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26. Agents Wishlist

Brooks Sherman at The Bent Agency


Brooks Sherman represents picture books, fiction for young adult and middle-grade-readers, select literary and commercial adult fiction, and nonfiction in the areas of humor, pop culture, and narrative nonfiction.

Prior to joining The Bent Agency, he worked as a literary agent at FinePrint Literary Management and in the managing editorial department of Henry Holt and Company. He is a hands-on, editorial agent who delights in developing projects with his clients before bringing them to the attention of publishers.

Before starting his career in publishing, he spent several years working in the entertainment industry (in both New York and Hollywood), and two years with the Peace Corps in West Africa. Having bounced around all over the world, he is delighted to be back in Brooklyn—although he looks forward to his next Transylvanian backpacking expedition with great anticipation!

He is seeking projects that balance strong voice with gripping plot lines. Stories that make me laugh earn extra points! My interest in adult fiction runs the gamut from literary to speculative (particularly contemporary fantasy rooted in realistic settings, horror, and magical realism), as well as historical and crime fiction. On the children’s side, He’s looking for middle grade fiction of all genres (but particularly fantasy adventure and contemporary), humorous projects from author-illustrators, and young adult fiction of all types except paranormal romance. He would love to get his hands on a creepy and/or funny contemporary young adult project. 

Here are a few more detailed things that Brooks says he is looking to read.

On the MG side, I’m still looking for someone to send me this generation’s THE WITCHES. Are you my Dahl?

On the YA side, I’d love to find some projects with realistic settings and a speculative twist. (See: NOGGIN; GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE)

Still looking for a historical project set in or around the WWI era to sink my fangs into. Speculative elements encouraged!

I would love to work on some alternate history projects — MG, YA, or adult. A fantasy element (a la BARTIMAEUS) would be just dandy.

“I desperately want to find the next JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL—eerily beautiful crossover fantasy”

And of course, I’d love to get my hands on a dark adult psychological thriller, or historical or speculative thriller (a la THE ROOK).

I’m also keeping an eye out for MG stories that are either funny/contemporary or fantasy/sci-fi adventure!

I’m looking for contemporary YA fiction, in the vein of ELEANOR & PARK or ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE.

MG with sweetness and wit (not necessarily snarky).”

I’d love to see a twisted adult thriller like Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL or William Landay’s DEFENDING JACOB.


I will be talking about Query Letters this week, so you might want to read that to make sure you are doing that to the best of your ability. Brook will still be there, so their is no need to rush something out.

To query Brooks, please review The Bent Agency’s submissions guidelines
Then email brooks@thebentagency.com

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, list, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies Tagged: Agents Wishlist, Brooks Sherman, The Bent Agency

1 Comments on Agents Wishlist, last added: 3/29/2014
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27. Query Tips – Examples – Links

silvialiuPig n Butterlies 2004

This cute little piggy was sent in by Sylvia Liu. Sylvia was selected the 2013 New Voices Award winner by Lee and Low Books and my debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GONG GONG, is scheduled to be published in Fall 2015. She is part of the 2013 Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program and being mentored in illustration by Caldecott-winner David Diaz.


1. Always address your query to a specific person.

2. Make sure you mention the title of your book in third  paragraph.

3. Mention the word count and genre of your book in third paragraph.    

Note: Novels should be 80,000 to 100,000 words. Young adult novels can be significantly less: 40,000-60,000 words. Insert word count and genre at the end of your first “hook” paragraph.

If your novel is 200,000 words – Cut before you query.  No one wants an overweight manuscript. AgentQuery reports unless your manuscript is a historical family saga or an epic science fiction battle, agents hit DELETE on proposed first-time novel over 110,000-120,000 words.

4. Share the reason why you are querying this particular agent. Let the agent know that you have researched them and have a reason for choosing them for representation.

5.  Have someone you know check for typos and grammar mistakes. It is very easy when e-mailing a query letter to click the send button before throughly checking your text.  Writers seem to be in the mode to triple check everything when they snail mail their queries, but since we send so many personal e-mails without closely checking every word, that “Send” button can be easily clicked.  The mistake snail mailing query writers make is forgetting to include their contact information – something you don’t need to include with an e-mail. I know that sounds crazy, but I have seen it when writers have sent me submissions for editors and agents.

nathan bransford book2Need to see an ACTUAL query letter before you’ll know how to write one? Here is the query letter Author (at the time agent) Nathan Bransford:

Dear Ms. Drayton,

As a young literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. I have long admired Inkwell, as well as your strong track record. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, if you searched for a book that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike THE BOOK THIEF (which I absolutely loved), you might just have JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, a middle-grade-and-up science fiction novel that I just completed. Still fun! But no one dies – Mr. Death would be lonely.

Jacob Wonderbar has been the bane of every substitute teacher at Magellan Middle School ever since his dad moved away from home. He never would have survived without his best friend Dexter, even if he is a little timid, and his cute-but-tough friend Sarah Daisy, who is chronically overscheduled. But when the trio meets a mysterious man in silver one night they trade a corn dog for his sassy spaceship and blast off into the great unknown. That is, until they break the universe in a giant space kapow and a nefarious space buccaneer named Mick Cracken maroons Jacob and Dexter on a tiny planet that smells like burp breath. The friends have to work together to make it back to their little street where the houses look the same, even as Earth seems farther and farther away.

JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW is 50,000 words and stands alone, but I have ideas for a series, including titles such as JACOB WONDERBAR FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE and JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE VACATIONING ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET. I’m the author of an eponymous agenting and writing blog.

I’d be thrilled if you would consider WONDERBAR for representation, and a few other agents are considering simultaneously. Thanks very much, and hope to talk to you soon.

Nathan Bransford

Here are a few other places to look:

Nathan Bransford dissects a really good query letter and extoll its virtues.

Click Here to Visit Galleycat. They have 23 Agent Query Letters That Actually Worked.

Nonfiction writers don’t need to have a completed manuscript.  They only need a proposal before seeking representation from an agent. Here’s are books and places to help with writing a proposal:

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, How to, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: David Diaz, Links to Query letter Info, New Voices Award Winner, Query letter Example, Query Tips, Sylvia Liu

5 Comments on Query Tips – Examples – Links, last added: 3/28/2014
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28. How to Write A Query Letter


You can see from the above illustration by Evi Gstottner that she loves fairytales and folktales. She graduated in 1992 from Byam Shaw School of Art in London and in 2009 she completed her MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art). Evi was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/illustrator-saturday-evi-gstottner/

The goal of query letter is to elicit an invitation from an agent (or editor) to send in sample chapters or the whole manuscript.

A query letter is a ONE PAGE letter with three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography.

Don’t stray, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional writer. Keep it simple. Stick to three paragraphs.

Paragraph One is called The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and reel them in.

The first paragraph is your chance (perhaps your only chance) to grab the agent, since many agents will be immediately biased—for good or for bad—within a sentence or two.

If a writer queries via a referral, he will always begin with, “I am writing to you because your client, John Smith, recommended that I do so.” Thus an agent, whether he likes it or not, must take the first sentence seriously, if for no other reason than he risks offending an existing client check or editor. Please do not say this unless it is true. Agents will check and you don’t want to be embarrassed or have someone think you are not trustworthy.

If you haven’t been referred, you could still grab the agents attention with something personal., such as: ”I am writing to you because you represented TITLE by AUTHOR, and I feel my book is similar.”

What will this show?

1. That this is not a random query letter.

2. That you’re approaching him/her for a specific reason

3. That you’ve put a great deal of time and energy into researching the market

4. That you know who the agent represents, and the types of books they have sold.

5.  It will put a positive association into the agents mind, as it will make him or her think of a book they sold.

6. It offers a comparison, allowing the agent to immediately grasp the type of book you’re writing and thus help they agent decide if they want to represent another like it.

7. It shows that you know the market, that you have an objective grasp of what your own book is about and where it fits within that market.

8. It indicates that you’ve put care into your writing.

Referencing one of his/her titles will help accomplish this. But don’t bluff. Noah says, ”If you don’t truly do the research, it will show. I’ve received many letters which referenced a book I sold, but when I read the rest of the query, I realized that their book was not at all similar; it was just a gimmick to get me to pay attention. When an agent realizes this, he will just be annoyed. So when referencing a book, make sure it is truly appropriate. But if you’ve done the research and query a truly appropriate agent and reference a truly appropriate title, then you are already off to a shining head start.”

Agent Query suggests using the when formula: “When such and such event happens, your main character—a descriptive adjective, age, professional occupation—must confront further conflict and triumph in his or her own special way. Sure, it’s a formula, but it’s a formula that works.”

Example:  Bridges of Madison County

When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson’s farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.

Note: Many writers use the “when” formula, so use it as a starting point. Write your basic hook and then spice it up with the “When. Noah says to keep your opening paragraph to one sentence, so if you add a when to the personal approach, make sure it is short.

Example: Non-”formulatic” fiction hook:

The Da Vinci Code A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.

Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where boil down your entire novel into one paragraph and expand your hook. Put in the hard work of practicing and revising, until you get that paragraph to sing the same tune as your whole book. Read the back flap of books you like to get a feel for how to create a juicy paragraph.

Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio: Keep it short and related to writing. If your book revolves around a hospital and you are a nurse, then say that. If you have a published book, been published in some magazines, etc,, or won a writing contest or award, then let the agent know. if you’ve never been published, never won any awards, hold no writing degrees, and have no credentials to write your book, then don’t say it. This just gives you more space for Paragraph Two.

The Closing: Thank the agent for their time and consideration. Let the agent know you have the full manuscript available upon request. Note: Never query an agent unless you have written, revised, and finished your full manuscript.

Tomorrow: Query Tips – Examples and Links.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Agent, How to, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Breaking down the Query Letter, How to write a query letter, Noah Lukeman, One page Query letter

8 Comments on How to Write A Query Letter, last added: 3/26/2014
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29. The Query Letter

great-query-jacketFor the last few weeks we have gone over how to format your manuscript and how to write a synopsis. Every week I have pointed you towards agents and what they are looking for, but really the first thing you need to do is hone your skills on writing a great query letter. It is wonderful that more and more agents are accepting query letters via email, but there a perils that come along with this. We are so used to quickly jotting down a few sentences to talk with friends and hitting the send button without thinking, that the same thing can happen when emailing a query letter to an agent. We all need to beware of doing this an approach the query letter with the same respect as the rest of our writing.

Agent Noah Lukeman has written a whole book on how to do this in his appropriately title book, HOW TO WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER.

Love the way Noah explains this: Most writers put a tremendous amount of effort into their content, spending months or years with their manuscripts, agonizing over word choice, scene order, character development. Yet when it comes time to write a query letter, they will often write something off the top of their head, sometimes with a mere hour’s effort, and let this suffice to represent their work. They rush through the letter process so that the agent can get to the book itself, which they feel will explain everything. They feel that if an agent just sees the writing, nothing else will matter, and that a poor query letter will even be forgiven. This is faulty thinking. For agents, the query letter is all. If it’s not exceptional, agents will not even request to see the writing, and writers will never even get a chance to showcase their talent. For most writers, the query letter—which they rushed through—becomes the only piece of writing they will ever be judged by, and unfortunately, the only chance they ever had. While it may seem as if a query letter is a shallow way to judge an author, I can tell you from an agent’s perspective that it is a very effective tool.

For the professional eye, a query letter is much more than just a letter:

1. It shows the agent whether you are able to exhibit word economy

2. Whether you have a grasp on the nature of your own work

3. Whether you have a realistic grasp on your own background and credentials.

4. For non-fiction: It also demonstrates whether you have a grasp on your market and your competition. A query letter can also serve to warn an agent, to act as a red flag, if for example you are too aggressive, or pitch too many projects at once. The way it physically looks speaks volumes, as does whether you’ve sent it to the right person in the right way. A layman looks at a query and sees a one page letter. An agent looks at it and scans it for 100 different criteria.

This mere page can tell an agent more about the writer and his work than you can possibly imagine.

This week we will talk about what goes into making your query letter stand out and get noticed. Remember: The query letter might be the only thing that agent ever reads of your writing. Remember: Agents have a big pile of other writer’s query letters sitting in front of them and would like to get through that pile sitting on their desk, so small things can be the difference between them saying, “Send more” and “not interested.” But also, Remember: Agents want to find the next great book or else they wouldn’t be facing that pile.

So let’s learn what to do, learn how to avoid the pitfalls that get our letter tossed and signal an amateur.

Noah Lukeman is giving away a .pdf of this book and How to Land an Agent. You can also get it for free on your Kindle at Amazon.

Here is the link for the download: http://www.landaliteraryagent.com/

Here is the layout for this week:


Wednesday: Query Letter Tips – Examples and Links

Thursday: Agent Wishlist

Friday: First Page Critique Results

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Agent, demystify, need to know, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Agent Noah Lukeman, The goal of the Query Letter, The Query Letter, What a query letter says about you

5 Comments on The Query Letter, last added: 3/25/2014
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30. Ask Kathy

Children’s book illustrator and writer Nata Romeo sent in this stylize iguana for today’s post. She says, “Art is my passion.” I recently completed illustrations for a book titled ‘Wildlife Animals A to Z’, which she intends to self publish. Her preferred medium is a combination of watercolor and pen and ink. www.artistadonna.blogspot.com/
www.ArtistaDonna.ebsqart.com  www.facebook.com/artistadonna.nata 

This coming weekend I will be meeting with Agent Sean McCarthy and Publishing Executive Director and Managing Editor, Steve Meltzer. Some of you have sent in questions for me to ask so I can relay the answers to you. Please email me if you would like to add to the list.

Here are the questions sent to me:

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

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

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

4.  What is the preferred word length for a book aimed at the upper middle grades/tween reader?

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

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

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

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

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

10. I have been told not to use any “ing” words in my manuscript. Is there a rule about this that I have missed?

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

12.  How hard is it to get your rights back on a book you that has gone out of print? Do you have any words of wisdom or steps an author could take to get the rights back?  

13.  What do you think about using the real name of a media or entertainer in your book? Is that okay or should you make up a similar name?

14.  I am an illustrator and writer. Is it okay to send in a picture book dummy?

15.  What is speculative fiction?

16.  If you want to write a book from two character’s POV, using alternating chapters, is it okay to scatter in a few chapter’s from a third character’s point-of-view?

17.  If you are writing a book using two character’s POV with alternating chapters, could the main character be in first person and the second character be in third person?

