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1. Top Self published Books

barbaraplane

This high flying chick was sent in by illustrator Barbara DiLorenzo. Barbara was featured on Illustrator Saturday April 14th 2012. Click here to see her artwork and interview.

Publishers Marketplace Reveals the Top 35 Self-Published Books

1. The Fixed Trilogy, by Laurelin Paige  (Laurelin Paige; ISBN: 9780991379644)

2. The Will, by Kristen Ashley  (BNID: 2940045582384)

3. Reasonable Doubt, by Whitney G. Williams  (ISBN: 9780990317005)

4. Mud Vein, by Tarryn Fisher  (BNID: 2940149516117)

5. Ask More, Get More, by Michael Alden  (ISBN: 9781937110611)

6. 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse, by JJ Smith  (Adiva Publishing; ISBN: 9780982301821)

7. Agnes Barton Senior Sleuth Mysteries (Books 1-3), by Madison Johns  (BNID: 2940148574064)

8. Dangerous Dozen, by Charity Pineiro, Tina Wainscott, Maureen Child, Paige Tyler, Tawny Weber, Nina Bruhns, Virna DePaul, Karen Fenech, Kristin Miller, Gennita Low, Joyce Lamb, Maureen A Miller  (ISBN: 9780615971216)

9. Chances, by Jackie Collins  (BNID: 2940014780711)

10. Tempting Fate, by Vi Keeland, S.E. Lund, Penelope Ward, J.L. Mac, Julie Richman, Kahlen Aymes  (BNID: 2940149456109)

11. Rebelonging, by Sabrina Stark  (BNID: 2940149195107)

12. Unbelonging, by Sabrina Stark  (BNID: 2940148275213)

13. Lost In Me, by Lexi Ryan  (ISBN: 9781940832920)

14. Obsessed, by Deborah Bladon  (ISBN: 9780993721601)

15. Obsessed: Part Three, by Deborah Bladon  (ISBN: 9780993721625)

16. Obsessed: Part Two, by Deborah Bladon  (ISBN: 9780993721618)

17. All Roar and No Bite, by Celia Kyle  (ISBN: 9781311031419)

18. After the Ex Games, by J. S. Cooper, Helen Cooper  (ISBN: 9781940218175)

19. 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse, by JJ Smith  (ASIN: B00I6W7O5S)

20. Rook and Ronin, by JA Huss (ISBN: 9781936413393)

21. Out of the Shallows, by Samantha Young  (BNID: 2940149401222)

22. The Billionaire’s Obsession, by J. S. Scott  (J.S. Scott; ISBN: 9781939962010)

23. When I Break, by Kendall Ryan  (BNID: 2940148290902)

24. Lucky 7 Bad Boys, by Charity Pineiro, Sophia Knightly, Tawny Weber, Nina Bruhns, Susan Hatler, Virna DePaul, Kristin Miller  (Lucky Romance Authors; ISBN: 9780615955032)

25. The Nelson Touch, by Christopher G. Nuttall  (ASIN: B00J6DKWSM)

26. Plain Jane, by Carolyn McCray  (CreateSpace; ISBN: 9781452854342)

27. Fated Mates, by Adriana Hunter, Liliana Rhodes, Lynn Red, A.T. Mitchell, Michelle Fox, Eve Langlais, Skye Eagleday, Tabitha Conall, Alexis Dare, Molly Prince, Georgette St. Clair, A.E. Grace  (Excessica; ISBN: 9781609827885)

28. Mystery Spring Fling, by Gemma Halliday, Sibel Hodge, Kathleen Bacus, Christina A. Burke, Leslie Langtry, Aimee Gilchrist, Jennifer Fischetto, T. Sue VerSteeg, Maria Grazia Swan, Traci Andrighetti  (BNID: 2940045768450)

29. Ultimate SEAL Collection, by Sharon Hamilton  (BNID: 2940149309016)

30. Love and Danger, by Amy Gamet  (ISBN: 9780988218253)

31. Dare to Desire, by Carly Phillips  (BNID: 2940149343454)

32. The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife, by Darlene Schacht  (ASIN: B00HZFSVLI)

33. Knox: Volume 1, by Cassia Leo  (BNID: 2940149395767)

34. Hardwired, by Meredith Wild  (ISBN: 9780989768429)

35. Alphas After Dark, by Vivian Arend, Deanna Chase, Marie Hall, Crista McHugh, M. Malone, SM Reine, Roxie Rivera, Kit Rocha, Mimi Strong  (Bayou Moon; ISBN: 9781940299136)

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book, list, News, Publishing Industry, Self-publishing, success Tagged: Publishers Marketplace, Top Self-published Sellers

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2. Picture Book Contest and Tips



This is the 4th year for the Kids’ Book Review’s Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award. They are located in Australia, but this year they have added and International segment, (separate to the Australian segment), with Feedback Sheets.

Plus this year they are introducing a fabulous opportunity for illustrators!

There is a lot of information in the post. Don’t miss the picture book tips at the end of post.
HERE IS A QUICK VIEW OF IMPORTANT INFORMATION. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED THEN READ EVERYTHING:

DEADLINE: May 5th 2014

FEE: $25 for Writer’s and Illustrators $15 per illustration

The International Segment

Eligibility: Foreign nationals living anywhere in the world, including Australia, aged 18 or over.

Picture Book Manuscripts: No more than 400 words.

Illustrators: Only electronically submit illustration – $15 entrance fee. One winner will score a manuscript appraisal, a certificate and the chance to have their manuscript viewed by the editors at Penguin Books Australia. There is no guarantee of publication, and normal Penguin manuscript submission rules and timings apply. There is no monetary prize offered for the international segment at this stage.

We will also nominate several Highly Commended manuscripts (no prize).

All entrants will receive a feedback sheet.

THE WINNERS

The Australian Segment

Eligibility: Australian residents living in Australia or overseas, aged 18 or over.

Three winners will score $150, a manuscript appraisal, a certificate and the chance to have their manuscript viewed by Sue Whiting, Publishing Manager at Walker Books Australia. There is no guarantee of publication and normal Walker Books manuscript submission rules and timings apply.

We will also nominate several Highly Commended manuscripts (no prize).

All entrants will receive a feedback sheet.

Winner must have an Australian bank account to receive prize money.

http://www.walkerbooks.com.au/

The International Segment

Eligibility: Foreign nationals living anywhere in the world, including Australia, aged 18 or over.

One winner will score a manuscript appraisal, a certificate and the chance to have their manuscript viewed by the editors at Penguin Books Australia. There is no guarantee of publication, and normal Penguin manuscript submission rules and timings apply. There is no monetary prize offered for the international segment at this stage.

We will also nominate several Highly Commended manuscripts (no prize).

All entrants will receive a feedback sheet.

http://penguin.com.au/

The Illustrator Segment

Eligibility: Australian residents living in Australia or overseas, aged 18 or over.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce an opportunity for illustrators, as part of our Picture Book Award.

Ten winners will score the chance to have one of their images seen by Walker Books Australia, with a view to showing their full folio. There is no guarantee of contracts/publication and normal Walker Books illustration submission rules and timings apply.

Please note there will be no prize money and no feedback sheets for this section of the Award. Certificates will be emailed to the ten winners.


GUIDELINES + TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Manuscript submissions are for picture books of 400 words or less. A word count above 400 will exclude your submission. This word limit is for your story text only and does not include the title, author details or illustration notes.

Illustration submissions are to be made electronically–ONE IMAGE ONLY per entry.

Both published and unpublished creators are eligible. Creator names must be on manuscript and illustration file name. Our judging system remains impartial to creatorship.

If you are an author/illustrator, you can submit an image that correlates with your manuscript submission, however, images and manuscripts will be judged completely separately.

Please don’t submit a manuscript you have submitted to the Award in previous years.

Submissions must be in English.

Submissions—both written and image—must be original and unpublished elsewhere, in any form including electronic, in whole or in part, even heavily edited or re-worked versions. There is a small exception for images–they can be previously published on a personal blog or facebook page, but should not have been part of a publication. If the submitted work—both written and image—is accepted for publication during this competition, KBR must be advised on or before Monday 28 April 2014.

The competition is open to writers aged 18 or over.

Authors: entry fee is A$25 per manuscript.

Illustrators: entry fee is A$15 per image.

This section forms our Terms and Conditions of Entry. By entering this competition, you agree to our Terms and Conditions.


PRIVACY AND COPYRIGHT

Copyright for all work submitted is retained by the author.

We do not publish or share entries or entrant details with third parties.

At end of competition, all electronic manuscript copies and author/illustrator details are permanently deleted.


HOW TO SUBMIT

We have made changes to the submissions process. Please read these submission requirements carefully and if you still have questions, check our FAQs at the bottom of this post before emailing us. 

Submissions open Monday 3 February 2014 and close Monday 5 May 2014 at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. Emails must be time-marked on or before 11.59pm, on 5 May, to be eligible, including those from overseas.

A shortlist will be announced on Monday 9 June 2014. Winners will be announced Monday 23 June 2014. Winners will be emailed shortly before the announcement on KBR.

We ask for emailed submissions only.

If you are an Australian living overseas, PLEASE indicate you are entering the AUSTRALIAN segment of the competition.

If you are entering the INTERNATIONAL segment of the competition, please type ‘KBR Award 2014 INTERNATIONAL’ in the subject line of your email.

Author entries should be emailed as an attached Word .doc or .docx to KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom with KBR Award 2014 in the subject line. Entries in other formats will be ineligible. The title of your Word document and manuscript should be the same.

Illustrator entries should be emailed as an attached .jpeg or .png file ONLY to KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom with KBR Award 2014 Illustration in the subject line. Files should be no bigger than 3MB. Entries in other file formats or over 3MB will be ineligible. The title of your image file should include your name.

Please take care when typing the KBRaward email address—it is KBRaward NOT KBRawards. If you do not receive confirmation within 48 hours, we have not received your submission and you will need to resubmit.


SUBMISSION CHECKLIST – AUTHORS

The ability to follow our submission format will count towards your overall score.

DO

  • Double line-space your submission
  • Keep the text left-justified and use Arial or Times New Roman, 11 point
  • Make your payment at the same time as your submission
  • Your story title and Word document title should be the same and the document title should also include your name
  • Provide the following information at the top of your manuscript (NOT in the header) and ALSO in the body of your email:

Story Title
Word count: 496
Jane Smith
4 Writer Lane
Booksville Vic 3000
jane@emailaddress.com.au
03-9999 1111
INTERNATIONAL (if you are entering the International Segment)
AUSTRALIAN (but only necessary if you are an Australian with an overseas address)

DON’T

  • put your story or document title in capital letters
  • add any kind of visuals or any kind of formatting, including words in all-capitals, bolding, centering, indents, tabbing, tables, varying fonts and sizes and colours; text should be completely format-free
  • add page numbers or headers and footers
  • divide your story text into ‘Page 1, Page 2′, etc
  • send résumés, synopses, title pages or any other material

Illustrations + Illustration Notes
Please do not send illustrations to accompany a manuscript (but do feel free to enter an image, separately, in our Illustrator section), even if you are an artist or feel they are central to the story. Succinct illustration notes (in brackets or italics, directly below corresponding text) are fine but only if the text doesn’t clearly intimate illustrations.


SUBMISSION CHECKLIST – ILLUSTRATORS

The ability to follow our submission format will count towards your overall score.

DO

  • Email your .jpeg or .png as an attachment, 3MB or under
  • Add your name to the image’s file title, eg: Flower Kids by Jane Smith
  • Make your payment at the same time as your submission
  • Provide the following information in the body of your email:

Image Title

Jane Smith
4 Writer Lane
Booksville Vic 3000
jane@emailaddress.com.au
03-9999 1111 (add country code if you are international)

DON’T

  • send your image embedded, or provide a link for us to follow
  • send résumés, image explanations or any other material

RECEIPTS

You will receive a KBR confirmation of receipt shortly after sending your entry—this serves as your entry receipt (along with your Paypal confirmation-of-payment email). If you do not receive the KBR confirmation within 48 hours, we have not received your entry. Please resend or make contact via taniaATkids-bookreviewDOTcom or message us on our facebook page. PLEASE don’t leave it until competition end (or later) to let us know you haven’t received confirmation. 


IMPORTANT NOTES

Multiple entries are welcome, though a fee of A$25 per manuscript and A$15 per image applies. Multiple entries can be submitted together or separately, but please ensure all illustrator/entry information is included with each submission.

Please take the time to submit your final version. We regret that we cannot accept updates.

Please don’t submit a manuscript you have submitted to the Award in previous years. We do feel your entry will be at a disadvantage if you do this. We prefer fresh, unseen work.

Please take the time to follow submission/payment guidelines. The ability to follow guidelines does count towards your overall score.


PAYMENT

Cost of entry is A$25 per manuscript and A$15 per image. This is Australian dollars. There is no GST/tax component in this entry fee.

Paypal is now our only accepted method of payment. As such, we have wiped the $2 Paypal transaction fee. You do not need a Paypal account to make payment. All major credit and debit cards are accepted. Payment is fast and easy and safe. www.paypal.com.au or www.paypal.com.

Payment should be made at the same time as manuscript/image submission.

Please send Paypal payment to KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom, leaving your name and manuscript/image title in the note field. Take care when typing the email address correctly—it is KBRaward not KBRawards. Many payments are not reaching us because the email address is not being typed correctly. Please ensure you type the address exactly – KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom.

We cannot accept Paypal e-cheques.

International section entrants: Paypal payment must be made in Australian dollars; please do not deduct tax.

We are unable to advise receipt of payment but will be in touch if we find any issues. Your ‘confirmation of receipt email’ and Paypal’s confirmation of payment email serves as your receipt.


FEEDBACK SHEETS

All author entrants will receive a feedback sheet (illustrators receive no feedback sheet). Sheets will be emailed within twelve (12) weeks of the end of competition. If you send in multiple entries, you will not receive all sheets at the same time.

Feedback Sheets consist of 10 components, with a total score of 50. Sheets may contain a small amount of written feedback, though this is not guaranteed.

We had exceptional feedback on our sheets last year and hope you find them valuable. We regret we cannot discuss or provide further information on them. Please do contact us if you haven’t received your sheet by 31 July 2014.

See our FAQs below and if you still have any queries, email KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom. Please email us, as opposed to leaving a comment below.


PICTURE BOOK TIPS

Golden Rule: don’t use too much dialogue, text or description. Let the pictures do the talking—don’t say what the pictures can show. Cut and cull your text. Be ruthless! If your text is 400 words long, it should be vibrant and intensely edited.

Think carefully about rhythm and flow—this is one of the most common obstacles between a work-in-progress and a publisher-ready ms. Read the work out loud and listen to the way the words work together. ‘Hear’ the beat and flow as you read, and adjust words as necessary.

Don’t attempt rhyme. It is not popular with publishers but if you simply can’t resist, make sure it’s infallible. Two rhyming end-words do not a perfect rhyme make. Rhythm and beat is as important as word rhyme—in fact, even more so. Don’t create awkward sentences with odd word placement in order to make a rhyme; rewrite the entire stanza instead.

Look at your word usage and sentence structure. Is it dynamic and interesting? Does it pull the reader along and make them want to read more? or does the reader stumble or become confused? Does it delight? Does it sound good?

Never talk down to the reader. Use big words. Use unusual words. Use a unique voice. Don’t patronise and don’t explain. Never hammer readers with morals. If you simply must use them, thread them through the story in an imperceptible way.

Unless you want your book to appear like an information brochure, attempting to educate children on social, physical, emotional and mental issues and conditions needs to be done cryptically and cleverly. Add humour. Create an unexpected storyline that intimates things in a subtle way and you will have a winner with kids.

Think about the plot. A good story leads the reader through conflict to resolution in a Beginning Middle Ending way, or in a Cyclical way. Things HAPPEN. Showing someone going about their day and going to bed at night is not a story. It’s an account. Write a story, not an account.

