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26. No Fee: Ordinary Guru Project Contest

guru

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

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

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 Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 1,200 words, and can be as short as a few sentences.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

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

PRIZES:

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

SUBMISSION FEE: There is NO fee to enter.

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

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

Submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

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

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE CONTEST!

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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27. Agent Talk: 7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With

carly-watters-p-s-literary-agencyA few weeks ago, Agent Carly Watters on her blog talked about after you write a great manuscript, how does an agent decide to work with someone after that? She has seven tips.

7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With by Carly Watters:

1. Open to revisions

Right away, I know if an author is going to be a fit for me based on how they react to revision ideas. Agents are looking for writers that are open to feedback and collaboration. If I gave you an R&R did you connect with my notes? Did you ask questions that take my notes from suggestions to big picture changes that make the novel better?

2. Always wants to get better

A line I like to use is “trust your future self.” What that means to me is if you can write good novel, you can write many more. Getting defensive about your novel means you are holding on to it when really you should be willing to let it go and work on the next. Agents are looking to represent authors for the long term, so what we need is the faith that you want to be the best writer, every time you write a new book. We know there will be ups and downs, but it’s that drive to succeed that will separate many writers from the ones that don’t make it.

3. Treats assistants and senior industry members alike

From time to time we get people who respond to our query letter auto-response with condescending and mean emails. It doesn’t matter who is on the other end of those emails, our principal agent or our assistant, you have to be friendly to everyone–not just the people who influence your career. Those mean emails just reinforce our decision to pass without a second thought.

4. Asks questions

I love it when authors want to know more about the process. Don’t be shy about wanting to know how the business works. Whether it’s a Twitter #askagent session or when you’re on ‘The Call’ with an agent, make sure you ask the important questions that help your understanding.

5. Trusts us

The number one way to work with an agent for a long period of time is trust. I know this isn’t built over night, but you have to trust your agent to have your best interests at heart. This is one of the most important long-term author/agent relationship requirements. Only query agents that you see yourself working with and that you already trust (whether it’s a referral, their taste or client list).

6. Communication

This is part of trust, but authors have to be up-front with agents. Did you self publish before? Have you had an agent before? Can you share your sales numbers from your previous book? It’s the little things that add up when it comes to communication. We need to know everything if we’re going to represent you well.

7. Professional on social media

As easy as it is for authors to Google agents to see if we might be a fit for you, when we fall in love with a query or manuscript the first thing we do is Google you back. What agents love to see on social media is a personality (not just link blasts). You don’t have to have a ton of followers (but points if you do!) to get our attention. It’s all about the balance between promotion and personality. We love it when authors are part of writing communities and support other authors. That means, when the time comes, those other published writers will support you too.

You should check out Carly’s Blog: http://carlywatters.com/blog/

PS Literary is looking for an intern. Carly has information about working remotely for them. If you have any aspirations to become a literary Agent, this would be something to consider.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, article, authors and illustrators, list, opportunity, Social Media, Tips Tagged: 7 Ways to Make Yourself an Easy Author to Work with, Carly Watters

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28. Illustrator Saturday – Rebecca Caridad

I would like to introduce you to illustrator Rebecca Caridad. I think you will enjoy reading the interview I had with her and getting to know her through her playful artwork. Here is Rebecca:

rebeccapicFor me, illustration is the key to my secret garden, my golden ticket, my looking glass, my glass slipper. I draw and paint as a way to free my mind and escape into the many worlds of the written word. Whether it be for the pages of children’s books, greeting cards, gifts, or decor; I incorporate children, adults, animals, fantasy creatures, and landscapes in a unique and imaginative way in order to tell the story. I work digitally to bring my characters and environments to life and transport the viewer to a place of dreams.

Sep 2003 – Present, Whippany Park High School, Art Teacher

Sep 1997 – May 2001, University of Delaware, Bachelor of Fine Arts; concentration: Photography

Jan 2002 – May 2003, William Paterson University, Initial Certification Program; K-12 Teacher of Art

Jun 2010 – May 2014, Academy of Art University (AAU), Master of Fine Arts; Traditional Illustration Program: Children’s Book Illustration

2014 MFA Illustration Spring Show

Here is Rebecca discussing her process:

rebeccaSecretGarden_reference

I shot a reference photo for the girl (this is a picture of my cousin’s daughter) and used this to draw out the pose. I found other references for the animals using Pinterest.

rebeccaCaridad_Sketches

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage1

Then I began sketching. I had an idea of the composition, but I drew out my characters separately first so that I could scan them and make the arrangement and adjustments in PhotoShop.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage2

I change my sketch layers to blending mode: multiply so that I can see through them and I start to build my layers of color. I start with my background color and a few background elements.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage3

I then start to build up some of the surroundings – adding layers of textures.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage4

In this particular image, I added the archway next, this provided the frame for the composition.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage5

I painted in my characters with their basic colors and shapes.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage6

I then turned off the visibility of the arch sketch and added in the detail and the layers of ivy.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage7

I turn off the visibility of the sketch layers and put in highlights, shadows, and details of the characters.

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage8

Work to finish the highlights, shadows, and details.

rebeccaScreen Shot_showing layers

View of screen and layers in Photoshop.

rebeccaSecret Garden_resubmit2wText

Final illustration.

How long have you been illustrating?

I haven’t been illustrating long. I just finished my MFA program in May and I have just started to promote myself as an illustrator.

rebeccacharlie

I see that you got your BA at the University of Delaware; concentration: Photography, what made you choose to get an MFA in Illustration from Academy of Art University in San Francisco?

I actually started as a painting major at the University of Delaware. I always knew that I wanted to do something that involved art, I just didn’t know what exactly.   It wasn’t until I took a photography class as one of my BFA requirements that I fell in love. I loved capturing an image and then watching it emerge on paper in the darkroom. I decided to pursue photography after that experience and was even able to do a study abroad trip to New Zealand during my time as an undergraduate. Soon after graduating I realized that I wanted to be able to share my passion for the arts, so I went back to school for my teacher’s certification. I have been teaching ever since. I truly love sharing through my artwork, and I thought what better way to do that then through illustration. I still remember the artwork and stories that I read as a child and how they shaped me. I wanted to be a part of that experience and help express the words of a written page into a world that any child could enjoy. I chose the Academy of Art University to pursue these dreams because of its excellent reputation and the convenience of taking my classes online while I continued to teach full time.

rebeccacharlotte

Since you live in New Jersey did you do most of your studies online? If so, can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

At first I was a bit hesitant about pursuing an art degree online, but the way that AAU runs its classes is pretty incredible. I didn’t miss trucking my supplies to different classrooms and I was able to enjoy being part of a University with peer feedback and discussions and professors that were extremely helpful and available! Artwork is submitted digitally, whether you work traditionally or not. If you are working on an oil painting, you shoot photographs of your work, if you are drawing, you can scan it, and if you are using Photoshop you just save it. Classmates and professors review your work and make comments. Many of the professors would mark up the files using what they called a “whiteboard” and even left audio files of their comments. Demonstrations could be viewed as videos, so that they could be reviewed whenever you wanted. I thought the experience was fantastic and I am so glad that I was able to do it.

rebeccacinderfloor

Does getting your MFA online, help to cut the cost of getting your degree?

The MFA program was not any less expensive then taking traditional classes. You still pay tuition and buy the supplies that are needed. What was better about the online degree was that I was able to attend a university across the country and work on my artwork and lessons when I had the time… evenings and weekends.

rebecca snow

Does the school promise to give you help in getting established with work?

They didn’t promise an established career, but they certainly prepared me to head out into the world. All of the professors were working professionals and their expectations for us during our classes were to prepare us for working in the industry.   Previous to graduation we were required to take a Professional Practices course that shared valuable resources and pushed us to do research that would get us started on our path to be recognized by art directors and agents. During that class I was able to create my first promotional postcard and business card, as well as a list of 50 contacts in order to start my promotional mailings.

rebeccadoctor

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

The very first artwork that earned me money was in high school. I painted a fantasy garden mural for a baby’s nursery that included a frog prince and fairies of my own design. I babysat for many years and it helped me pay for my teacher certification program after undergrad, but creating artwork for the families to decorate their children’s spaces helped me earn even more.

What type of work did you do after you graduated with your BA?

I have been teaching high school art, photography, and graphic design now for 11 years and in that time have designed, built, and painted the scenery for the dramas and musicals, designed t-shirts and posters for the school, and have even been the head yearbook adviser. I have continually found ways to share my artwork no matter what I was doing. I have even done event photography, event décor, and face painting for an event planning and rental company on the side.

rebeccaboydog

Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?

The classes that I have taken have definitely influenced my style. I feel that with each course I took I was able to learn more and develop more through the experiences and expertise of those that taught each class. At first I had a hard time keeping my characters consistent, but after taking a Character Design course with the Animation department I was able to start to develop set character traits that could be used in multiple poses and more dynamic gestures. And, of course my medium of choice changed as well… I was able to try everything from oil, to watercolor, markers, collage, and digital painting. After several classes where we were able to choose our medium, I really started to pick up digital painting and I thoroughly enjoy it now.

rebecca4

When did you do your the first illustration for children? 10. How did that come about?

My illustrations for children started back while I was babysitting. I was inspired by the kids that I saw everyday and I would draw and paint things that I knew they would enjoy. Not all of it was for profit, but it made me happy because it brought smiles to their faces.

rebecca2

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

I decided I wanted to illustrate books during my years of teaching.   I have been an avid reader all of my life. I love all forms of books… the children’s book section is a place of wonder and inspiration, YA books are fun to read with the fantasy worlds they evoke, whether reality based or imagined, and I wanted to be a part of it! I have been teaching book cover design in my graphic design classes for years and it is one of my favorite units. I thought it would be incredible to be able to create books for real!

rebecca5

Have you worked with educational publishers?

I am just getting started as a professional illustrator and have not been published yet.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No, but I would like to.

rebeccadragon

Are you open to illustrating a self-published picture book for an author?

I am in the process of self-promotion so I am examining all options. I’d have to make sure that the author was serious about their venture, but I believe it would be an excellent opportunity for me.

rebeccaad

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own books?

I have tried writing in the past and although I want to illustrate picture books, my words and stories always seem more suitable to chapter books. After attending the NJSCBWI conference this past June, I was re-inspired to try it again. Maybe one day I’ll go for it, but in the meantime I would love to be able to illustrate for the stories of others.

rebeccabug

Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who? And how did you connect with them?

If not, would you like to have one?

I do not have an artist rep., but I think it’s an excellent idea to get one. It is one of my goals to try to connect with a rep. through my promotional mailings or even online.

PenguinLogo_line

What types of things did you do to market yourself and get your work seen?

So far, I have designed promotional cards, a business card, and updated my resume. I have a website, a Facebook page dedicated to my illustration, a Twitter account, a Behance portfolio account, and a Linked In profile. I have been submitting my work to contests and shows in hopes of getting recognized for my art. So far I was honored to be a part of the Academy of Art’s MFA Spring Show, an honorable mention from 3×3 The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration in their International Show (both for my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover design concept), and I am submitting work to Creative Quarterly’s competition this month.   I also think attending the recent NJSCBWI conference was a great start to the process of getting my work seen, because I took part in the Juried Art Show and the Portfolio display. I was also able to meet many new people in the industry that have been incredibly helpful and friendly!

rebeccapenquintwins

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love to dabble in just about everything, but my medium of choice is definitely digital.

Has that changed over time?

The reason I prefer digital painting is the easy clean up. There really isn’t any, plus it is safe, odor-free, and I am able to make corrections fairly easily without having to start over, like I might with watercolor paints. I was terrible at digital painting in the beginning, but I have grown and learned so much through my MFA courses and I think I have really developed a style through it.

rebeccadowntheshore

Do you have a studio in your house?

I have a room dedicated to my work and art. It has everything I need in it for my digital painting process. I have a drawing table, a light box, a bookshelf with inspirations and supplies, a computer, a scanner, a printer, and my wacom tablet.

rebeccatree

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

I could not live without my Wacom Drawing Tablet. I love to be able to paint using what feels like a brush or a pencil, instead of my laptop’s track pad mouse. It has controls right on it, so I can easily zoom in, or change my brush size, or even pick up new colors. Eventually I would love to trade up to a Wacom Cintiq tablet. That would allow me to “paint” on the actual surface of my artwork, instead of next to it. I think it would feel more like the natural painting process and I look forward to that – someday….

rebeccahappy

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

I dedicate a bit of each day to my artwork. Sometimes it’s actually working on a painting and other times I am sketching ideas, either way it helps me realize my ideas.

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

I like to shoot references for my drawings/paintings, but if that opportunity isn’t available look at myself for expressions and poses, or use the Internet (google images or Pinterest).

rebeccastaurt

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

The Internet has definitely opened doors for me after all I was able to earn an entire degree online. It is a great resource for references (although I prefer to shoot my own) or inspirations. Most of all, I think it has provided me with many opportunities to share my work with people that I may not ever have the chance to meet in person, or even know about. Social networking has brought about many more chances to network.

rebeccapenquinyellow

What do you feel was your biggest success?