18. Do you have any thoughts on when to give up on a manuscript your have completed and has gotten rejected?

Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editors, list, opportunity Tagged: Agent Sean McCarthy, Ask Kathy, Publisher Steve Meltzer, Questions for Answers

10 Comments on Ask Kathy, last added: 3/24/2014
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31. Illustrator Saturday – Melanie Hope Greenberg

melpic290Melanie Hope Greenberg has illustrated 16 trade published children’s picture books; six of them she wrote. Greenberg was recently an artist in residence for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art’s National Endowment for the Arts grant. Her original picture book illustrations were exhibited in a solo show and as a part of the “Drawn in Brooklyn” group exhibition at Brooklyn Central Library-Grand Army Plaza.

Greenberg was also the selected artist for the Texas Library Association conference’s Disaster Relief Fund raffle. SCBWI NY Metro steering committee member. Keynoter, panelist, workshop presenter, picture book manuscript / dummy / portfolio critiques for SCBWI regional conferences.

Judge for the 2005 SCBWI Golden Kite Award, 2006 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award. Judge for the 2010 Cybils Awards.


Here is Melanie talking about her process:

Muriel Feldshuh was kind enough to invite me to participate, for a second time, in her traveling children’s picture book artist quilt project.  She sent a kit containing a lovely note, a blank square of muslin, packing, and a self addressed, stamped return envelope. How could I refuse?

The  first muslin square I painted is in the red quilt above. Feldshuh’s quilts exhibit in galleries throughout the United States.

For the new quilt, consisting of Brooklyn based illustrators, I chose an icon that both represents Brooklyn and my picture books. This is a sketch of a book cover test for MERMAIDS ON PARADE. The publisher thought it was “too old” for the age level of my book.

I still love this sketch and I’ve wanted to use it somewhere else. So, I did.

I work with a copy machine. I cut out extras and fixed some lines. Then copied again. There’s my outline.

I copy once more, and experiment with paint on the paper first. I discovered my glitter nail polish made a quick drying sparkle over the paint. Yippie, no glitter mess.

Using a lightbox, I trace the mermaid’s outline onto the muslin square with pencil. I lay down shapes of pure colors.

Now I add some details to the under layers of paint.

I add purple pen out line and carefully brush in the glitter. I do not want paint or glitter to spill onto the muslin outside the mermaid outline.

Remember to always ventilate while using the nail polish in large areas. I painted by an open window.

Finished art.

How long have you been illustrating?

Before kindergarten. I cannot remember not coloring or drawing. Here’s a painting from my teenage years living in Co-op City in the Bronx.


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

UNICEF greeting cards was my first professional illustration job. I also worked in a frame store and in graphic art studios.


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

When I met a picture book art agent. Finding her was random luck as I pounded the pavement with my portfolio and illustrating for the gift industry.


Greeting Card published by Michel & Co

Did you do freelance before you got into children’s books?

Yes. I still freelance. I’ve published hundreds of illustrated images on greeting cards, coffee mugs, posters, gift items and more.


What was your first book you had published? What year was that and who published it?

AT THE BEACH which I wrote and illustrated for Dutton Children’s Books 1989


How did you get that contract?

Through the agent. We worked for about 6 months crafting a dummy and writing. Then I got the job!


What spurred you to write your own book?

I always liked to write and my agent encouraged me to write a story.


How did you find a home for that book?

Through the agent. I was incredibly green.


Is there anything you can point that ratcheted up in your career to the next level?

Understanding the vast scope of our business and how it all connects. Marketing my art and books with an individual vision to a target audience.


What book was your first big success?

When I saw my illustration from AT THE BEACH in Publisher’s Weekly with a lovely review. I was on an interview at Publisher’s Weekly for a freelance graphic job. When the art director flipped through the magazine there was my painting! The review made me realize that books were more than a freelance gig which is what I thought about my first book deal. Had no idea about picture book reviews.

PS: I got the freelance job at Publisher’s Weekly, too!


Since then, which book do you feel is your biggest success? Which book is your personal favorite?

A big success is DOWN IN THE SUBWAY which is still in print and has received several honors and became a New York Time Great Children’s Read. MERMAIDS ON PARADE is my personal favorite because it’s a personal story that came from real life. And the story in the book manifested in real life, too. We marched with a little girl who I met at my Eric Carle Museum program. She and her mom came all the way from Massachusetts to Brooklyn to march with my friends in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. She won a medal for Best Little Mermaid. Just like my book!


Have you won any awards for your books?

Yes, notables, honors, a New York Times Great Children’s Read, and state awards.


Did you do the original cover of Lizzy Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses by Eileen Spinelli or the latest cover or both?

Great question! I illustrated the first cover in my folk art style and I have no skills to illustrate the new cover. LOVE that they used the same hair style, I’m honored!


I see you have done a number of books with Henry Holt. How did you make that happen?

Agent connection to editor, Nina Ignatowicz. I published THE WIND’S GARDEN and A CITY IS with Henry Holt.


How many picture books have you published?

16 trade picture books. Six of them I’ve written.


Do you plan to write and illustrate more books?

Always trying. I have polished projects which I submit and various new projects in different stages.


Are you open to working with self-published authors?

I’m not seeking it out, however if I am paid well I’d consider it as a freelance job. Because I am considered “hybrid” I might self-publish my own previously published books now out of print. These books have a track record with the public library system and with schools.


Do you feel your style has changed since when you started out?

Yes, from a decorative cartoon style to a painterly style. That evolution was challenging. In retrospect, it was breaking out of barriers (black lines) into a light filled open field (no black lines). The art mirrored my psychology at the time. Learning to expand interior spaces and how to illustrate with moods and symbols.


What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

Gouache, pens, pencils. Ballpoint rainbow colored gel pens rock my world for fine detail work.


Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

No. Ten fingers are my digital age ;)


Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Yes. I had a monthly job with Scholastic’s Instructor Magazine for many years before their illustrations changed to photos. My first assignment with Scholastic was for poems edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. He and I are currently Facebook Friends! Also, worked with Children’s Television Workshop, and teacher magazines.


Have you done any books with educational publishers?

Yes, A SCARY THING IN THE KITCHEN with McGraw-Hill. I AM with Scholastic. And many more black and white illustrations for textbooks.


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

Postcard mailings. Submitting proposals. Online presence. Networking.


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

I did have a 23 year year long good relationship with an agent who is not as active. I went on my own but would LOVE an energetic rep. It’s a lot of work to meet the art directors and editors, do the paperwork and contracts. Definitely worth the commissions.


Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Totally! My platform has ballooned. I meet people at events who say they see my name everywhere.


How did you get your first school visit?

I cannot remember, almost 22 years ago. Probably local, I sent mailers to the schools.


Do you actively look for school visits? Or do they find you through word of mouth?

Both. I have a booking agent now but I still must market on a consistent basis and do so with personal lists I’ve built up over time.


Do you have any tips on how to get invited to a school for a presentation?

Marketing to the target audience is always best.


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

Yes, and lots of paperwork! However, deadlines shape a timely art production. I paint better and more efficiently when I am eating.


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

My paints.


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

Yes, I LOVE to research! I have files of research before I sketch, write, etc. Especially if I am not clear on what info to convey in the art or story. If I can take photos I do, but I use my own visual files and the internet to search for images and other research.


Jay Asher, author of 13 REASONS WHY, on left standing next to Melanie and the Disco Mermaids from the SCBWI party was research for MERMAIDS ON PARADE. They appear inside the book as well as on the flap jacket. )

Have you ever thought of getting back the rights to your out-of-print books and self-publishing them?

Yes! At this point I am hybrid, books in and out of print. I sell my remainder copies. I’ve learned how to sell to bookstores and the public via experience, the events I do and through social networking. Again, because I am “hybrid” I can self-publish previously published books now out of print which have a track record with the public library system and with schools.

melaniehgQ35Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

Retire properly with financial security. melaniehgQ36

What are you working on now?

Submitting, submitting, submitting. I have a new Ebook being released with Random House. It’s the reincarnation of IT’S MY EARTH, TOO, originally published by Doubleday, released in 1992. It went out of print around 1995 when Doubleday merged with Random House.


Do you have any material type tips you can share with us?

Play with whatever excites your imagination and experiment.


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

Work your butt off. Stop waiting for others to do the heavy lifting. Keep trying. Present your creativity with an authentic individual voice.

Melanie thank you for sharing your journey, talent, expertise, and process with us. Please keep us informed of all your future successes. We’d love to hear about them.

For more of Melanie, you can find her at: http://www.melaniehopegreenberg.com/ or  http://mermaidsonparade.blogspot.com/

All art and photos are the copyright of Melanie Hope Greenberg.

Please take a minute to leave Melanie a comment. It is always nice to hear your thoughts and I am sure Melanie would appreciate it, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process, Tips Tagged: Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art's, Melanie Hope Greenberg, SCBWI Magazine Merit Award

7 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Melanie Hope Greenberg, last added: 3/25/2014
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32. Free Fall Friday – Industry Changes

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Still need illustrations for the month of March or Spring. Surely there are illustrators who have something to show off, so please look to see. Same as always: At least 500 pixels wide, sent to kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com, and include a blurb about you. Thanks!




Always thought there was a story with this picture illustrated by Mark Meyers. Mark spends his days drawing and painting pictures filled with kids, escaping circus monkeys, and everything in between. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/illustrator-saturday-mark-meyers/


Many of you have asked me if I knew where Danielle Smith had gone after leaving Foreword Literary. Here is the answer: Children’s book blogger and agent Danielle Smith will join boutique agency Red Fox Literary later this month. See original post about Danielle here.

At Disney-Hyperion, Lisa Yoskowitz has been promoted to senior editor, and Laura Schreiber moves up to associate editor.

Also at Disney-Hyperion, Rotem Moscovich has been promoted to senior editor. Disney Press has promoted Nachie Marsham to executive editor, Brooke Dworkin to senior editor, and Clarissa Wong rejoins to assistant editor.

Little, Brown Children’s announced a number of promotions. Connie Hsu has been promoted to senior editor, while Mary-Kate Gaudet moves up to editor. Patti Ann Harris has been promoted to executive art director, while Saho Fuji moves up to associate art director and Liz Casal moves up to senior designer.

Lucas Wittmann has joined Regan Arts as associate publisher and executive editor.

Andrea Walker will join the Random House imprint as senior editor on March 25, reporting to Susan Kamil. Most recently, she had been a senior editor at Penguin Press.

Jack W. Perry will join Highlights for Children as vp, print and ebook sales on March 31.

Susan Dobinick, Assistant Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux is our March Guest Critiquer.


Susan wants to work on everything. Right now she is especially looking for funny middle grade girl novels. In the young adult realm, I’d like to see books that tackle big social issues but aren’t preachy. With picture books, I like short and funny; I prefer quirky stories over cuddly. Across all formats, I’m a fan of books that have depth but are accessible—so that both kids and critics will love them.

Susan assists two children’s trade imprints. She works with fiction and nonfiction, ranging from picture to young adult books. Her specialties include children’s trade publishing, picture books, chapter books, middle-grade books, young adult books, educational publishing, textbooks, and teacher editions. She holds a B.A. in English from Chicago Goucher College.

Susan is Edith Cohn’s editor for Spirits Key, which is coming out in September. Edith has a nice interview with Susan on her blog. Here is the link:


Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in March: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page 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.

DEADLINE: March 21st.

RESULTS: March 28th.

Put “March First Page Critique” or “March First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

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

Please include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Publishing Industry Tagged: Children's Publishing Changes, Executive Art Director Patti Ann Harris, Farrar Straus and Giroux, Senior Editor Connie Hsu, Senior Editor Lisa Yoskowitz, Senior Editor Rotem Moscovich, Susan Dobinick

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33. Synopsis Check List

CeciliaClarkcherry blossom

This illustration my Cecilia Clark gives us a glimpse of what awaits us after this long cold winter. Cecilia is a budding writer and illustrator from Australia. Her writing and illustrating has been published in anthologies. She is a member of SCBWI Australia and New Zealand(Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FWA) and Romance Writer’s Australia(RWA).  http://ceciliaaclark.blogspot.com.au

Synopsis Checklist:

1.   Is your synopsis between one and three pages?  Double spaced if more than one page?

2.   Does the opening paragraph have a hook to keep the editor or agent reading?

3.   Did you use capital letters the first time you introduced a character?

4.   Did you show your characters goal, motivation, conflict, and growth?

Your synopsis should give a clear idea as to what your book is about, what characters we will care about (or dislike), what is at stake for your heroes, what they stand to lose, and how it all turns out.

5.   Have you hit on the major scenes, the major plot points of your book, and include the ending?

6.   How you gotten to the who, what, where, when and why in your synopsis?

7.   Do you keep the interest level up throughout the synopsis?

8.   Is there good flow between  paragraphs.

9.   Have you avoided all grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes?

10. Do you think you captured the flavor of your manuscript?

See yesterday’s post for synopsis details.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: demystify, How to, list, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Australian Illustrator, Celcilia Clark, Synopsis Checklist, Synopsis evaluation

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34. Tips on Writing A Synopsis


Doris Ettlinger sent in this gorgeous illustration reminding us of how March comes in as a lion and goes out like a lamb. Doris graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  She was featured on Illustrator Saturday in 2010: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/illustrator-saturday-doris-ettlinger/ 

After talking about formatting your manuscripts, it was logical to receive a few emails asking about how to format a synopsis. That lead to adding other things you need to consider when writing one for your novel.

How to format your synopsis.

Use a one inch margins on the top, bottom and sides. Justify text at the left margin only. Use Times New Roman 12 pt. font. Type your name, address, phone number, fax number and e-mail address, each on a separate line single-spaced at the top left margin on the first page of your synopsis.

If you can fit your synopsis on one page, then you can single space the text with a space between paragraphs . If it goes over one page, then double space your text. Editors generally want one or two pages, but if you must go longer than you must – just keep it tight. You should always check a publisher’s submission guidelines, just to make sure you are following their rules before submitting.

Here are some things to help guide you through the synopsis writing process:

• You want to briefly tell what happens. This is one place you can ignore Show, Don’t Tell.

• Your goal should be to give an escalating series of turning points, a strong central crisis, a dramatic climax and a satisfying resolution.

• Introduce your main character first. Type a character’s name in all CAPS the first time you use it in the synopsis. Why? It helps the editor remember or find your character names.

