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1. Picture Book Publisher – Flashlight Press

FlashLight Press is celebrating their 10 year in the publishing business. They are a small publisher and only publish a few books each year, but they specialize in picture books. Check out their awards pages. I was impressed with what they have accomplished. You may even recognize some of the artwork on their covers, since many of their illustrators have been featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click on the illustration that shows off some of the character in their books to look over their book catalog.

flashlightcat

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

If you have a story you want FLASHLIGHT PRESS to consider:

First, make sure your manuscript fits the following criteria:

  • is a fiction picture book (NOT a concept book, non-
    fiction, an early reader, a chapter book, or a YA novel)
  • has a universal theme (but no holiday themes, and no
    talking inanimate objects)
  • deals with family or social situations
  • targets 4-8 year olds
  • is between 500-1,000 words
  • feels like a Flashlight book (Please read about our
    books to determine whether your story really feels like a
    fit.)

If your manuscript meets their criteria:

  • send a query email describing your story (plot, word
    count, target audience, what makes this story unique) and
    a bit about yourself, to Shari Dash Greenspan at
    submissions@FlashlightPress.com
  • do not send snail mail queries. We disregard and
    recycle all snail mail submissions.
  • do not send attachments (instead, type your query
    into the body of the email.)
  • do not send your full manuscript (neither attached nor
    pasted into the email).

Then:

  • you will receive an automated reply within a week or so
    that we received your email query.
  • if we wish to see your full manuscript, we’ll let you know
    by email within a month or so. If you do not receive an
    email requesting your full manuscript, please realize that
    your story was not considered a fit for our line.

Manuscripts, when requested, will be evaluated within three to
four months.

Important tip: unless you are also an artist, do not include
illustrations with a requested manuscript.

If you create artwork that you want them to consider:

  • Explore our site to be sure that your style could be a fit.
  • Please do not send any samples by snail mail – we are going
    paperless and will recycle all paper samples we receive.
  • Do not send attachments. Instead, please paste a few sample
    jpegs into an email. Then we don’t have to open any files and
    can easily view your artwork.
  • Do include links to your online portfolio in your email.
  • Send the email to artsubmissions@FlashlightPress.com.
  • We‘ll keep your information on file for future reference, and will
    be in touch if we have any projects to offer.

Make this the year you revise and submit. Gook Luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, inspiration, need to know, opportunity, picture books, Places to Submit, publishers Tagged: Flashlight Press, Picture book publisher, submission guidelines

1 Comments on Picture Book Publisher – Flashlight Press, last added: 1/8/2015
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2. 12 Tips to Help Prevent Reader Boredom

Alikpeople_starsbigger

I thought the above illustration was a good fit with today’s post. Since I feel that this post will help you stir up you manuscript to keep your readers reading, just like illustrator Alik Arzoumanian did letting her cute lady stir up the sky.  (Note: I am looking for artwork to show off)

Alik received her BFA in Illustration from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston in 2004.   The first children’s book “Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! A Palestinian Folktale” by Margaret Read MacDonald received an ALA Notable Book Award in 2007. She was also featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Hope these tips help you stir up your manuscript:

1. Keep solving problems and adding new ones. Mix up the problems by using physical, logistical, and ones with other people.

2. Make your MC be in a worse place than before the last problem.

3. Beware of the “one Darn Thing After Another” Syndrome. You don’t want your MC to always be stuck dealing with things that don’t change their circumstances.

4. Deliberately shorten your sentences in tense scenes.

5. If you keep your chapters short, you will lore the reader into reading a little more before taking a break.

6. Stun your protagonist with a negative surprise that comes out of the blue. Shock your hero and you will shock your reader into reading more by ramping up the tension.

7. Delay revealing important information to ratchet up the tension. Let your readers worry about unanswered questions.

8. Contract you protagonists universe by making sure their are consequences for each choice. Lost opportunities add tension. When he chooses one option, he will no longer be able to purse the other good things he might have bee able to do.

9. Make an ally into an oppositional character with a conflicting goal.

10. Use dialogue to imply thing that are not directly said. Add in ironic statements to keep the reader wondering.

11. Make sure all the actions are built upon, leading to something. Look for places in your story that are dead ends.

12. Each scene must have a purpose – pointless events – excessive explanations – backstory. You might want to note the purpose after the first draft to remind you why you included it. This will make it easier to see if you need to eliminate it in later revision.

Do you have any other things you do to avoid reader boredom?

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, demystify, How to, inspiration, list, Process, revisions, Tips Tagged: 12 Tips to Help Prevent Reader Boredom, Alik Arzoumanian

1 Comments on 12 Tips to Help Prevent Reader Boredom, last added: 1/7/2015
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3. New Literary Division at Capital Talent Agency

Capital Talent Agency located in Washington, DC has added a new literary division to their agency services. They say they want to provide a wonderful home for authors who are looking for a supportive and hands-on agency. “We want nothing more than to see our authors achieve their dreams, and we do everything we can to make that happen.”

CapitolTalentAgency Screen-ShotAgent Cynthia Kane has been involved in the publishing industry for more than ten years. She has seen over 100 titles to market and has edited for UN Women (The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women). She has worked with Michael Gross, New York Times best-selling author, on “740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building” and “Rogues Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum.” Cynthia has also written for national and international publications and has served as a writing instructor at the Writopia Lab in Washington, DC, and has run several writing workshops. Cynthia received her B.A. in Literature from Bard College and her M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College.

She is looking for: young adult, children’s, nonfiction, memoir, commercial fiction (but no science fiction or fantasy).

How to contact: “Submissions should be sent to literary.submissions [at] capitaltalentagency.com. We accept submissions only by e-mail. We do not accept queries via postal mail or fax. For fiction and nonfiction submissions, send a query letter in the body of your e-mail. Attachments will not be opened. Please note that while we consider each query seriously, we are unable to respond to all of them. We endeavor to respond within six weeks to projects that interest us.”

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, children writing, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Places to Submit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Capital Talent Agency, Cynthia Kane

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4. Books Read in 2014 – 2015 Books in the Wings

2014 Books Read


Adult Books

outlanderDiana Gabaldon wrote the first book of her eight book Outlander Series in the early 90’s, so I am sure many of you have already read these books by now. But if you haven’t read them I highly recommend that you do. The first book sat on my book shelf for two years before I picked it up to read in October. This series is hands down the Best Adult book(s) I read this year! The only problem is that each book is at least 1100 words in length, so each one is like reading three YA novels.

Outlander – Book 1

Dragonfly In Amber – Book 2

Voyager – Book 3

Drums Of Autumn – Book 4

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Great voice

Influx by Daniel Suarez – Has anyone read this book. I am almost half way through reading and I haven’t started to enjoy it yet. Does it get better?


YA Novels

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi – The third book of one of my favorite series.

Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown – The third book of one of my favorite series.

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld – The second book of the Uglies Series – one of my favorite series

Specials by Scott Westerfeld – The third book of the Uglies Series – one of my favorite series.

Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey – second book in 5th Wave Series


Contemporary YA Standalone Novels

We Were Liars  by E Lockhart – Great voice

Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca - thoroughly enjoyed this book

Panic by Lauren Oliver – Love everything she writes.

Before I Fall – by Lauren Oliver – Love everything she writes.

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park – Jessica proves that self-published books can be great.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Giver by Lois Lowry – 1994 Newbery Medal winner


Middle Grade Novels

Wheels of Change by Darlene Beck-Jacobson – Hits all the things that people look for in a perfect middle grade book.

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler – on Darlene Beck Jacobson’s recommendation – another well-written and enjoyable book.

Cirque du Freak: Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan – Book Four – This series is great for kids who love to be scared. 12 books to this series.


Lined up on my nightstand for 2015 so far

The Young Elites by Marie Lubought this book because I loved her legend series.

Atlantia by Ally Condie - bought this book because I enjoyed her Matched Series.

Paradox by Ammi Joan Paquette – bought this book because I wanted to read something written by Joan.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – bought because of the reviews.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – bought because of the reviews.

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple – bought because of the reviews.

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – bought because it was written by Neil

The light Between Oceans by M.I. Stedman – bought because of the reviews.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – bought because it won the Pulitzer Prize.

The Martian by Andy Weir – bought because of Goodreads reviews.

Red Rising by Piece Brown – Bought because of reviews.

End of Days by Susan Ee – Coming out May 12th 2015 – Pre-ordered because it is the third book in the Angel Series, which I loved.

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer – Coming out June 2nd 2015. Pre-order because it is written by Lexa.

Do you have a book that you thoroughly enjoyed? I’d love to hear about the book and why you loved it.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, Internet, list, Middle Grade Novels, Young Adult Novel Tagged: 2014 books Read, books to read in 2015, Diana Gabaldon, Outlander, Veronica Rossi

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5. Highlights 2015 Fiction Contest

header_highlights-corp_logo-transparent

HIGHLIGHTS 2015 FICTION CONTEST GUIDELINES

CATEGORY:

Mystery stories

PRIZES:

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

ENTRY DATES:

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

RULES:

No entry form or fee is required.

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

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

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

No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.