So far my biggest success was earning my MFA. It has allowed me to realize my dreams and create a body of work that really reflects my style.

Do you use Photoshop and/or Painter with your illustrations?

I mostly use Adobe Photoshop, but sometimes I will bring my illustrations into Corel Painter to enhance some of the textures. Sometimes, I will even use Adobe Illustrator to draw or even refine my sketches.

rebecca8

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

Yes, as I mentioned before, it has really made the painting process so much more natural. I love it!

rebecca1Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I would love to illustrate a children’s picture book and have it published. I know that many of your reader’s have already achieved this goal, but I’m so excited and passionate about reaching it!

rebecca7

What are you working on now?

Right now my goal is to develop more portfolio pieces and character designs. Much of what I took away from the workshops at the NJSCBWI conference was that the ability to develop a strong character (and show him/her in multiple ways) could get you noticed by an art director or agent. Strong characters mean the possibilities for additional stories or even merchandise. So I am continuing to draw and paint, and of course trying to promote my work and get it seen.

rebeccapajama

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

I like to use Non-Photo Blue pencils as I begin to sketch. It allows me to rough out gestures and poses and make mistakes and corrections without interfering with the final result. The great thing about them is they will not copy. So, I can go over the lines I want to keep with a graphite pencil and only see them when copied. If I scan my drawings, I can easily remove the rough blue lines in Photoshop and just keep what I need to get started in my painting. I like the quality of line and movement that you get when you are first drawing a subject. If you have to trace the lines later, I often feel like they stiffen up.

rebeccamouse

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

Since I am just starting out I don’t feel like I can properly impart any words of wisdom, but I know one thing… enjoy what you do and never lose your passion. It is what has gotten me where I am so far and I’m hoping it leads me to fulfilling my dreams.

rebeccaoil

Above: One of Rebecca’s oil paintings.

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

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

Website: http://www.rebeccacaridad.crevado.com  

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: MFA Children's Book Illustration, Rebecca Cardid

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Rebecca Caridad, last added: 8/11/2014
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29. Free Fall Friday – Holly McGhee

Holly_McGheeI am very happy to announce that Agent Holly McGhee has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for August. Holly McGhee opened Pippin Properties in 1998, after being an executive editor at HarperCollins and has built one of the most prestigious Literary Agencies in the Children’s Book Industry.

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

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

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

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

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

DEADLINE: August 21st.

RESULTS: August 29th.

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Publishers and Agencies, submissions Tagged: First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties

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30. Amazon Reviews and Ebook Price Reductions

reviews

  • Give out a ARC to people who have a large following on their blogs, but ask them to commit to reading your book and doing a review. Need to work on this months before your book is released. Remember the more reviews you get the better your book will do, but they need to be good reviews.
  • For the people who you gave an ARC to, ask them to pass on the book to another person to read to expand your audience.
  • Ask everyone who does a review on Amazon to also put it up on Goodreads, too.
  • If you have an ebook, consider having Amazon offer it on their Deal of the Day. Reducing the price for a few days or a week, will boost your sales and start word of mouth.
  • Have family/friends/colleagues/fans buy your book during a ‘soft’ launch (pre-advertising, or promoting your book on social media).
  • Price your book at 99 cents (the lowest allowed by Amazon) and drive as much traffic as you can during your ‘soft’ launch window.  Once you have the bar filled you can re-price your book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, How to, Marketing a book, need to know, reference, Tips Tagged: Advanced Reader Copy, Amazon Ebook Price Reduction, Amazon Reviews

1 Comments on Amazon Reviews and Ebook Price Reductions, last added: 8/7/2014
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31. Amazon Strategies: Sales Page

amazonsalespage

If your book is up on Amazon, you can have an Author Page. This is another opportunity for you, so use it. Here are a few tips:

1. Think of your book’s Amazon.com page as a ¼ page ad in a glossy magazine. You want to build excitement, hype, and the urge to buy rather than dutifully explaining your product.

2. Watch out for typos and grammar, so you put your best foot forward. Make sure what is written makes sense. If you can’t write a good Author Page, most people will think you can’t write a good novel, either.

3. Include review quotes. You want to draw someone into buying your book.

4. Put up book trailers, interviews, and videos on your Amazon page.

5. You can show recent blog posts and twitter entries.

6. List places your events and the dates.

7. Another thing you can do is to encourage a discussion with your fans on this page.

Let’s take a look at Yvonne Ventresca’s Author Page:

yvonneauthorpage

Yvonne has included a lot of the tips on the above list, but I’d like to see her add a few quotes from reviews of Pandemic, a book trailer, and to work on getting a video interview she can put up on the page. Adding these things will maximize the free space Amazon has given her and help increase the sales of her new book.

Good job, Yvonne!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Book, list, Marketing a book, Publishing Industry, Tips Tagged: Amazon Sales Page, Maximize Book Sales, Pandemic, Yvonne Ventresca

2 Comments on Amazon Strategies: Sales Page, last added: 8/6/2014
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32. Amazon Strategies: Look Inside

amazonlook inside

blondeops

Let’s take a look at another feature that Amazon offers anyone who sells their books on their site.

Don’t miss out on using this feature. This is another reason why it is important to make sure your first chapter sings.

Personally for me to buy, I look over five things:

Price: I buy lots of ebooks that are offered at $1.99 or less, without having read anything about them.

Cover: I don’t buy books where I don’t like the cover, unless someone else said they were good. I guess I believe in first impressions.

Reviews: I read what book is about and a couple reviews. A few bad reviews don’t stop me from buying, since I’ve read many top-seller books that I thought were great that received a few terrible reviews.

Publisher: I check out who published the book. If it is from a well-known publisher, that could seal the deal right there.

Look inside: If I have not clicked the button to buy, I will “Look inside”. That’s when I put on my editor/agent hat and only give five minutes to the author to grab me before I make my decision. Sometimes the problem is that the book really grabs you and then you have to read the whole thing, even when the desk is piled with work and the kitchen needs to be clean. Many of those books have been self-published, so don’t stick your nose up at them or else you might missed something really good.

Here are some tips on using the “Look inside” feature.  

1. Keep front matter to a minimum. You want to make sure the reader can get to the meat of the story quickly. This is also important to do this with the full ebook.

2. Amazon Reviews. Work hard to get as many as you can when you launch the book. This will help raise your ranking and buyers who have read the first pages will look at this, especially if you are self-published.

3. At the end of your book you should ask the reader to write a review. Stats show that this helps you increase your sales numbers.

4. Hot New Releases List on Amazon should be in the forefront of your mind when planning a launch. Talk to your publisher to see if they have planned your novels launch based on other similar books coming out. If there are too many it will hurt your chances of making the list. The list is only good for the first 30 days of a books release.

5. Making sure your blog followers know about your book and doing book tours can help get the word out. It’s nice to get the buzz going, but you need to make sure you keep the big guns for the launch date.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, authors and illustrators, Internet, Marketing a book, Process, Publishing Industry, Tips Tagged: Amazon Look Inside, Amazon Strategies, How to Sell More Books, How to Sell More Books Workshop

7 Comments on Amazon Strategies: Look Inside, last added: 8/7/2014
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33. Amazon Sales Strategies

This week we will look at a few strategies you can use to increase the sales of your books.

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If you buy any books on Amazon, you may have noticed they list the Best Selling Books. You should give these categories some thought. It may help you get on one of their lists and getting on one of the lists will greatly improve your chances to get noticed and bought.

1. Try to choose a niche category on Amazon. There are less books, so you will have a better chance to be listed at the top.

2. By clicking the book ranked #100 in any given category, you can consult the Rank to Sales Estimator to see how many sales you need to qualify for that categories Best Seller List.

3. Self Published authors get to choose two categories.
Traditional publishers get to choose up to five categories. Make sure your publisher knows how the system works and how they can use it to their advantage. Choosing “Fiction” might not be the best category due to so many books. (over a million)

4. Example: Kindle Store> Kindle ebooks > Fiction> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense> Thrillers> Political. Your books will still show in all the categories above the one you chose.

A few scenarios:

Fault in Our Stars [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#6 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) This a list of all books (no categories)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary
#1 in Books > Teens > Love & Romance

Isla and the Happily Ever After [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#11,151 Paid in Kindle Store
#100 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary

The First Third [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#172,765 Paid in Kindle Store (See how this book was able to make the Top 100 List by picking Social Issues? That’s because there is less competition. This helps give the book a chance to be seen.)
#100 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Social Issues

The Year We Disappeared: A Father – Daughter Memoir [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,006 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Social Issues
#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Biography
#33 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Children’s Nonfiction

Neverwhere [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,867 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Classics
#11 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Fantasy
#79 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror

5. Make sure you check to make sure the category you pick is on both the book side and the kindle side if you have a print book. Some of the categories do not match up.

6. If you are self-published you will need to do this for yourself, but don’t assume your publisher is choosing the best categories. Do your homework and discuss what you have found with them. But make sure you do this before they list it on Amazon.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, demystify, How to, Marketing a book, need to know, success, Tips Tagged: Amazon Book Sales Strategies, Amazon Rankings, How to Sell More Books, NJSCBWI 2014 Workshop

9 Comments on Amazon Sales Strategies, last added: 8/4/2014
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34. No Fee Mystery Novel Competition

Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition

— No Entry Fee
Prize: $10,000.00. Entry fee: $0.00. Deadline: 10-15-2014
Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic, imprints of St. Martin’s Press, is inviting mystery fiction writers to enter this year’s Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. The judges will award a $10,000 standard publishing contract to the author who has written the best book-length story in the mystery genre.Submission guidelines:
1. Submit one manuscript of over 65K words written in English.

2. The manuscript must be original, unpublished, and the work of the author.

3. The author must not have had a mystery book previously published.

4. Murder, mystery, and/or crime should be the core elements of the story.

5. The characters, both the innocent and the presumed guilty, should know one another. The suspects should display valid intentions and logical possibility to have executed the crime. The protagonist must be the “detective” who solves the crime.

The $10,000 prize is offered as an advance against royalty payments.

 

Official Rules for the 2015 Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

Void where prohibited.

Sponsored by Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic

1. The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any Published Mystery Novel (including self-published works and ebooks), as defined by the guidelines below, and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a mystery novel. Employees, and members of their immediate families living in the same household, of Minotaur Books or Malice Domestic (or a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of either of them) are not eligible to enter. Only one manuscript entry (the “Manuscript”) is permitted per writer. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Please read all of the rules and guidelines before submitting your entry. If you have questions or need further clarification after reading the following rules and guidelines, you may contact us at MB-MaliceDomesticCompetition@StMartins.com.

2. To enter, you must complete an online entry form and upload an electronic file of your Manuscript. The entry form will allow you to upload one electronic file. Only electronic submissions, uploaded through the online entry form, will be considered; do not mail or e-mail your manuscript submissions to Minotaur Books.

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

a) Manuscripts must be submitted as Microsoft Word documents. All manuscripts must be double-spaced, with pages numbered consecutively from beginning to end. All manuscripts must be saved as “Manuscript Title – Entrant Name.”

b) Each entrant should keep a copy of the Manuscript for his or her own protection.

c) Because of the great volume of submissions we receive and the fact that our judges are volunteers with full-time responsibilities elsewhere, it is important that you submit your Manuscript as early as possible. Submissions will get a more careful reading if the judge does not have to contend with a flood of last-minute entries.

The entry form is available HERE.

3. Entrants must have a valid e-mail address. In case of dispute as to identity of an entrant, entry will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address provided to Minotaur Books. “Authorized Account Holder” is defined as a natural person who is assigned an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) responsible for assigning e-mail addresses or the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic are not responsible for technical, hardware, software, telephone or other communications malfunctions, errors or failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, website, Internet, or ISP unavailability, unauthorized human intervention, traffic congestion, incomplete or inaccurate capture of entry information (regardless of cause) or failed, incomplete, or delayed computer transmissions which may limit one’s ability to enter this Competition, including any injury or damage to any computer relating to or resulting from downloading any materials in this Competition.

4. All Manuscripts submitted:

a) must be original works of book length (no less than approximately 65,000 words) written in the English language;

b) must be written solely by the entrant, who may not be the author of any previously published mystery;

c) must not violate any right of any third party or be libelous, and d) must generally follow the Guidelines below.

GUIDELINES

a. Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story. Whatever violence is necessarily involved should be neither excessive nor gratuitously detailed, nor is there to be explicit sex. The suspects and the victims should know each other. There are a limited number of suspects, each of whom has a credible motive and reasonable opportunity to have committed the crime. The person who solves the crime is the central character. The “detective” is an amateur, or, if a professional (private investigator, police officer) is not hardboiled and is as fully developed as the other characters. The detective may find him or herself in serious peril, but he or she does not get beaten up to any serious extent. All of the cast represent themselves as individuals, rather than large impersonal institutions like a national government, the mafia, the CIA, etc.

b. WHAT CONSTITUTES A PUBLISHED NOVEL: For the purpose of this Competition, a “Published Novel” means a work of fiction of at least 40,000 words in length that has been published or distributed, in part or whole, in paper or electronic format or in any other medium. This does not include a chapter excerpt on an author’s website, subject to the conditions that: (i) the excerpt is the only text that exists for public viewing; (ii) the excerpt is not for sale to the public, and (iii) the number of words in the excerpt does not exceed 10% of the total number of words in the work as a whole. (The decision of the Competition’s judges as to whether or not an entrant or a Manuscript qualifies will be final.)

