialized language, would tell the same story without repeating each other. We made a very good presentation of the book, with a dummy, at the Book Fair of Guadalajara. This was an efficient way to introduce ourselves and the book to the different publishers. Not only did we make a good impression on them but we ended with more than one publishing offer for “Kazurá”.

inesleyenda+indios+bailan

How do you promote your work to get more business?

Mainly through Blogs and webpages. I am in Childrensillustrators.com and I have recently created a blog on Facebook called “Hüni la ilustratera”.

I also promote my work presenting dummies of books in fairs such as FIL de Guadalajara in Mexico (the greatest Spanish-speaking fair of the world ) to show a complete, well presented idea, something which publishers seem to look forward to seeing, lately.

inesmagic

The above is an illustration which represents everything that a book can contain, and how they can amaze us. In this illustration I used a photograph of a painted wall taken by me, as a background. Then I worked on creating the characters with several sketches. I transferred them into final lines in good paper, then I scanned them and once in the computer, I worked digitally on the color in Photoshop.

inesMEMORI~1

What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

I like to work with inks and watercolors, on good papers, and on those backgrounds I work on the details with coloured pencils. Finally, I finish up digitally in the computer. Lately, I have been applying textures and photos with digital collages.

How I work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP0nLgk_PF8#t=196

Here is a link to a video of an e-book called “Al son the Rigoberto”, a story about frienship between a mosquito and an elephant. It is in Spanish, published by Editorial Bilineata. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/al-son-de-rigoberto/id658854724?l=es&mt=11

inesBUHITOSdesvelados LOW
Do you do any black and white illustrations?

Yes, I do. Although I am a colour fan, I have studied and made many engravings in the past during my Fine Arts career. I also made several comics with ink and pens. It is a different type of exercise, to think in black and white, and I love it, especially in my sketchbooks.

inesWitch

Above and Below: Painted with inks and watercolors (usually I use Colorex by Pebeo) in a good watercolor paper (Strathmore cold press),  retouching the details with colored pencils (Prismalo by Carandache). Finally, after scanning it I worked digitally with Photoshop. The shells are a digital collage of my photographs.

inesSand Castle

Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Yes, in Argentina I worked for García Ferré’s magazine “Anteojito” and for women’s magazine called “Mia” by “Editorial Perfil”.

inesC Andersen2
Above and the four below are illustrations made for a collective exposition in honor to the Grimm brothers, the story I had to illustrate was “All-kinds-of-fur” (is that the translation in English for Bestia Peluda?) – 2012 Buenos Aires International Book Fair.

inesC Andersen1
Have you done any work for educational publishers?

Yes, I worked for many educational Publishers illustrating pedagogical texts.

inesdesplumando avesLOW

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

Uh, one? Just one? I cannot work without good light or without music. And, by all means, I am very careful to have the right and best materials to work… If I must choose just a single item, that is a good, well-sharpened pencil.

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

In theory, I try to… but in practice, I can´t always do so. I generally work at night. I like it when everyone at home is asleep. I do burn the midnight oil.

inesescapa del reyLOW
Do you have an agent?

I do not have an agent. And yes, I would love to have one that could make my work known worldwide and sell it for me.

ines79123

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

I am also a photographer. It is a great advantage that today we have easy access to document everything that we like or calls our attention. When I began to study humoristic drawing, the professors encouraged us to have a file with cut-outs and photos of things that helped us draw, for example: things from the field and from the city, examples of animals and of different leaves and plants. Today, everything is a click away and we must do research before we begin to draw.

ines79119
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely! Today, you can be reached from anywhere and everywhere in the world.

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Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I use both. They are the absolute key to my work.

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

A long time ago, I believe in 1998, I bought my first Wacom tablet. Today, I cannot work without it!

ines79144bigger

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

Yes, indeed… there’s always a goal ahead.

ines79128
What are you working on now?

I am working on a new book and a complete project to take to FIL de Guadalajara, and on personalized illustrations that my clients have ordered.

ines50992bigger

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.

In animation I learned to sketch with blue pencil, Prismacolor Col-Erase is the brand, which has become almost an addiction to me as I can no longer sketch without them. The idea is to make all the necessary lines and scribbles in blue and then clean up the definitive lines with a black pencil.

There are some drawings that I like better in their primary state of sketch, and sometimes I decide “not to remark them with pencil or ink” and even let them without paint.

ines18178

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

I really don’t know how to be a successful writer or illustrator, but I do know that a great part of our learning takes place as we observe, and perfection is reached through practice.

The more you feed your senses, the better you tell the story.

In reality, writers and illustrators are devoted to tell, to convey something. Nobody can do this successfully, unless they know it and feel it deeply from within. Last but not least, it is important to demand respect and value for our work so that our profession keeps growing strong.

