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By: Lari Don
Blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure
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Publishers want lots of ‘stuff’ from authors now. Not just the book, but lots of other stuff. Content, it’s called, for online things.
One of the bits of content I’ve given my publishers recently is a file of deleted scenes, from my new(ish) teen thriller Mind Blind
It wasn’t hard for me to find half a dozen deleted scenes, because I delete lots from my manuscripts as I rewrite and redraft. It’s not unusual for me to reduce the length of a book by 20,000 words or more between first draft and final publication. Which sounds very inefficient – wouldn’t I be better just writing shorter books in the first place?
But I’m not a planner and plotter. I discover the story as I write, as I follow the characters on their journey, and that means diversions and doubling back. I never deliberately write anything that I know is irrelevant at the time, every word helps me find out about the characters, their reactions to problems and my own feelings about the story. But once I reach the end and get a sense of the main thrust of the story, it’s usually clear that I've regularly wandered off the narrative path, and that some scenes are now unnecessary. They may have been necessary to get me to the end, but they’re not necessary to get the reader to the end. So I'm ruthless in slashing them out. I reckon that if you can slice out a scene without it seriously affecting the rest of the story, it probably wasn’t that important.
And in a thriller like MindBlind, where it’s very important to keep the pace up and the pages turning, I also removed scenes or parts of scenes because they slowed the story down too much. (Here’s an example of one
And sometimes I cut a scene, not because it’s slowing the story down or because it’s an unnecessary diversion, but because I come up with a stronger idea once I know the story and characters better. However, the original scene is still part of the way I got to know the character, so it’s part of my history with them. Here’s an example of that
– it’s the first scene I ever wrote about Ciaran Bain, the hero (anti-hero) of the book. It’s not in the book, but it’s still the place I first met him!
Of course, it’s misleading to suggest that all this slashing and slicing is my idea. Quite a lot of it is, but some of it is in response to gentle prompts from my wonderful editor.
|a mountain of many Mind Blind manuscripts|
So, I have no problem removing large chunks of my first draft or even my fourteenth draft, because as I’m writing, I know that I’m just discovering the story, not finding the perfect way of telling it first time around. And I know that it takes a lot of work to make that original mess of scribbled ideas into a book.
But having taken all this stuff out, why on earth would I want to show it to anyone? These deleted scenes have often been removed quite early in the process, so they’re not that polished (why would I polish them, once I’ve deleted them?) So it does feel quite weird and slightly uncomfortable, revealing these unfinished bits of my creative process to the public gaze.
Even if these are scenes that I took out for plot or pace reasons, rather than pieces of writing I don’t like, they are still parts of the story that didn’t make it into the book. So is it a bit of a risk to show less than perfect examples of your writing to the world? And why on earth do it?
The first reason is the pragmatic one of feeding the voracious social media monster. (This is not a particularly good reason.)
But I wonder if a much better reason is that realising how much an author cuts from their early drafts can be useful, especially for young writers. It’s a very practical way to show that published writers don’t get it right all the time, that our first drafts are just the start of the process and that we have to work at them, slash at them, perhaps radically change them, to get them into shape. Deleted scenes are perhaps the online version of showing manuscripts covered in lots of scribbles and scorings out to groups of kids at author visits. ‘Look, I don’t get it right first time, so you don’t have to either. Just write, and see what happens!’
So, while I was wincing and cringing this week as yet another deleted scene appeared on Tumblr, I wondered:
How much do other writers delete?
Are other writers happy to let the world see the bits they sliced out?
And do readers learn anything about the writing process from deleted scenes?
Lari Don is the award-winning author of 21 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers.
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Decided to draw some fruit. These are some fruits I ate in the last few days. They are the peach, plum and banana. Decided to use a different brush and stay with it. It turned out ok. I’m still unable to get accurate edges and detailing. Drawn on Corel Painter X3 with Soft Oil Pastel […]
Does your dog seem to experience panic anxiety when he or she experiences loud noises such as thunder, lightning, and fireworks? Does your dog or your cat for that matter start to shave and quiver? Hide under furniture or behind furniture? Cower in the bathroom near the toilet.
Symptoms of Stress
If you see any of these signs, your animal is experiencing storm or loud noise phobia. There is a litany of other symptoms that you may see: your dog is pacing; your dog is looking for a place to hide; your dog pees on the floor; your dog is a nervous wreck; your dog looks at you with big brown eye that say “Please do something, just don’t sit there!”