• Remember your synopsis should showcase your unique voice.

• The synopsis should reflect your story. If it is humorous, be funny, etc.

• Start with a hook.

• Use present tense. This gives the story immediacy.

• Write the high points of your story in chronological order. Keep these paragraphs tight.

• Always answer basic who, what, where, when, why–early in the synopsis.

• Don’t waste words or time describing settings, unless crucial. Sometimes it’s enough just to put the date and place at the top, then start your synopsis.

• Omit unimportant details.

• Only include backstory if it is necessary to give the editor the information they need about the character’s motives.

• Always resolve the external plot question before you resolve the internal and/or relationship question.

• If it’s not a turning point, it doesn’t belong in the synopsis.

• Don’t use secondary characters in your synopsis, unless they are absolutely critical to the emotional turning points of the relationship. Even then, try to get by with the using the secondary’s relationship to the major characters (sister, teacher, boss.) They are too hard to keep up with and only add clutter. Only name them when necessary.

• Clearly convey the central question of the story, and what the resolution looks like. And resolve it at the end — don’t leave the editor guessing. They hate that, so spell out the story, including the ending.

• Rewrite your synopsis until each sentence is polished to the point of perfection. Use strong adjectives and verbs. Make every word count.

Check back tomorrow for a synopsis checklist you can use when drafting one for your manuscript.

Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: demystify, How to, list, Process, reference, Tips Tagged: Doris Ettlinger, Rhode Island School of Design, Synopsis Format, Synopsis Guide

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35. No Fee Poetry Humor Contest

Leila Nabih

Leila Nabih sent the above illustration to help wet our appetites for warm starry evenings. Leila graduated from London Art College with a Diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books and she has illustrated a short story available on itunes entitled “Imagine”. She is currently working on two other Children’s books to be published this year. Her prefered media in terms of art licensing is digital. For children’s Illustrations she tends to mix and match between watercolours and digital. Here her blog link: http://leilanabih.wordpress.com/ and facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/LeilaNabihIllustrations 

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee)

Now in its 13th year, this contest seeks today’s best humor poems. No fee to enter. Submit published or unpublished work. $2,000 in prizes.

Deadline: Apr 01, 2014

Results Announced: Aug 15, 2014

Theme: Humor

Word Limit: Poem may be of any length

Entry Fee: No fee. Submit one poem only, please.

Prizes: First Prize, $1,000; Honorable Mentions, 10 awards of $100 each

Full Guidelines

What to Submit Submit one humor poem. This poem should be your own original work. You may submit the same work simultaneously to this contest and to others, and you may submit a work that have been published or won prizes elsewhere.
Prizes and Publication First Prize, $1,000 cash Ten Honorable Mentions, $100 cash each

All entries that win cash prizes will be published on the Winning Writers website and announced in the Winning Writers Newsletter (circulation 50,000+).

English Language Writers of all nations may enter. However, the works you submit should be in English. If you have written a work in another language, you may submit an English translation. Inspired gibberish is also accepted.
Privacy Your privacy is assured. We will not rent your information to third parties.
Copyright You retain the copyright to your submission. If your entry wins any cash prize, you agree to give Winning Writers a nonexclusive license to publish your work online and in electronic media such as our newsletters.

Who Is Wergle Flomp? Wergle Flomp is a creation of poet David Taub. Mr. Taub submitted “Flubblebop” to poetry.com’s former (and not very selective) contest to see what would happen.

Assistance If you have questions, please email the contest administrator.


Jendi Reiter is vice president of Winning Writers, editor of The Best Free Literary Contests, and oversees the Winning Writers literary contests. She is the author of the poetry collection A Talent for Sadness (Turning Point Books, 2003) and the award-winning poetry chapbooks Swallow (Amsterdam Press, 2009) and Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press, 2010). In 2010 she received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists’ Grant for Poetry. Other awards include the 2011 OSA Enizagam Award for Fiction, first prize in the 2010 Anderbo Poetry Prize, second prize in the 2010 Iowa Review Awards for Fiction, first prize in the 2009 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Prize from Quarter After Eight, first prize for poetry in Alligator Juniper’s 2006 National Writing Contest, and two awards from the Poetry Society of America. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Iowa Review, The New Criterion, Mudfish, Passages North, American Fiction, The Adirondack Review, Cutthroat, The Broome Review, FULCRUM, Juked, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Alligator Juniper, MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry, Phoebe, Best American Poetry 1990 and many other publications.

Full Bio

Lauren Singer is the assistant judge of the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. She is a twenty-something New Yorker currently studying at the University of Chicago, pursuing a clinical social work degree. Her poetry has been published in Nerve House, Bareback, Feel the Word, Read This, One Night Stanzas and other literary magazines across the country. She is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock and an attendee of the New York State Summer Writer’s Institute. In 2011 she published her first chapbook, titled The Weird Girl and the Sea, and received an honorable mention in the Wergle Flomp contest. In addition to her academic studies, Lauren works as a librarian slave and writes about various nude celebrities for MrSkin.com. Lauren prides herself on her wealth of useless knowledge, namely of nineties R&B songs, and she can pretty much quote “The X-Files”.

Full Bio

Past Winners:

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee)Josh Lefkowitz, Saturday Salutation
Talk tomorrow,Kathy

Filed under: Competition, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, poetry Tagged: Leila Nabih, London Art College, Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

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36. No-Fee Non-Fiction Contest – Contract and Advance

Leila Nabih

Leila Nabih sent the above illustration to help wet our appetites for warm starry evenings. Leila graduated from London Art College with a Diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books and she has illustrated a short story available on itunes entitled “Imagine”. She is currently working on two other Children’s books to be published this year. Her prefered media in terms of art licensing is digital. For children’s Illustrations she tends to mix and match between watercolours and digital. Here her blog link: http://leilanabih.wordpress.com/ and facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/LeilaNabihIllustrations 

Hay House Publishing is reviewing full-length nonfiction manuscripts for this year’s Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest, which will award an author a publishing contract and a $5,000 advance under its self-help imprint Balboa Press.

This contest is open to any subject, topic, or theme, as long as it is nonfiction. Submit only unpublished, full-length works.

The judges will evaluate manuscripts on creativity, story structure, expertise of the subject, writing style, and obedience to the publisher’s editorial values.

Hay House Publishing, along with its imprint Balboa Press, specialize in self-help and inspirational books. The company also publishes a wide range of other subjects, including children’s books, cookbooks, fiction, and poetry.


You may enter the Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest by completing the steps listed below anytime during the submission period.  Only one manuscript submission is permitted per entrant.  Any entrant who submits multiple entries will be disqualified.

Submissions period begins on March 1, 2013. The deadline to submit an entry for the contest is 11:59 p.m. ET on May 1, 2013.  On June 3, 2013, the winners will be announced. All prize winners will be notified and posted on www.balboapress.com and the Hay House Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hayhouse.

There are no entry fees, no subsidy payments and no purchases of any kind required to enter and/or win the contest. Balboa Press and Hay House reserve the right to declare any entry ineligible if it is determined that the entry is not in accordance with the terms stated in Balboa Press’ Editorial Standards or in the Official Terms and Conditions.


  • All writers of full-length nonfiction books, of any subject are eligible to enter.
  • All entrants must have original and completed manuscripts.
  • Must be 18 years of age or older or with parental consent.
  • Employees of Balboa Press or Hay House are not eligible to enter the contest.


  • Minimum of 30,000 word count required.
  • All manuscripts entered must be contained in one single Word document.
  • All manuscripts must be submitted in English.


Entries are judged based on the context, originality, creative imagination, characterization, artistic quality, and the adherence to Balboa Press’ Editorial Standards.

One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • Hay House Insights contract and $5,000 advance

First Place winner will receive:

  • FREE Discover publishing package with Balboa Press
    • Video Press release and distribution upon publication
    • Hay House Radio Interview

Second Place winner will receive:

  • FREE Connect publishing package with Balboa Press

The 30 Round Two finalists will receive:

  • 20 percent discount off any Balboa Press publishing package.


Step One: Complete the Entry Form

Enter by completing the registration form located here: http://www.balboapress.com/NFpublishingcontest

After entering the Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest, you will receive an email within the next two business days outlining the last steps you need to take in order to complete your contest entry. If you do not receive entry details within the allotted time, please contact us at contest@balboapress.com.

Step Two: Submit Your Entry

The next step is to email your manuscript entry to: contest@balboapress.com. Follow the entry details below and remember, only one manuscript submission is permitted per entrant; any entrant who submits multiple entries will be disqualified. (Please thoroughly review the Official Terms and Conditions to ensure that you are eligible and will not be disqualified.)

To complete your entry for the Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest, please carefully follow listed below:

  • All manuscripts entered must be in one single Microsoft Word document or Adobe PDF file (.doc, .docx or .pdf).
  • Clearly list your name as a header on each page of your submission.
  • In the subject line of the email, type “Balboa Press Publishing 2013 Writing Contest (YOUR FULL NAME).”
  • In the body of the email, include:
    • your full name
    • physical mailing address (no P.O. Box please)
    • phone number
    • email address
    • the title of your submission
  • Attach your manuscript submission to the email (do not paste it in the body of the email).
  • There is a 30,000 word count minimum.  Entrants that do not meet these content requirements will not be considered.

Once you’ve submitted your entry, you will receive a confirmation message verifying your manuscript was received and your contest submission is complete. Due to the volume of submissions, please be aware email confirmation may take up to two business days.

Terms and Conditions

Contest Sign Up | Official Contest Rules | Terms and Conditions


You may enter the Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest (the “Contest”) by completing the steps listed at http://www.balboapress.com/NFpublishingcontest anytime during the submission period.  Only one manuscript submission is permitted per entrant.  Any entrant who submits multiple entries will be disqualified.


Submissions period begins on March 1, 2013. The deadline to submit an entry for the contest is 11:59 p.m. ET on May 1, 2013.


There are no entry fees, no subsidy payments and no purchases of any kind required to enter and/or win the contest.


By submitting your entry, you hereby specifically represent and warrant that your contest entry:

  • Is original material written by the contestant and is the sole responsibility of the contestant;
  • Has not been copied, in whole or in part, from any other work (as written in any language or in any medium, whether now known or hereafter devised)
  • Has not been previously published, produced, or distributed in any audio or visual form, or otherwise exploited in any  medium (whether now known or hereafter devised, in whole or in part) where the author does not hold the copyright, self published manuscripts are eligible
  • Does not defame, and does not infringe or violate the right of privacy, right of publicity, copyright, trademark, service mark, trade secret, or any intellectual property, proprietary or other right(s) of, any third party;
  • Does not include the name or likeness of any actual person(s), without having obtained the express prior written consent of such person(s) (or of such person’s parent or legal guardian if such person is a minor) in each instance;
  • Entrants are entirely responsible for all content submitted;
  • Balboa Press and Hay House reserve the right to declare any entry ineligible if it is determined that the entry is not in accordance with the terms stated in Balboa Press’ Editorial Standards or in these Official Contest Rules; and
  • Meets each of the content requirements found in these Official Contest Rules.


  • All entrants must have completed manuscripts.
  • Entrants must have
  • Must be 18 years of age or older or with parental consent.
  • Employees of Balboa Press and Hay House are not eligible to enter the contest.


  • Minimum of 30,000 word count required.
  • All manuscripts entered must be contained in one single document.
  • Entrants that do not meet these content requirements will not be considered.
  • Entrant must retain a copy of the submitted entry either in either digital form or hard copy form.

All non-winning entries will be destroyed except for entries submitted by entrants who decide to purchase a book publishing package from Balboa Press.


All of the submitted entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges. Judges reserve the right to disqualify entrants that do not comply with these Official Contest Rules. Winners of the Contest will be selected during a two-round process:

Round One: Entry must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on May 1, 2013, to qualify for judging. In the first round, a panel of judges will review all entries. They will select 30 entries to move on to round two.

Round Two: The 30 entries that make it into round two will be reviewed by a separate panel of judges.

Entries are judged based on the context, originality, creative imagination, characterization, artistic quality, and the adherence to Balboa Press’ Editorial Standards. The judges will select one Grand Prize winner, one First Place winner, and one Second Place winner. All decisions of the judges are final.

On June 3, 2013, the winners will be announced. All prize winners will be notified and posted on  www.balboapress.com and the Hay House Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hayhouse.


One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • Hay House Insights contract and $5,000 advance

First Place winner will receive:

  • FREE Discover publishing package with Balboa Press
    • Video Press release and distribution upon publication
    • Hay House Radio Interview

Second Place winner will receive:

  • FREE Connect publishing package with Balboa Press

The 30 Round Two finalists will receive:

  • 20 percent discount off any Balboa Press publishing package.

No transfer or substitution of prizes permitted, and no more than the stated number of prizes will be awarded. Winners are solely responsible for all costs or expenses not specifically exempted herein, and any and all applicable federal, state or local taxes on the value of their prizes.

Winners must execute, notarize and return within 5 days of receipt by winner a liability release, a publicity release (where legal), and any other documentation that Sponsors require. By the act of accepting a prize, winners (or their legal guardian, if applicable) agree to the release of winner’s name, pen name, likeness and city and state of residence for potential publicity purposes and use on Balboa Press or Hay House web sites, except where prohibited by law without further compensation.

Entrants and winners are under no obligation whatsoever to purchase a publishing package but may be offered the opportunity by a Balboa Press Publishing Consultant.


  • Void where prohibited by law. Federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.
  • Balboa Press and Hay House are not responsible for any individual’s inability to enter this contest, including but not limited to: failed software or hardware transmissions; unavailable network, server, telephone or other connections; errors of any kind, whether human, electronic, or mechanical regarding lost, misdirected, late, incomplete or damaged entries; or for any damage to any computer, network, hardware or software related to or resulting from participation.
  • Balboa Press and Hay House reserves the right to end or modify the contest if fraud or technical failures compromise the integrity of the contest as determined by our sole discretion.
  • Entrants agree to the following:  The Sponsors, their respective promotional partners, affiliated companies, agencies and their employees are not liable for injury, losses, damages or costs of any kind resulting from participation in this contest, or in results of accepting or using the prize awarded. By entering the Contest, participants agree to be bound by these rules.
  • Balboa Press and Hay House respects the privacy of our members. By entering this contest, entrants opt into the use of their registration information in accordance with the Balboa Press and Hay House Privacy Policy and consent to receiving correspondence via telephone and/or email by Balboa Press and Hay House.
  • The Contest may be terminated without prior notice at any time after it begins.