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

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

Website: http://ineshuni.blogspot.com/  

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: Agentina, Children's Illustrator, Inés Hüni

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Inés Hüni, last added: 8/26/2014
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13. Free Fall Friday – Holly McGhee/Hallie Durand

Holly November 2013

A new book titled, CATCH THE COOKIE has hit the bookshelves written by Hallie Durand, a.k.a. Agent Holly McGhee and illustrated by David Small. I have the book and can truthfully say it is a very fun picture book. I scanned in a few interior shots and Holly sent a picture of the real Marshall to add to the interview questions. I also added a quick blurb to whet your appetite:

Marshall knows one thing for sure, despite what all the stories say: Gingerbread men cannot run. Cookies are for eating, and he can’t wait to eat his after spending all morning baking them with his class. But when it’s time to take the gingerbread men out of the oven . . . they’re gone! Now, to find those rogue cookies, Marshall and his class have to solve a series of rhyming clues. And Marshall just might have to rethink his stance on magic. Catch That Cookie! is an imaginative mystery, deliciously illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Small. It’s sure to inspire a new classroom tradition . . . and maybe even a few new believers!

I wanted to know more about the book and Holly, so below is the interview I had with her. If you want to read more about David Small and read about the process of creating the book cover for CATCH THE COOKIE, he was featured this past Saturday on Illustrator Saturday - definitely worth reading. Here’s Hallie/Holly:

Most people know you as Holly McGhee. Why did you decide to write under another name?

A: On that first submission especially, I needed to know whether my writing could speak for itself, in no way connected to me as an agent—could I get published just because an editor and publisher believed in my work? I’ve kept with a pen name to separate my writing from agenting, though at this point it’s not a secret that I’m Holly McGhee & Hallie Durand.

When did you start writing your latest book, Catch That Cookie!? 

A: I started Catch That Cookie! in earnest over the Christmas holidays of 2011. My son Marshall had been a preschool student of Mrs. Gray’s (the teacher in my book) in the fall of 2009, and he had gone on a gingerbread hunt at school. He’d come home with a recipe for gingerbread men, and he was obsessed with making the cookies. He kept nagging me, and so I finally borrowed the cookie cutters from Mrs. Gray and we made them for our class picnic in June of 2010, in ninety-degree heat. We put them in the van to bring to the picnic, and then Marshall started locking the van doors. I realized he thought the cookies would escape, ha ha ha ha! I knew there was a story there, and I wanted to know what Mrs. Gray had done in class to make Marshall believe those G-men could escape. So I interviewed Mrs. Gray and that inspired my picture book.

Marsh with his G-Man August 2014

How did it find a home at Dial?

A: When I finally had a draft that I liked, I shared it with my agent, Elena Giovinazzo, who sent it out to editors. Lauri Hornik and Kate Harrison at Dial made an offer.

Catch That Cookie!, with ribbon

Were you the one who chose David Small to illustrate the book?

A: No, that was my editor, Kate Harrison, and the art director Lily Malcom. I couldn’t be happier about the choice—not only is David my client but he is one of my very close friends. (I was nervous he would turn it down though, and thrilled that he liked it—he’s picky!)

cookieinterior74

How long did it take David to do the illustrations?

A: He started early in 2013 and finished that fall. I sent him a picture of Mrs. Gray to inspire him and also pictures of Marshall, Avery, and Henry, who all appear in the book (they were Marshall’s classmates).

cookieinterior75
Do you plan any book signings or other marketing things now that the book is sold?

A: Yes, David and I are doing a little mini tour to celebrate both the book and our friendship. I am going out to Kalamazoo, Michigan on September 10 and we are doing one appearance for adults at the Kalamazoo Library and one for kids at the Book Bug, and then he’s coming back with me to Maplewood, NJ. We’ll have a big gingerbread hunt with Mrs. Gray at the Maplewood Library on September 13, and an event for writers and artists (together with Anna Kang and Chris Weyant of You Are (Not) Small and Richard Morris of This Is a Moose) on the 14th. We’re going to talk about collaboration. Then we’ll have an appearance at our local bookstore on the 15th as well as a private event for the preschool four year olds (all at Words, Maplewood). David will share some of his drawing secrets. I’ll have more details for you soon.

When did you write your first book and what was the title?

A: In 2007 I wrote my first chapter book / novel, Dessert First, and I wrote two more books in that series. Dessert First was published in 2009, Just Desserts in 2010, and No Room for Dessert in 2011, all illustrated by the amazing French artist Christine Davenier.

dessertfirst

Were you an editor at that time?