A True Story
And how do you feel about all of this? Do you wish that you had a possible solution up your sleeve? Well, I’ve been there and done it. I’ve felt like racing to the vet through a howling storm, where all the traffic lights in my town and the next were down. I actually did this, and intersections were a gamble on living or not because there were other crazy people on the road, but not all were headed to their vet. Yes, there were a few close calls. And what did the vet do? The vet prescribed some mild medicine for Roscoe. So, that’s one solution: doggy medicine to calm raw nerves.
Other Possible Solutions?
1. Hug Therapy —Maybe your dog just needs some extra hugs and reassurance. Snuggle up in a blanket and whisper soothing words to your dog. Don’t feed them a stack of treats. This might reinforce the behavior that you want to see fade. Just let your four-legged family member know it loved, and the world isn’t really ending.
2. Thundershirt Therapy--for your dog or cat—According to the manufacturers, this shirt or sweater is 80% effective in reducing the stress of storms, travel, separation, and other anxiety causing events. Check out what PetSmart.com has to offer you and your four-legged buddy. The odds are in your favor.
3. Be Proactive Therapy —Let rover become used to noise in general, especially if you get your dog as a puppy. Play your CDs periodically in the house over an extended period of time, and from day to day increase the volume, while rewarding him or her with treats. This will develop a liking for music and noise. It won’t become a big deal.
4. If All Else Fails Therapy—race through the storm to see the vet, but be careful on the wet, slipper roads. Or better yet, be prepared with mild, safe medicated treats. If prescribed correctly, they will not turn your dog into a four-legged zombie. Certified veterinarians Know what they are doing.
BONUS: Ah, now you can relax, you have solved your dog’s problem by implementing one of the above four ideas. So pour yourself a lemonade with lots of ice, and consider writing in your diary or journal how you solved this problem. Enjoy a laugh about the whole situation. If you have any emotional pain left you could even write about traumatized dog to get the pain out.
Does that suggestion sound farfetched? Like I said, I have been there, and here’s a poem that I wrote for Picture Poetry on Parade! Yes, it contains bathroom humor, but it also contains a subtle message: if your dog has this problem, it’s time to do something about it. And please don’t punish your dog for misbehaving. He’s not a “bad dog.”
THUNDER & LIGHTNING
CRASH! CRACK! CRASH!
RIPPLE, RIPPLE, CRASH!
BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!
PITTER! PITTER CRASH!
My dog who is afraid of nothing
is afraid of thunder & lightning.
He hates BOOM! BOOM!
CRASH! CRACK! CRASH!
He hides under the table,
shaking in terrible fear,
refusing to do his “business” outside
on the dark, wet lawn.
BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!
Poor Roscoe, hunched under the table…
BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!
SLASH! SPLASH! PLOP!
PLOP! Oh, no!
That’s mom’s new rug!
She’s going to call you “BAD DOG!”
But you just hate thunder & lightning.
“I love you, Roscoe. but I don’t like cleaning up.
Yesterday the New York Times paid respectful tribute to illustrator McCauley Conner, even to the point of starting off the article by calling him "an artist."
Mr. Conner is 100 years old and going strong. His paintings are being featured at an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York
through January 11.
He never thought he'd live to see his work recognized in this way, but it helps that they're calling him "one of the original 'Mad Men'" —a reference to the popular TV series. The museum says:
"McCauley (“Mac”) Conner (born 1913) grew up admiring Norman Rockwell magazine covers in his father’s general store. He arrived in New York as a young man to work on wartime Navy publications and stayed on to make a career in the city’s vibrant publishing industry. The exhibition presents Conner’s hand-painted illustrations for advertising campaigns and women’s magazines like Redbook and McCall’s, made during the years after World War II when commercial artists helped to redefine American style and culture."
Inky Arabian Nights : Process Video
New Blog Post over on BrianBowesIllustration.com!
A while back I put together a video sharing some of my watercolor techniques. There was a lot of positive feedback on that video that I wanted to create another process video.
Original post by Brian Bowes via Emergent Ideas: http://ift.tt/1vVXz06
Are staffers outside of youth services ever responsible for staffing your children’s desk in a programming pinch? Would employees outside of your department feel comfortable and confident in providing this service or would they feel stunned like a deer caught in the headlights?
At our community branch library, information services staff members also staff our children’s services desk, and we receive a great number of children’s reference questions at our adult information services desk. Staff members outside of youth services must be familiar with the needs of children and those that work with them. Being cross-trained to provide customer service to customers of all ages is a necessity, but how do we ensure that staffers receive the training necessary to handle the unique needs of our young customers?