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

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

SEND ENTRIES TO:

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

WINNERS:

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

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: Contest, magazine, opportunity, Places to Submit, publishers, writing Tagged: Highlights Fiction Contest, No fee Contest, No more than 750 words, Three $1000 Prizes

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6. Illustrator Saturday – Diana Kizlauskas

Diana Kizlauskas_photoDiana Kizlauskas says she knew she was in trouble early on. Drawing Barbie was more fun than playing with her. Drawing a poster of the Beatles was more appealing than buying one. A high school mural project meant more than ACT scores. By senior year, I made peace with my art addiction and chose it as my professional path…

With help from above and a little caffeine, I earned B.A. degrees in Art Education (UIC, 1974) and Illustration (Ray College of Design/ Illinois Institute of Art, 1991), supplementing those with drawing workshops at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My portfolio landed me in the freelance world of advertising and editorial illustration. Then with a new millennium, came a new direction: greeting cards and children’s educational publishing. Throughout this time, I exhibited work in the Chicago area, including at Gallery 400/UIC, Hyde Park Art Center, North Lakeside Cultural Center, and had a solo show at the Beverly Arts Center. In Indiana, my work was displayed at the Anderson Fine Arts Center, the John G. Blank Center for the Arts and Purdue University.

My work, family and faith community make up my rather simple universe. A native Chicagoan, my heart is anchored to the Midwest. However, I often go beyond the familiar to work with ethnic and historical themes. Through books, various other media and travel, I enjoy learning about different eras and cultures. I’ve amassed a wealth of visual reference materials which help me render physical characteristics, geographic features and design elements of various places and times. My background in education helps me translate those images to young readers in ways they can best understand.

TECHNIQUES

The illustrations presented here are created digitally or are hybrids of traditional acrylic on canvas or colored pencil on board combined with digital media.

Here is Diana talking about her process:

1_mountain

When I start an illustration I first break down the image to its most essential components. In the case of “The Climb” from my The Twelve Ravens book project, these are: the mountain, the stormy sky, girl protagonist and the injured eagle.

2_stormy-sky-

3_girl-climbing

4_eagle

5_composition

I then scan the images into Photoshop, placing each on a separate layer so that I can manipulate them independently. I play with size, cropping, etc., until I’m satisfied with the arrangement.

6_tonal rough

Since an odd number of objects make for a more interesting composition, I’ll eventually add in a fifth element, the “swoosh” of a blizzard.

7_umber

Next, I add tones to the drawing. I do this digitally or by printing out the line art and adding shading by hand and rescanning. The prior picture is an example where I have done both to achieve the result.
I start “painting” by duplicating my black and white tonal image and adjusting its color to umber (Figure 7). This layer lies atop the original tonal art.

8_blue

I again replicate the image to create a blue layer, which lies atop the umber. Then, using various percentages of opacity in my eraser tool, I remove sections of blue to expose umber and umber to expose black and greys. This results in a balanced warm-cool color underlayment.

9_The-Climb_FINAL

I go to finish by brushing on an entire spectrum of colors, working out details, depth, drama, texture. I give myself creative license to cut, crop, chop and drop, until—voila, it’s done!

10_Mountain-Masthead

Even as I’m working on the final art, I like to keep each key component of the piece in a separate layer so that I can continue to scale it, move it or manipulate its brightness and color. This is particularly helpful when the format of the illustration needs to be changed from print edition to eBook or if you need to “repurpose” images for a promotional spot. For example, I adapted the scene from “The Climb” to use as my Facebook masthead last winter.

Dianaravens

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been drawing since I could clutch a crayon in my chubby little hands; I’ve been paid for it since 1991.

Dianaparrots

How did you end up going to University of California, Irvine?

I received a BA degree in Art Education from the College of Art and Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago, known around these parts as UIC. (I have never studied in California; perhaps your question is based on a typo in one of my bio pages.)

dianaartarcticaleft

Since you received a BA in Art Education, did you teach after you graduated?

After completing my student teaching, I opted to stay home with my two children until they started grammar school. However, I do have about a decade of experience teaching part-time extracurricular classes to 3-7 year olds, including crafts, science and religious education.

dianaantarcticaright
What types of classes did you take that really helped you to develop as an illustrator?

Because a successful illustration is the result of craft, composition and creative communication, I think that Life drawing, Basic Design and Illustration Concepts courses were all indispensable.

diana79419
When did you get involved in Freelance Art?

I began getting professional free-lance projects immediately upon graduating from Ray College of Design. Their job placement services were quite helpful in getting me those initial interviews and portfolio showings.

Diana79437
What was the first thing you created where someone paid you for your work?

As a kid, I sold poster-size portraits of the Beatles to classmates. My first job as a “bone fide” illustrator was an editorial piece for the Chicago Daily Southtown newspaper.

diana79423
What made you decide to study illustration at Ray College of Design/ Illinois Institute of Art in 1991?

Ray College was a small vocational school providing a lot of individual attention to its students and geared toward getting them into the working world. At this point in my life, I felt I had had enough theoretical background and needed to jump into action.

dianacampfire
How long did you take drawing workshops at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago?

I attended Advanced Drawing Workshop for about a year.

dianalegend
Do you think taking those workshops helped improve your drawing skills?

They certainly did. But more importantly, they impressed upon me the importance of surrender to the mystery of creative process, experimentation with images, as well as pushing techniques and materials to their limits. Oddly enough, I also came away from my experience at SAIC with a personal resolve to avoid conformity to non-conformity.

dianacanoeright
When did you go digital?
I was dragged into the Digital Age in the late 2000’s by clients and agents who wanted a project done quicker, cleaner, and cheaper. I went kicking and screaming, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me professionally.

dianatoss
How many children’s books have you illustrated?

If we count leveled readers, I have illustrated 14 books in traditional print and 4 eBooks.

dianabluebonnet
Do you still do freelance art?

All my work is done on a free-lance basis.

dianaghosts
What was the first picture book that you illustrated? When did that happen?

I illustrated The Legend of the Bluebonnet in 2004.

dianairish
How did that contract come about?

I was approached by Steven Edsey Sons artists’ reps to do the project. They had seen a piece in my samples portfolio which matched the needs of the client very closely—a Plains’ Indian family preparing a meal. The rest was, as they say, history.

dianajump
Was the Legend of the Bluebonnet the first book you did with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt?

The publisher of the Legend of the Bluebonnet was Rigby/ Harcourt Achieve. I’m unclear as to what its relation to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was at that time.

dianamulti
How many books have you done with Harcourt?

I have illustrated four leveled readers for Rigby/ Harcourt Achieve and one for Harcourt School Publishers.

dianaweave
Would you consider working with an author who wants to self publish?

I would base my decision on the strength of the author’s credentials and the quality of the material.

dianamexico
Can you tell us a little bit about EDCO/Ireland? How did they find you and what type of work did they have you do?

EDCO is an educational publisher in Ireland. I believe their art directors saw my work on childrensillustrators.com and then contacted my current artist reps. I illustrated several stories (“In the Deep Dark Wood,” and “The Island of the Blue Dolphins”) and a poem (“The North Wind”) for them. One of these illustrations was then adapted as a cover for By The North Star, a book in their Big Box Library series.

dianacloswn
Have you worked with educational publishers? Which one’s?

Besides the aforementioned Rigby/Harcourt Achieve, Harcourt School Publishers and EDCO/Ireland, I have worked with Macmillan/McGrawHill, Pearson/Scott Foresman, Pearson Education, Compass Publishing and Quarasan, Inc. Though they might also be considered a trade or religious publisher, Pauline Books and Media contracted me to illustrate Jorge of Argentina: The Story of Pope Francis for Children (2014).

dianamice
How did those books come your way?

Nearly all of them came through artists’ reps with whom I was associated at the time of the project’s inception.

dianapedro
Have you ever tried to write and illustrate a children’s book?

Yes, I have. LETTUCE! , my tall tale about a rabbit and his rampant good fortune, is on the eBook market right now. Parents and teachers of preschoolers have given it a 5-star rating and I’m very excited about making it available in a traditional print version this spring.

dianaschool
Do you have an agent? If so, who and how long have the represented you? If not, would you like one?

Over the years I have been represented by several agencies, but since 2010 by WendyLynn&Co.

dianamultibox
What types of things do you do to get your work seen by publishing professionals?

I supply my artist reps with promotional material and advertise on childrensillustrators.com (http://www.childrensillustrators.com/illustrator-details/DKizlauskas/id=2110/). I maintain gallery and bookstore spaces on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators website (http://www.scbwi.org/members-public/diana-kizlauskas) and I maintain an author/illustrator page on amazon.com. Also, I post regularly to my business Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DKIllustration). Most importantly, I keep my DKI Children’s Illustration website (www.dianakizlauskas.com ) updated and functioning.

dianageshia
Have you seen your style change since you first started illustrating?

Absolutely. My work is increasingly softer edged, more painterly, and close to 100% digital.

dianadriveway
Have you gotten any work through networking or the Internet?

Almost exclusively so. As I described above, nearly all my marketing revolves around websites and on-line portfolio displays.

dianaafrican
Do you use software for painting besides Photoshop?