5. Nominees will be selected by judges chosen by the editorial staff of Minotaur Books, and the winner will be chosen by Minotaur Books editors on the basis of the originality, creativity and writing skill of the submission. The decision of the editors as to the winner of the Competition will be final. Minotaur Books reserves the right to cancel or modify the competition if, in the sole opinion of the editors, an insufficient number of qualified Manuscripts are received.

6. An attempt will be made to notify the Competition winner, if any, by telephone or U.S. mail no later than April 1, 2015. If the winner cannot be contacted, an alternate winner may be selected.

7. If a winner is selected, Minotaur Books will offer to enter into its standard form author’s agreement with the entrant for publication of the winning Manuscript. After execution of the standard form author’s agreement by both parties, the winner will receive an advance against future royalties of $10,000. On the condition that the selected winner accepts and executes the publishing contract proposed by Minotaur Books, the winner will then be recognized at the Malice Domestic Convention in Bethesda, Maryland in May 2014.

THE WINNER WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY OTHER PRIZE AND WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY PART OF THE ADVANCE UNTIL THE STANDARD FORM AUTHOR’S AGREEMENT HAS BEEN EXECUTED BY BOTH PARTIES. Those terms of the offer not specified in the printed text of the Minotaur Books standard form author’s agreement will be determined by Minotaur Books at its sole discretion. The entrant may request reasonable changes in the offered terms, but Minotaur Books shall not be obligated to agree to any such changes. Minotaur Books may, but will not be required to, consider for publication Manuscripts submitted by other entrants.

8. No critical evaluation or commentary will be offered by the judges or the editorial staff of Minotaur Books unless, in the sole opinion of the editorial staff, evaluation or commentary is appropriate in the case of a Manuscript being considered for publication.

9. General: No cash substitution, transfers or assignments of prize allowed. All expenses, including taxes, relating to the winner’s publishing contract, are the sole responsibility of the winner. By accepting a prize, the winner releases Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic, and the parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, suppliers and agents of each of them from any and all liability for any loss, harm, damages, cost or expense, including without limitation property damages, personal injury and/or death, arising out of participation in this Competition or the acceptance of the publishing contract. If, for any reason, (including unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other cause beyond the control of Minotaur Books which corrupts or affects the administration, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Competition), the Competition is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, Minotaur Books and Malice Domestic shall have the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Competition.

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Competition, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Publishing Industry, submissions Tagged: Minotaur Books, Mystery Novel Competition, No Entry Fee, St. Martin's Press

1 Comments on No Fee Mystery Novel Competition, last added: 8/3/2014
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35. Illustrator Saturday – Sharon Lane Holm

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Sharon Lane Holms is a published children’s book author/ illustrator with over 20 years of experience. She has illustrated over 65 children’s books; trade, mass market, board books, workbooks, school/library, craft books, fiction and non fiction, and recently released 2 Itunes Apps which she wrote and illustrated- “Kids Counting Kitties 10-1″, and “Kids Counting Kitties 1-10″ (available in English and Spanish). She wrote and illustrated “Zoe’s Hats” (a color concept book)- published by Boyds Mills Press.

Sharon graduated with honors from The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale with a degree in Visual Communication- ie: Advertising Design. She says, “I have always wanted to be an artist, I have always just wanted to spend my life drawing pictures. Advertising Design offered the most illustration classes at that time. Upon graduation I was offered a job at Hallmark but turned it down.”

sharoninterview 2She was an art director in S. Florida for 4 years winning several advertising awards for advertising design work. As much as she loved design work, Sharon still missed drawing pictures.

Sharon says, “With a move to Connecticut and a child on the way, it was perfect timing to transition into children’s illustration. I was fortunate to acquire a children’s artist representative my first time out.”

Her client roster includes but not limited to- Boyds Mills Press, High Five, Dutton, ABDO, Twin Sisters, Harcourt educational, Child’s World, Kids Can Press, Lerner, Flowerpot Press. She is also, a licensed artist of greeting cards, puzzles and calendars.

She teaches a literacy/art course for grades 3 through 5 for the local school system’s PTO and just earned/received a black belt in TaeKwonDo, martial arts.

Here is Sharon explaining her process:

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Initial concept or idea, very loosely sketched.

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Overlays of tracing paper refining, tweaking original concept.

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Refining the art till I have it to the degree of “tightness” I want to take the art to

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Transfered the sketch onto 140lb. Arches HP brite white watercolor paper. I traced the art using a #2 Ticondergo pencil for this piece. Sometimes I will outline with a pigma micron marker, for a more graphic approach. This time I wanted a softer pencil line.

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I sprayed workable fix over the pencil lines. And painted a light ochre wash over entire art. The ochre base color adds a slightly different “dimension” to the paint colors.

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Final painted piece. I paint using Golden fluid acrylics, gouache, even acrylic craft paint. I then add some highlights with Prisma color pencils.

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How long have you been illustrating?

Professionally for over 20 years. I have illustrated everything from trade books, mass market books, board books, educational books and readers, science/nature, craft books, workbooks , lift the flaps -even cloth and bath books! I have been drawing pictures all of my life, I won a Scholastic Art Award in High School. Drawing has always been the only thing I have ever wanted to do with my life.

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What made you choose to attend the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale?

I lived in South Florida at the time. Art school was a highly intense 2 yr. art program and college was 4 yrs, I was also in a bit of a hurry to get started in the art field.

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What made you choose to go for a degree in Visual Communication- ie: Advertising Design?

It offered the most drawing/design classes – while its very important to draw well, I feel it is equally important to know how to design the art to work on a page. Where will the art go, how well will it work with the type treatment, will my art tell the same story as the words?

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What were you favorite classes?

All the illustration courses, advertising design and hand lettering.

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Did the School help you get work?

Yes and no. They did not help with job placement, but I feel the education I received from the Art Institute helped me get to where I am today.

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

In art school I did some illustrated logo designs for which I was paid.

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

Working in advertising agencies, started out doing paste up and mechanicals. I learned even more as to how to design a page. How to grab your attention. I went on to become an art director/creative director winning several awards for advertising design along the way.

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Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?

Maybe to a degree. I believe we all have our own sense of style which develops over the years. I have been told I have a bold graphic approach style of illustrating which may have evolved from the years of illustrating for advertisements, brochures, logos. I can look back at art school illustrations and see the same graphic like approach I have now. Only over time my illustrations have gotten much better!

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When did you do your the first illustration for children?

Aprox. 25 years ago. It was a baby wrapped in a quilt.

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How did that come about?

We moved from Southern Florida to Ct when my son was born. I interviewed with an art representative when he was 2 who wanted to take me on. But my comfort zone was still in advertising so I started my own advertising studio. I was fortunate that a few years later they called and asked if I might be ready at that time to get into children’s art. By then I was more than ready. I was with them for 13 years.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

I have always wanted to illustrate books. The opportunity arose while doing educational artwork.

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What was the title of your first picture book that you illustrated?

Trucks all Around, Dutton and Playskool were the publishers.

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How did that contract come your way?

Through my agent.

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I see that you wrote and illustrated It’s Silly Time (Read and Sing Along). Did you do the singing, too, on the CD?

Unfortunately, I did not write Silly Time-that credit belongs to Kim Thompson of Twin Sisters. I did the illustrations. We are also fortunate that it wasn’t my singing either!

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How did you get the idea and contract with Twin Sisters Productions?

I got my contact with Twin Sisters Productions through my second agent. I have had the pleasure of working with Twin Sisters for many years, illustrating more than 7 board books, readers and puzzles.

In 2009 “Five Trick or Treaters”, which I illustrated, for Twin Sisters was awarded the National Parenting Seal of Approval.

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How and when did you get involved in licensed art?

I illustrated a “color pencil by numbers” for Dimensions crafts. I have done some greeting card designs on and off for few years. I recently did advent calendars for Vermont Christmas Company. I would love to do more licensing of my artwork.

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How many children’s books have you illustrated?

Over 65. That includes many educational readers, trade books, mass market books, board books, craft books ,workbooks.

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How many books have you written and illustrated?

I wrote and illustrated “Zoe’s Hats”- a color concept book, published by Boyds Mills Press.

In 2012 “Zoe’s Hats” was recognized by Libraries Unlimited ABC-CLIO as a Best Book to Enhance Content Area Curriculum for grades Pre K- 2. I also have two Apple/Itunes Apps which I wrote and illustrated that were released in 2013- “Kids Counting Kitties 10 to 1, and Kids Counting Kitties 1-10.”

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Did you always want to write?

Always. I still have my first book, written and illustrated in 3rd grade.

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How did you end up working with Boyd’s Mill Press? Did you attend Chautauqua? How many books have you done with them?

I did attend Chautauqua. That was quite a wonderful experience! I had met the president of Boyds Mills Press (at that time) at an adult education class-who insisted I submit something to them. I had taken the class to meet him and find out how I might be able to illustrate for Boyds Mills Press. I ended up getting a scholarship to Chautauqua and they accepted “Zoe’s Hats.”

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Have you worked with educational publishers?

many many many

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

Yes, Highlights and Highlights High Five

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Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who? And how did you connect with them? If not, would you like to have one?

Right now I am networking myself on my own although I am being brokered by Janet De Carlo of StoryBookArts Inc. She was in a partnership with my last agency PortfolioSolutions. I left Portfolio Solutions a few years ago to be on my own .I often think a literary/art agent might be the way to go in the future.

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What types of things did you do to market your work?

I do postcard mailings on a regular basis. I have my own webpage-www.sharoholm.com, I have online portfolio pieces/pages on CBIG, PictureBookArtists,ThatsMyFolio and Jacketflap. I also have a blog that I wish I kept more current- sharonlaneholm.blogspot.com.

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What is your favorite medium to use?

I’m still “old school”. I love the feel and touch of paper and pencil. I love the look of pencil on tracing paper. I still paint traditionally and send the art digitally. I paint with Goldens fluid acrylics, qouache, prismacolor colored pencils, pigma microns(for black line art), even craft project acrylics.

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Has that changed over time?

I like to think my style is evolving- I’m trying to draw looser, not so tight. The process of sending art has changed- now its scanned into Photoshop, clean it up, tweak it and out it goes.

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Do you have a studio in your house?

yes

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

Mechanical pencil and tracing paper.

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

I try to create or work on art and/or writing every day.

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

Yes, my family have been posed as models numerous times. Google and Yahoo are a good way to find reference material.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. Besides being able to digitally send art to my clients, its a great source for online portfolios, networking with other artists / illustrators, and writers. I met you, Kathy online and I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your time and consideration in interviewing me.

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What do you feel was your biggest success?

Zoe’s Hats was a great success for me. It was the first book I ever submitted. But success to me is measured in many ways- my biggest success is having had the opportunity to have a successful career doing what I love the most. Drawing pictures and writing stories.

sharoncolor6

 

Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop mostly at this point to scan, clean up and tweak my traditional paintings. I am taking Photoshop lessons at the moment. I can do art in Photoshop but feel much more comfortable with traditional paints, for right now.

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

I do own a cintiq.

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

I would love to have more of my own stories published. I have several stories/dummies in varying degrees of “ready” to submit. But I get the elephant in the closet syndrome, where I’ll submit to a few places , even get a positive rejection, and back in the drawer it goes.

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What are you working on now?

Currently I am illustrating religious craft book. I have 1 dummy circulating and several more stories/dummies started.

And I am continually trying to update my portfolio.

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

I love working on Arches 140 lb HP for painting. I order all my supplies through Dick Blick.One method I learned which I don’t use often enough- scan your tissues/tracings into Photoshop, and then print them out directly onto your WC paper. Saves you a step in transferring your art. You must run the paper through a printer that accommodates archival inks and the weight of WC paper. I have an older Epson Stylus photo printer which handles this.

sharonlinework5

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

Draw and try to create your art every chance you can. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cant be what you want to be. With patience, persistence and passion you can make your dreams come true. I did.

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

To see more of Sharon’s illustrations you can visit her at: Website: http://www.sharonholm.com Blog: http://www.sharonlaneholm.blogspot.com

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Sharon Lane Holm, The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, Zoe's Hats

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Sharon Lane Holm, last added: 8/3/2014
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36. Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenny Bent

patricia Pinsk summer_pinsk_02
This Goldilocks illustration was sent in by Patricia Pinsk. It was done as a paper collage with ink, watercolour, digital textures. Her work includes multi-media drawing, illustration, photography, glass-work, sculpture as well as Web-based graphics for the corporate world. Website: http://www.patriciapinsk.com Twitter: @PatriciaPinsk

Below are the first page critiques done by literary agent, Jenny Bent. We can all learn a lot from what Jenny had to say.

Deena Graves – TERRAZA – Young Adult

Pizza sauce, garlic, and beer did not mix. Not when all three meshed, creating a gag-inducing stench in the faded black fibers of my Perky Pepper T-shirt. Dixie would shoot me dead for sure. The last time I came home from the pizza shop smelling like a garbage disposal, she threatened to hose me down in the front yard before I’d “ever step one soiled foot” into her home.