  • Hay House, PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018
  • Balboa Press a Division of Hay House, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: $5000 Advanced, Balboa Press, Book contract, Hay House Publishing, Non-fiction

0 Comments on No-Fee Non-Fiction Contest – Contract and Advance as of 3/18/2014 1:41:00 AM
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37. Agent Wish List


Illustrator Hans Wilhelm has a Pig that he always dresses up for the holidays. Here is Jolantha dressed up and wishing you a Happy St. Patty’s Day. She says, “I’m not Irish but I am a very lucky pig. Rub my nose and you’ll be lucky too.” Han was featured on Illustrator Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/illustrator-saturday-hans-wilhelm/

Here is an Irish wish for you:

“As you slide down the bannister of life,
May the splinters never point the wrong way.”

beth phelanlDWNIBlFCarly Watters is a literary agent with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career.

Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial fiction, literary thrillers, upmarket non fiction, and all genres of YA. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

Clients include Taylor Jenkins Reid, Colin Mochrie, Jay Onrait, Julianna Scott, Danny Appleby, Paulette Lambert and more. 

Here are some of the things that interest Carly:

Carly Watters PS Literary

Coming of age stories like Age of Miracles, Arcadia or The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. Use setting to bring story to life.

ms where character attributes aren’t black & white. Should you love or hate them?”

Love pop science/pop psychology. Experts with something innovative & exciting to say. I.e. Mary Roach, Power of Habit, Art of the Sale.

I am looking for well-paced YA & women’s fiction. Unforgettable characters. Emotional connections. Authentic dialogue.

looking for older YA. Surprise me. A like a romance, high stakes, high drama, maybe a mystery/thriller angle, something fresh.

Looking for Jodi Picoult/Elin Hilderbrand-type structure: multiple POV, teens & adults, high drama, intertwined lives.

Foreign settings I like: Ireland (beginning of Brooklyn, Toibin), Russia (Snowdrops, AD Miller), Africa (Poisonwood Bible, Kingsolver)

For fiction, we are currently seeking:

  • Commercial Mainstream
  • Literary (with a commercial angle)
  • World Literature
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Mystery (Cozy, Private Eye, Police Procedural, etc.)
  • Thriller (Legal, Medical, Political, etc.)
  • Romance (Suspense, Contemporary, Historical, etc.)
  • New Adult (early 20-something protagonists)
  • Young Adult (must be high-concept/commercial)
  • Middle Grade (must be high-concept/commercial)
  • Picture Books (must be high-concept/commercial)

Please limit your query to one page and include the following:

  • Paragraph One - Introduction: Include the title and category of your work (i.e. fiction or nonfiction and topic), an estimated word count and a brief, general introduction.
  • Paragraph Two - Brief overview: This should read similar to back-cover copy.
  • Paragraph Three - Writer’s bio: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background      (awards and affiliations, etc.).


  • Do not send attachments. Please use text within the body of your e-mail.
  • Please do not submit a full-length manuscript/proposal unless requested.
  • Always let us know if your manuscript/proposal is currently under consideration by other      agents/publishers.
  • Address your query to the attention of the agent you feel is the best match for your work.
  • Please do not query multiple agents at the agency simultaneously – if you receive a query rejection from one agent it means a no from the agency.

They only accept submissions via e-mail.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies Tagged: Agent Wish List, Carly Watters, Hans Wilhelm, Happy St. Patty's Day Wish, P.S. Literary Agency

1 Comments on Agent Wish List, last added: 3/17/2014
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38. Kudos

There is a lot of happiness in this post. You can see it and feel it. I hope it rubs off on all of you.

Vesper Stamper: Don’t you just love this picture? This is Vesper showing off her acceptance letter for the School of Visual Arts MFA program in NYC. “Vesper said, “HOLY HOLY HOLY–I just received my acceptance–I got in to the MFA!!!!!!”

I’ve decided whenever I feel down, I am going to look at this picture, because it just makes me feel so happy.


The happiness just keeps going. Katia Raina has been attending VCFA for her MFA in children’s writing. After one year under her belt she has decided that becoming and editor or agent is in her future. She has started down that path already by interning in New York City with Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary Agency. She has been there for a month and doesn’t she look happy and proud? I know I am for and of her.


Joyce Wan received an advance copy of the book SLEEPYHEADS that she illustrated for Beach Lane Books, written by Sandra J. Howatt. It is due out May 6th. Joyce says, “There is nothing like holding a book that you worked on for the first time.” I keep seeing Joyce and her artwork grow with every year. Love to see that happen.


What can I say about Eileen Spinelli, that hasn’t already been said? I love her books and I love her, just like everyone else who meets her. Her new picture book GOD’S AMAZING WORLD came out this month. It is illustrated by Mélanie Florian and published by Ideal Books. The book is about a young girl who tells her little brother while playing in their backyard about how God made the World in seven days. Looks like the perfect book for the religious holidays coming up. I have the book and it is just like Eileen, sweet and loving, and also filled with beautiful illustrations.

paula newcomer with book2

Paula Newcomer shows off her new book THE BLUEBERRY GIRL. She looks happy, too. The book was illustrated by Bruce Arant (who many of us know). He was featured on Illustrator Saturday back in 2010. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/illustrator-saturday-bruce-arant/ Paula has a new website for her book, which is very nice. You might want to check it out. www.theblueberrygirl.com

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Kudos, success Tagged: Eileen Spinelli, Joyce Wan, Katia Raina, Paula Newcomer, School of Visual Arts, Serendipity Literary Agency, SLEEPYHEADS, THE BLUEBERRY GIRL, Vesper Stamper

5 Comments on Kudos, last added: 3/16/2014
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39. Illustrator Saturday – Mike Cressy

cressymike2Mike Cressy grew up in Detroit area and started drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil. He remembers being sick at five years old his mother putting a stack of paper on his tray and he would draw all day. Mike had good art teachers in high school but is essentially self-taught, taking only one class to learn a certain technique from an illustrator he admired. He moved to California to work at an animation studio as well as creating posters for theaters in L.A. and worked for the Times and other publications. Then Mike started working for a software game company in 1996 and still does today. But children’s picture books are more fun for him these days although he still likes creating realistic work here and there. You will see his work on Seattle Weekly and other publications from time to time.

Mike is a member of The Illustrator’s Partnership of America (IPA) and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and lives in Bellevue, Washington.

He has a knack for characters and strange creatures, has illustrated several children’s books and created artwork for numerous games, covers and logos.

Here is Mike showing and discussing his process:


I start with the drawing. I need a background. Something that isn’t too distracting but colorful.


I fill in the background with a color and for some reason I think this purple is a good color to start with.


I start painting with a texture brush in a darker purple. I liked a wave shape and kept the brush at about 45%.


I had this free texture in my files, laid it over the background and set the layer blend to “Mulitply” and dropped the “Opacity” to 66%.


I filled in the next layer with a solid pink and then set the layer blend to “Divide” and the “Opacity” to 60%.


Then I Copied all the background files and flattened them, flipped it horizontally and selected the layer blend to “Pin Light” and lowered the “Opacity” to 60%.


I went back up to the pencil drawing layer and selected the layer blend “Multiply”. I then made a new layer beneath it and the background and started to fill in the flat colors on the Bird.


What it looks like without the pencil drawing overlaid.


Next I start adding the shading, which is a darker version of the pink. I usually make a clipping layer out of the shading layer that is above the flat colors so that any over painting never shows up on the image.


I finish up on the shading on the Bird.


Here I’ve added a shadow to the Bird by taking a version of the basic color layer and scale down the vertical. This doesn’t always work because it can distort the shadow image in a way that is not reflecting the way a shadow should be, based on the light source. Here it seems to work well. I’ve also filled in the flat color of the “Beet” character.


Using the same process for the bird, I made a clipping mask layer above the “Beet” flat colors and started shading with a dark green, shifting it a bit toward blue.


More detailed shading on the “Beet”.


Then darkening the “Beet” with an overlay of the original flat colors and using a “Multiply” layer blend after finishing the detail. The I did the same thing for the shadow that I did on the “Bird”.


When did you first realize that you were good at art?

I don’t think I ever thought of it that way but I can remember when it hit me that I really liked creating art. My sister drew some cartoon characters on an invite to a party and I was enthralled that she could do that. I wanted to do that. Then when my mother sat me down in front of the TV with a tray loaded with crayons and paper, I drew for hours. I think I was home sick from school. I was 5 years old. Soon after that I started making up my own comic books with characters inspired by what I saw on TV.


Did you leave high school and go to college to study art?

I was having a bit of a rough time as a teenager. I didn’t finish high school and couldn’t wait to get away from it. I did go to a community college to try and make up my credits for the diploma but never applied them. The classes I took were terrible. I had an art class there …I don’t think the art teacher liked his job. He would show up to take roll call and then tell us to draw something and then leave the classroom for the rest of the hour. Sometimes he wouldn’t come back. The history class that I took there was good and the teacher cared about the subject. I didn’t take another class till I moved to California from Michigan and had started my art career. That class was at Otis Parson’s and the teacher was an illustrator who’s work I admired greatly at the time. I wanted to learn his techniques, so I signed up for the class but I didn’t take other classes there and didn’t graduate from that school.  I did end up using the techniques I learned in that class.



Where were you living at that time?

I moved to Los Angeles in my early 20s. Detroit, where I was born, was not the best place to start an art career. I had visited the art director of the Free Press in Detroit and he showed me the book “Graphic Artist Market Guide” and said “Look through that and see where you think you fit in.”

That was an eye opener. I didn’t see very many listings for places in the Detroit area. I called the two or three that were in there. One of them wanted me to draw some designs for T-shirts but then found a more experienced artist. Luckily I ran into an old girlfriend from high school at the local A&P. She told me of another friend of ours who had moved to L.A. and was working as an animator. She told me I should talk to him and see if he could get me in at the studio he worked for. I did and moved out to L.A. that summer.



What did you study in college?

Illustration and a little history.



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

I did a mural in a dentist office when I was 15. It was terrible. My Mom had showed the dentist some of the Christmas scenes I did as a kid in the basement using the Peanut characters. I was a big fan of Charles Schultz. The dentist liked them and thought it was a good idea to have something like that in his office to lighten people’s moods before sitting in his chair. I think I got $25 for it and was happy to have some extra dollars.


How did you get involved in advertising illustration?

During my 4 years of an animation career, I became infatuated with illustration. I had always like illustration but now I saw it as a possibility. Being in Los Angeles, there were tons of advertising agencies and at that time they used a lot of illustration. I took a C.E.T.A. government-training job at the Los Angeles Theatre Alliance, which allowed me to work on posters for plays and do storyboards. I also had plenty of time at LATA to work on my portfolio, which I did almost every day. When I got about 12 good images I started taking my lunch time to visit advertising agencies, newspaper editorial offices, art directors at large companies, magazines and graphic art studios. If people don’t see your work, you don’t get work. So getting my portfolio in front of the people who were making those decisions was and is important.  I eventually started getting assignments at all those places. I had some big time clients very soon. I made good friends with the art directors and would hang out with them and their wives at parties. Networking was and is a big thing. I am doing my best to do more of it.


You say you have had your own studio, since 1980 (Do you mind if we not mention the year here? I’m finding that there is a lot of age-ism these days). Is that because you have done freelance artwork, while working at other jobs?

Every artist should have their own studio. Not just for freelance work but every artist should be working on their art all the time. Of course you need to break away from it here and there to recharge your creative batteries but always have a place where you can create the art you need to either get work or to just get it out of your head and see if you can reproduce that which was inside your head.


Did you develop your style during the advertising years or would you say your style developed while working in the gaming industry?

During my advertising years I found that it was a good idea to be as photo realistic as possible. It seemed to be what the agencies wanted but I always found a way to make it somewhat surreal, using some metaphor that was implied by the art director, the subject or the text. That kept me engaged and excited by what I was creating. After a while I started getting uninspired by the lack of imaginative ideas coming from art directors. They seemed to be coming from the same book of ideas and were unwilling to try something different. That’s when I had to step in and do something to save myself from a boring career. So I started slipping in changes in my style. Not being so realistic and adding more oddball things here and there. I had seen other illustrators doing this and it was exciting to me. So I thought that was a good way to go. One day while I was working out of a studio in my garage when my wife and me lived in South Pasadena and just started drawing from the idea I had in my head for an assignment from a magazine and it just clicked. I knew then that I had a personal style that I needed to develop. Which was juxtaposed with the very realistic rendering I was doing of a building for Cedars Sinai Medical Center on my other drawing table.


Coming into the game industry helped to solidify my idea of what I wanted to do with my style. They were very open to having something that very unique and when you have a style that nobody else can do but you, they hold on to you if they really like that style. That’s not to say that you style can’t evolve over time. Mine certainly has. I went from a realistic style to a very cartoony style almost over night. Then I started mixing the two. But that was a way for me to evolve from a very basic extreme. A new beginning, in a way.


Did you move to Seattle specifically to get involved in the gaming industry?

When my ex-wife and I moved to Seattle it was to get away from the craziness of what Los Angeles had become. Tensions were high and we had just gone through a riot. At one point when the riots started, my wife and called me to tell me she was leaving work early because fires were being set. My car was in a repair garage in down town Pasadena, which was near one of the hot points of rioting. I thought my car was going to be destroyed because a building a block over from there was set on fire and burned to the ground. The owners of the garage left for their safety. So there I was with no wheels and my wife was trying to get home from her job in the San Fernando Valley. She didn’t get home till 9:30 that night. We didn’t have cell phones and I was so worried that I tried calling everyone on our landline to see if they had heard from her. After that experience we started looking for places to live outside of Los Angeles and raise a family. We really liked San Francisco but it was too expensive. Then I saw an article about Seattle in Sunset magazine and the photos were amazingly beautiful. It looked like the perfect place.


However, when we moved here I lost all my clients in L.A. and it was tough getting anyone to look at an artist from Los Angeles. They hated Californians here at that time. Now, nobody cares but then, it was a different story. They thought we were all rich and making the housing price go up. They felt like they couldn’t afford to buy a house. They blamed us instead of realizing that companies like Microsoft were responsible for hiring people from other places and bringing them to Seattle.

