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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: demystify, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 126
1. New Writing Video Series by Lin Oliver – Free

need writing advice

 

free video series


subscribecropped

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Courses, demystify, How to, inspiration, opportunity, revisions Tagged: Free Writing Video Series, Lexa Hillyer, Lin Oliver

2 Comments on New Writing Video Series by Lin Oliver – Free, last added: 10/19/2014
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2. Illustrator Saturday – David Harrington

Harrington, DavidDavid Harrington’s affinity for art began at an early age, when he enthusiastically drew on floors, walls, furniture, and other inanimate objects. A native of southern California, Harrington pursued a career in illustration by enrolling in the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he earned a BFA with honors. As a student, his favorite classes were figure drawing and painting. 

In his professional career, Harrington has illustrated numerous children’s books. He believes that they open a door to a new world, and he admits that he studied books for hours on end as a child. In addition to children’s illustrations, Harrington creates advertising images for toys, games, food packaging, educational materials, medical equipment, and various other products. 

Bold lines, sharp contrast, and vibrant colors render Harrington’s images stunning and memorable. He portrays real emotions such as fun and excitement through playful and accentuated cartoon images. The clarity of detail that Harrington gives to the page can bring a child’s imagination to life. He is the recipient of a WWA Spur Awards Storyteller Award for his illustrations in Pecos Bill Invents the Ten-Gallon Hat. David lives with his wife and children in Laguna Hills, California.

Here is David sharing his process:

This illustration is from a book I’m currently working on where some bandits steal all the ice cream in town during the middle of summer!

Whistling Willie illus 1

 

First, very rough, fast sketches trying to capture the energy, mood, emotion etc. Once I have a rough sketch I like then I keep tracing it and making revisions until I get to the final sketch.

Whistling Willie illus 2

I put the final sketch on a medium value, textured background. I keep it on a separate layer so it can be removed later.

Whistling Willie illus 3

Starting with the face, I put down a thin, base skin tone letting the background texture show through. Then I start building up the dark tones adding just a little red color to the nose and cheeks and a few high lights.

Whistling Willie illus 4

I keep building up the darks and start introducing some blues, purples and greens into the shadows.

Whistling Willie illus 5

When I have the colors and values of the face where I want them, I’ll start on the rest of the figure working from light to dark.

Whistling Willie illus 6

For the ice cream, I put down a medium tone trying to let the background texture show through. I then added a lighter color to one side and hit the other side with a faint shadow.

Whistling Willie illus 7

Lastly, I added the background, leaving some of the original texture untouched. I removed the sketch and then I add fine line detail.

spaghetticove2r

Spaghetti Smiles by Margo Sorenson – published by Pelican Publishing Press (September 15, 2014). How many books have you illustrated for Pelican Publishing?

Spaghetti Smiles was just released and that was the fifth book I’ve illustrated for Pelican Publishing and I’m working on another right now.

spaghetti

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating professionally for about 25 years.

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How did you decide to attended At Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA to study fine art?

During high school I took some Saturday classes at Art Center and fell in love with the school.

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You say in your bio that figure drawing and painting were your favorite classes? Is that still a favorite thing for you to illustrate?

Absolutely, anytime there are figures in an illustration, whether they are stylized or realistic, it’s always fun and they bring life to the piece.

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

I painted store windows at Christmas time when I was a teen.

partingthesea

Did the School help you get work?

Yes they did, I got some work doing movie poster concept sketches for Warner Brothers right after graduation.

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

I don’t know, my style has been changing over the years.

octoman

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

About six months after graduating I took a full time job as an art director/illustrator at a small company doing mostly sports art.

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How did you make the decision to jump into freelance work?

I had been trying to make the transition to freelance by working at night but then when I got laid off unexpectedly from my full time job, I decided that -Now is the time.

giant

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I did a lot of soft drink advertising work for a good client and he asked me if I could illustrate a Children’s book, so I gave it a shot- and loved it!

tiger

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

It was called Gabby, about a little girl and a science fair project that went wrong resulting in a giant bubble-gum monster.

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

No, but it opened my eyes to how much fun Children’s book are to illustrate. I love creating characters.

tireswing

Do you have an agent or artist rep.?

No, I don’t have a representative but am not opposed to one either.

whipit

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

Yes I have written some books and hope to be an Author/illustrator someday.

soupsup

Are you the same David Harrington who does fantasy art?

No that is another David Harrington, although I have done some fantasy art over the years.

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How did you get the contract to illustrate, Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book at Sky Pony Press?

I don’t remember how I got that contract, but I remember it was two books.

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How long did you have to illustrate each one?

The whole process from sketches to final illustration takes about four to five months.

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Would you be willing to work with an author who wants to self-publisher their picture book?

Yes I would if I like the story.

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

I did about a dozen Book covers for Pee Wee Scouts from Random House and that led to more work.

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When is the title of the pirate book that you are working on and when is it coming out? Is that your next book that will hit the book shelves?

It’s a cowboy book titled Whistling Willie and should be released in the Spring of 2015.

jumpingjack

Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Yes, mostly Club House magazine.

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What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

Well it started with acrylic paint and pencils and over the years has transitioned to a Mac computer, graphic tablet and Photoshop.

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

Once or twice a year I send out promotional post cards to publishers. But word of mouth is how I get most of my work.

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

My Mac!

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

I try to find time to experiment and learn new techniques or try different media. I love oil painting and sculpting!

snowgirl

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

Yes I do a lot of on-line research and look for inspiration.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes, it has changed everything about this business, from research to communication to the way finished projects are delivered.

sandystone

Do you use Photoshop, Illustrator, or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

Yes, Photoshop and sometimes Illustrator. I have tried painter and that’s a good program too.

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

Yes, Wacom Cintiq, it’s amazing!

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When did you start using the computer to paint your illustrations?

That was a very slow transition, about 15 years ago I would just add the final details to an illustration in Photoshop. Then at some point I would finish a painting half way and then complete it with the computer using a mouse. Now, all or almost all of the art is created using a Graphic Tablet.

pyramid

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m jugging about 12 different illustration jobs including Whistling Willie from Pelican Publishing.

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

My favorite is Winsor & Newton oils on canvas, from Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster, CA

cowboy

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

Yes, I would like to illustrate the stories I’ve written.

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

You must be persistent, never give up and always strive to improve.

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Thank you David for sharing your journey and process with us. Please let us know when your new picture book comes out , in addition to all your future successes. We’d love to see them and hear about them, so we can cheer you on. You can visit Daivd at: http://www.davidharrington.com/

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, demystify, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process, Tips Tagged: David Harrington, Spaghetti Smiles

7 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – David Harrington, last added: 10/19/2014
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3. 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.

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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.

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I added additional shadowing on a separate layer.

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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.

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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.

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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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4. 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.

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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

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.

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08_FlightSchool

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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.

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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.

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What is your favorite medium to use?

Pencil and watercolor.

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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.

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

Natural light and my critters!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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.

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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.

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Sketch for upcoming book, Born in the Wild

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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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5. Illustrator Saturday – Rebecca Caridad

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 MFA Illustration Spring Show

Here is Rebecca discussing her process:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Work to finish the highlights, shadows, and details.

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View of screen and layers in Photoshop.

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Final illustration.

How long have you been illustrating?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

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

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Have you worked with educational publishers?

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

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No, but I would like to.

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

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

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

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

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

If not, would you like to have one?

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

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

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

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What is your favorite medium to use?

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

Has that changed over time?

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

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Do you have a studio in your house?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

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

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What do you feel was your biggest success?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What are you working on now?

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

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

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

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

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

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Above: One of Rebecca’s oil paintings.

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

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Rebecca Caridad, last added: 8/11/2014
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6. Illustrator Saturday – Inés Hüni

inesphotoineInés Hüni was born in Mendoza (Argentina), the land that produces the finest Malbec wine grapes in the world.

She remembers that as a little girl, she always dreamed about having her “taller de arte” with lots of small “frasquitos”, colored pencils and brushes of all sizes.

She moved to Buenos Aires – the big city – when she was 11.

During high school, in her spare time, Inés was always involved in drawing and arts & crafts activities. She could not wait to finish high school in order to begin studying what she really loved: Arts.

She graduated from Fine Arts with major in drawing and engraving. Inés also studied humoristic drawing and animation with some of the finest professors in Argentina and USA.

Ines is a great observer of the world that surrounds her. She loves the challenge of interpreting every brush stroke of reality and capturing it in her artwork.

Already married and with two daughters, she moved to México. What was initially supposed to be a 3-year-experience, but it has now turned into an 8-years-one, tasting and living Mexican flavors and colors. The family has recently added a fifth member, her little Mexican daughter named Mora.

Inés is a versatile creative professional. She illustrated children magazines, scholastic manuals, worked for animated movie studios, developed characters to be used in murals and posters and has illustrated several children’s books from renowned Editorial Houses from many countries.

Some of her customers are: Animation: Heart of Texas Productions (Texas, USA) in films for Disney Studios, Warner Bros and Lyric Corporation – Illustration: Garcia Ferré, Infantil, El Gato de Hojalata, Guadal, Perfil and Quipu (Argentina), Richmond, Mac Millian, Cordillera, Trillas, and Bilineata (Mexico), Santillana (Puerto Rico & U.S.A)-   Everest (Spain).

Here is Ines explaining her process:

This is one of my illustrations in “Mymini moleskine.” Myninimoleskine is a little red sketchbook that I take everywhere, especially if I travel.

The idea is to draw women in different poses and moments of their lives, in one small space, that’s a challenge!

inesMyminimoleskine 1 blue prismacolor

I start the sketch with the blue pencil and on it I remark with black pencil.

Here we have a sketch of a woman who is a football (soccer) fan. She is celebrating a goal with all her soul. That’s an example of how I like to start with the blue PRISMACOLOR  col- erase pencil and then remark with black pencil.

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Woman of the Cats: here you can see the hole process and my work space.

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After scanning I clean it up with Photoshop.

ines3 my desk

This is my workspace with my lightbox, I use this table to trace and transfer the illustration to a good paper. You can also see all my painting materials, including color inks and watercolors.

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You can see how I start to paint the big areas and views of my desk and materials.

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Continue to paint.

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With the whole illustration painted, I begin adding details with color Prismalo Carandache pencils.

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Illustration almost done.

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Finished Illustration.

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Character sketch.

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Finished illustration

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Sketch

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Finished illustration.

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Finished Book.

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Here are several drawings I made after a trip by the south of  Mexico, in Chiapas State.  I was delighted by this place, especially by a town called San Juan Chamula, it’s church, and it’s popular market.

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How long have you been illustrating?

I always drew, but it has been 20 years since I started to illustrate.

inesChamula Chiapas The mayan sky

How did you go to school to study art?

I wanted to study Fine Arts since I was a little girl.

I finished school since I needed to, in order to pursue a University Degree in Arts.

When the time came to choose a career I had no doubts in my mind: Fine Arts. At the same time, I took a course in Humoristic Drawing in another school.

It was a lot of fun since I realized that everything that I was learning was really interesting to me.

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What made you move from Argentina to Mexico?

We moved to Mexico with my family due to my husband’s job. It was supposed to be a 3 year experience but it has been almost 9 years already!

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Do you think the culture of Argentina influenced your style?

Every experience a person has gone through contributes to defining you as an individual. Regarding specifically my illustration style, I think I have influence from many places, not only from my Argentinian background, but also from other places I have visited, books that I read, movies that I watched and also from some of my colleagues’ works.

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

That is a tough question! I started out by doing Christmas Cards and painting T-Shirts with original designs. I guess my first customers were my parents and my family.

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Did you start out doing freelance art or did you do other work to pay the bills?

It was really a mix. At the same time that I looked for free-lance jobs, I worked in a greeting cards editorial house (similar to Hallmark) and also worked in a company that made sticker albums.

ines50994

How did you get involved with animation with Heart of Texas Productions (Austin,Tx USA) in films for Disney Studios, Warner Bros and Lyrick Corporation?

Wow, that was one pretty chance! My husband and I had just moved to Austin, Texas to study a postgraduate and a neighbor of our condominium worked in that study of animation. When the person who rented us the apartment learnt that I was an illustrator, she made arrangements for me to visit the studios. After the tour, I asked if I could show my portfolio. I think that they had not finished telling me that I was already leaving my folder with them. A few days later I was called to sit for a test and then I was chosen. In Heart of Texas, we also worked for larger studios such as Disney, Warner and Lyric Corporation and that is how I ended being part of films like Aladdin, The Quest for Camelot and three children’s animations on St. Francis and his friendly world.

ines79118
Do you still do animation?

No. Animation was a great learning experience and I learned it well from the inside: I was trained while I worked in Heart of Texas. In addition to that, I attended College where I experienced going through the whole process of designing: from scratch, to filming my own short (very short) animated movie.

I soon found out that the process of making animation was like a very long, mechanical chain, where one is just a small link and the only way of applying your own creativity was by designing the characters, backgrounds or the story itself. So I turned completely to illustration, which is less mechanical and a greater challenge, because each job order demands my own imagination and creativity.

ines79145
What type of work did you do right after you graduated?

I worked doing typographies and some illustrations for greeting cards.

ines79124
When did you decide to get involved in children’s illustration?

Well, as I already said, while I was studying Arts, I attended another school for humorous drawing, where I learned the basics on how to create characters and move them from side to side, to explore and to draw different topics and to make comic strips… But while I was studying, I realized that it would be hard for me to come up with a joke every day to go with an illustration, like the comics in newspapers. That was when I said to myself: my thing is children’s illustration. I do come up with cute illustrations that can actually be funny but are still not the daily joke or comic strip.

ines50988
Have you ever illustrated a children’s book or book dummy?

Yes, I have several illustrated books:

inespalabrerio

The collection Palabrerio by Infantil.com

inesHadas

The collection Hadas Virtuosas – Editorial Guadal, El Gato de Hojalata

inesHadas Patitas - Edit. El gato de Hojalata Guadal.

Collection Hadas con patitas – Editorial Guadal, El Gato de Hojalata

inesSantillana USA

Several pedagogical publications with Santillana of Puerto Rico and the United States.

inesBiblia Everest

Historias maravillosas de la Biblia [Wonderful histories of the Bible] – Publishing Everest.

inesel deseo de mateo armado

Deseo of Mateo [Mateo’s wish] – For Kraft, Oreo

inesKazurá

Kazurá.Un manifiesto infantil – Editorial Quipu

 

inesKazurá color2

It looks like you have a friend who writes and you do the illustrations. Could you tell us about how the two of you connected and how many books have you done?

Yes, my friend Agustina, another coincidence in my life! One day in Mexico, I went to a birthday party where new comers had just arrived. I ended up sitting next to one of the new ones, and the host looked at us and said: “Inés, this is Agustina and she writes. Agustina, this is Inés and she illustrates. You must know each other!” Just a few days later, I was contacted by a publisher to make a Christmas Story for Kraft Foods about the Oreo cookie. They wanted it immediately but there was no story yet and they requested the cover and an inside page… I told them that I knew two writers and we could see if they already had something written to adapt into the project… So I contacted both writers. Agustina responded immediately with a story, thought and written especially for the project. It was called “El deseo de Mateo” [Mateo’s wish].

It ended up being a beautiful book, and the best part was discovering what a wonderful team we made together. Then, new projects came up and we continued working together.

Recently our book “Kazurá” was published. It is an illustrated children’s book that we presented in Buenos Aires Book Fair this past July and continue to promote here in Mexico.

ines18050
What do you consider is your first big success?