Shrugging into my fleece jacket, I ignored the stink of my shirt and shoved my dark-framed glasses back up my nose. I scowled down at my beat-up Mongoose and the flat tire forcing me to walk my happy ass home.

“Hey, Luc!” a voice called from behind. I kept walking, stealing a quick glance over my shoulder. Max jogged toward me, holding up the sides of his pants. I snorted. If he didn’t wear them so low, maybe the stupid things would stay up.

“Wait up, man,” he panted, pulling up beside me. “You know bikes were designed to be ridden, right?” Max eyed my flat and sucked in a breath. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” I tossed him the souvenir I’d found wedged in the rubber tread. “And they ride better when the tires aren’t shredded.”

He inspected the chunk of weird black glass about the size of a half-dollar, tossing it from hand to hand. It weighed next to nothing, and no thicker than my pinkie, but its wicked, chiseled edge had almost cut my finger trying to dislodge it. “This was in your tire?”

I nodded. “I bet it was Manager Mike, the douche nugget.” I scowled out at the dark, Edison Square of squat, brick buildings. The stretch of small-town antique shops, specialty clothing stores, and trendy eateries had long since closed for the night. A brisk October wind cut through my fleece jacket.

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

Terraza

Lively voice which is great, I’m seeing too many flat voices in YA contempt these days. Not sure the voice is always completely authentic– “gag-inducing stench” doesn’t feel to me something like a teenaged boy would say. I did like the voice overall however. And line by line the writing is strong here.

I would like to see this author push themselves a little more to write a really “wow” first page. The skill level is there. But I am not sure from reading this that the book is beginning at the right point. I like the hint of mystery that someone sabotaged his bike. But the writer is starting with a conversation, which can be a tricky way to start a book, particularly when the conversation is not necessarily a very interesting or illuminating one.

I would try instead to either start in a place that is a bigger moment for the character or a place with perhaps more emotion for the character.

Alternatively, the author could perhaps have the character show/feel a little more here. What is his mental state as the story opens? We don’t know, beyond annoyed, and I’d like a little more on that. What is his general frame of mind as the story opens? What is he thinking about as he leaves work, is there anything significant on his mind? How does he feel about his friend Max beyond the thought about his pants, I can’t tell. If the author gave us more access to thoughts/feelings, we could get a better sense of him right away. Also, perhaps these two could banter a little more and we could get a sense of their personalities and relationship that way. Right now their conversation isn’t that interesting. It’s there to convey information about the bike, some of which we know already (there’s a flat tire) but it should serve more purpose than that–it should also illuminate character and it should also entertain. And is there a different way he could react to the flat tire? Something funny or unusual that would really intrigue the reader?

And finally, I would love the author push him/herself a little more with the opening line. The opening line to a book should be the best sentence the author has ever written. It doesn’t have to be necessarily super action-packed or dramatic, but it should instantly intrigue, or amuse, or create thought. I fear that this one is a bit of a throw-away.

__________________________________________________________

Helen Landalf – CLEO – YA novel 

The minute I slither into my sequined tank, Joan starts to disappear. I yank it down to show a little cleavage, slide on my black lace over-the-elbow gloves, and she fades even more. Then I squeeze into a pair of velvet leggings that hug her queen-size thighs, top them off with a flirty skirt, and step into my red stilettos. She’s almost gone.

“Joan,” comes Mom’s voice from outside the bedroom door. “Are you in there, honey?”

Elizabeth Taylor, in her Cleopatra gown and headdress, gazes down at me from the poster above my dresser. Ignore her, she seems to say. You’ve got work to do.

I glance at my phone, but there’s no text from Matt. Grabbing the bottle of foundation, I slather the cold, sweet-smelling liquid along my skin. The little potholes left over from Joan’s acne outbreak back in middle school? Gone. Next comes blush, the soft brush whispering glitter and bone structure onto Joan’s chipmunk cheeks, followed by eyeliner that sweeps into a dramatic V at my temples, adding flair and width to Joan’s squinty eyes. I glance up at the poster again and paint it thick and black, just like Liz’s.

The doorknob wiggles. “Joan?” Mom says.

“Be out in a sec.” I fluff my limp brown hair to create the illusion of fullness and then dim the lights on my makeup mirror. Leaning forward, I suck in my cheeks and survey my work. Not bad. All I need now is a dab of lipstick, and my transformation will be complete.

Just as I’m snatching up the tube of Burgundy Plum, the Lady Gaga ringtone blares from my phone.

“Hi, Matt,” I say. “Hang on, I’m coming.”

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

CLEO:

This is another one with strong writing that could have a stronger opening line. For inspiration, here’s a link to 20 great opening lines in YA fiction:

http://www.epicreads.com/blog/20-amazing-opening-lines-in-ya/

I like the concept here that we are watching someone’s transformation. And there is a great use of physical detail here. But again, as with the last critique, there’s not enough information about this character’s state of mind as this is happening. I want to know more about her and I’m not getting anything about her personality from this–all I’m getting is physical characteristics and perhaps that she is pretty hard on herself about the way she looks.

I love the part where the poster of Elizabeth Taylor seems to talk to her, that gives this a little edge that it really needs. But let me learn more even about this character from her inner thoughts or her dialogue, make every line really work. Maybe she could say something funnier or more interesting to Matt? To her mom? Think something interesting while she is doing this that lets me know something about her or her state of mind while she is doing this? Why does she need to transform? What about transforming makes her feel strong or special? Why does she love Elizabeth Taylor?

I think adding this level of detail and characterization, as well as working on the opening lines, will give this already strong first page some extra added oomph. Remember that you never have much time to hook the reader and focus on making this character as vivid and lively as possible.

_________________________________________________________

Mieke Zamora-Mackay               SHADOW                                     Young Adult

The hall is buzzing. Not the usual humdrum of the first hour of school. It’s a serious buzzing. Whispers about someone. Murmurs about something that’s happened.

In the woods…

Junkie…

Huffing…

Dead…

These are the words that float above the din.   No one looks my way, but there’s enough space for me to walk through the sea of bodies. I’m used to it. Everyone always walks around me, like I’m encased in some bubble. Protecting their personal space, they’re probably afraid that if they brush up against me, I’ll know everything they keep hidden inside. See into their dark hearts and thoughts, their misdeeds, acts of violence and carnal desires. It comes with being the daughter of a self-proclaimed medium; the local town kook.

The truth is, I don’t know any of their secrets. I don’t see anything they have to hide. Instead, I see spirits, ghosts – lost souls.

I see the part of every person that has left their physical body. Usually, they’re just trying to find their way home, or revisiting a part of their life they wish to say goodbye to. Some just really don’t know what’s happened to them.

I reckon that’s how the fresh one walking in my direction is feeling.

I keep my eyes down low. I don’t want him to catch me looking. He’ll know instantly that I can see him, and that won’t do. Lost spirits are never up to any good. The fact that they don’t have a clue about what’s happened to them in the first place is an indication of that. And this one’s got trouble written all over him.

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

SHADOW

I like this one a lot! The voice is strong, the first line is good and the opening page shows us a lot of information about this person and their place in the world of the school without “telling” us too much. There’s a real attitude to the writing, which I like. I also like that the author sets up the character and tells us about who she is in an interesting way and then starts right into the action. It’s great that she sees this particular dead person and immediately forms an opinion about him that is intriguing to the reader. I want to read more because I want to know more about this ghost and why he’s trouble and what will happen between these two. I also like that the writer starts at a moment of interest in the action–the school is buzzing about something–what is it? And then he/she gives us a lot of information about the character by telling us that she’s an outcast–everyone is buzzing about something, but she wouldn’t know because no one tells her anything. This is a more interesting way of showing us something about her rather than simply telling us that she’s an outcast. There are plenty of question marks to keep us reading but enough information is provided that we don’t feel confused, which is an essential balance.

If the writer wanted to go a little further, she could give us a little more info about the particular state of mind that this character is in as the book opens, or how she feels about the fact that she is an outcast, but overall this is a very strong opening page indeed.

_________________________________________________________

Peter McCleery       THE STAND-IN           Contemporary Middle Grade

Middle-school is a lot like prison. There is a precise routine and schedule overseen by an all-powerful warden (the principal). There are authority figures who roam the halls and enforce strict rules (guards/teachers). You are allotted a certain time and place to eat grub. There’s a Supermax cell block for repeat offenders (detention). There’s even a rec yard and communal showers. And, of course, there is a very specific hierarchy of cliques and social groups among the inmates. You better know who you can trust and who you can’t.

In my line of work, I can’t trust anyone. If this were prison instead of Glenview Middle School I’d be called a Fixer. The guy who runs the black market. I like to think of myself as a businessman. Or entrepreneur, if you want to be fancy about it. I sell things to the inmate-students that make their 3-year stint here a bit more comfortable. At a fair price, of course. In prison, a fixer deals in cigarettes and shivs. Here, I deal in contraband junk food and fake doctor notes. Now, some of these things may or may not be “appropriate” or “legal” per se, but they do fill a need. I provide a valuable service. There is supply. There is demand. And there’s good, ol’ Digby Fisher in between making a little money. Is that so wrong?

The answer is no, by the way.

Shortly after my mom and I moved to Glenview (which should just be called The Affluent Town of Glenview because that’s always how they describe it the newspaper.) I knew I had a good thing. These kids get more allowance money than my mom gets in her paycheck. One day the vending machine went out of order (I had nothing to do with it, I swear! Just a lucky coincidence.) It just so happened that my mom was doing a Costco run that day. I added a few items to the shopping list. Snack-size Doritos, gum, M&Ms. The next day I sat next to the broken vending machine with a backpack full of snacks and sold out before third period. I provided a needed service. In many ways I was a hero. After maintenance fixed the machine

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

THE STAND-IN

I love the idea of this one and this is a good first page in that it has tons of voice and sets up an interesting, resourceful character that the reader will want to spend time with. However, to my ear, the voice was a little older than middle-grade at times, slotting into that awkward 14/15 year old territory, and in the second paragraph maybe even more 16. Examples of places I would loosen the voice are, “precise routine and schedule overseen ” and “a very specific hierarchy of cliques and social groups” – phrases like this feel a little formal for the target market. The age issue might just be because of Digby’s very in-depth knowledge of how a prison runs, even down to knowing the word shiv. It left me wondering whether he knew someone in prison or just watched a lot of old movies. The opening has a journal feel to it, but I would lose the direct talking to the reader halfway down as this can pull you out of the story. I liked some of the examples of the things Digby can source, like doctor’s notes, and the story about how this ‘job’ started was short enough not to feel like too much up front backstory, although I’d hope the present day plot starts on the next page, with the inciting incident following shortly after.
________________________________________________________________

Thank you Jenny for sharing your time and expertise with us. Your advice is invaluable.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, demystify, inspiration, Middle Grade Novels, Process, revisions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday - Results, Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency

4 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenny Bent, last added: 8/2/2014
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37. Agent Looking for Clients

MarykAgent Mary Krienke: Mary joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2006 after receiving her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She now lives in Brooklyn.

Mary works with Sterling Lord and represents literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic YA that pays close attention to craft and voice. She is especially drawn to new and emerging writers who seek to push boundaries of form and content, and she responds most strongly to writing that reaches great emotional and psychological depths. She is equally interested in work that illuminates through humor or by playing with genre. Her other interests include psychology, art, and design.

How to submit: You can email Mary with your submissions. For fiction, please send a synopsis and the first three chapters or a 50 page sample. If submitting non-fiction, send a detailed proposal.

Queries should be sent to info @ sll.com with “Attn: Mary Krienke” in the email subject line. Cover letters should be in the body of the email but send the actual submission as a Word document attachment.

You can find Mary on Twitter: @MaryKrienke.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Mary Krienke, Sterling Lord Literistic

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38. Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales

Thought you might be interested in the information I presented at the “How to Sell More Books” Workshop I gave at the NJSCBWI Conference in June. You might want to use it as a general rule of thumb when checking out your book (on other books) on Amazon.
amazon rank

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book, demystify, How to, list, need to know, Publishing Industry, reference Tagged: 2014 NJSCBWI Conference, Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales, How to Sell More Books

4 Comments on Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales, last added: 8/2/2014
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39. Working Out the Details

erikaphoto-45Hello again! Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

PATIENCE: Working out the Details

Speaking from my own personal situation, I just did a major revision on my chapter book. It brought my story a bit more full circle, drawing some of the ending and pulling piece of it into the beginning.

Exciting stuff and I love the way it’s reading now.

But that was a pretty major revision for me, and I’m realizing that in some ways, it’s set me back a good bit. There are parts that don’t flow as well now, character reactions that don’t make sense and redundancies that are just plain annoying.

While I knew it would happen, to be honest, it’s quite frustrating.

Grumble, grumble… I JUST went over all this stuff…

There is a part of me that instinctively desires to push things back the way they were so I can make certain scenes read through properly again.