Have a protagonist. Your protagonist, or main character, does not sit by and observe—they action, take part and instigate.

Think outside the square. Cover unusual topics, with untouched themes (avoid monsters, fairies, trucks, mud, grandma dying, rainbows, farmyard animals, dogs and other overdone topics). Use different writing voices and story structure. Do something DIFFERENT.

Think twice about supplying detailed illustration notes. Too many notes absolutely do hamper your text; rely on the reader’s ability to imagine what your words are showing. Only supply notes if the text is very cryptic and needs ‘explaining’, and even then—make notes extremely short.

Look objectively at your story. Is it clear and simple or cluttered and confused? Be wary of submitting something that is wrapped up in your own head and unable to be deciphered by someone else. This happens A LOT.

Have an ending. A PB ending needs to be shocking, surprising, funny, quirky or in some way resolving and/or related to the plot. Around sixty per cent of the ms endings we have seen are either non-existent, confusing or dull. Go out on a top note, not a kerplunk. A great ending demands a repeat reading—and that is exactly what you want.

Write your book for kids, not adults. If you hit the nail on the head for kids, most adults will love it, too.

Keep it simple.

Follow submission guidelines to the letter. With hundreds of entries coming in, these guidelines are there for a reason, even if you don’t understand why. The ability to follow guidelines will be reflected in your overall score.

See our FREE ebookPicture Book Writing Tips for more tips.

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, children writing, Contest, opportunity, picture books, Places to sumit, Writing Tips Tagged: Kids' Book Review, Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award, Win editor critique

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3. Agent Building List

rebecca-podos-literary-agent
Rebecca Podos is an agent at the Rees Literary Agency and is looking to build her client list. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College, whose fiction has appeared in literary publications such as Glimmer Train, Glyph, CAJE, Bellows American Review, Paper Darts, and SmokeLong Quarterly. She is thrilled to read the work of promising new authors, and to represent books by talented clients like Rin Chupeco, Ryan Bradford, Jen Estes, Mackenzi Lee, Jen Anckorn, Sarah Nicolas, and others.

Rebecca is primarily interested in Young Adult fiction of all kinds, including contemporary, emotionally driven stories, mystery, romance, urban and historical fantasy, horror and sci-fi. Occasionally, she considers literary and commercial adult fiction, New Adult, and narrative nonfiction.

Rebecca prefers email submissions, and unfortunately is only able to respond to those she is interested in pursuing. Submit a query letter and the first few chapters.

Rebecca’s e-mail is rebecca@reesagency.com

MAILING ADDRESS: 

Rees Literary Agency

14 Beacon St., Suite 710

Boston, MA  02108

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Emerson College, Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary Agency

1 Comments on Agent Building List, last added: 4/22/2014
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4. Writing & Poetry Contest

tightrope

This colorful fun illustration was sent in by Louise Bergeron Lousie was feature on Illustrator Saturday May 26th, 2012. Here is the link:http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/illustrator-saturday-louise-c-bergeron/ Take a look. Her artwork is so much fun.  website:  www.illustrationquebec.com/louisecbergeron

Do you love to play with words, arrange them in artistic ways?  Have you written poetry or a short story?  If the answer is yes, then maybe you will want to consider The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest. The people at Dream Quest say if you have an ability to dream, you have an ability to win. Write a poem or short story for a chance to win cash prizes. All works must be original.

Guidelines: Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, style, or form, typed or neatly hand printed.  And/or write a short story, five pages maximum length, on any subject or theme, creative writing fiction or non-fiction (including essay compositions, diary, journal entries and screenwriting). Also, must be typed or neatly hand printed. Multiple poetry and short story entries are accepted.

Postmark deadline: July 31, 2014 All contest winners will be published online in the Dare to Dream pages, on September 20, 2014. Entry Form: http://www.dreamquestone.com/entryform.html

Prizes: Writing Contest First Prize is $500. Second Prize: $250. Third Prize: $100. Poetry Contest First Prize is $250. Second Prize: $125.  Third Prize: $50. Entry fees: $10 per short story. $5 per poem.

To send entries: Include title(s) with your story (ies) or poem(s), along with your name, address, phone#, email, brief biographical  info. (Tell us a little about yourself), on the coversheet. Add a self-addressed stamped envelope for entry confirmation.

Mail entries/fees payable to: “DREAMQUESTONE.COM” Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest P.O. Box 3141 Chicago, IL  60654

Visit http://www.dreamquestone.com for details on how to enter!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, poetry, Win Tagged: Dream Quest Contest, Louise Bergeron, Poetry, Short Story contest

1 Comments on Writing & Poetry Contest, last added: 4/23/2014
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5. Happy Easter!

easter2104-Kathy

Ana Ochoa sent in this cute Happy Easter illustration to help me wish all of you a Happy Easter. Ana’s illustrations have been exhibited in many countries around the world. Her art is represented by Chris Tugeau and she was featured on January 11th 2014 on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to see her feature.

Easter Parade

This Easter Parade illustration was sent in by Joanne Friar. She has been creating art for children’s books for over 18 years, researching history and nature from ancient civilizations to the Great Depression, from wetlands conservation to endangered species. Her books have won awards such as the CBC Notable Social Studies Book, the CBC Outstanding Science Book, and John Burroughs Nature Books for Young Readers. Joanne is represented by Christina Tugeau and was featured on Illustrator Saturday on March 10th, 2012 - Click here for the link.

easteregg

You never know what is in those Easter Eggs, but Lisa Falkenstern used her imagination to show us in this illustration. Lisa has been a professional illustrator for more than thirty years. She’s illustrated The Busy Tree, published by Marshall Cavendish, and My VeryOwn Pirate Story, published by I See Me, written and illustrated A Dragon Moves. You can read about her new book, “Professor Whiskerton Presents Steampunk ABC”. Here is the link to Thursday’s Post about the book, which includes illustrations. Lisa was also featured on Illustrator Saturday on October 2, 2010. Here is the link to visit her feature.

 

easter bunny bird

This cute Bird in bunny pajamas was sent in by Jennifer Geldard from one of her series illustrations in watercolor, black fine-tip marker and white gel pen. She is a glass artist by trade, and new to the world of illustration. I’m still getting my bearings, and learning the business end of things, but she says, “painting is pure joy for me, and I’m enjoying every minute of my education.” Her website is www.glassgirl.com

easterbulbgarden

Susan Detwiler is the Illustrator Coordinator MD/DE/WV SCBWI illustrator of several picture books including On The Move and One Wolf Howls. She is the author/illustrator of Fine Life For A Country Mouse, which will be published by Penguin in September. Susan was featured on Illustrator Saturday March 9, 2013. www.susandetwiler.com

eastereggsandhen

Katia Bulbenko has been drawing ever since she can remember. After studying printmaking andpainting at Tyler School of Art, she pursued her interests in sculpture and silk painting, then worked as a freelance textile designer for many years, her specialty being “conversationals”—paintings of things like coffee cups and hats, mostly for pajamas ortable linens. In addition to spending her time teaching art to grades pre-k through 8 and creating beaded fiber pieces, Katia is an aspiring children’s book illustrator. Her favorite mediums are watercolor, colored pencil, and gouache. 

I want to thank everyone who sent in an illustration. I loved them all and will be using the rest with my posts in the next few weeks. Please keep sending me your illustrations. They add so much interest to this blog. 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator Sites, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration Tagged: Ana Ochoa, Happy Easter, Joanne Friar, Lisa Falkenstern, Susan Detwiller

2 Comments on Happy Easter!, last added: 4/21/2014
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6. Illustrator Saturday – Dana Martin

danapicturesm

Dana Martin is an illustrator and designer who was born in New Mexico and has been roaming ever since. A recent graduate of Montserrat College of Art, her work has appeared in several local shows and was recently featured in CMYK’s Top New 100 Creatives.

Her clients include the Peabody Essex Museum, Hendrickson Publishers, Chrysler, ABDO, ArtThrob Magazine, and Ploughshares. The Johnstown Flood, scheduled for release this fall, will be her first illustrated chapter book.

Here is Dana showing and discussing her process:

dana1-Dana_Martin_Process

Once I’ve worked out my composition in thumbnails and sketches, I make a preliminary drawing.

dana2_Dana_Martin_process

Then I transfer it to watercolor paper.

dana3_Dana_Martin_process

I ink the drawing, but I keep it pretty light, sticking to a color I know will blend well with the paint and feathering my edges. Once it’s dry, I add masking fluid to any light areas I want to preserve.

dana4_Dana_Martin_process

I wet the paper and paint my first coat, adding a little ink wherever I need the color to be bolder.  Once that’s dry I add more masking fluid to the flower stems.

dana5_Dana_Martin_process

I do a second coat with darker red, and this time I really soak the paper to float the paint.

dana6_Dana_Martin_process

After that, it’s just about adding detail and building up a tonal range.

dana7_Dana_Martin_process

As a final step, I add a little splatter around the corners for texture.

danaJohnstown-Flood-Cover

Above: The Cover of Dana’s First Illustrated Book. Below: A few back and white interior illustrations. 

dana booksketchtumblr_inline_mpa7vdLUUT1qz4rgp

How long have you been illustrating?

3 years professionally.

danatumblr_inline_mkmxmadB681qz4rgp

How did you decide to attend Montserrat College of Art?

Because I knew so little then about how to choose an art school, I started my search with two lists. One was of all the schools in the AICAD (Association of Independent Schools of Art and Design) and the other was of those in the NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design). I wanted to go to a private college and I figured any school that made both the lists was probably pretty good (now that I know more about accreditation processes, this seems amazingly naïve). After that I just started investigating every school that was in both associations. Most of them didn’t offer illustration programs, so they were easy to cross off. Others I could tell just weren’t the right fit. I eventually applied to RISD, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and Montserrat, and was accepted into all three. At that point, the smart thing would have been to visit the campuses, but since I was in the middle of gen. ed. classes at a state university on the other side of the country, I couldn’t get away. I kept calling and emailing the admissions offices with more questions, and they all did their best to get me the info I needed. Montserrat was always the pleasantest to deal with, though, and I just started to get the sense that it was a place where I would really feel at home. This turned out to be true.

danatumblr_inline_mm537aWGfr1qz4rgp

Can you tell us a bit about that school?

Montserrat is a quirky little school slightly north of Boston. They offer all the standard art school concentrations, but the illustration department is particularly strong. There’s an emphasis on building foundational skills rather than chasing the latest trends, and the learning atmosphere is great because the students and instructors are serious about their work, but not their self-image. It’s a down-to-earth and unpretentious community, something that’s not always easy to find in the art world.

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What were you favorite classes?

That’s a hard choice, I had a lot of great ones. I really enjoyed the natural science illustration class, because we learned a lot about botany and insects, and there was a whole closet full of butterflies, dried flowers, stuffed birds, and other treasures that we were free to borrow for sketching. My thesis class was also amazing, because I got to plan my own assignments but was supported by everyone’s feedback. Even the classes I wasn’t enthusiastic about, though, such as typography and web design, have proven invaluable since graduation.

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Did the school help you get work?

No, not directly. If there is one downside to a small college, it’s that the career department is also small and just doesn’t have the resources to place students in jobs right after they graduate. But the school did give me the skills I needed to get work for myself, as well as a wealth of friends and colleagues to help me on the way.

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What did you do right after you graduated?

I continued with some of the things I’d already been doing in college – working at a library and helping with Montserrat’s summer program – but I did manage to get some small illustration jobs almost as soon as I graduated.

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Do you feel that the classes you took in college have influenced your style?

One thing I appreciated about my instructors was that they didn’t steer students toward one style or another, but instead worked to help each of us sort out the voices we already had. I’ve always had an eye for detail, but when I started school, it was out of hand. My compositions were cramped and everything in the picture was competing for elbow room, so nothing could flow. The instructors helped me recognize the problem and find ways to open up the page.

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What was the first thing you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

I did some architectural illustrations for an organization that taught adults with developmental disabilities. They were planning to renovate a veterans memorial park, with the idea that their students would maintain it once it was finished and the whole community could enjoy it. But first they needed to raise the money, so my illustrations of the future park were designed for the fundraising brochures. It was the kind of obscure job that you only find through the friend of a friend; I heard about it because the assistant director of the organization was friends with a Montserrat alum, who kindly posted the job on one of the school’s social network pages.

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What was the first illustration work you did for children?

It was for Clubhouse Magazine. I was nine years old. So actually, come to think of it, that was my first paid work. I got ten dollars.

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How did that come about?

Clubhouse used to put out one issue a year that was exclusively written and illustrated by children. Amazingly, the process hardly varied from what I now do professionally. I sent them a sample of my work (a horse, because to my nine-year-old self, horses were the supreme challenge, so drawing one was proof that I was a master artist). Someone from Clubhouse wrote back to say they liked it and would I care to illustrate the story they’d enclosed? It was a mystery story written by another child about a ticking bomb and a school band (it wasn’t really a bomb, just a metronome, and this was before bombs in schools had become such a fraught issue). I did a top-notch job on the metronome, because I’d just started piano lessons and knew exactly what it looked like. I did a derivative job on the bomb, because the only ones I’d seen were in Bugs Bunny cartoons. They also wanted a drawing of a trumpet, and I did a really terrible job on that. I couldn’t figure out all the twists and turns in the brass tubing, let alone where the trumpet player’s hands were supposed to go. The big difference between this project and all the subsequent ones was that I had no contact with the art director and nobody looked at my sketches; I was just supposed to mail everything in when I was finished. I’m pretty sure, though, that the art director felt the same way about the pictures as I did, because the story, the metronome, and the bomb made the first page of the magazine and the trumpet picture disappeared quietly into the night. They never printed it and I never saw it again, thank God.

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How did you get to be featured in CMYK’s Top New 100 Creatives?

I did have to submit work to be considered, but unlike most competitions, the judging was based on the whole portfolio rather than any one piece.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate a children’s book?

I expect from the moment I first saw a children’s book. Even before I could read them I never went anywhere without one. Come to think of it, I still don’t.

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How did you get the contract to illustrate the chapter book titled The Johnstown Flood?

I had sent a black-and-white postcard to the publisher, ABDO, and one of their editors contacted me shortly after that because she had some black-and-white interior work. I’m thankful that she liked the card enough to comb through my blog, because the medium we went with was not at all what I’d sent her. She liked my preliminary drawings, which were all done in graphite. I’d never considered marketing them, because to me they seemed unfinished. I did push the drawings a bit for the book, using darker pencils and some Photoshop to get a wider tonal range, but the style was basically the same.

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How long did it take you to illustrate that book?

I did the whole thing in a month. I could tell the editor was anxious to get it done; I think because it was part of a new line, the Up2U adventures, she needed some artwork to show the rest of her team.

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I know Lisa Mullarkey, but I didn’t know that her husband was writing with her now. Have you met Lisa?

No, sadly I have not had the pleasure. It’s so cool that you know her, though! I hope she and Mr. Mullarkey like the illustrations.

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Do you have any other work planned with ABDO Publishing?

At the moment, no. As far as I can tell, the majority of the work they use is digital. The editor I worked with also left shortly after that book was finished.

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Do you plan on marketing your illustrations to other educational publishers?

I have, yes, and will continue to do so.

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What was your first illustration success?

I did a t-shirt project for Ploughshares, and I was happy both with how the project turned out and how it was conducted, so I guess that was my first big success. Technically it was a design contest, but I and the other two artists were paid for our participation, and we all got to work with the wonderful editor Andrea Martucci to come up with designs that fit the magazine. The contest entries got so many online votes that Ploughshares decided to produce all three designs. So everybody won. Later that year I ran into Andrea at the Boston Book Festival, and she was just as nice in person as she’d been in her emails.

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Do you think you will ever try to write and illustrate a picture book?