I believe that my biggest success is to be able to turn my passion into work, to let my imagination fly, to face challenges with each job order, which sometimes can be something completely new in my life. I sometimes worry but in the end, I always come up with something that I like, and that amuses me!

Each stage of my life had its own hit, like working for Disney and Warner Bross or winning a contest for and important hospital: My character became the Pediatrics’ mascot!

Success for me also meant travelling to the greatest Illustration Fair in the world (Bologna) and being contacted for different jobs after those interviews. And lately, success meant to materialize one of our projects with Agus: our book “Kazurá” recently published.

ines18177
How did that come about?

The most recent success was our book “Kazurá”, which we worked jointly with my friend Agustina, designing each word and each illustration so that each of us, in our own specialized language, would tell the same story without repeating each other. We made a very good presentation of the book, with a dummy, at the Book Fair of Guadalajara. This was an efficient way to introduce ourselves and the book to the different publishers. Not only did we make a good impression on them but we ended with more than one publishing offer for “Kazurá”.

inesleyenda+indios+bailan

How do you promote your work to get more business?

Mainly through Blogs and webpages. I am in Childrensillustrators.com and I have recently created a blog on Facebook called “Hüni la ilustratera”.

I also promote my work presenting dummies of books in fairs such as FIL de Guadalajara in Mexico (the greatest Spanish-speaking fair of the world ) to show a complete, well presented idea, something which publishers seem to look forward to seeing, lately.

inesmagic

The above is an illustration which represents everything that a book can contain, and how they can amaze us. In this illustration I used a photograph of a painted wall taken by me, as a background. Then I worked on creating the characters with several sketches. I transferred them into final lines in good paper, then I scanned them and once in the computer, I worked digitally on the color in Photoshop.

inesMEMORI~1

What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

I like to work with inks and watercolors, on good papers, and on those backgrounds I work on the details with coloured pencils. Finally, I finish up digitally in the computer. Lately, I have been applying textures and photos with digital collages.

How I work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP0nLgk_PF8#t=196

Here is a link to a video of an e-book called “Al son the Rigoberto”, a story about frienship between a mosquito and an elephant. It is in Spanish, published by Editorial Bilineata. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/al-son-de-rigoberto/id658854724?l=es&mt=11

inesBUHITOSdesvelados LOW
Do you do any black and white illustrations?

Yes, I do. Although I am a colour fan, I have studied and made many engravings in the past during my Fine Arts career. I also made several comics with ink and pens. It is a different type of exercise, to think in black and white, and I love it, especially in my sketchbooks.

inesWitch

Above and Below: Painted with inks and watercolors (usually I use Colorex by Pebeo) in a good watercolor paper (Strathmore cold press),  retouching the details with colored pencils (Prismalo by Carandache). Finally, after scanning it I worked digitally with Photoshop. The shells are a digital collage of my photographs.

inesSand Castle

Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Yes, in Argentina I worked for García Ferré’s magazine “Anteojito” and for women’s magazine called “Mia” by “Editorial Perfil”.

inesC Andersen2
Above and the four below are illustrations made for a collective exposition in honor to the Grimm brothers, the story I had to illustrate was “All-kinds-of-fur” (is that the translation in English for Bestia Peluda?) – 2012 Buenos Aires International Book Fair.

inesC Andersen1
Have you done any work for educational publishers?

Yes, I worked for many educational Publishers illustrating pedagogical texts.

inesdesplumando avesLOW

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

Uh, one? Just one? I cannot work without good light or without music. And, by all means, I am very careful to have the right and best materials to work… If I must choose just a single item, that is a good, well-sharpened pencil.

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

In theory, I try to… but in practice, I can´t always do so. I generally work at night. I like it when everyone at home is asleep. I do burn the midnight oil.

inesescapa del reyLOW
Do you have an agent?

I do not have an agent. And yes, I would love to have one that could make my work known worldwide and sell it for me.

ines79123

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

I am also a photographer. It is a great advantage that today we have easy access to document everything that we like or calls our attention. When I began to study humoristic drawing, the professors encouraged us to have a file with cut-outs and photos of things that helped us draw, for example: things from the field and from the city, examples of animals and of different leaves and plants. Today, everything is a click away and we must do research before we begin to draw.

ines79119
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely! Today, you can be reached from anywhere and everywhere in the world.

ines79121

Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I use both. They are the absolute key to my work.

ines79120

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

A long time ago, I believe in 1998, I bought my first Wacom tablet. Today, I cannot work without it!

ines79144bigger

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

Yes, indeed… there’s always a goal ahead.

ines79128
What are you working on now?

I am working on a new book and a complete project to take to FIL de Guadalajara, and on personalized illustrations that my clients have ordered.

ines50992bigger

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.

In animation I learned to sketch with blue pencil, Prismacolor Col-Erase is the brand, which has become almost an addiction to me as I can no longer sketch without them. The idea is to make all the necessary lines and scribbles in blue and then clean up the definitive lines with a black pencil.

There are some drawings that I like better in their primary state of sketch, and sometimes I decide “not to remark them with pencil or ink” and even let them without paint.

ines18178

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

I really don’t know how to be a successful writer or illustrator, but I do know that a great part of our learning takes place as we observe, and perfection is reached through practice.

The more you feed your senses, the better you tell the story.

In reality, writers and illustrators are devoted to tell, to convey something. Nobody can do this successfully, unless they know it and feel it deeply from within. Last but not least, it is important to demand respect and value for our work so that our profession keeps growing strong.

ines51001

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

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

Website: http://ineshuni.blogspot.com/  

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: Agentina, Children's Illustrator, Inés Hüni

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Inés Hüni, last added: 8/26/2014
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7. Free Fall Friday – Critique Results – Holly McGhee

pippin

Cynthia Reeg                          FROM THE GRAVE             Middle Grade Fantasy

Monster Rule #9: A monster’s appearance should incite fear and significant revulsion to scare the socks off mere humans.

FRANK’S TALE

Shocktober 13, Year of the Scrull

Looking through the bus window, I tilted my nose up toward the sky’s “determined drear,” as Ms. Hagmire liked to call it. That was Uggarland—grim, gray, and delightfully desolate. From the bony skeleton trees, to the swampland grasses, to the lurking monsters. My itchy right palm brushed against my perfectly tucked shirt and my much too crisp pant leg. I should be an example of such determined drear, general disarray, and evil intent. Only I wasn’t.

“I saw a bat flying upside down last night,” said Oliver. My mummy friend sat next to me. His unwrapped, wrinkled brown finger skimmed down the page of the tattered book on his lap. “I’m trying to find out what that means.”

“That means trouble,” I muttered. The low rumble of voices from the other eccentric students on our bus seemed to echo the word. Trouble.

“Maybe its antennae were just damaged.” Oliver pointed to bold print on the right hand page.

I shook my head. “No. It means trouble.”

Our special Fiendful Fiends Academy Bus—otherwise referred to as OMO (Odd Monsters Only) bus—lurched to a stop in front of our school. We all climbed out, but as I tilted my nose upward again, I stopped in mid-step.

HERE’S HOLLY:

From the Grave, Middle-grade Fantasy, Cynthia Reeg

I was interested in Oliver and the first-person narrator, and I think it might be smart to start the story off with the dialogue about the bat. It’s important that the reader engage with the characters first, that we connect with them and care, before learning about the scenery of Uggarland. So I suggest moving the scenery further down in the story and pulling back on the detailed descriptions of clothing in order to laser-focus on the two kids. Hook us with them and then take us on a journey.

___________________________________________________________

Best Chocolate Cake and Other Dramatic Disasters by Julia Maranan – MG Novel 

Things I Am Good At

Field hockey

Music

Science

French

Chess

Baking?

Starting middle school on crutches had been about as bad as it sounds. While I was hobbling around trying to find all my classes after an “unfortunate accident” during field hockey tryouts, everyone else found all their friends and where they fit in. By the time I was back on my own two feet, I was pretty much invisible (except to Angie, who’d been my BFF since, well, forever). And it’s not like I hadn’t been trying things. I just hadn’t found the right thing. But today, that would finally change. I could feel it.

I took another look at the picture of the expertly frosted Best Chocolate Cake our home ec teacher, Mrs. Collins, had projected in the front of the classroom, and my mouth watered.

Baking is a good thing to excel in. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate cake? People are going to ask me to bake them things all the time! Maybe I can even get extra credit if I bake something amazing. I’ll have to find out what my teachers like before midterm grades are due…

I read through the instructions one more time: grease and flour the pan, mix everything in a bowl, and pour the batter into the pan to bake. This is going to be awesome.

“Do you want to grease the pan, or should I?” I asked my partner, Kate Nichols, who was the second worst person in the room Mrs. Collins could have paired me with.

“I think maybe you should just make your own cake. Over there.” She motioned vaguely to the counter by the sink, purple nail polish sparkling under the fluorescent lights.

“But we’re supposed to work together,” I said.

“But I want my cake to be edible,” she said, and took her pan over to a table.

HERE’S HOLLY:

Best Chocolate Cake, Middle-grade novel, Julia Maranan

I like the idea that the main character wants to find something to make her visible. But those first days of school are not here—those days with her on crutches, left out of all the quick-forming friendships circles. I would like to see them. That way I would make a connection, and I’d be rooting for this girl and her baking skills. Show us the character in her darkest moment, all those friends pairing and bonding while she can’t keep up, that anxiety and pressure, and then you’ll be set up to tell the story. I did like the list at the top! As for baking and home ec, I’m not sure when the story takes place, but in our schools, they don’t offer home ec anymore, sad to say, so make it clear what year the story starts.

___________________________________________________________

DOGS ON STRIKE! By Rita D. Russell – Picture Book 

All night long, Rufus snored and sniggled in his sleep. He dreamed about his birthday and getting super-duper treats. But when Rufus woke up… he got nothing.

“Not even a birthday card?” asked Dugan.

“Or pupperoni cupcakes?” wondered Nugget.

“Nothing,” said Rufus. “Not even the Happy Birthday song.”

The three mutts mulled over the situation while burying bones in the backyard.

“What’s the world coming to,” they groused, “when a dog gets less love than a mouse?” [Art: Rufus, Dugan,and Nugget watch a man mowing the lawn with his pet mouse peeking from his shirt pocket.]

“No walking in the park.”

“No dancing in the dark.”

“No purple pupsicle treat.”

“No cruising in the front seat.”

Something had to be done.

STRIKE???   [Art: Dogs vote at a meeting of the neighborhood dogs association.]

Rufus strode to the podium and proudly proclaimed, “Today dogs are changing the rules of the game. Our smiles and affection are no longer free. We demand nicer treatment. So until families agree…”

[Art: Families are shocked to discover…]

“No greetings at the door?”

“No footrests on the floor?”

“No herding cows or sheep?”

“No guarding while we sleep?”

“DOGS ON STRIKE!”

The cool cats stayed back. (They were not impressed.)

HERE’S HOLLY:

Dogs on Strike, Picture book, Rita D. Russell

This is a cute concept and I like the idea of turning the dog-people relationship on its head. That said, I don’t know why this dog is surprised that he doesn’t have a birthday celebration. Has he had them in the past? What is the context? If you can figure that out and keep this very simple, with excellent dialogue, you might have a winner. Check out David Ezra Stein’s I’M MY OWN DOG, just published, for a fantastic example of role reversal.

___________________________________________________________

Carol Foote           FOREVER MAGIC                   Middle Grade

The hint of a whisper.

At first Elena thought it might be trees sighing or a faucet turned on somewhere else in the house. But the sound grew louder, as if coming at her through a long tunnel. She tilted her head to listen just as it burst out, filling the room.

El-e-naaaaaa…

Elena almost dropped the pickle jar she was preparing for a science experiment. Her knees wobbled, and she leaned against the kitchen counter.

El-e-naaaaaa…” The whisper swirled around her. Then it was gone.

She ran to the window and nudged aside the white lace curtains. Outside, her ten-year-old brother Connor was tossing a plastic bag in the air and attacking it with a stick.

“For the king!” Connor cried, slashing at his flimsy opponent. “Victory is ours!”

“Did you call me?” Elena shouted. Her voice sounded high and thin.

“No.” Connor impaled the bag and didn’t even look toward her.

“Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

Elena eyed the woods beyond the lawn. Not even a leaf rustled. Gram’s car wasn’t in its usual spot at the top of the long dirt drive. Elena crossed the kitchen and peered into the living room. The solid, stuffed chairs and dark, polished tables sat undisturbed. Only the steady ticking of the grandfather clock broke the stillness. Breathing in the familiar smell of old books and fireplace ashes, Elena forced her shoulders to relax. See? It was nothing.

She returned to her experiment where vapor rose from a tray of dry ice. Like a genie from a lamp. Her hands shook, and she spilled rubbing alcohol as she tried to pour just enough to saturate the black felt she’d glued inside the jar. Tightening the lid, she glanced around the room.

HERE’S HOLLY:

Forever Magic, Middle-grade novel, Carol Foote

I think this is a fantastic opening page! Keep going. I want to know more. But get a better title. Well done.

___________________________________________________________

Thank you Holly for sharing your time and expertise with us. It is a huge help to read you comments.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, demystify, inspiration, Process, revisions Tagged: Agent Holly McGhee, First Page Critique, Pippin Properties, Writing feedback

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Critique Results – Holly McGhee as of 8/29/2014 2:35:00 AM
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8. Pledge This Before Starting a Thriller Novel

For my next manuscript I plan to write a thriller, so I bought
How to Write a Damn Good Thriller: A Step-by-Step Guide for Novelists and Screenwriters by James N. Frey to study.

damngoodthriller

I thought you might be interested in James Frey’s list of what to pledge before starting your novel.

A thriller is a pulse-pounding supsense. In the US, mysteries are not considered thriller, though they share some common elements.

In a mystery, the hero has a mission to find a killer.

In a thriller, the hero has a mission to foil evil.

To write a damn good thriller, you need a killer attitude. Pledge to yourself to do the following:

  1. Commit yourself to creating strong conflicts in every line of every scene.
  • Decide you will have fresh, snappy dialogue and not a single line of conversation.
  • Decide to write quickly when drafting. Fast is golden.
  • Give yourself production quotas of at least a thousand words everyday, even if you have a tough day job like kissing up to bad bosses. Three or four thousand would be better.
  • If your significant other complains your thriller writing is taking up too much of you time, get a new significant other.
  • Commit yourself to this: You will not have any major characters that are bland and colorless. They will all be dramatic types, theatrical, driven, larger than life, clever.
  • Create a step sheet for the whole novel or screenplay. You might start your first draft if you know your opening and have an idea for the climax.
  • Trick the expectations of the reader and create nice surprises from time to time.
  • Have your character in terrible trouble right from the beginning, and never let them get free of terrible trouble until the climax.
  • Have powerful story questions operating at all times.
  • End each scene or section of dramatic narrative with a bridge, a story question to carry the reader to the next one.
  • Always keep brainstorming and think about what’s happening off scene.
  • Make charts for the major characters that tell you what they’re doing when they’re not on scene.
  • Try to be fresh. Don’t use the same old cliches.
  • Be sure your prose is colorful and sensuous.
  • Keep the clock ticking and the excitement mounting right to the climactic moment.
  • Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, Author, Book, demystify, How to, list, Writing Tips Tagged: How To Write A Damn Good Thriller, James N. Frey, Writing a thriller novel

    1 Comments on Pledge This Before Starting a Thriller Novel, last added: 9/8/2014
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    9. Pledge This Before Starting a Thriller Novel

    For my next manuscript I plan to write a thriller, so I bought
    How to Write a Damn Good Thriller: A Step-by-Step Guide for Novelists and Screenwriters by James N. Frey to study.

    damngoodthriller

    I thought you might be interested in James Frey’s list of what to pledge before starting your novel.