Plus, I have this crazy voice in the back of my head. It keeps thinking about the SCBWI conference I attended at the end of June, the people I talked to, the editors and agents who showed interest and who I have this amazing opportunity to submit to. And the voice says:

YOU MUST SUBMIT IT NOW!! 

Voice absolutely hates the idea of letting too much time go by. It thinks that the agents and editors will wonder… what took so darn long???

And while you may get different opinions from different people, the logical side of my brain knows that Voice is simply wrong. They knew I had revisions to do, and I’m talking an extra month or two, not years.

Agents and editors, of all people, KNOW how long revisions can take. All the ones I spoke to, not only understood, but respected writers for taking the time to do revisions correctly and present the absolute BEST manuscript possible.

Now, don’t get me wrong, deadlines are important, and being realistic is important. In this case, there is no “deadline”. But still, I don’t want the agents and editors who were open to seeing my work to wait an entire year to see it. Largely because the chances of them still remembering who I am drop pretty dramatically. And if at all possible, I definitely want that little light to go on.

But revisions often lead to more revisions, and I think it’s important to ride that train until it naturally evens out and becomes the story that it’s meant to be.

So whenever making a major revision, keep in mind that you may end up producing more necessary changes than you expect. And don’t be afraid to change things that may cause large re-writes or entire character redevelopment.

After every major revision, I remind myself that I need to take the time to do what I call domino revisions

How did my revision affect the arc and rhythm of the story? Is there too little or too much action at any particular point now? Does a chapter break or mini climax need to be altered?

How did it affect the characters? Experiences shape our interpretation of everything around us. If a character’s experience changed at in my revision, their reactions to things later on may need to change as well.

Did my revision involve the scene, timeline, family dynamics… anything where I need to check for congruence throughout the rest of the manuscript.

The list goes on.

Manuscripts develop like the people created on their pages. Growing up can take much longer than we’d like, and the stage before we become adults can be the most frustrating part.

Who hasn’t met a teenager who makes dramatic changes? It’s not easy. But whether they stick with those changes or not, they are often a big part of what shapes them as an adult.

Our manuscripts need a lot of patience, as they are becoming the living beings they are meant to be. But you know what…. they’re worth it!

Thank you Erika for another great article to help all of us improve our skills.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, authors and illustrators, Process, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: Erika Wassell, Jersey Farm Scribe, Revision Tips

5 Comments on Working Out the Details, last added: 7/29/2014
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40. No Fee Short Story Contest

KendraShedenhelm_YouTheMagician_Space

Kendra Shedenhelm sent in this “out-of this world” illustration from an upcoming book she illustrated titled, “You, the Magician.” You can visit her site at http://kendrashedenhelm.com/.

Creative Writing Institute’s

International Short Story Contest Now Open

No Entry Fee

DIRECTIONS: Read all guidelines (rules) carefully.

CASH PRIZES!

First place: $200 USD or a free writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Second place: $100 USD or a credit of $150 toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Third place: $50 USD or a credit of $100 toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Plus: seven additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our anthology & Ebook, entitledWhat Could Possibly go Wrong?

ONE submission per person

  • When you’re ready to submit, scroll to the bottom of the page at http://CreativeWritingInstitute.Submittable.com/submit and click on SUBMIT. Entries will only be accepted on that form. Fill out your name and address, and follow the prompts to a space where you can copy and paste your document into it.  Do NOT send attachments or emailed entries as these will NOT be accepted.
  • Especially note our requirements for G-rated literature. Please see #1 below for further definition.
  • By entering this contest, you are saying this story has not been previously published, you grant minor editing rights for publication, and Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Choice stories in our anthology, “What Could Possibly go Wrong?” All Rights return to the author upon publication.

This is a themed contest. Your story must be original and unpublished (except on personal blogs, critique groups, or personal web pages) and must be between 1,000 and 2,000 words.

Your story may be any genre, but these exact sentences must appear together in the story:

I have a list and a map. What could possibly go wrong?

Accepting submissions until midnight, August 9, 2014, USA Eastern Standard Time.

  • Entries will only be accepted through the submission form. As you go through the submission process, there will be a space for you to copy and paste your document into. Do NOT send attachments or emailed entries as these will NOT be accepted.

ENTRIES MUST FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES OR BE DISQUALIFIED.

1. Any genre: Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Humor, Romance, Children, etc., No erotica, profanity, swearing, or gore. (Swearing includes but is not limited to the following: hell, damn, bitch, taking God’s name in vain, and other similar words.) This is a “G” rated contest. One swear word will disqualify your entry. Good writers can make their point by showing the character’s attitudes. Questions? Query the head judge at cwicontests@gmail.com.

2. Entries must be 1,000 to 2,000 words. (This is a strict word count, but don’t count the title or personal information in the word count.) Place the word count at the top of page 1 before submitting.

3. One entry per person, please.

4. By entering this contest, you are stating that the story is your own copyright. You are stating that it has NOT been previously published by a professional or semi-professional publication. You are stating that you grant minor editing rights for publication, and if chosen, Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Choice stories in our anthology, “What Could Possibly go Wrong?” All Rights return to the author upon publication.

5. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, style, and technique.

6. Be sure that your entry has been proofread and edited. Points will be deducted for poorly structured sentences, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors. Your entry should reflect your commitment to writing.

7. Read tips and tricks on how to win a contest on http://www.cwinst.com .

Winners will be notified by email on or before September 12, 2014.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Competition, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, writing Tagged: Cash Prizes, Creative Writing, No Entry Fee, Publication in anthology, Publication in ebook, Short Story contest

0 Comments on No Fee Short Story Contest as of 7/28/2014 2:32:00 AM
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41. The Future of the Independent Book Store

One of the questions I asked Editors and Agents was about the Indy Book Stores. Over the last year, I’ve heard so many writers and illustrators voice their concern about the stores future. We’ve seen some of our favorite book stores shut their doors and every publishing professional knows how lost we would be without them out there to help promote our books, so I had to ask.

First slide responses from editors:
indyeditors
Second slide shows agent responses.
indyagents

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Book Stores, Editors, Publishing Industry, stats Tagged: 2014 NJSCBWI Conference, Agent Responses, Editor Responses, From State of the Market Report, Future of Indy Book Stores

3 Comments on The Future of the Independent Book Store, last added: 7/27/2014
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42. Illustrator Saturday – Colleen Kosinski

 

colleen_baby_cropped_300x300Colleen Rowan Kosinski has always been involved in creative projects. She is an alumna of Moore College of Art and graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Visual Arts. While in college, Colleen worked with The Robert Wood Johnson Hospital as part of her curriculum. She developed, designed and constructed step-by-step instruction booklets to be used by nursing staff. After graduation, Colleen worked as a jewelry designer. While working as a designer she won a scholarship to the Gemological Institute of America and earned a certificate in Colored Stones. Colleen, having a great interest in science, volunteered at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. She worked with Dr. John Gelhaus in the entomology department rendering illustrations of insects for scientific publications. She also worked at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA, were she designed illustrations for a cookbook featuring Ben Franklin’s favorite dishes.

After the birth of her first child, Colleen opened her studio and virtual gallery. She has been working as a visual artist, with clients all over the United States, for the past eighteen years. You can visit her site at http://www.myartsite.com. She specializes in pet portraiture and still life. Her mediums of choice are oil or pastel.

Colleen resides in Cherry Hill, NJ with her husband, three sons, doberman pinscher, rottweiler, and miniature dachshund and volunteers at the local animal shelter. During the summer you can usually find her nursing a sick squirrel or robin back to health.

Here is Colleen explaining her process:

This painting example was created for the NJSCBWI 2014 Conference. I knew I wanted a dreamy, fairytale-ish feel. I wanted the viewer to wonder what would happen next. I also wanted to include the theme of the Jersey shore.

First I researched elements I needed for this particular piece of work, ex. I needed to research old-fashioned bathing suit attire, seagulls, and Victorian style homes in Cape May for this piece.

Next, I drew (in pencil) each element that was to be included in the artwork. I scanned in the early sketches and placed everything in the space to see if worked. I’d drawn a lifeguard chair and the Cape May lifeguard boat but they didn’t fit in the composition, so they were cut.

Then, I went back and shadowed each drawing in pencil.

I scanned each shadowed piece into the computer and placed them on the page.

All the shadowed pieces were built as their own layers. I then painted in colors, using varying opacities and brushes.

colleenstep_1_pencil_sketch_cape may girlOriginal pencil sketch

colleeenstep_2_scan_and_cut_cape may girl

Scanned image, cut out, cleaned up and contrast adjusted.

colleenstep_3_color_layers_cape may girl

Colored layers built up.

colleenstep_4_highlights_shadows_cape may girl

Shadows and highlights are added last.

colleenseagull_pencil_sketch

colleenseagull_full_colorI brought the colored drawings back into the original composition.

colleencapemayflag sketch

colleencape may flag_full_colorI adjusted scale and brightness.

colleencape may houses_pencil_sketch

I then layer in shadows into the final composition and sometimes I add various textures into the composition.

colleencape may girl 3_head_tilt

Finally, when the painting looks finished to me, I put a bump map of a watercolor texture over the entire painting. This makes the work look less “computer-like”. Copyright ©artshow colleenscbwi entry 2_6

After critiques by my trusted artist friends, I add my finished piece to my portfolio. For example, they suggested her head should be tilted toward the bird so I made the adjustment as seen here.

colleendiving girl comp5

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been drawing forever. I participated in my first “show” when I was thirteen (and won first place.) I’ve been seriously working on illustrating for children for the past three years.

What made you choose to get your degree in visual Arts at Rutgers University?

I was originally granted a full scholarship to Moore College of Art when I happened upon a portfolio day after a Saturday class at the Philadelphia College of Art. I attended my freshman year, but then transferred to Rutgers to follow my boyfriend. I know. I know. But we’ve been married now for 27 years. : )

colleenbeach girls14

What were you favorite classes?

I loved figure drawing, creative writing, and anthropology. I’d always try to convince my professors to hold class outside on beautiful days. All except figure drawing. Naked models posing outside in the middle of campus would have been frowned upon—but would probably have drawn quite a crowd.

Did the School help you get work?

Actually, Moore College of Art helped me get my first internship as a scientific illustrator for the entomology department of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

colleenriver of wishes9hair lowered a smidge3tdep5_6_14_3NO-WORDS

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

In high school the teachers would commission me for artwork.

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

After college I worked in a jewelry store and did some jewelry design. I was fascinated with gemstones and won a scholarship to study colored stones with The Gemological Institute of America.

 

colleenmermaid comp 8Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?

The figure drawing classes may have helped a bit but my style has organically evolved over the years.

When did you do your first illustration for children?

I started working on children’s books illustrations about three years ago.

colleenswimming with the fish7

How did that come about?

I had worked as a fine artist for many years, but stopped drawing to seriously study writing. I’ve written screenplays, YA novels, and MG novels, along with picture books. NJSCBWI was holding their first illustrators showcase three years ago and I decided to participate and developed a character, which then became a story.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

After all the positive feedback at the NJSCBWI conference.

colleengoldilocks comp_v7

How did you get interested in writing novels and when did that happen?

I had a friend who worked in the SAG office in Philadelphia. I had an idea for a movie and asked her how I could try to sell my idea. She told me I’d need to write a screenplay. I bought books on the mechanics of writing screenplays and started networking with other screenwriters. I decided to try to convert one of my screenplays into a novel. Then I wrote bad novel after not as bad novel until I finally had one that I thought was good enough to submit. But it really wasn’t. So I kept writing more and more. I think my eighth book was the charm and is now being read by several editors.

Are you open to illustrating a picture book for a writer who would like to self-publish?

I think I’d rather work on my own books or be paired with an author from a traditional publisher.

colleenflying girl comp4

Have you worked on illustrating a book dummy to help market your illustrating skills?

Yes.

Since you already are writing novels, have you thought about writing and illustrating you own picture book?

I’ve written quite a few PBs and I have one finished dummy and one in process.

colleenbad luck boy new comp6

Do you have an artist rep.? If not, would you like to have one?

I’m presently not represented, but would love to work with an agent interested in an author/illustrator. I’m a hard worker and not afraid of revisions.

What types of things do you do to market your work?

I show at conferences, tweet, network on FB, display my work on the SCBWI illustrator showcase, and I have a website—ColleenRowanKosinski.com

colleenjaquar11What is your favorite medium to use?

I’m currently working with a combination of pencil sketching and digital painting. I also love oils, and soft pastel.

Has that changed over time?

Many years ago I worked primarily in pen and ink and watercolor. I did a lot of hand-numbing stippling with a rapidograph pen. I transitioned to pastel. Sold quite a few, then fell in love with oil painting. Oil painting is a long process because of the practice of building layers of colors and the drying times involved. That’s why I love digital so much now. I approach color the same way I did in my oil painting but have zero drying time!

colleentweed_composition_v6

Do you have a studio in your house?

I don’t have a designated studio. Because of very bad back issues I have trouble sitting for long periods of time in a regular chair, but I’ve found a recliner takes the stress off of my lower back so you can usually find my there, either writing, sketching or working digitally. I do have an office with my supplies, a desk, computer, scanner, printer and bookshelves from floor to ceiling.