My colleague recently presented training for library staff outside of youth services. Not meant as a substitute for advanced youth services training in reference or readers’ advisory, this overview highlighted many of the traditional questions staffers receive when they work in the children’s services department. This training served as a perfect introduction for those employees who may occasionally need to staff this service desk.
Where are the BOB books?
(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)
During this youth services basics training, my colleague used questions that have been previously asked by customers as training examples. Just as when working in the information services department, training participants realized that questions are often not as simple as they appear. The question, “where are the BOB books?” is a perfect example. The answer could mean numerous things in our library system, depending on the needs of the library user, and could include a request for a standard beginning reader series; it could also serve as a request for the TV inspired books based off the popular Bob the Builder character, or the extremely popular Battle of the Books (BOB) competitions sponsored by our public school system. Understanding how this one type of question, “where are your BOB books?” could mean various things to different people, was rated by attendees as one of the most valuable pieces of information they learned during the training.
Let’s Take a Tour
As part of the training, participants toured our children’s department at our Headquarters Library. This touring component provided staffers with a close and personal look at our collection and was helpful to staffers from each of our branches as our youth services departments are structured similarly in each of our eight library locations. By including this hands-on training component, participants were able to view exactly where items were located, from the juvenile biographies placed at the end of the children’s nonfiction collection to the difference among board books, picture books, and beginning readers. Knowing our collection is critical in providing excellent customer service, and this tour helped our trainees gain confidence in providing that service for our young patrons.
Priorities of Programs and Services
Questions about children’s programming, and the specialized services offered within the children’s services department, are often questions asked by patrons. Adults may frequently register their children to attend special programming, request information on how to duplicate the story time experience at home, or request tutoring resources. Staffers must be able to quickly address these questions while also being aware of the unique services offered within the children’s department, such as our picture book bundle service, where customers may check out a group of books organized by a specific theme. Children’s unique interests and needs must be understood by all staff, not just those librarians specializing in children’s services.
(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)
This training helped staff members without a background in children’s services to gain a better understanding of the interests and needs of our young patrons. Our goal is to prepare our colleagues to feel as comfortable and confident as they can when working with children and their families, instead of feeling caught like a deer in the headlights! What topics do you believe are important to introduce to staff members outside of your department if they were to staff your children’s desk? How do you ensure staffers are most effectively able to reach out to your customers? Please share in the comments below!
Published: 4 September 2014 by Hot Key Books
Length: 271 pages
Other info: James Dawson has written many things.
Summary : Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people 'across the spectrum', this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read.
Review: I don't normally review nonfiction, but this is a hugely anticipated book by a brilliant author and a topic I have an interest in. There’s so many things that make this book wonderful.
First, there’s the fact that this book exists, with a bright rainbow cover and direct information and not hiding. I can only think of one other sex-ed book that addresses queer people as well as cishet people, and that's Scarleteen's book, which I read once in a library but it later disappeared. The fact there's a book that speaks directly to a group of people ignored by almost every school when it comes to sex-ed, is brilliant, and I hope this book finds its way into the hands of everyone who needs it.
Then here's the breadth of topics covered; labels and common definitions, biological theories, stereotypes, coming out, dating, sex, marriage, and children, as well as more serious, less happy topics, such as religious opposition, homophobia, transphobia, HIV/AIDS.
James gives clear advice that hopefully will be hopeful to people of all genders and sexualities about how to combat homo&transphobia, coming out, and many other things.
I love the range of voices from the online survey, especially the longer studies, that talk about experiences such as living with HIV, transitioning, and having children via surrogate mothers. They give a snapshot into many different lives, and, after reading about things like this in fiction, it's fascinating to see real-life perspectives.
My favourite thing is James's voice tying it all together. I read the book straight after James did a reading from this book, and it's so easy to imagine him reading it aloud. There's a lot of laughs in appropriate places, highlights including "a very bad lady-let's...call her Maggie....some years later [there was] a slightly less evil man let's call him Tony", "what I felt for Dean Cain (whose name I did not change for this book- I mean, I think it's time he knew of my love", and (in the first edition) bullet points 2 and 3 on page 45.
Now, this is going to sound really picky, but I did notice that it sometimes reinforces the gender binary (yes, I'm aware one of my contributions does too, and I apologise for younger, less informed me and cis-centric language) and uses ciscentric language when talking about sex (e.g. a label of a woman being accompanied by a diagram of a female-bodied person, or the words "gay women get turned on by vaginas" (here not taking into account e.g. gay women with preop transwomen). I do get that it is impossible to cover the full range of identities in one book, and my noticing this is probably a result of me getting used to sites where gender and sex are strictly separated, and this book is wonderful in its existence, but still, a couple of word changes here and there could make this book absolutely perfect.