After 6 months of living here and not finding much work, I saw a listing in the Seattle Times for an artist at a software game company in Issaquah… a bit of a drive from West Seattle where we lived. I got hired and they taught me how to create art on the computer using Photoshop. Electronic Arts eventually bought them and I moved on to Microsoft and other game studios.


Was it after the move to Seattle that you started thinking about illustrating for children?

Actually I started getting into that when we lived in South Pasadena. My wife had shown me the current crop of picture books that had these incredibly cool illustrations by William Joyce, Lane Smith, Kevin Hawkes and a few others. It blew my mind. I had not thought about doing that as a career and my eyes were now wide open. I had been a fan of Robert McCloskey and Dr. Seuss as a child but never thought to do that as a career, but now it seemed like a possibility.

My wife and I talked it over and she said that she had always wanted to write children’s books so we started to collaborate on a book. I created the illustrations after she wrote up a story quickly. I didn’t think it was a great story but I also thought that it would evolve and get better. She didn’t want to re-write anything and we argued about that. I ended up putting a dummy together that was quite elaborate. I had color illustrations mixed in with the drawings for the rest of the pages. I had a color cover… but the story wasn’t very good. I sent it to a few publishers before we moved to Seattle but got only rejection letters. I suspected as much and it dampened my spirit about doing another picture book dummy for a while. I didn’t illustrate a full picture book till after my divorce and had started working in the game industry.


What was the first thing you illustrated for the children’s market?

That was an educational book when I first started working for advertising agencies. I had that realistic style and a book publisher saw my portfolio somewhere and called me up. The book they had me illustrate was a test book for a 5th grade reading level. So the realistic style seemed to work with for them with that level. It was all in black and white so I used my ebony pencils to do very tightly rendered illustrations. If you want to do varied tones and textures that look realistic on certain papers/boards… you can do it somewhat easily using an ebony pencil. The darks are very dark and the lighter areas you just do a little rubbing with your finger… smudging the graphite. I don’t have a copy of that book anymore. It went missing during one of the moves. I’d love to still have a copy.


How and when did that come about? (See previous answer)


I am assuming you were one of the early adapters to Photoshop, Flash, and the other software programs for illustrators and designers. What was the first piece of art that you did digitally?

OMG… it sounds so long ago now. I started with Photoshop 3. That along with a program called “Debabelizer” which helped you convert files. When I got my first job at Microsoft they introduced me to a program that became Flash. It was called something else at the time, but it was a great tool to animate with. It was more acceptable than using another program that I used at the time called “Animator Pro” or “Ani-Pro”. AP was a better animation tool but the way they labeled commands weren’t right and it was confusing to use at first until you spent hours learning those arcane names of commands.


I remember the first drawing I did in Photoshop was of an animal skull. I had done several pencils drawings for the product we were creating in Issaquah. I scanned them into Photoshop and drew over the top of my pencil drawing with the pencil tool in Photoshop. I was surprised at how well it turned out but and it gave me confidence to do the next one and the next and add color. It was exciting to see your art on a monitor. I still enjoy that part.


Did you ever get involved in the animation side of gaming with your artwork?

Yes, I did a lot of animations the first 5 years or so. I even got some advertising agency work creating my own bizarre character and animating him for a Compaq Computers thing that was to be included with software when you bought one of their computers.

I just found all these old floppy disks with all my animations on them. There is no way to really look at them now but the last time I saw them I was embarrassed that they were so low rez. I thought it was just better to throw them away.


When did you join the SCBWI?

I joined SCBWI in the late 90s. I had just started illustrating several picture books, and finished three in a row for Grolier. They asked me to illustrate their catalog for that year. I was happy to do that for them and excited at the thought that other publishers would see my art. When I finished the cover, Grolier rewarded me not only with money but they sent me this big box of gourmet dark chocolate with liqueur inside each one a week after I finished the art. It took me a month to go through that delicious box.


When I came down from that chocolate high… a friend of mine told me about the SCBWI and I realized that it would be a great idea to join and start networking with fellow picture book illustrators and writers. I’ve been a member ever since and have gone to many conferences in Los Angeles and Seattle. Next year I hope to go to the one in New York, which I’ve wanted to do for a long time but was freaked out about doing since 9-11. I may be over that fear finally.


Do you have an agent or artist rep.? If so, who and how did the two of you connect? If not, would you like to find good representation?

I’ve had many art reps over the years. One of the best reps I had was Barry Schaffer in Los Angeles. He was always on my side and fought for me when it came to discussions with clients. We got to be good friends for a while. He knew a lot of well-connected people in L.A. and I would get party invites from them.

I was in Italy for vacation one year and had left Rome to stay on Sardinia, a large island west of the Italian coast, just below Corsica. I had called my studio, which I shared with 6 other illustrators and heard that my rep had called with a big job. He had landed the Camel Cigarette account from Salisbury Agency and I needed to come back and start working on the illustrations before it goes to someone who wasn’t on vacation. I finished up my two weeks on that island and came right back to Los Angeles. I would have traveled more on the main land of Italy if I didn’t come back for that assignment. Barry left the business a few years after that and we lost touch. I have no idea what he’s doing now.


I currently just signed up with a terrific rep in Connecticut. I like how she works and I look forward to a good relationship that I hope lasts for a long time. I found her on line and sent her some of my art. A week or two later I got a call from her and we talked for a couple of hours. I had a good time on the phone with her. It’s like making a new friend.


When and what was the first children’s book that you illustrated?

I had always done educational books from early in my career, but the first picture book I illustrated was by a small publisher and I’ve mostly forgotten about it. But it lead to the 3 books at Grolier, which came fast. Bubble Trouble by Joy N. Hulme, Purple is Best by Dana Meachen Rau, and Bugs by Patricia C. and Pat McKissack. The Bugs book was made into an interactive eBook a few years ago. A company in Japan did the eBook. They took my illustrations and animated them in a way that keeps the integrity of the art and is a lot of fun. However, they never contacted me that they were doing this and made no effort to offer any sort of compensation for re-using my art. I tried to contact them about this but it was fruitless.


How did that contract come about?

I think they saw one of my images somewhere and called me about doing a book for them. After the first one was finished, they asked me to do another and then another. I wish it happened like that with all publishers. I’d be very happy. The editor/art director was so much fun to work with.


Do you consider that book to be your first big success?

Yes, I’d say so, but “The great show and tell disaster” by Mike Reiss was higher profile because he is a writer/producer on “The Simpsons”.


Have you tried to write and illustrate a children’s book, yet?

I’d had many attempts at it but it wasn’t until recently… like the last 3 or 4 years where I actually felt comfortable in the writers roll to be able to write something that I think would work well as a picture book. I’ve got ten that I’ve been working on for the last year. One is almost finished in terms of it being a picture book dummy that I will be sending out to publishers and literary agents. The other ones are in various levels of completion. I think it helped to have been working on my graphic novel for the last 6 years. I hope to have that finished this year as well.


What type of work have you done for Scholastic?

Illustrations for books.


How many children’s books have you illustrated?

Nine that have been available to the general public and at least three times that many that were educational and just for schools.


Have you illustrated any book covers?

Yes, plenty. The first 15 were done for Holloway House in Los Angeles. I don’t show those to anyone.


Do you feel living in Seattle hinders you in any way with getting more illustrating jobs?

No. What hinders me is not getting my work in front of people who could possibly give me work.


How did you get the Rookie Readers books with Children’s Press?

See my answers that concern Grolier Press because they are the ones who published those.


How did you hook up with Grosset & Dunlap to illustrate LOOK! MY TOOTH IS LOOSE?

I had worked with the same art director/editor on a previous book “The great show and tell disaster” and we got along very well. He liked my work and wanted to find more projects for me. It was too bad that in the middle of the “Look, my tooth is loose” book that he had a major dispute with his bosses and left the company. The person who took over the book wasn’t happy about taking over someone else’s book and wanted their own ideas pushed forward. I like how that book turned out but the relationship them suffered because of the change.


What book made you feel like, now I’ve made it?

None. If that ever happens… I’ll be very rich and famous. But we’ll still be friends… right?


How did you get to work for Amazon Game Studio?

Per my exit agreement with Amazon, I’m not allowed to say anything about them in print, or on line.

Let me just say that was hired as an artist to work on games.


How do you do that living in Seattle? Do they have a studio there?

Since their inception, Amazon’s headquarters have been in Seattle.


Is there a strong art community in Seattle?

When I first came to Seattle it was a small community of artists but the core of the city had a very art friendly nature to it. Since then it’s gown by leaps and bounds.  These days you can’t toss a piece of paper without hitting an artist. That’s both good and bad. It’s great to have a community of like-minded people who support each other. On the other hand, it means that the competition for work is fierce.


Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Yes, many over the years. I have an illustration on the current cover of Spider magazine.


Now-a-days, do you do any illustrations using traditional paint? If so, what materials do you use?

I do many paintings for my portfolio traditionally. I usually paint with acrylic but sometimes it’s oil. Either one I’ll use on canvas. I like the texture of canvas. It’s been a while since I’ve painted on any other surface. That being said, right now I’m reworking my portfolio and it needs to reflect digital art to get work and so the most recent images are digital paintings from a traditional pencil drawing.


What do you feel you bring to the table that other illustrators do not bring?

Since illustrators must have imagination I’ll say that my particular brand of imagination and my style of taking that image from my imagination and presenting it in the only way I know how.


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

Things have changed so much in the last five years that it is different every year. Things that I’ve done in the past that almost guaranteed work, no longer bring in jobs. I do what ever I can fit in each week to get my work out to the people who make those decisions. It’s the best that anyone can hope to do, and with a little luck an art director, editor, publisher, game producer, account executive will send me an email or pick up the phone and call.  I know that sounds vague but if I were to list everything that I’ve been doing every week to get work, there would be a long list. I’m on line for several hours each day posting my work, sending resumes and emails that feature a new image that I created. I’ve got blogs for several different aspects of my portfolio as well as several different Facebook pages for my books and ideas. It’s a difficult world to get a paying gig in lately. I would love to keep doing what I’ve been doing for most of my life so I have no choice but to spend that time productively in pursuit of the next job.


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

Without any doubt it would be pencil and paper. If all I was allowed to do from now on were to draw I don’t think I would be unhappy. That and my guitar. Music is essential for creativity.


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

I wake up thinking about what I’m going to draw that day. And if it’s not a good drawing day (and that happens every once in a while), then I start painting either on canvas or on the computer. I don’t think about too much other then what I’m going to create that day, except for when I have unrelated events and chores. So, to answer your question, there is no set or specific time limit or schedule. Creating is part of life not an appointment.


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

Sometimes. It depends on my needs. I certainly do research to find out what something really looks like and if there is any way I can add to it and somehow make it more of what it is. Maybe skew it in some way. Give something a unique POV. Sometimes that means looking at how another artist would handle that situation, angle, or item. It helps to be prepared. It usually makes your image much better for it.


Did taking research photos spark your interest in photography?

I’ve always been interested in photography and I used to be one of those technical guys that had the exact exposure and lenses, but for a long time now I’m of a sort that prefers just having a good eye for an image and a simple camera. When I photograph landscapes I try to make sure there are no people in my shot. That makes some of my photos look like there aren’t any humans left in the world. It gets more difficult every day to do that in Seattle. We’ve grown so much here and there are way too many people everywhere now.  I’m not anti people… let’s just spread out a bit more.


One of the reasons I gave up on being so technical about photography was from this incident when I was at a concert in Dodger Stadium. There were 4 or 5 bands and I had press passes for my girlfriend and me at the time. I made her the photographer and we both carried around all my equipment. During a band change we took a break backstage and we put my cameras and lenses in the photographers tent on a table like every one else. When we came back from getting a bite to eat,… all my equipment was gone. It was a big lesson and I realized that I didn’t need all that equipment to take a good photograph. I just needed a simple camera. I feel that way when I’m work on my art style. Simple can be the best way much of the time.


How was the idea for Seattle Reflections born?

I have a fold up bicycle that I carry in the trunk of my car throughout the fair weather months in Seattle so I can cycle wherever I feel the need to do so. Every time I would drive into Seattle during those months, I made sure that I brought one of my cameras with me. That bike gets me into some parts of Seattle that most people don’t get to or see much. I can get to different POVs that are exciting to view and try to take the best picture I can get. I turned those cycling photos into the book.


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

I’ve won a few awards over the years and really it’s just something that is really exciting at the time but they don’t pay the bills. Better to have them than not. The one that I’m proud of is the one I received from the Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles in 2012 (Illustration West 50) for the poster of my Super Alphabet picture book. Which wasn’t published at the time. It featured all the letters. I worked very hard on that book and still think of it as one of my better books but there is way more to come.


I am sure you have used a Graphic Drawing Tablet with your background, but do you always draw on one?

Yes. When I’m working on the computer that’s all I use to draw with in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Manga Studio, Sketch up and Sketch Book Pro. When I’m at a full time job it’s nice if they can afford to get me a Wacom Cintiq. A Cintiq is so much easier to draw and paint with on the computer because you are doing so directly on the image and not detached from it as with a regular Wacom tablet.  That directness improves speed and accuracy, which in turn allows you more freedom with your creativity. I guess that sounded a bit like a commercial but it’s true.


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

Yes, Plenty. I have a ton of stories that went to tell before I leave this mortal coil. All the picture books that I’ve started working on. The graphic novel that I hope to finish this year is the first of many that I hope to create. I just hope that people find them interesting and worthy of their time and are either informed or entertained by them. I also want to rework the way I do my abstract images and have more gallery shows. I’m trying to work out some licensing possibilities and if those pan out, perhaps they can be a good source of funding for the rest of my projects. I’d also like to have the band that I’m in be able to get a drummer so we can start playing more gigs. :D


What are you working on now?

I just finished a lot of art for the Tacoma History Museum. They called me a few months ago and asked if I had time to work on art for an exhibit explaining the concept of “Time” to children. I thought it was a great idea and said yes immediately. So I had a meeting with the director, who is a terrific, fun, woman, who has great ideas for the museum and it was a pleasure to work with her. I digitally painted two murals for the exterior walls and the banner that promotes the exhibit. They are also using several of my older paintings for the interior of the exhibit. It opens in May of this year. I’m very excited about it and will appear at the opening to sign postcards and posters. I also might be wearing a bit of a costume that one of my characters will be wearing in the exhibit.

I’m also finishing up one of my picture book dummies that I wrote and my graphic novel that I’ve been working on for the last 6 years.