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

My laptop computer.

colleenHanging Around4

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

I work every day for at least eight hours or more. I try to attend at least one SCBWI conference a year and as many other workshops that I can fit into my budget and schedule.

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

Yes, I take pictures and research reference images online.

colleenskunk girl_portfolio3

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Definitely. I used to have to find reference photos by paging through books and magazines for hours. The Internet also helps me network with other writers, illustrators, agents, and editors.

What do you feel was your biggest success?

I don’t know if I’ve experienced a “big” success yet. I just keep doing what I’m doing while constantly trying to improve.

colleenfox running picture 16Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

I actually use GIMP, which is a free version of Photoshop. I did finally bite the bullet and start subscribing to Photoshop (you can’t buy it outright anymore, you must pay a monthly fee.) I’m experimenting with it but feel more comfortable with GIMP.

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

Yes, I use a Wacom pad when creating my artwork.

colleen02_2ps_mother_and_baby_all_the_layers4

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

I dream of finding an agent who knows the craft and market, and being traditionally published. I guess if I want to dream big, I’d love to win a Newberry or Caldecott.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a story called Lydia Light Takes Flight. The character I created for the 2014 NJSCBWI Conference Art Competition inspired the story. The text is finished and I’m currently working on the dummy. It’s a lyrical story with a fairytale’ish feel. I also have a couple PB biographies ready to go, and two other lyrical PB texts. Editors are reading my older MG novel and I’m hoping one of them will make an offer soon.

colleen06_2ps_fire_all_the_layers4

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

I don’t know if I can really speak to being successful, but I can say that you have to be a fighter. Don’t wallow in rejection and keep moving forward. Be open to critique and learn from it. Lastly, be involved in the kidlit scene. It’s a wonderful, supportive community.

colleencozette and the black umbrella7

 

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

To see more of Colleen’s illustrations you can visit her at: www.ColleenRowanKosinski.com Twitter: @writergirlrowan 
Facebook: Colleen Rowan Kosinski

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, Interview, Process Tagged: Colleen Kosinski, Illustrator Saturday, Moore College of Art, Rutgers University

9 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Colleen Kosinski, last added: 7/26/2014
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43. Free Fall Friday – Possible Opening & Kudos

amal10_small
Another wonderful illustration by Amal Karzai. Thought it showed the feeling of this post. Website: http://www.amalillustration.com Blog: http://amalimages.blogspot.co.uk/

There might be a spot opening up at the Avalon Full Manuscript Critique Writer’s Retreat. If you are one of the people who have been kicking yourself for not getting in for this opportunity to get a critique with Agent Ammi-Joan Pacquette from Erin Murphy Agency or Agent Heather Alexander from Pippin Properties, send me an email and I will get back with you.

WOO HOO! It seems like a number of you jumped on the post where I told you about Schoolwide.com had a call out for submissions, because I’ve heard from a number of writers this week who have heard back from them. Most have received very nice letters showing interest in their manuscript and asking for revisions, which is great and could be a start of something big, but Sheila Fuller had her book ALL NIGHT SINGING accepted. Congratulations Sheila!

Christopher Behrens’ finished his book, found an illustrator whose work has been on The Today Show, used Jim Whiting and Writer’s Digest for editing, then self-published his book Savanna’s Treasure this past spring.

Kirkus gave him a good review in June and now The Community Life Newspaper wrote an article the book.  If you would like to read the article, here is the link: http://www.northjersey.com/arts-and-entertainment/books/longtime-dpw-employee-pens-first-children-s-book-1.1052358

Savanna’s Treasure is available everywhere online and in all formats, including the ebook.

Two of the comments from Kirkus:

“…story enriched by an inspiring animal alliance….a good fit for early readers.” —Kirkus Reviews

 

Good job Chris!

 

Check back next Friday for the First Page Results.

 

Talk tomorrow,

 

Kathy

Filed under: authors and illustrators, Conferences and Workshops, Illustrator Sites, Kudos, opportunity Tagged: Amal Karzai, Christopher Behrens, Free Fall Friday, Schoolwide.com, Sheila Fuller

6 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Possible Opening & Kudos, last added: 7/25/2014
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44. Free Fall Friday – KUDOS

artshowvesperdowntheshore-sat

Two awards forVESPER STAMPER for her fun beach illustration. She was the Winner of Published illustrator AND Member’s Choice Awards for Down the Shore … Girl w. Umbrella piece she submitted for the NJSCBWI Artist Showcase.

Colleen Brand submitted a book to Schoolwide.com when she saw the info here and let me know that  they just accepted MY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER (a picture book) for their digital education library.

Lisa Yoskowitz will join Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as executive editor on July 21. Previously she was senior editor at Disney-Hyperion.

At Chronicle Books,Kelli Chipponeri has been promoted to editorial director, children’s.

Paul Whitlatch is joining the Hachette Books imprint as senior editor, starting July 21.

At Harlequin, Erika Imranyi has been promoted to executive editor, Mira.

Leon Husock joins L. Perkins Agency as an associate agent specializing in speculative fiction, as well as young adult and middle grade novels. He was an associate agent at Anderson Literary Management. Rachel Brooks will be joining the agency as a junior agent handling romance, young adult and new adult fiction and select picture books.

Lee Harris will join the Tor.com novella and ebook imprint as senior editor in “late summer.”

Pam van Hylckama Vlieg has left Foreword Literary Agency and joined D4EO Literary Agency, where she will continue to build her list.

Congratulations, everyone!

Remember, Agent Jenny Bent is doing four of our first page critiques this month. Below are the guidelines:

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

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

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

DEADLINE: July 24th.

RESULTS: August 1st.

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, Kudos, Publishing Industry, success Tagged: Colleen Brand, Free Fall Friday, Lisa Yoskowitz, Vesper Stamper

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – KUDOS, last added: 7/18/2014
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45. Illustrator Saturday – Angela Padrón

angelapicAngela was born and raised in Freehold, NJ but moved to Florida in 2002. For over 15 years, Angela taught bilingual, ESL, Spanish, and Art in public schools before becoming a freelance writer and illustrator. She writes and illustrates board books, picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels, and loves to include humor, characters of color and cultural themes in her stories. She’s a big fan of Bruce Coville, Mary Pope Osborne, Alma Flor Ada, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, Mo Willems, Bob Shea, Mark Teague, Jarrett Krosoczka, David Shannon, Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, and Amy Bates, among others.

Angela also writes and edits content for educational publishers and works as an adjunct professor at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. She holds five college degrees, including an MFA in Illustration from Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In addition, Angela has been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators SCBWI since 2004 and is one of the artists at Studio 18 in the Pines in South Florida.

HERE IS ANGELA explaining her process:

The idea that I had for “The Hero in You” (written by Ellis Paul) was to have the historical figures in the songs portrayed as children. So here’s how I completed the Jackie Robinson illustration for “The Hero in You”

angelaprocess1

I wanted Jackie to be hitting the ball so I initially came up with this sketch.

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The art director liked the pose but wanted the uniform to look more of the time period of Jackie Robinson rather than a modern look. Also he wanted a crowd and stadium in the background and a more humble rather than determined look on the face. Here is the adjusted sketch.

angelaprocess3

Next I recopied each part of the sketch so the lines were clean –the stadium/crowd, the ball, Jackie, and the ump and catcher are all drawn separately so I can work with each component individually in the final illustration. I use vellum because I think it’s the best way to see through to your sketch. Also the pencil goes on real smooth and it’s easy to erase on.

I scan in each part, change the outline from black to brown, reconstruct the sketch in Photoshop and change each layer to multiply so I can see through them.

angelaprocess4
I like to fill my sketch with textured papers, either ones that I have painted with acrylic or gouache or printed papers from Michael’s scrapbooking section. I can scan a bunch of different colors or textures and adjust the colors in Photoshop which gives me flexibility when completing the illustration.

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I started with the background – the bricks of the stadium. I added the lines of the bricks and used a slight drop shadow to get the indentation in the bricks.

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Then I worked on the stadium and the crowd, using textured papers to fill the areas rather than digital paint.

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I lightened the background so that it wouldn’t overpower Jackie.

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Then I colored in baseball and added shadow, followed by Jackie, the ump, and the catcher.

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I added some shadows and highlights to the figures, texture to the bat, and rosy cheeks to finish the illustration.

angelaprocess9Final Illustration

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How long have you been illustrating?

First I want to say thank you, Kathy, for interviewing me for your blog. It’s my first blog interview and I’m super excited to share my background, work and ideas with you and your readers. I applaud you for having the blog and taking the time to showcase illustrators’ work.

So let’s get the interview started… Technically, I’ve been illustrating since I was about seven years old. Somewhere in storage there is a Snoopy book written and illustrated by me that I did in first grade! However, I started developing a serious interest in illustrating children’s books when I joined SCBWI in 2004.

Angela Padron NJ SCBWI art show FINAL

You bio says you have five college degrees, could you tell us about the four you worked for before you decided to go for your MFA?

I’ve always loved school. As a kid I couldn’t sleep the night before the first day of school because I was so excited to go. That passion for learning carried over after high school (if I could earn a living being a college student I would take that job in a heartbeat!) Even though I initially studied Art and Education, at some point I felt like taking music classes and earned an A.A. in Music. Then I finished my B.A. in Art and began teaching Art. Soon after I found an interest in English as a Second Language (ESL) Education and Bilingual Education. I received a grant to study at graduate school and earned a M.A. in Instruction and Curriculum with a focus on Bilingual/Bicultural Education. Although I loved teaching students English, I put Art on the back burner for almost 10 years to focus everything on my job. When I moved to Florida, I had in mind to become a Reading Specialist for ESL students, so I completed another graduate degree, an Ed.S. which is a Specialist’s Degree, in Reading Education. Although that goal didn’t work out, while studying Reading Education I fell in love with children’s books. It finally hit me that I could use my love for creative writing and art to write and illustrate books – I felt like it was a roundabout way to teach students. Finally I had found the right professional focus for my talents. So I took the plunge and enrolled in the online MFA program at Academy of Art University in San Francisco to study illustration.

Angela Padron illustrator intesive FINAL

What made you choose to get an MFA in Illustration from Academy of Art University in San Francisco?

When I finally knew children’s book writing and illustrating was where my true passion resided, I researched different ways to learn more about this field. I joined SCBWI and read lots of information online, read books, received critiques, etc. But since I am a nerdy student at heart, I knew that attending a class and having an instructor and classmates to provide insight, advice, and critique was the best thing for me. There were not many options when it came to studying illustration on the graduate level because I was married with two stepsons and a baby on the way. So the only option for me was to study online. Academy of Art University was the only school I could find with a legitimate MFA program in illustration. I enrolled in my first semester in 2007 and actually took a trip out to San Francisco to check out the campus. I fell in love and knew it was the right decision. I wish I could have studied there in person – maybe one day I’ll be able to live out there and take or teach a class. It took me four years to finish but it was worth every minute (and every penny that will take me 30 years to pay off!)

angelaapadron illus 5

What were you favorite classes?

One of my favorite classes in college was actually Physics of Exploration that I took as an undergraduate. We learned how the Space Shuttle and Hubble Telescope worked as well as some really cool stuff. But of course I loved my creative writing classes and illustration classes the most. I had a few courses just in Children’s Book Illustration and Narrative Illustration. Those two really helped me a lot with the storytelling aspect of illustration as well as the right steps to take when illustrating (from research to thumbnail to rough sketch, to final sketch, to value rough, to final art). I also took some Animation classes, which were fabulous for character development and storyboarding/sequencing illustrations.

angelabiglove

Did the School help you get work?

No, I was lucky enough to develop a freelance business doing writing and editing for educational publishers as well as teaching part time at some community colleges and elementary schools. Being an online student, AAU as well as most schools doesn’t really have career services for online students.

angelabiglove2

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

In 2012 I received an email from TSI Graphics, a company that was hired by McGraw-Hill to find illustrators for some leveled readers in Spanish. I completed three illustrations for the first book and then eleven illustrations for a second book.

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

I was still teaching part time and working as a freelance writer and editor for educational publishers. I was lucky enough to get some freelance work in 2007 and it developed into more work throughout my studies and continues until today. I also continue to teach at the college level on a part time basis.

angelabenfranklin

Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?

I was very confused with “style” as a student. I knew the illustration styles of others that I liked but I didn’t want to copy anyone. It took me a while to develop a style that was a bit different and stood out over the traditional style of illustration. However, I’m now experimenting with some new techniques that are affecting/changing my style a bit. So I feel like I’m in between finding a signature style and one that can get me some work.

angeladedicationpage

When did you do your the first illustration for children?

After the McGraw-Hill job, I didn’t get any other work until 2013.

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How did that come about?

Right after graduating with my MFA in 2011, I prepared a TON of promo packages and sent them out to different Art Directors at publishing companies. It wasn’t until 2013 when I received two emails within a span of a month to illustrate from two different companies to illustrate books. They both told me they received my information in 2011 and held onto it for two years. Wow!

angelamartha

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

After completing my degree in Reading Education in 2005, I fell in love with children’s books. It finally hit me that I could use my love for creative writing and art to write and illustrate books – I felt like it was a roundabout way to teach students.

angelamybody

Was MY BODY BELONGS TO ME the first picture book that you illustrated?