Oh yes, I already have and will continue to write more. I just haven’t gotten them published yet.

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

Yes, the main one has been Spellbound magazine. The editor and art director are both really great to work with and the magazine always has interesting, fantasy-related themes, so I always enjoy their assignments.

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Do you have an artist rep or an agent? If so, could you tell us how the two of you connected? If not, would you like to get representation?

No, I don’t have one. I’ve heard some agent horror stories that made me wary of pursuing the matter. Obviously there are some amazing agents out there, but you are giving them a lot of power over the direction of your career. I can’t say I’d never be interested, but I would need to be confident that we were on the same page about where my work was going and how it would be represented.

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What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

I send out a lot of postcards and emails, meet people at conferences and events, and try to maintain a strong internet presence.

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What is your favorite medium to use?

Watercolor

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Has that changed over time?

No, but I’ve upgraded from the Crayola set. Now I use Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith watercolors.

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

A cup of tea.

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

I track the time I’m spending, but it’s usually not my goal to spend a specific number of hours. Instead, I review my time records now and then to help me evaluate things such as: how long did this project take and which part took longest, was the time well-spent, is there anything I’m repeatedly struggling over, when was I most productive, etc. This helps me figure out whether there’s anything I need to adjust in my routine.

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Are you open to working with self-published authors?

Yes, cautiously open. Self-publishing has come a long way in the last decade, and there are some interesting projects out there that are too specialized for traditional publishing but can be successful as self-published books. I have worked with self-published authors in the past, and sometimes it was a great experience. Other times it was anything but.

Sometimes when authors pitch their projects to me, they say something along the lines of, “I have the whole book pictured in my head, and I know you’ll be able to paint it the way I see it.” But that is exactly what I cannot do, as I was born without mind-reading powers. I almost always turn these authors down, because I know they’re going to be disappointed once they figure out I’m not telepathic. (I wish I was joking about this, but it’s all too true.) Another problem I’ve run into is that authors may not realize just how massive an undertaking a book is. I’ve had authors offer me a few hundred dollars to do all the art and design work on a picture book, with no royalties, and they wanted me to sign away all rights into the bargain. They actually seemed to think it was a fair price.

Of course, there are also lots of brilliant authors who have done their research and have more realistic expectations. All in all, though, I am generally more willing to take on smaller self-publishing projects, such as novel and chapter-book covers, than I am self-published picture books. It’s simply less of a risk.

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

Yes, I do lots of research; in fact, I’m particularly drawn to projects where research is required. Investigating historic fashion, rare plants, and obscure legends is all part of the fun.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Without a doubt. My whole business is conducted online.

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Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

I do use Photoshop, but just for minimal editing, such as adjusting for contrast or stitching a piece together if it was too large for the scanner bed.

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

I’ve used them, but so far I don’t need a tablet enough to invest in one.

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Do you find exhibiting your artwork gets you jobs?

No, because most of the shows I’ve been in have not been the sort that would attract editors and art directors.

Rather, the shows are their own experience. They’re an opportunity to interact with my audience and hear their thoughts on my work. I never know what to expect, but people have actually been extraordinarily positive and encouraging, and I always come back from a show energized to make more art.

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

Yes, so many! Bringing out my own picture book is the one I’m focused on at the moment.

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What are you working on now?

I have some small magazine assignments, but the projects I’m most excited about right now are actually personal ones. I’m working on a picture book manuscript set in Venice, and I’ve also started a new series of paintings. I’ve recently become fascinated with really limited palettes, so each of the paintings (which are based on some old stories) has a different dominant color. They’re also all set in different decades, because I wanted to explore some of the ways fashion has changed in the last hundred years.

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

My painting methods can be hard on the paper, so I need something sturdy. Arches cold press is the paper for me. It stands up to washes, doesn’t tear from tape or masking fluid, has enough texture to get interesting effects with the paint, but not so much that it interferes with pen work.

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

Everyone knows they have to work hard, but I don’t think everyone realizes how long they’ll be working hard. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to neglect everything else in the pursuit of your craft, but over time that undermines you. Art has to be about something. If you cut yourself off from your friends, your hobbies, and whatever else fuels you as a person, you eventually will have nothing to say artistically. In the words of Gore Vidal, the unfed mind devours itself.

So keep an eye out for all the wonderful and interesting things that are happening around you and cultivate an agile mind. That, rather than any technical skill, is an artist’s greatest asset.

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Thank you Dana for sharing your illustrations, journey, and process with us this week. We look forward to following your career, so please let us know of all your future successes. 

You can visit Dana at www.dana-martin.com or find out what’s new with her on her blog at http://danamartinillustration.tumblr.com/

Please take a minute to leave Dana a comment. I am sure she would love to hear from you and I would appreciate it, too.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Process, Tips Tagged: ABDO Publishing, Dana Martin, Liza Mullarkey, Montserrat College of Art

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Dana Martin, last added: 4/20/2014
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7. Free Fall Friday

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Still need illustrations for the month of April/May. Would love to show off your illustrations during one of my daily posts. So please submit your illustrations: To kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com. Illustrations must be at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about you that I can use. 

ANYONE HAVE AN EASTER ILLUSTRATION? Would love to use it for Easter.

GUEST CRITIQUER’S for APRIL 2014 – Jenna Pocius and Samantha Bremekamp

Jenna PociusJENNA POCIUS, Assistant Editor, Bloomsbury

Jenna Pocius is an Assistant Editor at Bloomsbury who works on everything from picture books to YA. Before joining Bloomsbury, she worked for Abrams BFYR. She has edited numerous books including Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg by Debi Gliori, A Soldier’s Secret by Marissa Moss, and the upcoming Mad Scientist Academy series by Matthew McElligott. She’s most interested in YA with strong voice and emotional depth, and she is particularly interested in contemporary realistic fiction, magic realism, and well-crafted fantasy and science fiction with a contemporary voice. She’s interested in middle grade that is quirky and character-driven, particularly girl-centered stories. And she loves picture books that are poignant and sweet or humorously clever. She is also a sucker for dog stories.

samanthafor litagency bioSamantha Bremekamp is starting out as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. She started her career in publishing in 2008, and quickly realized that she preferred working directly with authors from the other side of the industry. She runs critique groups and writing groups for fun, as she also loves to write and help others to fulfill their writing ambitions. She is fully aware of how hard of an industry it really is in this day and age.

Her favorite writing is children’s, middle grade, young adult, and new adult. There is something so pure about each building block of life these book groups represent. Although there may be a difference between a three year old and a 33 year old, maybe, Samantha finds that all of life’s challenges in these age groups really show the potential for amazing growth in a character.

Samantha’s background is in English literature, communications, and Spanish. She really thinks that if a writer is confident and believes in their work, their work will show that without having to showboat to prove it via a pitch.

Follow Samantha on Twitter at @LiterallySmash

Samantha loves reading Children’s, MG, YA, and NA fiction. She is open to any genre within those age groups, but prefers speculative fiction, mystery, and quirky romance.

Below is the April picture prompt for anyone who would like to use it. 

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The above illustration was done by Elizabeth Alba. She works in watercolor and gouche. Elizabeth was featured on Illustrator Saturday in March. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/illustrator-saturday-elisabeth-alba/

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in April: Please “April First Page Critique” or “April First Page Picture Prompt 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: April 24th.

RESULTS: May 2nd.

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 April’s directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission. It can be a first page from a work in process or you can use the picture prompt above.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: opportunity, submissions, Writer's Prompt Tagged: Bloomsbury Children's Books, Corvisiero Literary Agency, Elizabeth Alba, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Jenna Pocius, Samantha Bremekamp

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8. Falkenstern & Heller Kudos Plus Book Signing

When Lisa Falkenstern emailed me letting me know about her new book and book signing (it hit the book shelves on Tax Day), I asked if she would tell me how it came about. She said, “This book started a few years ago, when I was showing my editor, Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish (now Two Lions), an idea for a picture book done in steampunk style.

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Steampunk, often described as Victorian science fiction, is a genre I love. I had been collecting gears and clock parts for years with plans to use the pieces as still life props. The imagery of steampunk gears, metal machinery and steam engines is so rich and interesting to look at, I thought that the progression from still life to picture book would work well.

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“Margery liked my idea, however she suggested an alphabet book. I did a rough dummy, and after the idea was approved, I started work on how I would present a steampunk alphabet. I decided that the individual letters should also be illustrated as though built with steampunk parts. That way they would be part of the workshop setting I was playing with.

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Then my husband and I spent a large part of our vacation in the Outerbanks going through the dictionary, selecting which words to use. We had a long list and Margery helped make the final selections. Since the text of the book only featured a single sentence for each letter of the alphabet, I decided to illustrate a background plot in which the two mice are building something in their workshop. Each letter propels the story along until the mice reveal their masterpiece, with the letter ‘Z’, of course.

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Once I had the whole concept, I started all the illustrations. I draw and paint from reference materials. First, I collected an immense amount of photographs as well as buying parts of lamps and other objects that worked as steampunk. Then I made models of the mice characters and a model of the steam engine.  My husband posed for the mice, which is funny, considering he is six feet, four inches!

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I did the roughs of the letters first, and when finished, I added the mice and had them interact with the letters.  Then I did final drawings, and finished the book using oil paints.

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And that was it!

SAVE APRIL 26TH AND 27TH – LISA’S HAVING A BOOK SIGNING AND EVERYONE IS INVITED!

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Ginger HellerThe Huffington Post featured an interview yesterday on Ginger Heller and her new book, The Kid Who Beat Wall Street and Saved Africa.

Here is the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-hummel/an-interview-with-ginger-heller_b_5070333.html

After I read the interview, I emailed Ginger to ask why she was calling her book a YA Novel. Here is her answer:

“I use the YA label only when it’s all that’s available. My book is really a “tween book” for ages 10-14. I have had some success with reluctant readers in 9th grade, (ages 14/15) if it’s presented right.”

gingerheller2014-04-07-KidWhoBeatWallStreetandSavedAfricaMy story, trading stocks and commodities on the internet, is a sophisticated one as are the issues with which I deal.

The fact that there is a “dictionary,” in the back of the book (I refer to it as my appendix A, 100 Words of Interest ) helps the reader easily look up some difficult words. The interesting part is that the definition of these words appear in the same grammatical form as they do in the book.

As for how did I get the interview, the writer knew of my book and thought it would be of interest.

Click here to take a look on Amazon. If you have a Kindle you can buy the book for $3.99 or if you are a Prime Member you can read the book for free.

Congratulations! Lisa and Ginger.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Kudos, Middle Grade Novels, Picture Book, success Tagged: book signing, Chance to win signed book, Ginger Heller, Lisa Falkenstern, Steampunk ABC, The Huffington Post

7 Comments on Falkenstern & Heller Kudos Plus Book Signing, last added: 4/19/2014
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9. Mark Twain Humor Contest

mark twain imageThe Mark Twain House & Museum’s Inaugural “Royal Nonesuch” Humor Writing Contest for writers of all ages from all corners of the globe!

Recognizing that Samuel Clemens (aka: Mark Twain) began writing at an early age and to encourage other young authors, we welcome submissions for two categories:

  • Adult (age 18 and over at time of submission) at $22 per submission, and
  • Young Author (age 17 and under at time of submission) at $12 per submission.

Celebrity Judges for Adults are: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris.

Celebrity Judges for Young Authors are: Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, and Jessica Lawson, author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.

Submit your original humorous essays and stories for a chance at a cash prize, the opportunity to meet bestselling authors at our annual “Mark My Words” event, and best of all - bragging rights!

“If Mark Twain were alive, he’d be happy about this contest, because he’d win it.” – Andy Borowitz

DEADLINE: June 30, 2014

FEE: $22.00 “Adult/18 and over” categories 

FEE: $12.00 “Young Author/17 and under”

Writing Contest: The Guidelines

•  Submit 10,000 words (or fewer) of any original work of humor writing. (Entries longer than 10,000 words will be disqualified.)
•  Submissions must be in English.

•  Submissions are not required to be in the style of Mark Twain or about Mark Twain. We want to hear your voice. And we want you to make us laugh!

•  Submissions will be judged by our award-winning Mark Twain House staff writers and scholars, Trinity College faculty, and celebrity judges: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris. Celebrity judges for the 17 & under contest are Tim Federle and Jessica Lawson.

•  Submissions are due by June 30th, 2014.

•  Winners may be asked to provide age verification regarding submission category.

•  You may submit more than one entry; a separate fee is required for each entry.

•  Winners will be notified by September 5, 2014.

•  Winners will be presented to the public at the 4th Annual “Mark My Words” event at which bestselling authors appear onstage October 21, 2014 to benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. (Past authors have included John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Sandra Brown.)

•  Winners will retain ownership of their work. The Mark Twain House & Museum reserves the right to publish winning pieces in a public forum with credit to the author. 

PRIZES (winners in both categories):

•      1st Prize: $1,000 (Adult & Young Author)

•      2nd Prize: $500 (Adult& Young Author)

•      3rd Prize: $250 (Adult& Young Author)

•      Three Honorable Mention Prizes: $100 Gift Certificate for the Mark Twain Museum Store (Adult & Young Author).

•  All 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Prize winners in both the “Young Author/17 and under” and “Adult/18 and over” categories will be invited to attend “Mark My Words” and go backstage to meet bestselling authors. (Winners are responsible for their travel and accommodations.)

•  Staff and immediate family members of the Mark Twain House are not eligible.

The mission of The Mark Twain House & Museum is to foster an appreciation of the legacy of Mark Twain as one of our nation’s defining cultural figures, and to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his work, life and times. The Mark Twain House & Museum operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation. Mark Twain built the house in 1874 and lived here with his wife and children until 1891. This is where he wrote such masterpieces as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and is located at 351 Farmington Avenue in Hartford, CT. We appreciate your participation in this inaugural writing contest as it supports our preservation efforts.

By clicking ‘Submit’ you acknowledge that this is your original work and you agree to all contest rules and guidelines.

Here is the link to submit: https://twainhouse.submittable.com/submit/26632

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, Win, writing Tagged: Contest for Audlts and young authors, Humor Contest, Mark Twain, Samel Clemens

1 Comments on Mark Twain Humor Contest, last added: 4/16/2014
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10. Tracking Submissions

HAVE A HAPPY PASSOVER HOLIDAY

erikaphoto-45Tracking Submissions

by Erika Wassell

Polished manuscript?

CHECK – one I’m proud of.

Research?

YUP – Found a few agents who are a perfect match.

Query Letter?

WRITTEN – Pitches my manuscript and myself.

There it is …

  • THE SEND BUTTON – 

My finger hovers on the mouse. Hesitation. I KNOW this is a worthy story but maybe I shou—– ACK! I’m doing it!

CLICK. Message sent.

So that’s it right? Wave goodbye and cross my fingers?  Not exactly.

While I definitely support leaning back and letting out that breath you may have been holding, you still have another important step… tracking your submissions.

First, the top three reasons WHY:

1) So you don’t query the same agent without realizing it: How long to wait before submitting to an agent again is another topic. But you certainly don’t want to do it by accident! Repeat submissions can look very unprofessional.

2) Follow Up: For many agents, no response, means it’s not for them. But in the research stage, you may find others that say at a certain point, it’s okay to reach out. Following up at the appropriate time shows that you’re dedicated and serious.

3) In case you get a yes! The best reason of all!! If an agent or publisher is interested in your work, you will want to inform everyone else it’s currently out to. (A) Because it’s professional courtesy. And (B), it can drum up additional interest and lead to the sort of “bidding war” that every author dreams of!!

Okay. So what exactly do I track?

Here’s the HOW:

My suggestion is use Excel. It’s easy to set up, and gives me data that is simple to keep track of, look back through and actually use – more so than the stack of scribbled on pieces of paper that form an ever-growing precarious tower next to my computer.

Here are the eight column titles that I use when tracking submissions:

First come the four most obvious: 

Who: The name of the actual person I addressed the query letter to.

