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26. Kudos

kelly calabrese headshot2Sunday night I was walking the Season Premier of The Walking Dead (Yes, I’m guilty of watching a show with Zombies – who knew?).

Anyway, they always have great commercials that tie into the theme of the show and KELLY CALABRESE was the main female in the commercial. So exciting! Kelly is an actress and writer from NYC and someone who is very active with volunteering with the NJSCBWI. Congratulations, Kelly!

If you have Cable TV and have on demand, you could watch it to see Kelly. She is the redhead in the first or second commercial.

_________________________________________________________

Garden_StateEileen Cameron and Doris Ettlinger’s new book RUPERT’S PARCHMENT, Story of Magna Carta! on the granting of Magna Carta will be available in bookstores on February 2015 to help celebrate the 800th Anniversary on June 15, 2015.

Eileen and Doris’ book, G IS FOR THE GARDEN STATE, has been chosen by the NJ 350th Anniversary Committee as one of the best 101 books on NJ for the Anniversary.

_________________________________________________________

Mamalode-oct_14-logo-web-colored

Mamalode is a magazine. A website. A movement. Their readers and writers are moms—with a smattering of dads, kids, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.

On October 8th, Mamalode(Parenting/Motherhood Website) Magazine published Jennifer Reinharz most recent blog post, “The Day I Deleted Minecraft; a letter to my son.” She is very excited about the opportunity of becoming a contributing writer for the magazine.  

From October 8th-November 8th Mamalode will track the number of “unique views” of Jennifer’s essay on their site. The number of views, likes, comments, and shares is directly tied to her recognition (financial and otherwise :-).

Jennifer wrote saying, “Like many of us, my dream is to be a published Kidlit author with agent representation. However, the contest and writing opportunities, or as I like to call them “nuggets” that you often share are worth pursuing.  My path to Kidlit author has yet to be a straight line, but I can’t help but think that getting a chance to connect and share one of my stories with the Mommies, etc. is an example of heading right direction.

So help Jennifer and please click this link to her article:

http://mamalode.com/story/detail/the-day-i-deleted-minecraft-a-letter-to-my-son

______________________________________________________________________________

sara dotts barley my-harper-id-pic1

Sarah Dotts Barley

Sarah Dotts Barley has joined Flatiron Books as senior editor, focusing on YA crossover. Previously, Barley was an editor at Harper Children’s/HarperTeen.

Anne Heltzel has joined Abrams as editor, primarily acquiring books for its middle grade and teen imprint, Amulet Books. She worked previously as an associate editor at Razorbill and is also a published author.

At Scholastic, Liza Baker has re-joined the company as vp, executive editorial director of Cartwheel and Orchard Books. She was most recently executive editorial director, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: awards, Book, Editors, Kudos Tagged: Doris Ettlinger, Eileen Cameron, G Is For Garden State, Jennifer Reinharz, Kelly Calabrese, Mamalode Magazine, Sarah Dotts Barley

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27. Two Books to Read

pandemic

This weekend I read my friend Yvonne Ventresca’s GREAT novel PANDEMIC. It is so much fun to read a book where you have been part of the journey and to see it take flight. With that in mind, I truly believe my review is dead-on and not misleading in anyway.

Even though this book came out in May (of course written a few years before that), Yvonne has linked into the current Ebola news of the day. This is a real gift for her, so I hope she takes advantage by contacting radio shows, who I know would like to talk about such a timely topic.

Yvonne has managed to write a dark tale woven around a contemporary coming of age story. The book shows the dark side and the light side of humanity. Lil, the main character, struggles through the death of friends and family, deals was past demons, overcomes grief and sorrow, and helps the community, all while her parents are away and can’t get home.

The book is a great read. The reader don’t want to put the book down. You can tell that Yvonne did her research on pandemics, medicine, medical protocol because she is dead-on about how quickly society could spin out of control if a contagion hits us and sweeps the globe. I never once found myself saying, “really?” and you know how often someone reading as a writer will do that.

There are great page turning chapter endings and very nice similes and metaphors throughout the book. So if you like books with a great mix of dark elements, sadness, sweetness, love, sexual tension, and suspense, then you will enjoy this book. It might be YA, but adults will love it too, just like they did another YA book, THE HUNGER GAMES. I give this a 5 out of 5 stars.

flatoutlove

Note: Please read to the bottom.

I thought I would write about another book I read this week, FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park. This book came out two years ago and was on the NY Times Best Seller List. I bought it on my Kindle, back then and just found the time to read it last week. Why did I buy it? I liked the cover, the sample that I read, and the price was right ($3.99).

This is another contemporary book that I really enjoyed. It is about an 18 year old girl from Ohio who arrives in Boston to start her first year of college and realizes the room where she is supposed to live does not exist and there are no rooms left to rent.

The thing that is interesting is that this is another example of a successful self-published book. I took the time to type out what Jessica said at the end of her book because I think it will give you food for thought.

Here is Jessica Park:

Amazon has changed my life, and without them I might not be writing anymore. I’m not a fan of playing by rules, and knowing that I might self-publish through KDP let me write. I got to write FLAT-OUT LOVE with total abandon. I got to write the story that I wanted to – the one I believed in – not the one that I thought legacy publishers would want me to. Deciding to self-publish this book was the smartest thing I’ve done. Now that I’ve signed with Amazon Children’s Publishing, I get to hold on to so many of the benefits that I’ve had, but now with the added support of a dynamic team. ACP not only supports writing outside of the box, they embrace it, and signing over FLAT-OUT LOVE and my next book to such a stupendous team is pure joy. Associate Publisher Tim Ditlow and the entire publishing team at Amazon are outstanding: their belief in me and in my career is deeply humbling, and I am deeply grateful. I have true partners now, and there is no better feeling. Amazon my be a massive company, but I know without a doubt that my team has heart, dedication, and a drive to try new things. They run to unchartered territory, and those are my kind of people.

My agent, Deborah Schneider, has been devoted to this book from the beginning, and she took the repeated this-book-will-never-sell rejections from traditional publishers as hard as I did. When I decided to self-publish, she cheered me on. “Give ‘em hell!” she said. And I did. We did. Finally. Deborah, thank you for everything that you have done for me, and most of all thank you for letter me yell, “Congratulations! You’re still my agent!” and not hanging up on me.

Before you rush out and change direction, understand that Jessica did her homework. She had a lot of people help along the way (she talks about them too at the end of the book. She had a professional design her book cover (a very important part of marketing) and she spent the time to polish her manuscript.

Oh, you will find a couple of typos, but I have seen that in books from major publishers. I don’t even know Jessica and I am very proud of her. She has helped everyone who might decide to self-publish by putting out a book that rivals what the major publishers put out because she did not let herself lower the bar and diminish the future of the self-published book. If you decide to go that root, I hope you will work hard to do the same.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, inspiration, success, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Book /REview, Flat-Out Love, Jessica Park, New Adult, Pandemic, Yvonne Ventresca

6 Comments on Two Books to Read, last added: 10/13/2014
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28. Two Books to Read

pandemic

This weekend I read my friend Yvonne Ventresca’s GREAT novel PANDEMIC. It is so much fun to read a book where you have been part of the journey and to see it take flight. With that in mind, I truly believe my review is dead-on and not misleading in anyway.

Even though this book came out in May (of course written a few years before that), Yvonne has linked into the current Ebola news of the day. This is a real gift for her, so I hope she takes advantage by contacting radio shows, who I know would like to talk about such a timely topic.

Yvonne has managed to write a dark tale woven around a contemporary coming of age story. The book shows the dark side and the light side of humanity. Lil, the main character, struggles through the death of friends and family, deals was past demons, overcomes grief and sorrow, and helps the community, all while her parents are away and can’t get home.

The book is a great read. The reader don’t want to put the book down. You can tell that Yvonne did her research on pandemics, medicine, medical protocol because she is dead-on about how quickly society could spin out of control if a contagion hits us and sweeps the globe. I never once found myself saying, “really?” and you know how often someone reading as a writer will do that.

There are great page turning chapter endings and very nice similes and metaphors throughout the book. So if you like books with a great mix of dark elements, sadness, sweetness, love, sexual tension, and suspense, then you will enjoy this book. It might be YA, but adults will love it too, just like they did another YA book, THE HUNGER GAMES. I give this a 5 out of 5 stars.

flatoutlove

Note: Please read to the bottom.

I thought I would write about another book I read this week, FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park. This book came out two years ago and was on the NY Times Best Seller List. I bought it on my Kindle, back then and just found the time to read it last week. Why did I buy it? I liked the cover, the sample that I read, and the price was right ($3.99).

This is another contemporary book that I really enjoyed. It is about an 18 year old girl from Ohio who arrives in Boston to start her first year of college and realizes the room where she is supposed to live does not exist and there are no rooms left to rent.

The thing that is interesting is that this is another example of a successful self-published book. I took the time to type out what Jessica said at the end of her book because I think it will give you food for thought.

Here is Jessica Park:

Amazon has changed my life, and without them I might not be writing anymore. I’m not a fan of playing by rules, and knowing that I might self-publish through KDP let me write. I got to write FLAT-OUT LOVE with total abandon. I got to write the story that I wanted to – the one I believed in – not the one that I thought legacy publishers would want me to. Deciding to self-publish this book was the smartest thing I’ve done. Now that I’ve signed with Amazon Children’s Publishing, I get to hold on to so many of the benefits that I’ve had, but now with the added support of a dynamic team. ACP not only supports writing outside of the box, they embrace it, and signing over FLAT-OUT LOVE and my next book to such a stupendous team is pure joy. Associate Publisher Tim Ditlow and the entire publishing team at Amazon are outstanding: their belief in me and in my career is deeply humbling, and I am deeply grateful. I have true partners now, and there is no better feeling. Amazon my be a massive company, but I know without a doubt that my team has heart, dedication, and a drive to try new things. They run to unchartered territory, and those are my kind of people.

My agent, Deborah Schneider, has been devoted to this book from the beginning, and she took the repeated this-book-will-never-sell rejections from traditional publishers as hard as I did. When I decided to self-publish, she cheered me on. “Give ‘em hell!” she said. And I did. We did. Finally. Deborah, thank you for everything that you have done for me, and most of all thank you for letter me yell, “Congratulations! You’re still my agent!” and not hanging up on me.

Before you rush out and change direction, understand that Jessica did her homework. She had a lot of people help along the way (she talks about them too at the end of the book. She had a professional design her book cover (a very important part of marketing) and she spent the time to polish her manuscript.

Oh, you will find a couple of typos, but I have seen that in books from major publishers. I don’t even know Jessica and I am very proud of her. She has helped everyone who might decide to self-publish by putting out a book that rivals what the major publishers put out because she did not let herself lower the bar and diminish the future of the self-published book. If you decide to go that root, I hope you will work hard to do the same.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, inspiration, success, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Book /REview, Flat-Out Love, Jessica Park, New Adult, Pandemic, Yvonne Ventresca

0 Comments on Two Books to Read as of 10/13/2014 3:19:00 PM
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29. Pockets Magazine Accepting Articles

aboutpic1

 

Pockets® is a 48-page devotional magazine for children ages 6-12, published by The Upper Room®. They pay $.14 a word. If you want to write for children and are open to writing for a Christian Magazine, then this could be an opportunity to get published and earn some money. The themes for articles are listed at the bottom of this post.

Launched in 1981, the magazine began as a response to parents and grandparents who wanted a devotional magazine especially for children. The magazine is published 11 times per year. (January/February is a combined issue). Pockets is designed for the personal use of children to help them grow in their relationship with God. The magazine is distributed by individual subscriptions and standing orders to churches, which provide the magazine to the children in their congregations. Pockets includes full-color photos, stories, poems, games, mission-focused activities, daily scripture readings, non-fiction features, and contributions from children who read the magazine. Writer’s Guidelines

What is Pockets?

Designed for 6- to 12-year-olds, Pockets magazine offers wholesome devotional readings that teach about God’s love and presence in life. The content includes fiction, scripture stories, puzzles and games, poems, recipes, colorful pictures, activities, and scripture readings. Freelance submissions of stories, poems, recipes, puzzles and games, and activities are welcome. The magazine is published monthly (except in February).

The purpose of Pockets is to help children grow in their relationship with God and live as Christian disciples. It is written and produced for children and designed to help children pray and to see their faith as an integral part of their everyday lives. The magazine emphasizes that God loves us and that God’s grace calls us into community. It is through the community of God’s people that we experience that love in our daily lives.

What should I write about?

Each issue is built around a specific theme with material that can be used by children in a variety of ways. Submissions should support the purpose of the magazine to help children grow in their faith, though all submissions do not need to be overtly religious. Seasonal material, both secular and liturgical, is appropriate. Most of the magazine’s content is written by adults, but we also welcome submissions from children.

Copies of our themes are also available by mail with a SASE. Please note deadlines for each issue; late manuscripts cannot be considered.

Pockets is inter-denominational, and our readers include children of many cultures and ethnic backgrounds. These differences should be reflected in the references that are made to lifestyles, living environments (suburban, urban, rural, reservation), families (extended families, single-parent families, and blended families as well as more “traditional” families), and individual names. Stories should show appreciation of cultural differences.

What ages are Pockets readers?

The magazine is for children 6–12. Though some children may share it with their families or use it in church group settings, Pockets is designed primarily for children’s personal use.

What type of material should I write?

Fiction and scripture stories should be 600 to 1000 words. Our primary interest is in stories that can help children deal with real-life situations. We do not accept stories about talking animals or inanimate objects. Fictional characters and some elaboration may be included in scripture stories, but the writer must remain faithful to the story.

Stories should contain lots of action, use believable dialogue, be simply written, and be relevant to the problems faced by this age group in everyday life. Children need to be able to see themselves in the pages of the magazine. It is important that the tone not be “preachy” or didactic. Use short sentences and paragraphs. When possible, use concrete words instead of abstractions. However, do not “write down” to children.

Poems should be short, not more than 20 lines. Both seasonal and theme-related poems are needed.

Non-fiction articles that are open for submissions include: theme-related quizzes; Kids with a Mission profiles of children involved in charitable, environmental, community, and peace/justice issues; biographical sketches of persons, famous or unknown, whose lives reflect their Christian commitments and values; and Family Time activities for families to do together (seasonal or theme-related). The length of these features varies greatly, and we strongly suggest sending a SASE (please send 6 x 9 size envelope) to receive a sample copy of the magazine if you are interested in submitting any of these.

Editorial Philosophy

The primary purpose of POCKETS is to help children grow in their relationship with God and to claim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ by applying it to their daily lives. POCKETS espouses respect for all human beings and for God’s creation. It regards a child’s faith journey as an integral part of all of life and sees prayer as undergirding that journey.

Special note: In addition to receiving regular submissions, Pockets sponsors a fiction contest each year.

How should I submit my writing?

Contributions should be typed, double-spaced, on 8 1/2″x 11″ paper, accompanied by a SASE for return. Writers who wish to save postage and are concerned about paper conservation may send a SASP for notification of unaccepted manuscripts, and we will recycle the manuscript. Please list the name of the submission(s) on the card. Because of the volume of manuscripts we receive, we do not accept manuscripts sent by FAX or e-mail.

How will I know if my submission will be used?