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

The best thing you can do for yourself as a current day illustrator who wants to work as well as work fast is to explore new art software. Photoshop is great and it has many things in it that many people don’t know about. I love using the layer clipping mask. Also either make your own brushes or find a source to get new brushes from time to time and experiment with them. Also use textures to give more life to your paintings. Manga Studio is a great, great program for drawing. I prefer drawing in that program than any other program and the reason why is that it has so many options for your drawing. You can adjust lines that you’ve already drawn very easily. It also has the best perspective tool that also allows for adjustments after you’ve created your image. Sketch up is great for creating a quick 3D model of something that you may need to draw from various angles instead of guessing how it would work if you turned it 30 degrees in any direction. Don’t be afraid to experiment.


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

Make sure to keep positive in the face of constant rejection. Do your best to write or illustrate every day. Network as much as you can. You never know when a friend will be in the position to help you get a job, give you a chance or even just be there for some encouraging words. Be kind to others and help them when you can. Everyone needs a helping hand and sometimes good luck isn’t enough. Be sure to exercise daily and get plenty of rest and eat healthy. Promote, promote, promote.



Mike thank you for sharing your talent, expertise, process, and journey with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and let us know about all your future successes. We’d love to hear about them.

You can find Mike at: www.mikecressy.com  or on facebook: www.facebook.com/mike.cressy  or his blog: www.mikecressy.blogspot.com

If you have a minute I would love if you would leave Mike a comment. I am sure he would, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Illustrator's Saturday, Interview, Process, Tips Tagged: Amazon Gaming Studio, Animator, Children's Book Illustrator, Graphic Designer, Mike Cressy

6 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Mike Cressy, last added: 3/16/2014
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40. Free Fall Friday – Editor Announced

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Only one illustrator sent in something for March. Surely you have something to show off, so please look to see if you have an illustration that would go well with the month or any illustration that might go with a writing or illustrating post. Same as always: At least 500 pixels wide, sent to kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com, and include a blurb about you. Thanks!

I am pleased to announce that Susan Dobinick, Assistant Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for March.


Susan wants to work on everything. Right now she is especially looking for funny middle grade girl novels. In the young adult realm, I’d like to see books that tackle big social issues but aren’t preachy. With picture books, I like short and funny; I prefer quirky stories over cuddly. Across all formats, I’m a fan of books that have depth but are accessible—so that both kids and critics will love them.

Susan assists two children’s trade imprints. She works with fiction and nonfiction, ranging from picture to young adult books. Her specialties include children’s trade publishing, picture books, chapter books, middle-grade books, young adult books, educational publishing, textbooks, and teacher editions. She holds a B.A. in English from Chicago Goucher College.

Susan is Edith Cohn’s editor for Spirits Key, which is coming out in September. Edith has a nice interview with Susan on her blog. Here is the link:


Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in March: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page 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.

DEADLINE: March 21st.

RESULTS: March 28th.

Put “March First Page Critique” or “March First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

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

Please include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

BELOW IS THE MARCH FIRST PAGE PICTURE PROMPT for anyone who would like a little inspiration to spark their first page.


Always thought there was a story with this picture illustrated by Mark Meyers. Mark spends his days drawing and painting pictures filled with kids, escaping circus monkeys, and everything in between. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/illustrator-saturday-mark-meyers/

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Chicago Goucher College., Farrar Straus Giroux, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, Susan Dobinick

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41. New Imprint At Capstone

Back in February I reported about how Capstone was expanding their new Young Readers trade imprint. This week they announced they were launching Switch Press their new YA Imprint, so now there is something for most all of  you out there to consider, even historical fiction, graphic novels.  Scroll down to read.

capstone2Capstone Publishing Group, which has been aggressively expanding beyond the school and library markets with the launch six months ago of its Capstone Young Readers trade imprint, is adding picture books to the list this spring. Thirteen picture books in print format will be released initially under the CYR imprint; after the first list, the imprint will release four to six picture books each year.

Capstone Publishing Group has previously published picture books for the educational and trade markets under its Picture Window imprint and will continue to do so; this is the first time the company is publishing picture books under the CYR imprint. Thus far, board books, chapter books, and hobbies and crafts books have been published under the CYR imprint, which is overseen by senior product manager John Rahm and editorial directors Michael Dahl and Nick Healy.

In May Capstone will launch a Web site to promote its new CYR line, www.capstoneyoungreaders.com. CYR titles will be available in digital formats as well as in print. While only select Capstone Publishing titles for the educational market are available in digital formats, all of Capstone’s trade titles will be available in both print and e-book formats.

Capstone Young Readers Launches YA Imprint: Offers Wide Range of Nonfiction and Fiction Titles

Capstone Young Readers, a leading publisher of children’s books and digital products and services, announced the launch of Switch Press, a new imprint dedicated to titles that appeal to the wide range of interests of the young adult audience today. Switch Press will include a broad selection of contemporary nonfiction and fiction book titles such as graphic novels, cookbooks, craft/how-to, narrative non-fiction, historical fiction, poetry, fantasy and other speculative fiction.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, poetry, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Capstone Young Readers Trade Imprint, Fiction and Non-fiction, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Switch Press YA Imprint

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42. Agent Looking to Build List

cate-hart-literary-agentCate Hart is all about guilty pleasures. She loves salted caramel mochas, Justin Timberlake, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, and Steampunk. As a native Nashvillian, Cate’s biggest guilty pleasure is watching Nashville.

When she’s reading, Cate looks for character-driven stories, a distinguished voice, and intriguing plots. She loves characters that surprise her, like the pirate with a heart of gold, and plots that keep her guessing until the very last page.

When she’s not reading queries, Cate works with clients to build their platform, works on PR projects to help promote clients’ books, and reads manuscripts with an editorial eye.            


Cate seeks unique stories with well-crafted plots and unforgettable characters with a strong voice. Her favorite genre is historical, whether it’s Middle Grade or YA, Adult Romance or something even spicier. The time periods she loves most are Elizabethan England, the American and French Revolutions, the Victorian Era and the Gilded Age. She loves Scottish and French History. If it’s steampunk, clockpunk, or candlepunk she wants it.

Her first love will always be YA. She will consider any genre, but is looking especially for Fantasy and Magical Realism.

For Middle Grade, she is looking for Fantasy, Adventure and Mystery with a humorous or heart-warming voice and a unique concept.

For Adult, she is only accepting Historical Romance. Cate will also consider select LGBTQ and Erotica.

For Non-Fiction, Cate will consider select histories and biographies. She is looking for secret histories and little known facts and events. She enjoys reading about the everyday heroes of the American and French Revolutions, something more beyond the tactics of war.

To Submit your work:

Cate prefers you attach your 1-2 page synopsis and the first five pages of your manuscript as a separate Word .doc. to query [at] corvisieroagency [dot] com, Put “Query Cate” and your title in the subject line. You can place the text in the body of the e-mail or include as an attachment.

The Corvisiero Literary Agency accepts electronic queries only.

  • Please only submit one project at a time. If your query is rejected, you may then submit a query for another project. 
  • Do not e-mail queries to any of our Agents directly unless the work has been solicited.
  • A rejection from one agent is a rejection from all. Please do not query another agent unless expressly invited. 

Cate will respond to every query. You can check her website www.catehart.com for “current through” dates as well as updated wishlists. Plus at: Twitter, FacebookPinterest

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Cate Hart, Agent Looking to Build List, Corvisiero Literary Agency

3 Comments on Agent Looking to Build List, last added: 3/14/2014
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43. 15 Things to Consider When Writing Description

Word PaintingSome of us try to use description language too much in our writing and others need to start thinking about how to use this literary tool more often.

The dictionary defines “describe” as:

To transmit a mental image or impression
To trace or draw the figure of; to outline
To give a verbal account of; to tell about in detail

Used properly it can take your reader into your fictional dream and that is a good thing.

I just bought Word Painting by Rebecca Mcclanahan and thought I would share some of the things she talks about in the first chapter that should give you food for thought. Like I said I just bought it, but so far I am glad I added it to my “How to” books.

1. Descriptive passages create the illusion of reality, inviting the reader to move in, unpack, and move in for a spell. They provide verisimilitude. What John Gardner (author of The Art of Fiction) calls the “proofs” that support and sustain your fictional dream. It is not a bunch of “flowery stuff.” It is not just something we stitch on top of our writing to make it more presentable.

2. Description composed of sensory detail penetrates layers of consciousness, engaging your reader emotionally as well as intellectually. The success of all fiction depends in part on descriptive image-making power.

3. Carefully selected descriptive details can establish you characters and setting quickly and efficiently. It is not merely describing how something looks with visual detail, but also smells, tastes, textures, and sounds.

4. As a framing device, description establishes the narrator’s, or character’s point of view. Shifts in the description frame (or eye) can signal shifts in point of view or a significant change in the character. Description begins in the eye, ear, mouth, nose, and hand of the beholder. Careful and imaginative observation may well be the most essential task of any writer.

5. Well-placed descriptive passages can move your story along, shape the narrative line and unfold the plot. It is not a way to hide from the truth. The world isn’t always pretty. Describe it honestly and face difficult, even ugly, subjects when necessary.

6. Descriptive passages can act as gearshifts, changing the pace of your story – speeding it up or slowing it down, then increasing the story’s tension.

7. Description can serve as a transitional device, a way of linking scene or changing time and place.

8. Description can orchestrate the dance between scene and summary.

9. Description can serve as a unifying thematic device, what Stanley Kunitz calls the “constellation of images” that appears and reappears in a literary work, suggesting the idea or feeling that lives beneath the story line.

10. Description can provide the palette of gradations in mood and tone. Dip you brush in one description and the darkens; in another, and the sun breaks through.

11. The language of you descriptions, its rhythms and sounds, can provide the equivalent of a muscial score for the fictional dream, a subliminal music that plays beneath the story line.

12. Writing descriptively doesn’t always mean writing gracefully. It won’t necessarily make our writing more refine, lyrical, or poetic. Some descriptions demand uneven syntax and plainspoken, blunt prose. Jagged, even. Fragments, too. Slice of chin. Buzz saw.

13. Description doesn’t always require a bigger vocabulary. House is probably a better choice than domicile, a horse is easier to visualize than an equine mammal, and red blood is brighter than the sanguine flow of bodily fluids.

14. Writing descriptively doesn’t necessitate writing more. Description isn’t a steroid, something to make our language bigger and stronger, nor is it an additive promising more miles to the fictional gallon. Sometimes writing descriptively means writing less or disappear altogether.

15. Description rarely stands alone. It should be woven in and seamlessly intertwined with other literary elements. Description isn’t something we simply insert, block style, into passages of narration or exposition. Yes, sometimes we write passages of description. But the term passage suggests a channel, a movement from one place to another; it implies that we’re going somewhere. That somewhere is the story.

Hope this helps.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Book, demystify, inspiration, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Description in Your Writing, Rebecca Mcclanahan, Word Painting, Writer's Digest

4 Comments on 15 Things to Consider When Writing Description, last added: 3/12/2014
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44. Kudo’s – Awards and Promotions

ameawardpicAme Dyckman’s newest book, “Tea Party Rules,” illustrated by K.G. Campbell, was selected as the winner of the 28th annual Ezra Jack Keats Book Award.

The award is presented to a new writer and new illustrator each year, and Dyckman will be on hand at the 2014 awards ceremony set for April 10, during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Dyckman will receive a gold medallion as well as an honorarium of $1,000 at the ceremony. Kathi Appelt, award-winning author of numerous books for children and young adults, will be a guest presenter.

Dyckman said it is an honor to be selected for the award, which includes a prestigious seal on the sleeve of her book. She said she is a fan of Keats’ most famous work, “The Snowy Day.”

“We’re over the moon,” she said of her team, which includes Campbell and her publishing team at Viking Children’s Books. “I’m honored, thrilled and astounded.”

“Tea Party Rules,” Dyckman’s second book, follows the adventures of a bear attending a tea party. But before he can participate, the hostess lays down the rules. The two become friends and learn about how to compromise and enjoy playtime together.

That book, along with her first published work, “Boy + Bot,” illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, earned sterling reviews on Amazon and from book critics. “Tea Party Rules” also was selected by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library as a book that will be distributed to children in need.

You can read the full article that was written by Michele Angermiller for The Times by clicking this sentence.

kat yehThe news is finally out:

THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE by Kat Yeh has been selected as a Buzz Book at Book Expo America this year! Kat is quite excited and I am excited for her debut middle grade novel.

T.S. Ferguson, Associate Editor at Harlequin Teen is super excited because one of his books, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley made the YA Buzz Books List. Because of that he gets to sit on a panel with four other editors , including Alvina Ling and talk about it to a packed crowd of book buyers, librarians, and other industry professionals. He says, “I’m SO excited that this amazing book is getting attention, and so excited that I get to be the one to talk about it.” It is the first time a Harlequin TEEN book has been selected!

Here are the Buzz Books that made the list:


Editors Buzz Thursday, May 29 10:00am – 10:50am Room 1E10/1E11

BEA Editors Buzz YA Books – Author Stage Friday, May 30 10:00am – 10:30am Uptown Stage

Lies We Tell Ourselves
by Robin Talley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 9/30/14

The Jewel
by Amy Ewing
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 9/2/14

The Walled City
by Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 11/4/14

I’m Glad I Did
by Cynthia Weil
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: 1/27/15

King Dork Approximately
by Frank Portman
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: 9/9/14


BEA Middle Grade Editors Buzz
Friday, May 30
11:00am – 11:50am
Room 1E12/1E13

BEA Editors Buzz Middle Grade Books – Author Stage
Friday, May 30
1:00pm – 1:30pm
Uptown Stage

The Truth About Twinkle Pie
by Kat Yeh
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 1/27/15

Zoo at the Edge of the World
by Eric Kahn Gale
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 8/26/14

Pennyroyal Academy
by M.A. Larson
Publisher: Putnam Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 10/7/14

The Witch’s Boy
by Kelly Barnhill
Publisher: Algonquin Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 9/16/14

Life of Zarf
by Rob Harrell
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 8/28/14


In December Phaidon, a publisher best known for its lavishly produced art books, has hired Judith Regan as the CEO of a new division at the company called Regan Arts. Phaidon said the division will include a book imprint, but will also function as a “multimedia enterprise.” Now Ron Hogan has joined Judith Regan’s new company Regan Arts as an editor, acquiring both fiction and non-fiction.