Where: The name of the agency/publisher, including its website for easy reference.

What: What manuscript did I send them?

When: Exact date that I hit the all-powerful SEND BUTTON.

       These next four are not as obvious, but they’re JUST as important! 

Why: A few notes about why the agent is a good fit for my manuscript, what interviews I read or what specific things made me query them.

Wait time: What their estimated timeline is. Most places give you an idea of how long it may take them to look over your query and whether or not they will necessarily respond. I note things like “no means no, 6-8 months” or “will respond within 10 weeks”.

Follow up: Often times, no response means not interested. But if I know someone is open to follow up, I make a note as to when to do that, and where I got the information. This way, in my follow up, I can say something like, “As per your interview with ____, I’m following up on the query I sent you three months ago.” IMPORTANT: When following up, I make absolutely sure that I don’t come off irritated. These agents work hard, and receive thousands of queries. I love when I’m able to follow up, so I make sure they know I appreciate the opportunity.

Response: If I get a rejection, or any sort of response, I make a note of when I got it and what was said.

It’s really just eight little columns in a spreadsheet, but it allows me to treat my writing professionally. I know what I’ve done, why I did it, and what I’m waiting on. And that’s really the best way to prepare for what I’ll do next.

When I hit that at-times-OH-so-unnerving SEND BUTTON, I’m comforted in knowing that my manuscript still has a tie to me, right here in my tracked submissions and is not just disappearing into the world of Ethernet cables and fiber optics.

I know your manuscripts deserve the same professional attention.

Thanks Erika for the valuable post. Erika has agreed to be a regular Guest Blogger for Writing and Illustrating.

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, list, Process, submissions, Tips Tagged: Erika Wassell, List of tips, Tracking Submissions

6 Comments on Tracking Submissions, last added: 4/17/2014
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11. Reference Links to Help With Query Letter Writing

CarolynSchlamPINKGLASSES

This illustration of the cute girl with pink glasses above was sent in by Carol Schulman. She is the author of two books on art, both now represented by Schulman Literary in NY.  The first, “The Creative Path: Process and Practice” is a look at creativity from philosophical, psychological and practical points of view.  The sequel: “Art Smarts: A Book to Help You Become a GR8 Artist” is a sequel for children. See more at: http://www.carolynschlam.com/Art_Pages/Illustration/Illustration_info.html

Leslie has been focusing on querying agents and looking for places that had good information about navigating this process. She decided to share some resources she gathered from various writing friends on her blog “Rear in Gear”. She says, “I’m always thankful for their help, and thought I’d pay it forward in a small way.”

Queries Not Questions

by Leslie Zampettis at Rear in Gear.

Here is Leslie’s list, in no particular order:

AgentQuery

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents

Successful Queries (a subsection of the above guide)

Preditors and Editors

Publishers’ Submission Guidelines

JacketFlap

SCBWI BlueBoard

 8 Steps to Finding the Right Agent

 Critiquing First Pages and Queries

10 Questions to Ask an Agent

Kidlit.com – Queries

How to Write the Perfect Query Letter

Query Shark

Query Tracker

Writers Market  *This is a subscription service. IMHO, well worth it.

Children’s Writer Newsletter  *Another subscription service. Articles often contain market bib biographies, and every issue contains market profiles. Also well worth it.

  • lesliezLeslie Zampetti has had stories published in online children’s magazines and is now querying agents for her middle grade fantasy novel. A childhood spent in Florida has this transplanted New Yorker frequently dreaming of sunshine – but she enjoys the whirl of the city and its riches, not least of which is the New York Public Library.

    According to most successful authors, the best way to succeed is to plant your tushy in your seat and write. Leslie’s been doing that for some years now and is beginning to see the seeds of her labor blossom. Interested in knowing more? Stop by her blog, “Rear in Gear,” at http://zampettilw.wordpress.com.

Thank you Leslie to sending this to me. It is nice to have a list and it is nice that you were willing to share the wealth. I am sure everyone will bookmark this one.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: demystify, How to, list, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Carol Schulman, Leslie Zampettis, Links to resources, Queries, Rear in Gear

3 Comments on Reference Links to Help With Query Letter Writing, last added: 4/15/2014
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12. Homework Help Tip – Additional First Page Critiquer for April

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This month everyone who submits a First Page for critique will have double the opportunity to get their page critiqued, since we have two Guest Critiquers for April.

I announced Agent SAMANTHA BREMEKAMP from the Corvisiero Literary Agency on Free Fall Friday’s post and today I want everyone to know that JENNA POCIUS from Bloomsbury has agreed to read four first pages, too.

Jenna’s information is below. Also, I have listed the Guest for May and June and a number of agents and editors who have been Guest Critiquers in the past. Why am I doing this? Well, here’s my tip:

All these editors and agents will be attending this years New Jersey SCBWI Conference at the end of June. I have provided the link to their critiques next to their name, so you can read about them and go over how they think. It might help you decide on whether you should register for the conference and it definitely will help you decide if you would like a critique with one of them if you go.

If you have already signed up for the conference, it will help you decide who you would like to make sure you meet while you are there.

Even if you can’t attend, this post will give you good information on whether any of the editor/agents are a good fit for your manuscript. Hope you find it helpful.

Jenna PociusJENNA POCIUS, Assistant Editor, Bloomsbury – GUEST CRITIQUER APRIL 2014

Jenna Pocius is an Assistant Editor at Bloomsbury who works on everything from picture books to YA. Before joining Bloomsbury, she worked for Abrams BFYR. She has edited numerous books including Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg by Debi Gliori, A Soldier’s Secret by Marissa Moss, and the upcoming Mad Scientist Academy series by Matthew McElligott. She’s most interested in YA with strong voice and emotional depth, and she is particularly interested in contemporary realistic fiction, magic realism, and well-crafted fantasy and science fiction with a contemporary voice. She’s interested in middle grade that is quirky and character-driven, particularly girl-centered stories. And she loves picture books that are poignant and sweet or humorously clever. She is also a sucker for dog stories.

samanthafor litagency bioSAMANTHA BREMEKAMP, Junior Agent, Corvisiero Literary Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER APRIL 2014

Samantha Bremekamp started her career in publishing in 2008, and quickly realized that she preferred working directly with authors from the other side of the industry. She runs critique groups and writing groups for fun, as she also loves to write and help others to fulfill their writing ambitions. She is fully aware of how hard of an industry it really is in this day and age. Her favorite writing is children’s, middle grade, young adult, and new adult. There is something so pure about each building block of life these book groups represent. Although there may be a difference between a three year old and a 33 year old, maybe, Samantha finds that all of life’s challenges in these age groups really show the potential for amazing growth in a character. Samantha’s background is in English literature, communications, and Spanish. She really thinks that if a writer is confident and believes in their work, their work will show that without having to showboat to prove it via a pitch. Samantha loves reading Children’s, MG, YA, and NA fiction. She is open to any genre within those age groups, but prefers speculative fiction, mystery, and quirky romance.

quinlanQUINLAN LEE, Agent, Adams LiteraryGUEST CRITIQUER MAY 2014

Quinlan Lee is an agent and a published author of numerous books that help young readers learn to read and love reading. She has been a part of the Adams Literary team since 2008, representing clients in all genres from picture books to YA. She enjoys meeting others who share her love of children’s literature and is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a founding board member of the Charlotte Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA). Quinlan graduated from Tulane University and has lived all over the United States—from the mountains of Western Colorado to the Garden District of New Orleans to downtown Chicago—and for the past 14 years she’s been happily settled in North Carolina.

Sarah-Bradford-Lit-photoSARAH LaPOLLA, Literary Agent, Bradford Literary GUEST CRITIQUER JUNE 2014

Sarah LaPolla joined Bradford Literary Agency in May 2013. Prior to joining the team, Sarah worked for five years in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd., and became an associate agent there in 2010. She received her MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from The New School in 2008 and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Ithaca College. Sarah represents YA and adult fiction. On the adult side, she is looking for literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, dark/psychological mystery, and upmarket commercial and/or women’s fiction. For YA, she is interested in contemporary/realistic fiction that doesn’t shy away from the darker side of adolescence. YA sci-fi, horror, mystery, and magical realism are also welcome; and she would love to find a modern Judy Blume for the MG market. No matter what genre,
Sarah is drawn to layered/strong characters, engaging narrators, and a story that’s impossible to put down.

susan-dobinickSUSAN DOBINICK, Assistant Editor, Farrar Straus Giroux – GUEST CRITIQUER MARCH

Susan Dobinick is an associate editor at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. Among other books, she has edited SPIRIT’S KEY, a middle grade magical realism novel about a girl who sees the ghost of her pet dog and solves a mystery on a small southern island, and DEAR YETI, a picture book about two little boy hikers who go searching for the mythical creature. She is looking for quirky but heartfelt picture books, design-centered picture books, heartfelt middle grade, sophisticated YA, and mysteries and ghost stories for all ages. In nonfiction, she likes books with feminist, social justice, and civil rights themes.

allisonmooreALLISON MOORE, Assistant Editor, Little, Brown & Co. – GUEST CRITIQUER FEBRUARY

Allison Moore is an assistant editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She works on a range of titles including picture books by Todd Parr, Marc Brown, Andrea and Brian Pinkney, Sujean Rim, Nancy Tafuri, Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, and Bob Staake; leveled readers; novelty books by Sandra Magsamen and Matthew Reinhart; and novels by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Sherri Winston, and Karen Healey. Allison is particularly interested in smart picture books that can be appreciated by all ages; unique and memorable illustration styles; early readers with a strong voice; inventive novelty ideas; middle grade stories with interesting settings; and YA novels that encourage readers to consider new points of view. Before working at Little, Brown, she interned at Bloomsbury and Walker Books for Young Readers, Barefoot Books, the Kneerim & Williams literary agency, and Simon & Schuster UK; worked at a bookstore and at her hometown library; and attended the Columbia Publishing Course. Originally from Fair Lawn, NJ, Allison graduated from Boston University and now lives in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter @allisonm610.

mccarthysmall200SEAN McCARTHY, Literary Agent, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER JANUARY 2014

Sean McCarthy began his publishing career as an editorial intern at Overlook Press before moving to the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. He worked as the submissions coordinator and permissions manager before becoming a full-time literary agent. In 2013, he founded his own literary agency. He works on children’s books for all ages, and is actively looking to build his client list. His clients include Zachariah O’Hora, Hyewon Yum, Mark Fearing, Jamie Swenson, Andrea Offermann, Dasha Tolstikova, and Judith Robbins Rose. Sean graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English-Creative Writing, and is grateful that he no longer has to spend his winters in Minnesota. He is drawn to flawed, multifaceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and boy-friendly mysteries or adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings. He is not currently interested in high fantasy, message-driven stories, or query letters that pose too many questions.

meredith-mundy-headshotsmallMEREDITH MUNDY, Executive Editor, Sterling Publishing – GUEST CRITIQUER APRIL 2013

Meredith Mundy, Executive Editor at Sterling Children’s Books, is nuts about character-centered picture books (recent projects include BROWNIE GROUNDHOG AND THE WINTRY SURPRISE by Susan
Blackaby, RUFUS GOES TO SCHOOL by Kim Griswell, PUDDLE PUG by Kim Norman, and GOODNIGHT SONGS by Margaret Wise Brown), but she is also seeking everything from funny, original board books to unforgettable middle grade novels to gripping YA fiction. (No vampires, angels, werewolves, or dystopian plots, please.) While she enjoys editing lively nonfiction, she wouldn’t be the
right editor for poetry collections or a project geared primarily toward the school and library market.

rachel orr new_headshot1croppedRACHEL ORR, Literary Agent, Prospect Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER FEBRUARY 2013

RACHEL ORR is celebrating her seventh year at Prospect Agency. She previously worked for eight
rewarding years at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and now uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients’ work for submission. Her clients include a wide-range of picture-book authors, illustrators, and middle-grade/YA novelists, including A.C.E. Bauer (GIL MARSH), Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE), Cori Doerrfeld (BARNYARD BABY) and Leeza Hernandez (NEVER PLAY MUSIC RIGHT NEXT TO THE ZOO). Rachel lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and two young children. She has no spare time—-but, if she did, she would spend it dancing, running and reading, of course.

PAULA SADLER, Assistant Editor, Random House – GUEST CRITIQUER OCTOBER 2012

Paula Sadler is an Assistant Editor at Random House Books for Young Readers. She joined the group in 2012 after three wonderful years at Putnam Children’s. At Random House, Paula currently edits the Totally True Adventures nonfiction chapter book series and the Ballpark Mysteries, as well as the middle grade Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. At the moment, Paula is looking for narrative nonfiction writers and chapter book series with a strong hook. In middle grade, humor—whether wry or madcap, nostalgic or plucky—is the key to Paula’s heart. Her wish list includes contemporary escapades with a nerdy twist (think Origami Yoda and The Wednesday Wars), mysteries with a spunky wit (like the Enola Holmes mysteries), and epic adventures with a big heart (like How to Train Your Dragon and The True Meaning of Smekday). In books and in real life, she’s a sucker for strong friendships, pesky siblings, scrappy underdogs, colorful sidekicks, a healthy serving of trouble, and a great big dollop of mischief.

SUSAN HAWK, Literary Agent, The Bent Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER JULY 2012

Susan Hawk is a Literary Agent at The Bent Agency, representing middle grade, YA, picture books, and non-fiction for kids. Projects she represents share powerful and original writing, strong story-telling and a distinctive, sometimes off-kilter voice. In middle-grade and YA, she’s looking for unforgettable characters, rich world-building, and she’s a sucker for bittersweet; bonus points for something that makes her laugh out loud. In picture books, she’s looking particularly for author-illustrators, succinct but expressive texts, and indelible characters. Her favorite projects live at the intersection of literary and commercial. Before
agenting, she spent fifteen years in children’s book marketing at Penguin, Henry Holt and North-South Books; she also worked in Editorial at Dutton Children’s Books, and as a children’s librarian and bookseller. http://www.thebentagency.com @susanhawk

LIZA FLEISSIG, Agent, Liza Royce Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER – AUGUST 2011

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a BSE in Finance, and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a JD, Liza brings 20 years of litigation and negotiating experience to the field. On the children’s side of publishing, being a mother to a preschooler girl and a pre-teen boy, she is interested in everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Conferences and Workshops, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity Tagged: Allison Moore, April First Page Critique, Jenna Pocius, Quinlan Lee, Samantha Bremekamp, Sarah LaPolla, Susan Dobinick

4 Comments on Homework Help Tip – Additional First Page Critiquer for April, last added: 4/14/2014
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13. Illustrator Saturday – Christopher Denise

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Christopher Denise is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and visual development artist. His first book, a retelling of the Russian folktale The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, was pronounced “a stunning debut” by Publishers Weekly.

Since then, Chris has illustrated more than twenty books for children, including Alison McGhee’s upcoming Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells’ Following Grandfather, Phyllis Root’s Oliver Finds His Way, his wife Anika Denise’s Bella and Stella Come Home and some in Brian Jacques’ acclaimed Redwall series.

His books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and have been recognized by Bank Street College of Education, Parents’ Choice Foundation, and the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition.

Christopher Denise lives in Rhode Island with his family.

Christopher has two books coming out in the next few months. The first is SLEEPYTIME ME written by Edith Hope Fine coming out May 27th.

The second book, BAKING DAY at GRANDMA’S is written by his wife Anika and will be available in August.

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Christopher gives us a sneak peek of some of the interior shots below, with his process pictures on how he did a double page spread for the book. (Please check back later today. Christopher and I got our wires crossed with the process text. He is at a book festival and will be sending it as soon as he can get to Wi-Fi)

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Rough sketch

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Adding more details

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More details and first layer

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Laying in some color

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Refining details, inking in bark on tree, and deepening color of sky

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Painting in color on clothes

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Worked on background and more detail on clothes

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Adding shadows and details on house

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Continuing to deepen shadows and details

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Adding highlights

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Deepening colors

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Adding color to tree.