Overall: Strength 5, tea to a book that needs to be everywhere.
generally, the people who live in big cities are used to seeing things behind bars. in the zoo, in cages, and even public spaces like squares, which are surrounded by gates or wire fences which are open or closed to us depending on some law or someone's desires, so we are forced to see things severed, not complete.
A little while ago I flailed about on how I don't much care for/need/get much out of descriptions of characters in fiction; now I find, in Szentkuthy's Towards the One and Only Metaphor (which I just reviewed) a passage conveying exactly what I mean.
Section 92 reads, in its entirety:
How preposterous it is for a novelist to describe a person even on the very first page: one has already long ago pictured something else -- the tablet of the book, the smell of its print, the letter font, the form of the page numbers, the touch of the paper, a title long retained in the mind, the pressure of the chair in which one is sitting, the shadow thrown by the roller blinds, the wall, door, or picture opposite: these have all once and for all time, absolutely indelibly traced the protagonist's face (even if it is not directly visible).
(And you understand now why you really should be reading Szentkuthy, right ?)
Admired some artwork on somebody’s walls And noticed that tags were attached. I thought that the gallery’d left on the price, But an answer was quickly dispatched. No, those paintings have claimants, so after we’re gone, Our grandchildren know what they’re getting. They’ve made their selections so no one will fight – On that outcome, at least, we are betting. Though I like the idea and have heard it before, I had never seen tags on display And I’d worry that each day I didn’t drop dead, All my grandkids would mourn the delay. So perhaps if their choices were part of a will Or were logged in a ledger or binder, Then mortality’d keep himself hidden from view
And that art wouldn’t be a reminder.
A while back I put together a video sharing some of my watercolor techniques. There was a lot of positive feedback on that video that I wanted to create another process video.
via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1n7CZ7B
Host: Stainless Steel Droppings
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Title: RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril) IX
Duration: September and October
# of Books: at least 4, peril the first --
What I Read:
What I Recommend:
I read one book in the spring that I'd definitely recommend to others joining this challenge. The Glass Casket
by McCormick Templeman.
What I Plan on Reading:
The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten
The Attenbury Emeralds
The Late Scholar
Death of a Schoolgirl
My Cousin Rachel
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Szentkuthy Miklós' Towards the One and Only Metaphor, the second of his works to be brought out in English by Contra Mundum Press, with more to follow (not soon enough !).
One of these hard to review/get a grasp on titles, but definitely worthwhile.
By: Sue Bursztynski,
Here I am, in the middle of the Aurealis judging and I'm re-reading. I have read as far as I can with the books I have - I won't read the new Brotherband
book till I've caught up with the others, I'm getting there... Still have Brotherband
3 to read before picking up 4. This week a courier left a message on my doormat, so I will have to phone before I can get my next bunch of books.
But I discovered that my old Elizabeth Scarborough favourite, the Songkiller Saga, is available in ebook, only $3.99 a volume. I remember discovering the first volume, The Phantom Banjo, on a remainders table. It wasn't out of print. Ironically, the only volume I had trouble getting was the final one, Strum Again?
Finally, though, I had the lot, and what a story it was, with Hell deciding to wipe out folk music because it kept humans hopeful. Folk musicians forget the words or are killed off, the entire Library of Congress archive is burned down. It only seems to be happening in the US for the time being, though, so a bunch of intrepid musicians escape to Britain, where their songs came from, to retrieve them.
I have always loved folk music, but this trilogy opened my eyes to just how much there is out there, including some songs that I hadn't realised were traditional or that were from places other than the British Isles. The books of Charles De Lint have also done this for me, and he gets a brief mention in this series. I ended up buying a lot of CDs as a result of reading these books - Songkiller and De Lint alike(I had the privilege of doing a panel with him once, at a Swancon, and hearing him and his wife jamming with Anne Poore, a local harpist)
So now I'm re-reading and loving it just as much as the first time around. I may just download some more Scarborough books when I've finished. She's written some lovely stuff over the years and I haven't read all of it.
In my opinion, neither animation nor illustration is better than the other, and as with all things, each has its own assets and liabilities.
"Basil of Baker Street" by novelist Eve Titus was an illustrated children's book centered on a mouse who fancied himself an ace detective. The mouse resided (naturally enough) inside the walls of 31 Baker Street in London, home of a human-sized ace detective, the name of whom escapes me.