If we use your submission, we will notify you before publication. Along with your letter of acceptance, you will receive a contract and a W-9 (IRS form) that must be completed, signed and returned in order for us to process your payment.

Submissions not chosen for publication will be returned only if they are accompanied by a SASE. Because of the number of submissions we receive, we are unable to check the status of submissions.

Send all submissions to:

Pockets Magazine
ATTN: Editor
PO Box 340004
Nashville, TN 37203-0004

 

Upcoming Writing Deadlines

 

June 2015

Deadline: 11/01/2014

Caring for Creation

Being good stewards of God’s creation is not only a matter of our self-interest or good intentions. It is a basic way of honoring our Creator. The aim of this issue is two-fold: a celebration of the wonder of creation and a challenge to look at practical ways we can address the earth’s problems. Typically this theme draws many stories on recycling and litter pick-up. While these are certainly important efforts (and we may feature one such story), we encourage writers to think more broadly about realistic ways children can have a positive impact on the environment. The tone should be hopeful and show that we can accomplish great things when we open ourselves to God’s power working through us.

More Info

July 2015

Deadline: 12/01/2014

Competition

Competition for Pockets readers could be many things: striving to make the best grades, wanting to have the coolest clothes, trying to be the best player on the soccer team or in the school orchestra, or consistently vying to be the center of attention. Competition can be healthy when it encourages us to do our best, but it is unhealthy when it causes us to make “winning” too important. We want this issue to help children examine their motives for competing and the role of competition in their lives. Does competing make them feel energetic and excited? Do they like to be with other competitors because of their shared interest? Or does competition make them anxious or cause them to dislike those with whom they are competing? Do they find themselves thinking that being first or best is more important than anything else? We want to invite children to view the competitive arenas of their lives (as we want them to view all of their lives) in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

More Info

August 2015

Deadline: 01/01/2015

Loneliness

One of the paradoxes of our age is that we are, arguably, both more connected and more isolated than ever. One of our Kids’ Advisory Board members reported that other children she encountered in an on-line game (with the benefit of anonymity) made comments questioning whether anyone truly cares about them and expressing the wish that someone would love them. Sad as this is, it’s perhaps not surprising. In our highly mobile, extremely busy, increasingly impersonal society, many people are lonely. Many of us live far from extended family and may not even know our neighbors. Technology encourages us to interact with others through devices instead of face-to-face. Violence causes us to spend more time behind locked doors, and even then we may be suspicious of others. Consequently, we find ourselves increasingly isolated from one another. Children do not escape this phenomenon. Perhaps they have difficulty making friends. Perhaps their families are too busy or in too much turmoil to offer comfort and companionship. Perhaps the families themselves are isolated from the larger community. Through this issue we want to help children understand that they are never truly alone, that God is with them always. We want to offer them comfort as well as creative ways to deal with their loneliness.

More Info

Talk tomorrow,
Kathy

 

 


Filed under: article, children writing, earn money, magazine, Places to sumit, Poems Tagged: Children's Christian Magazine, Pockets Magazine

0 Comments on Pockets Magazine Accepting Articles as of 1/1/1900
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30. Pockets Magazine Accepting Articles

aboutpic1

 

Pockets® is a 48-page devotional magazine for children ages 6-12, published by The Upper Room®. They pay $.14 a word. If you want to write for children and are open to writing for a Christian Magazine, then this could be an opportunity to get published and earn some money. The themes for articles are listed at the bottom of this post.

Launched in 1981, the magazine began as a response to parents and grandparents who wanted a devotional magazine especially for children. The magazine is published 11 times per year. (January/February is a combined issue). Pockets is designed for the personal use of children to help them grow in their relationship with God. The magazine is distributed by individual subscriptions and standing orders to churches, which provide the magazine to the children in their congregations. Pockets includes full-color photos, stories, poems, games, mission-focused activities, daily scripture readings, non-fiction features, and contributions from children who read the magazine. Writer’s Guidelines

What is Pockets?

Designed for 6- to 12-year-olds, Pockets magazine offers wholesome devotional readings that teach about God’s love and presence in life. The content includes fiction, scripture stories, puzzles and games, poems, recipes, colorful pictures, activities, and scripture readings. Freelance submissions of stories, poems, recipes, puzzles and games, and activities are welcome. The magazine is published monthly (except in February).

The purpose of Pockets is to help children grow in their relationship with God and live as Christian disciples. It is written and produced for children and designed to help children pray and to see their faith as an integral part of their everyday lives. The magazine emphasizes that God loves us and that God’s grace calls us into community. It is through the community of God’s people that we experience that love in our daily lives.

What should I write about?

Each issue is built around a specific theme with material that can be used by children in a variety of ways. Submissions should support the purpose of the magazine to help children grow in their faith, though all submissions do not need to be overtly religious. Seasonal material, both secular and liturgical, is appropriate. Most of the magazine’s content is written by adults, but we also welcome submissions from children.

Copies of our themes are also available by mail with a SASE. Please note deadlines for each issue; late manuscripts cannot be considered.

Pockets is inter-denominational, and our readers include children of many cultures and ethnic backgrounds. These differences should be reflected in the references that are made to lifestyles, living environments (suburban, urban, rural, reservation), families (extended families, single-parent families, and blended families as well as more “traditional” families), and individual names. Stories should show appreciation of cultural differences.

What ages are Pockets readers?

The magazine is for children 6–12. Though some children may share it with their families or use it in church group settings, Pockets is designed primarily for children’s personal use.

What type of material should I write?

Fiction and scripture stories should be 600 to 1000 words. Our primary interest is in stories that can help children deal with real-life situations. We do not accept stories about talking animals or inanimate objects. Fictional characters and some elaboration may be included in scripture stories, but the writer must remain faithful to the story.

Stories should contain lots of action, use believable dialogue, be simply written, and be relevant to the problems faced by this age group in everyday life. Children need to be able to see themselves in the pages of the magazine. It is important that the tone not be “preachy” or didactic. Use short sentences and paragraphs. When possible, use concrete words instead of abstractions. However, do not “write down” to children.

Poems should be short, not more than 20 lines. Both seasonal and theme-related poems are needed.

Non-fiction articles that are open for submissions include: theme-related quizzes; Kids with a Mission profiles of children involved in charitable, environmental, community, and peace/justice issues; biographical sketches of persons, famous or unknown, whose lives reflect their Christian commitments and values; and Family Time activities for families to do together (seasonal or theme-related). The length of these features varies greatly, and we strongly suggest sending a SASE (please send 6 x 9 size envelope) to receive a sample copy of the magazine if you are interested in submitting any of these.

Editorial Philosophy

The primary purpose of POCKETS is to help children grow in their relationship with God and to claim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ by applying it to their daily lives. POCKETS espouses respect for all human beings and for God’s creation. It regards a child’s faith journey as an integral part of all of life and sees prayer as undergirding that journey.

Special note: In addition to receiving regular submissions, Pockets sponsors a fiction contest each year.

How should I submit my writing?

Contributions should be typed, double-spaced, on 8 1/2″x 11″ paper, accompanied by a SASE for return. Writers who wish to save postage and are concerned about paper conservation may send a SASP for notification of unaccepted manuscripts, and we will recycle the manuscript. Please list the name of the submission(s) on the card. Because of the volume of manuscripts we receive, we do not accept manuscripts sent by FAX or e-mail.

How will I know if my submission will be used?

If we use your submission, we will notify you before publication. Along with your letter of acceptance, you will receive a contract and a W-9 (IRS form) that must be completed, signed and returned in order for us to process your payment.

Submissions not chosen for publication will be returned only if they are accompanied by a SASE. Because of the number of submissions we receive, we are unable to check the status of submissions.

Send all submissions to:

Pockets Magazine
ATTN: Editor
PO Box 340004
Nashville, TN 37203-0004

 

Upcoming Writing Deadlines

 

June 2015

Deadline: 11/01/2014

Caring for Creation

Being good stewards of God’s creation is not only a matter of our self-interest or good intentions. It is a basic way of honoring our Creator. The aim of this issue is two-fold: a celebration of the wonder of creation and a challenge to look at practical ways we can address the earth’s problems. Typically this theme draws many stories on recycling and litter pick-up. While these are certainly important efforts (and we may feature one such story), we encourage writers to think more broadly about realistic ways children can have a positive impact on the environment. The tone should be hopeful and show that we can accomplish great things when we open ourselves to God’s power working through us.

More Info

July 2015

Deadline: 12/01/2014

Competition

Competition for Pockets readers could be many things: striving to make the best grades, wanting to have the coolest clothes, trying to be the best player on the soccer team or in the school orchestra, or consistently vying to be the center of attention. Competition can be healthy when it encourages us to do our best, but it is unhealthy when it causes us to make “winning” too important. We want this issue to help children examine their motives for competing and the role of competition in their lives. Does competing make them feel energetic and excited? Do they like to be with other competitors because of their shared interest? Or does competition make them anxious or cause them to dislike those with whom they are competing? Do they find themselves thinking that being first or best is more important than anything else? We want to invite children to view the competitive arenas of their lives (as we want them to view all of their lives) in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

More Info

August 2015

Deadline: 01/01/2015

Loneliness

One of the paradoxes of our age is that we are, arguably, both more connected and more isolated than ever. One of our Kids’ Advisory Board members reported that other children she encountered in an on-line game (with the benefit of anonymity) made comments questioning whether anyone truly cares about them and expressing the wish that someone would love them. Sad as this is, it’s perhaps not surprising. In our highly mobile, extremely busy, increasingly impersonal society, many people are lonely. Many of us live far from extended family and may not even know our neighbors. Technology encourages us to interact with others through devices instead of face-to-face. Violence causes us to spend more time behind locked doors, and even then we may be suspicious of others. Consequently, we find ourselves increasingly isolated from one another. Children do not escape this phenomenon. Perhaps they have difficulty making friends. Perhaps their families are too busy or in too much turmoil to offer comfort and companionship. Perhaps the families themselves are isolated from the larger community. Through this issue we want to help children understand that they are never truly alone, that God is with them always. We want to offer them comfort as well as creative ways to deal with their loneliness.

More Info

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: article, children writing, earn money, magazine, Places to sumit, Poems Tagged: Children's Christian Magazine, Pockets Magazine

0 Comments on Pockets Magazine Accepting Articles as of 10/13/2014 3:19:00 PM
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31. Illustrator Saturday – Anna Guillotte

Anna-Guillotte-picAnna Guillotte is an American illustrator, designer, and writer living in Heidelberg, Germany. With a degree in graphic design, Anna worked as a graphic artist in the corporate world for seven years. Though she was also a mural artist and painter throughout that time, she began illustrating in 2010 when she attended a mentor program for artists in San Diego, California where she lived at the time. Through this program she realized her true calling for storytelling. She has since joined the SCBWI, attended numerous SCBWI conferences and her illustrations have been published internationally. She enjoys creating whimsical, funny, touching, and beautiful art for the advertising, book, and animation markets.

Here is Anna showing one of her techniques:

anna1There’s something about light and shadows that really soothes the eye. I guess I could do research on the scientific reason as to why us humans are attracted to depth in images, but I already spend too much time on the net. I’m guessing since that we live in a 3-dimensional world our eyes are built to receive and digest lovely indications of depth (i.e. shadows, light vs. dark, cool vs. warm colors) and by nature we crave that. I tend to indulge in lighting my illustrations so I thought I would share how I go about doing that – from sketch to finished image.

The key here is to make the scene believable, even if it’s not 100% accurate. So I guess in a sense you become a car salesman convincing a customer that not only is the Hyundai Elantra a great car, but the most awesome car you will ever buy in your life.

anna2

I start with a hand-drawn sketch. Why not go digital? Eh, the tablet doesn’t feel right and I guess I need to feel paper and pencils in my hand. I then scan the drawings in Photoshop.

anna3

In Photoshop I clean up the images and create separate layers for the different visual elements. This allows for more control over placement, size, coloring, and opacity. For example, in the image below I have a layer for each character, the background, and several additional details I added in later (the plane, smokestacks, birds, fence, and sticker on signpost). Keep in mind that all the coloring layers are in the “multiply” blend mode – and the texture layers are in “color burn” and “overlay” blend mode. I suggest playing around with those settings and see what you come up with : )

Here is a video tutorial on How to use Blending mode in Photoshop CC.

anna4

Now I block in the foreground shade. I imagined this bus stop scene taking place under a large tree. And as we have all observed – shade from trees are not one massive blob, but a shadow dance of many, many leaves. I made a layer of a dark blue and masked it out. Then I removed bit by bit the “shadow dance” until I thought it was convincing. Sometimes I consult with Google Images to make sure the lighting is believable.

anna5

I added additional shadowing on a separate layer.

anna6

And now the color! We begin with the background color. The blue sky on a separate layer from the tree/grass.

anna7

Another layer is added for the foreground objects.

anna8

Now the characters are colored in on another layer.

anna9

One of the biggest challenges of working in Photoshop is to make the images not look so “Photoshoppy”. So I have added a yellow layer (6%) and a water color image to add “texture”. I have also added several details, such as the balloon reflection, text on the bus sign and the little sticker on the sign post. As the image comes to life, I have fun adding in little details – this also helps with the “believability” factor.

anna10

Additionally, I have added another “texture” layer (image of paint strokes on canvas) and a faint shadow around the edge of the image to give a more old-photo look.

anna1412009388223

How long have you been illustrating?

I started focusing on illustrating in 2010, but I have been painting for over 20 years. My paintings were very illustrative and often people would ask me “Why don’t you go into children’s book illustration?”

annabearonardo-morning

Where did you study graphic design?

I first started my studies at the University of Hartford/Hartford Art School and took every type of art class imaginable except glass blowing and jewelry. Then I studied film for a year, then moved on to multimedia (animation and video) and that’s when I finally decided to major in graphic design. I studied and majored in graphic design at Eastern Connecticut State University – my home state.

annabearonardo-sticky-wake-up

Have you attended other art related courses since studying Graphic Design?

I took a picture book illustration class and also a children’s book writing course at University of California San Diego.

annabearonardo-catapult2

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

I painted an outdoor mural at an Elementary school in Boston.

annachester-peanut-cover-2

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

I was hired as a graphic artist at Sonalyst, Inc. in Connecticut. While there, I mostly created graphics and multimedia for US Navy computer-based training, but also did graphics and web design for private companies.

annabearsnakefilecropped

What do you think most influenced your style?

I think a lot of the shows and movies I watched as a kid influenced me. I loved the old cartoons like Tom and Jerry or Looney tunes. I’ve always been a big movie buff – not just the storytelling but also the cinematic style and I think that has carried over to my work.

annaboypeekingfilecropped

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I signed up for an artist mentor program in San Diego in 2010. It was a program designed to help professional artists get unstuck. I was painting and doing murals but I felt my art career lacked a bit of focus. My mentor took one look at my work and suggested children’s book illustration. Her coworker knew Dan Santat from a previous job so we arranged a studio visit at Dan’s home (which Dan so graciously provided). Its funny, because at the time I didn’t know anything about children’s books and had no idea who Dan Santat was. He took the time to show me his work, how he got started, and what its like to work in the industry. After a few hours of the visit, I was sold!

annafilecropped

What type of art jobs have you landed?