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Changed my mind about the color of the clothes and added for detail to the final illustration.

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Above are the bears in this double page spread on their way to Grandma’s and below they are getting ready to bake.

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When did you first get interested in art?

As a kid! All kids love art-I just never stopped. I never let anyone talk me out of it-it is too much fun.

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Why did your family move to Ireland from Massachusetts after you were born?

We moved to Ireland when I was six years old. My father had been working with General Electric and they offered him an opportunity to relocate and set up a headquarters in Shannon. He saw it not only as a great career opportunity but a chance to expose his kids to a very different way of life. This was in the early 70′s so Shannon was more like the States in the 50′s. It was an amazing place to spend some of my formative years.

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What made you move back to the states?

He had completed much of what he set out to do and my oldest brother was preparing to enter high school and my parents thought it best to return to the states.

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Do you feel Ireland influences your illustrations?

Absolutely. In Ireland we kids had an amazing amount of autonomy and unstructured time. Broadcast television began after 6pm and there was very little programing geared at children so we spent our days outside exploring the countryside and creating our own adventures. I look at the art I created for The Redwall picture books and I see so much of those childhood days.

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Do you still have an Irish brogue?

Only after a very long dinner party with old friends!

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How did you decide to go to Rhode Island School of Design to study art?

After high school I was studying Art History and Archeology at St. Lawrence University. I was also spending a lot of time in art studio classes. It was fantastic and I was doing very well but I felt I needed more direction. My brother was studying architecture at RISD and after my first visit I knew that I needed to be there. While RISD students were dancing on the tables listening to The Talking Heads (very appealing to me) they were also having serious conversations about art and their own work.

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What was the first piece of art that you sold?

I started freelancing for the Providence Journal in my Junior year at RISD. I created a series of black and white illustrations for a re-printing of A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.

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I read that you started illustrating books for educational publishers while you were still attending RISD. How did you make those connections?

I did and internship at Silver Burdett and Ginn, an educational publisher just outside of Boston. I was in charge of opening the submissions from artists and filing their promotional materials. It was not long before I realized that I wanted to be on the mailing end of the equation. When the internship finished I created my own mailers, asked the art directors to look at the work and for recommendations about where I might send them.

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Did you always want to illustrate children’s books?

I never had any intention of becoming a children’s book illustrator, I sort of fell into the career. I knew I liked making art, so I left St. Lawrence University and transferred to Rhode Island School of Design. I remember while at RISD I had an assignment to create this illustration using an animal of our choice doing something specific. I think my animal was racoons and the subject was things you do at camp. Honestly, I Bobbaton Questthought I was way too cool to do something like that. I had been painting these big abstract paintings and when making illustrations they were always very cool and smart. But animals with clothes on? Forget it. I never finished the assignment. Fortunately, the teacher stayed on me and gave me another assignment. This time she had me illustrating scenes from Wind and the Willows. Somehow the writing grabbed me and became something that I could sink my teeth into. I really thought about the characters and what they should look like, their clothes, their houses, how they would walk and stand, etc. Then I surprised myself by really enjoying the process of making the art and people loved it. I ended up using those images to start my professional career when I was still a Junior in college to get freelance jobs with educational publishers. The rest is history.

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Were you continue doing freelance work when you graduated? Or did you take a job illustrating?

Since that day it has been all freelance work.

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How did you connect with Philomel to illustrate your first picture book?

That was a friend of a friend situation. I heard that this person, whom I had met a few times socially, worked as an assistant editor at Philomel Books. She was incredibly generous and offered to look at my work. I don’t think she expected much but she actually liked my art and offered to take it down to the Art department. The Art Director promptly rejected it and told me to come back in a few years. Luckily she hung one of my mailers on her wall where it caught the attention of the esteemed editor Patti Gauch (Owl Moon, Lon Po Po). Patti called me up right there and asked when I could be in New York. I borrowed the cash for the train and within a week I was sitting in her office talking about books.

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Your name is the only name for THE FOOL OF THE WORLD AND THE FLYING SHIP. Did you do the writing of the retold Russian tale?

Patti suggested that I consider illustrating the story of the fool and sent me on my way. The first edition I found was the Caldecott award winning version illustrated and retold by Uri Schulevitz. Lets not forget, that this is the guy who had literally written THE book on writing and illustrating picture books, Writing With Pictures. After being paralyzed with fear and then realizing there was no way out of this I started my research. I came across a wonderful version of the text by Petr Nikolaevich Polevoi published by St. Petersberg in 1874. Patti and I loved the language and just made a few minor edits. There is a note about the text on the last page of my edition.

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What was the next book that you illustrated and how did you get that assignment?

My next book was The Great Redwall Feast by Brian Jaques. Patti was Brian’s stateside editor and had been hounding him to write a picture book. Brian saw The Fool and wrote The Feast for me to illustrate. We quickly became close friends and I had the pleasure of working with him for many years. He is missed and I think of him often.

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Did anyone hire you just to illustrate a cover for a book?

Yes, I created the artwork for Brian’s Castaways of the Flying Dutchman. I created two paintings for the cover but ultimately they were never used.

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Did anyone hire you just to illustrate a cover for a book?

Yes, I created the artwork for Brian’s Castaways of the Flying Dutchman. I created two paintings for the cover but ultimately they were never used.

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I see that your wife Anika is an author. How many books have you illustrated for her?

We have a really fun wintertime read-aloud book due out this August called Baking Day at Grandma’s (Philomel Books). That will be our third. Before that we collaborated on Pigs Love Potatoes (Philomel Books 2007) and Bella and Stella Come Home (Philomel, 2010). Both are still in print and seem to be popular!

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Do you have any desire to write and illustrate a picture book?

Desire-yes but I have not felt like I have had the chops to pull it off until recently. Writing a solid picture book, as many of your readers know, is incredibly difficult. I have a few things on my desk that are showing some promise and with the help of my incredible agent and friend, Emily vanBeek at Folio Jr., I am sure that a few of them will come to fruition at some point. Recently, I came up with the initial concept and art for a book that I tried writing but it was terrible! Thankfully, Alison McGhee (Someday, Bink & Gollie, Shadow Baby) came to my rescue and penned a gorgeous novel called Firefly Hollow that I am working on right now.

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How and when did you get involved in visual development work for animated feature films?

A RISD alumni who knew my work called me to work on a project that was in development with Blue Sky Studios ( Ice age, Rio, Epic). I was part of a very small team of artists all outside the film studio creating images for what the film might look like. I ended up staying with the project for nearly a year. Its a beautiful story that I hope they make into a film someday!

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Which animated films did you work on?

Left Tern (Blue Sky studios), Beasts of Burden (ReelFx), a bit of work on Rio (Blue Sky studios) after it was already in production, and a few others that have not yet been made and I am not supposed to talk about!

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What is involved in visual development in animation?

Visual Development artists are called in to work with a director and/or production designer to help envision the look and feel of a film. You need to check your ego at the door, stay flexible, and work very, very quickly. I would turn out 20-30 paintings a week. Many loose, some more finished. Sometimes your paintings would be sent off to another artist to paint over and then sent back to you for work again. Often there is not a solid script and you are flying by the seat of your pants with a story summary and a few story beats (moments in a film) that you need to nail down. I love the collaborative aspect of the work and the idea that it is all about the story-not just making one or two pretty pictures.

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I noticed that you used pastels on one of your illustrations. Is that your favorite medium?

I love pastel work but really I love whatever is working for that particular book. Its always about the book on my desk and what it needs from me. I do enjoy the flexibility and speed of photoshop. I am impatient with my work and want to get to the good stuff as soon as possible. I need to get in there and start painting and changing things. Acting and re-acting. Photoshop is a wonderful tool for that type of work.

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Has your style changed over the years?

Sure, with every book and the demands of each manuscript. Writing is hard and I think it would be a great disservice to the author and the story for me to impose a particular style on a book.

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How did you connect with the lovely agent, Emily van Beek?

How long have the two of you been together? Emily and I met when I signed on with Pippin about 5 years ago. I was thrilled to re-connect with her later on when she started Folio Junior.

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What do you think has been your greatest career accomplishment?

Wow. Tough question. Ask me again in about twenty years! A Redwall Winters Tale and Oliver Finds His Way would both rank pretty high up there for different reasons but I always think that I am only as good as my last book. I feel pretty good about the last year. I completed two books that I am VERY proud of. Sleepytime Me by Edith Fine (Random House, May 2014) and Baking Day at Grandma’s (Philomel, August 2014)

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How many children books have you illustrated?

About twenty two I think. A few of the titles were created for educational publishers then re-published for the regular trade market.

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How did you get involved in illustrating the Redwall series of books?

Patti Gauch was responsible for showing Brian Jacques my work. Thanks, Patti!

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How many of those books have you illustrated?

I illustrated three books for the the Redwall picture-book series. The Great Redwall Feast (Philomel 1996), A Redwall Winters Tale (Philomel 2001), and The Redwall Cookbook (Philomel 2005)

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It looks like you have done a lot of books with Philomel. How many books have you illustrated for them?

Nine books with Philomel so far.

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OLIVER FINDS HIS WAY was published by Candlewick. How did that contract come about?

Chris Paul at Candlewick called me up out of the blue one day and said she had a project that she would like me to consider. They are just up in Somerville so I drove up for lunch and met with Chris and the wonderful Mary Lee Donovan. I knew right away that I wanted to work with them. Candlewick is a fantastic house, beautiful books, super nice people.

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I think Jane Yolen lives near you. Did you know her before you illustrated THE SEA MAN? Was that the only Merman you have illustrated?

I did not know Jane before I illustrated The Sea Man, but of course I knew Jane’s work. We just saw each other at Kindling Words in January and since then have talked about the possibility of working together again. Yes-that was the very first Merman I was asked to illustrate.

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Do they have a studio in your house?

My studio is about 15′ from my back door in a separate building that I re-built just three years ago. For years I had studios in Providence. Downtown is only about twelve miles away from the little beach-side community where we live but the drive home, late at night if I was working on deadline or a film project, was not fun. It was convenient when I was teaching at RISD but I was also missing my wife and the kids. I like to be able to quit at 4:00, spend some time with my family, have a glass of wine, dinner, read to the kids, and put them to bed. After that I walk back out to the studio for another session. Making books is hard work but my family life and walks on the beach keep me anchored and very happy.

christopherscropped

I was able to see some of your wonderful black and white interior drawings that did you do for Rosemary Well’s book, FOLLOWING GRANDFATHER. How many did you do for the 64 page book?

Gosh, I don’t remember-quite a few! I loved working with Rosemary and since then we have become good friends.

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Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Yes, I think I did work for Ladybug magazine. I may have done work for Cricket.

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Your new book coming out in May titled, SLEEPYTIME ME is beautiful. How did you get that contract with Random House?

I was working with Elena Mechlin at Pippin and she brought the manuscript to me. Edith’s (Fine) writing is so wonderful. That was another fantastic project. Random House gave me lots of support and complete freedom.

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christopherolivercover

How long did you have to illustrate that whole book?

I created that suite of images in about six months. They were long days but I loved the work.

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What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

Not so many things personally. Emily, my agent, makes sure that I have plenty on my plate. I work closely with her making sure that we have a plan and chart out the production schedule. Our biggest challenge is leaving some blocks of time off-especially in the summer

christopherchef

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

My sketchbook-no doubt.

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

I do try to take some time in the summer to go landscape painting. But in truth I work on my craft every single day. I try to start each session as a novice.

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

I do take some pictures. I browse books ( fine art, photography, other picture books) from my own shelves and the library-seeing what comes to me. The internet, of course, is amazing.

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christopherchefs

I notice that you are doing the illustrations for Betsy Devany’s debut picture book, SMELLY BABY. Both of you are represented by Emily van Beek. I can’t wait to see the illustrations. Great match-up! How was Emily able to get you two together?

This is one of the great things about Emily. We were talking about what I wanted to work on, scheduling and such and she was already thinking way ahead of me about what would serve us (because we are most definately a team) professionally but also allow me to stretch artistically. She called me up a few days later and asked how I felt about working on something funny and emailed Betsy’s manuscript for Smelly Baby. I read it through and forced my self to wait for ten minutes before I said YES!

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Have you won any awards that you are particularly proud of?

Yes but it has nothing to do with publishing! I was nominated for the Frazier award in teaching at RISD. That nomination was particularly meaningful to me because it is the students who vote for the few nominees that make the cut. That was such an honor because I loved working with such wonderfully talented young artists and I put my heart in soul into teaching those classes. Of course I am grateful and honored when any of my books receive recognition.

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Out of all the books you have illustrated, do you have a favorite?

Another tough question. The books are like my girls, they are all my favorites for different reasons. If I had to choose I would choose four. Pigs Love Potatoes (Anika Denise) Oliver Finds His Way (Phyllis Root), Sleepytime Me (Edith Fine), and Baking Day at Grandma’s (Anika Denise).

chistopherpigscover

Do you use Photoshop or a graphic tablet when illustrating?

I paint and draw in Photoshop using a medium size wacom intuos tablet and pen.

christopherlaundrypig

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

I am in the process of doing just that! I spend my days drawing pictures and coming up with stories. How great is that?!

christopherpigdinner

What are you working on now?

Firefly Holly ( Simon & Schuster) an illustrated novel by Alison McGhee, and Betsy Devany’s picture book Smelly Baby (Henry Holt & Company)

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Do you have any material type tips or software type tips you can share with us? Example: A new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I think my breakthrough with digital tools came when I stopped trying to “learn” the software and started to think of using photoshop to replicate my traditional process. To use the program in the same way as I used my traditional tools. Same layering process, same ways of applying color. Make the digital tools work for you-mistakes and all. In the end you have more flexibility and can change things. Also-be brave and create your own brushes to get the effects that you want.

christopherracoondad

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

Trust your instincts. Do what you need to do to get by but after that point do not be afraid to say no to something if your heart is not in it.

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Thank you Christopher for sharing your talent, process, expertise, and journey with us. Please keep in touch and let us know all of your future successes. We would love to hear about them.

You can visit Christopher at: http://www.christopherdenise.com You can link over to his blog and his Etsy shop where he sell original artwork.

facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Christopher-Denise-Illustrator

I really appreciate it when you leave a comment, so please take a minute to leave Christopher a comment. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Tips Tagged: Anika Denise, Baking Day at Grandma's, Christopher Denise, Patty Gauch, Sleepytime Me

10 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Christopher Denise, last added: 4/12/2014
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14. Free Fall Friday – Guest Critiquer

samanthafor litagency bioSamantha Bremekamp started her career in publishing in 2008, and quickly realized that she preferred working directly with authors from the other side of the industry. She runs critique groups and writing groups for fun, as she also loves to write and help others to fulfill their writing ambitions. She is fully aware of how hard of an industry it really is in this day and age.

Her favorite writing is children’s, middle grade, young adult, and new adult. There is something so pure about each building block of life these book groups represent. Although there may be a difference between a three year old and a 33 year old, maybe, Samantha finds that all of life’s challenges in these age groups really show the potential for amazing growth in a character.

Samantha’s background is in English literature, communications, and Spanish. She really thinks that if a writer is confident and believes in their work, their work will show that without having to showboat to prove it via a pitch.

Follow Samantha on Twitter at @LiterallySmash

Samantha loves reading Children’s, MG, YA, and NA fiction. She is open to any genre within those age groups, but prefers speculative fiction, mystery, and quirky romance.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Still need illustrations for the month of April. Would love to show off your illustrations during one of my daily posts. So please submit your illustrations: To kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com. Illustrations must be at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about you that I can use. Thanks!

Below is the April picture prompt for anyone who would like to use it. Guest Critiquer will be announced next week.