At the Times Literary Supplement site Peter Robb's piece on the truly Magnificent Machado -- Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis -- is now freely available.
It's a review of two recently published-in-translation story-collections, but (except for the odd John Updike references ...) is also a good overview/introduction to the great author.
Only The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas is currently under review at the complete review, but I've been a huge fan over the years; my review of one of these collections, Dalkey Archive Press' Stories, should be up soon as well (meanwhile, see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
The other collection Robb discusses is a bilingual edition from new-to-me New London Librarium, Ex Cathedra; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Blog: The Children's and Teens' Book Connection
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By: C. C. Gevry,
Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.
The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.
The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.
Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 5)
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 7, 2014)
The Read Russia Prize for translations of Russian works into (selected) foreign languages will be announced 6 September, and at Russia Beyond the Headlines they have all the information and the finalists -- seventeen titles (only three of which are translations-into-English), selected from 112 nominations from 16 countries.
This seems a great way to encourage translation, with both the translator(s) and the publisher getting decent prize-money -- and it's great that it's not limited to translations-into-English.
Love that students from a school in Oconee County, Georgia, made Yoohoo boats after reading The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis.
As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer.
When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story.
Aaron Brinker, Creative Commons
Description: “Reading people” is the ability to size others up quickly and accurately. People with this skill are able to see through misdirection and outright deceit to correctly identify a person’s character or motives in many different situations.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: being a good listener, being able to think clearly and in an organized fashion
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: observant, perceptive, extroverted (other-focused), discerning, objective, decisive, focused, sensible, empathetic
Required Resources and Training: While some people are inherently good at reading others, there are some things that can be done to improve one’s discernment in this area.
There’s a kind of science to lying, with certain tells that reveal deceit. Paul Ekman studied this in great detail and shares his findings in his book Telling Lies; studying these tells and the micro expressions that people use when they’re not being truthful can improve one’s ability to identify truth from falsehood in others.
Much of what we know about others, we learn by observation. Anyone who wants to read people better can do so by simply studying them. Paying close attention to people, listening intently to them, and engaging with them will result in a better understanding of people in general and will eventually help us to recognize patterns.
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Con-artists, detectives, gamblers, psychics, and empaths are often portrayed as being able to read others well. While it’s a positive skill to have, it often has a negative connotation, being used by people to manipulate and take advantage of others. The other stereotype is that of the shy and under-valued but highly perceptive sidekick or peripheral character. This person keeps to the background and doesn’t seem to have much purpose until, at a pivotal moment in the story, he/she reveals some great truth about the hero or villain that everyone else has missed.
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- when someone with power or influence is not who they appear to be
- when a dangerous person is about to do something deadly
- when someone is suicidal and is hiding their desperation
- when a friend is in an abusive relationship
- when someone is being conned
- when a famous or highly regarded person needs to know his true friends from those who would use him
- when trying to get to the bottom of an argument or long-lasting feud
- when a police officer is interviewing a subject
- when a con-artist or criminal is looking for a mark
Resources for Further Information:
18 Tips and Tricks about Reading People
What Every BODY is Saying
You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.
The post Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Reading People appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.
By: Kathy Temean,
Blog: Writing and Illustrating
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authors and illustrators
, Illustrator's Saturday
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Annie Wilkinson is the youngest of eight children and the mother of two. She works in a variety of mediums including traditional and digital, creating bright and whimsical illustrations for both books and products. She also has a background in design and as a fine artist, two skills that she calls upon quite frequently when illustrating. She is currently working on her own picture book.
Simon & Schuster – Macmillan
LadyBird Books – Hallmark
CJ Educations – American Greetings
Oxford University Press – Hasbro
Yeowon Media – National Geographic
HERE IS ANNIE EXPLAINING HER PROCESS:
All of my work is done on the iPad. For the project for Story Corner, the guidelines were really loose – the story was to take place in outer space, after that I had a lot of free reign to draw whatever I like.
So I started with some quick thumbnails, using the app Paper by 53. I had some loose concepts – riding space beasts, hanging out in a space garden, swimming with ‘star fish’.
I like to share the thumbnails with the client to see if they’re happy with the general idea and composition, and if they are I then work on more refined sketches. Mostly I use the Vellum app to create my sketches.
There’s also an app called Art Studio that functions like Photoshop, I can make selections and move things around if I need to refine the composition a little.
When the sketches are finalized, I create the colour versions in Paintbook, which is a vector drawing app.