I have worked as a graphic and multimedia artist, have done many children’s murals, and focusing on illustration work for the children’s book market and editorials.

annabathfilecropped

What are you doing to help connect with art directors and editors?

I have gone to many SCBWI conferences and heard art directors, agents and editors speak. It’s really helped me put a face to a name, so it doesn’t feel so abstract when sending my work to them. As far as how I connect – mostly I have sent postcards or emailed my website. I have also sent out a book dummy to several editors. I’ve also just created an email newsletter too for my contact list.

annapaintfilecropped

Have you put together a portfolio and or a book dummy?

I found that I have only used the physical portfolio when displaying at a SCBWI conference, otherwise I almost exclusively use my online portfolio. I have several book dummies as well, but they are mostly in digital format (PDF) as opposed to the physical book dummy format.

annarain

What made you decide to move to Germany?

I had no previous plans to move to Europe, but my partner got a job offer in Germany last year so I moved as well. I wrote about the decision in more detail on my blog: http://annaguillotte.com/blog/2013/11/13/why-i-am-moving-to-germany

It’s been an interesting experience to say the least and has definitely tested my limits at times. But having lived in the US my whole life, now I have the opportunity to live on the other side of the fence. Now I am the immigrant dealing with visa, work, driving, language, and cultural barriers. But since moving, I’ve had the unique opportunity to explore Europe and a experience a different lifestyle, which I think has given me an inspirational spark and influenced my work.

annawater-shoes

How would you compare the US market to the market for art in Germany?

For one, the German market is much, much smaller and for that reason has more international artists participating. My impression is the US market is so big and has so many talented artists that you don’t see as much artwork from outside the country.

annatank

Have you exhibited your illustrations in Germany?

Not yet : )

annahappy_birthday

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

I have done some children’s illustrations for magazines but they were not specifically children’s magazines.

annachester-run

Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you? If not, would you like to find representation?

I don’t have an artist rep now, but I would like a rep for two reasons: 1. Help with finding illustration projects and marketing so I can spend more time focusing on the creative part 2. To have a sounding board – a mutual, creative and professional relationship with someone where we can share creative ideas on how to make a project even better and enjoy the process. Though I am coming from a visual artist background, I would like to write and illustrate my own stories as well and would ideally like a representative that would work with both my art and writing or allow me to have both an art and literary agent.

annagoodbye-postcard

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

I keep my website updated and have several online portfolios (Behance, LinkedIn, Devianart) so people can find me. I submit my art to magazines and illustration competitions. I also send postcards to art directors and I just made an email newsletter too.

annafood_music

What is your favorite medium to use?

I have gravitated towards mixed media – drawing with pen, pencil, crayon, etc. scanning in and then coloring with Photoshop.

annapig-poster-morning

Has that changed over time?

Definitely! I used to paint using oils, then I switched to acrylic paints, then I began to import my paintings into Photoshop to edit them. About two years ago I began using Photoshop exclusively to color and have experimented using different textures to create a more natural look.

annapig-ride2

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

If I have a specific pose or lighting that I want to accurately capture, I will either take a photo of myself or search pictures on google images. I like to search google images also for ideas and inspiration.

annashopping

What are you working on now?

This past summer I was working on developing a story idea for one of my characters, Bearonardo. Now, I’m in a marketing mode and fine-tuning the business side of my illustrations. For example, being more consistent with contacting and updating art directors. It’s not the glamorous part, but just as important!

anna_400

Do you want to write and illustrate a picture book?

I sure do! I have a bunch of stories I’ve written and made book dummies for. I’m definitely open to illustrating stories written by others too if they’re a good fit with me.

annawhat-the-bleepDo 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.

If you use Photoshop a lot in your illustrations, I would highly suggest experimenting with using different textures and patterns (whether you scan them in or find texture images online) and using the blending mode.

annaSCBWI-comic

Thank you Anna for sharing you journey and process with us. Please let us know when your new picture books come out. We’d love to see them and cheer you on. You can visit Anna at: http://annaguillotte.com/  

If you have a moment I am sure Anna would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if sometimes I don’t have time to reply to all of them. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, bio, demystify, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: Anna Guillotte

4 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Anna Guillotte, last added: 10/12/2014
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32. Illustrator Saturday – Anna Guillotte

Anna-Guillotte-picAnna Guillotte is an American illustrator, designer, and writer living in Heidelberg, Germany. With a degree in graphic design, Anna worked as a graphic artist in the corporate world for seven years. Though she was also a mural artist and painter throughout that time, she began illustrating in 2010 when she attended a mentor program for artists in San Diego, California where she lived at the time. Through this program she realized her true calling for storytelling. She has since joined the SCBWI, attended numerous SCBWI conferences and her illustrations have been published internationally. She enjoys creating whimsical, funny, touching, and beautiful art for the advertising, book, and animation markets.

Here is Anna showing one of her techniques:

anna1There’s something about light and shadows that really soothes the eye. I guess I could do research on the scientific reason as to why us humans are attracted to depth in images, but I already spend too much time on the net. I’m guessing since that we live in a 3-dimensional world our eyes are built to receive and digest lovely indications of depth (i.e. shadows, light vs. dark, cool vs. warm colors) and by nature we crave that. I tend to indulge in lighting my illustrations so I thought I would share how I go about doing that – from sketch to finished image.

The key here is to make the scene believable, even if it’s not 100% accurate. So I guess in a sense you become a car salesman convincing a customer that not only is the Hyundai Elantra a great car, but the most awesome car you will ever buy in your life.

anna2

I start with a hand-drawn sketch. Why not go digital? Eh, the tablet doesn’t feel right and I guess I need to feel paper and pencils in my hand. I then scan the drawings in Photoshop.

anna3

In Photoshop I clean up the images and create separate layers for the different visual elements. This allows for more control over placement, size, coloring, and opacity. For example, in the image below I have a layer for each character, the background, and several additional details I added in later (the plane, smokestacks, birds, fence, and sticker on signpost). Keep in mind that all the coloring layers are in the “multiply” blend mode – and the texture layers are in “color burn” and “overlay” blend mode. I suggest playing around with those settings and see what you come up with : )

Here is a video tutorial on How to use Blending mode in Photoshop CC.

anna4

Now I block in the foreground shade. I imagined this bus stop scene taking place under a large tree. And as we have all observed – shade from trees are not one massive blob, but a shadow dance of many, many leaves. I made a layer of a dark blue and masked it out. Then I removed bit by bit the “shadow dance” until I thought it was convincing. Sometimes I consult with Google Images to make sure the lighting is believable.

anna5

I added additional shadowing on a separate layer.

anna6

And now the color! We begin with the background color. The blue sky on a separate layer from the tree/grass.

anna7

Another layer is added for the foreground objects.

anna8

Now the characters are colored in on another layer.

anna9

One of the biggest challenges of working in Photoshop is to make the images not look so “Photoshoppy”. So I have added a yellow layer (6%) and a water color image to add “texture”. I have also added several details, such as the balloon reflection, text on the bus sign and the little sticker on the sign post. As the image comes to life, I have fun adding in little details – this also helps with the “believability” factor.

anna10

Additionally, I have added another “texture” layer (image of paint strokes on canvas) and a faint shadow around the edge of the image to give a more old-photo look.

anna1412009388223

How long have you been illustrating?

I started focusing on illustrating in 2010, but I have been painting for over 20 years. My paintings were very illustrative and often people would ask me “Why don’t you go into children’s book illustration?”

annabearonardo-morning

Where did you study graphic design?

I first started my studies at the University of Hartford/Hartford Art School and took every type of art class imaginable except glass blowing and jewelry. Then I studied film for a year, then moved on to multimedia (animation and video) and that’s when I finally decided to major in graphic design. I studied and majored in graphic design at Eastern Connecticut State University – my home state.

annabearonardo-sticky-wake-up

Have you attended other art related courses since studying Graphic Design?

I took a picture book illustration class and also a children’s book writing course at University of California San Diego.

annabearonardo-catapult2

annachester-peanut-cover-2

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

I painted an outdoor mural at an Elementary school in Boston.

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

I was hired as a graphic artist at Sonalyst, Inc. in Connecticut. While there, I mostly created graphics and multimedia for US Navy computer-based training, but also did graphics and web design for private companies.

annarain

What do you think most influenced your style?

I think a lot of the shows and movies I watched as a kid influenced me. I loved the old cartoons like Tom and Jerry or Looney tunes. I’ve always been a big movie buff – not just the storytelling but also the cinematic style and I think that has carried over to my work.

 

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I signed up for an artist mentor program in San Diego in 2010. It was a program designed to help professional artists get unstuck. I was painting and doing murals but I felt my art career lacked a bit of focus. My mentor took one look at my work and suggested children’s book illustration. Her coworker knew Dan Santat from a previous job so we arranged a studio visit at Dan’s home (which Dan so graciously provided). Its funny, because at the time I didn’t know anything about children’s books and had no idea who Dan Santat was. He took the time to show me his work, how he got started, and what its like to work in the industry. After a few hours of the visit, I was sold!

annawater-shoes

What type of art jobs have you landed?

I have worked as a graphic and multimedia artist, have done many children’s murals, and focusing on illustration work for the children’s book market and editorials.

What are you doing to help connect with art directors and editors?

I have gone to many SCBWI conferences and heard art directors, agents and editors speak. It’s really helped me put a face to a name, so it doesn’t feel so abstract when sending my work to them. As far as how I connect – mostly I have sent postcards or emailed my website. I have also sent out a book dummy to several editors. I’ve also just created an email newsletter too for my contact list.

annatank

 

Have you put together a portfolio and or a book dummy?

I found that I have only used the physical portfolio when displaying at a SCBWI conference, otherwise I almost exclusively use my online portfolio. I have several book dummies as well, but they are mostly in digital format (PDF) as opposed to the physical book dummy format.

 

What made you decide to move to Germany?

I had no previous plans to move to Europe, but my partner got a job offer in Germany last year so I moved as well. I wrote about the decision in more detail on my blog: http://annaguillotte.com/blog/2013/11/13/why-i-am-moving-to-germany

It’s been an interesting experience to say the least and has definitely tested my limits at times. But having lived in the US my whole life, now I have the opportunity to live on the other side of the fence. Now I am the immigrant dealing with visa, work, driving, language, and cultural barriers. But since moving, I’ve had the unique opportunity to explore Europe and a experience a different lifestyle, which I think has given me an inspirational spark and influenced my work.

annahappy_birthday

How would you compare the US market to the market for art in Germany?

For one, the German market is much, much smaller and for that reason has more international artists participating. My impression is the US market is so big and has so many talented artists that you don’t see as much artwork from outside the country.

 

Have you exhibited your illustrations in Germany?

Not yet : )

annachester-run

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

I have done some children’s illustrations for magazines but they were not specifically children’s magazines.

Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you? If not, would you like to find representation?

I don’t have an artist rep now, but I would like a rep for two reasons: 1. Help with finding illustration projects and marketing so I can spend more time focusing on the creative part 2. To have a sounding board – a mutual, creative and professional relationship with someone where we can share creative ideas on how to make a project even better and enjoy the process. Though I am coming from a visual artist background, I would like to write and illustrate my own stories as well and would ideally like a representative that would work with both my art and writing or allow me to have both an art and literary agent.

annagoodbye-postcard

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

I keep my website updated and have several online portfolios (Behance, LinkedIn, Devianart) so people can find me. I submit my art to magazines and illustration competitions. I also send postcards to art directors and I just made an email newsletter too.

annafood_music

What is your favorite medium to use?

I have gravitated towards mixed media – drawing with pen, pencil, crayon, etc. scanning in and then coloring with Photoshop.

annapig-poster-morning

Has that changed over time?

Definitely! I used to paint using oils, then I switched to acrylic paints, then I began to import my paintings into Photoshop to edit them. About two years ago I began using Photoshop exclusively to color and have experimented using different textures to create a more natural look.

annapig-ride2

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

If I have a specific pose or lighting that I want to accurately capture, I will either take a photo of myself or search pictures on google images. I like to search google images also for ideas and inspiration.

annashopping

What are you working on now?

This past summer I was working on developing a story idea for one of my characters, Bearonardo. Now, I’m in a marketing mode and fine-tuning the business side of my illustrations. For example, being more consistent with contacting and updating art directors. It’s not the glamorous part, but just as important!

anna_400

Do you want to write and illustrate a picture book?

I sure do! I have a bunch of stories I’ve written and made book dummies for. I’m definitely open to illustrating stories written by others too if they’re a good fit with me.

annawhat-the-bleepDo 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.

If you use Photoshop a lot in your illustrations, I would highly suggest experimenting with using different textures and patterns (whether you scan them in or find texture images online) and using the blending mode.

Thank you Anna for sharing you journey and process with us. Please let us know when your new picture books come out. We’d love to see them and cheer you on. You can visit Anna at: http://annaguillotte.com/  

If you have a moment I am sure Anna would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if sometimes I don’t have time to reply to all of them. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, bio, demystify, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: Anna Guillotte

0 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Anna Guillotte as of 10/13/2014 3:19:00 PM
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33. Free Fall Friday – October – Liza Fleissig

lizaimgsmallLiza Leissig of the Liza Royce Agency has agreed to be our First Page Guest Critiquer for October.

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. Prior to that she had represented a large number of adult based fiction and non-fiction writers.

I invited Liza and Ginger to the New Jersey SCBWI Conference and introduce many of the writers to her that year in June 2011. Liza took on a number of those writers and has successfully placed 31 children’s manuscripts with publishers since then. She has proven herself as a real go getter.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a BS in Finance, and the Benjamin N. Cadozo School of Law with a JD, Liza brings 20 years of litigation and negotiating experience to the field. On the children’s side of publishing, being a mother to a preschooler girl and a pre-teen boy, she is interested in everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult. She is open to anything that really speaks to her.

Liza Fleissig
Liza Royce Agency LLC
1049 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10028

The four winning first pages will be sent to Liza for her critique. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO HAVE YOUR CRIQUE POSTED.

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

Plus attach your first page Word doc. to email. Format using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Guidelines must be followed. Four first page will be critiqued and the results posted.

DEADLINE: September 24th.

RESULTS: October 31st.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, children writing, Contest, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: Free Fall Friday, Liza Fleissig, Liza Royce Agency, October First Page critiques

5 Comments on Free Fall Friday – October – Liza Fleissig, last added: 10/10/2014
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34. Free Fall Friday – October – Liza Fleissig

lizaimgsmallLiza Leissig of the Liza Royce Agency has agreed to be our First Page Guest Critiquer for October.

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. Prior to that she had represented a large number of adult based fiction and non-fiction writers.

I invited Liza and Ginger to the New Jersey SCBWI Conference and introduce many of the writers to her that year in June 2011. Liza took on a number of those writers and has successfully placed 31 children’s manuscripts with publishers since then. She has proven herself as a real go getter.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a BS in Finance, and the Benjamin N. Cadozo School of Law with a JD, Liza brings 20 years of litigation and negotiating experience to the field. On the children’s side of publishing, being a mother to a preschooler girl and a pre-teen boy, she is interested in everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult. She is open to anything that really speaks to her.

Liza Fleissig
Liza Royce Agency LLC
1049 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10028

The four winning first pages will be sent to Liza for her critique. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO HAVE YOUR CRIQUE POSTED.