Yes, it was.

angelaheroinyou

How did that contract come your way?

One day in 2013 I received an email from the Art Director at Free Spirit Publishing asking if I were available to illustrate a book. I said “Absolutely!” That company was one of the companies to whom I sent promo material in 2011 and they finally contacted me two years later for a project.

angelamothersdaybigger

Congratulations in your new book THE HERO IN YOU coming out the 1st of September.

Thank you!I did love illustrating MY BODY BELONGS TO ME but I’m even more excited about THE HERO IN YOU, mainly because it’s about famous people in history and to this nerd learning about history –or pretty much anything – is my cup of tea!

Angelalicksbigger

How did you get the contract with Albert A. Whitman?

It happened the same as Free Spirit Publishing – out of the blue I got an email asking if I were available for the project. So I was working on it the same time I was illustrating MY BODY BELONGS TO ME. I actually had to make the tough decision to quit a teaching job in an elementary school in order to pursue these projects. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get my name on a book. I mean, two books!

angelatimetogo

Have you worked with educational publishers?

Yes, as an illustrator, writer, and developmental editor.

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Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?

Absolutely! I would love to be known as an author/illustrator. Besides picture books, I also write chapter books and middle grade novels. I hope to illustrate my chapter book if it ever gets published, as well as the cover for any middle grade novel. However, I do feel that my illustration style may not fit some of the stories I write. So I am open-minded to the idea of someone else illustrating my books if an editor/publisher felt strongly that another person’s style would suit the book better. Very much like David LaRochelle has done with some of his stories.

angelasobig

Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who? And how did you connect with them?

At this time I don’t have an agent. However, I did have an agent in 2012. I can explain how I landed that contract… I subscribed to agent Jill Corcoran’s blog. At the time, she was working with Ronnie Herman at the Herman Agency. On her blog she posted that Ronnie was looking for an intern to help layout some books in Photoshop to make some book trailers. It was either in house or remote. I applied for it and didn’t get it but I asked Ronnie if I could submit my stories and portfolio to her and she said yes. At the time, I had an editor interested in one of my stories. Long story short, Ronnie liked my work and signed me for 18 months. I had never met Ronnie and only spoke with her one time on the phone during the 18 months. We got along fine, but for one reason or another, it didn’t work out with Ronnie and I chose not to renew the contract.

If not, would you like to have one? After already having had an agent, I learned that you can have a good rapport with your agent but he/she may not be the best fit professionally. So as much as I would like to have another agent in the future, right now I’m patiently taking the time to research agents more than I did before in order to find the one who is the perfect fit for my personality, interests, writing and illustration styles, and professional goals. In the meantime, I am sending out my stories to editors that I’ve met at conferences to try and get some interest. When looking for an agent, it can really help you if you can tell him/her that you have an editor interested in your work already.

AngelaPadron Little Nose2

What types of things did you do to market your work?

I have a website, a facebook page, and a blog. I’ll be preparing some promo packages again in the next few months with some tear sheets and postcards to mail out to art directors as well as editors – last time when I sent out packages I only targeted art directors, but this time I’ll be sending out to editors as well, especially those I’ve met at conferences.

angelatoes

What is your favorite medium to use?

Anything messy like charcoal and pastels are my favorite. I also love collage and have developed a “digital collage” style where I paint tissue paper or other textured paper with gouache or acrylic paint. (I’m a huge fan of Eric Carle and Leo Lionni and the textured papers they used.) I then scan those papers into the computer and use them to fill my sketches. In the past I’ve added drop shadows to make the pieces look like cut paper. That works well if you’re looking for a graphic style of illustration. For looser, freer work, I use watercolor, pastels and colored pencils combined with some digital collage. In addition, I love to create batiks (wax resist and dye on fabric) and am trying to figure out a way to be able to use a batik combined with Photoshop to create some illustrations. No matter what technique I use, though, my sketches are all done by hand in pencil and scanned in. I don’t like drawing with the tablet; I only use the tablet as my tool to fill in my sketches.

angelaig

Has that changed over time?

Definitely. Towards the end of my MFA, I had developed the cut-paper digital collage style with drop shadows and stayed with that for a while. Then I began using the textured collage papers with my outlined sketch just for a different (and quicker) spin on the technique. About a year ago, I was experimenting with watercolor and pastels on printmaking paper and found a softer look was better for some of my illustrations. That combined with using Photoshop to overlay my sketch and some textures gave a nice look that I’ve been using a lot more lately. It gives me the flexibility to use my favorite medium – pastels – with my second favorite medium – the computer (or as I often call it “the machine that helps me fix any errors much quicker than redoing the entire illustration over again.”)

angeladogboy

Do you have a studio in your house?

My dining room table is often my “house studio” these days. However, I do have a studio space near my house. It’s called Studio 18 in the Pines – it has about 20 studios for artists and a large gallery for exhibitions. I use it when my son is in school or camp as well as sometimes on the weekends.

angelasled

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

My laptop and Intuos tablet for sure. But also my Nu-Pastels by Prismacolor – love them! I have my studio space mainly to do my batiks, however. I can’t melt wax or hang dripping dyed fabric in my house that’s for sure!

angelashoe

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

I write and illustrate whenever I can between my freelance projects and life. I’ve been trying to commit a certain number of hours per week for just writing and illustrating but something always comes up and reduces that time. Each Monday I try to restart the week with that thinking – I know one of these days I’ll figure out how to do it.

angelaball

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

Yes! I have people pose for me or I go to places like the beach or zoo to take pictures. I also do some research online for photos if I can’t take the photos myself; I copy and paste every relevant image I can find into a Word document, then narrow them down to the ones I think will be most beneficial and print them out. I refer to photos all the time when illustrating.

angeladancer

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

It’s my best friend! Without it, I couldn’t have studied for my MFA at Academy of Art University. I wouldn’t be able to research photos or companies to send my illustration samples to, and I wouldn’t have email to get offers for projects. And of course reading fantastic blogs like yours helps inspire and teach me, too!

angelagirl

What do you feel was your biggest success?

Illustrating THE HERO IN YOU so far has been the best illustration experience of my career. I would love to work with the art director at Albert Whitman & Co. again – he was a real cheerleader when I got stuck on an idea or was struggling to get one of the illustrations done on time. He also gave me a lot of creative flexibility to come up with the idea for the illustrations. I really think the book is going to sell well because of the content, the songs, and the ability to relate the book to the Core Curriculum Content Standards in schools.

angelashutthedoor

Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

Photoshop is my lifesaver. I use it to touch up illustrations so I don’t have to redo anything. I also love to illustrate in pieces – meaning, I usually illustrate each character separate from each other and the background, then scan them all in and place them together in Photoshop like a puzzle. It allows me the flexibility to move things around and resize them if necessary.

angelakitchen

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

Yes Intuos tablet – I’d be lost without it.

angelapuppyshirt

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

I definitely want to have books published that I have written and illustrated in all types of genres – board book, picture book, chapter book and middle grade novel. That would be my dream.

angeladuck

What are you working on now?

The question really should be what am I NOT working on now – my SCBWI critique group members can attest that I am non-stop at trying to write a good story. I have a few book dummies to touch up and finalize to have ready to submit to agents and editors. I also am finishing to write my first chapter book and then would like to draw some black and white illustrations for that book. I actually came up with another picture book idea this morning while walking my puppy so I hope to get the idea down in writing this week.

angelalittle annie

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

I water down gouache and acrylics to paint on tissue paper – very carefully as to not rip it. Scan those into Photoshop and use them to fill your sketch – you get the same effects if you were to paint the textures right on your illustrations. I love to paint watercolor on Rives BFK paper – very heavyweight printmaking paper that absorbs the watercolor with a soft texture. I also love Arches hot pressed watercolor paper for more detailed work. Nu-Pastels by Prismacolor are so great – the feel like hard pastels but go on like soft pastels – they still smudge but not as much as very soft pastels. Prismacolor colored pencils are my favorite – love the soft leads. And finally Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils. They’re colored pencils that can be erased pretty well – they’re great for outlining or sketching. Some animators use the different colors to show the progression of their sketches.

angelacharacterb&W

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

You have to be a student of the business. Research research research – not just for photo reference but also look at the new books that are out. Go to the library and spend an hour or two a week just looking through books and studying others’ illustrations – their techniques as well as their compositions. See what types of stories are selling. Read lots of books – reading with my son is the biggest help when learning about books. Go to conferences and workshops. Take online classes. Join critique groups and embrace feedback and different points of view. Have a style but be flexible so you can get work if you’re just starting out, like me. Always be drawing and illustrating something to keep your skills and ideas fresh. And never stop dreaming!

angelaNEW monkey graphic small

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

To see more of Angela’s illustrations you can visit her at: http://www.angelapadron.com/

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: adjunct professor at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Angela Padron, Studio 18 in the Pines in South Florida.

10 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Angela Padrón, last added: 7/19/2014
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46. New Literary Agent Looking to Build List

whitleypiccroppedWhitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights as a production manager for several medical and S & T journals. She graduated in 2011 BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards.

Whitley is primarily interested in Young Adult, Middle Grade, and select Upmarket Women’s fiction. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right, and a story that sticks with the reader long after turning the last page, be it contemporary or historical, realistic or supernatural, tragic or quirky.

She loves mythology and literary re-imaginings, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and craving cute romantic comedies for YA through adult (ex: Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Morrill, Stephanie Perkins).

She is not interested in vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies, dystopian societies, steampunk, or epic fantasy. Please no paranormal / fantasy for adults. Submission guidelines:

They accept electronic submissions only. Do not call the agency to query, or to inquire about querying. Do not use the postal service to mail your submissions.

To query, type “Query (Agent Name)” plus the title of your novel in the subject line, then please send the following pasted into the body of the e-mail to query(at)inklingsliterary(dot)com:

  • A query letter that includes:
  • The title, genre, and word count of your project.
  • A brief blurb about the story.
  • A brief bio including any publishing credits.
  • The first 10 pages of your manuscript
  • A brief synopsis (1-2 pages)

Your subject line should look like this (If you were querying Michelle and the name of your book is “One Thousand Ways to Drink Coffee”):
Query Michelle: ONE THOUSAND WAYS TO DRINK COFFEE.

They will not open unsolicited attachments, so make sure you send all of the above pasted into the body of the email.

Their response time varies for queries, but they do answer all queries that come in while we are open to submissions.

Email Alex: alex@inklingsliterary.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Uncategorized

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47. YA Digital Book Publishers

Here is a list of publishers who look to publish digital books. I thought you might like to keep this list for future reference, a good list to research. Note: The number of deals are only the ones reported to Publishers Marketplace.

yadigitalpublishersyadigitalpublishers2a
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Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: list, Places to sumit, publishers, Publishing Industry, reference, Young Adult Novel Tagged: 2014 State of the Market Report, YA Digital Publishers

3 Comments on YA Digital Book Publishers, last added: 7/22/2014
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48. Elizabeth Law’s: Ten Dreaded Manuscript Errors

elizabethlawreadsI wanted to make sure everyone that reads this blog did not miss this post that Elizabeth Law wrote for her blog, “Into the Words” last week.

Elizabeth has had quite a stellar career in the children’s publishing industry. She was trained by editor Deborah Brodie at Viking Children’s Books. She worked at Viking Penguin, and at Penguin’s divisions Puffin Books and Frederick Warne & Co, for 18 years, leaving to become Associate Publisher of Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.  And in 2007 she became the first publisher of Egmont USA and helped create a company from the ground up. Since 2013 she’s worked for herself, with writers and artists and people who just love children’s books as much as she does. If you talk to Elizabeth she will tell you, “It may be the best job I’ve ever had.”

Elizabeth Law will also tell you, “Really great books last forever, really great books take a lot of effort to get that way, and it never, ever works to publish something just because you think it will be popular.  If you, personally, don’t like a book, it is not going to succeed.  Please don’t try to write something that you don’t really care about because ‘it’s the kind of thing that’s hot right now.’  As Rocky said to Bullwinkle, ‘That trick never works.’”

HERE IS AN EXCERPT:

Ten Things That Make an Editor Stop Reading Your Manuscript

#1.   NOTHING AT STAKE FOR THE READER  This is a BIGGIE, because readers, and maybe even your editor, will forgive a multitude of sins if you’ve got this one working. Is there something in your story we’re rooting for?  A character we care about whose situation we can relate to?  Don’t give us a kid who has a lot of things to say about his life, his parents, his school, his crush, but doesn’t have any problem that pulls us through your book.

#2.  THE VOICE IS TOO YOUNG, OR TOO OLD, FOR THE AGE OF KID YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT.  Think carefully about what your character would notice at his or her age. And please don’t try to sound cute.  Deliberately misspelling something to appear childlike,  or having your character say, for example, pasgetti instead of spaghetti, may cause an editor to turn off his computer and start rummaging for an Advil.

#3. TRYING TO SOUND HIP, STREET OR ETHNIC IF THAT’S JUST NOT YOUR THANG.  We editors implore you to cut this one out! I’ve seen Italian mothers come out with sentences that are practically “Mama mia, that’s a spicy meatball” or an Asian kid in a lunchroom say “my grandfather says, reading enriches a man, conversation makes a man shrewd.” Really? A kid in the school cafeteria would say that?