A: Nope, I had been an agent for nine years already (though I’ve never stopped being an editor really—as an agent I’m often the first set of eyes on a manuscript, helping polish it enough to be acquired).

How did the idea come to you?

A: It started at a dinner with one of my best friends at the River Run Café in NYC. We ordered dessert to share, and as always I angled the plate so that the best part of the dessert “happened” to be directly in front of me. My friend had had enough of my bad behavior and she said, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS TAKE THE BEST PART OF THE DESSERT?” And I, with nowhere to hide, said, “Because I thought I was getting away with it.” That honesty marked a turning point in our friendship. A few years later, we were sharing a slice of Iced Lemon Cake at lunch, reminiscing about our fateful evening at the River Run. And that very evening, on NJ Transit, Dessert Schneider barged into my life and wouldn’t be quiet till I wrote her story. I’d never experienced anything like that—she was really bossy!

How did that book get published?

A: It was multiply submitted, under my pen name, and was acquired in a two-book deal.

dessertsJust

It looks like most of your books have a food element. Is that because you like to bake?

A: Funny you bring this up, because it hasn’t been intentional. Food has been a continuing thread throughout my life, and as a kid I always went grocery shopping with my dad (we still like to go together when we can); we like to see what new products there are on the shelves and what’s on sale. I was the New York State 4-H Bread champion (not kidding!) as a seventeen year old—baking bread was something to do in an otherwise pretty boring summer in farm country, so I went for it, baking bread every day for the entire two months that school was out. Cooking and baking are relaxing for me like nothing else, and when I’m not writing, I’m usually in the kitchen. I even like chopping leeks, just as thin as I can get them without slicing off my thumb in the process . . .

Headless G-Man

Do you feel that writing your own books helps you relate better with your writer clients?

A: I think my writers and artists appreciate that I understand what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling in a way that you only know if you are a writer or artist yourself. We talk . . . a lot.

cookie riser

When I heard David Small and Kate DiCamillo speak at SCBWI conferences, it sounded like you were not only a great agent, but a great critique partner for them.

Over the years, there’s a trust that builds, and with David and Kate and most of my clients, I’m a gatekeeper; they can share work with me before anybody else sees it, and they know that if I’m willing to share it with the world, I believe in it.

cookieend

Why did you decide to leave HarperCollins to open a literary agency?

A: I’d been an executive editor for six years, and I had developed my own taste in books. I’d begun to believe that if I loved reading a book, maybe somebody else in the world would too. And so I was ready to set out of my own after a time, especially when some of the projects I tried to acquire were rejected by an acquisitions board. I wanted to succeed or fail based on my own taste.

What was your biggest success as a literary agent?

A: Biggest successes can run the gamut. There are the seven-figure deals with film rights and foreign licenses sold simultaneously, and there are the original books by new authors that become franchises, with television and live-stage deals coming along the way. But there are also the smaller deals that come with huge personal satisfaction, such as bringing a beloved book back into print decades after first publication, or placing that book I’ve always believed in, months after first submission. I think the biggest fun is finding an editor who loves a book, acquires it, and publishes it well, whether it’s snapped up in a pre-empt an hour after submission or acquired after months of waiting. They all matter.

On top of that, the feeling of comraderie I have with my colleagues is one I cherish–we root for each other and have a fabulous time together. That matters too.

Hallie, catching a cookie NYC August 2014

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers from an author’s point–of-view?

~Be discerning but don’t be precious about your work.

~Take your work as far as you can on your own before showing it; your agent only gets a first read once.

~Let your work speak for itself—no need to tell your agent how much your neighbors and other writer friends love it first; that can set unrealistic expectations before that first read.

~Go to your laptop or drawing board every day. It’s easier to stay with the story you’re trying to write or illustrate than it is to reintroduce yourself after an absence.

~Think about a problem you are having with your book right before you go to sleep, and keep a pencil and notepad by your bedside table; you might get an answer during the night or first thing in the morning (it happens!).

~Don’t worry about how many books you have published / are publishing; Robert McCloskey did seven in his lifetime.

~Don’t get obsessed with Amazon rankings, etc. The secret is that a bad ranking will make you feel worse and a good ranking or review won’t make you feel much better.

~As long as you can say to yourself, when you’re looking back at your work, I did the best I was capable of at that time in my life, you’ll be a bit more impervious to negative comments. But make sure you can say that before your book goes out into the world.

Would you answer differently with your agent’s hat on?

A: No, but some of these things I only know from being a writer, inside information J.

Holly, thanks for answering the interview questions. I will remind people when they might be able to see you in September. It was such great fun to share the picture of your son with everyone. It looks like David really captured his looks and personality.

Best of Luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

PS: Remember to check back next Friday to read the four first pages critiqued by Holly.