    A thriller is a pulse-pounding supsense. In the US, mysteries are not considered thriller, though they share some common elements.

    In a mystery, the hero has a mission to find a killer.

    In a thriller, the hero has a mission to foil evil.

    To write a damn good thriller, you need a killer attitude. Pledge to yourself to do the following:

    1. Commit yourself to creating strong conflicts in every line of every scene.
  • Decide you will have fresh, snappy dialogue and not a single line of conversation.
  • Decide to write quickly when drafting. Fast is golden.
  • Give yourself production quotas of at least a thousand words everyday, even if you have a tough day job like kissing up to bad bosses. Three or four thousand would be better.
  • If your significant other complains your thriller writing is taking up too much of you time, get a new significant other.
  • Commit yourself to this: You will not have any major characters that are bland and colorless. They will all be dramatic types, theatrical, driven, larger than life, clever.
  • Create a step sheet for the whole novel or screenplay. You might start your first draft if you know your opening and have an idea for the climax.
  • Trick the expectations of the reader and create nice surprises from time to time.
  • Have your character in terrible trouble right from the beginning, and never let them get free of terrible trouble until the climax.
  • Have powerful story questions operating at all times.
  • End each scene or section of dramatic narrative with a bridge, a story question to carry the reader to the next one.
  • Always keep brainstorming and think about what’s happening off scene.
  • Make charts for the major characters that tell you what they’re doing when they’re not on scene.
  • Try to be fresh. Don’t use the same old cliches.
  • Be sure your prose is colorful and sensuous.
  • Keep the clock ticking and the excitement mounting right to the climactic moment.
  • Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, Author, Book, demystify, How to, list, Writing Tips Tagged: How To Write A Damn Good Thriller, James N. Frey, Writing a thriller novel

    0 Comments on Pledge This Before Starting a Thriller Novel as of 9/9/2014 2:23:00 AM
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    10. Picture Book A to Z’s: Plotting in Picture Books

    sudiptacroppedBonus Critique: Register before September 20, 2014 and receive a free picture book manuscript review and 20-minute Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, redeemable within six months of the course’s completion.

    Four Week Online Class starts October 6, 2014

    Cost: $250

    Author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is proud to offer the first in this series, a course on Plotting in Picture Books.

    The Picture Book A to Z series is designed to be a collection of master level classes that cover all of the fundamentals of picture book craft. While each class is complete on its own, taken together, the series will teach you everything you ever wanted to now about picture books — and a lot more!

    What You Will Learn

    The ability to craft a strong picture book plot is one of the factors that separates unpublished writers from those who consistently sign publishing contracts to see their work in print. This course will teach you the essentials of creating compelling plots, starting with Arcs, Beginnings, and Climaxes — then literally taking you through the alphabet. Each topic will be explored in depth, both in the lessons and in the discussion forums and webinars. The writing exercises that are a part of the course are designed to help you apply the lessons to your own writing seamlessly and immediately. By the end of the course, you will never look at plotting the same way again!

    How the course is structured:

    • Lessons will be posted daily Mondays-Fridays during the four weeks of the course. They will remain online for four months (until February 28, 2015) so students can work at their own pace.
    • ​​A weekly webinar will address topics related to the class. Webinars will also provide an opportunity for personal feedback from the instructors. They will be recorded and available for students to access for four months after the completion of the course.
    • Students will be able to interact with the instructors and each other via an organized, private message board hosted just for each class. This will be an excellent resource to form critique groups, to freely ask questions, and to support each other as you launch into your projects.​

    Optional Add on Critique: Add an in-depth picture book manuscript critique with an hour-long Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen at a special class-only discounted rate.

    Bonus Critique: Register before September 20, 2014 and receive a free picture book manuscript review and 20-minute Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, redeemable within six months of the course’s completion. In addition, you will be entered to receive a free written critique of a picture book manuscript (up to 1,000 words) from Agent Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency. 

    Click this link to register: http://www.kidlitwritingschool.com/picture-book-a-to-zs–plotting.html

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Author, children writing, demystify, How to, opportunity, picture books Tagged: Online Writing Course, Picture Book A to A series, Plotting in Picture Books, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

    6 Comments on Picture Book A to Z’s: Plotting in Picture Books, last added: 9/14/2014
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    11. Illustrator Saturday – Sarolta Szulyovszky

    Sarolta_SzulyovszkycroppedSarolta Szulyovszky was born and grew up in Budapest (Hungary), she studied Applied Art, after which she moved to Italy. Since 2004 she start activity in the field of graphics and illustration working in a graphic design studio in Udine (Italy). Now she lives and works as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer in a little city in northern Italy: San Daniele del Friuli.

    She works for children’ s books, magazines, cover books, Brochure Design and Packaging Design.

    Sarolta works both traditionally in acrylics, pencil and digitally.

    In 2012 her work has been selected for the ‘Annual Illustratori Italiani 2012′ (Society of Italian Illustrators) and for the 30th edition of the exhibition ‘Le immagini della fantasia’ (Sàrmede, Italy) – 60 illustrators from all over the world.
    2011 – selected for the 23rd Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava.
    In 2010 she won the 1st Prize (Category Children’s Book) at the ‘Marosvásárhely Book Fair Award (Romania).

    Progress_1

    Draft drawn in Photoshop, and the final illustration for a magazine. The commission was to illustrate the month of July. (Image: Progress_1)

    Progress_2
    I needed a model to draw the woman so I photographed my son for the face and my hand for the hand!

    Progress_3
    I found the fruit and vegetables on the internet.

    Progress_4
    After sketching out the draft, I prepare an acrylic base for the background colour and, with carbon paper, I transfer the draft I have printed onto the base I have prepared. (Image: Progress_4)

    Progress_5
    Here is the final illustration entirely painted with acrylics.

    76680

    Book Covers

    137243472544486281

    Question18_Cover

    Book Covers

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    How long have you been illustrating?

    I began to illustrate children’s books 11 years ago. My first publication (2003) was a drawing for an anthology of world fables published in Italy, but I have only thought of myself as an illustrator since I began to devote myself entirely to this work in 2009.

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    Did you go to college to study graphic design?

    I began to study drawing at the age of 14, attending evening classes while I was studying at a science academy school in Budapest (Hungary). My dream was always to become a designer, so once I graduated from high school, I attended a textile design college and another college to study interior decoration, then went to the university “Nyugat-magyarországi Egyetem” on a Packaging Design course, but I never imagined that one day I would be illustrating books! I became involved in the world of children’s books illustration in Italy where I attended courses on advertising graphics and editorial illustration.

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    What were you favorite classes?

    At university, I really liked design and drawing from life, especially portraits.

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    How did you decide to move from Hungary to Italy?

    I moved to Italy not for work but for love. I met my husband in Budapest and, after we got married in 1997, I came with him to Italy.

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    Do you feel the illustrating opportunities are better in Italy?

    I don’t think Italy offers more opportunities for work in the field of illustration compared to Hungary or other European countries. Italy is currently undergoing a severe social, cultural and economic crisis and illustrators (and anyone who works in the cultural sphere in general) is often considered an amateur, and not a professional, and so they are paid little or nothing. However, I do think that Italy is an excellent place to study illustration: it is a country that boasts 50% of the world’s cultural and artistic heritage, a very stimulating environment for an artist, and there are excellent schools specializing in illustration.

    It is very true that “no-one is a prophet in his own land” and so the first publications I had in Italy were due to the fact I was a foreigner: they were looking for foreign artists for multicultural editorial projects. After that, I was published in my home country and in other states.

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

    The first paid work was for the illustration of a children’s book translated into Italian from Hungarian, “Ha én felnőtt volnék” (If I were big) by Eva Janikovszky, published by L’Omino Rosso Editore, a small publisher in the region where I live. The book is a major classic in Hungary, a very entertaining story that I illustrated using digital techniques (Adobe Illustrator), which did not turn out to be my style.

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    What do you think influenced you style?

    I think my style has been influenced by many things: the popular Hungarian art passed on to me by my grandmother, who taught me embroidery, the late Renaissance painters in the Fine Arts Museum in Budapest, where I acted as tourist guide when I was a student and, of course, many contemporary illustrators that I discovered in books, exhibitions and on the web (Gianni De Conno, Gabriel Pacheco, Alice Wellinger, Pierre Mornet……. the list would be very long!).

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

    After university, I gave birth to my two children and for 6 years I concentrated on being a mother….. although it was during that period that I discovered illustrated children’s books!

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    How did you connect with the Wilkinson Studios? When did you join them?

    I came across Wilkinson Studios in 2011 thanks to an illustrator friend of mine who was already working for them. I sent them my portfolio and they immediately gave me a job. The client was very pleased with the illustration and so we continued to collaborate and they included me among the artists they represent. It was a great honour for me.

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    Do you do any exhibits to show off your work?

    Yes, I am often invited to take part in joint exhibitions and I have had various personal exhibitions in Italy and abroad. In 2011 and 2013, my work was exhibited at the Biennale of Illustration of Bratislava, Slovakia and, 2007- 2012 every year at the “Le immagini della fantasia” of Sàrmede, the most important exhibition of children’s illustrations in Italy.

    The last exhibition has just ended and it was “Il posto delle favole” (The place of fables), a joint exhibition by international artists in Rocca Sinibalda, a picturesque little town in central Italy. The next exhibition will be a personal exhibition of my work in Hungary in October 2014.

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

    The first book that I illustrated was, luckily, the one I mentioned as my first paid work.

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    How did that contract come about?

    The contact with the publisher came about through a friend we had in common, who was a book translator.

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

    My first book was an important experience for me, I learned a lot, but I don’t consider it a great success.

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    Have you published about children’s picture books for a US publisher?

    So far, in the United States, they have published my illustrations in academic books and magazines, but I haven’t yet illustrated a whole book in the United States and I can’t wait to do so!

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

    My first successful book was actually one that I wrote and illustrated: “A hálás virág “(The grateful flower) is an autobiographical book that deals with the subject of diversity and the Great Mystery of death, life and rebirth. The story came from an episode that actually happened in my grandparent’s garden in Budapest. In 2008, the album won first prize for the best unpublished illustrated album for children aged between 6 and 9 years at the 11th International Competition “Syria Poletti: On the wings of butterflies”. It was subsequently published in 3 languages: Italian, Hungarian and Polish.

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    Does the area where you live have a large artist community?

    I live in the countryside near a little town in northeast Italy that lies between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, a land of excellent white wines and ham. There isn’t a large community of artists here, but you live and eat well!

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    What type of illustration work do you do?

    I work both on children’s books and books for adults, and on Packaging. I work both digitally and with traditional techniques. I like to adapt my style to the text and always try out new things so that I continue to grow and renew myself.

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    Have you won any awards for our art?

    I have won various prizes but the most important was the one I received at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2013: the cover I illustrated of “Folyékony tekintet” / Liquid gaze (published by Libri, Budapest) was selected from the 12 most beautiful covers at the Fair by the Wall Street Journal.

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    How many picture books have you illustrated?

    So far, I have entirely illustrated 11 books, without counting the anthologies that include the drawings of several artists.

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    What do you consider your biggest success?

    The greatest success has been the last book I illustrated, “Folyékony tekintet” (Liquid gaze), a collection of poetry for which I drew the digital illustrations using only the colours black and red.

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    Do you feel living in Italy has broaden your career as an illustrator?

    For an illustrator, I don’t think it matters much these days where you live, an internet presence is more important because that’s where work meetings take place. 23. Yes, I have worked for Italian and Hungarian magazines and in the United States, for the Christian Reformed Church of North America’s Dwell Dive Magazine. 24. I use acrylic colours and sometimes I add some details in Photoshop.

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    Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

    Yes, I have worked for Italian and Hungarian magazines and in the United States, for the Christian Reformed Church of North America’s Dwell Dive Magazine.

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    What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

    I use acrylic colours and sometimes I add some details in Photoshop.

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

    To find illustration work, it is important to have a website or a blog, send your portfolio to the illustration agencies and publishers, and go to specialist fairs, like the Children’s Book Fair of Bologna.

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

    The thing I miss the most is the view from my window: the hill with the historic centre and the mountains. When I’m at home staring at a sheet of paper or a monitor all day, it is important sometimes to turn and look into the distance!

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

    It is very difficult to work set hours when you’re a freelance. I often work at night to meet deadlines…

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

    Research is the first phase of working on an illustrated project and that often takes whole days. I have a folder on my computer where I collect photos and texts that inspire me and that might be useful one day. If I don’t find the photos I need on the internet, people in certain poses, for example, then I’ll use relatives or myself, taking the photos I need.

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    Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

    Yes, I think the internet has opened many doors, but it has also increased the competition.

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    Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

    Yes, I use Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

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

    Yes, I use a Graphic Drawing Tablet to sketch out drafts and add details to my illustrations.

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

    My dream is to illustrate the Bible, especially St Paul’s Hymn to Love.

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    What are you working on now?

    At the moment, I’m working on two books: an illustrated album: The Garden of Tears, written by the French author, Laurie Cohen, and a Hungarian novel by Zoltán Hajdú Farkas.

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

    Above all, it is important to inquire within and understand ourselves. What would I really like to do? Devote time to personal works that haven’t been commissioned, be humble (we always need to learn), have a little entrepreneurial ability (we have to promote our work ourselves) and great steadfastness.

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    Thank you Sarolta 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 Sarolta’s illustrations visit her at:

    Website: http://www.saroltaszulyovszky.com/

    Blog: http://saroltaszulyovszky.blogspot.it/  

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy

     


    Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Publishing Industry Tagged: 1st Prize (Category Children's Book) at the 'Marosvásárhely Book Fair Award, 30th edition of the exhibition 'Le immagini della fantasia', Applied Art in Budapest, Sarolta Szulyovszky

    2 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Sarolta Szulyovszky, last added: 9/20/2014
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    12. 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

    2 Comments on Literary vs. Commerical Fiction, last added: 9/30/2014
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    13. Ask Kathy Questions Answered

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    For all you writers and illustrators who have days where you feel like the publishing industry could make you stop, scream and pull their hair out, this cute illustration sent in by Julia Rosenbaum is for you. 

    Julia has always wanted to be a children’s book writer/illustrator…and so she went to law school. A few years after that interesting episode in her life, she learned how to use Photoshop and became a graphic designer. She is now working on her original dream: writing picture book manuscripts and creating illustrations. You can find her online at juliadraws.com and on Twitter @julia_draws.

    Here are a few more Answers to the Questions you sent in and the answers from the Writer’s Retreat the other weekend with Agent Sean McCarthy and Associate Publisher at Penguin Putnam, Steve Meltzer.

    1. Because agents now often don’t respond if they aren’t interested in a query, that makes almost imperative to send simultaneous queries. Is ten to a dozen too many to send out at once?

    The consensus was to send ten queries at a time. No one thought you should send one query at a time and wait to hear back before sending your work out to someone else. Here are my thoughts about other similar questions I get asked: You may get five agents asking to see your full manuscript from the query letters you send out. Some may ask for an exclusive submission. If they do, you will need to way their request against the other agents. That exclusive submission request might throw that agent out of the running or they might be at the top of your list of agents you would want to represent you. If they are, then make sure you find out how long they expect to have an exclusive for your manuscript.