Grand Central Publishing (part of the Hachette Book Group) promoted Emily Griffin, Michele Bidelspach, and Alex Logan to senior editors. Megha Parekh has been promoted to associate editor, while Libby Burton and Lindsey Rose move up to assistant editor.

Reka Simonsen will join Atheneum as executive editor, effective March 10. Previously she was executive editor at HMH Children’s.

Sarah Shumway will join Bloomsbury Children’s Books as senior editor on March 3. Previously she was senior editor at Harper Children’s Katherine Tegen Books imprint.

Cara Bedick has joined Harlequin as senior editor, Harlequin Nonfiction.

Caitlin Kirkpatrick has been promoted to assistant editor at Chronicle.

Consortium will distribute Blue Apple Books, the Maplewood, NJ-based children’s book publisher, as of June 1, 2014.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editors, Kudos, Publishing Industry, success Tagged: 2014 BEA BUZZ BOOKS, Ame Dyckman, Erza John Keats Award, Kat Yeh, Sarah Shumway

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45. Agent Hanna Bowman Wishlist

hannah-bowmanThought you might like to see what agent Hanna Bowman said she was looking for this past week. Just remember now is not to time to start writing a story to fit this wish list, since by the time you finish, Hanna will probably be on to wanting other things. But maybe there is someone reading this post who has a manuscript written that is a perfect fit and is looking for a home. Or maybe you are working on something that fits and this will spur you on to finishing the book. Tip: Just make sure your manuscript is revised and polished before submitting. I hope this helps someone.

Hannah Bowman joined Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency in 2011. She has a B.A. from Cornell University, summa cum laude in English and magna cum laude in  Mathematics. While a student, she spent four summers working in particle physics at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, before  eventually deciding her true interest was books. 

Hannah’s clients include:

-Pierce Brown (RED RISING trilogy, Del Rey, Feb. 2014)   -Rosamund Hodge (CRUEL BEAUTY, Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, Jan. 2014)   -Brian Staveley (THE EMPEROR’S BLADES, Tor, Jan. 2014)   -Dianna Anderson (DAMAGED GOODS: CHRISTIAN AND FEMINIST IN THE WAR ON   WOMEN, Jericho Books, Spring 2015)

In her free time, she plays the organ.

Hannah specializes in commercial fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy, young adult fiction, women’s fiction, cozy mysteries, and romance. Hannah is also interested in nonfiction, particularly in the areas of mathematics, science and religion (especially history and sociology of Christianity).

HERE IS HANNA’S WISH LIST (This past week):

1. I’d love some great narrative nonfic about the history of science, like Bill Bryson’s A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING.

2. A Crichton-esque science thriller that really knows its science.

3. I’d love a great medieval mystery like Sharon Kay Penman’s THE QUEEN’S MAN

4. And I’m always looking for funny, lighthearted YA contemporary romance, the kind with no heavy issues.

5. I would love to find some great YA fantasy with a female protagonist — think Tamora Pierce, Sabriel,

6. I’m looking for books that play with narrative form like CODE NAME VERITY

7. I would love some great historical fantasy, or other epic fantasy for adults.

8. You know what I want? Fantasy, adult or YA, as fresh and creative as SABRIEL

9. The next Thursday Next. Smart, funny, brilliant, creative, full of literary meta-references

10. A medieval mystery series like Sharon Kay Penman’s THE QUEEN’S MAN or Sharan Newman’s DEATH COMES AS EPIPHANY.

11. YA girl-power fantasy a la Tamora Pierce with some really new, unusual worldbuilding.

12. In YA: a really funny (makes me laugh out loud funny) contemporary.

13. Funny urban fantasy like Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books.

14. More fantasy: I want the next LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA or THE PALACE JOB. Magic and heists and cons!

15. Military fantasy that tells its battles as well as THE THOUSAND NAMES — a really great magical campaign.

16. Gorgeously-written, literary historical fantasy — something as numinous as JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL.

Contact Hannah at queryhannah@lizadawsonassociates.com.


1. Who’s the main character, and why is he or she interesting/appealing?

2. What’s the plot, and how will it surprise me and take my breath away?

3. What’s the setting, and what interesting elements make it seem real?

4. A compelling, three-dimensional character in a well-realized setting (realistic or speculative) with a page-turning story to tell, will hook me.

Blog: http://hannahbowman.tumblr.com/


For further insight, Literary Rambles has an interview and links to other interviews with Hanna.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, demystify, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Tips Tagged: Agent Looking for..., Agent Query, Agent Wishlist, Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency

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46. Agent Jenny Bent Wish List

jenny_bentJenny Bent is the founder of The Bent Agency. There is no reason why you shouldn’t try to snag an agent who has been in the industry for over 20 years. Just make sure that what you want to submit needs to be revised and polished and you feel the writing is at the top of your game, before sending a query letter.  I thought you might like to read about her and what she is looking for. The Bent Agency has seven other agents working with Jenny. You should check them out, too. 

To send Jenny requested materials, please review our submissions guidelines Then email queries@thebentagency.com

Jenny Bent represents literary and commercial adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. She also represents nonfiction in the areas of memoir, humor and select narrative nonfiction.

I was born in New York City but grew up in Harrisonburg, Virginia in a house full of books where I spent many lazy afternoons reading in a sunny window seat. I went on to England to get a BA/MA with first class honors from Cambridge University, but I began my career in publishing as an undergraduate, with jobs at Rolling Stone and Ladies Home Journal. I then worked with prominent agent Raphael Sagalyn and with Michael Cader, the force behind the website Publishers Marketplace, before establishing a successful career at several boutique agencies. In 2003 I joined Trident Media Group, where I was promoted to Vice President before leaving to found the Bent Agency in 2009. I now live in Brooklyn in an apartment full of books and while there are not quite so many lazy reading afternoons, I manage to fit one in now and then.

My list is varied and includes commercial and literary fiction as well as memoir and select humor titles.  In adult fiction, I particularly enjoy women’s fiction and crime/suspense.   I also love novels—for grown-ups or children—that have an element of magic or fantasy to them or that take me into a strange and new world, whether real or imaginary.   All of the books that I represent speak to the heart in some: they are linked by genuine emotion, inspiration and great writing and story telling. I love books that make me laugh, make me cry, or ideally do both.

Please send me:

  • Literary fiction
  • Women’s fiction
  • Commercial fiction, including romance
  • Young adult and middle grade fiction
  • Memoir
  • Humor
  • Suspense/crime

I’m not currently considering queries in the following genres:

  • Science fiction
  • Poetry
  • Picture books
  • Serious nonfiction
  • Reference
  • Sports
  • Self-help/how-to


1. A classic YA fantasy with at least one female lead, like the upcoming LARK RISING by @sandrajwaugh

2. In general, I love strong, feisty female characters with a purpose

3. Non-genre fiction with a paranormal, fantasy or otherworldly element to it, like DISCOVERY OF WITCHES or NIGHT CIRCUS or GHOST BRIDE

4. Historical fiction based on a famous real life person

5. Women’s fiction or YA with a strong gothic feel.

6. Here’s some of what I am looking for: stylish psychological crime/suspense with at least one female lead (not cozy mystery, thanks).

7. Women’s fiction with a strong hook or premise and lots of plot and emotion.

8. Definitely would love some YA horror.

Follow on Twitter: @jennybent

Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, list, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Wish List, Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency

3 Comments on Agent Jenny Bent Wish List, last added: 3/6/2014
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47. Free Fall Friday – March First Pages and Call for Illustrations

BELOW IS THE MARCH FIRST PAGE PICTURE PROMPT for anyone who would like a little inspiration to spark their first page.


Always thought there was a story with this picture illustrated by Mark Meyers. Mark spends his days drawing and painting pictures filled with kids, escaping circus monkeys, and everything in between. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/illustrator-saturday-mark-meyers/

I was not able to confirm our guest critiquer for March in time for this post.

Here are the submission guidelines for Sending in a First Page.
To send in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page 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.

Put “February First Page Critique” or “March First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

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

Please include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Thank you to everyone would sent in an illustration last month. I still have a few in the folder that I plan to use, just looking for the right post, but I am running low, so please look to see if you have anything that you would like me to show off. I am looking for illustrations that would go well with the month or any illustration that might go with a writing or illustrating post. Same as always: At least 500 pixels wide, sent to kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com, and include a blurb about you. Thanks!

Talk Tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, inspiration, opportunity, Places to sumit, submissions, Tips, Writer's Prompt Tagged: March First Page Critique, Mark Meyers, Picture writing prompt

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – March First Pages and Call for Illustrations as of 3/7/2014 2:04:00 AM
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48. Illustrator Saturday – Elisabeth Alba


Elisabeth Alba live and work in New York City after moving here in 2006 in order to complete my MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay at the School of Visual Arts. Before then, I had received my dual degree BA in English (with a focus on children’s literature) and visual art studies at the University of Florida. I’ve traveled a lot, which has led to an obsession with history and an interest in other cultures throughout the ages. I’ve always loved children’s literature and film, especially fantasy and historical fiction.

Clients include Scholastic, Simon + Schuster, Oxford University Press, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Small Beer Press, AAA Traveler magazine, and MTV Books. I’m the illustrator of Diamond and Fancy, both published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic, and part of the Breyer Stablemates easy-to-read series. Recently illustrated I am Martin Luther King Jr. I am George Lucas, and I Am Cleopatra, all written by Grace Norwich and published by Scholastic; and I contributed illustrations for The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare, Simon & Schuster.

Here is Elisabeth discussing her process:

I had just read Richard Burton’s translation of One Thousand and One Nights and was inspired to do an illustration of Scheherazade. I decided to make it a scene, with the Sultan in the background.

I used my usual, watercolor and acryla gouache. It’s fairly large for me at 12.5×17.5. Trying to work bigger… but it’s hard with the small space I have to work in.


After working on a few thumbnails I knew right away what I kind of wanted, so I took some
photo reference of myself! (and my fiance, but he’d prefer I not share him in lady slippers)


This is a quick sketch using the reference working it all out.


After doing a real pencil drawing and scanning it I began working on it digitally, getting the tones and lighting right, working out the pose a little more.


The final sketch with color test. You can see I moved the hand and gave her more of a tilt. I usually bring my color compositions to an almost finished state (if they were digital paintings), just to make sure I’ve figured it all out before painting.


I print out the digital drawing. It was too big for my printer to print directly on the watercolor paper. I then traced the image using graphite paper to transfer it to the watercolor paper. Then I started blocking in a base color.


More blocking in of base colors.


Don’t have progress photos from after that, but I continue to layer watercolor and get darker and darker, then I seal it with matte medium before continuing to add color with acryla gouache. I then varnish and scan and do any digital touch-ups.


Final image. It’s darker than the actual painting, because it just looks better that way on a computer screen.


Above and Below: Where an assignment during my mentorship with the art director for the Harry Potter books (he was a guest). We had a different art director critique us each month and he assigned us the first book!

How long have you been illustrating?

I’d say since 2006, when I moved to NYC. I had done some small work before but it wasn’t very interesting to me. I didn’t consider myself a professional until 2006 at the earliest. Though I was also in grad school at the time so couldn’t take too much on.


I see you attended the University of Florida to study both children’s literature and visual art. That makes me think that in high school you had an interest in writing and illustrating for children. How did that idea of a career develop with you?

I loved writing and reading but also loved art, so I wasn’t sure which to pick as a major. I started as a BFA art student, but because I was mostly doing fine arts as a student, and wanted more illustration experience, I decided to switch to a less work intensive BA so that I could double major in English as well (and I concentrated in children’s literature).


How did you decide to attend the University of Florida?

I went to high school in Florida. There was a great scholarship for Florida students called the Bright Futures Scholarship. If you got a certain GPA and SAT or ACT score, and you completed a certain amount of community service hours, you received 100% tuition to a Florida college. My sister and brother were both at UF already, so I wanted to join them. I wasn’t ready to go too far away to an art school, and I knew UF was considered a very good school.


What type of things did you learn in college that you still use today?

I had a chance to experiment with a lot of art materials, so that helped me to settle on what I liked best. I think the best stuff I got was writing skills though. I had to write sooo many critical papers in my English classes (as well as art classes, actually), I read hundreds of children’s books, and I wrote a lot of short stories. And I had fantastic English professors. I have a wonderful day job in communications at a private school that I wouldn’t have gotten without my writing skills, and it has helped support my burgeoning illustration career.


Did you immediately decide you want to get your MFA or did you get a job right out of college and then decide to continue your education in illustration?

I moved to NYC to start my MFA program right out of undergrad. I had no idea how to go about finding illustration work, since, as I mentioned, my art classes at UF were all fine arts, and I needed to be in an art school environment.


What made you decide to attend the School of Visual Arts in NYC?

At the time there were only three grad programs in illustration. SCAD, SVA, and AAU. I applied to and was accepted to all three. I only had a chance to visit SCAD and SVA. I planned to visit AAU, but as soon as I visited SVA and met the chairman, Marshall Arisman, I knew I found the school for me!


Did you have any favorite classes?

So hard to choose! They were all different. We had a location drawing class that was super fun. We got to visit the circus, a boxing gym, the botanical gardens, the zoo, and many other cool places, so it was great for someone who had just moved to NYC. Sightseeing while at school!


What specifically does an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay teach you that just an MFA in Illustration doesn’t?

I don’t think there’s a difference. It’s still an MFA. Illustration as Visual Essay is just the name of the program. The ‘visual essay’ portion had to do with finding your own voice, and there was a lot of writing involved – we had a creative writing class, and we also had to write papers about gallery shows in a fine arts class and comics in a comic history class.


Did the School help you get work?

They certainly helped, but it’s not the school that gets you work, it’s the amount of time you put into bettering yourself and actively keeping up with contacts as well. Work’s not just going to drop in your lap (sometimes it might… but don’t count on it)! I worked on some concept work  while I was still student for SpotCo after meeting the art director on a visit to the offices and having one of my teachers recommend me. I also interned with illustrator Brian Pinkney since he contacted the program for help (he was an alumnus). My thesis advisor, Brett Helquist, also hired me after I graduated for various  projects. And I made a lot of connections through classmates (which resulted in my working with Scholastic). SVA also has a career services department that seemed pretty great but I never needed to use it.