Sometimes at this stage, depending in the spread size, I might have to export the pdf file to my computer and add textures in photoshop.
Since these we’re going to be playing cards, The iPad could actually handle their print size, so I added my textures using iColorama.
If I find the textures wash out some of the details then I will paint over some of the edges and add more shadows and highlights using either Photoshop or procreate.
How long have you been illustrating?
I have been illustrating as a job for about 6 years, but for about 5 of them I was also working as a web & graphic designer . This is the first year that I am solely illustrating. I have always loved drawing!
Where do you live?
I live in Vancouver, BC Canada
Did you go to school to study art?
I have not. I am completely self-taught, but I do dream about going to art school some day – maybe when the kids are old enough.
What area of art did you study?
I took an independent course with Geraldo Valerio “http://www.geraldovalerio.com” a Brazilian illustrator who was for a time living in Vancouver. I had belonged to a drawing Meetup group, and on a message board there, several people had mentioned taking his course on illustrating children’s books and how it was better than anything offered by the universities or libraries.
After my first illustration job, when I started to realize it was something I might really like to do, I thought I should learn more about it and enrolled in his course. It was extremely helpful to have someone with experience to turn to! Even though he’s no longer in Vancouver, we still email every now and then and I still ask him for advice.
What was the first art related work that you did for money?
Prior to working as an illustrator, I played in bands for many years, and toured a lot. These would have been my first paying art jobs.
What was the first job you took after you graduated from school?
I did take a multimedia course about 15 years ago that was a very basic introduction to Adobe & Macromedia (who originally created Flash) software – it was just enough to get you going on everything and it was up to you if you wanted to take it further. I had expected that I would move into web design from there, but my first job after finishing that program was illustrating and animating Ecards in Flash for a Toronto company. It’s funny now that I think about it, it didn’t give me the idea that I would be an illustrator! I think probably because looking back at it my illustrations were fairly crude!
How did you find your first illustrating work?
Robeez Baby Shoes gave me what I consider my first real illustration job – they had a job posting for a web designer, and I applied and sent them a link to my online portfolio, which also contained some of my artwork. They got back to me saying the job had been filled but would I be interested in doing the illustrations for their shoes. Prior to this it hadn’t even occurred to me to be an illustrator! (Robeez shoes designs)
Have you done any illustrating work for a US publisher?
I have done work for a few publishers, including Simon & Schuster, National Geographic, as well as a handful of educational publishers.
How did you start doing greeting cards?
Not long after the Robeez job I was contacted by the Bright Agency in the UK http://www.thebrightagency.com, and I have been with them ever since. Another illustrator who was also working for Robeez, Ken Gamage http://www.sparklefishworld.com told me about http://www.childrensillustrators.com which is based in the UK, and I believe this is where Bright found me. Bright works in both publishing and art licensing, so my greeting card work was through them.
What made you want to illustrate children’s books?
I had not thought originally that I could even be an illustrator! I was always drawing but in my mind it was just a hobby. I met another illustrator when our bands played a show together, Jenn Playford, http://www.jennplayford.com, who I think at the time had just got her first illustration job, and her telling me about it put the idea in to my head. I didn’t really do anything about it until I got the Robeez job though! I guess children’s books seemed the best fit for me, given the way I draw, which tends to be cute and colorful.
How many books have you illustrated?
I’m not sure I can count them all! I’ve done around 4 books for the Korean market, 1 in New Zealand, 3 in Canada, a few in the UK, and maybe 10-15 for the US market, which would mostly include the educational market.
What was your first picture book?
My first picture job was with Rubicon Publishing in Canada, with AD Rebecca Buchanan, now over at Pajama Press, she was lovely to work with.
When and how did that happen?
They found me on a portfolio site, practically the day I finished my How To course with Geraldo, so I was pretty glad I’d taken the course. It was called “Splish-Splash” and had 4 illustrators illustrating about 4 pages each, so it was the perfect job to start with.
Of the picture books that you have published, which one is your favorite?
It may be because it was the most recent one I illustrated and so am not tired of looking at it yet! I’m actually still working on it, but it’s called Nanna’s Magic Globe for Benchmark publishing. Another favourite I did recently was for Story Corner, which is a brand new company in the Uk – not a picture book but illustrated story cards, where the child lays out the cards and then tells their own story – that was a particularly fun job for me because I was allowed input in what happened in the story, and also because it involved telling the story in a non-linear fashion. (Thumbnails in paper by 53, Sketches in Vellum, final art for Story Corner)
When did you decide to get involved in children’s illustrtation?