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

Plus attach your first page Word doc. to email. Format using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Guidelines must be followed. Four first page will be critiqued and the results posted.

DEADLINE: October 24th.

RESULTS: October 31st.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, children writing, Contest, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: Free Fall Friday, Liza Fleissig, Liza Royce Agency, October First Page critiques

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – October – Liza Fleissig as of 10/13/2014 3:19:00 PM
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35. Right to Write What You Write

erikaphoto-45Hi. Jersey Farm Scribe here on:

You’re Right to Write What You Write

I have important information. It’s big guys. I mean, hold on to your seats B-I-G. Ready? Okay. Here goes:

Getting published is hard.

Phew! Wait, what? You knew that?

Truth is, getting published is hard no matter what you write. I’m always surprised when I hear someone say, they REALLY write (fill in the blank), but they know they’ll never get their first book deal with that, so for now, they write (fill in the blank) so they can get an agent.

In my opinion, this simply won’t work. First of all, the relationship you’ll have with your agent must be based on openness, trust and honesty. This feels misleading to me; as if they’re presenting themselves as someone they don’t really want to be.

But even more than that, a pre-published author has a hard row to hoe. A pre-published author not writing the work that’s truly in their heart?? They will have twice as hard a time, no matter how “marketable” their genre or topic is.

I write picture books and chapter books; quite possibly two of the hardest first sells. But that’s what I write. It’s not even a decision that I made. It’s simply the type of stories that I have right now. I could force the stories to be something that they’re not, but then I wouldn’t be putting my best foot forward, not fair to me, my manuscripts or the agent. We all know our stories have a heartbeat, a LIFE of their own. The best writers allow the stories to flow through them, instead of forcing them into the box they think they SHOULD fit in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to look around, see how your book falls into the current market. If YA or middle grade is saturated in vampire and witch novels, you need to know that if you’re writing one. But NOT because it should stop you from writing the vampire story you’ve been telling yourself for years. That story needs to be told.

Instead, use your market research as a way to learn what makes your manuscript different. Why is yours an important addition to a child’s already established collection of vampire tales?

Often times, we have stories inside of us because we feel there is something missing in the books already out there. The piles of somewhat similar novels we’ve read have only enhanced this craving inside of us, a longing to feel the thrill of a story with just the right amount of ____________ and that really touches on the _________, in a way that no other book does!

What goes in those blanks? You tell me.

THAT is what’s important about YOUR book. No matter how saturated the market is in your theme or genre, what matters is filling in those blanks.

Sure, agents have “not-interested” lists. And they’re important. Search for them. Read them. Respect them. Plan your submissions around them. But do NOT plan your manuscripts around them.

If you write slice-of-life picture books and notice that some agents are not interested in them, be happy that you learned they’re not the right agent for you. Part of finding the right agent, is learning who it’s not. You want someone who is going to see your story and say THIS is it! THIS is what I’ve been looking for!

And they’re out there.

Don’t try to mold your story into what you think an agent is looking for. Most agents say nothing trumps writing, trends are always changing, and ultimately, Marketability and Greatness are somewhat interchangeable. What agents really look for, is greatness. Use your knowledge of the market to find the greatness in your own story, what makes it different, what drives the need to write it, to give it life?

Your story is important. It has something special to give the world. And writing what is truly inside of you is what will make you successful. The best thing you can do as a writer, is to write. And to trust that it will find it’s own unique place in the market.

You’re right to write what you write, because you’re bringing the story inside of you into the world.

And the manuscripts that live inside you are worth it!

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

Thank you Erika for another great post.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, Process, writing Tagged: Erika Wassell, Jersey Farm Scribe, Right to Write What You Write

10 Comments on Right to Write What You Write, last added: 10/9/2014
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36. Right to Write What You Write

erikaphoto-45Hi. Jersey Farm Scribe here on:

You’re Right to Write What You Write

I have important information. It’s big guys. I mean, hold on to your seats B-I-G. Ready? Okay. Here goes:

Getting published is hard.

Phew! Wait, what? You knew that?

Truth is, getting published is hard no matter what you write. I’m always surprised when I hear someone say, they REALLY write (fill in the blank), but they know they’ll never get their first book deal with that, so for now, they write (fill in the blank) so they can get an agent.

In my opinion, this simply won’t work. First of all, the relationship you’ll have with your agent must be based on openness, trust and honesty. This feels misleading to me; as if they’re presenting themselves as someone they don’t really want to be.

But even more than that, a pre-published author has a hard row to hoe. A pre-published author not writing the work that’s truly in their heart?? They will have twice as hard a time, no matter how “marketable” their genre or topic is.

I write picture books and chapter books; quite possibly two of the hardest first sells. But that’s what I write. It’s not even a decision that I made. It’s simply the type of stories that I have right now. I could force the stories to be something that they’re not, but then I wouldn’t be putting my best foot forward, not fair to me, my manuscripts or the agent. We all know our stories have a heartbeat, a LIFE of their own. The best writers allow the stories to flow through them, instead of forcing them into the box they think they SHOULD fit in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to look around, see how your book falls into the current market. If YA or middle grade is saturated in vampire and witch novels, you need to know that if you’re writing one. But NOT because it should stop you from writing the vampire story you’ve been telling yourself for years. That story needs to be told.

Instead, use your market research as a way to learn what makes your manuscript different. Why is yours an important addition to a child’s already established collection of vampire tales?

Often times, we have stories inside of us because we feel there is something missing in the books already out there. The piles of somewhat similar novels we’ve read have only enhanced this craving inside of us, a longing to feel the thrill of a story with just the right amount of ____________ and that really touches on the _________, in a way that no other book does!

What goes in those blanks? You tell me.

THAT is what’s important about YOUR book. No matter how saturated the market is in your theme or genre, what matters is filling in those blanks.

Sure, agents have “not-interested” lists. And they’re important. Search for them. Read them. Respect them. Plan your submissions around them. But do NOT plan your manuscripts around them.

If you write slice-of-life picture books and notice that some agents are not interested in them, be happy that you learned they’re not the right agent for you. Part of finding the right agent, is learning who it’s not. You want someone who is going to see your story and say THIS is it! THIS is what I’ve been looking for!

And they’re out there.

Don’t try to mold your story into what you think an agent is looking for. Most agents say nothing trumps writing, trends are always changing, and ultimately, Marketability and Greatness are somewhat interchangeable. What agents really look for, is greatness. Use your knowledge of the market to find the greatness in your own story, what makes it different, what drives the need to write it, to give it life?

Your story is important. It has something special to give the world. And writing what is truly inside of you is what will make you successful. The best thing you can do as a writer, is to write. And to trust that it will find it’s own unique place in the market.

You’re right to write what you write, because you’re bringing the story inside of you into the world.

And the manuscripts that live inside you are worth it!

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

Thank you Erika for another great post.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, Process, writing Tagged: Erika Wassell, Jersey Farm Scribe, Right to Write What You Write

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37. Agent Looking to Build List

mllacropped

Patricia Nelson

Patricia Nelson joined the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency as assistant to Kevan Lyon in March 2014, and became an agent in September 2014. Previously, she interned at The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency and in the children’s division at Running Press.

Patricia represents adult and young adult fiction, and is actively looking to build her list. On the adult side, she is interested in literary fiction and commercial fiction in the New Adult, women’s fiction, and romance genres. For YA, she is looking for contemporary/realistic fiction as well YA mystery/thriller, horror, magical realism, science fiction and fantasy. She is also interested in finding exciting multicultural and LGBTQ fiction, both YA and adult. In general, Patricia loves stories with complex characters that jump off the page and thoughtfully drawn, believable relationships – along with writing that makes her feel completely pulled into these characters’ lives and worlds.

Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the world of publishing, she spent four years as a university-level instructor of literature and writing.

Follow Patricia on Twitter at @patricianels.

Send a query letter by email to: Patricia [at] MarsalLyonLiteraryAgency.com and write “QUERY” in the subject line of the email. Please note that the agency now accepts electronic submissions only. In all submissions, please include a contact phone number as well as your email address. “If we are interested in your work, we will call or email you. If not, we will respond via email. Our response time is generally 1-4 weeks for queries and 4-8 weeks for sample pages and manuscripts. We welcome unsolicited materials and look forward to reading your work.”

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Building List, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Patricia Nelson, Running Press

1 Comments on Agent Looking to Build List, last added: 10/9/2014
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38. Agent Looking to Build List

mllacropped

Patricia Nelson

Patricia Nelson joined the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency as assistant to Kevan Lyon in March 2014, and became an agent in September 2014. Previously, she interned at The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency and in the children’s division at Running Press.

Patricia represents adult and young adult fiction, and is actively looking to build her list. On the adult side, she is interested in literary fiction and commercial fiction in the New Adult, women’s fiction, and romance genres. For YA, she is looking for contemporary/realistic fiction as well YA mystery/thriller, horror, magical realism, science fiction and fantasy. She is also interested in finding exciting multicultural and LGBTQ fiction, both YA and adult. In general, Patricia loves stories with complex characters that jump off the page and thoughtfully drawn, believable relationships – along with writing that makes her feel completely pulled into these characters’ lives and worlds.

Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the world of publishing, she spent four years as a university-level instructor of literature and writing.

Follow Patricia on Twitter at @patricianels.

Send a query letter by email to: Patricia [at] MarsalLyonLiteraryAgency.com and write “QUERY” in the subject line of the email. Please note that the agency now accepts electronic submissions only. In all submissions, please include a contact phone number as well as your email address. “If we are interested in your work, we will call or email you. If not, we will respond via email. Our response time is generally 1-4 weeks for queries and 4-8 weeks for sample pages and manuscripts. We welcome unsolicited materials and look forward to reading your work.”

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Building List, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Patricia Nelson, Running Press

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39. The Grammar Nazi – Julie Phend

juiliephendI met Julie Phend at the recent Avalon Writer’s Retreat. She was in my group and I was so impressed because her manuscript was the most polished piece of writing I had ever seen. I found out that Julie is a English teacher and begged her to be a guest blogger and share some common errors that people could easily fix in their own manuscripts.

Here is what she sent.

Notes from a Grammar Nazi by Julie Phend

Arghh! No writer wants to have her grammar questioned. BUT the truth is that as writers, we are judged as much by our grammar and punctuation as by our witty characters and suspenseful plots. So it makes sense to familiarize ourselves with some rules we’ll use over and over again. Here are a few simple tips to help you avoid common problems.

CAPITALIZATION OF PROPER NOUNS:

Names of Family Members: As writers for children and youth, we will frequently reference moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles. When do you capitalize these words?

Rule: Capitalize family members only when part of a name or used instead of a name. Don’t capitalize when used with a possessive pronoun.

Examples: I wish my mom would listen. I wish Mom would listen.
I bought a gift for Aunt Alice. I bought a gift for my aunt.

Names of School Subjects: Again, as writers for kids, we’ll often reference classes they take.

Rule: School subjects are only capitalized when they are a specific title or when used with a number.

Examples: My math class is boring, but the worst class I ever took was Math 101. Or maybe it was Advanced Algebra.

PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE: Good fiction is filled with snappy dialogue, so let’s be sure the reader (or agent or editor) is not distracted by incorrect punctuation.

Rules: If a quote is interrupted by a dialogue tag, whether you use a period or a comma depends on whether the second part of the quote is a complete sentence. If the second part of the quote is a separate sentence, use a period after the dialogue tag and a capital letter to begin the next sentence.

Example: “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” Jenny groaned. “That hamburger weighed a whole pound!”

BUT when a dialogue tag interrupts a sentence, use commas around the tag, and lower case letters when the sentence is completed.

Example: “Don’t run,” Jenny screamed, “or I’ll shoot!”

OTHER DIALOGUE RULES:

Rule: Periods and commas ALWAYS go within quotation marks.

Examples: “Don’t run,” Jenny screamed.
My favorite quotation is “You can run, but you cannot hide.”

Other punctuation marks, such as exclamation points and question marks, go within the quotation marks if they are part of the quote, but NOT if they aren’t part of the quote.

Examples:
Are you familiar with the famous quotation, “You can run, but you cannot hide”?
“Who said that?” Jenny asked. “I can’t remember.”

Rule: If there is a quote within a line of dialogue, the quote goes in single quotation marks.

Example: “A famous person once said, ‘You can run, but you can’t hide,’” Jenny said.

A FEW PESKY COMMA RULES: Modern writing uses fewer commas than were once taught, but commas show a reader where to pause. Without them, a reader struggles to make sense of a line of type. Similarly, unnecessary commas slow the reader down or break a sentence in strange places. Hence, a couple of useful rules.

Rules: Use a comma before ‘but’ and ‘and’ when they are used as conjunctions to join two complete sentences.

Examples: I have often walked down this street, but I never noticed all the flowers.
I often walk down this street, and I always stop to smell the flowers.

Do not use a comma before ‘and’ or ‘but’ when used to join verbs, adjectives, adverbs, or clauses. (In other words, if the second part is not a complete sentence.)

Examples: She loved to run and play.
She loved to run through the meadow and stretch her long legs.
I loved him long but not well.

Never use a comma before the word because.
Example: She often paused to smell the flowers because her mother taught her to appreciate the little things.

A useful rule of thumb: Read the sentence aloud. If you need to pause, you probably need a comma. If what follows the pause is a complete sentence, you need a period instead of a comma.

Example: I couldn’t go home. The police were waiting at my door.
NOT: I couldn’t go home, the police were waiting at my door.

Thank you Julie for sharing your expertise. I know your manuscript will be snatched up, published, and people will be clamoring for more books.  You may be interested in her current book, D-Day and Beyond: A True Story of Escape and POW Survival or you may want to check out her webite: http://juliephend.com/and read about her lively WWII and writing presentations for schools, book clubs, and veterans’ organizations.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, reference, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: D-Day and Beyond, Grammar Nazi, Guest Blogger, Julie Phend, World War ll

6 Comments on The Grammar Nazi – Julie Phend, last added: 10/10/2014
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40. The Grammar Nazi – Julie Phend

juiliephendI met Julie Phend at the recent Avalon Writer’s Retreat. She was in my group and I was so impressed because her manuscript was the most polished piece of writing I had ever seen. I found out that Julie is a English teacher and begged her to be a guest blogger and share some common errors that people could easily fix in their own manuscripts.

Here is what she sent.

Notes from a Grammar Nazi by Julie Phend

Arghh! No writer wants to have her grammar questioned. BUT the truth is that as writers, we are judged as much by our grammar and punctuation as by our witty characters and suspenseful plots. So it makes sense to familiarize ourselves with some rules we’ll use over and over again. Here are a few simple tips to help you avoid common problems.

CAPITALIZATION OF PROPER NOUNS:

Names of Family Members: As writers for children and youth, we will frequently reference moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles. When do you capitalize these words?

Rule: Capitalize family members only when part of a name or used instead of a name. Don’t capitalize when used with a possessive pronoun.

Examples: I wish my mom would listen. I wish Mom would listen.
I bought a gift for Aunt Alice. I bought a gift for my aunt.

Names of School Subjects: Again, as writers for kids, we’ll often reference classes they take.

Rule: School subjects are only capitalized when they are a specific title or when used with a number.

Examples: My math class is boring, but the worst class I ever took was Math 101. Or maybe it was Advanced Algebra.