So far, only Photoshop.

dianapope
Do you own a graphic tablet? If so, how do you use it?

Yes, indeed. To reduce a complicated explanation to bare basics: I scan hand-drawn and photo-reference images into Photoshop, then use both a mouse and stylus to create layers, lines, colors, textures and draw additional images directly onto the tablet—whatever it takes to bring the illustration to finish.

dianareading
How much time do you spend illustrating?

When working on a client project, I keep a very strict 10-hour, 6 day per week schedule. When creating promotional samples or working on my own books, I loosen it up to 6-hours per 5 days weekly. (This fall a family medical crisis put my work on temporary “hold,” but I’m slowly getting back on track.)

dianaman
Do you have a studio set up in your house?

Yes, I do. I’m very fortunate to have a large room and loft area that accommodate a drawing table,easel, computer, printer, scanner, copier, a 8’x3.5’ work counter with horizontal storage, and 3 file cabinets full of reference clippings (some dating back to grammar school). Scads of shelves house more reference, paints, brushes , pencils and pens—not to mention a potpourri of chachkies. The closet full of dusty portfolio cases and canvases bears witness to a time before computers took over.

dianaa
Any picture books on the horizon?

The Twelve Ravens , a Lithuanuian folktale which I have adapted, retold and illustrated, is a project I hope to have out by Fall, 2015. The eBook version is almost done, the print format awaits revision.

diana79405
What are your career goals?
Beautiful books for beautiful children! I want to continue communicating to children of all colors and backgrounds through positive, bright and inspiring images. Whether my illustrations attain the stature of being published by the top trade publishers in the country or are independently made and distributed, my goal is to make each one better than the one before. I believe that concentrating on the work itself and not the fame or fortune it may bring is the only way an artist can maintain sanity in an ever-changing business world and culture.

dianatrail
What are you working on now?

As I mentioned, LETTUCE! and The Twelve Ravens are on my mind, but they may have to simmer on a back burner if my agent drafts me for a McGraw-Hill Education project for which I’ve recently been approved.

diana79402
Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?

Since I do all my “painting “ in Photoshop these days, there’s not much in the way of materials that I need to think about. But when working with colored pencils on paper or creating a “hybrid” piece where I draw onto a printed digital image, I like to use a wonderfully smooth paper called Mohawk Superfine. It is a 100 lb. “ultra white” cover stock used by the printing industry. It is receptive to the toner inks in my printer and is a perfect surface for multiple layers of Prismacolor pencils.

dianamecianman
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?

Like a man walking a tight rope, look straight ahead, never down. In creative, competitive fields, people who remain positive, patient, and intrinsically motivated—eventually prevail. Or as a colleague once remarked, “I can’t NOT do this…” Really, what other choice does a true artist have? So, KEEP AT IT!

dianawoman

Thank you Diana for sharing your journey and process with us and helping us kick off 2015. You can visit Diana at her website: http://www.dianakizlauskas.com to see more of her work.

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator Sites, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: Diana Kizlauskas, Digital Art, Ray College of Design, University of California

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7. Free Fall Friday – Why Does Your Story Happen?

I will announce the guest critique for January next Friday, but you can start sending in your first pages now. See bottom of post for submission guidelines.

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here with an important question for you today:

Why Does Your Story Happen?

No matter what I’m writing, from a picture book, to a young adult novel, or even a flash fiction piece, I have learned that all stories will present themselves better, be stronger and more meaningful if the reader has an idea of WHY they are happening.

This has taken me some time to learn. I like to start out knee-deep IN the action. One problem I’ve never had was a slow beginning. I like books that throw me right in there, even if I’m fumbling to understand what’s going on at first, so that’s how I almost always write.

High energy. Instant engagement.

Great, right?

Sure, sure, it has positives. But I had to learn to take a step back. And it has to be fast. Within a few paragraphs, or a page, the reader has to be let into the details of the world, what’s going on, and WHY.

At first, instant action is exciting. The reader gets the immediate thrill (hopefully) of really feeling the movement of the story. But that will quickly wear off, and leave them with a sour taste of “okay… what the heck is actually going on here??”

The reader needs to be in on the secrets.

Not every secret right away of course. But they quickly need to feel a sense of inclusiveness and grasp of the reality they dove into.

And it has to be more than an explanation of what monster they’re running from, or that Haylie is worried about them being lost because she’s out WAY past her curfew already.

I need to introduce a catalyst. WHY did they come to this place where the monster’s roam? If Haylie is so worried about her curfew, why did she choose TONIGHT to break the rules?

It’s something I struggle with. Feeling out how much information I need to put out there.

A trick that helps me is to look at it like a playground. Clichés of kids huddle together, whispering about whatever mischief or drama is the flavor of the moment. The reader needs to feel like one of the gang, like they understand the inside jokes and are “in” on everything going on.

This can be especially difficult in picture books. Every word is precious in a PB, and it can seem like a waste to be using them up to explain how the main character got to that point or why. But it can take less than you’d think, and really adds a depth of buy-in from the reader.

Understanding WHY a story is happening can ground it more in its own reality, giving it a sense of linear tangibility, as well as natural character development. Cause and effect are a part of every world and handled differently by every individual.

Billy darts into the kitchen, begging mom for a few toy.

Why then? Perhaps Billy just came from his friend’s house and learned they were getting one and is now jealous. This could need little more than the comment that Tommy’s mom said HE was getting one.

Or maybe Billy just saw the TV advertisement. A plate of crackers in front of the TV with a spilled glass of juice and the TV still blaring in the background could paint the picture without even using a single word.

No matter how it’s done, it can make the reader feel more like an insider on the story itself, and at the same time, gives insight on what type of person Billy is, what motivates him, what set off his longing.

So take a moment, step back and make sure that you’re letting your readers in on the secrets, giving them the insight into this new world that makes them know they’ve unlocked something special. Because there’s no doubt in my mind…

… your manuscripts are worth it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Thank you Erika for kicking off the new year with this new article.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES for January’s First Page Critiques:

In the subject line, please write “January 2015 First Page Critique” and paste the text in the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Plus attach your first page Word doc. to email. Format using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

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

DEADLINE: January 22nd.

RESULTS: January 30th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, writing Tagged: Erika Wassall, Why Does Your Story Happen?

5 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Why Does Your Story Happen?, last added: 1/5/2015
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8. Happy New Year! – Top Ten Books of 2014

New yearsWendyWehman

 

Top 10 Fiction of 2014

1. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (20)
2. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (18)
3. A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James (15)
Redeployment, Phil Klay
5. Lila, Marilynne Robinson (13)
The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters
7. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (11)
8. Euphoria, Lily King (10)
9. We Were Liars, E. Lockhart (9)
10. Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill (8)

Top 10 Nonfiction of 2014

1. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast (15)
2. Being Mortal, Atul Gawande (11)
The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison
4. On Immunity, Eula Biss (10)
The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert
In The Kingdom Of Ice, Hampton Sides
7. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Jeff Hobbs (9)
8. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (6)
Flash Boys, Michael Lewis
What if?, Randall Munroe
Capital, Thomas Piketty
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson

Sources:
These are the 53 sources counted so far — and from each we take only their most selective lists (e.g. the NYT’s Top 10, not their 100 “notable” books).
Awards (Good Reads; National Book Awards; Booker Award; Kirkus Awards; Giller Prize; Governor General’s Awards; FT McKinsey Award) Critics (Maureen Corrigan; Dwight Garner; Michiko Kakutani; Janet Maslin; Sarah Weinman; James Wood) Magazines (Entertainment Weekly; Newsweek; New York Magazine; Oprah Magazine; People Magazine; Time; Village Voice) Newspapers (Boston Globe; Chicago Tribune; Christian Science Monitor; Guardian; Houston Chronicle; Minneapolis Star Tribune; New York Times; Newsday; Seattle Times; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post) Online publications (BuzzFeed; Daily Beast; Gawker Review of Books; Grantland; Huffington Post; Slate) Other Distinctions/Lists (Monthly Indie Next No. 1 picks; monthly Library Reads No. 1 picks; BEA Buzz Panel books; PL Buzz Books titles; top Google searches) Retailers (Amazon; Amazon Canada; Barnes & Noble; BookPage; Hudson Booksellers; iBooks Store; Indigo; Kobo) Trade publications (Library Journal; Publishers Weekly; Shelf Awareness)

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, Holiday, illustrating, list, success Tagged: Best Wishes for 2015, Happy New Year, Top 10 Fiction Books of 2014, Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2015, Wendy Wahman

3 Comments on Happy New Year! – Top Ten Books of 2014, last added: 1/3/2015
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9. Happy New Year’s Eve! – Poem

Andreja Peklar

This illustration was sent in by Andreja Peklar to help us ring in the new year. She was featured earlier this year on Illustrator Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/illustrator-saturday-andreja-peklar/

Have a happy, safe celebration. If you take any pictures and want to share them, I will post them this week.

Here is a poem sent in by Hally Franz:

An Introvert’s Dilemma

 

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I have not a clue,

As to what I am doing, so I’ll run it by you.