A big thing that happened was having kids of my own, and reading books to them – there are so many beautiful picture books out there! I particularly love Isabelle Arsenault and Oliver Jeffers, whose work really borders on fine art. I also am a big fan of Sophie Blackall, Peter Brown, Giselle Potter – there’s so many!
How did you connect with LadyBird Books?
This was a job through my agent – I had done a test illustration for The Secret Garden (which also happened to be one of my favourite books as a child!) and my AD thought my rendition of Dickon made a good Peter Pan, so I got to do both books.
(The Secret Garden, Ladybird Books)
How did the get the contract to do My Wonderful Clothes for Korean Publisher, English Hunt?
I was approached by them, this book was slightly different than the other books I’d done in the Korean market as it was an English reader. I love working with Korean publishers as they are so invested in picturebooks!
(My Wonderful Clothes, EnglishHunt)
What do you consider is your first big success?
Getting paid to draw! To be honest, it’s still an ongoing thing – I’m one of those people who can be their own worst critic, and I’m still trying to make art that impresses me as much as other illustrators work can.
How did that come about?
How do you promote your work to get more business?
I have a few portfolio sites that I try to keep updated regularly, and most of them have news sections which I find helpful. I also started sending out email newsletters to keep in touch with previous clients, I do one every 6-8 weeks or so. When things are slow I remind my agent I need work.
What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?
All my work is done digitally. Originally it was done traditionally because I was never comfortable drawing with a graphics tablet, where your hand is drawing in one place and your eyes are somewhere else. In the beginning I would have loved a Cintiq but couldn’t afford one, then I got an ipad. I went from oil pastel drawings to vector illustrations, because the limitation of the iPad is the print size of your drawings. I grew to love it so much that I only occasionally think about the Cintiq still.
(Personal work, ipad)
Do you use do any black and white illustrations?
I have not done many, except for the comics I like to do in my spare time.
What type of paint and other materials do you use to when illustrating a picture book?
Everything is done on the iPad, even sketching. I discovered I hate the tedium of scanning! I tend to do thumbnails first, generally in Paper by 53 or a Bamboo Paper, sketches in Vellum, and color in Paintbook, which is like Adobe Illustrator except that it behaves much like a pixel based painting app, rather than making shapes. I usually export this as a pdf and then do final touch ups in Photoshop on my mac. The funny thing is that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with digital – it certainly makes it easier to make amendments and clients love layered files, but I just love the look of traditional materials. So I’m always trying to make that aspect better. Ultimately, a good drawing and good composition is the most important thing!
Has your style changed over the years? Materials?
I’m really hoping it’s getting better! I am always, always trying to make my work better. I’m getting in to using textures a lot lately. There’s a great ipad app called iColorama which let’s you paint your textures using masks, and then I usually do a little finishing work using Procreate, which is a great painting app but can only print up to around 10-11 inches, which makes it difficult to do spreads. I have been known to deal with single pages when the app can’t handlethe spread size and then stitch them back together in photoshop.
Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?
I have done work for Laybug and Cricket in the US.
(Cricket Magazine Nov/Dec 2013 issue)
Have you done any work for educational publishers?
Tons! A lot of my work comes from Educational publishers and so for that I am grateful :)
What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?
Given that I work on an iPad my studio is not one specific location, but I like it best when I have my ipod and dock to listen to music or podcasts while I work.
Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?
Yes, but I don’t think of it so much as that. I love drawing, so I have my work drawing, and my hobby drawing, which is usually playing around with different apps or doing comics. Another fun aspect if doing greeting card work or licensing art is just drawing whatever you feel like and maybe someone can turn it into a card. So I’m not consciously trying to improve myself unless I’m in the middle of the job, and mostly this happens at the sketching stage – can I make this drawing better, more visually interesting? Sometimes that is constrained by deadlines, though!
(illustration of Mary Anning for http://www.coolchicksfromhistory.tumblr.com
Do you have an agent?
I work with The Bright Agency, who are based in the UK but have offices in New York also.
Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?
Yes, lots on internet research. I’m currently working on a book that takes place in Kenya. I’m always looking at images of how things look, their clothes, their houses, vegetation, etc. Some clients want the pictures of trees, for example, to look like actual trees you might find in the area, some don’t mind if you make everything up.
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?
Absolutely. If it wasn’t for the internet I would probably have to move to New York and walk around every day with a hard copy portfolio.
Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?
I use Photoshop along with a hundred ipad apps :)
Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?