    Is this amount of time acceptable? It may be, but now you know how to proceed. I personally think six weeks would be my limit, other people may be willing to wait three months. As long as both of you are on the same page it should work.

    What if you send out your full manuscript to five agents or editors and one gets saying they are interested, before you say yes to them representing you and blow off the others, you should email saying you haven’t heard back from them and another agent is interested in offering you representation. Many agents appreciate you letting them know so they can pull your manuscript out of the pile to see if they are interested in your story. No need to do this if an agent stated up front that if you haven’t heard back in three weeks they are not interested.

    Say you submit to an agent who turns around and works with you, offers a lot of advice that you use when revising your manuscript, and asks to see it again, IMO, you should make sure you resubmit the manuscript to them, before offering it to another agent.

    If you have submitted the manuscript to editors, you should always make sure the agent offering representation knows who has seen it right up front. You don’t want to get in the position of signing a contract with the agent and then have them say they didn’t know it had been read by numerous editors in the industry. They might be thinking they could sell it to the same people you already sent it to. Now you have someone who doesn’t want to work with you and may even cancel the contract with you. Supposed this happens after you have turned down another agent who was interested in your work. Now you have lost out on two agents at one time. Oh yes, this can happen and it doesn’t matter if the agent should have asked these questions, you are now the one who is on the losing end of this scenario.

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

    Sean McCarthy and Steve Meltzer said don’t put MG or YA in the query, put the age group and let them decide where it fits. The other idea you can use is to go to the book store and peruse the shelves. Where would the store shelve your book? What are the titles of the other books on that shelf? You could include a couple in your query letter.

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

    The general number was 20,000 copies, but it could be lower. It depends on the amount of your advance and the projected amount of sales the publisher expects after all there meetings and calculations. As Steve pointed out, a publisher who expects to sell a million copies of a book and only sells 600,000 copies might consider that book a failure. While a book that they projected 10,000 sales and sells 20,000, might be considered a great success.

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

    I did and both said it would not stop them from reading your manuscript. But I will not tell you that not doing this is okay, because I am trying to get you to do things according to the standard. My goal is to tell you how to do things that will make sure no one will find fault with. If 50% or even 20% of the editors and agents could pick up your manuscript and go on to the next on sitting on their desk because of the extra space, then I say, “Let’s do it right, so you are only judged on the content of your writing.” Over the years, I know little things can make a big difference.

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

    This is another one that would not stop Sean and Steve from reading your synopsis. I had said that I didn’t think this was a deal breaker when I told you how to format  your synopsis, but again that is the standard. It makes it easier for the editor or agent to read, which shows you care about them and that you approach your writing as a professional who knows the industry.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, Agent, Asking opinion, authors and illustrators, demystify, How to Tagged: Ask Kathy, Julia Rosenbaum, Publishing Industry Answers, Questions and Answers

    0 Comments on Ask Kathy Questions Answered as of 4/9/2014 1:21:00 AM
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    14. Illustrator Saturday – Christopher Denise

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    Christopher Denise is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and visual development artist. His first book, a retelling of the Russian folktale The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, was pronounced “a stunning debut” by Publishers Weekly.

    Since then, Chris has illustrated more than twenty books for children, including Alison McGhee’s upcoming Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells’ Following Grandfather, Phyllis Root’s Oliver Finds His Way, his wife Anika Denise’s Bella and Stella Come Home and some in Brian Jacques’ acclaimed Redwall series.

    His books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and have been recognized by Bank Street College of Education, Parents’ Choice Foundation, and the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition.

    Christopher Denise lives in Rhode Island with his family.

    Christopher has two books coming out in the next few months. The first is SLEEPYTIME ME written by Edith Hope Fine coming out May 27th.

    The second book, BAKING DAY at GRANDMA’S is written by his wife Anika and will be available in August.

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    Christopher gives us a sneak peek of some of the interior shots below, with his process pictures on how he did a double page spread for the book. (Please check back later today. Christopher and I got our wires crossed with the process text. He is at a book festival and will be sending it as soon as he can get to Wi-Fi)

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    Rough sketch

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    Adding more details

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    More details and first layer

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    Laying in some color

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    Refining details, inking in bark on tree, and deepening color of sky

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    Painting in color on clothes

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    Worked on background and more detail on clothes

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    Adding shadows and details on house

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    Continuing to deepen shadows and details

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    Adding highlights

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    Deepening colors

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    Adding color to tree.

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    Changed my mind about the color of the clothes and added for detail to the final illustration.

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    Above are the bears in this double page spread on their way to Grandma’s and below they are getting ready to bake.

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    When did you first get interested in art?

    As a kid! All kids love art-I just never stopped. I never let anyone talk me out of it-it is too much fun.

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    Why did your family move to Ireland from Massachusetts after you were born?

    We moved to Ireland when I was six years old. My father had been working with General Electric and they offered him an opportunity to relocate and set up a headquarters in Shannon. He saw it not only as a great career opportunity but a chance to expose his kids to a very different way of life. This was in the early 70′s so Shannon was more like the States in the 50′s. It was an amazing place to spend some of my formative years.

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    What made you move back to the states?

    He had completed much of what he set out to do and my oldest brother was preparing to enter high school and my parents thought it best to return to the states.

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    Do you feel Ireland influences your illustrations?

    Absolutely. In Ireland we kids had an amazing amount of autonomy and unstructured time. Broadcast television began after 6pm and there was very little programing geared at children so we spent our days outside exploring the countryside and creating our own adventures. I look at the art I created for The Redwall picture books and I see so much of those childhood days.

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    Do you still have an Irish brogue?

    Only after a very long dinner party with old friends!

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    How did you decide to go to Rhode Island School of Design to study art?

    After high school I was studying Art History and Archeology at St. Lawrence University. I was also spending a lot of time in art studio classes. It was fantastic and I was doing very well but I felt I needed more direction. My brother was studying architecture at RISD and after my first visit I knew that I needed to be there. While RISD students were dancing on the tables listening to The Talking Heads (very appealing to me) they were also having serious conversations about art and their own work.

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    What was the first piece of art that you sold?

    I started freelancing for the Providence Journal in my Junior year at RISD. I created a series of black and white illustrations for a re-printing of A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.

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    I read that you started illustrating books for educational publishers while you were still attending RISD. How did you make those connections?

    I did and internship at Silver Burdett and Ginn, an educational publisher just outside of Boston. I was in charge of opening the submissions from artists and filing their promotional materials. It was not long before I realized that I wanted to be on the mailing end of the equation. When the internship finished I created my own mailers, asked the art directors to look at the work and for recommendations about where I might send them.

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    Did you always want to illustrate children’s books?

    I never had any intention of becoming a children’s book illustrator, I sort of fell into the career. I knew I liked making art, so I left St. Lawrence University and transferred to Rhode Island School of Design. I remember while at RISD I had an assignment to create this illustration using an animal of our choice doing something specific. I think my animal was racoons and the subject was things you do at camp. Honestly, I Bobbaton Questthought I was way too cool to do something like that. I had been painting these big abstract paintings and when making illustrations they were always very cool and smart. But animals with clothes on? Forget it. I never finished the assignment. Fortunately, the teacher stayed on me and gave me another assignment. This time she had me illustrating scenes from Wind and the Willows. Somehow the writing grabbed me and became something that I could sink my teeth into. I really thought about the characters and what they should look like, their clothes, their houses, how they would walk and stand, etc. Then I surprised myself by really enjoying the process of making the art and people loved it. I ended up using those images to start my professional career when I was still a Junior in college to get freelance jobs with educational publishers. The rest is history.

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    Were you continue doing freelance work when you graduated? Or did you take a job illustrating?

    Since that day it has been all freelance work.

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    How did you connect with Philomel to illustrate your first picture book?

    That was a friend of a friend situation. I heard that this person, whom I had met a few times socially, worked as an assistant editor at Philomel Books. She was incredibly generous and offered to look at my work. I don’t think she expected much but she actually liked my art and offered to take it down to the Art department. The Art Director promptly rejected it and told me to come back in a few years. Luckily she hung one of my mailers on her wall where it caught the attention of the esteemed editor Patti Gauch (Owl Moon, Lon Po Po). Patti called me up right there and asked when I could be in New York. I borrowed the cash for the train and within a week I was sitting in her office talking about books.

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    Your name is the only name for THE FOOL OF THE WORLD AND THE FLYING SHIP. Did you do the writing of the retold Russian tale?

    Patti suggested that I consider illustrating the story of the fool and sent me on my way. The first edition I found was the Caldecott award winning version illustrated and retold by Uri Schulevitz. Lets not forget, that this is the guy who had literally written THE book on writing and illustrating picture books, Writing With Pictures. After being paralyzed with fear and then realizing there was no way out of this I started my research. I came across a wonderful version of the text by Petr Nikolaevich Polevoi published by St. Petersberg in 1874. Patti and I loved the language and just made a few minor edits. There is a note about the text on the last page of my edition.

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    What was the next book that you illustrated and how did you get that assignment?

    My next book was The Great Redwall Feast by Brian Jaques. Patti was Brian’s stateside editor and had been hounding him to write a picture book. Brian saw The Fool and wrote The Feast for me to illustrate. We quickly became close friends and I had the pleasure of working with him for many years. He is missed and I think of him often.

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    Did anyone hire you just to illustrate a cover for a book?

    Yes, I created the artwork for Brian’s Castaways of the Flying Dutchman. I created two paintings for the cover but ultimately they were never used.

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    Did anyone hire you just to illustrate a cover for a book?

    Yes, I created the artwork for Brian’s Castaways of the Flying Dutchman. I created two paintings for the cover but ultimately they were never used.

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    I see that your wife Anika is an author. How many books have you illustrated for her?

    We have a really fun wintertime read-aloud book due out this August called Baking Day at Grandma’s (Philomel Books). That will be our third. Before that we collaborated on Pigs Love Potatoes (Philomel Books 2007) and Bella and Stella Come Home (Philomel, 2010). Both are still in print and seem to be popular!

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    ChristopherifIcould

    Do you have any desire to write and illustrate a picture book?

    Desire-yes but I have not felt like I have had the chops to pull it off until recently. Writing a solid picture book, as many of your readers know, is incredibly difficult. I have a few things on my desk that are showing some promise and with the help of my incredible agent and friend, Emily vanBeek at Folio Jr., I am sure that a few of them will come to fruition at some point. Recently, I came up with the initial concept and art for a book that I tried writing but it was terrible! Thankfully, Alison McGhee (Someday, Bink & Gollie, Shadow Baby) came to my rescue and penned a gorgeous novel called Firefly Hollow that I am working on right now.

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    Christophercollector

    How and when did you get involved in visual development work for animated feature films?

    A RISD alumni who knew my work called me to work on a project that was in development with Blue Sky Studios ( Ice age, Rio, Epic). I was part of a very small team of artists all outside the film studio creating images for what the film might look like. I ended up staying with the project for nearly a year. Its a beautiful story that I hope they make into a film someday!

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    Which animated films did you work on?

    Left Tern (Blue Sky studios), Beasts of Burden (ReelFx), a bit of work on Rio (Blue Sky studios) after it was already in production, and a few others that have not yet been made and I am not supposed to talk about!

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    What is involved in visual development in animation?

    Visual Development artists are called in to work with a director and/or production designer to help envision the look and feel of a film. You need to check your ego at the door, stay flexible, and work very, very quickly. I would turn out 20-30 paintings a week. Many loose, some more finished. Sometimes your paintings would be sent off to another artist to paint over and then sent back to you for work again. Often there is not a solid script and you are flying by the seat of your pants with a story summary and a few story beats (moments in a film) that you need to nail down. I love the collaborative aspect of the work and the idea that it is all about the story-not just making one or two pretty pictures.

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    I noticed that you used pastels on one of your illustrations. Is that your favorite medium?

    I love pastel work but really I love whatever is working for that particular book. Its always about the book on my desk and what it needs from me. I do enjoy the flexibility and speed of photoshop. I am impatient with my work and want to get to the good stuff as soon as possible. I need to get in there and start painting and changing things. Acting and re-acting. Photoshop is a wonderful tool for that type of work.

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    Has your style changed over the years?

    Sure, with every book and the demands of each manuscript. Writing is hard and I think it would be a great disservice to the author and the story for me to impose a particular style on a book.

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    How did you connect with the lovely agent, Emily van Beek?

    How long have the two of you been together? Emily and I met when I signed on with Pippin about 5 years ago. I was thrilled to re-connect with her later on when she started Folio Junior.

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    What do you think has been your greatest career accomplishment?

    Wow. Tough question. Ask me again in about twenty years! A Redwall Winters Tale and Oliver Finds His Way would both rank pretty high up there for different reasons but I always think that I am only as good as my last book. I feel pretty good about the last year. I completed two books that I am VERY proud of. Sleepytime Me by Edith Fine (Random House, May 2014) and Baking Day at Grandma’s (Philomel, August 2014)

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    christopherfollowinggrandfather

    How many children books have you illustrated?

    About twenty two I think. A few of the titles were created for educational publishers then re-published for the regular trade market.

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    How did you get involved in illustrating the Redwall series of books?

    Patti Gauch was responsible for showing Brian Jacques my work. Thanks, Patti!

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    How many of those books have you illustrated?

    I illustrated three books for the the Redwall picture-book series. The Great Redwall Feast (Philomel 1996), A Redwall Winters Tale (Philomel 2001), and The Redwall Cookbook (Philomel 2005)

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    It looks like you have done a lot of books with Philomel. How many books have you illustrated for them?

    Nine books with Philomel so far.

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    OLIVER FINDS HIS WAY was published by Candlewick. How did that contract come about?

    Chris Paul at Candlewick called me up out of the blue one day and said she had a project that she would like me to consider. They are just up in Somerville so I drove up for lunch and met with Chris and the wonderful Mary Lee Donovan. I knew right away that I wanted to work with them. Candlewick is a fantastic house, beautiful books, super nice people.

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    I think Jane Yolen lives near you. Did you know her before you illustrated THE SEA MAN? Was that the only Merman you have illustrated?

    I did not know Jane before I illustrated The Sea Man, but of course I knew Jane’s work. We just saw each other at Kindling Words in January and since then have talked about the possibility of working together again. Yes-that was the very first Merman I was asked to illustrate.

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    Do they have a studio in your house?

    My studio is about 15′ from my back door in a separate building that I re-built just three years ago. For years I had studios in Providence. Downtown is only about twelve miles away from the little beach-side community where we live but the drive home, late at night if I was working on deadline or a film project, was not fun. It was convenient when I was teaching at RISD but I was also missing my wife and the kids. I like to be able to quit at 4:00, spend some time with my family, have a glass of wine, dinner, read to the kids, and put them to bed. After that I walk back out to the studio for another session. Making books is hard work but my family life and walks on the beach keep me anchored and very happy.

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    I was able to see some of your wonderful black and white interior drawings that did you do for Rosemary Well’s book, FOLLOWING GRANDFATHER. How many did you do for the 64 page book?

    Gosh, I don’t remember-quite a few! I loved working with Rosemary and since then we have become good friends.

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    Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

    Yes, I think I did work for Ladybug magazine. I may have done work for Cricket.

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    Your new book coming out in May titled, SLEEPYTIME ME is beautiful. How did you get that contract with Random House?