PUNCTUATING DIALOGUE: Good fiction is filled with snappy dialogue, so let’s be sure the reader (or agent or editor) is not distracted by incorrect punctuation.

Rules: If a quote is interrupted by a dialogue tag, whether you use a period or a comma depends on whether the second part of the quote is a complete sentence. If the second part of the quote is a separate sentence, use a period after the dialogue tag and a capital letter to begin the next sentence.

Example: “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” Jenny groaned. “That hamburger weighed a whole pound!”

BUT when a dialogue tag interrupts a sentence, use commas around the tag, and lower case letters when the sentence is completed.

Example: “Don’t run,” Jenny screamed, “or I’ll shoot!”

OTHER DIALOGUE RULES:

Rule: Periods and commas ALWAYS go within quotation marks.

Examples: “Don’t run,” Jenny screamed.
My favorite quotation is “You can run, but you cannot hide.”

Other punctuation marks, such as exclamation points and question marks, go within the quotation marks if they are part of the quote, but NOT if they aren’t part of the quote.

Examples:
Are you familiar with the famous quotation, “You can run, but you cannot hide”?
“Who said that?” Jenny asked. “I can’t remember.”

Rule: If there is a quote within a line of dialogue, the quote goes in single quotation marks.

Example: “A famous person once said, ‘You can run, but you can’t hide,’” Jenny said.

A FEW PESKY COMMA RULES: Modern writing uses fewer commas than were once taught, but commas show a reader where to pause. Without them, a reader struggles to make sense of a line of type. Similarly, unnecessary commas slow the reader down or break a sentence in strange places. Hence, a couple of useful rules.

Rules: Use a comma before ‘but’ and ‘and’ when they are used as conjunctions to join two complete sentences.

Examples: I have often walked down this street, but I never noticed all the flowers.
I often walk down this street, and I always stop to smell the flowers.

Do not use a comma before ‘and’ or ‘but’ when used to join verbs, adjectives, adverbs, or clauses. (In other words, if the second part is not a complete sentence.)

Examples: She loved to run and play.
She loved to run through the meadow and stretch her long legs.
I loved him long but not well.

Never use a comma before the word because.
Example: She often paused to smell the flowers because her mother taught her to appreciate the little things.

A useful rule of thumb: Read the sentence aloud. If you need to pause, you probably need a comma. If what follows the pause is a complete sentence, you need a period instead of a comma.

Example: I couldn’t go home. The police were waiting at my door.
NOT: I couldn’t go home, the police were waiting at my door.

Thank you Julie for sharing your expertise. I know your manuscript will be snatched up, published, and people will be clamoring for more books.  You may be interested in her current book, D-Day and Beyond: A True Story of Escape and POW Survival or you may want to check out her webite: http://juliephend.com/and read about her lively WWII and writing presentations for schools, book clubs, and veterans’ organizations.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, reference, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: D-Day and Beyond, Grammar Nazi, Guest Blogger, Julie Phend, World War ll

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41. Kindergarten Story Contest

KG-Story-contest-header

Warm up your computer and write a 150-word Kindergarten story and win $500.00!

The winning stories in this Kindergarten Story Contest will be published in the January eNews newsletter.

In addition, we will publish the winning entries our website.

Win one of five cash prizes

The contest offers five cash prizes: $500 for the winner, $250 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth, and fifth places. These alone are a lot of good reasons to write and enter.

To enter our Kindergarten Story Contest, submit a fiction or nonfiction story about family, friends, life, play, or school—really anything—for ages 5 to 6, up to 150 words. The story should be appropriate for kindergarteners who are just learning to read on their own. It should be fun, use appropriate vocabulary and syntax, and be interesting to youngest readers.

Please take care to not write too high for this age group. Know what a five- or six-year-old can and cannot read. Originality and the overall quality of writing will be important. Publishability is the ultimate criterion.

Entries must be received by November 7, 2014

Entries must be received by November 7, 2014. All entries pay a reading fee of $15, which includes a six-month subscription to Children’s Book Insider newsletter and a six-month membership in the writer’s community CBI Clubhouse. Winners will be announced in the January eNews newsletter. Prizes: $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth, and fifth places.

Obtain Official Entry Form or make online submission

You may submit your entry either online or by regular mail.

If you choose to enter online, you’ll need to first save your manuscript to a file on your computer and submit it through our safe and secure entry page. Please make sure to submit your entry and reading fee at the same time.

Your online entry is encouraged. Please click here to continue to the submission page.

You will be directed to the section requiring the pre-payment of a $15 reading fee.

For Mail-in Entries:
To submit manuscript entries through the mail, please click here to obtain an entry form.

Contest Rules

Submission Requirements: Any original, unpublished piece not accepted by any publisher at the time of submission is eligible.
  • Entries must be accompanied by a reading fee of $15 (credit card, check or money order accepted).  Please add GST for entries from Canada.
  • The fee will also entitle you to a six month subscription to Children’s Book Insider plus six months access to the CBI Clubhouse website, an interesting and active community for writers.
  • We encourage entries to be submitted online, however, you may submit your entries either online or by mail. Please be sure to read and follow the directions carefully for the method you select.
  • We cannot return submissions, please retain a copy of your manuscript.
  • All manuscript submissions must meet the entry deadline outlined in each contest
Manuscripts should be typed double-spaced. Please put your name and address on the first page of your manuscript, and your name on all following pages.To see an example of how to format your contest entry, please click here.

No entries containing violence or derogatory, racist, or sexist language or situations will be accepted, at the sole discretion of the judges. No employees or relatives of employees or former employees of the Institute or its divisions are eligible.

Obtain Official Entry Form or Make Online Submission You may submit your entry either online, using our safe and secure entry page, or by regular mail. If you choose to submit online, you’ll need to complete your manuscript and save it to a file on your computer. You will be directed to the payment section first, then to the online entry page.For Online Submissions: Please click here to continue.

You will be directed to the section requiring the pre-payment of a $15 reading fee.

For Mail-in Entries: To submit manuscript entries through the mail, please click here to obtain an entry form.

Word Count:  Kindergarten Story Contest: 150 words.

Judges: All entries will be read by faculty and editorial staff members of the Institute. Winners will be notified by mail approximately 105 days after the close of the contest. Once the winners are announced, all entries are released for submission elsewhere.

Winners: The winners will be announced in the January eNews newsletter, which receives first rights to the prize-winning manuscripts, after which all rights revert to the authors.

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: children writing, Contest, magazine, opportunity, Picture Book, Places to sumit, publishers, Win Tagged: Children's Book Insider, Institute of Chidlren's Literature, Kindergarten Story Contest

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42. Kindergarten Story Contest

KG-Story-contest-header

Warm up your computer and write a 150-word Kindergarten story and win $500.00!

The winning stories in this Kindergarten Story Contest will be published in the January eNews newsletter.

In addition, we will publish the winning entries our website.

Win one of five cash prizes

The contest offers five cash prizes: $500 for the winner, $250 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth, and fifth places. These alone are a lot of good reasons to write and enter.

To enter our Kindergarten Story Contest, submit a fiction or nonfiction story about family, friends, life, play, or school—really anything—for ages 5 to 6, up to 150 words. The story should be appropriate for kindergarteners who are just learning to read on their own. It should be fun, use appropriate vocabulary and syntax, and be interesting to youngest readers.

Please take care to not write too high for this age group. Know what a five- or six-year-old can and cannot read. Originality and the overall quality of writing will be important. Publishability is the ultimate criterion.

Entries must be received by November 7, 2014

Entries must be received by November 7, 2014. All entries pay a reading fee of $15, which includes a six-month subscription to Children’s Book Insider newsletter and a six-month membership in the writer’s community CBI Clubhouse. Winners will be announced in the January eNews newsletter. Prizes: $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth, and fifth places.

Obtain Official Entry Form or make online submission

You may submit your entry either online or by regular mail.

If you choose to enter online, you’ll need to first save your manuscript to a file on your computer and submit it through our safe and secure entry page. Please make sure to submit your entry and reading fee at the same time.

Your online entry is encouraged. Please click here to continue to the submission page.

You will be directed to the section requiring the pre-payment of a $15 reading fee.

For Mail-in Entries:
To submit manuscript entries through the mail, please click here to obtain an entry form.

Contest Rules

Submission Requirements: Any original, unpublished piece not accepted by any publisher at the time of submission is eligible.
  • Entries must be accompanied by a reading fee of $15 (credit card, check or money order accepted).  Please add GST for entries from Canada.
  • The fee will also entitle you to a six month subscription to Children’s Book Insider plus six months access to the CBI Clubhouse website, an interesting and active community for writers.
  • We encourage entries to be submitted online, however, you may submit your entries either online or by mail. Please be sure to read and follow the directions carefully for the method you select.
  • We cannot return submissions, please retain a copy of your manuscript.
  • All manuscript submissions must meet the entry deadline outlined in each contest
Manuscripts should be typed double-spaced. Please put your name and address on the first page of your manuscript, and your name on all following pages.To see an example of how to format your contest entry, please click here.

No entries containing violence or derogatory, racist, or sexist language or situations will be accepted, at the sole discretion of the judges. No employees or relatives of employees or former employees of the Institute or its divisions are eligible.

Obtain Official Entry Form or Make Online Submission You may submit your entry either online, using our safe and secure entry page, or by regular mail. If you choose to submit online, you’ll need to complete your manuscript and save it to a file on your computer. You will be directed to the payment section first, then to the online entry page.For Online Submissions: Please click here to continue.

You will be directed to the section requiring the pre-payment of a $15 reading fee.

For Mail-in Entries: To submit manuscript entries through the mail, please click here to obtain an entry form.

Word Count:  Kindergarten Story Contest: 150 words.

Judges: All entries will be read by faculty and editorial staff members of the Institute. Winners will be notified by mail approximately 105 days after the close of the contest. Once the winners are announced, all entries are released for submission elsewhere.

Winners: The winners will be announced in the January eNews newsletter, which receives first rights to the prize-winning manuscripts, after which all rights revert to the authors.

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: children writing, Contest, magazine, opportunity, Picture Book, Places to sumit, publishers, Win Tagged: Children's Book Insider, Institute of Chidlren's Literature, Kindergarten Story Contest

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43. SCBWI SPARK AWARD – Self Published Books

The Spark Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.


 

THE INAUGURAL SPARK AWARD WINNERS

 

Deadline:  Books may be submitted between September 15th and December 15th, 2014 for books published in the 2014 calendar year. Books published in previous years and re-issues are ineligible. Books submitted outside of that period will not be considered. You may only submit one title each award period.

Award: The winner and honor recipients will receive: a Spark seal to display on their book;  commemorative plaque; the opportunity to have their book featured and autographed at an SCBWI conference of their choosing during the year the award is won, featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and publicized through SCBWI social networking sites. The winners will also get the opportunity to attend any conference of their choice tuition free (other than for extras such as critiques and intensives).  Winners will be announced in March 2015.

Guidelines:

1. You must be a current SCBWI member with membership current through April of the following year to apply.  If you are a member now but your membership is scheduled to expire before that time, you will need to renew your membership in order to be eligible for the award.

2. Both the author and illustrator (if the illustrator’s name appears on the book) must be members to apply.

3. You must have published a book intended for the children’s or YA market in one of the following categories: Board Book, Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, or Young Adult.

4. The book may be fiction or nonfiction.

5. The book should have been self-published either through an established self-publishing enterprise or individually self-published.  The book cannot have been previously published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form.

6. SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unbusiness-like manner.

7. The entry must be submitted in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and provide evidence of Copyright Registration.

Evidence of Copyright Registration can be an electronic recipt or email showing you filed with the US Copyright office. If your book originated outside the US you must follow the copyright laws in your country.

8. All applicants must include a cover letter with your name, the name of your book, the genre of your book, the publishing method for your book (including the name of any editor/copyeditor/designer who was retained in the creation of the book), your book’s ISBN and a synopsis of your book.

9. Applicants must submit one copy of a printed and bound copy of the book and a cover letter to SCBWI via a traceable mailing method (i.e. FedEx, UPS, US or International Mail with tracking number). Please do not double package your book.

Send copies to:
SCBWI Spark Award
8271 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Please note that books submitted will not be returned.

10. One winner and two Honor Book recipients will be chosen in two categories:

Novels: This includes: young adult, middle grade and chapter books

Picture Books: This includes: board books, picture books, readers, and fully illustrated novelty books.

There will be two rounds of judging. The first round will be judged by an SCBWI panel; the second round will be judged by a panel selected from industry editors, agents, authors, illustrators and/or booksellers.

11. Books may be entered for either the Spark Award or The Golden Kite Award, but not both.

12. Judging will be based on a number of criteria, including but not limited to: quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, editing and design, appropriateness of content for the targeted age group of the book.

SCBWI reserves the right not to award a SPARK AWARD in any given year.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, awards, children writing, Competition, need to know, opportunity Tagged: SCBWI, Self Published Authors, Self Published Books, Spark Award

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44. Literary vs. Commerical Fiction

Don’t be afraid of the difference between literary and commercial fiction like these Scaredy Scouts illustrated by B.L. Bachmann below. B.L. is a writer and illustrator living in Los Angeles. Her mission is to make people smile, and even giggle :) See more at http://www.blbachmann.com

scardeyscoutsI spent last week running two writer’s retreats in Avalon, NJ. The agents at the first retreat were Sarah LaPolla from Bradford Literary and Carly Watters from P.S. Literary. The agents at the second retreat were Ammi-Joan Paguette from Erin Murphy Agency and Heather Alexander from Pippin Properties. 

It was a gorgeous week. Everyone received a full manuscript critique with an agent and a full manuscript critique from everyone in their group. I have to say, I think both of the sessions were the best retreats I have put together. The agents were top notched and each writer  in each group took extreme care with their critiques, so we walked away with lots of ideas for revisions and with many doors open with the agents. On top of that, everyone meshed well and we had a tons of fun. Can’t think of anything that was missing. 

Sarah-Bradford-Lit-photoDuring the week the question came up about the difference between Literary Fiction and Commercial Fiction. Lucky for us, Sarah LaPolla had written an explanation  on her blog and gave me permission to post it on Writing and Illustrating.

Here is Sarah:

I don’t think writers should get too hung up on labels, but it’s important to know what genre you’re writing. You’re expected to give an agent an immediate sense of where they can sell your book, but even more than that you should be able to know who you’ll be next to on a bookshelf so that you can read your comparison titles accordingly.

Figuring out thriller vs. mystery vs. suspense or paranormal romance vs. urban fantasy vs. supernatural horror can be difficult, I know. In these cases, it’s best to just choose the closest and let a professional decide the best way they can sell it. But the line between literary and commercial isn’t as vague. You shouldn’t claim your book is literary fiction if it isn’t. For one, it’s rare you’ll find an agent who looks for literary fiction and genre fiction with the same fervor, if they take on both at all. You don’t want to get a rejection based on a mislabel. Secondly, literary fiction is quite different than genre fiction, and not learning the difference can reflect a lack of research on your part.

The common argument, however, is that all books are technically literary. Right? Well, yes and no. Saying all books are literary is like saying all Young Adult novels are about characters under 25. The genre labels can be misleading, which is why it’s important to know what they mean.