 

Shall I put on heels and make-up and glitz,

For a glamorous evening down at The Ritz?

Or shall I stay home with Ryan Seacrest,

Dressed in my blue jeans instead of my best?

 

Perhaps dinner and dancing for a romantic night,

My hubby and I might stay out ‘til daylight.

Thought sometimes it’s hard to stay out so late,

When it’s been twenty-five years since you’ve been on a date.

 

We’ll have some friends over for board games and soup,

My skill in Balderdash will throw them all for a loop.

Of course, I’ll have to cook yet another meal,

And, if I liked to cook, it would be no big deal.

 

It’s New Year’s Eve, so communing is key,

One more chance to socialize, how lucky are we?

More time and friends, more time with fam,

Another minute might put my head in a jam.

 

Thanks for your input, thanks for your ear,

I’ve made a decision on how to ring in the year.

I’ll cozy up with my jammies, book, and hot tea,

And spend the whole festive evening with little old me.

 

Check back on Friday for Erika Wassell’s Guest Post.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Holiday, Poems Tagged: Andreja Peklar, Best of, Top 10 2014 Non-Fiction Books, Top 10 Fiction Books of 2014

3 Comments on Happy New Year’s Eve! – Poem, last added: 1/3/2015
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10. Book Sales Results for January to September 2014

ChristmasNewYearWinter-Moon-Over-Chicago-©-M-Kogan-12-14-2014-copy
This illustration was sent in by Michelle Kogan to help get us in the festive mood for the New Year. Michelle teaches art, and in the summers spends a good amount of time painting plien air in gardens and nature venues in the Chicago area, including the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. http://www.michellekogan.com

As reported by Publishers Marketplace: Trade book sales as measured by the AAP turned significantly negative for the first time all year in September, ratifying concerns that the lack of new breakout hits might weigh on consumer traffic and sales during the most important months of the year. Total trade sales of $618 million were down $44 million (or 7 percent), compared to $662 million a year.

Adult sales, which have been soft all year, accounted for all of the decline and then some, down $58.5 million (or 12 percent). Once again, hardcover sales — or weak frontlist — fell the most, down $41.3 million. Children’s and YA sales continued to gain though less so than in previous months, up $15 million (or 9 percent), to $183 million. (Those gains will likely be moderate for the rest of the year, as comparisons will get more difficult versus Veronica Roth’s breakout in late 2013.)

eBook sales also followed their pattern from previous months: Adult ebook revenues were flat at $106 million, as children’s ebook sales gained $3.7 million, to $17 million.

Trade sales are still in positive territory for the year, up 3 percent, though current indications point towards finishing 2014 flat or down slightly.

Here is our cumulative comparison chart for the year so far:

Month Adult Sales Change vs. 2013 Children’s/YA Sales Change vs. 2013 eBook Sales Change vs. 2013
January $362 million +$10 million $144 million +$44 million $137 million +$15.5 million
February $325 million +$6 million $137 million +$35 million $134 million +$6 million
March $316.5 million -$23.5 million $133 million +$22 million $108.5 million -$7.5 million
April $363 million -$20 million $128 million +$24 million $138.5 million +$19.5 million
May $371 million -$37 million $154 million +$39 million $120 million +$3 million
June $367.5 million -$3 million $129 million +$18.5 million $129 million +$11 million
July $367 million +$13 million $133 million +$15 million $127 million +$6.5 million
August $415 million +$8 million $179 million +$29 million $124.5 million +$2.5 million
September $435 million -$58.5 million $183 million +$15 million $123 million +$4 million

 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: list, Publishing Industry Tagged: 2014 Book Sales, Adult book Sales Comparison, Children's and YA Sales growth, Comparison Book Sales Chart, Ebook Sales and Growth, Publishers Marketplace

2 Comments on Book Sales Results for January to September 2014, last added: 12/30/2014
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11. The Best of 2014 Writing and Illustrating

penguins

Kendra Shedenhelm sent this illustration in for us to enjoy. It makes me think of the song that was out a year ago titled, “What does the Fox say.” Must be Tee Hee Hee. The fourth book she has illustrated, “You, the Magician,” was released in November 2014, and can be viewed at http://www.youthemagician.com. http://www.kendrashedenhelm.com/

HERE ARE THE LINKS TO HELPFUL ARTICLES POSTED IN 2014

WORLD BUILDING TIPS
TIPS ON WRITING ENDINGS 
THE MANUSCRIPT IN THE DRAWER 
SELF PUBLIHING – GETTING YOUR BOOK READY 
REVISIONS
TRACKING SUBMISSIONS
PRICING STRATEGIES FOR ILLUSTRATING
MORE SHOWING LESS TELLING 
AGENT/AUTHOR REVISION TIPS 
RESEARCHING AGENTS 
PUTTING WORDS ON PAPER
CREATING SYMPATHIC CHARACTERS
AMAZON RANKING vs. DAILY BOOK SALES
WORKING OUT THE DETAILS
TEN DREADED MANUSCRIPT ERRORS
PITCH IS CONCEPT 
STATE OF THE CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING MARKET
STATE OF THE MARKET PART TWO
STATE OF THE MARKET PART THREE
ATTACKING A CONFERENCE 
WHEN DO WRITERS STOPW WRITING 
MATCHMAKING FOR WRITERS CRITIQUE PARTNERS 
SEVEN WAYS TO MAKE YOURSELF AN EASY AUTHORS TO WORK WITH 
AMAZON SALES STRATEGIES
AMAZON STATEGIES – LOOK INSIDE
AMAZON STRATEGIES – SALES PAGE 
LITERARY vs. COMMERCIAL FICTION
RIGHT TO WRITEPICTURE BOOK CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT 
90 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER 
HOW TO SPOT A GREAT PICTURE BOOK
RESEARCHING FICTION
BEFORE STARTING A THRILLER NOVEL 
ROMANTIC BODY LANGUAGE 
NEVER SAY HE THOUGHT/SHE THOUGHT
CRITIQUING SECRETS 
MASTERING KID SPEAK
LETS TALK POV 
RIGHT TO WRITE 
GRAMMAR NAZI
FIVE WAYS TO FOLLOW UP WITH AN EDITOR OR AGENTS 
OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL 
BEFORE THE SALE – BOOK APPEAL 
FORMAT YOUR BOOK FOR CREATESPACE 
THREE TRICKS FOR SHOWING RATHER THAN TELLING
DEALING WITH REJECTION 
CRITIQUING SECRETS 
WRITING WORKSHEETS 
7 POINT STOR STRUCTURE SYSTEM

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, demystify, inspiration, list, Process, reference, Tips Tagged: Best of Writing and Illustrating 2014, Kendra Shedenhelm

4 Comments on The Best of 2014 Writing and Illustrating, last added: 12/29/2014
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12.

christmas santa hatcropped


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13. No Fee Poetry Contest

RDPoetryContest

NO FEE WRITING CONTEST

Contest is open to residents of the U.S., its territories and possessions, including Puerto Rico who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: January 31, 2015

Tell us your original poem, in 15 lines or fewer. The entry must not be lewd, obscene, sexually explicit, pornographic, disparaging, defamatory, libelous or otherwise inappropriate or objectionable, as determined by the Judges and/or Sponsor in their sole and absolute discretion.

Prize(s): One grand-prize winner will receive $500 and his/her story will be published in Reader’s Digest Magazine. Reader’s Digest will also select three (3) runner-up winners to receive $100.

Winners and finalists will be notified by email and regular mail within two months of the closing date.

SUBMISSION LINK: http://www.rd.com/poetry

Read Rules: http://www.rd.com/magazine/poetry-contest-rules/#ixzz3MaCPeJpR

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, inspiration, magazine, opportunity, Places to Submit, poetry Tagged: Andreja Peklar, Christine Brallier, No fee Writing Contest, Poetry Contest, Reader's Digest

2 Comments on No Fee Poetry Contest, last added: 12/28/2014
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14. Illustrator Saturday – Let It Snow!