    I was working with Elena Mechlin at Pippin and she brought the manuscript to me. Edith’s (Fine) writing is so wonderful. That was another fantastic project. Random House gave me lots of support and complete freedom.

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    How long did you have to illustrate that whole book?

    I created that suite of images in about six months. They were long days but I loved the work.

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

    Not so many things personally. Emily, my agent, makes sure that I have plenty on my plate. I work closely with her making sure that we have a plan and chart out the production schedule. Our biggest challenge is leaving some blocks of time off-especially in the summer

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

    My sketchbook-no doubt.

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

    I do try to take some time in the summer to go landscape painting. But in truth I work on my craft every single day. I try to start each session as a novice.

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

    I do take some pictures. I browse books ( fine art, photography, other picture books) from my own shelves and the library-seeing what comes to me. The internet, of course, is amazing.

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    I notice that you are doing the illustrations for Betsy Devany’s debut picture book, SMELLY BABY. Both of you are represented by Emily van Beek. I can’t wait to see the illustrations. Great match-up! How was Emily able to get you two together?

    This is one of the great things about Emily. We were talking about what I wanted to work on, scheduling and such and she was already thinking way ahead of me about what would serve us (because we are most definately a team) professionally but also allow me to stretch artistically. She called me up a few days later and asked how I felt about working on something funny and emailed Betsy’s manuscript for Smelly Baby. I read it through and forced my self to wait for ten minutes before I said YES!

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

    Yes but it has nothing to do with publishing! I was nominated for the Frazier award in teaching at RISD. That nomination was particularly meaningful to me because it is the students who vote for the few nominees that make the cut. That was such an honor because I loved working with such wonderfully talented young artists and I put my heart in soul into teaching those classes. Of course I am grateful and honored when any of my books receive recognition.

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    Out of all the books you have illustrated, do you have a favorite?

    Another tough question. The books are like my girls, they are all my favorites for different reasons. If I had to choose I would choose four. Pigs Love Potatoes (Anika Denise) Oliver Finds His Way (Phyllis Root), Sleepytime Me (Edith Fine), and Baking Day at Grandma’s (Anika Denise).

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    Do you use Photoshop or a graphic tablet when illustrating?

    I paint and draw in Photoshop using a medium size wacom intuos tablet and pen.

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

    I am in the process of doing just that! I spend my days drawing pictures and coming up with stories. How great is that?!

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    What are you working on now?

    Firefly Holly ( Simon & Schuster) an illustrated novel by Alison McGhee, and Betsy Devany’s picture book Smelly Baby (Henry Holt & Company)

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

    I think my breakthrough with digital tools came when I stopped trying to “learn” the software and started to think of using photoshop to replicate my traditional process. To use the program in the same way as I used my traditional tools. Same layering process, same ways of applying color. Make the digital tools work for you-mistakes and all. In the end you have more flexibility and can change things. Also-be brave and create your own brushes to get the effects that you want.

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

    Trust your instincts. Do what you need to do to get by but after that point do not be afraid to say no to something if your heart is not in it.

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    Thank you Christopher for sharing your talent, process, expertise, and journey with us. Please keep in touch and let us know all of your future successes. We would love to hear about them.

    You can visit Christopher at: http://www.christopherdenise.com You can link over to his blog and his Etsy shop where he sell original artwork.

    facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Christopher-Denise-Illustrator

    I really appreciate it when you leave a comment, so please take a minute to leave Christopher a comment. Thanks!

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Tips Tagged: Anika Denise, Baking Day at Grandma's, Christopher Denise, Patty Gauch, Sleepytime Me

    10 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Christopher Denise, last added: 4/12/2014
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    15. Reference Links to Help With Query Letter Writing

    CarolynSchlamPINKGLASSES

    This illustration of the cute girl with pink glasses above was sent in by Carol Schulman. She is the author of two books on art, both now represented by Schulman Literary in NY.  The first, “The Creative Path: Process and Practice” is a look at creativity from philosophical, psychological and practical points of view.  The sequel: “Art Smarts: A Book to Help You Become a GR8 Artist” is a sequel for children. See more at: http://www.carolynschlam.com/Art_Pages/Illustration/Illustration_info.html

    Leslie has been focusing on querying agents and looking for places that had good information about navigating this process. She decided to share some resources she gathered from various writing friends on her blog “Rear in Gear”. She says, “I’m always thankful for their help, and thought I’d pay it forward in a small way.”

    Queries Not Questions

    by Leslie Zampettis at Rear in Gear.

    Here is Leslie’s list, in no particular order:

    AgentQuery

    Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents

    Successful Queries (a subsection of the above guide)

    Preditors and Editors

    Publishers’ Submission Guidelines

    JacketFlap

    SCBWI BlueBoard

     8 Steps to Finding the Right Agent

     Critiquing First Pages and Queries

    10 Questions to Ask an Agent

    Kidlit.com – Queries

    How to Write the Perfect Query Letter

    Query Shark

    Query Tracker

    Writers Market  *This is a subscription service. IMHO, well worth it.

    Children’s Writer Newsletter  *Another subscription service. Articles often contain market bib biographies, and every issue contains market profiles. Also well worth it.

    • lesliezLeslie Zampetti has had stories published in online children’s magazines and is now querying agents for her middle grade fantasy novel. A childhood spent in Florida has this transplanted New Yorker frequently dreaming of sunshine – but she enjoys the whirl of the city and its riches, not least of which is the New York Public Library.

      According to most successful authors, the best way to succeed is to plant your tushy in your seat and write. Leslie’s been doing that for some years now and is beginning to see the seeds of her labor blossom. Interested in knowing more? Stop by her blog, “Rear in Gear,” at http://zampettilw.wordpress.com.

    Thank you Leslie to sending this to me. It is nice to have a list and it is nice that you were willing to share the wealth. I am sure everyone will bookmark this one.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy

     


    Filed under: demystify, How to, list, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Carol Schulman, Leslie Zampettis, Links to resources, Queries, Rear in Gear

    3 Comments on Reference Links to Help With Query Letter Writing, last added: 4/15/2014
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    16. Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenna Pocius

    CALL For: May/June Illustrations – 500 pixels wide

    Jenna Pocius

    I want to thank Jenna Porcius from Bloomsbury for sharing her expertise and donating her time to help all of us.

    Below are the results for the four first pages critiqued by editor Jenna Porcius from Bloomsbury.

    Next Friday May 16th Agent Marie Lamba from Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency will critique 4 first pages.

    QUINLAN LEE, Agent, Adams Literary  will end MAY with her four critiques posted on May 30th. Deadline to submit: May 22nd.

    Here are the Results:

    Carolyn Clark, MG Fantasy: MISSION TO THE SKY: THE ODIN EXPEDITION

    Tiny Mitchell of 18 Hummingbird Lane was the only one in her family with any sense of magic and wonder. Her parents were scientists, and they only believed in things they could see, touch, and count.

    No matter how much they insisted magic didn’t exist, Tiny knew they were wrong. She knew that her great-great-great grandmother Petunia Wilson put spells on people and animals to make them behave. Once, she even worked for the President of the United States and helped him catch thieves trying to steal all the gold in Ft. Knox. Tiny admired her great-great-great grandmother and wanted to be just like her, maybe even help the President. She just didn’t know how to go about it.

    Tiny’s older brother, Jamie, didn’t believe in magic either, although he did believe he ran the universe, especially her small corner of it. She knew that wasn’t true either, despite the fact he kept trying to prove he did.

    “Okay, shrimp, where do you think you’re going?” Jeans full of holes and covered with ballpoint pen drawings of everything from cars to trees and flowers, Jamie stood in the front doorway, sneakered feet ready to pounce. He grabbed for her arm, but missed when she ducked around him.

    Being fast and small helped Tiny a lot in the big brother department.” None of your beeswax where I’m going, toad breath, and my name’s Tiny.” Well, her name wasn’t really Tiny. Her parents named her Theresa, but Tiny suited her just fine.
    She raced down the steps, jumped on her bike, and pedaled as fast as her legs could go, because she knew Jamie didn’t give up that easily. And, she was right. Paper clips bounced off the thick rubber band in his fingers and whirred around her head, but she couldn’t let them stop her.

    HERE IS JENNA’s Comment for MISSION TO THE SKY:

    I love the idea of this little girl who believes in magic even though no one else does—it’s a sweet notion that feels perfect for young middle grade. I also really like the family element, and the mention of her great-great-great grandmother has me curious to find out more about the nature of this family magic. But the introduction of her brother and their fighting shifts the focus a bit in a way that is not quite as engaging. I’d love to see more focus on Tiny in these first pages to help set up the plot and give the reader a better sense of where the story is going.

    _____________________________________________________

    The Edge, By Angela Larson – Middle Grade

    “…Our final announcement this Monday morning comes from Mr. Bennett. All science fair forms are due today by noon. A reminder to all scientists: There is a strict ban on explosive demonstrations this year.” My face grows so hot I’m sure I’m turning red. The announcer didn’t need to say, “We’re talking to you Felix Mathew,” for the whole school knows those last few words are aimed at me. We all just know it. You’d think that they’d be over it — that I’d be over it –I mean, it’s been a year already. Come on, my right eyebrow grew back three months ago.

    I should probably tell you what happened. Last year, specifically, on the one day a year that the athletic teams of Einstein Scientific Junior Academy give up their precious gym for the school science fair I, Felix Mathews, rocketed a potato across the gym at 236 miles per hour. I imagined it would be one of those awesome moments where everyone would stop and be wowed by my brilliance. I was even prepared. I had practiced outside once before the fair.

    It was a stunning moment at the fair last year. Everyone was stopped by my demonstration. It was just the screams that I hadn’t expected.

    My launch pad was stable and strong, my practice run went well, and my confidence was high. But a small nudge by one of the judges a split-second before lift off changed the projectile. With a loud bang, the potato shot out its adjusted path at stunning speed and completely destroyed the gymnasium’s scoreboard. While everyone else watched the scoreboard shatter and fall, I smacked my right eyebrow, extinguishing the flaming hairs lit by the launch.

    After the shower of plexiglass stopped, the judges showed no interest in my poster explaining combustion theory. I had labored over it for hours. And standing alone with my poster, at rocket speed I was hit with the certainty that I wasn’t going to be invited to the Monday morning school assembly to show off my prize-winning demonstration. Another attempt at greatness dashed – by just one potato.

    HERE IS JENNA’S Comment for THE EDGE:

    I really like the classic boy middle-grade humor here, and I laughed out loud when I read “Come on, my right eyebrow grew back three months ago.” But I do think the opener would be stronger if it didn’t lead with the announcement. Situating Felix in the school first (maybe he’s walking to class, sitting at his desk, etc. doing something characteristically Felix) and then bringing in the announcement, for example, could help with pacing and build. Also, there’s some repetition here of information about the fair and what happened last year, so tightening that up will help make sure that the story is packing a tight, funny punch.

    ____________________________________________________

    THE RIGHT STUFFING by Margo Sorenson - Picture Book

    Jared picked up Carrots and his baseball glove.

    Jared’s big sister Sarah frowned. “Don’t take that old stuffed bunny outside,” she said. “Aren’t you too old for him, anyway?”

    Jared whisked Carrots out the door quick as a bunny.

    “Good catch, Carrots!” he shouted.

    Next, it was time to go to the grocery store. Jared sneaked Carrots into his car seat in the car.

    “You shouldn’t bring that old stuffed bunny inside,” Sarah scolded. “Ick!”

    But Jared raced up and down the aisles with Carrots tucked safely under his arm.

    He stopped in front of the vegetables bin. “Look, Carrots!” he said, pointing. “There’s your name!”

    At dinner, Jared squeezed Carrots next to him in his booster seat at the table.

    “You’re not bringing that old stuffed bunny to dinner again, are you?” asked Sarah. “If you really have to have a bunny around, I’m going to tell Mom and Dad to get you a nice, new one.”

    Jared scrunched Carrots down behind him. Only Carrots’ ears stuck up.

    “Lettuce decide what dressing you want,” Jared whispered.

    Next, Jared got in his pajamas, grabbing Carrots’ paw.

    Sarah sighed, “You can’t take that old, dirty bunny to bed! Oh, my gosh. You’re too old for this bunny stuff.”

    Jared snuggled Carrots under the covers next to him.

    HERE IS JENNA’S comment for THE RIGHT STUFFING:

    Myself and my stuffed animal dog, Doggy (who I’ve had since I was three) thank this author for understanding the importance of the child-stuffed animal relationship. J In all seriousness, though, this is definitely something kids and parents can relate to, and Jared and Carrots are an adorable pair. But the action here feels rushed, and the arc not fully fleshed out. I’d love to get to know Jared and Carrots a little more, and it’d be great to see them have a moment where they do something that gets them a positive response from the people around them to make the story a little more dynamic.

    _____________________________________________________

    Eye on the Fly by Shiela Fuller  -  Picture Book

    Bentley spied the fly.

    It was on the screen door as Mom left the house.

    The fly took off.

    Bituzz…bituzzzz.

    Bentley had his eye on the fly.

    It landed on the rocking chair.

    Bentley jumped.

    The fly took flight.

    Bituzz…bituzzzz.

    Bentley kept his eye on the fly.

    It landed on the trash can.

    Bentley pounced.

    Off went the fly.

    Bituzz…bituzzzz.

    Bentley saw the fly.

    It landed on the blueberry pie.

    Bentley darted.

    Away went the fly.

    Bituzz…bituzzzz.

    Bentley had his eye on the fly

    HERE IS JENNA’S comments for EYE ON THE FLY:

    I think this is a creative idea, but the repetition is making it hard for me to get into the story. I’m not sure where the story’s going, and more importantly I’m not sure why I should care about Bentley and this fly. Widening the focus beyond following the fly—maybe establishing why Bentley is so focused on following the fly, for example—could help to develop the story.

    __________________________________________________

    Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in May: Please “May First Page Critique” or “May First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

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

    DEADLINE: May 22nd.

    RESULTS: May 30th.

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy

     


    Filed under: Advice, demystify, Editors, inspiration, opportunity, revisions Tagged: Bloomsbury, Editor, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday - Results, Jenna Pocius

    1 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenna Pocius, last added: 5/9/2014
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    17. Illustrator Saturday – Denise Clemmensen

    deniseBird Cat Caterpillar header

    Denise Clemmensen240Denise Clemmensen has been an artist from the moment she tore open her first box of crayons. In fact she became a drawing maniac. She drew on everything. Her parents finally bought her a little table where her coloring passion could be unleashed a little less destructively. Being a very shy child during her school years, she kept her passion for art quite. Though, one time in fifth grade, while helping out on the class history mural, her fifth-grade teacher noticed she could draw. For the rest of the week her teacher asked her to work on the mural while the rest of the class studied math.

    Artistically, Denise has worn many hats; she has done both fine and graphic art, and has even made handmade rag dolls. But, throughout her artistic journey, her love of children’s books has never wavered.

    In 2011, Denise illustrated the award-wining picture book, “Just Because.” This is her first picture book and in 2013 it won the prestigious Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award. And, in 2012 it won the Young Voices Award, The Mom’s Choice Gold Award, and was named a Book of the Year by Creative Child Magazine.

    She has illustrated artwork for various traditional and Internet-based educational publishers, and produces illustrations and character designs for many private clients.

    Denise lives in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, with her husband, and for the time being, her grown kids, grandkids, two dogs, two cats, and three fish!