If you’re unsure about which you’ve written, here’s a quick definition of each:

Literary fiction: The focus is on character arc, themes (often existential), and the use of language. I like to compare literary fiction authors to runway designers. The general public isn’t mean to wear the clothes models display on the runway. They exist to impress the other designers and show the fashion industry what they can do. Literary writing is a lot like that, but on a more accessible level. Many dismiss literary fiction as “too artsy” and “books without a plot,” but this isn’t true. At least not most of the time. The plot is there; it’s just incidental. Literary fiction is meant to make the reader reflect, and the author will almost always prefer a clever turn of phrase over plot development.

Commercial fiction: For the purposes of this blog post, I’ve been using this interchangeably with genre fiction. Basically, all genre fiction is commercial, but not all commercial fiction is genre. There is also “upmarket” commercial fiction, which I’ll get to later. Unlike literary fiction, genre fiction is written with a wide audience in mind (aka “commercial”) and always focuses on plot. There is still character development in genre fiction, but it is not as necessary. Characters get idiosyncratic quirks, clever dialogue, and often learn something new about life or themselves by the end. The difference is that their traits are only skin deep. The reader stays with them in the present. Rarely do we see a character’s past unless there is something pertinent to the plot back there. Genre fiction has a Point A and a Point B, and very little stands in the way of telling that story.

Keep in mind that an agent or editor will rarely prefer you to play with these formats, especially if you’re a debut author trying to find (and build) your audience. If you’re writing a plot-driven genre novel that adheres to a sci-fi, romance, or thriller structure, don’t try to load it with literary devices and huge character back-stories that aren’t relevant to the plot. It won’t impress an agent if you have a super literary genre novel. It will more likely confuse us and make your book harder to sell.

“Upmarket” fiction is where things get tricky. Books like The Help, Water for Elephants, Eat, Pray, Love, and authors like Nick Hornby, Ann Patchet, and Tom Perrotta are considered “upmarket.” Their concept and use of language appeal to a wider audience, but they have a slightly more sophisticated style than genre fiction and touch on themes and emotions that go deeper than the plot.

With debut authors, I think the main source of uncertainty tends to come from what they set out to write vs. what they actually write. Genre fiction is written with a clear purpose. The author has an idea and writes a story to accomplish their goal. Literary fiction can be more accidental. A writer may start with an idea, and then discover along the way that they don’t want to write about that anymore. They’ve fallen for their character’s personal tale or the images they want to evoke within the reader. If the writing ends up falling somewhere in the middle, then it might be considered “upmarket.” Or, it could mean it needs more focus one way or the other.

What’s important to remember is that none of these types of fiction is better than the other. It’s all about personal preference, based on what you like to read and how you write. If an agent doesn’t represent a certain genre, it doesn’t mean he or she think it’s bad. It just means you’re better off with someone else. Be aware that a genre label can influence an agent, but be honest about what your genre is. It wastes everyone’s time – most importantly, yours – if you try to guess what you think agents want. We want books we can fall in love with that fall under in genres and styles we represent, whether they’re young adult, adult genre fiction, or literary to a Proustian degree. That’s all.

You should drop by and take a look at Sarah’s blog: http://glasscasesblog.blogspot.com/ Sarah has agreed to be a Guest Blogger in the near future on a different subject, but another enjoyable post that will broaden your knowledge.

Thanks Sarah for sharing.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, article, demystify, need to know, reference Tagged: Bradford Literary, Commercial Fiction definition, Literary Fiction definition, Sarah LaPolla

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45. Agent Starting Out – Building List

brent-taylor-literary-agentUwe Stender, agent and owner of TriadaUS Literary Agency, Inc. located northwest of Pittsburgh recently hired Brent Taylor who recently completed an Internship at The Bent Agency.

According to Publishers Marketplace, owner Uwe Stender has sold six books so far this year. Here is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor with a new agent, Brent Taylor (pictured on left), at a fairly new agency.

Here is what Brent says he is looking for: “My tastes are eclectic, but all of my favorite novels are similar in that they have big commercial hooks and fantastic writing. I am seeking smart, fun, and exciting books for readers of middle grade, young adult, new adult, and select mystery/crime and women’s fiction.

Middle Grade: For younger readers I am on the hunt for a humorous, intelligent fantasy; a scare-the-pants-off-me ghost or haunting story; fast-paced literary writing similar in style to Jerry Spinelli and Cynthia Lord. I have soft spots for larger-than-life characters and atmospheric setting (creepy and/or quirky).

Young Adult: I’m always looking for genre-bending books that can be an exciting puzzlement when thinking about how precisely to market; specifically mystery and crime for teens, the grittier the better; high-concept contemporary stories with addicting romantic tension. I’m a sucker for themes of finding your place in the world, new beginnings, and summer-before-college stories.

New Adult: My tastes in New Adult tend to be more darkly skewed but I would love a well-executed story that shares the same excitement, wonder, and invigoration of books like LOSING IT. Although I appreciate any story that’s told well in great language, in New Adult I’m more concerned with being entertained and gripped by the edge of my seat than in being stimulated.

Adult: I would love a psychological suspense based on actual events, i.e. CARTWHEEL by Jennifer Dubois which fictionalized the Amanda Knox trial and hooked me from beginning to end. Alternatively, I’d love high-concept women’s fiction; either an exquisitely told story huge in size and scope, or a less ambitious novel that simply warms my heart.”

How to submit:  Send your query letter and first ten pages pasted in the body of the message to brent [at] triadaus.com. Or follow him on twitter: @NaughtyBrent

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, Places to sumit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Accepting Query Letters, Agent Building List, Brent Taylor, New Agent, TriadaUS Literary Agency, Uwe Stender

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46. 5 WAYS TO FOLLOW UP WITH AN EDITOR OR AGENT

I receive so many questions about what to do when you do not get a reply to what you submitted. I think we all will be interested in this article written by Elizabeth Law about how to handle the situation.

5 WAYS TO FOLLOW UP WITH AN EDITOR OR AGENT AND WHEN TO DO IT :

Waiting for a reply can seem like watching the tumbleweeds roll...

Waiting for a reply can seem like watching the tumbleweeds roll…

#1.  Maybe an editor said something encouraging to you at a conference, and, as requested, you sent them your manuscript.  Since then it has been radio silence.  Here’s what you can do.  After 10-12 weeks, follow up with an email, reminding him or her, “we met at XXX, you said you’d like to take a look at my story about XXX, and because 10-12 weeks have passed, I wanted to follow up.  Here is my manuscript again, thank you very much for your time and consideration.”  That’s right, attach the manuscript, don’t have the editor go hunting for your email from 10 weeks ago. This way they can click and start reading.  If you haven’t heard back in another month, move on.

Mandy and Bernadette knew it in Sunday in the Park with George: you've got to Move On.

Mandy and Bernadette knew it in Sunday in the Park with George: you’ve got to Move On.

(In this case, move on means submit to the next person on your list, and don’t expect ever to hear back from the original publishing house. You don’t need to officially withdraw the manuscript.  If by some miracle the first editor later says he or she is interested in your book, and you haven’t yet sold it, then great.  But meanwhile you’ve taken your career into your own hands.)&amp;amp;amp;lt;img Mandy and Bernadette knew it in Sunday in the Park with George: you’ve got to Move On.”

Mandy and Bernadette knew it in Sunday in the Park with George: you’ve got to Move On.

#2.  Regrettably, in this era, silence is the new no.  Many literary agents have realized they don’t have the time to reply to every query they receive, so they’ve enacted a policy of “if you don’t hear from us in ___ weeks, assume we’ve passed.”

Here’s what to do when you’ve queried and agent and the allotted time to hear back has passed: MOVE ON.

Waiting for just the right literary agent or editor to say yes to you is like being in 7th grade and waiting for just the right boy, the one you know is perfect and you will spend the rest of your life with, to ask you out.  You are much, much better off moving on to the guy standing right next to him in the lunch line.

This is also a good rule for a publishing house accepting unsolicited manuscripts, and for editors or publishers who are accepting submissions for a certain period after a conference. If you don’t hear back from them after 12-16 weeks, assume it’s a no and move on.

#3.  You have signed with a literary agent, but they aren’t getting back to you.  Maybe they don’t return your calls, maybe they don’t answer your emails.  Everyone slips up now and again, of course, and that’s not what I’m talking about.  Have you left a few messages in a row for your agent, either by email or phone, and not gotten a reply? Has that happened several times? End the relationship.  The LAST thing you want is an agent who doesn’t return your calls or emailsThe publishing process is frustratingly slow and thorny and fraught with all sorts of issues.  Your agent is your champion; he or she goes into battle for you.  You do not want to be in that battle not knowing when your weaponry is going to show up.  Send an email and say you’re terminating the relationship. Do it now.

(And don’t be scared. Most agents are excellent.  But I get asked about this every few months, so I’m including it.)

#4.   An editor tells you he is taking your manuscript to an acquisitions meeting, then you don’t hear anything further. Follow up, by phone or email, remembering the rule, “always be polite and to the point.”  Say “You said you were bringing my book to the committee, has there been a response?” I know, I know, who wants to send that email and hasten the chance of hearing “I’m afraid the committee passed?”  But it’s better to hear “no” and move on. It’s also possible your editor needs to be prodded to get that book onto the meeting agenda.  You just don’t know.  You need to follow up.

Nota bene: ALWAYS be nice. Never lose your cool and yell at an editor, even by email, even when he deserves it.  First, you never know the full story—I got screamed at, really screamed at, once when it was my boss causing the delay, but what could I do but take the heat? And second, venting is what you have friends for.  The editor is disorganized, doesn’t value your time, has kept you hanging, repeatedly breaks her word about when she’s going to reply… all true.  Still, be professional, courteous, and polite. For one thing, when a writer is nice and understanding, we, the editors, only feel more guilty and determined to treat you well and to finally get you an answer.  Secondly, one day you may need that person you just reamed out.  He may be sitting in the audience at sales conference, and be able to tell a rep “Oh, I know that author, so talented.” Or you may end up sitting next to that editor on a panel at a conference, who knows? Don’t burn bridges.  Act professionally and then go out for drinks with your BFF and get it all off your chest.

manuscript#5:  Perhaps your book is under contract, but your editor isn’t getting back to you with editorial notes, or with anything else.  You want to revise, you have another book you need to work on, and you need to know what’s going on.  But although you’ve emailed the editor three times to ask about the book’s schedule, you hear nothing.  If you have an agent, easy, just tell the agent and he or she will deal with it.  (Unless the agent doesn’t return your calls, in which case, see #2).  But if you don’t have an agent, and you aren’t hearing back from your editor? Email their boss.  Yup.  Email the publisher, remembering to be professional and concise, saying “I haven’t had an answer to my questions about the book’s schedule and I’m getting worried that my revision might conflict with another project; of course I understand how busy my editor is, but I wonder if you have information for me?”  The publisher then forwards it to the editor who deals with it immediately.

Ok, everyone hates that answer, but it really works.

Click to read Elizabeth’s Bonus Tip and the rest of the article.

Elizabeth Law is available for consultation on your manuscript and career and for social networking tutorials, among other services. See her website, ELawReads.com, for more information.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, Editors, need to know, reference, submissions, Tips Tagged: 5 Ways to Follow Up With An Editor or Agent, Elizabeth Law

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47. Free Fall Friday – NaNoWriMo – PiBoIdMo

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

Plus attach your first page Word doc. to email. Format using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Guidelines must be followed. Four first page will be critiqued and the rtesults posted.

DEADLINE: September 24th.

RESULTS: October 31st.

ILLUSTRATORS: Illustrations needed for this blog.

IF YOU LIVE IN THE AREA DON’T MISS THE OPPORTUNITY BELOW:

NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo Kick-Off night.

charandtarae4aaf098-734e-4498-8916-4daf380d2799

FREE EVENT!* 

Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 – 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Adams House, Princeton Theological Seminary, Library Place. Princeton.

Cost: * FREE SCBWI Members / $35 Non-SCBWI Members

Join presenters—and published authors—Charlotte Bennardo and Tara Lazar for tips, tricks and ways to prepare for November’s National Novel Writing Month or Picture Book Idea Month.

A great way to light the motivational fire under your writing buns!

If you’re a novelist and want to finish up that first draft, try out a new story idea, and beyond, come and meet Charlotte Bennardo and learn how to prepare for thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon! The goal of National Novel Writing Month is to write 50,000 words of your novel. That’s it plain and simple. So, join to chat about novel writing and learn how to stay on target, keep track of your word count, receive motivational tips, ask questions, and more!

For more about NaNoWriMo, visit http://nanowrimo.org

New to generate some new ideas? Read on …

If you are a picture book writer (and/or illustrator), PiBoIdMo is for you! 

Founded online by http://taralazar.com the goal of PiBoIdMo, during the month of November, is for each participant to jot down one new picture book concept daily in their personal “idea notebook”. To help you along on this journey, each day http://taralazar.com will feature published authors and illustrators blogging about their sources of inspiration. The ideas you create this November will fuel your writing for the coming year.

Click here to register for the NaNoWriMo/PiBoIdMo event

About Charlotte: 

As the co-author of the YA Sirenz Series (Sirenz, Sirenz Back in Fashion- Flux) and Blonde Ops (Thomas Dunne 2014) Charlotte also writes solo novels (MG, YA) which she is working on and shopping around. She has written numerous articles for publications like NJSCBWI ‘Sprouts’, Centauri, Happy, Working Mother and other magazines, and given numerous workshops at the NJSCBWI annual conferences. She’s looking for her backyard squirrel who lost his home when the tree was trimmed (He answers to “Jack.”)

About Tara:
Street magic performer. Hog-calling champion. Award-winning ice sculptor. These are all things Tara Lazar has never been. Instead, she writes quirky, humorous picture books featuring magical places that adults never find. Her debut picture book, THE MONSTORE, is available now from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. Tara has several more books being released in the coming years with Random House, Sterling and Disney-Hyperion. Tara is the founder of PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month, an online picture book writer’s event held every November at taralazar.com or piboidmo.com.

This year’s event marks the 6th year of PiBoIdMo, and more than 1200 writers are expected to register.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, children writing, Contest, Events, inspiration, opportunity Tagged: Charlotte Bennardo, First Page Contest Critique, Free Fall Friday, NJSCBWI Free Event, Tara Lazar

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48. Illustrator Saturday – Lita Judge

masthead_11

19_me_and_crittersLita Judge is a writer and artist whose greatest passion is creating children’s books. She is the author/illustrator for over a dozen fiction and nonfiction picture books including Flight School (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Red Hat (S&S, 2013), Red Sled (S&S, 2011), Bird Talk (Roaring Brook, 2012), One Thousand Tracings, and Pennies for Elephants (Disney-Hyperion). Her background in geology, paleontology and biology inspires her nonfiction books. Lita spent several years working for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology before turning to writing about dinosaurs and other natural history subjects. But her background with animals also inspires her whimsical fictional tales filled with characters who forge big dreams.

Several of her books have been selected as Junior Library Guild picks and they have received numerous awards including the 2013 Sterling North Award, the Jane Addams Honor Book, ALA Notable Children’s Book, the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, Michigan Notable Book, and Kirkus Best Children’s book of 2011. She enjoys teaching both writing and illustration to students of all ages and shares much about her creative process in classrooms and on her blog and website.