Step in and visit. You will find many of the wonderful snowy illustrations that have graced books and Illustrator Saturday on this blog over the years. Hope you enjoy.

ruthsandersonC003_Christmas-Doorway

Ruth Sandersonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

WinterWalkLauraJacobsen

Laura Jacobsenhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/illustrator-saturday-laura-jacobsen/

garland537342_472064872829893_784964187_n

Michael Garlandhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

nancycotejbcopy

Nancy Cote - http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/illustrator-saturday-nancy-cote/

robpenguins-snowman

Rob McClurkanhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/illustrator-saturday-rob-mcclurkan/

christopherabbeysnow

Christopher Denisehttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/illustrator-saturday-christopher-denise/

wenzelStar-Poster-printer

David Thorn Wenzelhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/illustrator-saturday-david-thorn-wenzel/

dANIELLE59464cropped

Danielle Arborhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/illustrator-saturday-danielle-arbor/

lynsnowman

Lyn Stonehttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/illustrator-saturday-lyn-stone/

michellesnowball

Michelle Henningerhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/illustrator-saturday-michelle-henninger/

alisonsnowglobe

Alison Jayhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/illustrator-saturday-alison-jay/

garlandrollingsnow

Michael Garlandhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

robertaduck

Roberta Aangaramohttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/illustrator-saturday-roberta-aangaramo/

Kathleen04

Kathleen Kemlyhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/illustrator-saturday-kathleen-kemly/

bobSnow Finish

Bob McMahonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/illustrator-saturday-bob-mcmahon/

suzanne12_18_2013_sledding_copyright_suzannekaufman_2013

Suzanne Kauffmanhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/illustrator-saturday-suzanne-kauffman/

Stomping through the snowy woods500

Stacy Heller Budnickhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/illustrator-saturday-stacy-heller-budnick/

yvonnesnowlady

Yvonne Gilberthttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

yvonne46_The_Snow_Queen-1400

Yvonne Gilberthttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

barnessnowman

Sheralyn Barneshttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/illustrator-saturday-sheralyn-barnes/

watson77365

Laura Watsonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/illustrator-saturday-laura-watson/

kristinasnowstorm500

Kristina Swarnerhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/illustrator-saturday-kristina-swarner/

randysnow

Randy Gallegoeshttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/illustrator-saturday-randy-gallegos/

manchesswild500

Gregory Manchesshttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/illustrator-saturday-gregory-manchess/

detwilerbclk_snowleopard

Susan Detwilerhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/illustrator-saturday-susan-detwiler/

maritSnowmancom

Marit Menzinhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/illustrator-saturday-marit-menzin/

hernandez_winter_a72dpi

Leeza Hernandez - http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/illustrator-saturday-leeza-hernandez-3/

kirstie_edmunds_winter

Kristie Edmundshttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/illustrator-saturday-kristi-edmunds/

Constanzebluewintercropped

Constanze von Kitzinghttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/illustrator-saturday-constanze-von-kitzing/

ruthwinterhorse

Ruth Sandersonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

winter mayfield rd

Jeremy Tugeauhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/illustrator-saturday-jeremy-tugeau/

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 7_42_18 AM

Anne Wertheimhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/illustrator-saturday-anne-wertheim/

alisonwinterscape

Alison Jayhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/illustrator-saturday-alison-jay/

About_001

Lita Judgehttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/illustrator-saturday-lita-judge/

14921

David Hillhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/illustrator-saturday-david-hill-2/

ericsnowdog

Eric Freeberghttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/illustrator-saturday-eric-freeberg/

PatrickSnowbot

Patrick Girouardhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/illustrator-saturday-patrick-girouard/

IMG_7604

Anne Wilkinsonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/illustrator-saturday-annie-wilkinson-2/

snowmanski

Michele Noisethttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

marknewyorker500

Mark Meyershttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/illustrator-saturday-mark-meyers/

dillardsnow squalls

Sarah Dillarhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/illustrator-saturday-sarah-dillard/

ruthsleddingsnowmen

Ruth Sandersonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

anchinTuBiShevat

Lisa Anchin – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/illustrator-saturday-lisa-anchin/

timsnowman sequence 5

Tim Bowershttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/illustrator-saturday-tim-bowes/

Angela Padron illustrator intesive FINAL

Angela Padronhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/illustrator-saturday-angela-padron/

melaniewinter

Melanie Greenberghttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/illustrator-saturday-melanie-hope-greenberg/

eaddy54629

Susan Eaddyhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/illustrator-saturday-susan-eaddy/

melissa iwaiwinter-scene3

Melissa Iwaihttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/illustrator-saturday-mellisa-iwai/

cotedarien

Nancy Cotehttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/illustrator-saturday-nancy-cote/

ruthsnowqueensleeping

Ruth Sandersonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

ruthsnowprincessflute

Ruth Sandersonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

ruthracehorsesnow

Ruth Sandersonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

cherylBR_1bigger

Cheryl Kirk Nollhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/illustrator-saturday-cheryl-kirk-noll/

Michaelpaintings%20021L

Michael Doolinghttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/illustrator-saturday-michael-dooling/

kathiembermap2a

Kathie Ember - http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/illustrator-saturday-kathi-ember/

Sharonssnowman

Sharon Vargo - http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/illustrator-saturday-sharon-vargo/

bogadeChristmascard stork2bigger

Maria Bogadehttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/illustrator-saturday-maria-bogade/

jenniferskating

Jennifer Thermeshttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/illustrator-saturday-jennifer-thermes/

krisArosnowmancloseupil_570xN_44318912

Kris Aro McLeodhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/illustrator-saturday-kris-aro-mcleod/

hanstheboyinsidesnow

Hans Wilhelmhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/illustrator-saturday-hans-wilhelm/

carolsnow

Carol Liddiment – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/illustrator-saturday-carol-liddiment/

snowqueensmall

Susan Jeffers - http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/illustrator-saturday-susan-jeffers/

ruthchristmasmailbox

Ruth Sandersonhttp://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, list, picture books Tagged: Illustrator Saturday Snow, snowy illustrations

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Let It Snow!, last added: 12/27/2014
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15. Holiday Poem Vote

christmaschristinebral

Santa is kicking back and enjoying himself the day after Christmas in this stain glass illustration sent in by Christine Brallier. It is from her children’s book, The Night Before Christmas. The illustrations were created by Christine using stained glass mosaics. http://www.cbmosaics.com/book/

Take Our Poll

 

Hope you will participate with picking out the winner and wishing that you will have a day to rest after all the work of the holiday.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, Poems Tagged: Carol Murray, Christine Brallier, Hally Franz, Holiday Poems Voting, Marie Wagner, Michelle Kogan, Rob Zammarchi, Robin Jordan

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16. Merry Christmas

ana ochoa

This Christmas illustration was sent in by Ana Ocho to help us celebrate the day. Ana has worked with most publishers in Mexico (both private and government), doing picture books as well as school text books. She was featured at the beginning of the year on Illustrator Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/illustrator-saturday-ana-ochoa/

Christmas Andreja

This happy North Pole Illustration was sent in by Andreha Peklar. She was featured earlier this year on Illustrator Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/illustrator-saturday-andreja-peklar/

DECEMBER’S LIGHT by Eileen Spinelli

 

It’s the slanted light of a silver star,

  soft candlelight in a quiet room.

  It’s lantern light from house to barn

  swaying bright against the gloom.

  It’s the light of home across the miles.

  It’s the puddled light of moon-on snow.

  It’s the light in eyes…in smiles…in hearts.

  It’s the sweetest light of all I know.

christmas tree

Thank you Eileen and Carol for the Christmas cheer. Hope everyone is having a wonderful day. Merry Christmas!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Ana Ochoa, Andreja Peklar, Carol Murray, Eileen Spinelli

4 Comments on Merry Christmas, last added: 12/25/2014
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17. Christmas Eve is Here! Two Poems for Judging – One for fun

Christmas Lauren Gallegos FINALAsleep

Lauren Gallegos sent in this cute illustration that rings so true. She is a Children’s Book Illustrator who was featured on Illustrator Saturday: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/illustrator-saturday-lauren-gallegos/  www.Laurengallegos.com Twitter: @laurengallegos

Here are two holiday poems. More tomorrow and Christmas Day. Voting will start on Friday.

The Tasting Tree

By: Robin Jordan

Busy hands stained juicy, red.

Berries strung. Needle ‘n thread.

Draped around a fragrant pine

Over, under branches fine.

Popcorn seeds shake, shake, shake, then

Burst into a snowy flake.

Loosely sewn all in a row

On the festive tree they go.

Vanilla scents thrill the nose.

Cookies tied with shiny bows

Sprinkles shimmer, precious gems

Dot the sweeping verdant stems.

Shepherd crooks, a sweet delight

Twisted stripes. Some red, some white.

Candy canes hung by their hook

Help create a gleeful look.

My tasting tree’s now complete.

Leaving Santa lots to eat.

Working hard all through the night

Must stir up his appetite!

 

markpenguinchristmas500

The above illustration was done by Mark Meyers. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday in 2012. Here’s the link.  http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/illustrator-saturday-mark-meyers/

Christmas Movies and Meaning

By Hally Franz –

On the Twelve days of Christmas I hoped I could see,

The classic holiday movies I’d missed on TV.

So many favorites make me smile, laugh, and cry,

But the days left for watching are flying right by.

 

Day one, I will start with some time spent with Clark,

Though his house was lit well, he was left in the dark,

‘Bout what grand or glum bonus would come his way,

And what crazy cousin Eddie would do that last day.

 

Day two, it’s time for a freckle-faced kid,

And the tale of what the two robbers did.

Left all alone, but helpless he’s not,

For few have the tricks clever Kevin has got!

 

Day three, I must visit a lodge in Pine Tree,

For Vermont is a lovely white place one should be,

On lyrical holidays with Danny and Bing,

Engagements and soldiers, all the songs they will sing.

 

Day four is saved for a swelling single dad,

Who put on the suit and left the life he once had.

Shaving and gaining, graying and growing,

He flew to the North Pole where elves he’s employing.

 

On day five, I’ll enjoy a sugary treat,

A Caan-Ferrell combo is one hard to beat.

Jovie leads carols, gets Santa’s sleigh off the ground,

In a place folks think no Christmas cheer can be found.