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    Here is Denise explaining her process:

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    Sketch of the kids. Sometimes when I start a project I do character sketches. That way I can get to know and shape the different characters and their personalities. Here are three children from “Just Because” and their favorite toys.

     

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    Sketches of Mom and Dad. This is the rest of the family getting ready for breakfast. The family even has a fluffy dog.

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    Sketch of page 9-Dad holding the kids in a chair. Here is the finished sketch of the kids sitting on their dad’s lap that was used in the book “Just Because.” The white square is where the text will go. I always put in the text, so I can make sure that the words and the picture fit together well.

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    Light box. Once the sketch is finalized I transfer it on to watercolor paper by using a light box. My favorite watercolor paper is Canson 140lb cold press.

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    The start of painting. I use either acrylic matt or gouache paints.

     

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    The second picture of the painting. I paint in layers so I can build up the colors and add depth.

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    The final painting.  After I finish painting I go in with colored pencils to help bring out the details.

    deniseClemmensen picture 8

    All the paintings together. When I do a project that has more then one illustration I like to work on all the paintings at the same time. I rotate my time on each one so I can keep a constant color palette.

    deniseJB cover

    How long have you been interested in art?

    All my life, I even remember as a small child having a drawing table in my bedroom. denisefoxes

    Did you study art in college?

    Yes, I was a Fine Art major all through college.

    deniserollerskater

    deniserollerskating

     

    Did you study to be a librarian?

    No, being a librarian is something I just kind of fell in to. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and when the time came that I needed to go back into the work force, a friend of mine, who was a library aide with the Los Angeles School District, suggested I might like it.

    Before I was a mom I had been a graphic artist, but with the coming of the computer age, I no longer possessed the skills needed to compete in that market. So I have been a library aide for 14 years now and I really enjoy the job and the kids. Plus I am surrounded by children’s literature, how great is that?

    denisegrandma

     

    What was the first painting or illustration that you did for money?

    In my early twenties I tried selling my artwork at local craft shows. I did a bunch of pen and ink fantasy drawings. I think the first one I sold was of a baby unicorn.

    denisehansel

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

    I never quite graduated from college. You know that old story. I was only taking a semester off, I meant to go back and finish, I only had a year left, but life got in the way. My first art job was as a graphic artist. When I took graphic art in college I really didn’t care for it, my heart was really in the fine arts. That quickly changed, I learned so much more on the job and it turned out that I really enjoyed being a graphic artist. By the way, I learned everything old school: T-squares, triangles, French curves, mechanical pens, rubdown type, and so on. It was right before the onset of computers.

    denisecowboy

    What do you think influenced your artistic style?

    I have always loved animated movies. I hate to admit it, but I think Disney had a lot of influence on me, and so did getting married and having a family. Before I met my husband, my artwork was always a little sad and dark.

    denisesketch old lady on scooter

    deniseold lady and the scooter 1 When did you do your the first illustration for children?

    While I was a stay-at-home mom, I still did some freelance illustration jobs here and there. I was hired to do some black and white line drawings for a science book for children.

    denisewaiting

    How did that come about?

    A friend of a friend knew the gentleman who was writing the book and knew that he was looking for someone to do some of the artwork. They introduced us.

    deniseflyingwagon

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

    I think this is something I have always wanted to do, but in my early twenties I took an extension class, How to illustrate Children’s Books, through Cal State Northridge, and that cemented it.

    denisebreakfast

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

    It took a long time to get the first book contract and then there was a fourteen year gap between “Aides: first facts for kids” and “Just Because.”

    denisebluecape

     

    deniselunchbox

    What was your first book that you illustrated?

    My first book was an educational book “Aides: first Facts for kids” written by Linda Schwartz. All of the illustrations where done in pen and ink.

    denisebrushingteeth

    Was it a self-published book

    No, the book was published by The Learning Works, Inc., a small publisher in Santa Barbara, Ca.

    denisecatintreecropped

     

    Are you open to illustrating a self-published book?

    Yes, the second book I illustrated “Just Because” written by Amber Housey was self-published.

     denisefrog

    How did you get the contract to illustrate JUST BECAUSE?

    The author found my illustrations through a website that I belong to. She then contacted the self-publishing house she was using and they in turn contacted me.

     denisegrapescropped

    Have you worked with educational publishers?

    Yes, I just recently did four illustrations that will be included in an educational textbook and a few years ago I did two eight-page booklets written for English learners.

    denisekitegirl500 

    How many children’s books have you illustrated?

    To date, I have done four books, but only one is a traditional 32-page picture book.

    denisejumprope

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

    Yes, I have a few stories that I have been working on.

    denisesuperdog 

    Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

    No, not yet, but I am hopeful.

    denisetugofwar

    Do you have an agent to represent you? If so how did you connect? If not, would you like one?

    No not at this time. I did submit my portfolio to an agency once. They were very polite and helpful but were not interested. I might try again because having an agent does allow more doors to be open for your work to be seen. Though, I believe even if one does have an agent they should still self-promote.

    denisecan'tsleep

    deniseoctogirl

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

    I have a website and a blog. I also advertise on a Children’s illustrators website and I send out post cards to publishers and editors. SCBWI has a spot on their website for illustrators to show their work. Last year, I also ran an ad in the Directory of Illustration.

     denisewatchingtvWhat is your favorite medium to use?

    I would have to say pen and ink, and colored pencil.

    deniselabpartner

     Has that changed over time?

    Yes for me there has not been much demand these days for just pen and ink and colored pencil is very time consuming. In order to save time I started to use acrylic paints with the colored pencil (though I am not sure if any time is actually saved) and I have just recently started to explore painting in Photoshop.

    deniselist 

    Do you have a studio in your house?

    For years my studio was the kitchen table, then I was able to set up a drawing table in the corner of my family room. Two years ago, one of my children moved out, and I was able to turn that room into my art studio.

    deniselunch

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

    My eraser.

    denisemarylamb 

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

    Yes, I look at it as another job. If I am not working on a project for someone I am working on something for self-promotion. I work everyday.

    deniserainynight500

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

    Yes, I have taken lots of photos and I do online and book research. Whenever I go on vacation somewhere I always end up taking photos of all the different plants I come across. Sometimes at home when I am working on a sketch, I will physically put myself in the character’s pose to see how it looks and feels. I even have a small mirror next to my drawing table to reference hands or facial expressions.

    denisemusicroom500

     Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

    Most definitely, it allows me to show my portfolio to more perspective clients than I could before.

     denisespelling bee

    Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

    I have just started playing with Photoshop. I bought a Wacom Tablet a little while back and I have been experimenting with it ever since. It’s fun and I have put a few of my digital works up on my website and blog.

    deniseflyingwagon 

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

    I have just started using the Wacom tablet and for right now, I have just been scanning in my pencil sketches into Photoshop.

    denisepicnic

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

    I would like to illustrate a 32-page picture book from a traditional publisher and I also think it would be great fun to do the cover and inside drawings for a children’s chapter book.

     deniseworriedtwo

     

    deniseworried

    What are you working on now?

    At the moment, besides learning Photoshop and the Wacom tablet, I am busy finishing up some new illustration to add to my portfolio.

    denisebw flying girl with kite

     

    denisestarcat500

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

    When I was working on “Just Because” I bought a light table and that was the best investment I ever made. It took one step out of the process of transferring the sketch on to the watercolor paper. I have found that anything that saves any time when working on a project is great, because deadlines are always so tight.

    denisegoingtoschool

     

    denisedragonraost

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

    Never give up. Work hard. Keep learning and honing your skills, and most important illustrate what you love.

    deniseredridinghood

     

    denisedog

    deniseself portrait line and colorThank you Denise for sharing your illustrations, journey, and process with us this week. We look forward to following your career, so please let us know about your new books and all of your future successes.

    You can visit Denise and see her work at http://deniseclemmensen.blogspot.com/ Please take a minute to leave Denise a comment. I am sure she would love to hear from you and I would appreciate it, too. Thanks!

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process, Tips Tagged: Children's Illustrator, Denise Clemmensen

    3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Denise Clemmensen, last added: 5/11/2014
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    18. Free Fall Friday – Results – Marie Lamba

    I want to thank Agent Marie Lamba from Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency for taking the time out of her busy schedule to critique 4 first pages that were sent in for May. Having her share her expertise is a huge help to all of us.
     
    QUINLAN LEE, Agent, Adams Literary  will end MAY with her four critiques posted on May 30th. Deadline to submit: May 22nd.

     

    Here are the Results:

     

    Jennifer Kirkeby / PEACEFUL ACRES / YA Magical Realism

     
    “David, we’re here.” The voice jolts me awake. The bus driver’s eyes stare back at me through the large mirror they always use to catch kids smoking, eating, making out, or punching each other. Her eyes are glassy and tired with dark bags hanging underneath them as proof. Must have been a long drive. Below the mirror swings an assortment of crucifixes that she begins to untangle.

    I wipe the drool off the side of my mouth and scan the inside of the bus. I’m three rows back on the right side, and unless someone’s sleeping in one of the seats, the only passenger. Weird. I look outside to my right, and am surprised to see a huge white mansion. Gardens out front, a gigantic fountain – real Great Gatsby stuff. Squeezing my eyes shut, I shake my head trying to rattle my brain cells into functioning order to tell me where I am. When I open them, I have a vague memory of going somewhere to do community service.

    “Do you need help with your bags?” the bus driver asks while rubbing the back of her sizable neck.

    “Uh, no. I got it, thanks,” I tell her, while looking around for my stuff. Noticing my confusion, she points to the floor under the front seat where I see my suitcase and backpack. Guess I’m staying a while. When I stand up, my body alerts me that I’ve been sitting forever. My legs practically fold underneath me, my muscles hurt, and my head throbs. I slide my bags out while the driver opens the door. The swooshing sound is like a giant vacuum seal releasing me into the unknown.

    “I’ll see you in six months, David. Stay strong.” My stomach drops. Six months? Her eyes are apologetic. In seconds, her face shifts to genuine concern, and then… is that fear? What does she know that I don’t?

    HERE’S MARIE’S THOUGHTS:

    PEACEFUL ACRES

    This first page raises lots of questions for the reader, which is always a good thing. It makes me wonder where he is and why? What will happen next? That’s the sort of thing that might make me want to read on. The other piece of that “want to read on” puzzle consists of character. Who is this character? Why might I care or worry about him? Get that right, and you’ll definitely have me on board to continue.

    But in this first page (which, I realize, is just ONE page), I know far more about the bus driver and the setting than about the boy. So make sure your focus in this scene is where you truly want it to be.

    The boy’s character is starting to be revealed when he describes the mansion as “real Great Gatsby stuff” – I like that. That’s the sort of detail seen through the character’s eye and said in his voice that not only reveals what he sees, but starts to reveal who he really is. I’d love to see more of his point of view.

    First person can be tricky. It results in lots of “I” sentences. I wipe the drool… I look outside… I slide my bags… Make sure you vary your sentence structure throughout, or this will grow tiresome quickly. Also, once you’ve quickly established that something is in first person, you don’t have to say “I look outside to my right…” Just say, “Outside to my right…” He’s your point of view character, so how else would he see that? You can pull out most, if not all, of the “I see” and “I look” and “I notice” in a story by keeping this in mind. Also try to avoid phrases like, “When I stand up, my body alerts me…” Instead, consider something more direct like, “When I stand, my legs practically fold underneath me…”

    My favorite line in this is: “The swooshing sound is like a giant vacuum seal releasing me into the unknown.” It’s a great lead in to a mysterious tale.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

     

    GAMBLER’S DAUGHTER, YA Novel, by Orel Protopopescu

    PART ONE: January, 1968/   Chapter One

    Six days out of seven, I didn’t know if my father would come home. Sometimes he stayed in the city, gambling, for three nights in a row, nights I was often alone in our house on the edge of a parkway in the middle of Long Island. But every Friday evening he met my train at Penn Station, took me to his club and some place for dinner, and then drove me home by dawn.   This routine was my idea. One day a week, at least, I knew that he’d quit before the sun came up, no matter how much he’d lost. One day a week, we’d share a meal and a few laughs.

    Plenty of girls would think I was lucky to be so free, those who didn’t know what it was like to be your own mother and father.   They’d probably never met anybody like my dad, who’d let me do as I pleased since I was fifteen. If he ever found me in bed with Jimi Hendrix and his guitar, he’d just ask Jimi, politely, if he would play us a song. But my Jimmy wasn’t singing to me, unless you count choir practice, when he sang for everyone and no one. He wasn’t even talking to me anymore, so there was little chance of him ending up in my bed and there was nobody else I wanted to share it with. The world was full of boys and men, but I only longed for a boy who wasn’t even a friend anymore and a father who was almost never home.

    It could have been worse, I told myself. Some kids were orphans, living in shelters, foster care, or even on the streets. That happened to the unlucky ones. But I could look across a table at my dad, no matter how late or early, and know that I still had a sort of family.   That’s why I was making my way over the icy sidewalks between my high school and the train station on a freezing Friday afternoon. The winds were so fierce, I bowed my head to tunnel my way through them. This wasn’t the hard part.  Being at the club would be harder.   I was tired of being my father’s luck.

    HERES MARIE”S THOUGHTS:

    GAMBLER’S DAUGHTER

    Right away, I was drawn into the voice and point of view here. Very important elements to sustain a novel, so this is a great thing!

    One thing I suggest, though, is that the story start out within a scene, instead of with narration. I really feel I could have been pulled firmly into this tale better at the outset if it had instead started out with the line: It could have been worse, I told myself as I made my way over the icy sidewalks. Then pepper the action of the scene with the needed details and we are all on our way, instead of stuck on pause, waiting for the scene to form and begin through narration.

    Two other suggestions. One: I might change the boyfriend’s name from Jimmy to something different, since I found myself stumbling over the Jimmi-Jimmy reference. Also, I thought that the character was a bit too self-aware when she said: “The world was full of boys and men, but I only longed for a boy who wasn’t even a friend anymore and a father who was almost never home.” Part of the fun of a novel is that the characters (like real people) aren’t so self-aware and through the course of the novel we, and they, start to learn how they really tick and why. I personally think it’s more intriguing to have the story and the character nibble around the edges of these sorts of facts.

    But overall, a solid start.

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Middle Grade novel: THE WOUNDED BOOK by Laurel Decher

    In the year of our Lord 1006, on the eve of Ascension Day, the morning star rose over Arezzo, and Bella jumped from her window into the back of the woolman’s cart. The driver glanced over his shoulder.

    Had he seen her?

    He crossed himself, scolded his donkey, and drove a bit faster.

    Bella wriggled herself in between two firm sacks of wool, and pulled her knees up to her chin. It had been easy enough to leap out the window of Uncle’s house. Had Papa passed as easily through heaven’s gate? Bella hoped so.

    A tuft of wool tickled her nose and she sneezed. She held her breath. If the driver threw her off, how could she get to the market and back before the bells rang for Terce, so that Uncle did not notice her absence?

    The cart slowed. Bella still did not dare to breathe. The cart stopped. She pressed her hands over her mouth and nose, praying that she would not be discovered. The driver called out. The cart turned the corner and rumbled on.

    The rush of Bella’s pent-up breath set wool puffs dancing. She caught them, rolled them into balls, and pelted the woolsacks, singing under her breath. The third time through the Agnus Dei—backwards and a bit louder—she laughed.

    “Do all you woolsacks think I am singing to you? Does every lamb think it is the Lamb of God? Come, I will sing you a psalm.”