Lita lives with her husband, two cats and a little green parrot named Beatrix Potter in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

toad_2

Here is Lita talking about her process:

For me, creating art for one of my books involves a lot of drawing to capture a character’s gesture or body movement and expression. For example in my newest book, Born in the Wild, to be released this October, I had to draw a lot of animals. But I didn’t want my readers to just know what a chimpanzee or orangutan looks like. I want them to feel a connection to them. I want them to look into the faces of my animals and feel like there is an animal looking back at them. I also want them to get an understanding of the intimate world of animals within their own world. How does a mother panda hold her baby, or a baby orangutan curl up and feel safe with its parent? To capture all this I first do hundreds of very loose sketches, focusing on body language long before I worry about details and paint.

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Once I feel like I’ve captured that intimate portrait between the animals, I start focusing on the details, which describe their faces and bodies. Slowly my drawings become more refined until at last, it is ready for a light watercolor wash at the end.

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F 09_Born_in_the_WildCover for BORN IN THE WILD

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Interior and end pages

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How long have you been illustrating?

The first book I illustrated came out in 2006. Then my first picture book, One Thousand Tracings, which I wrote and illustrated was released in 2007.

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Above: Cover of One Thousand Tracings, 2007 Hyperion)

How did you get to work at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology?

Many kids outgrow the dinosaur-crazed phase after elementary school, but when I was 14, during the summer before high school, I still had set my cap on becoming a paleontologist. I was eager to get started so I wrote dozens of letters to museums, curators and paleontologists who were working in the field, and basically pleaded with them to let me work on their dig. I had heard the Tyrrell Museum was working on a dig with literally thousands of dinosaurs in a bonebed and they were from the Cretaceous, the age I particularly wanted to study. I guess I ended up writing so many letters to Phil Currie, he eventually called and said welcome aboard. So the day after school let out the following summer, I was on a bus to Canada. I returned every year to work there and went on to graduate with a degree in Geology.

K-2_Dinosaurs

Lita on dinosaur dig

Did you do illustrating work for them?

Not really, we didn’t have much time for anything other than digging up fossils. But I did do a few drawings on my own, and they asked if they could use them for t-shirts and mugs. That was a boost, to think I could draw dinosaurs perhaps someday for pay.

how-big_500

Cover of How Big, released 2013, Roaring Brook Press

Did you go to School to study art? If so, when and where?

My only schooling was in Geology, at Oregon State University. I never studied art in school. I credit all the bird watching and sketching I did as a kid for teaching me how to see, how to observe. Then later, I traveled to many great museums all over the world which, painting on location, and looking at great art.

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Field paintings from Europe. Above: Stockholm cemetery. Below: Paris museum.04_Paris

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

I think I sold a painting of a humming bird for about $35 at a Christmas fair. Back when I was a Geologist, I started drawing notecard and bookmark designs to get into doing art. Eventually I had over a hundred wildlife designs and sold them all over the country with a homemade catalogue I ran on a xerox machine. Then I started doing shows and craft fairs. Eventually I sold the business because I was spending all my time folding and filling notecard orders rather than painting. The dream was to paint, not fill orders. So I started showing and selling work in galleries. But I didn’t find my real home in art until I turned to writing and illustrating children books. The element of story is what made my art feel complete for me.

redhat

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

I was an environmental geologist for the Forest Service. Spent a lot of time in the mud and rain working on the Oregon Coast.

RedHat_interior-7

What do you think influenced your style?

I don’t really think in terms of style. My art changes and evolves each time I do a story. I think it’s because I also write them and I have a wide range of interests — science, nature, historical, fiction, whimsical — so I do a broad range of stories. Each time I create a story it needs it’s own approach to the art.

RedHat_interior-8

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When did you do your the first illustration for children?

In 2006, my first book was to illustrate the middle grade book, Ugly, written by Donna Jo Napoli.

ugly

How did that come about?

I had sent an art dummy of a story I had written into Hyperion and my soon-to-be editor, Namrata Tripathi, called and asked if I’d like to do a cover for a book. Of course I said yes! I was so excited I illustrated several interior pieces as well, which made it into the book, so it turned into a nice project, and a lovely friendship with Namrata. When that was done I sent her another dummy and we were off and running on my first picture book together.

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How many children’s books have you illustrated?

I’m working on my 20th right now. Several in the pipeline also.

redsled

About_001

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

I’ve always wanted to on some level but when I was living in really remote areas on the west coast it just didn’t seem possible. I had never met an illustrator and really didn’t know how to go about getting published. When My husband and I moved to New Hampshire I was able to meet people in the field and soon after I began submitting work. Once my first book was in the works, I knew this would be what I would spend the rest of my life doing, I LOVE it!

bearsled

How long did it take you after that to get your first picture book contract?

I was pretty fortunate. I sent out work I think in early November and got that first project on Valentine’s Day 2005. But I had been drawing and drawing and drawing, and painting for years before then. I had built up a huge body of work before attempting to get published and I think that helped me.

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I see you illustrated a second book by Donna Jo Napoli. Did you know you were doing that book when you signed to do UGLY?

No, Donna Jo hadn’t even written it. It just grew naturally from the fact that Ugly was received well and we both had fun on that project.

bearmoose2

What was the first book that you wrote and illustrated?

One Thousand Tracings. It’s a true story about a relief effort my grandparents did to help people who had lost their homes in Europe after WWII. I found letters and foot tracings in my grandmother’s attic after she died and knew immediately I wanted to write about this amazing thing they had done to help all those families.

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How did you find a home for that book?

I sent it to my editor at Hyperion about a week after I turned the art in for Ugly.

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What book would you say has been your most successful?

Hmmm, I really don’t think of success in terms of how many books sold or how many editions. I think a book is successful if I as an artist got to create something I feel passionately about, and it connects with readers who also feel passionately about the same thing. Some of my nonfiction books may not sell as many books as Red Sled or Flight School, but I still feel like that little girl obsessed with dinosaurs craving to make a living as an artist when I create them and that is better than any measured success. And they solicit such beautiful responses from kids who share the same obsession, so it’s a pretty wonderful feeling. And my fiction, well that’s a dream too. To create a character that people respond to, that makes them smile or feel a connection, that is the best. I leave others to worry about book sales and things, and I just worry about making the stories I love. My career feels like a dream come true, so I guess all my books are successful in their own little ways.

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What book award are you the most proud of winning?

Kind of the same feeling, I’m just so grateful when any group of librarians or teachers or reviewers gathers a group of books together that they love and decides to bestow an honor on one of my books. I treasure each nod I’ve received and am thankful because they always make me believe a little more each time I really get to keep doing this beautiful, fantastic, crazy career!

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Have you worked with educational publishers?

No.

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No. I’ve been asked for both, but I can never seem to pull away on the stories I’m brewing up. My imagination seems to keep my docket pretty darn full these days.

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Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you?

I work with a literary agent, Linda Pratt, who I adore because she keeps life sane for me, juggling all the contracts and turn-in dates. But more importantly, she is my sounding board for stories. She always gives me a safe creative place to bounce around ideas.

BTBG_feet_1

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

Nothing, other than I just keep writing stories. I work on them nearly every day. As soon as one is turned in to my editor and I’m waiting for feedback, I turn to the next. I don’t worry about projects, just about stories, and somehow that has kept me fully employed since the day I started.

protoceratops

What is your favorite medium to use?

Pencil and watercolor.

15_BITW

Has that changed over time?

My approach changes each time I launch into a new story. Sometimes I have a whimsical story that has to be light and fresh and very gestural. Another time, I may be working on a nonfiction that needs a more detailed approach. I’m working now on a book that takes place at night and has an element of mystery so things are dark with kind of magical lighting and a big beautiful moon. Another story I’m working on now is for much older kids and it’s kind of dark and at times very sad and scary, so that means a huge departure on my approach. I love not having a set style. It means I have to reinvent myself a lot, and that can take a lot of hours at the easel, but it is never boring.

HowBigSlider4

What I really want to know is how did you find such a great studio? Did you buy the house because of that room? Had it been a church?

I build it. My husband and I found a piece of land and I designed it. We had been saving and dreaming for a very long time, so the studio grew out of that energy. I found a salvaged church window and lugged some niches home from France that were made out of 15th century oak and were in a church that was sadly destroyed in WWI, but they have a home with me now. And I carved ravens for the roofline outside to reflect my background. I was born on the Tlingit Indian reservation in Alaska and the ravens are my homage to their beautiful art and culture that inspires me. I’m grateful for everyday I get to create in this space!

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17_studio
What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

Natural light and my critters!

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IMG_8236

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

I just work. Really I don’t keep hours. I just wake up every day eager to get back to the stories, and march on through the day and into the night and through the weekends. I hate being sick because that’s about the only time I’m not working and that for me is just plain boring. There is always at least 3 unfinished stories on my easel and a few more whispering in my ears, so as long as that is true, I’ll be working. I occasionally slip out for a bike ride, but I’m pretty much to be found with pencil or brush in hand.

20

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

I do lots of research and quite often take pictures. That is always a fun part. My parents are wildlife photographers and my grandparents were research biologists. So I think I came to love that part of the work naturally. I do a lot of photo shoots with kids and animals, whatever the need may be. Have had fun over the years, travelling to places I paint, working with elephants, taking back trips up into the back country, feeding giraffes. Research is the fun part indeed!

22

21

Which illustrated book is your favorite?

Ah, that is like asking a mom which is her favorite kid. OK, I may have a special fondness for a certain penguin (in Flight School) but don’t tell the others. And I’m working on two books now that I’m bursting to let out in to the world, but that will have to wait. I’ll just say Paris, Owlets, moons and fun!

thumb4

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Oh yes, it’s a wonderful way to connect with people you would never meet otherwise. I get offers to speak and all sorts of wonderful things come out of the fact that people can so easily find your website and get a sense of what you have to offer. And I’m grateful for wonderful friendships with other writers whom I rarely see but keep in touch with.

entering

Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

I do a lot of planning with Photoshop. I find it a wonderful creative tool hat helps me really explore and push a composition in a way I can’t with just pencil. I love how I can really play around with values as well so that you don’t have to muck around too much in guesswork with real paint. That never works well with watercolors.

04molly_tony

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

I do use one a lot in the planning stages. And a little in the final art- again it really depends on the story and what effect I’m trying to get. They are wonderful for some things, but I find a good old fashioned brush loaded in paint my favorite tool.

penniesfor elephants

last-spread-art

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

To keep doing books that excite and interest me for the rest of my life! To never ever have the feeling that I want to slow down. And to travel to more wonderful places that allow me to soak up their beauty and capture their essence in a story. To continue connecting with kids, teachers, and parents over stories and feel in some small way your work was a part of their imagination and life. That’s all I want.

24_Born

What are you working on now?

Well I have 5 books in various stages. Some I can let out of the bag, and a couple that need to stay inside where it’s safe and warm just a little longer. My next nonfiction book, BORN IN THE WILD, coming out with Roaring Brook has already gotten two starred reviews and will be released on October 21st, so that’s exciting. Then I have a picture book about my Parrot, Beatrix, coming out next spring with Atheneum entitled, GOOD MORNIGN TO ME! It’s a fun story about life with a very happy and exuberant parrot. Then I have a book I’m illustrating about a pygmy marmoset that has been a delight work on and took me on a mental journey to the Amazon, pretty fun (coming out with Boyd’s Mill). And then my owlet book set in Paris which I’m working on now (to be released with Dial), and then… oops, I can’t tell you what I’m working on after that, but it’s a big project that has pushed me to extremes and I can’t wait for it to be ready to break out of the studio and into the world.

02_GoodMorning_covers_Page_2

Cover of Good Morning to Me, to be released Spring 2015, Ateneum

Cover_1000

ducks

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

My all time favorite brush is an Isabey Petite Gris brush, all sizes. It’s shaped kind of flat and fat so it holds gobs of paint while still keeping a good point. I bought my first in Paris after I dropped my brushes in the Seine, and man am I glad I did, because this brush paints like a dream. I also love cheep bamboo calligraphy brushes as I do a lot of line work. My tools are pretty simple 4b pencils, arches watercolor paper, Windsor Newton paint.

Tricycle

scan098

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

It sounds kind of flippant, but I mean it in all sincerity – don’t worry about success. Just worry about the writing and/or the art. People want good stories, they crave them, if you focus on the craft, on making it the best piece of art or writing humanly possible, the “success” part of it will fall into place, at least enough so that you get to make a comfortable living at it and keep doing it. I honestly don’t think about number of books sold, etc, I’d go crazy second guessing every whisper of an idea that comes into my brain and I’d give up on it long before it had the time and nurturing from me to grow into a real story. But if you just focus on the art, and the writing, it will grow into something others can love. Just make a Utopia for yourself of your work, and the other “career” part of things will come out of that.

26

Sketch for upcoming book, Born in the Wild

BTBG

teeth

parrot

Thank you Lita for sharing you journey and process with us. Please let us know when your new picture books come out. We’d love to see them and cheer you on. You can visit Lita at: http://www.litajudge.net

If you have a moment I am sure Lita would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if sometimes I don’t have time to reply to all of them. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Born in the Wild, Flight School, Lita Judge, Red Sledge

16 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Lita Judge, last added: 10/4/2014
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49. SCBWI SPARK AWARD – Self Published Books

The Spark Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.


 

THE INAUGURAL SPARK AWARD WINNERS

 

Deadline:  Books may be submitted between September 15th and December 15th, 2014 for books published in the 2014 calendar year. Books published in previous years and re-issues are ineligible. Books submitted outside of that period will not be considered. You may only submit one title each award period.

Award: The winner and honor recipients will receive: a Spark seal to display on their book;  commemorative plaque; the opportunity to have their book featured and autographed at an SCBWI conference of their choosing during the year the award is won, featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and publicized through SCBWI social networking sites. The winners will also get the opportunity to attend any conference of their choice tuition free (other than for extras such as critiques and intensives).  Winners will be announced in March 2015.

Guidelines:

1. You must be a current SCBWI member with membership current through April of the following year to apply.  If you are a member now but your membership is scheduled to expire before that time, you will need to renew your membership in order to be eligible for the award.

2. Both the author and illustrator (if the illustrator’s name appears on the book) must be members to apply.

3. You must have published a book intended for the children’s or YA market in one of the following categories: Board Book, Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, or Young Adult.

4. The book may be fiction or nonfiction.

5. The book should have been self-published either through an established self-publishing enterprise or individually self-published.  The book cannot have been previously published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form.

6. SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unbusiness-like manner.

7. The entry must be submitted in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and provide evidence of Copyright Registration.

Evidence of Copyright Registration can be an electronic recipt or email showing you filed with the US Copyright office. If your book originated outside the US you must follow the copyright laws in your country.

8. All applicants must include a cover letter with your name, the name of your book, the genre of your book, the publishing method for your book (including the name of any editor/copyeditor/designer who was retained in the creation of the book), your book’s ISBN and a synopsis of your book.

9. Applicants must submit one copy of a printed and bound copy of the book and a cover letter to SCBWI via a traceable mailing method (i.e. FedEx, UPS, US or International Mail with tracking number). Please do not double package your book.

Send copies to:
SCBWI Spark Award
8271 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Please note that books submitted will not be returned.