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The above illustration was done by Elizabeth Alba. She works in watercolor and gouche. Elizabeth was featured on Illustrator Saturday in March. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/illustrator-saturday-elisabeth-alba/

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in April: Please “April First Page Critique” or “April First Page Picture Prompt 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: April 24th.

RESULTS: May 2nd.

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 April’s directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission. It can be a first page from a work in process or you can use the picture prompt above.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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15. Writing Opportunity – Looking for Submissions

dianaunnamed

This illustration, “Down the Rabbit Hole” was sent in by Diana Ting Delosh. Dianna says she contracted the art bug at the age of two when she consumed her first box of crayons. Ever since that day, she has been happily doodling away. Currently she is an illustrater/writer. More of her art may be seen at: http://dianadelosh.com and she blogs at http://dtdelosh.blogspot.com

The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation is a research center at the University of Kansas that administers the Kansas Assessment Program on behalf of the Kansas Department of Education and is currently looking for writers to submit quality poetry and prose to be considered for use on state assessments.

CETE is accepting poetry, fiction, and nonfiction texts for use on reading assessments for grades 3 – 12. Buys exclusive assessment rights and non-exclusive other rights. Pays $250 upon acceptance. Previously published work is acceptable, but author must hold the copyright and must include prior publication information when submitting.

INFORMATIONAL:

Informational texts should be between 500 and 1,500 words

Our greatest need is for lower grade informational texts that are compelling to the intended age group. Overall, we look for texts that exemplify quality writing and engaging subject matter. We are not currently accepting texts about animals.

POETRY:

We accept free verse, lyrical, and narrative poems. Writers may submit up to 10 poems per submission. Please submit all poems in one document and include publication details for any poems that have been previously published.

Narrative Fiction:

Narrative Fiction should be between 500 and 1500 words:

Our greatest need is for higher level (high school) narrative texts that contain testable literary elements such as strong character development, themes, and symbols. We also welcome narrative texts intended for younger grades. Overall, we look for texts that exemplify quality writing and an engaging storyline. While we seek narratives with tension and plot, submissions do not necessarily need to contain a complete story arc.

All submissions in all three above categories must be appropriate for testing. Submissions that include inappropriate language or references to drugs, sex, alcohol, gambling, holidays, religion, or violence will not be considered. 

More details are available on our submissions site: https://cete.submittable.com/submit. 

If you have questions, please email Becky Mandelbaum Passage Writing Coordinator at cetesubmissions@ku.edu. 

Please do not contact other KU or CETE departments.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: children writing, opportunity, Places to sumit, Poems, publishers Tagged: Kansas Department of Education, publication opportunity, The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, University of Kansas

1 Comments on Writing Opportunity – Looking for Submissions, last added: 4/10/2014
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16. Ask Kathy Questions Answered

Julia Rosenbaum snarl-screamApril
For all you writers and illustrators who have days where you feel like the publishing industry could make you stop, scream and pull their hair out, this cute illustration sent in by Julia Rosenbaum is for you. 

Julia has always wanted to be a children’s book writer/illustrator…and so she went to law school. A few years after that interesting episode in her life, she learned how to use Photoshop and became a graphic designer. She is now working on her original dream: writing picture book manuscripts and creating illustrations. You can find her online at juliadraws.com and on Twitter @julia_draws.

Here are a few more Answers to the Questions you sent in and the answers from the Writer’s Retreat the other weekend with Agent Sean McCarthy and Associate Publisher at Penguin Putnam, Steve Meltzer.

1. Because agents now often don’t respond if they aren’t interested in a query, that makes almost imperative to send simultaneous queries. Is ten to a dozen too many to send out at once?

The consensus was to send ten queries at a time. No one thought you should send one query at a time and wait to hear back before sending your work out to someone else. Here are my thoughts about other similar questions I get asked: You may get five agents asking to see your full manuscript from the query letters you send out. Some may ask for an exclusive submission. If they do, you will need to way their request against the other agents. That exclusive submission request might throw that agent out of the running or they might be at the top of your list of agents you would want to represent you. If they are, then make sure you find out how long they expect to have an exclusive for your manuscript.

Is this amount of time acceptable? It may be, but now you know how to proceed. I personally think six weeks would be my limit, other people may be willing to wait three months. As long as both of you are on the same page it should work.

What if you send out your full manuscript to five agents or editors and one gets saying they are interested, before you say yes to them representing you and blow off the others, you should email saying you haven’t heard back from them and another agent is interested in offering you representation. Many agents appreciate you letting them know so they can pull your manuscript out of the pile to see if they are interested in your story. No need to do this if an agent stated up front that if you haven’t heard back in three weeks they are not interested.

Say you submit to an agent who turns around and works with you, offers a lot of advice that you use when revising your manuscript, and asks to see it again, IMO, you should make sure you resubmit the manuscript to them, before offering it to another agent.

If you have submitted the manuscript to editors, you should always make sure the agent offering representation knows who has seen it right up front. You don’t want to get in the position of signing a contract with the agent and then have them say they didn’t know it had been read by numerous editors in the industry. They might be thinking they could sell it to the same people you already sent it to. Now you have someone who doesn’t want to work with you and may even cancel the contract with you. Supposed this happens after you have turned down another agent who was interested in your work. Now you have lost out on two agents at one time. Oh yes, this can happen and it doesn’t matter if the agent should have asked these questions, you are now the one who is on the losing end of this scenario.

2. What’s the best way to label a manuscript/book that falls on the borderline between middle grades and young adult? (Think ages 10 to 14. For example, I’m talking about a horsey book, and that is the age at which the most girls are the most horse-crazy, and the best time to market such a book to them.) Would agents/editors want to see it called upper middle grades? Tween?

Sean McCarthy and Steve Meltzer said don’t put MG or YA in the query, put the age group and let them decide where it fits. The other idea you can use is to go to the book store and peruse the shelves. Where would the store shelve your book? What are the titles of the other books on that shelf? You could include a couple in your query letter.

3. What amount of books do you need to sell to have a publisher think your book was successful?

The general number was 20,000 copies, but it could be lower. It depends on the amount of your advance and the projected amount of sales the publisher expects after all there meetings and calculations. As Steve pointed out, a publisher who expects to sell a million copies of a book and only sells 600,000 copies might consider that book a failure. While a book that they projected 10,000 sales and sells 20,000, might be considered a great success.

4. I read on your blog to only use one space between each sentence in your manuscript. I had someone tell me they have asked editors and were told it was okay. Would you double check with Sean McCarthy and Steve Meltzer on this?

I did and both said it would not stop them from reading your manuscript. But I will not tell you that not doing this is okay, because I am trying to get you to do things according to the standard. My goal is to tell you how to do things that will make sure no one will find fault with. If 50% or even 20% of the editors and agents could pick up your manuscript and go on to the next on sitting on their desk because of the extra space, then I say, “Let’s do it right, so you are only judged on the content of your writing.” Over the years, I know little things can make a big difference.

5. I never heard of using capital letters the first time a character is mentioned in a synopsis. Would you ask about that at your retreat?

This is another one that would not stop Sean and Steve from reading your synopsis. I had said that I didn’t think this was a deal breaker when I told you how to format  your synopsis, but again that is the standard. It makes it easier for the editor or agent to read, which shows you care about them and that you approach your writing as a professional who knows the industry.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Asking opinion, authors and illustrators, demystify, How to Tagged: Ask Kathy, Julia Rosenbaum, Publishing Industry Answers, Questions and Answers

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17. The Little Magic Box for School Visits and Signing

Debbie 2My Little Magic Box by Debbie Dadey

It took me about twenty years to figure it out, but making a magic box to take with me to book events was a great idea! Okay, it’s not magic but it does have everything I need to make a book signing or school visit go smoothly. What does my little plastic container have inside? Here’s what I’ve collected for my little 6.5 by 4.5 inch box (a left-over from my teaching days):

1. Business cards (Because the minute you don’t have one, you need one.)

2. Tissues (Because boogers are not pleasant with 200 kids watching!)

3. Book plates (Someone will always cry because they forgot their book.)

debbiebox2004. Award winning author stickers (Which I bought in a silly moment, but kids like stickers.)

5. Sticky notes (Because kids have the strangest names these days and it’s better to write it first on a note than ruin the book-better yet have the school or bookstore do it for you while the kids are waiting in line.)

6. Tic Tacs (Bad breath is not an author’s friend.)

debbiecontent2007. Protein bar (Let’s face it, sometimes school lunches are horrible.)

8. Candy (see above)

9. Cough drops (A coughing fit really doesn’t work well with my presentation.)

10. Hand lotion (It makes me feel better!)

11. Hand sanitizer (It keeps me from catching every illness because schools are breeding grounds!)

12. Chap stick (I am prone to fever blisters and they aren’t pretty.)

13. iPad adapter (I started taking my iPad on school visits instead of my laptop and I love it.)

14. Clips to hold up something (Just a handy thing to have for posters.)

15. Memory stick with presentations (Some schools have their computers far away. I also have a clicker to advance slides. There is an app available to advance Keynote-the iPad version of PowerPoint. PowerPoint will convert to Keynote, but there are always a few adjustments to be made.)

16. Slips for information (These are leftovers from a giveaway and everyone likes free stuff.)

17. Rubber band (These come in handy for keeping my rolled up posters tidy.)

18. Markers or ink pens (Some people like Sharpies to autograph with, but I’m not picky).

Missing from my box are my fun red Author pin, camera, book signs, bookmarks, a bottle of water, and school visit brochures. Not all of them will fit inside my box, but I have them listed in marker on the inside of my box so I don’t forget them. Something I’ve been wanting to get is a tablecloth with my logo and maybe some book covers on it. On my scheduling page (http://www.debbiedadey.com/Events/Scheduling/index.php)

debbieDream of the Blue TurtleI have an Author Visit Checklist that lists everything I could think of to help a school prepare for my visit. Click Here to View. 

Perhaps there is something on it you can adapt for yourself. Do you have more suggestions for my box? Please let me know, I have more book events coming up soon!

Check www.debbiedadey.com for one near you.

My newest book is Dream of the Blue Turtle (Mermaid Tales #7) with Simon and Schuster. Treasure in Trident City (#8) comes out in May. I hope you’ll like me on Facebook.com/debbiedadey. I’m hoping it doesn’t take me twenty years to get the hang of Facebook!

Thanks Debbie for sharing your idea for having a handy box that you can grab whenever you do a book event. It will definitely help everyone who has a hard time juggling everything that has to be done in our busy lives.

I love the idea of getting a table cloth made with your logo and covers. They don’t cost very much and it really adds to making you look exciting and professional.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Events, inspiration, list, Tips Tagged: Debbie Dadey, Dream of the Blue Turtle, Simon & Schuster, Tresaure of Trident City

4 Comments on The Little Magic Box for School Visits and Signing, last added: 4/8/2014
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18. Agent Looking to Build List

agent-caitlen-rubino-bradwayCaitlen Rubino Bradway of LKG Agency is making an open call for new submissions from writers. So check her out and see if she could be the right agent for you. If so, send her a query.

Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

I joined the LKG Agency in 2008, thereby disproving the theory that no English major ever does anything with their degree.  Before that I worked at another literary agency, Don Congdon Associates, where I had the behind-the-scenes thrill of seeing Kathryn Stockett’s The Help first come in (and getting one of the first reads). And before that I was getting my Masters in English and Publishing from Rosemont College. I have enjoyed my apprenticeship under Lauren very much, and I am now actively looking to build my own list, which includes (after a surprisingly minimal amount of begging and pleading on my part), securing Lauren’s agreement to open the agency to considering middle grade and young adult fiction.

In my spare time, I am an author in my own right (or is that write?).  My first book, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, which I co-wrote with my mother, was released by Crown in 2009.  We also contributed to Jane Austen Made Me Do It, published by Ballantine in 2011.  My first middle grade novel, Ordinary Magic, was published by Bloomsbury Children’s in 2012.

She is seeking: “I personally am looking for middle grade and young adult fiction. In teen novels, Sci-fi/fantasy is my sweet spot, but I’m open to anything as long as it doesn’t have zombies.

First, I’m just looking for middle grade and young adult now.  Please, no picture books or early chapter books.  And please, no dystopian futures (it’s not really my thing), a lot of violence (also not my thing), or books written in the present tense.  (Wow, I just described The Hunger Games, didn’t I?)  Please, no zombies.  Vampires, werewolves, witches and wizards, angels and demons, the Greek Pantheon, Thor and Loki and Fenrir, superheroes, aliens, super-powered aliens — all good.  But zombies give me nightmares.

Please do send fantasy, whether it be like Harry Potter and Sarah Prineas’ Winterling trilogy (contemporary fantasy about modern kids!); or Stephanie Burgis’ Kat, Incorrigible series, and Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia (historic fantasy re-writes with both humor and heart!); or Kristen Cashore’s Graceling, Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball, and Erin Bow’s devastating Plain Kate (traditional fantasy!  With horses!).  And, why, yes, I am listing some of my favorite books on purpose, on the chance that you have read these and your book compares favorably to one of them.

On a related note, please do send sci-fi, which I also love, having grown up on Star Trek: TNG.  Anne Osterlund’s Academy 7 will forever hold a place in my heart because it is a futuristic sci-fi with spaceships and lasers, but it also has a boarding school!  (I love books with boarding schools.)  Ah, that reminds me: please do send things with boarding schools.

Please, please, please send fairy tale re-tellings.  Please.

So if you have a sci-fi retelling of The Hedgehog Prince that takes place at an orbital boarding school that circles Saturn, or a story about a girl who discovers she’s descended from the Norse gods and has to earn her place as a Valkyrie to stop Fenrir from breaking free and starting Ragnarok, please do send it along.

But, seriously, no zombies.

“Also, the LKG Agency is always on the lookout for nonfiction, both practical and narrative. We specialize in women’s focused how-to, such as parenting, lifestyle, health & nutrition, and beauty, but we are open to a lot of nonfiction genres. (For a full list you can check out the submission guidelines on our website.)”

How to contact: “We are looking for email queries only. Nonfiction queries should be sent to lkgquery [at] lkgagency.com; we ask that you please mention any publicity you have at your disposal in your query letter. For middle grade and YA queries, email crubinobradway [at] lkgagency.com.”

The LKG Agency | 465 West End Avenue 2A New York, NY 10024 | query@LKGAgency.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Caitlen Rubino Bradway, LKG Agency, Looking for Authors, Sci-Fi and Fantasy

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19. Beat Procrastination – Take a Page from Seinfeld

seinfeldWhat’s most impressive about Seinfeld’s career isn’t the awards, the earnings, or the special moments — it’s the remarkable consistency of it all. Show after show, year after year, he performs, creates, and entertains at an incredibly high standard. Jerry Seinfeld produces with a level of consistency that most of us wish we could bring to our daily work.

Compare his results to where you and I often find ourselves. We want to create, but struggle to do so. We want to exercise, but fail to find motivation. Wanting to achieve our goals, but — for some reason or another — we still procrastinate on them.

What’s the difference? What strategies does Jerry Seinfeld use to beat procrastination and consistently produce quality work? What does he do each day that most people don’t?

I’m not sure about all of his strategies, but I recently discovered a story that revealed one of the secrets behind Seinfeld’s incredible productivity, performance, and consistency.

Let’s talk about that what he does and how you can use the “Seinfeld Strategy” to eliminate procrastination and actually achieve your goals.

The Seinfeld Strategy

Brad Isaac was a young comedian starting out on the comedy circuit. One fateful night, he found himself in a club where Jerry Seinfeld was performing. In an interview on Lifehacker.com, Isaac shared what happened when he caught Seinfeld backstage and asked if he had “any tips for a young comic.”

Here’s how Isaac described the interaction with Seinfeld:

“He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.

“He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red ‘X’ over that day.