    Bella crooned three verses and stopped on the Paths of Righteousness, well before the Valley of Death. She laid her cheek against a rough sack.

    HERE’S MARIE’S THOUGHTS: 

    THE WOUNDED BOOK

    First of all, LOVE the title. How cool is that? And this story starts off fun too, raising good story questions. Why is she jumping out her window?

    Who wouldn’t want an answer to that?

    Some things could use tightening and clarifying here. Like – was the cart moving when she jumped into it? I had no idea and was a little thrown when I read “drove a bit faster.” Another thing that confused me was how at first she was so afraid to be discovered that she “did not dare to breathe,” but then she’s singing under her breath, then laughing, then talking, then crooning. What happened? No cone of silence here, right?

    There are a number of sentences that start with “She,” so the writer could vary her sentence structure a bit more. And at one point the character spells out the stakes: “If the driver threw her off, how could she get to the market and back before the bells rang Terce, so that Uncle did not notice her absence?” I think this info could be conveyed a bit more artfully by pulling away from telling and putting the thought more into the scene and keeping the reader more engaged. Something like: If the driver threw her off now and she were late getting back… She shivered imagining her Uncle, his face red with fury, his hand raised in anger.

    Intriguing start.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    When Storms Surge in August by Lauren Rizzuto

    In August, the heat always arrived before the sun did. It didn’t mind that the sky was still dark; the light would get there soon enough. Meanwhile, the heat was content to settle in, unannounced, easing into the streets and lawns and sidewalks, all the way up to the doors and windows of the houses. It didn’t knock because–well, it didn’t need to. Like a too-early guest, the heat just made its heavy self at home before anyone was prepared to wake up and greet it properly.

    Inside the house at 39 Thornton Drive, an eight-year-old Ernestine Deveraux kicked off the covers to the double bed she shared with her little sister, Sarah. Her oversized tshirt stuck to her skin with sweat, bunching around her middle. Yanking it down, she flipped over onto her side and ferreted about the pillow with her cheek, trying to find a cool spot, but the cloth was too warm to be comfortable anymore. The clock on her nightstand read 5:56 a.m. Sighing, she turned onto her back and stared pointedly at the ceiling. She might as well get up. It wouldn’t do to be late on the first day of school.

    Next to her, Sarah grunted sleepily. “You awake?” Ernie asked. No reply. Sarah never seemed to have as much trouble sleeping in the hot little room. Carefully, Ernie brushed her sister’s hair back from her damp forehead, with intentions as tender as they were curious. It looked like that birthmark was getting even weirder looking. Unfortunate.

    “You can sleep for a little while longer,” Ernie whispered. Sarah continued playing possum, and so, being older and bigger, Ernie felt compelled to shove her, just a little, as she inched her way out of the bed and walked to the window. If she squinted, she could just make out the plump figure of Mrs. Demares, who was similarly standing and watching from inside her dark house, blowing cigarette smoke through her screen door.

    HERE ARE MARIE’S THOUGHTS: 

    WHEN STORMS SURGE IN AUGUST

    This first page, while clearly written and showing touches of the lyrical, is slow on the start. We writers often tend to write ourselves into a scene. Zooming from a large shot (the weather, the landscape), into a room (entering the house), focusing on a still unnamed child (an eight-year-old), and starting at the moment of the day beginning, but not, really, the beginning of the true story. I’m a writer too, and I’ve done this myself – and in very nearly the same form – on a middle grade manuscript I wrote early in my career.

    Here’s what I found out through my own writing: most, if not all of this lead-in stuff can be cut.

    Chances are good that this story will start cooking for real on page two or even further along. It’s always great to start right there with the character, and right at the inciting incident, or as close to it as the writer can begin. That doesn’t mean there won’t be room to add details about the heat or the neighborhood as the story moves along, but with tightening up the story the reader won’t have to wonder what is new or interesting here.

    Imagine how potent this start would be if it instead started with something revealing and active like your heroine tugging her sister down the street, telling her, “Come on. You know what’ll happen if we’re late.” Then we are hearing her voice, we are in motion, we sense tension, we have questions we want answered. We turn the page.

    In this sample, an intriguing detail involves that birthmark. I’m guessing it’s significant. Is this some paranormal sort of mark? A hint of illness? Something that will lead to teasing? Right now I have no idea, but it does add a question mark in my mind, which is always good. The title and the word choices hint at literary, but aren’t firmly in that genre either, so I’m not sure what sort of journey is being promised. You DO want the reader to have a sense of that.

    One other thing to note: I’m assuming this is a middle grade novel. If so, the 8-year-old main character is very young. While middle grade is aimed at the 8-12 year old reader, kids typically want to read books about kids who are older than they are. So, by setting your character at age 8, you are cutting off a decent share of this market and editors must be very mindful of who will be reading this book – and if it will be profitable. That’s why you’ll find 7- and 8-year-old heroes starring more in chapter books and easy readers. If this is, indeed, a middle grade novel, then do consider making your main character older. Just something important to keep in mind.

     

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, demystify, inspiration, opportunity, revisions Tagged: Agent Marie Lamba, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday - Results

    4 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results – Marie Lamba, last added: 5/16/2014
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    19. Study Guide – Darlene Beck-Jacobson

    wheels

    WHEELS OF CHANGE STUDY GUIDE

    1. Change is the overriding theme of this novel. Discuss good vs. bad change and how the characters accepted or rejected change. CCSS RL 4.9
    2. How did Emily’s ideas about change evolve throughout the story? CCSS RL 3.3
    3. What does the horseshoe symbolize? Do you think it really had power? Explain. CCSS RL 5.4
    4. Do you think Beatrice’s personality and behavior are her own or as result of trying to please her mother? CCSS RL 3.3
    5. What characteristics made Charlie a good friend for Emily? Vice versa. CCSS RL 3.3
    6. What do you think of Emily’s reaction to Mrs. Peabody’s comments at the tea? Was Emily justified in dumping tea in Mrs. Peabody’s lap?   Explain why or why not. What would you have done? CCSS RL 4.3
    7. 1908-09 was a time in history when segregation was common. Do you think Mr. Soper was courageous in employing an African-American? Explain. CCSS RL 3.3
    8. Was life easier or harder in 1909? What did you like about the time period?
    9. The roles of males and females were more sharply divided in the early 20th Century. Do you think Emily’s resistance to learning proper lady-like behavior was typical for girls her age? Why or why not? CCSS RL 4.3
    10. How did Emily’s relationship with Mama change? CCSS RL 5.2
    11. The story takes place when there were fewer luxuries in everyday life – especially regarding entertainment. What would you do if you had no radio, television, telephone, electricity or car, like most of the people in the story? CCSS RL 4.9
    12. Learning skills and being self-sufficient was important during this time in history. Why? Do you think these values are still important today? Explain.
    13. Emily and Charlie were expected to help the family by doing daily chores. If they weren’t completed, the household and family suffered. Does your family depend on you to do certain jobs? What would happen if you didn’t do them? CCSS RL 4.9
    14. What did Emily expect President Roosevelt to do for Papa? CCSS RL 4.3
    15. What did you think of Emily’s suggestions for changing Papa’s business? What might you have done to help? CCSS RL 4.9
    16. Do you think it was foolish or brave of Emily to stay in the barn during the fire? What would you have done? CCSS RL 3.3
    17. There were limited opportunities for women at the turn of the 20th Century. Single women who were not from wealthy families could teach, work long hours in a factory under awful conditions, or work as maids, governesses, or servants to wealthy families. Once married, they were expected to stay home and care for their husband and children. Do the opportunities enjoyed by women today make their lives easier or more difficult? Explain. CCSS RL 4.9
    18. When Mama first meets Mrs. Jackson, they seem ill as ease with one another. Why? CCSS RL 5.2
    19. Do you think it was unusual for Emily’s best friend to be a boy? Why or why not?
    20. If the story took place today, do you think it would be easy for a girl to become a blacksmith? Explain.

    Hope this gives you some ideas of how proceed when you publish your book.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: demystify, How to, inspiration, marketing, Process, Writing Tips Tagged: Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Study Guide, Study Guide Example, Wheels of Change

    3 Comments on Study Guide – Darlene Beck-Jacobson, last added: 6/1/2014
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    20. Illustrator Saturday – Marcelo Elizalde

    marceloMarcelo Elizalde was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1953. He is a self-taught, dedicated children’s books illustrator.

    At school he considered his drawings as average, but his peers and professors saw a difference that he hardly acknowledged. What really differenciated him from other children was his rather excessive love for cartoons and picturebooks. Pictures, especially those intended for children, made him dream of something that he could not fully understand.

    In Argentina he contributed to the most important publishers of books and magazines, and after the year 2000 he started to work for abroad. He began by Spain, but soon he added clients in the USA, Korea, Sweden, Canada and other countries.

    A few years ago, he started teaching Children’s Books Illustration at the main art school in Buenos Aires, what made him review all he knew about the craft and conceive a conceptual basis for a criticism of the images intended for children. He is nowadays writing a book about the subject, that has his mind in a state of continuous bubbling, which he says, “makes him look a little absent-minded, or deranged, if you will.”

    HERE IS MARCELO:

    I work with an iMac 21.5″, 8Gb RAM, OS Mavericks; an Intuos 4 graphic tablet, and an Epson V500 scanner.

    The application is Photoshop CS6

    Step 1

    Step 1

    I very rarely draw directly on Photoshop. I feel that the tablet has this limitation and that I cannot move my hand with grace to set the first ideas on paper. There are some illustrators who do not start in paper, to whom I strongly recommend to use the pencil. The sketch comes out faster and dances better.

    I sketch on a light semitransparent paper that lets me trace and refine the sketch. When I have it as I wish, i.e. precise where I need and loose where I am more confident, I scan it to 300ppi.

    Step 2cropped

    Step 2

    I always work upon the very layout, to be sure that the image is always in place in relation to the whole graphic space. When needed, I do it on the spread, so that both pages talk smoothly-or at least not fight to death. For that, I open the PDF of the layout as individual PSD files and save them in this format. I paste the scan of the sketch and put it in place and resize it if needed.

    Step 3cropped

    Step 3

    I open a new layer, fill it white and reduce its transparency to a value that lets me trace the drawing with a black common round brush.

    Step 4

    Step 4

    I put a special attention in refining these lines so they have movement and profile and they don’t appear blunt or clumsy. I think that every bit of the illustration must have a beauty of its own and not depend on fellow sectors to look good.

    Step 5

    Step 5

    When I´m done with the black lines, I open a new layer below this one and set a background. It can be any color, as long as it is dark enough to be visible when I “paint” the subject. I prefer dark blue, or red, or an earth hue.

    Step 6

    Step 6

    In the times when the capabilities of Photoshop to build brushes was very primitive, I made this one up for very general painting purposes. And albeit I now have a box full of gorgeous brushes, I still use this one from time to time. I named it “Ancient” in the brush presets box.

    Step 7

    Step 7

    Between the blue Background layer and the black line layer, I open a new one and I paint a background that will belong to the subject and that will give it the desired general hue. I chose a brownish color and set the layer to 50%. This I do so as to help the image have a chromatic coherence, as if working with washes of paint.

    Step 8

    Step 8

    I start the always uncertain process of applying color in steps, using the Ancient and varying the transparency with the pressure of the pen. First darker colors, then the lighter.

    Step 9

    Step 9

    I keep on applying layers of “paint”. You can see the blue background a little through this layer. It may not look like very important, but try otherwise and the difference will be huge.

    The application allows me to go back some steps and retry and again and so forth. Luckily, you can’t see my doubts here. See that the borders f the paint are slightly loose with respect to the outline.

    Step 10

    Step 10

    I apply the lighter color in the illuminated parts. By default, I make the light come from above to the left.

    Step 11

    Step 11

    I continue with the other subjects and objects of the scene.

    Step 12

    Step 12

    Added the color to the ground that the subject is standing on. I apply, always in a separate layer, the highlight, generally in white.

    I do it in a separate layers so as to control the intensity by varying the transparency of the said layer.

    Step 13

     

    Step 13

    I open a layer above the blue background and, using again the Ancient, I proceed to “smudge” it to produce a soft, textured new background, suited especially for illustrations that either don´t need a scenery or are requested as standing alone in the blank of the page.

    Step 14

    Step 14

    Finally, I apply the heavy Shadows layer. For that, I open a new one and set it in Darken mode, 25-30% opacity. Then I (usually) draw flat shadows with blue C100 M100 Y0 B0.

    I set it in Darken mode so the details underneath are not painted over but are modified as if under a shadow. I change the transparency according to the color of the subject and the need of stress or character.

    Step 15

    Step 15

    This is the final picture as I give it in. CMYK, 300ppi, TIFF format.

    I hope you like it.
    marceloharry

    How long have you been interested in art?

    I was the “artist” of the family, albeit no one knew what we actually meant by that. It was easy to see that I would drop out from any technical career, which I did.

    marcelo

    Did you study art in college? If so, what college did you attend and what did you study?

    I assisted for less than a year to the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts) in Buenos Aires. In those days the syllabus was very good but rigidly classical, and Illustration was a very, very bad word. Everyone liked what I produced, but it was just illustration or it looked like such. Nobody knew what to answer to the question “So, what?”. I dropped out and went back home to teach myself.

    marcelofiremanhose

    Can you tell us a little bit about the classes you liked?

    I liked especially Sculpture and Engraving, partly because the professors were very talented and open minded, and were of the idea, which I learned then, that you must try to master the technique to liberate yourself from material burden as much as possible. Their message was “do what you want, not what you can“. I forgot about Gravure, but Sculpture is still a blissful place where I want to get someday.

    marcelocat500

    What was the first painting or illustration that you did for money?

    The very first were a couple of single-panel cartoons for a sailing magazine. They were funny and I still like them.

    marcelograss

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

    I did not graduate, as I said, and the things that I did one can hardly call them a “job”. My career started out in the wilderness.

    marcelowritingbook

    How and why did you start going digital with your art?

    In the 90s I contributed to a magazine –that was the dream-come-true of my childhood– and for production reasons they encouraged us illustrators to switch to working with computers. I like gadgets, so I bought a Mac and all the peripherals one Friday, a friend helped me plug everything correctly on Saturday and Monday evening I was giving in my first digital illustration. I felt like I had been illustrating in Photoshop for years and that I could finally perform things that were impossible with traditional materials.

    marcelocircus

    Have you always lived in Argentina?

    Yes, except for a 6 month stay at Bogotá, Colombia. I moved with the idea of settling there, availing a publishing boom, but I soon found out that it didn’t smell like books but rather just like paper. That was a vaccine against any will to migrate.

    marcelopurpleears

    What do you think influenced your artistic style?

    I have a straightforward and humorous approach to my subjects, and that I learned from Sergio Aragonés, a Cuban cartoonist that did the little drawings in the corners of Mad magazines. He knew everything about producing funny situations in black and white ink thumbnails. I also learned a lot with Richard Scarry, who conveyed humor and expression to his very simple animal characters. And for the image itself, I always loved and longed for the illustrators of the 50s and 60s, like the Provensens or Celestino Piatti or my compatriot Ayax Barnes, among many others.

    marcelopointing

    What was your first big success in illustrating?

    In Colombia I illustrated a cookbook for children produced by Nestlé (the swiss dairy company) to be distributed to supermarkets that sold hundreds of thousands of copies. But this I learned when I was back in Argentina, so nobody even patted my shoulder for that.

    marceloalligatorsandbomb

    When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for the children’s market?