 

From sweet to a sneak on day six, I will go,

When I watch the green guy with the heart yet to grow.

He seemed determined to ruin Christmas for young Cindy Lou,

Until Dr. Seuss taught him a lesson compliments of the Whos.

 

By seven I travel across the pond to hear,

Tales of Mark and Daniel and Bridget dear.

Their accents are lovely, their troubles quite mad,

The kiss in the snow leaves me a Colin Firth fan.

 

Now when on day eight, loves turns to divorce,

It’s time for “delousing babies in Burma,” of course.

Though they try to avoid crazy families, they find,

Even spray cheese and spending limits are better than “lies.”

 

Though Peter B. helped produce my selection above,

He’s rabbit-costume-hating Ralphie in one we all love.

On day nine it’s Red Ryder BB guns and lady-leg lamps,

Frozen tongues, broken glasses, and little guy scamps.

 

My nostalgic mood continues on ten,

When I’ll watch my old black-and-white friend.

George questions himself and thinks his life’s been a waste,

Clarence reveals he’s made Bedford Falls a fine place.

 

Dickens’s story, reincarnated has been,

But, any version works fine on day eleven.

Visions and dreams appear as in our story above,

Unlike good-guy George, Scrooge must learn how to love.

 

Day twelve is reserved for one from way back,

A short film of a child and the love he did lack.

A poor boy he has only his drum he can play,

For the newborn king on that most glorious day.

 

Thank you, Hollywood, for movies we enjoy year after year,

For stories of love, life, and lessons held perennially dear.

But, if one studies the list, I think you will find,

Few of the flicks bring the true meaning to mind.

 

The most known films are sweet and funny, it’s true,

But fail to bring Mary, the manger, and Jesus in view.

Tinsel Town, try addressing man’s internal crave,

And, give us more to see about the son that He gave.

It’s a story that’s true, compelling, and brave,

Of One born to die, our sinning souls to be saved.

 

Consider my list, along with my request,

While I reveal answers to the above test.

 

“Christmas Vacation” should not be spent “Home Alone,”

Unless it’s a “White Christmas” and you’re talking by phone.

But, then “The Santa Clause” and his “Elf” won’t find you around,

If in spite of “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” down the chimney they bound.

 

If left stranded deep in snow read “Bridget Jones’ Diary” for fun,

Are remember “Four Christmases” are rarely better than one.

Tell “The Christmas Story” for one or all who are near,

Be thankful “It’s a Wonderful Life” whether you’re there or you’re here.

Sing “A Christmas Carol” or two with joy in your heart,

And, one called “Little Drummer Boy” is a great way to start.

 

Blessings to all at this Christmastime,

And, thank you for reading my ramble-ing rhyme.

In summary, I say watch those movies we love,

But save time for the Savior sent from above.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

This was sent in by Margo Sorenson. She doesn’t know who wrote it, but it is a very well-known in Hawaii.

“Da Night Bafo Christmas” Was da night bafo’ Christmas, and all ova’ da place,

Not even da geckos was showin’ their face.

Da stockings was hangin’ on top da TV

(‘Cause no mo’ fireplace in Hawai’i )

Da kids stay all crashed, my old man too.

They leave all da work for you-know-who.

So me, I stay pickin’ up alla dea toys,

When – boom! – outside get only big noise!

I run to da window, I open ‘em up,

I stick out my head and I yell, “Eh! Whassup?!”

And then, I no can ba-lieve what I seen!

Was so unreal, you know what I mean?

This fat haole guy get his reindeers in my yard!

And reindeers not housebroken,

you know, as’ why hard!

But nemmind, this Christmas,

so I cut ‘em some slack.

Plus, had uku pile presents pokin’ outta his sack!

So I wait ’till he pau tie up his reindeer,

Then I yell out da window,

“Huui! Brah, ova hea!”

An’ I tell ‘em first thing,

when I open da door,

“Eh, Hemo your shoes! You going dirty my floor!”

He take off his boots, he tell, “You know who I am?”

I go, “Ho! From the smell, must be Mr. Toe Jam!”

He make mempachi eyes and he go, “Ho, ho, ho!”

By now, I stay thinking this guy kinda slow!

He look like my Tutu, but little less weight,

And his beard stay so white, mo’ white than shark bait!

He stay all in red, specially his nose,

And get reindeer spit on top his nice clothes!

But him, he no care; he just smile at me,

And he start fo’ put presents unda-neath da tree.

I tell ‘em, “Eh, brah, no need make li’dat,

And watch where you step! You going ma-ke da cat!”

Then, out from his bag, he pull one brand new computah,

Choke video games, and one motorized scootah!

He try for fill up da Christmas socks too, But had so much pukas,

all da stuff went fall troo.

When he pau, I tell ‘em, “Eh Santa, try wait!

I get plenty leftovahs, I go make you one plate!”

But  he nevah like hang, he had so much fo’ do;

Gotta make all them small kids’  wishes come true.

So I wave ‘em goodbye, and I flash ‘em da shaka,

And  I tell ‘em, “Mele Kalikimaka!”

When he hear that, he stop…and I telling  you true,

He go, “Garans ball-barans! Merry Christmas to you!”  

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Thank you Hally and Robin for sending in your December poems. I will post a couple more tomorrow and a few on Christmas, then you can vote on Friday. Please stop back an vote  for your favorite Holiday poem. Have a Merry Christmas.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Christmas Poems, Hally Franz, Lauren Gallegos, Mark Meyers, Robin Jordan

2 Comments on Christmas Eve is Here! Two Poems for Judging – One for fun, last added: 12/27/2014
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18. Kudo & Books

dowpostcard holiday feast kathy

Dow Phumiruk is an aspiring children’s book illustrator. She won the 2013 SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award that promotes diversity in children’s books. This feast illustration is from a book idea called Arissa and the Queen’s Mice. Please visit her portfolio site at http://www.artbydow.blogspot.com or her blog at http://www.happydow.blogspot.com to see more of her work.

kelly calabrese headshot2I’m thrilled to share that… drum roll please… Kelly Calabrese has accepted representation with Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency!

Kelly says, “Sarah LaPolla is a super sharp, smart, and witty agent who really *gets* the types of books that I like to write – which I believe is the most important factor in an agent/writer relationship.”

Kelly first met Sarah at the annual NJ SCBWI June Conference, and then again at the Full Manuscript Avalon Writres’ Retreat at the end of September. Sarah critiqued her full manuscript of her YA Thriller-Horror, BEAUTIFUL BLOODY DUCKLING, and gave her editorial notes that were dead-on insightful.

I asked Kelly what happened post the Avalon Writers’ Retreat, here is what she said:

I had the amazing fortune of being accepted into Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars. As a chosen mentee in this contest, I won the editorial aid of two published mentors – Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie – who helped to shape my story into a much stronger version. I can’t shout loud enough from the rooftops about how life-changing Pitch Wars can be. After working day and night on revisions (Sleep? What sleep?!), I completed my manuscript a mere two days before Thanksgiving.

Sarah received my full manuscript on the 25th of November, and offered me representation within two weeks. Crazy. I know. And so very encouraging!!! It’s all very *dream come true* – WHOOT!

I truly believe that Sarah is an ideal agent for me, and that we are going to KICK ASS together. So, watch out world.

Of course, I could not have done it on my own. I am beyond grateful for Dee Falvo (my über talented CP), for the constant encouragement provided by my fellow NJ SCBWI members, and for the empowering mentorship offered through Pitch Wars.

The writing community ROCKS. And I am so thrilled to be a part of it…. #AmWriting #AmReading #Forevermore :)

— @kellycalabrese & @sarahlapolla —-

PS: I started a new BLOG called We Hear YA! It connects YA writers with their teen audience and can be found here: http://wehearya.blogspot.com/ (@WeHear_YA)

LINKS…
Sarah LaPolla: http://www.bradfordlit.com/about/sarah-lapolla-agent/

Pitch Wars: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars/

Trisha & Lindsay’s book:

http://www.fluxnow.com/product.php?ean=9780738740805

CONGRATULATIONS KELLY AND SARAH!

FYI: If you have a Kindle, here are two books that have had their prices temporarily reduced. Can’t ever go wrong buying a Lauren Oliver book. I personally read and enjoyed. I just bought RED RISING, but have not read it yet. It has gotten a lot of buzz and awards.

panic

Panic

By Lauren Oliver

A New York Times bestselling author delivers a “fast-paced and captivating book” (School Library Journal). In the small town of Carp, teenagers have invented a dangerous game, and newly graduated Heather and Dodge find themselves competing for thousands of dollars — putting their very lives at risk.

$1.99

Deal ends: January 5

RED RISINGRed Rising

By Pierce Brown

For fans of The Hunger Games comes a New York Times bestseller that’s a “heart-pounding ride” (Entertainment Weekly). Darrow is a Red — part of the lowest level in his color-coded dystopia. Can he infiltrate the ruling Gold caste and bring justice to his people? “Fast-paced, gripping, well-written” (Terry Brooks).