” ‘After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.’ “

You’ll notice that Seinfeld didn’t say a single thing about results.

It didn’t matter if he was motivated or not. It didn’t matter if he was writing great jokes or not. It didn’t matter if what he was working on would ever make it into a show. All that mattered was “not breaking the chain.”

And that’s one of the simple secrets behind Seinfeld’s remarkable productivity and consistency. For years, the comedian simply focused on “not breaking the chain.”

Let’s talk about how you can use the Seinfeld Strategy in your life.

How to stop procrastinating

Top performers in every field — athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists — are all more consistent than their peers. They show up and deliver day after day, while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation.

While most people get demotivated and off-track after a bad performance, a bad workout or simply a bad day at work, top performers settle right back into their pattern the next day.

The Seinfeld Strategy works because it helps to take the focus off of each individual performance and puts the emphasis on the process instead. It’s not about how you feel, how inspired you are or how brilliant your work is that day. Instead, it’s just about “not breaking the chain.”

All you have to do to apply this strategy to your own life is pick up a calendar and start your chain.

A word of warning

There is one caveat with the Seinfeld Strategy. You need to pick a task that is meaningful enough to make a difference, but simple enough that you can get it done.

It would be wonderful if you could write 10 pages a day for your book, but that’s not a sustainable chain to build. Similarly, it sounds great in theory to be able to deadlift like a maniac every day, but in practice you’ll probably be over-trained and burned out.

So step one is to choose a task that is simple enough to be sustainable. At the same time, you have to make sure that your actions are meaningful enough to matter.

For example, researching good jokes each day is simple, but you’re never going to write a joke by merely researching. That’s why the process of writing is a better choice. Writing can actually produce a meaningful result, even when it’s done in small doses.

Similarly, doing 10 pushups per day could be simple and meaningful depending on your level of fitness. It will actually make you stronger. Meanwhile, reading a fitness book each day is simple, but it won’t actually get you in better shape.

Choose tasks that are simple to maintain and capable of producing the outcome you want.

Another way of saying this is to focus on actions and not motions.

Mastery follows consistency

The central question that ties our community together — and what I try to write about every Monday and Thursday — is “how do you live a healthy life?” This includes not merely nutrition and exercise, but also exploration and adventure, art and creativity, connection and community.

But no matter what topics we’re talking about, they all require consistency. No matter what your definition is of a “healthy life,” you’ll have to battle procrastination to make it a reality. Hopefully, the Seinfeld Strategy helps to put that battle in perspective.

Don’t break the chain on your workouts, and you’ll find that you get fit rather quickly.

Don’t break the chain in your business, and you’ll find that results come much faster.

Don’t break the chain in your artistic pursuits, and you’ll find that you will produce creative work on a regular basis.

So often, we assume that excellence requires a monumental effort and that our lofty goals demand incredible doses of willpower and motivation. But really, all we need is dedication to small, manageable tasks. Mastery follows consistency.

Written by James Clear at Entrepreneur.com

Take tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, How to, Tips, writing Tagged: Acheive Your Goals, Jerry Seinfeld, Secret of Productivity, Stop Procrastinating, The Seinfeld Strategy

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20. Strategies for Pricing Your Illustrating Work

directoryofillustration

f+Jlogo

You may know Joann Miller over at the Directory of Illustration. Well, she asked Friend + Johnson (illustration representation agency) if she could share the best advice they had about pricing that they would give an illustrator. I thought I would share the part about how to come up with a price for a potential client. It is quite good.

Here is a list of questions to ask your potential client to help create an accurate estimate that fulfills both their expectations and your needs.

Introduction

1. How did you find out about me? Is there something in your portfolio that inspired them to think of you for this project? Make sure you understand exactly what they’re referencing so you can make sure you’re comfortable executing it, and are clear on what they’re hiring you to do. This will also help you determine the level of complexity of the illustration they’re looking for.

Project Description

2. Do you have a layout? How complex are the illustrations? Are they single-spot illustrations or more complex scenarios? Are they providing any references for you to use? Are they looking for you to concept illustration ideas with the creatives, or are you working from a pre-approved layout that will not allow for much change? Is this black-and-white or a four-color piece? Are you working in layers?

3. What is the timing for the initial pencils and the final illustration? Usually, you should have three to four days for the initial pencils, and after client approval, another five to seven days to deliver the final. Two rounds of pencils are standard; anything more should have an additional charge.

Usage, Licensing and Copyright

4. Usage is very important in helping you price your project. Note that consumer advertising will be priced much higher than illustrations for a children’s book or direct mail.

Does the client want national, regional, international, web or worldwide uses? How long is the usage? What is the media use: consumer ad, trade ad, packaging, direct mail, billboards, brochures?

5. If clients say they want unlimited use, you should explore if this is really what they need and offer alternative licensing to match their budget. Often times, clients are not “educated” in this area of rights-based pricing; they will be much more understanding if you take the time to outline that they will ultimately save money by purchasing just the usage they need. For example, if they see the difference in cost for a two-, three- or five-year use, this may be more in-line with what they really need vs. unlimited use/time. 

Most clients aren’t planning on a consumer magazine campaign or any out of home use, they may just want unlimited collateral (direct mail and consumer or trade brochures and inserts) use. Find out specifically what they’ll use the artwork for and tailor your pricing to match.

6. If at all possible, never do “work for hire,” give buyouts or sell your copyright. You’re essentially giving away all of your rights as the creator of the artwork and giving ownership to your client. They in turn can reuse and resell the artwork in any way they want.

You can still retain your copyright even if it’s unlimited use, worldwide for an unlimited time and exclusive to them. If they feel they may need the artwork for other uses down the road or for a longer period of time, these extended uses can be renegotiated or factored into the original contract as well.

Remember, they want to use you and you want to work with them. This is a negotiation to give them what they need and pay you fairly for the creation and use of the work. You’re working together to create a fair contract for both parties.

7. Will this image have resale potential in stock or other markets? Does your licensing give you this option?

Keep Budgets & Other Paperwork in Mind

8. Editorial and book clients usually have a predetermined budget. Sometimes you can renegotiate if you feel it’s too low for the amount of work they’re requesting. You should always get a credit line for editorial or pro-bono work.

9. Do they have an allotted budget already in mind? If not, when do they need numbers?

10. Is there a contract? You should have your own contract in addition to anything they supply.

Hang Up

11. Never give an estimate while you’re on the phone with your client. It’s best to hang up and think about what you’re comfortable with.

12. Review your estimate before submitting it. A great source for guidelines for estimating various projects is the “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook” at www.graphicartistsguild.org/handbook/.

Post-Submittal

13. After you have submitted your estimate and it’s approved, make sure to have it signed and sent back to you.

14. After the project is confirmed, you should bill 50% of the job. This is important for cash flow since illustration projects can stretch over a number of weeks with the back-and-forth for approvals. This is also important with a new client that you don’t have a payment history with.

15. In addition to billing upon confirmation AND having a new client sign your contract, you may want to get a purchase order from you client as it is a contract to purchase your services from your buyer.

To read all the other helpful information use this link: http://joannsartadvice.blogspot.com/2014/03/take-charge-of-pricing-your.html

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, article, authors and illustrators, How to, illustrating, list, Tips Tagged: Directory of Illustration, Freelance Pricing, Friend + Johnson, Joann Miller

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21. More Showing, Less Telling

erikaphoto-45

I met Erika Wassall at the end of February at a NJSCBWI get-together in Cherry Hill, NJ. I let the writers there know how open I am to writers sending me articles I could use on my blog. Erika sent me this interesting article below for today’s post. I think you will enjoy it.

More Showing, Less Telling

Really? I mean, what’s the difference? If I say, Billy was sick, then we all know that Billy is sick, right? Isn’t that what’s important?

Why do I have to worry so much about SHOWING as opposed to TELLING the reader what my characters are doing? What difference does it REALLY make?

The best way I’ve learned it is that the difference largely comes down to… all right, so Billy is sick…. But why should I CARE??

We all know we want our readers to care about our characters. Max from Where the Wild Things Are, Harold with his Purple Crayon, all the way up to Katniss and down to Christopher Robin, these characters were tugging at our heartstrings even when they were just picking up a jug of honey.

One of the many ways that we do this is through the special little nuances of the way they do things. Anyone can pick up a jug of honey. But the way Winnie the Pooh does it, now THAT’s special.

We read about his sticky paws and the giant drop of honey dripping down his check. And ultimately, isn’t that why we love him?

It’s all about creating images. Ideally images that are burned into the readers brain so much that it links right to their heart.

For me, the next question was… okay, so how, exactly, do I do that?

How do I really know for sure if I’m showing rather than telling?

Via brainstorming with a few other fabulous writers over at Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 extravaganza, we came up with what is not only a great way to test if you’re showing, but is also a wonderful writing exercise.

It’s fantastically simple too. You say to yourself:

How Can I PROVE It?

So Billy is sick. But if no one TOLD me Bill was sick, how do I KNOW?

Is there snot dripping from his nose? Is there a river of sweat pouring from his temples? Is he frighteningly feverish, maddeningly mopey or curled in a cocoon under his covers?

I know personally, I FEEL more for a child curled up in bed with a snotty nose and his arms crossed in mopey madness than I do for a child who is just… sick.

I use this trick in two ways.

1) When I read over my manuscripts, I ask myself… if I wasn’t the omnipotent narrator… how would I KNOW this was true? How can I create a vivid image where I don’t even have to say the words themselves, instead the reader can SEE it.

2) As an exercise my 12×12 friends and I exchange phrases, and basically say PROVE IT!!! to each other.

Here’s an example:

Johnny hurt his knee.

If I’m looking through a window, watching Johnny play, what happens that proves to me that he hurt his knee?

Johnny crashed to the ground and rolled onto his back, clutching his knee.

Or depending on who I’m trying to portray Johnny as, maybe…

The pain shot up Johnny’s knee and filled his eyes to the brim with tears. But he gritted his teeth and picked up his hockey stick. He wasn’t going to let the other boys know he wanted to quit.

Showing and not telling is a challenge for all writers. But it can also provide some fantastic opportunities to add depth to our characters, and build that emotional connection with the reader that we all strive for.

Here’s a few for you to try. Ask yourself, how can I PROVE this? And see what you can come up with!!

Bobby hated school. 

Theresa wanted to go home. 

Puddles the Poodle couldn’t wait for his boy to get home.

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

Thank you Erika and tanks for offering to do regular posts here on Writing and Illustrating.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: article, inspiration, writing excercise, Writing Tips Tagged: Erika Wassall, Guest Blogger, Julie Hedlund, Less Telling, More Showing

12 Comments on More Showing, Less Telling, last added: 4/2/2014
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22. Educational Publisher Looking for Submissions

schoolwide
Huge opportunity for writers and Illustrators – published, unpublished, self-published.

Susan Tierney, longtime Editor in Chief of Children’s Writer and the Institute of Children’s Literature’s Writer’s Guide and the market directories, has now become Acquisitions Editor at Schoolwide, Inc. 

This educational publisher of reading, writing, and grammar curriculum products, and professional development resources, is looking for submissions of books, stories, and articles that support reading and writing for children from kindergarten to grade eight for a digital classroom library.

Of interest are fiction and nonfiction picture books, concept books, early readers, chapter books, middle-grade and early YA books, articles, essays, short stories, poetry, poetry collections, and plays.

Fiction may be contemporary, realistic, historical, multicultural, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, adventure, fairy or folk tales, verse novels, or rhyming books.

Nonfiction sought includes informational/expository, biography/profile, narrative procedure (how-to), creative nonfiction, personal narratives or memoir, essays, opinion pieces, primary sources/reference books.

Subject categories include: Science, history, social studies, language and literature—and any subject that is age-appropriate and would encourage independent reading.

Not interested in preK or older YA.

Email only to submissions@schoolwide.com, with:

1. AUTHOR CONTACT INFORMATION
2. WEBSITE ADDRESS (if any)
3. TITLE OF WORK
4. WORD OR PAGE COUNT
5. TARGETED AGE/GRADE LEVEL
6. A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OR OUTLINE IN THE BODY OF THE MESSAGE.
7. ATTACH (Microsoft Word only) THE COMPLETED WORK AND A RESUME OR LIST OF WRITING CREDITS. 
8. INDICATE IF SUBMISSION IS UNPUBLISHED, SELF-PUBLISHED, OR PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED and if so, by WHOM. 
9. PLACE “MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSION, SCBWI” IN THE SUBJECT LINE.

Schoolwide will accept:

(1) previously published materials for which the author holds rights. For these book, story, or article submissions, please also indicate the publisher, date of publication, and if applicable, whether an illustrator holds rights to the artwork (illustrators would receive the same royalty arrangements, if interested).

(2) completed manuscripts of original, unpublished work.

Royalty. Responds in six months, if interested.

Schoolwide, Inc.
4250 Veterans Memorial Highway, Suite 2000W,
Holbrook, NY 11741
www.schoolwide.com

Don’t miss this opportunity!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Places to sumit, poetry, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Call for Submissions, Educational Publisher, Schoolwide Inc., Susan Tierney

7 Comments on Educational Publisher Looking for Submissions, last added: 4/4/2014
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23. Free Fall Friday – April

The New Jersey SCBWI June Conference opened for registration yesterday and it is already one third full, so don’t wait too long to register.  Here is the link: https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1427434

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Still need illustrations for the month of April. Would love to show off your illustrations during one of my daily posts. So please submit your illustrations: To kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com. Illustrations must be at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about you that I can use. Thanks!

Below is the April picture prompt for anyone who would like to use it. Guest Critiquer will be announced next week.

albaas-chapter1-b

The above illustration was done by Elizabeth Alba. She works in watercolor and gouche. Elizabeth was featured on Illustrator Saturday in March. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/illustrator-saturday-elisabeth-alba/

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in April: Please “April First Page Critique” or “April First Page Picture Prompt 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: April 24th.

RESULTS: May 2nd.

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 April’s directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission. It can be a first page from a work in process or you can use the picture prompt above.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Competition, inspiration, opportunity, Places to sumit, Writer's Prompt Tagged: 2014 NJSCBWI Conference, April First Page Critique, Elizabeth Alba, Free Fall Friday

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24. Illstrator Saturday – Gideon Kendall

gideonpictureGideon Kendall was born in Austin, Texas and spent his childhood on a commune deep in the backwoods of West Virginia. He attended high school in Philadelphia, PA and moved to New York City to attend art school. Since receiving his BFA from The Cooper Union in New York City (1989) he has been working as an illustrator, animation, designer, and musician in Brooklyn, NY.

Gideon was the production designer (backgrounds) on “Pepper Ann”, a Saturday morning cartoon show on ABC.   For five years (the duration of the series), he was the production designer (backgrounds) on “CODENAME: Kids Next Door” on the Cartoon Network.  He has also designed backgrounds, props and characters for many other television shows, including Robotomy, Stroker & Hoop, Chuggington and Word World.

Gideon has illustrated articles and record covers for companies such as The New York Times, Puma, Children’s Television Workshop, Scholastic, Geffen, and College Music Journal. He has exhibited his artwork at a variety of galleries including Ethan Cohen Fine Arts and PS122 in New York City.

Gideon has been involved in many musical/performance art projects, and has toured the country with his band, Fake Brain. The band also wrote and performed the theme song for “The Kids Next Door” on Cartoon Network. Most recently he wrote, performed in, and created sets and animation for a multimedia comedic performance entitled “Dr. Wei-Wei & The Fake Brain” which was performed at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York City in 2006. His current project, The Ditty Committee, performs regulary in and around New York City.

Here is Gideon showing and discussing his process on his book cover, ELLIOTT and the LAST UNDERWORLD WAR:

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The image is entirely digital. It took probably about 3 days total, but of course it was spread out over weeks of approvals, edits, etc.