    Nearly always, or at least since I was 17. The trouble is that I didn’t know then that that was called illustration and that doing it for children was a specialty in its own right. I always wanted to produce the kind of images that I saw in the books I read.

    marcelocatandcookies

    When did you do your the first illustration for children? And what was it?

    In a sense, when I was 17, an age that I mentioned before, and it was in the most direct and brutal manner.

    marceloaligatorapples

    How did that come about?

    I assisted to a secondary school where they thoroughly taught us English language, and the last year we had to make teaching practices within the school, to primary pupils. My first assignment was a first grade, Friday afternnon, last hour; the worst possible combination. To make things harder, the teacher was very beautiful and we were all in love with her.

    The subject was The Farm. I could neither refuse nor desert so I produced a series of cutout animals and people and farm objects that the little demons had to stick to a big paper with background field and sky. Though I made this up the night before, the lesson was such a success that I could have the children quiet for 15 minutes. The cutouts were much admired and I thought “Where did this all come from? How could I do it out of nothing?” It took me ten more years to find out.

    marceloeyes

    Do you have an agent to represent you? If so how did you connect? If not, would you like one?

    I did have one in the UK, but it didn’t work. I would like to have one. There should be agents to get you an agent. An Uberagent.

    marcelohenandchicks

    I see a few pictures that look like you sculpted a character. Is this something new you are trying out?

    I started that back in 1995, blending my untested talents in sculpture and my profession. I did some works with clay, and I even took my models (yes, the very models) to the Bologna Book Fair in Italy, where I got much praise, but no assignments. The market for such technique is very, very small, as one can see in any bookstore. Anyway, my models availed me interviews at Aardman, the makers of the Wallace and Grommit series, and in the Spitting Image studios, both in the UK.

    marcelodatenight

    Have you published with any USA publisher? If so, who? And how did you get the contract with them?

    I attended the SCBWI’s Winter Conference in 2001, where I made good contacts, particularly with Don Curry at Mondo Publishing, from whom I got my first assignment in the USA. Then came Innovative Kids, MacGraw Hill, Scholastic, Meredith, Klutz, and some more. I was assigned very interesting projects that I enjoyed a lot.

    marcelonutshell

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

    Oh, yes.

    marcelodoor

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

    As long as they pay me my fees, yes, why not. I stumble from time to time upon a request of this kind, but I couldn’t so far find out why these authors assume that you will do it for free, for the glory of it or for an uncertain future reward.

    marcelopaino

    Have you worked with educational publishers?

    Yes, and I particularly enjoy illustrating impossible books, like math books, and make of them a thing worth seeing. So much so that educational publishers in Argentina used to call me when they had one of those unillustratable books. This is where I apply what I learned from Sergio Aragonés.

    marcelomouseinnyc

    Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

    Yes, and I am currently contributing to one. But for many years I illustrated for the magazine that I (and everyone else in Argentina and the region) read when I was a kid. That is a badge that still makes me proud. I also worked for newspapers, both for children and adults. I particularly enjoy this kind of quick, concentrated effort, where you have one or very few shoots to make a story. You have to be very efficient.

    marceloscary

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

    My repertoire is a little limited. I have a subscription to Children’s Illustrators, and I mail the news about my recent work to clients. In fact, I concentrate my efforts in keeping my clients rather than go hunting new ones. That’s not for mere conservatism but simply because I don’t have a bold strategy to do otherwise.

    marceloswamp

    What is your favorite medium to use?

    Apart from the computer I love gouache. I started my career with that medium and it made a deep impression in my style. If you look at my pictures you will see that many of them imitate that juxtaposed color planes mode, as if it were gouache. I like the smell of it, too. And I have an unconditional love for the common, old black graphite pencil of eternity.

    marcelotigers

    Has that changed over time?

    As I said, I started with gouache, but then I tried everything else. Watercolor, acrylic, color pencils, pen & china ink, crayons and pastels, paper cutouts, plasticine, collage and I even tried baked dough (It didn’t work).

    marceloboat

    Do you have a studio in your house?

    Yes, habitually. Not in this very moment. To have the studio at home is both a blessing and a curse, but I have decided long since that it is much more the former than the latter.

    marcelodinner

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

    The radio.

    marcelofivenose

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

    No, I’m not that disciplined. I am a very curious person and i have a lot of interests that claim for their share of my time. I am disciplined to meet deadlines, though. As writer Douglas Adams said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”.

    marcelotigerviking

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

    Yes, but to a certain point. My style does not support much documentation. It becomes very evident when I stick too much to researched images. Anyway, I do google my subjects, be it a rhinoceros or an airplane, but I usually make it just to avoid horrible mistakes or pick features that will enhance the result.

    I have very seldomly taken photographs as documentation. When there was no internet, I used to go to the zoo and take some pictures when I couldn’t find the angles that I needed. Now you type “mouse-deer” and you have loads of photos to choose from.

    marcelowaves

    Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

    Not doors but gates! I could write an essay on the favorable changes that the internet brought to my work. It added extra dimensions to the creative process, the professional life, the research, the relation with colleagues, the access to other illustrator’s work, which was very limited before; the delivery of the pictures, the invoicing, the wiring, the meeting of new people from everywhere. I just cannot remember how it was to finish the work, tidy myself, dress up and go bring it to the editor. Do you remember?

    marceloseagullsand bread

    Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

    Yes. I love it. They made it thinking of me. Anyway, I would love to meet the crew someday and tell them a couple of things!

    marcelowitch

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

    After my first month struggling with the mouse, my Mac dealer called me and said “You should try this”.

    First comes my right hand, second my Wacom, then my left hand.

    marcelotub

    What do you think is your biggest success thus far?

    I didn’t have any big successes that I can think of.

    marcelomom

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

    I am currently finishing the research for a book I want to write about illustrating for children. Not about technique nor professional development, but about the essence of what we do. I want to give an answer to the question “What is it that we do? For what?”. I never heard of a good answer to that. I think that in reality nobody knows. Well, I think that I am slowly coming to the point and I will struggle to publish it. That is my dream.

    marcelowatering

    What are you working on now?

    I´m illustrating the second batch of a series of books whose translation would be The Jungle Gang, obviously about the adventures of a group of animals. They are coming out funny.

    marcelospaceship500

    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.

    Always buy the best material that you can afford. Saving in this matter is like bandaging your fingers, or maybe banging on them.

    marcelocabbage500

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

    I use to say that I had to navigate my profession looking at the stars. Now, the young illustrators have their GPSs –the internet is one of them– and there are tons of advice everywhere. But there’s one thing that I try to never forget, and that is the children; the children that see my pictures and incorporate them along with the story, and feed something into their minds, or hearts, or souls. In many parts of the world (not in the USA) the child as a viewer is being neglected and the images are becoming cold and distant, as if intended for adults, more concerned about the aesthetics of the matter than the emotions one has to help express.

    To say that I mind the child within me is too commonplace and expresses nothing. I’d rather say that I work for the real, average child out there.

    marcelofrogumbrella500

     

    Thank you Marcelo for sharing you process, journey, and expertise with us. I know you will have many more successes in the future and we would love to hear about all of them, so please drop me a line when good things happen.

    To see more of Marcelo’s illustrations you can visit him at: www.marceloelizalde.com.ar   Please take a minute to leave a comment for Marcelo, I know he would love to heard from you and always appreciate it. Thanks!

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, picture books, Process, Technology, Tips Tagged: Buenos Aires, Marcelo Elizalde

    3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Marcelo Elizalde, last added: 6/14/2014
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    21. Pitch is Concept

    artshow jasonSHORE sketch 6

    This Team Sand Castle Contest was illustrated by Jason Kirschner and won Honorable Mention Unpublished Illustrator Award at the NJSCBWI Artist Showcase. http://www.jasonkirschner.com/jasonkirschner.com/Home.html

    erikaphoto-45Hello all! Jersey Farm Scribe here. Last time we talked I was giving you my take away on how to Attack a Conference. I promised I’d tell you some of the specific, tangible things I learned at the NJ SCBWI.

    So here is one of the biggest:

    Pitch/Concept

    It seems so simple. But I hadn’t thought of it like this before.

    Pitch IS Concept.

    I took Jill Corcoran’s workshop on concept and selling through to readers. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but I knew Jill is revered for her grasp of plot and revisions. I’ve been over her website A Path to Publishing, quite a few times, and gotten invaluable information from her blog, so I was ready to see what she had to say in person.

    One of the first things that struck me was how interchangeably she seemed to use the words “pitch” and “concept.”

    To me, pitch was what you practice saying over and over to be prepared to present my idea to one of the editors and agents walking around. It was what I put in the beginning of my query letter. That elevator, two or three sentence wrap of what my book was.

    Concept was…. actually, to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it.

    As Jill said in the workshop, and as she explains in the beginning of her free video on PlotWriMo (Revise your novel in a month), the CONCEPT is how you’d convince someone to read your book.

    Okay, so that means it’s what’s the book about, right?

    Well… yes and no.

    If I want to go see a movie, and I have to convince other people to want to go see it, what would I say? What makes it special? What draws me to want to see it? Why should someone else want to see it?

    That’s more than going over the plot. It’s more than what happens, or who the main characters are. It’s what gives the movie meaning, substance, interest and originality.

    And that’s not easy to do in a few sentences!! As Kathy has said, write it all out first. go back to cut and condense.

    But how do we know if we’re cutting the right things?

    In the workshop, a few of us read our “pitch” to Jill. And a common theme in her response was, “You’re not really TELLING me anything. I know you think you are. But you’re not.”

    A lot of it came down to specifics. The pitch has a reader. That reader needs to know what’s going on. It’s a book about heroism! Great. But how so? The kids are going to save the world? Excellent. But WHY? What’s wrong with the world in the first place? Shelby finds herself confused and alone. Okay. But why? And who isn’t? So what’s so special about her confusion?

    So how to attack punching up the concept/pitch? I learned to do three things:

    1) How will a publisher SELL the book? I hadn’t really thought about this before either. At all. It was especially meaningful for me, because I have a chapter book with a surprise ending. Sure, a surprise can be great. But TOO much surprise makes for a pretty weak back flap on the back of book! How do you sell that?

    I don’t want a publisher sitting there thinking. “Yeah, it’s great. But I can’t TELL potential readers why it’s so great or else it’ll ruin the whole thing!”

    You’re looking for a pretty serious commitment from someone, whether it’s an agent, editor, publisher, or even the final buyer of the book. Whatever is going to make them go: THIS IS IT! This is the next book I want to my devote time and money to! That’s your concept. That’s your pitch.

    Then it’s time to examine it closer:

    2) One line at a time:

    I read each sentence of my pitch at a time. Then ask myself, WHY?

    Four fearless friends save a town from despair.

    Okay. There is some element of plot in there. But honestly, the fact is, there is probably millions of stories this could be describing. So let’s see… why? Why do they do it?

    What drives them to do it? How much despair are we talking about? Can I express that level of despair in just a few more words?

    3) One WORD at a time:

    Once I have the sentences I want to say on paper and I’m confident with WHAT they say, it’s time to look at HOW they say it. Am I using the right words?

    We only have so many words we get to use in a pitch. And let’s be honest, as someone brought up in the comments of my last pitch, being specific leads to a longer pitch. It’s just a fact. So every word is even more important. Let’s look at the beginning of that same line:

    Four fearless friends…….

    Four: Does it really matter that there are four of them? Probably not. Maybe I can replace it with something more meaningful.

    Fearless: Really? I couldn’t have done better than that? How did I ever think that sounded good?

    Etc….

    Every single word gets analyzed, condensed, replaced, sometimes even re-envisioned entirely, which ends up leading me back to step one and starting all over again.

    Pitch.

    …….Sigh. It’s definitely not my favorite part of the process.

    But Jill’s workshop really made me feel like now, I have a plan of attack, a process, specific, tangible things to look for, to look at and to strikethrough.

    And again, you know I’m a big believer that, well…. our manuscripts are worth it!

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, article, demystify, How to, Process, Writing Tips Tagged: Erika Wassall, Jill Corcoran, Path to Publishing, Pitch is Concept

    8 Comments on Pitch is Concept, last added: 7/18/2014
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    22. Illustrator Saturday – Colleen Kosinski

     

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

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

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

    Here is Colleen explaining her process:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    colleenstep_1_pencil_sketch_cape may girlOriginal pencil sketch

    colleeenstep_2_scan_and_cut_cape may girl

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

    colleenstep_3_color_layers_cape may girl

    Colored layers built up.

    colleenstep_4_highlights_shadows_cape may girl

    Shadows and highlights are added last.

    colleenseagull_pencil_sketch

    colleenseagull_full_colorI brought the colored drawings back into the original composition.

    colleencapemayflag sketch

    colleencape may flag_full_colorI adjusted scale and brightness.

    colleencape may houses_pencil_sketch

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

    colleencape may girl 3_head_tilt

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

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

    colleendiving girl comp5

    How long have you been illustrating?

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

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

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

    colleenbeach girls14

    What were you favorite classes?

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

    Did the School help you get work?

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

    colleenriver of wishes9hair lowered a smidge3tdep5_6_14_3NO-WORDS

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

    In high school the teachers would commission me for artwork.

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

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

     

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

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

    When did you do your first illustration for children?

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

    colleenswimming with the fish7

    How did that come about?

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

    When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

    After all the positive feedback at the NJSCBWI conference.

    colleengoldilocks comp_v7

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

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

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

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

    colleenflying girl comp4

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

    Yes.

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

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

    colleenbad luck boy new comp6

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

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

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

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

    colleenjaquar11What is your favorite medium to use?

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

    Has that changed over time?

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

    colleentweed_composition_v6

    Do you have a studio in your house?

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

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

    My laptop computer.

    colleenHanging Around4

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

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

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

    Yes, I take pictures and research reference images online.

    colleenskunk girl_portfolio3

    Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

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

    What do you feel was your biggest success?

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

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

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

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

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

    colleen02_2ps_mother_and_baby_all_the_layers4

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

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

    What are you working on now?

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

    colleen06_2ps_fire_all_the_layers4

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

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

    colleencozette and the black umbrella7

     

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

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

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


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

    9 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Colleen Kosinski, last added: 7/26/2014
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    23. Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


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

    4 Comments on Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales, last added: 8/2/2014
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    24. Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenny Bent

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

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

    Deena Graves – TERRAZA – Young Adult

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    HERE IS JENNY BENT:

    Terraza

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

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

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

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

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

    __________________________________________________________

    Helen Landalf – CLEO – YA novel 

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

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

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

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

    The doorknob wiggles. “Joan?” Mom says.

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

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

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

    HERE IS JENNY BENT:

    CLEO:

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

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

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

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

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

    _________________________________________________________

    Mieke Zamora-Mackay               SHADOW                                     Young Adult

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

    In the woods…

    Junkie…

    Huffing…

    Dead…

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

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

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

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

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

    HERE IS JENNY BENT:

    SHADOW

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

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

    _________________________________________________________

    Peter McCleery       THE STAND-IN           Contemporary Middle Grade

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

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

    The answer is no, by the way.

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

    HERE IS JENNY BENT:

    THE STAND-IN

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

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


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

    4 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenny Bent, last added: 8/2/2014
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    25. Amazon Sales Strategies

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

    amazoncats

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

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

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

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

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

    A few scenarios:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


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

    9 Comments on Amazon Sales Strategies, last added: 8/4/2014
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