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Book Tour, Editor & Agent Info, Interview, Picture Book Tagged: Agent Holly McGhee, Author Hallie Durand, Catch the Cookie, Illustrator David Small

9 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Holly McGhee/Hallie Durand, last added: 8/25/2014
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14. Writer’s & Illustrators: The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

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

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

Enter the Illustrator Contest

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


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

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

REBELIGHT_LOGO_4C

Submission Guidelines

What we want:

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

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

What we don’t want:

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

Some helpful hints:

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

Submission Guidelines:

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

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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16. Agent Looking to Build List

Leon Husock – Associate Agent at L. Perkins Agency.

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

Leon is actively building his client list.

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

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

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

Email: leon@lperkinsagency.com

Follow him on Twitter: @leonhusock

How to submit:

Please email a query letter containing the following:

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

Please keep in mind:

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

Send to leon [at] lperkinsagency.com.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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17. No Entry Fee: The Payton James Freeman Essay Prize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Deadline for submissions is September 30, 2014.

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

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

Special Series Guidelines

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


Easter Lilies

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

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

Submission Guidelines:

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

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

Easter Lilies Special Submission form.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

0 Comments on Open Submissions: Pelican Book Group for Easter Lilies as of 8/17/2014 3:11:00 AM
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19. No Fee: Ordinary Guru Project Contest

guru

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

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

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

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

PRIZES:

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

SUBMISSION FEE: There is NO fee to enter.

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

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

Submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

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

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE CONTEST!

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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20. Matchmaking for Writers: Critique Partners

erikaphoto-45Jersey Farm Scribe here on:

Matchmaking for Writers: Critique Partners

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

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

AND CRITIQUE IT???

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

What am I? A masochist?

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

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

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

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

Finding the Right Partners

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

Here are a few things I look for:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because your manuscripts are worth it!

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

2 Comments on Matchmaking for Writers: Critique Partners, last added: 8/13/2014
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21. Agent Looking for Clients

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow him on Twitter: @abuckslater.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

2 Comments on Agent Looking for Clients, last added: 8/14/2014
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22. August Kudos

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a blurb about her book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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23. Free Fall Friday Plus Alert

Writer Scam Alert!

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

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

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEADLINE: August 21st.

RESULTS: August 29th.

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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24. Illustrator Saturday – David Small

 

Interview Questions for David Small

 

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

 

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

 

question.

 

2. Did you always live in Michigan?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

6. Did you have a favorite class at Yale?

 

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

 

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

 

continue practicing.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

play?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

important than the degree.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

had other interests than flinging paint around.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

next paycheck would be coming in.

 

12. Do you still do illustrations for magazines?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

before we married.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

that book in 1997?

 

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

 

experience given such huge recognition by the larger world.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Caldecott?

 

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

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

misconduct than work.

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

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

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

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

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

publisher for that book?

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

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

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

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

persuasive.

20. When did you meet your agent Holly McGhee?

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

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

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

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

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

being agentless.

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

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

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

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

my life.

21. Where you Holly’s first client?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

immediately got 5 offers.

23. Was that your first graphic novel?

Yes.

24. Which one of your books is your favorite?

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

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

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

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

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

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

something has gone wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

more things about the medium than I liked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hand-drawn work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29. What do you feel was your greatest success?

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

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

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

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

these.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

which to express adequate thanks to the givers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

studio, she was on it like spots on dice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

have a good art supply store there.

35. What are you working on now?

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

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

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

That will be published by Liveright.

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

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

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

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

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

sketchbooks.

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

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

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

have to focus at all costs.)

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

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

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

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

done again.

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

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

 


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25. Illustrator Saturday – David Small

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

Here is a little bit about David:

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

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

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

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

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

JKT 1

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

JKT 2

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

JKT 3

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

JKT 4

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

JKT 5

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

JKT 6

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

JKT 7

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

JKT 8

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

JKT 9

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

JKT 10

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

BELOW: DAVID ANSWERS TO THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS I ASKED:

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

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

QUIET PLACE

Did you always live in Michigan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

georgescowsinteriors2
Did you have a favorite class at Yale?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUBY MAE Jkt
Do you still do illustrations for magazines?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMOGENE Jkt
When did you meet your agent Holly McGhee?

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

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

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

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

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

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

STITCHES jkt
Was that your first graphic novel?

Yes.

stitichesinterior
Which one of your books is your favorite?

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

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

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

paperjohn
Have your materials changed since your first published book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOOVER Jkt
What do you feel was your greatest success?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNDERNEATH Jkt

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

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

princess

What are you working on now?

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

interiorbowl

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

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

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

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

LIBRARY Jkt

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

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

B&WJKT 4a

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

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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