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This is the rough, obviously. Just trying to sell the editor on the basic idea and work out for myself the composition and lighting. I always use tone on my sketches because I need to get a sense of the lighting. Light and shadow are essential for both clarity, focus, and drama. In the story, Elliot, the main character uses a magic glowing broom at a crucial point in the story. This was a great device for lighting this scene.

gideonCOVER_2_line

Here is where I set aside the lighting for the most part and focus on delineating the image. Although I love getting carried away with details and hidden jokes I try not to loose focus on the characters. Sometimes this comes easy. Other times not so much. The peripheral characters fell into place with little effort but I really struggled with aspects of Elliot. Finding that sweet spot of anger and determination while still keeping him cute was a challenge and I also had a hard time with getting his hands and arms right. I had my wife take pictures of me in the pose to help get it right and I still struggled.

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Now I introduce the lighting. This layer may or may not be used in the final art, but either way it helps me to finalize the composition.

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At this point I change the line drawing into a multiply layer and put it on top. I hide the tone layer and work up the color to a near-final state.

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Then I add a layer of highlights on top of the line layer.

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I kept the image of the pixie as its own element so that I could control her luminosity separately. I do her line work, color, and rendering and then balance her against the glow of the broom.

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I wasn’t pleased with the way the broom was looking so I made a new drawing of it and colored it in a way to give it bit more 3-dimensionality. I refined the highlights and played around with the luminosity of the broom, and then I was done.

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Early on in the process I played around with having the demon’s claws in the picture, thinking it might heighten the sense of confrontation. The editor thought it complicated things unnecessarily and I don’t disagree.

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Just for kicks, an earlier cover sketch. This snow monster was removed from the story so I had to start over. Probably for the best.

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Here’s a detail shot just for the hell of it.

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My favorite illustration in this book.

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When did you first know that you were good at art and wanted that for your future?

My mom says that she put pens in my crib when I was a baby and I drew cars and cities all over my sheets. so I guess it was decided pretty early on. My early loves were Dr. Seuss and Marvel Comics.

gideonelliott2cover

Did you study art at The Cooper Union in New York City?

Yes. I have a BFA from Cooper.

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What made you think of putting little Goblins in the big Goblin?

I was just trying to think of how to make him as creepy as possible. It’s an idea similar to themes in some of my “grown up” art.

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What were you favorite classes?

Painting and drawing. I also enjoyed printmaking, particularly intaglio etching.

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

I got hired by a local paper in high school to do some courtroom illustration. First and last time I ever did that kind of work. Judging from your next question I think you mean post-collegiate…Hmm. The thing is I went to a strictly “fine art” school. They frowned on illustration, so I had to bury my love of such things.

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What was your main painting technique back then?

Oils. I did a semester abroad in Italy my junior year and learned the basics of old-fashioned glaze techniques. I’ve loosened up a little since then but my painting technique has always been pretty formal.

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Have the materials you used changed over the years?

Completely. I work almost entirely digitally now. Oil painting is reserved for my personal enjoyment or for the rare occasion when budgets and schedules are generous.

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Has the style of your illustration change or evolved into a new style?

I have developed a few distinct styles for the different kinds of work that I enjoy doing. traditional children’s book illustration is at this point only a small part of what I do. among other things I also do black and white chapter book illustrations, puzzle pictures for highlight’s Magazine, maps and diagrams for books, posters, advertisements, etc. I also do “whiteboard” animations as well as graphic novels and comics. Unless you’re hugely successful at one thing, you gotta be a jack of all trades to survive. If one of the things I do really took off I’d be happy to focus more, but in the meantime I do enjoy the challenge.

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Since you graduated right as the Internet and computers were taking hold. Did you jump into experimenting with digital art at that time?

No, the computer was primarily a word processor and mailing label machine for me for many years. It wasn’t until the late “90′s that I began doing some digital color on my drawings and then the big leap was when I got my first Cintiq in ’06.

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Do you own and use graphic tablet? If so, which one?

A few months ago I got the Cintiq 24HD touch and I’m in love with it.

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What was your first job after your graduated?

I tried to do the art gallery thing; working as an installer and packer/shipper. It was awful. The people were vain and pretentious and I felt alienated and bored. I got laid off. Freed from the shackles of fine art education/employment, I went back to my early loves: kids books and comics.

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What kind of creature is Elliott going to fight?

Those guys are goblins. The big red/pink creature is the demon Kovol, Elliot’s main nemesis.

 

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I see you do a lot of black and white illustration. Is that because there is more available work for that?

I wouldn’t say there’s more of it, its just that I’m well-suited for it and I’ve found that I like doing work for older kids (less cutesy stuff, more monsters and weird stuff) and I guess there is more B&W work in that market.

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Have most of your comic book art been done for magazines?

No. I haven’t done much comics work for paying clients. I wouldn’t mind it, though. I’m having a great time working on my graphic novel and it would be fun if it led to other opportunities.

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How did you hook up with Ronnie Herman Agency? How long has she represented you?

Way back in the early ’90′s my friend Ian Schoenherr set up a meeting for me with Ronnie when she was an editor at Penguin. At the time my “portfolio” was a mess, consisting of a hodgepodge of different styles, none of them particularly well-executed. Ronnie kept one sample from my portfolio: a painting of a daddy rabbit reading a bedtime story to a baby rabbit. I never got a call from Penguin, but several years later when Ronnie retired from Penguin and started her agency, she remembered that image and called me. She took me on and was very patient with me and helped me develop a cohesive portfolio.

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How did you get your first book contract?

Ronnie showed my samples around for a couple years before she got anyone to give me a book project. Eventually Albert Whitman hired me to illustrate Littlebat’s Halloween Story. Not sure what samples got that gig. Interestingly, it was a little painting of a hamster driving a sportscar that got me the Dino Pets gig. That one’s a mystery to me but I’m glad it worked out.

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Was Littlebat’s Halloween Story the only picture you have illustrated?

No, I’ve done three. Littlebat, Dino Pets, & Dino Pets Go To School.

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I see you have two books published with Sterling. How did those contracts come about?

Charlie Nix, An old friend from college contacted me about doing the cartoons for those books. He designed the books.

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Did you know that it was a two-book deal at the time?

We were pretty sure, but it wasn’t guaranteed.

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How did you get to do The Seems series?

Oh boy that’s a long story! Here goes: I was introduced to the authors by a mutual friend who thought we’d make a good creative team. We discussed making a bedtime themed picture book and threw around ideas for a while. We eventually decided on a pillow fort theme and put together a pitch. No one bit on it and I forgot about it but Mike and John didn’t give up and over the next few years they expanded the idea into what eventually became The Seems. Bloomsbury bought it and the authors pushed hard to have me brought in as the artist. They eventually went with someone else for the covers which pissed me off, but I had a great time collaborating with Mike and John and making those pictures. I put a lot into those images. We actually got a movie deal out of it which was a nice windfall but as usual that never went anywhere.

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gideonSeems3_500Did you know it was going to be a series when you illustrated the first book?

The author’s plan was for it to be at least a 3-book series. Of course we all hoped it would go far beyond that….

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Do you expect there will be more books to that series?

I doubt it. I think it would have had to sell much better for that to happen. The overall concept is certainly deep enough to warrant more stories though.

gideonCover
You illustrated four books that came out in 2007. Were you under a lot of pressure to get four books done during that time?

Yeah, but I was happy to have so much work.

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How long do you normally have to work on the illustrations for a book? Shortest? Longest?

There’s no real “normal”. Every job is different. I’d say in general, schedules just get shorter and shorter as everyone expects work to be done digitally.

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How many black and white illustrations are usually required for a middle grade book?

Anywhere from 8-30. The Elliot books had lots of illustrations, some full page, some spot. Those books were so much fun to illustrate.

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Have worked with any educational publishers?

Yeah, these days that’s where a lot of my work comes from. The money is almost always terrible and of course there are no royalties but its the kind of work you can feel good about doing.

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Do you ever see yourself writing one of your own books? Oh yes, believe me! I have numerous unpublished book projects on file, and they’re all awesome, so all you editors and publishers out there, give me or Ronnie a call.

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Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

As mentioned, Highlights. They are keeping me very busy these days. I do a monthly hidden picture for one of their magazines and I’m also doing several of the books for their Which Way USA series.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes. It’s also wasted a lot of my time.

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What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

I don’t really seek it out anymore. It comes in through Ronnie or from previous clients or referrals.

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What do you feel was your greatest success?

I don’t think I’ve had it yet. I’m proud of the painting in “Dino Pets Go To School” but that book is going out of print I think. I’m also proud of the work I did on the Elliot series and the Seems but neither of those series sold well. Sigh. I’m still waiting I guess.

gideonsky

How did you get involved in TV cartoons, backgrounds, production design, and props.?
In ’94 I was broke and my attempts at being an illustrator were mostly failing. A friend introduced me to J.J. Sedelmier (of Beavis and Butthead & SNL TV Funhouse fame) and he took me on as an intern. I knew nothing about animation but I could draw and paint so I found a role as a background painter (this was pre-digital). I made a short film with Tom Warburton which was seen by some folks at Disney and they hired us to be the designers of a new show for ABC called Pepper Ann. We worked together on that for several years and then Tom created Codename: Kids Next Door for Cartoon Network and I served as his background designer on that show too (a guy named Mo Willems just so happened to be the head writer on the show. Ever heard of him? Even if I never have a hit children’s book I can say that I have played touch football with Mo Willems). After that the bottom fell out of the NYC series animation industry. Most of my colleagues in the industry moved to California. I decided to stay on the east coast and recommit to illustration.

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

I work in the upstairs back room of my house. I’ve got a nice sliding glass door leading out onto a deck with a view of some ugly apartment buildings. I love my Cintiq, and all of my reference books, but the thing I really couldn’t live without is the espresso machine in the kitchen.

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

Every job is a chance to improve some aspect of my skill set. I just did a story for an educational publisher in which the main character was a 10-year old Asian boy. I took the job mostly because I’m not very good at drawing Asian kids. I just finished the job today and I think I got a little better at it…

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

I do. I use an OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA.

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Are you open to doing any illustrations for a writer who wants to self-publish?

If they can pay me and I like the project.

gideontree

Have you ever thought of self-publishing a book of your own?

Sure. It’s getting easier and more practical to do so. I am self-publishing my graphic novel and selling it and my other comics and prints at various events such as MOCCAfest (happening this weekend in NYC).

gideonanim_bg32

Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I keep meaning to learn Painter at this point I’m strictly a Photoshop guy.gideonWHATZIT_3_3_1

Have you used or plan to use your comic illustrations in a graphic novel?

Yes, I’m working on a graphic novel now. It is definitely not for kids, however. It’s called WHATZIT and you can buy it, along with a lot of my other not-for-kids stuff at http://www.WHATZITCOMIC.COM

gideonBG_art

It sounds like you are not only a talented illustrator, but an accomplished musician. Could you tell us a little bit about that side of your life, and how you got interested in music?

Acccomplished??? Ha! No, I just love writing songs. I am not particularly skilled as a musician but I enjoy performing and writing, as well as the collaborative nature of music. ITs a nice antidote to sitting alone in my underwear all day drawing pictures.

gideonanim_char1

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

I want to get some of my own children’s books published.

gideon20011_FINAL

What are you working on now?

Issue #2 of WHATZIT, some whiteboard projects for Idea Rocket, the next issue of Which Way USA for Hightlights, a serious of fine art prints depicting surreal animals and plants in various states of decay, a revision of one my book pitches (it’s called “The Last Story”. Its awesome. Somebody publish it for god’s sake!). I’m busy.

gideonsnackbar

 

gideonsteampunkkid

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

Work your ass of and then get very lucky? I dunno, let me call Mo Willems and get back to you. I do however have some advice on how to function and survive as an unsuccessful illustrator: Love your work. Never be satisfied. Get some exercise. Punk rock and espresso are great for tight deadlines.

gideonSEED_AI

Gideon thank you for sharing your wonderful illustrations, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please keep in touch and let us know of all your future successes. We would love to hear about them.

You can visit Gideon at his Illustration website:  http://www.gideonkendall.com
Graphic Novel Website: WHATZIT : http://activatecomix.com/152.comic

Please take a minute and leave Gideon a comment. It is always appreciated. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, How to, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Cartoon Network, Gideon Kendall

3 Comments on Illstrator Saturday – Gideon Kendall, last added: 4/5/2014
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25. Workshop for Poetry & Ask Kathy Answers

logo_highlightsDavid Harrison is conducting a Highlights Foundation workshop:

Poetry for the Delight of It

September 29 – October 2. 

David’s first book for children, The Boy with a Drum, was released in 1969 and eventually sold more than two million copies. In 1972, David won national recognition when he received the Christopher Award for The Book of Giant Stories. Since then David has published seventy-seven original titles that have sold more than fifteen million copies and earned numerous honors.

From budding poet to published veteran, if you like to think, talk, write, and share poetry, this one’s for you. Don’t wait too long to decide, this workshop sold out last year.

Here is the agenda:

Session 1:   The Study of Poetry
Session 2:   Verse
Session 3:   Are You Funny?
Session 4:   Skype Guest Kenn Nesbitt
Session 5:   Revising and Rewriting
Session 6:   Skype Guest Jane Yolen
Session 7:   Performing Your Work
Session 8:   Tips on Marketing
Session 9:   Self-Publishing
Session 10: Poetry Editor Rebecca Davis
Session 11: Becoming an Expert
Session 12: Open Forum
Session 13: The Big Performance
Session 14:  Setting Doable Goals
Wrap Up, Pictures, Goodbyes

Individual activities will include time to:

  • Practice writing what you’re learning
  • Be still with your thoughts
  • Start at least three new poems
  • Meet one-on-one with your workshop leader
  • Have your work critiqued by your workshop leader
  • Fun, impromptu gatherings by the fire to share poems
  • Chance to learn from others

Here is the link: http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/workshops/poetry-for-the-delight-of-it-2014

Below are a few of the questions and answers I received at last weekend Writer’s Retreat with Agent Sean McCarthy and Publisher Steve Meltzer.

1. When formatting a manuscript: Do you know of any rule that says you must NOT indent the first paragraph of a new chapter? What do you think?

Both Sean and Steve, thought I was crazy when I asked this and couldn’t understand why this question was being asked. I explained that when you read a book, the first paragraph of each chapter is not indented. Apparently this is something that has carried over from the old days in publishing. It is nothing that a writer needs to do when formatting their manuscript.

2. What do you think of prologues? Use them or lose them? 

Both Sean and Steve agreed that it is okay to use a prologue if it is important to telling the story. The word, “Important” is the key. Could the same story be told without the prologue? Is it something that the reader needs to know and will it tie into the end of the novel? They said editors worry about them, because many readers skip the prologue.

3. Are there any conventions for labeling manuscripts/books that mix genres? (For example, a series that is historical/science fiction/fantasy.)

The word for mixing these different genres is called, “Speculative Fiction.”

4. Because agents now often don’t respond if they aren’t interested in a query, that certainly makes it acceptable, almost imperative, to send simultaneous queries (although with each obviously tailored to a particular agent/agency). Is ten to a dozen too many to send out at once?

There was total agreement from everyone that you should not submit or query to only one agent. Ten seemed to be the standard amount to send out at one time.

5. Underlining makes it clearer to copyeditors and typesetters what needs to be italicized, but do agents have a preference whether the manuscript uses the italic or the underline function of the computer to indicate what will ultimately be italicized?

This was another one that didn’t seem to matter to Sean or Steve. Just italicize and don’t underline, since that is more standard. They weren’t worried about that detail, since they are paying the copyeditors to catch those type of things.

More Answers during the week, so check back.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Conferences and Workshops, demystify, Editors Tagged: Agent Sean McCarthy, Ask Kathy, David L Harrison, Hightlights Foundation, Publisher Steve Meltzer

4 Comments on Workshop for Poetry & Ask Kathy Answers, last added: 4/7/2014
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