10. One winner and two Honor Book recipients will be chosen in two categories:

Novels: This includes: young adult, middle grade and chapter books

Picture Books: This includes: board books, picture books, readers, and fully illustrated novelty books.

There will be two rounds of judging. The first round will be judged by an SCBWI panel; the second round will be judged by a panel selected from industry editors, agents, authors, illustrators and/or booksellers.

11. Books may be entered for either the Spark Award or The Golden Kite Award, but not both.

12. Judging will be based on a number of criteria, including but not limited to: quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, editing and design, appropriateness of content for the targeted age group of the book.

SCBWI reserves the right not to award a SPARK AWARD in any given year.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, awards, children writing, Competition, need to know, opportunity Tagged: SCBWI, Self Published Authors, Self Published Books, Spark Award

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50. Illustrator Saturday – Lita Judge

masthead_11

19_me_and_crittersLita Judge is a writer and artist whose greatest passion is creating children’s books. She is the author/illustrator for over a dozen fiction and nonfiction picture books including Flight School (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Red Hat (S&S, 2013), Red Sled (S&S, 2011), Bird Talk (Roaring Brook, 2012), One Thousand Tracings, and Pennies for Elephants (Disney-Hyperion). Her background in geology, paleontology and biology inspires her nonfiction books. Lita spent several years working for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology before turning to writing about dinosaurs and other natural history subjects. But her background with animals also inspires her whimsical fictional tales filled with characters who forge big dreams.

Several of her books have been selected as Junior Library Guild picks and they have received numerous awards including the 2013 Sterling North Award, the Jane Addams Honor Book, ALA Notable Children’s Book, the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, Michigan Notable Book, and Kirkus Best Children’s book of 2011. She enjoys teaching both writing and illustration to students of all ages and shares much about her creative process in classrooms and on her blog and website.

Lita lives with her husband, two cats and a little green parrot named Beatrix Potter in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

toad_2

Here is Lita talking about her process:

For me, creating art for one of my books involves a lot of drawing to capture a character’s gesture or body movement and expression. For example in my newest book, Born in the Wild, to be released this October, I had to draw a lot of animals. But I didn’t want my readers to just know what a chimpanzee or orangutan looks like. I want them to feel a connection to them. I want them to look into the faces of my animals and feel like there is an animal looking back at them. I also want them to get an understanding of the intimate world of animals within their own world. How does a mother panda hold her baby, or a baby orangutan curl up and feel safe with its parent? To capture all this I first do hundreds of very loose sketches, focusing on body language long before I worry about details and paint.

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B

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Once I feel like I’ve captured that intimate portrait between the animals, I start focusing on the details, which describe their faces and bodies. Slowly my drawings become more refined until at last, it is ready for a light watercolor wash at the end.

E

F 09_Born_in_the_WildCover for BORN IN THE WILD

10_Born_in_the_Wild

Interior and end pages

11_Born

How long have you been illustrating?

The first book I illustrated came out in 2006. Then my first picture book, One Thousand Tracings, which I wrote and illustrated was released in 2007.

untitled

Above: Cover of One Thousand Tracings, 2007 Hyperion)

How did you get to work at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology?

Many kids outgrow the dinosaur-crazed phase after elementary school, but when I was 14, during the summer before high school, I still had set my cap on becoming a paleontologist. I was eager to get started so I wrote dozens of letters to museums, curators and paleontologists who were working in the field, and basically pleaded with them to let me work on their dig. I had heard the Tyrrell Museum was working on a dig with literally thousands of dinosaurs in a bonebed and they were from the Cretaceous, the age I particularly wanted to study. I guess I ended up writing so many letters to Phil Currie, he eventually called and said welcome aboard. So the day after school let out the following summer, I was on a bus to Canada. I returned every year to work there and went on to graduate with a degree in Geology.

K-2_Dinosaurs

Lita on dinosaur dig

Did you do illustrating work for them?

Not really, we didn’t have much time for anything other than digging up fossils. But I did do a few drawings on my own, and they asked if they could use them for t-shirts and mugs. That was a boost, to think I could draw dinosaurs perhaps someday for pay.

how-big_500

Cover of How Big, released 2013, Roaring Brook Press

Did you go to School to study art? If so, when and where?

My only schooling was in Geology, at Oregon State University. I never studied art in school. I credit all the bird watching and sketching I did as a kid for teaching me how to see, how to observe. Then later, I traveled to many great museums all over the world which, painting on location, and looking at great art.

05_Stockholm_cemetary

Field paintings from Europe. Above: Stockholm cemetery. Below: Paris museum.04_Paris

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

I think I sold a painting of a humming bird for about $35 at a Christmas fair. Back when I was a Geologist, I started drawing notecard and bookmark designs to get into doing art. Eventually I had over a hundred wildlife designs and sold them all over the country with a homemade catalogue I ran on a xerox machine. Then I started doing shows and craft fairs. Eventually I sold the business because I was spending all my time folding and filling notecard orders rather than painting. The dream was to paint, not fill orders. So I started showing and selling work in galleries. But I didn’t find my real home in art until I turned to writing and illustrating children books. The element of story is what made my art feel complete for me.

redhat

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

I was an environmental geologist for the Forest Service. Spent a lot of time in the mud and rain working on the Oregon Coast.

RedHat_interior-7

What do you think influenced your style?

I don’t really think in terms of style. My art changes and evolves each time I do a story. I think it’s because I also write them and I have a wide range of interests — science, nature, historical, fiction, whimsical — so I do a broad range of stories. Each time I create a story it needs it’s own approach to the art.

RedHat_interior-8

thumb8

When did you do your the first illustration for children?

In 2006, my first book was to illustrate the middle grade book, Ugly, written by Donna Jo Napoli.

ugly

How did that come about?

I had sent an art dummy of a story I had written into Hyperion and my soon-to-be editor, Namrata Tripathi, called and asked if I’d like to do a cover for a book. Of course I said yes! I was so excited I illustrated several interior pieces as well, which made it into the book, so it turned into a nice project, and a lovely friendship with Namrata. When that was done I sent her another dummy and we were off and running on my first picture book together.

01_Cover-450x450

How many children’s books have you illustrated?

I’m working on my 20th right now. Several in the pipeline also.

redsled

About_001

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

I’ve always wanted to on some level but when I was living in really remote areas on the west coast it just didn’t seem possible. I had never met an illustrator and really didn’t know how to go about getting published. When My husband and I moved to New Hampshire I was able to meet people in the field and soon after I began submitting work. Once my first book was in the works, I knew this would be what I would spend the rest of my life doing, I LOVE it!

bearsled

How long did it take you after that to get your first picture book contract?

I was pretty fortunate. I sent out work I think in early November and got that first project on Valentine’s Day 2005. But I had been drawing and drawing and drawing, and painting for years before then. I had built up a huge body of work before attempting to get published and I think that helped me.

14_RedSled

I see you illustrated a second book by Donna Jo Napoli. Did you know you were doing that book when you signed to do UGLY?

No, Donna Jo hadn’t even written it. It just grew naturally from the fact that Ugly was received well and we both had fun on that project.

bearmoose2

What was the first book that you wrote and illustrated?

One Thousand Tracings. It’s a true story about a relief effort my grandparents did to help people who had lost their homes in Europe after WWII. I found letters and foot tracings in my grandmother’s attic after she died and knew immediately I wanted to write about this amazing thing they had done to help all those families.

06_Red_Sled

How did you find a home for that book?

I sent it to my editor at Hyperion about a week after I turned the art in for Ugly.

07_Flight_School

08_FlightSchool

12_FlightSchool

What book would you say has been your most successful?

Hmmm, I really don’t think of success in terms of how many books sold or how many editions. I think a book is successful if I as an artist got to create something I feel passionately about, and it connects with readers who also feel passionately about the same thing. Some of my nonfiction books may not sell as many books as Red Sled or Flight School, but I still feel like that little girl obsessed with dinosaurs craving to make a living as an artist when I create them and that is better than any measured success. And they solicit such beautiful responses from kids who share the same obsession, so it’s a pretty wonderful feeling. And my fiction, well that’s a dream too. To create a character that people respond to, that makes them smile or feel a connection, that is the best. I leave others to worry about book sales and things, and I just worry about making the stories I love. My career feels like a dream come true, so I guess all my books are successful in their own little ways.

13_FlightSchool

What book award are you the most proud of winning?

Kind of the same feeling, I’m just so grateful when any group of librarians or teachers or reviewers gathers a group of books together that they love and decides to bestow an honor on one of my books. I treasure each nod I’ve received and am thankful because they always make me believe a little more each time I really get to keep doing this beautiful, fantastic, crazy career!

flight_school-_interior-17

Have you worked with educational publishers?

No.

23_FlightSchool

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No. I’ve been asked for both, but I can never seem to pull away on the stories I’m brewing up. My imagination seems to keep my docket pretty darn full these days.

flight_school-_interior-12

Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you?

I work with a literary agent, Linda Pratt, who I adore because she keeps life sane for me, juggling all the contracts and turn-in dates. But more importantly, she is my sounding board for stories. She always gives me a safe creative place to bounce around ideas.

BTBG_feet_1

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

Nothing, other than I just keep writing stories. I work on them nearly every day. As soon as one is turned in to my editor and I’m waiting for feedback, I turn to the next. I don’t worry about projects, just about stories, and somehow that has kept me fully employed since the day I started.

protoceratops

What is your favorite medium to use?

Pencil and watercolor.

15_BITW

Has that changed over time?

My approach changes each time I launch into a new story. Sometimes I have a whimsical story that has to be light and fresh and very gestural. Another time, I may be working on a nonfiction that needs a more detailed approach. I’m working now on a book that takes place at night and has an element of mystery so things are dark with kind of magical lighting and a big beautiful moon. Another story I’m working on now is for much older kids and it’s kind of dark and at times very sad and scary, so that means a huge departure on my approach. I love not having a set style. It means I have to reinvent myself a lot, and that can take a lot of hours at the easel, but it is never boring.

HowBigSlider4

What I really want to know is how did you find such a great studio? Did you buy the house because of that room? Had it been a church?

I build it. My husband and I found a piece of land and I designed it. We had been saving and dreaming for a very long time, so the studio grew out of that energy. I found a salvaged church window and lugged some niches home from France that were made out of 15th century oak and were in a church that was sadly destroyed in WWI, but they have a home with me now. And I carved ravens for the roofline outside to reflect my background. I was born on the Tlingit Indian reservation in Alaska and the ravens are my homage to their beautiful art and culture that inspires me. I’m grateful for everyday I get to create in this space!

16_studio

17_studio
What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

Natural light and my critters!

18_studio

IMG_8236

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

I just work. Really I don’t keep hours. I just wake up every day eager to get back to the stories, and march on through the day and into the night and through the weekends. I hate being sick because that’s about the only time I’m not working and that for me is just plain boring. There is always at least 3 unfinished stories on my easel and a few more whispering in my ears, so as long as that is true, I’ll be working. I occasionally slip out for a bike ride, but I’m pretty much to be found with pencil or brush in hand.

20

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

I do lots of research and quite often take pictures. That is always a fun part. My parents are wildlife photographers and my grandparents were research biologists. So I think I came to love that part of the work naturally. I do a lot of photo shoots with kids and animals, whatever the need may be. Have had fun over the years, travelling to places I paint, working with elephants, taking back trips up into the back country, feeding giraffes. Research is the fun part indeed!

22

21

Which illustrated book is your favorite?

Ah, that is like asking a mom which is her favorite kid. OK, I may have a special fondness for a certain penguin (in Flight School) but don’t tell the others. And I’m working on two books now that I’m bursting to let out in to the world, but that will have to wait. I’ll just say Paris, Owlets, moons and fun!

thumb4

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Oh yes, it’s a wonderful way to connect with people you would never meet otherwise. I get offers to speak and all sorts of wonderful things come out of the fact that people can so easily find your website and get a sense of what you have to offer. And I’m grateful for wonderful friendships with other writers whom I rarely see but keep in touch with.

entering

Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

I do a lot of planning with Photoshop. I find it a wonderful creative tool hat helps me really explore and push a composition in a way I can’t with just pencil. I love how I can really play around with values as well so that you don’t have to muck around too much in guesswork with real paint. That never works well with watercolors.

04molly_tony

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

I do use one a lot in the planning stages. And a little in the final art- again it really depends on the story and what effect I’m trying to get. They are wonderful for some things, but I find a good old fashioned brush loaded in paint my favorite tool.

penniesfor elephants

last-spread-art

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

To keep doing books that excite and interest me for the rest of my life! To never ever have the feeling that I want to slow down. And to travel to more wonderful places that allow me to soak up their beauty and capture their essence in a story. To continue connecting with kids, teachers, and parents over stories and feel in some small way your work was a part of their imagination and life. That’s all I want.

24_Born

What are you working on now?

Well I have 5 books in various stages. Some I can let out of the bag, and a couple that need to stay inside where it’s safe and warm just a little longer. My next nonfiction book, BORN IN THE WILD, coming out with Roaring Brook has already gotten two starred reviews and will be released on October 21st, so that’s exciting. Then I have a picture book about my Parrot, Beatrix, coming out next spring with Atheneum entitled, GOOD MORNIGN TO ME! It’s a fun story about life with a very happy and exuberant parrot. Then I have a book I’m illustrating about a pygmy marmoset that has been a delight work on and took me on a mental journey to the Amazon, pretty fun (coming out with Boyd’s Mill). And then my owlet book set in Paris which I’m working on now (to be released with Dial), and then… oops, I can’t tell you what I’m working on after that, but it’s a big project that has pushed me to extremes and I can’t wait for it to be ready to break out of the studio and into the world.

02_GoodMorning_covers_Page_2

Cover of Good Morning to Me, to be released Spring 2015, Ateneum

Cover_1000

ducks

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

My all time favorite brush is an Isabey Petite Gris brush, all sizes. It’s shaped kind of flat and fat so it holds gobs of paint while still keeping a good point. I bought my first in Paris after I dropped my brushes in the Seine, and man am I glad I did, because this brush paints like a dream. I also love cheep bamboo calligraphy brushes as I do a lot of line work. My tools are pretty simple 4b pencils, arches watercolor paper, Windsor Newton paint.

Tricycle

scan098

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

It sounds kind of flippant, but I mean it in all sincerity – don’t worry about success. Just worry about the writing and/or the art. People want good stories, they crave them, if you focus on the craft, on making it the best piece of art or writing humanly possible, the “success” part of it will fall into place, at least enough so that you get to make a comfortable living at it and keep doing it. I honestly don’t think about number of books sold, etc, I’d go crazy second guessing every whisper of an idea that comes into my brain and I’d give up on it long before it had the time and nurturing from me to grow into a real story. But if you just focus on the art, and the writing, it will grow into something others can love. Just make a Utopia for yourself of your work, and the other “career” part of things will come out of that.

26

Sketch for upcoming book, Born in the Wild

BTBG

teeth

parrot

Thank you Lita for sharing you journey and process with us. Please let us know when your new picture books come out. We’d love to see them and cheer you on. You can visit Lita at: http://www.litajudge.net

If you have a moment I am sure Lita would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if sometimes I don’t have time to reply to all of them. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Born in the Wild, Flight School, Lita Judge, Red Sledge

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