I have an old Wacom Graphire tablet that I use for photoshop touch ups. I’ve tried all kinds of styluses for the iPad, but the ones I like the best are the microfiber tipped ones,as there is no drag whatsoever. I suffer from tendonitis, so when it gets bad I just start drawing with my finger!
Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?
I’d love to do more picturebooks, and maybe write one of my own.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working an interactive iPad storybook, which is my first. I’m also doing a small job for a family in the US who are doing a book as a gift for their daughter. I’m working on a second book for Benchmark while waiting for feedback on the final artwork for the first. And I have a couple more books coming up very soon with Cantata Learning, who are a new Educational publisher in the US.
(Illustration for the Boston Family)
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.
For traditional materials, I love Koi watercolours and Holbein Acryla Gouache. Also I’m a fan of Caran D’ache oil pastels.
Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?
All the old stuff is true! Keep drawing as much as possible. Go to the library and find those illustrators that inspire you!
Thank you Annie for taking the time to share your process and journey with us. We look forward to hearing about all your future successes.
To see more of Annie’s illustrations visit her at:
Please take a minute to leave a comment for Annie, I know she would love to heard from you and I always appreciate it. Thanks!
Filed under: authors and illustrators
, Illustrator's Saturday
Tagged: American Greetings
, Anne Wilkinson
, Illustrator Saturday
, Simon & Schuster
By: Hannah Paget,
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, emily dickenson
, first world war poetry
, John Milton
, jon stallworthy
, Louis simpson
, men who march away
, On the Late Massacre in Piedmont
, the heroes
, thomas hardy
, war poetry
, WWI centenary
, Add a tag
‘Poetry’, Wordsworth reminds us, ‘is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’, and there can be no area of human experience that has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war: hope and fear; exhilaration and humiliation; hatred—not only for the enemy, but also for generals, politicians, and war-profiteers; love—for fellow soldiers, for women and children left behind, for country (often) and cause (occasionally).
So begins Jon Stallworthy’s introduction to his recently edited volume The New Oxford Book of War Poetry. The new selection provides improved coverage of the two World Wars and the Vietnam War, and new coverage of the wars of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Below is an extract of two poems from the collection.
On the Late Massacre in Piedmont* (1673)
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
Forget not; in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
and his Latin secretary, John Milton.
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O’er all th’ Italian fields where still doth sway
The triple tyrant, that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
* The heretical Waldensian sect, which inhabited northern Italy (Piedmont) and southern France, held beliefs compatible with Protestant doctrine. Their massacre by Catholics in 1655 was widely protested by Protestant powers, including Oliver Cromwell and his Latin secretary, John Milton.
The Heroes (1955)
I dreamed of war-heroes, of wounded war-heroes
With just enough of their charms shot away
To make them more handsome. The women moved nearer
To touch their brave wounds and their hair streaked with gray.
I saw them in long ranks ascending the gang-planks;
The girls with the doughnuts were cheerful and gay.
They minded their manners and muttered their thanks;
The Chaplain advised them to watch and to pray.
They shipped these rapscallions, these sea-sick battalions
To a patriotic and picturesque spot;
They gave them new bibles and marksmen’s medallions,
Compasses, maps, and committed the lot.
A fine dust has settled on all that scrap metal.
The heroes were packaged and sent home in parts
To pluck at a poppy and sew on a petal
And count the long night by the stroke of their hearts.
Image credit: Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
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Found on my old private family blog, dated August 27, 2006. Scott was out here in San Diego, a month into the new job. I was back home with the (then) five kids, trying to get the house sold. Rilla was only a few months old. Rose would have been eight, Beanie five. Scott and I did not bear the separation easily. I created a little daily-snippets blog just for him so he wouldn’t feel like he was missing everything. At night, after the kids were in bed, I had a gig writing parenting articles for a medical website. Scott and I would keep a chat window open and ping each other back and forth as we worked away on opposite coasts. Sometimes we’d go to audio and listen to the sound of each other typing. Four months, and it felt like forever.
August 27, 2006
The Conversation Went Like This
Bean: Why did SHE get to sleep in your bed last night?
Me: Just because. You may tonight, if you wish.
Rose: But won’t she be lonely, waiting for you to come to bed?
Rose, breaking it to her gently: If you sleep with Mommy, you have to wait a long time in the dark before she gets there.
Bean, brow furrowed: Oh…
Rose, kindly: Do you want to sleep in Mommy’s room, or do you want to snuggle up with me?
Bean’s reply? She threw her arms around her sister. The hug went on long enough for me to snap it.