$1.99

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=RED%20RISING

Deal ends: December 27

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Book, illustrating, inspiration, success Tagged: Avalon Writer's Retreat, Bradford Literary Agency, Dow Phumiruk, Kelly Calebrese, Sarah LaPolla

5 Comments on Kudo & Books, last added: 12/26/2014
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19. Free Fall Friday – Sad and Happy – Tummy Growling

christmasillo

These reindeers created by Christine Brallier are getting ready to take off on their Christmas Eve trip to help Santa deliver his gifts. It is from her children’s book, The Night Before Christmas.  The illustrations were created by Christine using stained glass mosaics. http://www.cbmosaics.com/book/

Creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog Norman Bridwell, 86, died last Friday at a hospital on Martha’s Vineyard. Scholastic says his over 150 titles have 129 million copies in print worldwide. Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson said, “Norman personified the values that we as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children – kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude – through the Clifford stories which have been loved for more than fifty years.”

catchthecookie8b1a562c-48a0-4bfc-901c-64adfdf13395_zps49ace1cc Jama Kim Rattigan on her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup, featured H CATCH THAT COOKIE. I feature the book written by Hallie Drand (A.K.A Holly McGhee) and illustrated by David Small in August. You can click their names to view those posts. But Jama’s post are so much fun. She always ties books in with recipes.

I think I am going to try the recipe for the cookies in the post and show them off like she did with the book during Christmas.

Below is a list of the Ingredients, click the Directions at the bottom to jump back over to Jama’s blog to read the rest and see her fun display of her cookies and the book.

GINGERBREAD CUTOUT COOKIES

Total Time: Prep: 30 minutes + chilling. Bake: 10 minutes/batch + cooling.

Yield: 60 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vanilla frosting of your choice
  • Red and green paste food coloring

Directions:

4_AB_ALetterto_ReinharzChildren’s writer Jennifer Reinharz reported a few months ago that she became a contributing writer at Mamalode. Her second article, A Letter to my Palestinian-American Muslim Friend has been posted. They track the number of unique views, likes, comments, and shares and they base her success on this, so if you get a chance take a minute to read her new article.

Jennifer says, “My path to Kidlit author has yet to be a straight line, but I can’t help but think that getting a chance to connect and share one of my stories with the Mommies, etc. is an example of heading right direction.”

This is a goods lesson for all of us. You just never know where your next success will come from and how one little thing can lead to another.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: inspiration, Kudos, News Tagged: Christine Brallier, Clifford the Big Red Dog, David Small, Hallie Durand, Jama's Alphabet Soup, Jennifer Reinharz, Norman Bridwell

10 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Sad and Happy – Tummy Growling, last added: 12/20/2014
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20. Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites

I thought this Saturday I’d bring you some of the Santa’s from past Illustrator Saturdays. Remember that not every illustrator has done an illustration of Santa. I am sure I missed some Santa’s, so if you were featured on Illustrator Saturday and have a Santa that you would like me to add, please email me with the illustration and I will add it to the celebration of Santa.

Yvonnesantauntitled

Yvonne Gilbert http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

wenzelsantaraindeers

David Thorn Wenzel – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/illustrator-saturday-david-thorn-wenzel/

ZimmerSanta_4

Glenn Zimmer – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/illustrator-saturday-glenn-zimmer/

ruthsantacircling house

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

ruthsantaopeningbag

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

santa

Michele Noiset – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

santa

David Harrington – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/illustrator-saturday-david-harrington/

cressySantasNewYearsEveSML

Micheal Garland – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

yvonne51_Father_Christmas_Greeting-Card-1400

Yvonne Gilbert http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

becciachristmas2

Carlyn Beccia – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/illustrator-saturday-carlyn-beccia/

santa running

Michele Noiset – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

dillardsanta bear tree

Sarah Dillard – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/illustrator-saturday-sarah-dillard/

garland10087_465065250196522_1314917625_n

Michael Garland – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

ruthsantaworkshop

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

Karen Romagna Santa_&_Lamb_For_Prints

Karen Romagna – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/illustrator-saturday-karen-romanga/

shawnaa2f6f359b451371b24ff958ad09b7d24

Shawna JC Tenney – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/illustrator-saturday-shawna-jc-tenney/

detwilerRedCanoe1-788x1024

Susan Detwiler – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/illustrator-saturday-susan-detwiler/

eberzSanta small

This Santa was done by Robert Eberz. Robert will be featured on Illustrator Saturday in January, so check back for more. www.roberteberz.com

Merry Christmas! Remember that I will be posting Christmas poems on Christmas Day, so if you have a Christmas poem, please email it to me.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Christmas, Santa Claus, Santa illustrations from Illustrator Saturday

5 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites, last added: 12/23/2014
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21. When to Submit

Christmas Melissa Iwai

This sweet illustration was sent in my Melissa Iwai.  Melissa was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

When I meet a new writer and they ask me for advice, I always point out not to rush to submit what they have written. That advice comes from personal experience and many years of observation. When you are new you think everything you write is wonderful and it isn’t until a few years late and many rejections that you realize you better get into a critique group and learn to revise. The trouble is a writer can go on too long with revisions and setting things aside, so when Bebe sent me this short article I thought it might provide the inspiration you can use going into 2015.

Here’s Bebe:

bebeListening Too much or Self Doubt
By Bebe Willoughby

While people who worked in publishing above us hurried off to the Hamptons on Friday’s early summer dismissal, a co-worker and I stayed in the air conditioned office to write a book on dreams. Our lack of self-confidence prevented us from sending it out.

We tucked the manuscript safely in a drawer , where it stayed for four years. We joined a writing group and brought along the manuscript. The leader, a well-known writer/ illustrator, said it was publishable and encouraged us to send it out. So we did and got a quick call from an editor who wanted to publish it.

I have another tale to tell that involves doubting myself and listening to far too many people. I wrote a short story entitled “Nothing Lasts Forever.” None of my writer friends showed much enthusiasm, and a top editor told me I did not write well enough for major magazines. I lived with that declaration for quite some time. Then a friend who did not work in publishing advised: “send it out. You have nothing to lose.” She, of course, was right, but I had not seen it that way. My tale has a happy ending. The story was published in Seventeen magazine.

I encourage writers to have others read their work, but be careful about listening too hard. In the end, you must trust yourself.

Bebe Willoughby earned a M.F.A.in creative writing at Columbia University and is the author of five works of  fiction–four children and one novel for adults. She served for ten years as an editor at Random House.

Bebe, thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. I hope it inspires everyone to get their revisions done and submit more of their writing and illustrating this year. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be a book contract to be successful. Wishing everyone a very successful 2015. Now’s the time to start think laying out a plan.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, authors and illustrators, bio, inspiration, Process, revisions, submissions Tagged: Bebe Willoughy, Melissa Iwai

6 Comments on When to Submit, last added: 12/22/2014
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22. Critiquing Secrets

Interested in writing a Chapter Book? Don’t miss this FREE WEBINAR with Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg on Friday January 2nd 2015 at 5.30pm PST! They are also going to give some late holiday presents for some lucky folks that include a free critique with Hillary or Mira and some free signed books. Wahoo! See more at: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-novel-writing-webinar.html#sthash.aEum3YJW.dpuf

Mira_pic2Mira is my Guest blogger for today’s post. Here’s Mira:

Critiquing Secrets by Mira Reisberg

First of all, thank you Kathy for having me on your fabulous blog. This site has been such a great resource for our community for a long time and I feel honored to be here. As we come to the end of the year, it seems like a good time to reflect on what we did to better our craft and improve our skills as people who create children’s books. Personally, I think it comes down to three things: take courses (i.e. study and improve your craft and keep revising), join the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, and join and participate in a critique group. For this post, I’d like to talk a little about critiquing and then share some critiquing secrets.

Over the past 26 years as an illustrator, author, editor, art director and former literary agent, I’ve learned that although your work is uniquely your own, you can’t exist in a vacuum. Receiving criticism from fellow writers or illustrators, and peers is a must have regular part of your creative process.
So let’s talk about the secrets of critiquing for plot-driven books.

After struggling with a piece, if you can, let it percolate for a while and then come back not only with a fresh eye, but with fresh sets of eyes. Other eyes may see what you have missed, offer a different perspective, and question what you have taken for granted.

While you may be tempted to have your mother, your significant other, or best friend critique your work, they should not be your only ‘eyes’. They’re not trained to critique, may not understand your work, and may try to protect your feelings, regardless of their true opinion.

So what are some great critique techniques? For plot-driven writers the main things you need to look for are:
• How enticing is the hook or beginning?
• Do we care or are we intrigued by the character(s) enough to want to find out more about them and their journey?
• Does the tension build as the main character faces challenges and obstacles along the way?
• Do they solve the problem themselves?
• Is the climax and resolution satisfying with a twist at the end?
• Is each character different with their own distinct voice?
• What makes this particular story memorable?
• Does it have any underlying universal themes that are meaningful for kids?
• How can the drama, humor, pathos, or whatever key feeling the story has, be amplified?
• Does the pacing move at a good speed or does it slow down anywhere? Is there redundancy or excess?
• And finally does the language sparkle with techniques like alliteration and assonance, rhythm and repetition where appropriate?