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

Not really, actually. I always just did my own thing. My professors at UF let me do my own thing, thankfully, because they knew I wanted to be an illustrator not a fine artist, and they were open to me making children’s book work. SVA was more of the same, just concentrating on working out what I wanted to do, and my style. I guess my classes also helped me to see what I didn’t want to do, in terms of style and genre.


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

I graduated in 2008. I continued doing concept work for SpotCo – I was helping ‘storyboard’ musical theater posters for Broadway, so they would tell me what actors I had to portray and what was going on, and I’d come up with some ideas. They would then show my ideas to the clients and take the final photos based on our ideas. I also taught kids that summer after graduating at an after school art program. And I got my day job at the private school, which I’ve had since.


Above: Final mentorship project with Rebecca Guay. The assigned by Irene Gallo, art director at Tor Books to create an illustration for a short story.

What was the first art related work that you were paid?

I’d been paid for drawing since my freshman year as an undergrad, when I would draw fanart commissions. I also had a few small local assignments in Florida. I’d say my first real paycheck came when I was in grad school and did some work for author Rick Yancey (my favorite english professor at UF, Dr. Cech, knew him and recommended me) for a manuscript he was working on. It was never picked up by a publisher, but he’s been writing some marvelous books that came after! My first publishing job was a cover for Farrar Straus & Giroux half a year after graduating from SVA… but unfortunately the job was killed.


Above: Done with watercolor, colored pencil, and acryla gouache. 10″x12.5″

Do you have an agent or artist rep.? If so, who and how did the two of you connect? If not, would you like to find representation?

I don’t. Whenever I’ve contacted them they usually tell me my work is too traditional or realistic. But I haven’t needed one so far. Sometimes I think about looking for another, but I’ve heard mixed reviews, and I just haven’t needed one yet.


Sketch to final for self-published book, Brendan and the Beast – an alternative retelling of the classic fairytale.


When and what was the first children’s book that you illustrated?

I guess I would say Diamond, written by Suzanne Weyn, one of the Breyer Stablemates books published by Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. That was in early 2009.


How did that contract come about?

One of my classmates became a graphic designer at Scholastic. She recommended me. They needed someone who could draw horses, and she had remembered that I drew some at SVA. I had to paint the cover first, to show that I was capable of drawing a horse and just good enough in general, and they went with me!


Above: Watercolor/acryla gouache/some digital touch ups.

Do you consider that book to be your first big success?

For sure! It was the biggest paycheck I ever got. Went directly to my student loans.


Have you tried to write and illustrate a children’s book, yet?

I have written and illustrated two of my own books while at SVA. I showed them to a few publishers but nothing came of them. One was a book about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, called Amytis’s Garden. The other was a book called Nico’s Journey, about a boy searching for the best paella in Spain. They were fun to work on and great learning experiences!


Above: From Amytis’s Garden


What type of work have you done for Scholastic?

I did two books for the Breyer Stablemates series, Diamond, which I mentioned above, and Fancy by Kristin Earhart. I also did a map for 39 Clues, a map for Infinity Ring, and three biographies for the I Am series, on Martin Luther King Jr., George Lucas, and Cleopatra.


Same two questions again for Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.

So far I’ve only done one job for Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and it was very recent. I illustrated two maps for the upcoming book, The Last Days of Jesus, which is a middle grade adaptation of Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly. The art director, Patrick Collins, has in-person portfolio reviews with illustrators if you contact him beforehand by snail mail to set up a time (See here: http://us.macmillan.com/Content.aspx?publisher=holtbyr&id=375). So I sent him a postcard and a few months later we met!


It must have been exciting to be asked to do some illustrations for Cassandra Clare’s book, The Shadowhunter’s Codex. How did that come about?

It was fantastic. That was a dream job, because I don’t often get fantasy work from publishers and it’s what I really want to do. I was in a mentorship with illustrator Rebecca Guay (http://www.smarterartschool.com/) which was the best thing to happen to me in my illustration career since grad school. She is a fantastic teacher and my work has really developed since the mentorship. I made many new contacts too. It’s all about networking. Anyway, she knew the art director working on The Shadowhunter’s Codex and he was looking for some new illustrators. I submitted samples based on text he had sent. He ended up hiring me!

albasilentbrothers-bDo you feel living in New York City helps you get more work?

It has definitely helped, because it’s easy for me to go in for portfolio reviews and go to amazing illustration shows and lectures and events here. The Society of Illustrators is one of my favorite places. Meeting people face to face definitely puts you a step up, I think. It’s a huge community and you get to know so many people and mingle. Illustrators are generally pretty nice folks. I’ve gotten work thanks to them, and I have also passed on jobs to them as well. It’s just a friendly giving community.


What illustrating contract do feel really pushed you down the road to a successful career?

Hard to choose, but I guess the Scholastic one since they have hired me multiple times!


It looks like you exhibit your work at conventions? Can you tell us about that and has it been helpful in making contacts and getting you more business?

I’ve been to a lot of conventions, but the first one where I had a booth was Gen Con 2013. It is a gaming convention (board games, roleplaying games, etc), and it has a wonderful art show that my fiance has been a part of for a few years. I’d tag along and decided I wanted to exhibit at the art show too. I’d like to try to get some gaming work, and I am also breaking into the collectors market—that is, people who buy prints and original paintings. You can meet a lot of art directors at conventions. They stop by the booths, but sometimes they have portfolio reviews that you can sign up for. And it’s just more exposure in general for people who might want to collect art. Gen Con was a pretty successful first convention for me, a lot of sales!


How did you get involved in illustrating maps?

I worked on a private commission for an author who is self publishing her novel online (www.whyismud.com). She needed a fantasy map. I’d never done one before, but it was actually super fun. That single map was all I needed to get more map work.


Have most of the maps you’ve done been for educational publishers or more for fantasy books?

A mix. For publishers it has been educational, and for private clients  who are self publishing it has been fantasy.


Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Not yet!


What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

My favorite materials are Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus liquid watercolors and Holbein acryla gouache. Sometimes I use ink too, FW acrylic sepia ink or Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star matte ink. Sometimes I use a little bit of colored pencil. I also like working with pencil when I work in black and white.


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

So much! Half the work is promoting yourself. I keep my website updated, my facebook artist page, tumblr, just started using twitter, selling on Etsy, various portfolio sites like Behance. I carry around business cards and attend a lot of illustration networking events. I make promotional postcards and greeting cards and mail them to a list of art directors from the SCBWI market guide, and to my contacts that I already have. I also email samples to my contacts and to any companies that accept email submissions. I attend conventions to meet more art directors and artists.


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

Probably my computer…. I do so much research on it, and keep all my reference images on it, and I do a lot of stuff digitally… It’s just so dang useful.


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

I try to work 2-4 hours Monday-Thursday after my day job, and I get most of my work done Friday-Sunday. It depends on what I’m doing socially or how much illustration work I have. Sometimes on weekends I work from morning to late night, but sometimes I let myself off by dinnertime. I’d love to work even more but the day job makes it difficult!


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

All the time! Since my work is more realistic I like to make sure my anatomy is correct and that my poses are actually doable. I also research historical clothing, architecture, plants, animals, etc.


Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Definitely. It’s great for promoting and networking, and that mentorship I mentioned with Rebecca Guay was all done online. If you’re not on the internet promoting your work or with a website than I can’t imagine how you would get work now…


Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I’ve used Painter in the past and would like to relearn it. I use Photoshop all the time though.


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

I have an ancient Intuos II tablet. Should really buy a new one because it’s starting to act wonky! I do a lot of my sketching on Photoshop with my tablet. Also make my color tests digitally. Sometimes I work entirely digitally, but I prefer traditional media. It’s very useful to know though.



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

I would love to get more fantasy work from publishers. My dream job would be to do covers and interior illustrations for a middle grade or YA fantasy book/series, like Harry Potter or Series of Unfortunate Events. Someday I might like to write and illustrate a book, but right now I’m just concentrating on getting more clients and building/improving my portfolio.


Above: Scholastic’s Fancy, part of the Breyer Stablemates book series.

What are you working on now?

I gave myself time to work on a personal project – I have a booth at MOCCA in April, a comic convention here in NYC. I wanted to make a comic sample to share, so I am working on that all this month. I am also working with a private client on her self-published fantasy book – a map and book cover!


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 Dr. Ph. Martin Black Star matte ink. Sometimes it’s hard to find. I had to order it online last time. It’s completely waterproof and flows wonderfully. I also love working with layers of acryla gouache. My mentor, Rebecca Guay, recommended them. They flow like watercolor but dry like acrylics, so they don’t wipe away. Also, if the paper I’m working on isn’t too thick and it’s not too big, I print out my drawings directly onto the watercolor paper so that I don’t have to redraw it!


Book Cover for SVA thesis book, Nico’s Journey, watercolor and ink.


Interior Art


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

Don’t get discouraged. Do everything you can to keep improving. It is a lifetime of learning and practicing! Do what you love, not what you think gets work. You’ll end up making better work.


One of my interior illustrations of a young George Lucas (he was actually very handsome!) working on a draft of Star Wars, surrounded by reference material.

Thank you Elisabeth for sharing your process, journey, talent, and expertise with us. It is easy to see how you have managed to be so successful. Please make sure you let us know about all your future successes. We’d love to have you share them with us. You can see Elisabeth’s work at:








Please take a minute to leave a comment for Elisabeth. I know I would love it if you did and I am sure Elisabeth would enjoy hearing from you. Who knows she could someday illustrate your book.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Process Tagged: Elisabeth Alba, MFA in Illustration, School of Visual Arts, University of Flordia

8 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Elisabeth Alba, last added: 3/9/2014
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49. SCBWI Golden Kite Award Winners

The winners of the annual prestigious Golden Kite and Sid Fleishman Awards, given to children’s books published in the preceding year to recognize excellence in children’s literature by an SCBWI member in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Book Text, and Picture Book Illustration have been announced.

Named for the late Newbery-winner Sid Fleischman, the SCBWI offers this eponymous award to authors whose work exemplifies excellence in the genre of humor, a category so often overlooked by other award committees in children’s literature.

The Golden Kite Awards and the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor will be presented to the winners at the Golen Kite Luncheon during SCBWI’s 42nd Annual Conference on Writing and Illustrating for Children, taking place in Los Angeles, California from August 2-5, 2013.  An Honor Book plaque is also awarded in each category.

Here are the winners:

Picture Book Text Winner:
Pat Zietlow Miller
(Random House)


Picture Book Text Honor Book:
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
(Clarion Books)


Picture Book Illustration Winner:
Peter Brown
(Little, Brown)


Picture Book Illustration Honor:
Yuyi Morales
(Roaring Book Press)


Fiction Winner:
Tim Federle
(Simon and Schuster)


Fiction Honor:
Elizabeth Wein


Nonfiction Winner:
David Meissner
(Boyd Mills Press)


Nonfiction Honor:
dolphins of shark bay_hres
Pamela Turner
(Houghton Mifflin)


Sid Fleischman Humor Award:

Openly Straight
Bill Konigsberg
(Arthur A. Levine Books)

Congratulations to everyone. I have only read one picture book. Has anyone read any of these books? What did you think?

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Competition, Kudos, News Tagged: Better Nate Than Ever, Call of the Klondike, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Peter Brown, SCBWI Golden Kite Awards, Sid Fleishman Award

1 Comments on SCBWI Golden Kite Award Winners, last added: 3/10/2014
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50. Avoiding Common Mistakes in the First Five Pages

first five pagesWe’ve been talking a lot about how to format your manuscript, so I bought The First Five Pages: A Writers Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman to see what other things might be good to share and already he has reminded me of things I forgot to mention to you that you should do before submitting.

He says, “There are no rules to assure great writing, but there are ways to avoid bad writing.” He also points out that agents and editors don’t read manuscripts to enjoy them; they read solely with the goal of getting through the pile, solely with an eye to dismiss a manuscript.

So obviously, we want to do everything to look good and make our first contact a professional one. We want to make sure our manuscripts do not signal carelessness, sloppiness, ignorance, or defiance of the industry’s standards; that the writer doesn’t care enough to do the minimum amount of research to make a manuscript industry presentable. An editor or agent will assume that the careless presentation continues in the manuscript.

Avoid rejection in the first few minutes by making sure your manuscript is presented properly:

Paper: 8 1/2  x 11 inch standard 20 pound bond white computer paper.

Text: 12 pt. Times New Roman font.  Printed only on one side of the page.

Clean: Do not send out a manuscript that you have sent out to other agents or editors if it appears the slightest bit worn.

Eliminate: Make sure you do not send out a manuscripts filled with boldface, underlined, capitalized, or italicized words everywhere, unless you purposely want to drive the agent or editor crazy.

Printing: Do not try to squeeze the last drops of ink from your printer and send out dim/hard to see and please if anyone still has a dot-matrix printer, throw it out and buy an ink-jet or laser printer.

Spacing: Double spaced lines with 1 inch margins. New paragraphs should be indented and also dialog should always be indented. Make sure you indent enough spaces (8-10 spaces on my computer). Nothing is worse than trying to read a manuscript when the indentations are so slight it is easy to miss them. Leave a half of a page between chapters. Line breaks between paragraphs scream amateur.

Do Not Include: Artwork or illustrations throughout the pages. It screams amateur. You might feel that adding some clip art helps the editor or agent get a feel for what you book is really about, but it is not professional. If you text needs a picture to explain what is going on, then add an illustrator’s note. Try to keep them to a minimum.

If you are an illustrator and have written and illustrated your book and have a book dummy; make sure you mention this in your query and give a website link where they can visit to see your art. You might want develop a page on your website exclusively to give to editors/agents, so they could view it online. Never send in original art.

Rights: When you present a manuscript to an agent or editor you are offering all rights. Do not put “Copyright” on your manuscript. It makes you look paranoid and besides it is not necessary.

Avoid Overuse of: Question marks, exclamation points, and parentheses. The abundant use of foreign words or phrases. Noah also say to avoid the inappropriate use of fancy words; crude of vulgar language or images; graphic blood and sex, but most of all cliché. Doing this in the first five pages can lead to instant rejection.

I think this covers all of the instant cosmetic rejections. Hope this helps.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Book, demystify, How to, inspiration, reference, rejection, Writing Tips Tagged: Formatting your manuscript, Noah Lukeman, Staying out of the Rejection Pile, The First Five Pages

8 Comments on Avoiding Common Mistakes in the First Five Pages, last added: 3/12/2014
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