Today this mistake turns up most often when writers try to write in what I’ll call Black or Latino street lingo.  We need diverse books, absolutely.  We all agree on that.  But you don’t have to try to right every wrong in your own novel.  If you can’t comfortably and naturally write in a particular dialect, don’t do it.

#4. DIDACTICISM’S HEAVY HAND.  This used to be the number one mistake children’s book editors saw, and it’s still very common. There’s nothing wrong with teaching if that’s the intent of your book.  But, let me be clear: in fiction, your job is to tell a story.  Do you pick up your favorite mystery or thriller writer because of the moral lesson or educational value you’re going to get from the book?  Or do you read it to be entertained?  Guess what, that’s what young readers want, too.

#5.  WAITING FOR THE STORY TO START.  I’ll give it maybe ten to twelve pages, but if you’re setting up a situation and showing us character and then telling us about the town your story takes place in and nothing has happened, I’m out.  Editors often refer to this as the infodump at the beginning of the book.   Take a look at Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.  The author does a masterful job of evoking the world that Theo lives in, but first, the book opens by showing Theo, years later, in a hotel in Amsterdam, in a lot of trouble and remembering the day, as a child, he lost his mother.  So when Tartt cuts back to that day, we’re happy to read each detail because we know something big is coming.

(By the way, THE CONVERSE OF THIS TIP IS TRUE, TOO.  You don’t have to grab us with too much at the beginning.  I often worry that a downside of all the ten-page critique or “first pages” sessions held at conferences is that writers end up front-loading a story with too much action.)

#6.  IN HISTORICAL FICTION, DESCRIBING A LOT OF STUFF YOUR CHARACTER WOULDN’T ACTUALLY NOTICE.  Roger Sutton puts it this way, “There was this great article in School Library Journal by Joan Blos called ‘Bunches of Hessians’ where she talks about the various mistakes that are made in historical fiction. She said to take something from a historical novel–for example, a mother making dinner–and translate it into contemporary fiction. And then she wrote this hilarious passage about ‘Mother stood in front of the white box and carefully adjusted the black dial.’ It has to be natural to the person telling the story. They shouldn’t be noticing things that only an outsider would be paying attention to.”

#7.  In fantasy, sci fi, paranormal and dystopian, MAKING UP CONVENIENT RULES FOR YOUR WORLD THAT APPEAR AS THE STORY PROGRESSES. I see this most often in the genres I’ve listed, but all fiction can suffer from it.  The world you are writing about has to have an internal logic or rules of its own. The reader (and editor!) can tell when you are just adding a new character/planet/magical property/suddenly appearing warring army to get yourself out of a jam.

Many years ago, I read a brilliant article on this subject by Newbery-winning author Lloyd Alexander called “The Flat-Heeled Muse.” I’ve reread it several times, and it has so much to say about good writing that I recommend it for anyone reading this blog post.

Click this link to read the rest of Elizabeth’s wonderful post.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, children writing, Editor & Agent Info, How to, writing, Young Adult Novel Tagged: 10 things to make an editor stop reading, editorial Consultant, Elizabeth Law, Ten Dreaded Manuscript Errors

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49. Women In Nature Books: Call For Submissions

Women in Nature: An Anthology, is the first book in the WIN-Women in Nature Series.  The WIN series are collections of stories from women all across the North American continent… and beyond!  These are true stories about the varied ways in which these women relate to ‘nature’ and our natural environment.  Each book also contains complete chapters by prominent and passionate women, experienced in related aspects of ‘nature’.  Subsequent WIN books will include: WIN on Dwelling; WIN on Indigenous Ways; WIN on Food, WIN on Adventure; WIN on Water;  WIN on Healing; WIN on Children; and more!

 

OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS!
We have received some amazing stories for our first WIN – Women in Nature book.   

We are looking for good fun engaging stories!  Inspiring, uplifting, adventurous, funny, stories … of your relationship with ‘nature’!

 

CALL FOR  Your True Nature Stories!!!

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Picture

From wilderness living to urban gardening, we want your personal stories that reflect a transforming or transcending connection to ‘nature’.  We are looking for stories that can open our perspectives conceptually, or ‘show us how’ to do something experientially.  We’re talking about living with the earth, not on her.  How do women connect with nature, and the reciprocal and essential relationship with the earth and all that is in it?

Guidelines:

  1. Your story must be true.
  2. Your story should be told in first person
  3. Good quality writing is as essential to your story, as is your story.
  4. Your story should relate to a personal experience that then translates into insight, advice, creative ideas, or transcending awareness!
  5. Your (funny, somber, endearing, emotional or otherwise) story should be between 750 – 2000 words
  6. If your story is chosen, you will be given author exposure, as well as varied options for compensation including copies of the book, discounts, (and other monetary and non-monetary rewards to be further specified.)
  7. We are currently accepting stories from women (as this is a women’s anthology) from ages 18 and on…. however, we are open to stories from men… about women.

Submissions should include: Your story and a brief (50 word) author bio..

SUBMIT TO SPECIFIC WIN BOOKS AS FOLLOWS:


FOOD
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Food book, is to generate an awareness of the food we eat, where it comes from, and how what we eat affects all life on this planet.
We are looking for your true stories about food, particularly stories that celebrate sustainable and organic food and food sources as they relate to our natural environment.  We also welcome stories that reflect the emotional relationship humans have with food, as well as stories that encourage an awareness of connection.

 

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON FOOD TO    carly.womeninnature@gmail.com     DEADLINE foe submissions 1 September 2014

 

ADVENTURE
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Adventure book is to encourage awareness, respect and intimacy as we seek out adventure.  We are looking for your true stories about your adventures in, and more significantly ‘with’, nature.  Adventures – hiking, climbing, deep sea diving, dog sledding, kayaking, spelunking, wilderness research, horseback riding, swimming, mountaineering, skiing, surfing – can unfortunately sometimes become an activity of disregard and disrespect.  We are looking for experiences that celebrate and appreciate the beauty and awe of the natural environment – and instill an intimacy and awareness of reciprocity – while experiencing all of the challenges, adventures, and inspiration nature has to offer!

 

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON ADVENTURE TO    carol.womeninnature@yahoo.com      DEADLINE foe submissions 1 September 2014
 
CHILDREN
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Children book is to encourage the engagement of children with the natural environment, and to nurture an understanding of their existential and intimate relationship with all living things. We are looking for your true stories about children and their relationship with nature. We welcome stories about your childhood experiences in nature, as well as stories about getting children into nature, and your experiences observing children in nature. All stories should move beyond children merely playing an activity outdoors and should focus on the interaction with nature.
 
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON CHILDREN TO   
roslyn.womeninnature@gmail.com       DEADLINE for submissions 1 September 2014
 
HEALING
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Healing book is to encourage an understanding of our reciprocal relationship with the nature, and how the health of the earth and our own health are intimately intertwined.  We are looking for your true stories about healing, both the healing of nature and how nature heals us.  This includes both physical and emotional healing through anything from plants and animals, to the healing power of simply being in nature’s bliss.

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON HEALING TO    carol.womeninnature@yahoo.com        DEADLINE foe submissions 1 October 2014

GENERAL – For stories that do not fit into any of the above categories, please submit through our standard contact form below.
And, watch for more WIN titles and varying submission deadlines.

IDEAS… to get you started
We are looking for any  personal story that connects you to ‘nature’.organic or urban gardening  FOOD
foraging for wild edibles  FOOD
camping under the stars  ADVENTURE
live trapping bugs and setting them free outside
kayaking and white water rafting  ADVENTURE
rock climbing and mountaineering  ADVENTURE
nurturing a wounded critter  HEALING
painting your house with natural pigments  DWELLING
natural everday living stuff  CHILDREN
hiking and backpacking  ADVENTURE
mushrooming  FOOD
natural horseback riding  ADVENTURE
collecting rainwater  FOOD
composting  DWELLING/HEALING/FOOD
passive solar heating  DWELLING/ENERGY
getting fire from friction  DWELLING/ENERGY
building a natural shelter  DWELLING
cooking on an open fire  FOOD
hunting and fishing  FOOD/CHILDREN
creating an outdoor labyrinth  HEALING
braintanning hides  DWELLING
working with animals  ANIMALS/HEALING
water – rivers, snow, streams, oceans  WATER/HEALING
shearing and spinning wool  ANIMALS/DWELLING
teaching children about nature  CHILDREN
research field work  ADVENTURE/HEALING
building a sweatliodge  HEALING
sleeping outside on your back deck  CHILDREN

etc…. etc
 
A story about anything that
connects you
to the earth!

 
Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Author, Book, need to know, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: Anthology, Book Series, Call for Submissions, Get published opportunity, Women in Nature

0 Comments on Women In Nature Books: Call For Submissions as of 7/23/2014 1:23:00 AM
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50. Price Drop – Revise Your Novel in a Month

jillandmarthaSince, agent Jill Corcoran is such a good marketer, I am sure most of you already know about the video series that author of the PLOT WHISPERER, Martha Alderson and literary agent Jill Corcoran released three months ago.

You can watch the first video in the series for free, which I did last week. It was very good and since I watched it, I’ve been wondering how I could come up with the money to rent the rest of the series.

Today, Martha and Jill lowered the price to $75.00 to rent the 8 part series for a whole year, so now I can afford to buy the series and learn from what they have put together.

If you are a picture book writer, they even have something for you. You can pre-order: How to Write & Sell A Picture Book- Pre-Order and SAVE $25 https://vimeo.com/ondemand/writesellpicturebook

Here is the information for the Revising Your Novel in a Month: http://vimeo.com/ondemand/reviseyournovelinamonth

In this 8 Video (5.5 hours) Series, Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson and Literary Agent Jill Corcoran provide step-by-step instruction on how to revise your
• Concept
• Structure and design
• Tension and conflict
• Character growth and transformation
• Pacing
• Cause and effect
• Meaning
• Hook
• Polish
• Prose
in preparation for a major rewrite of your novel.

To complete the course in a month, watch two videos a week. Or, work at your own pace and take more or less time on the step-by-step exercises. You decide your revision pace as you explore and complete each video exercise based on your own individual needs in preparation for a major rewrite.
• 8 videos (available for viewing as many times as you would like for 1 year)
• 30 writing exercises- one for each day of the Revise Your Novel Month

apathtopublishing.com/for-those-who-purchased-aptp-videos/

PlotWriMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
I. TRAILER
a. Introduction
II. OVERALL STORY LEVEL
a. Video #1: HOW TO REVISE + CONCEPT & CHARACTERS
• Welcome
• How to Approach Revision
• Organization
• Concept
• Characters
• Story Titles
III. PLOT AND STRUCTURE LEVEL
a. Video #2: TRANSFORMATION + GOALS
• Review
• Layers of Plot
• Transformation / Change
• Goals
b. Video #3: CONCEPT + ENERGETIC MARKERS
• Review
• Concept
• Energetic Markers
• Plot Planner
IV. SCENE LEVEL
a. Video #4: SCENES AND THEMES
• Review
• Scene and Summary
• Themes
• Character Motivation
• Antagonist
b. Video #5: CLIMAX
• Review
• Preparation
• Anticipation
• Event
• Reaction
• 3 Major Plot Lines
• Antagonist Crisis
c. Video #6: BEGINNING & END
• Review
• Beginning
• Traits, Skills, Knowledge, Beliefs
• Cause and Effect
• Antagonists
V. WORD LEVEL
a. Video #7: MANUSCRIPT VOICE + CHARACTER & ACTION
• Voice
• Transformational Journey
• Backstory Wound
• Subplots and Theme
• Crisis

b. Video #8: FIRST PAGES + FINAL TEST
• Every Word Perfect
• Sentence structure
• Dialog
• Prepare for Rewrite
• Rewrite
• Concept
• Structure and design
• Tension and conflict
• Character growth and transformation
• Pacing
• Cause and effect
• Meaning
• Hook
• Polish
• Prose
To complete the course in a month, watch two videos a week. Or, work at your own pace and take more or less time on the step-by-step exercises. You decide your revision pace as you explore and complete each video exercise based on your own individual needs in preparation for a major rewrite.
• 8 Instructional videos (available for viewing as many times as you would like for 1 year)
• 30 writing exercises- one for each day of the Revise Your Novel Month
Who will benefit from PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month:
• Writers seeking to write a great novel
• Writers with a draft of a novel and uncertain how to proceed
• Writers with story problems
• Writers who feel blocked
• Writers who wish to move from where they are to where you wish to be
• Writers committed to improving your craft
• Writers interested in digging deeper into your story
• Writers needing help organizing for a major rewrite

Dolly D. Napal watched the series and said, “Don’t let the title fool you. This is not only a revision course. It’s a fully comprehensive writing course for PB, MG, YA, and Adult writers, at any point in their career.”

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Author, opportunity, Process, reference, revisions, video Tagged: Jill Corcoran, Martha Alderson, Novel Revsion Video series, Plot Whisperer

3 Comments on Price Drop – Revise Your Novel in a Month, last added: 7/25/2014
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