All of these suggestions will help you in the critiquing process to get to the core and heart of your story to make it stronger, sweeter, funnier, or whatever its essence more appealing and thus more marketable.

Finally, for tender newer critique groups or critiquing partners who are vulnerable, remember to use the hamburger technique of starting and ending with something positive and getting to the meat of what needs help in the middle. As creatives, we tend to be a little thin skinned and starting with something positive will make it easier for the person being critiqued to hear the more challenging suggestions.

BIO: Mira Reisberg Ph.D. has worn many hats in the industry including being a university professor teaching children’s literature and now as the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Mira has taught and mentored many successful authors and illustrators.

Her next interactive e-course, for beginners to award winners, the Chapter Book Alchemist, co-taught by former comedian and award-winning chapter book author Hillary Homzie, promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with potential life and career changing benefits starts January 12th!

Click here to find out more: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/the-chapter-book-alchemist.html

The course includes optional critique groups, weekly live webinar critiques, and the option for critiques with Mira or Hillary among other goodies!

Mira, thank you for taking the time to share your expertise with all of us. Good luck with the webinar!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, chapter books, list, opportunity, Tips Tagged: Critiquing Secrets, Free Chapter Book Webinar, Free critique, Hillary Homzie, Mira Reisberg

3 Comments on Critiquing Secrets, last added: 12/22/2014
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23. Critiquing Secrets

Interested in writing a Chapter Book? Don’t miss this FREE WEBINAR with Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg on Friday January 2nd 2015 at 5.30pm PST! They are also going to give some late holiday presents for some lucky folks that include a free critique with Hillary or Mira and some free signed books. Wahoo! See more at: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-novel-writing-webinar.html#sthash.aEum3YJW.dpuf

Mira_pic2Mira is my Guest blogger for today’s post. Here’s Mira:

Critiquing Secrets by Mira Reisberg

First of all, thank you Kathy for having me on your fabulous blog. This site has been such a great resource for our community for a long time and I feel honored to be here. As we come to the end of the year, it seems like a good time to reflect on what we did to better our craft and improve our skills as people who create children’s books. Personally, I think it comes down to three things: take courses (i.e. study and improve your craft and keep revising), join the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, and join and participate in a critique group. For this post, I’d like to talk a little about critiquing and then share some critiquing secrets.

Over the past 26 years as an illustrator, author, editor, art director and former literary agent, I’ve learned that although your work is uniquely your own, you can’t exist in a vacuum. Receiving criticism from fellow writers or illustrators, and peers is a must have regular part of your creative process.
So let’s talk about the secrets of critiquing for plot-driven books.

After struggling with a piece, if you can, let it percolate for a while and then come back not only with a fresh eye, but with fresh sets of eyes. Other eyes may see what you have missed, offer a different perspective, and question what you have taken for granted.

While you may be tempted to have your mother, your significant other, or best friend critique your work, they should not be your only ‘eyes’. They’re not trained to critique, may not understand your work, and may try to protect your feelings, regardless of their true opinion.

So what are some great critique techniques? For plot-driven writers the main things you need to look for are:
• How enticing is the hook or beginning?
• Do we care or are we intrigued by the character(s) enough to want to find out more about them and their journey?
• Does the tension build as the main character faces challenges and obstacles along the way?
• Do they solve the problem themselves?
• Is the climax and resolution satisfying with a twist at the end?
• Is each character different with their own distinct voice?
• What makes this particular story memorable?
• Does it have any underlying universal themes that are meaningful for kids?
• How can the drama, humor, pathos, or whatever key feeling the story has, be amplified?
• Does the pacing move at a good speed or does it slow down anywhere? Is there redundancy or excess?
• And finally does the language sparkle with techniques like alliteration and assonance, rhythm and repetition where appropriate?

All of these suggestions will help you in the critiquing process to get to the core and heart of your story to make it stronger, sweeter, funnier, or whatever its essence more appealing and thus more marketable.

Finally, for tender newer critique groups or critiquing partners who are vulnerable, remember to use the hamburger technique of starting and ending with something positive and getting to the meat of what needs help in the middle. As creatives, we tend to be a little thin skinned and starting with something positive will make it easier for the person being critiqued to hear the more challenging suggestions.

BIO: Mira Reisberg Ph.D. has worn many hats in the industry including being a university professor teaching children’s literature and now as the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Mira has taught and mentored many successful authors and illustrators.

Her next interactive e-course, for beginners to award winners, the Chapter Book Alchemist, co-taught by former comedian and award-winning chapter book author Hillary Homzie, promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with potential life and career changing benefits starts January 12th!

Click here to find out more: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/the-chapter-book-alchemist.html

The course includes optional critique groups, weekly live webinar critiques, and the option for critiques with Mira or Hillary among other goodies!

Mira, thank you for taking the time to share your expertise with all of us. Good luck with the webinar!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, chapter books, list, opportunity, Tips Tagged: Critiquing Secrets, Free Chapter Book Webinar, Free critique, Hillary Homzie, Mira Reisberg

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24. When to Submit

Christmas Melissa Iwai

This sweet illustration was sent in my Melissa Iwai.  Melissa was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

When I meet a new writer and they ask me for advice, I always point out not to rush to submit what they have written. That advice comes from personal experience and many years of observation. When you are new you think everything you write is wonderful and it isn’t until a few years late and many rejections that you realize you better get into a critique group and learn to revise. The trouble is a writer can go on too long with revisions and setting things aside, so when Bebe sent me this short article I thought it might provide the inspiration you can use going into 2015.

Here’s Bebe:

bebeListening Too much or Self Doubt
By Bebe Willoughby

While people who worked in publishing above us hurried off to the Hamptons on Friday’s early summer dismissal, a co-worker and I stayed in the air conditioned office to write a book on dreams. Our lack of self-confidence prevented us from sending it out.

We tucked the manuscript safely in a drawer , where it stayed for four years. We joined a writing group and brought along the manuscript. The leader, a well-known writer/ illustrator, said it was publishable and encouraged us to send it out. So we did and got a quick call from an editor who wanted to publish it.

I have another tale to tell that involves doubting myself and listening to far too many people. I wrote a short story entitled “Nothing Lasts Forever.” None of my writer friends showed much enthusiasm, and a top editor told me I did not write well enough for major magazines. I lived with that declaration for quite some time. Then a friend who did not work in publishing advised: “send it out. You have nothing to lose.” She, of course, was right, but I had not seen it that way. My tale has a happy ending. The story was published in Seventeen magazine.

I encourage writers to have others read their work, but be careful about listening too hard. In the end, you must trust yourself.

Bebe Willoughby earned a M.F.A.in creative writing at Columbia University and is the author of five works of  fiction–four children and one novel for adults. She served for ten years as an editor at Random House.

Bebe, thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. I hope it inspires everyone to get their revisions done and submit more of their writing and illustrating this year. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be a book contract to be successful. Wishing everyone a very successful 2015. Now’s the time to start think laying out a plan.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, authors and illustrators, bio, inspiration, Process, revisions, submissions Tagged: Bebe Willoughy, Melissa Iwai

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25. Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites

I thought this Saturday I’d bring you some of the Santa’s from past Illustrator Saturdays. Remember that not every illustrator has done an illustration of Santa. I am sure I missed some Santa’s, so if you were featured on Illustrator Saturday and have a Santa that you would like me to add, please email me with the illustration and I will add it to the celebration of Santa.

Yvonnesantauntitled

Yvonne Gilbert https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

wenzelsantaraindeers

David Thorn Wenzel – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/illustrator-saturday-david-thorn-wenzel/

ZimmerSanta_4

Glenn Zimmer – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/illustrator-saturday-glenn-zimmer/

ruthsantacircling house

Ruth Sanderson – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

ruthsantaopeningbag

Ruth Sanderson – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

santa

Michele Noiset – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

santa

David Harrington – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/illustrator-saturday-david-harrington/

cressySantasNewYearsEveSML

Micheal Garland – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

yvonne51_Father_Christmas_Greeting-Card-1400

Yvonne Gilbert https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

becciachristmas2

Carlyn Beccia – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/illustrator-saturday-carlyn-beccia/

santa running

Michele Noiset – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

dillardsanta bear tree

Sarah Dillard – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/illustrator-saturday-sarah-dillard/

garland10087_465065250196522_1314917625_n

Michael Garland – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

ruthsantaworkshop

Ruth Sanderson – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

Karen Romagna Santa_&_Lamb_For_Prints

Karen Romagna – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/illustrator-saturday-karen-romanga/

shawnaa2f6f359b451371b24ff958ad09b7d24

Shawna JC Tenney – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/illustrator-saturday-shawna-jc-tenney/

detwilerRedCanoe1-788x1024

Susan Detwiler – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/illustrator-saturday-susan-detwiler/

eberzSanta small

This Santa was done by Robert Eberz. Robert will be featured on Illustrator Saturday in January, so check back for more. www.roberteberz.com

Merry Christmas! Remember that I will be posting Christmas poems on Christmas Day, so if you have a Christmas poem, please email it to me.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Christmas, Santa Claus, Santa illustrations from Illustrator Saturday

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