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1. Illustrator Saturday – Leeza Hernandez

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Leeza Hernandez is an award-winning illustrator and children’s book author, hails from the south of England, but has been living in New Jersey since 1999. In 2004 she switched from newspaper and magazine design to children’s books, and hasn’t looked back. With a few books now under her belt, she’s currently working on three new projects: a follow up to Dog Gone! called Cat Napped; a sequel to Eat Your Math Homework called Eat Your Science Homework, other released this year. In 2013 she illustrated a picture book written by acclaimed actor and author John Lithgow. Follow Leeza on Twitter @leezaworks. She also took over my place as the Regional Advisor for the New Jersey SCBWI chapter and is doing a great job.

Below is Leeza at six years old with her cat Minnie Weasle!

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Here is Leeza explaining her process:

The cover of Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo took a fair amount of working out—between not giving too much away and showing to little that it looked too vague. The images show a handful of the different covers that were sketched up, then the progression of the final color cover.

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These are the thumbnail sketches for the book layout.

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Because there were so many animals in Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo, I kept all my research pictures organized in a jumbo ring binder.

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But, no matter how hard I looked, I just couldn’t find an image of a yak playing a sax so had to use some creative license!

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Below you can see the process of the cover art.

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Below is an up close look at the final cover.

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What caused you to move from the UK to the US?

Work. I took an art director position at a newspaper in the late 90s which was the field I worked in back then.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

It wasn’t a conscious decision really, but in the early 2000s I discovered Illustration Friday (www.illustrationfriday.com)—a great source of inspiration but also a way to help you create illustrations for yourself based upon a weekly word prompt. Browsing through the site, one link led to another and I eventually landed at SCBWI (www.scbwi.org) and that was that!

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This image was created for the Illustration Friday prompt “Wisdom” and received an American Illustration selection back in the early 2000s. I added it to my portfolio among a handful of painted images and it was what art directors responded to the most. I was encouraged to create more!

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What was the first picture book that you illustrated? And how did that contract come your way?

Eat Your Math Homework was the first trade picture book I was hired to illustrate, which came about after attending a Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference (ruccl.org). I met an editor at the luncheon who took my promo postcard away with her and about six months later the designer reached out to my agent asking if I was available-yay!

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How did you connect with John Lithgow to illustrate his book, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo ?

I was asked to do some samples (along with some other illustrators) for a book written by a ‘high-profile’ author but I didn’t know who it was until I found out I was picked for the project. It was all very mysterious and exciting!

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Have you met John Lithgow?

Yes, he’s lovely. We launched the book together in New York, it was so much fun. He sang his songs. I spared the audience and did not sing!

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How long did you have to illustrate Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo?

This was one of the quickest turnaround books I have worked on and it was 40 pages. From initial sketches, through revisions and to final art was a little less than eight months total.

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I see you illustrated a second book with Ann McCallum this year, titled Eat Your Science Homework. Did you sign a two-book deal when you illustrated Eat Your Math Homework in 2011?

No two-book deal. It was simply an organic progression. Ann had an idea and submitted her proposal for the science book and a few months after they acquired the manuscript, Charlesbridge asked if I’d
illustrate it.

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Will there be a third book with Ann?

Yes! Eat Your U.S. History Homework is due to release in late 2015.

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I am assuming that Cat Napped! published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons came about due to the previous book you wrote and illustrated titled, Dog Gone! Can you tell us the story behind these two books?

Back in 2009 I won the Tomie de Paola portfolio award at the New York SCBWI conference—which was amazing. As a result, I was invited in to the Penguin offices to meet with an editor, publisher and art director and they looked at my work as well as a sample and manuscript for Dog Gone! and they took it. I was beyond thrilled and so, so grateful for the opportunity.

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During the time I worked on Dog Gone! I had this idea that I wanted to create a cat book in the same vein and I already had the title Cat Napped! noodling around in my head, but it took a while to flesh out the story. I remember having submitted the story along with a couple of other ideas to the editor and right after Dog Gone! released they took it.

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Have any of the books you worked on won any awards?

Eat Your Science Homework was awarded a 2014 Junior Library Guild selection—awesomesauce!

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Do you have plans to write and illustrate another book?

Hahaha, yes of course! I hope I never stop.

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What do you consider your first big success?

Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not sure I can measure one big success that easily. Having a book published is amazing, but I also consider the ever-evolving process as a series of successful stepping-
stones and I do a little happy dance each time I move to the next one—because they all teach me something about myself and/or my work. Creative folks are such sensitive creatures and it can be
intimidating to put our work out there in front of people, so each time we are brave and face our fears head on, that’s a success. Actually, when I attended a SCBWI conference for the first time, I was so overwhelmed I almost didn’t go back the next day—so I’d say not giving up right off the bat was my first big success!

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For pencil work, I use 2H, HB, 2B and 5 or 6B pencils on Arches hotpress 140lb paper.

PencilOnArches2What is on the drawing board now?

My schedule has been a little nuts lately so I am taking a rest-of-the-year break and finally getting around to updating my website, which has been somewhat neglected.

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Do you ever use Corel Painter or Photoshop when illustrating?

I ‘collage’ in Photoshop. I take all the pieces that I create by hand, scan them in, then slice ‘n’ dice them into a final illustration. I think of Photoshop as my digital scissors and glue, but I don’t actually illustrate with Photoshop if that makes sense, like, I’m not drawing or painting digitally using brushes and filters.

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Do you own a graphic tablet?

No. If you mean a Cintiq or Wacom, that is. I’ve seen them in action though, wow!

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Is there one thing that you did or happened that you feel really pushed your career to the next level?

I joined SCBWI. So far, this has been an amazing journey of education, connections, opportunities, projects and rewards, but it all started with this incredible organization that continues to play a role—LOVE SCBWI!

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Do you take pictures or other research before you start a project?

Before and during—yes. Having reference material gives me a much better understanding of what I am drawing than simply imagining. I like to begin by drawing realistically before I think about characterizing for a book because it gives me an accurate sense of anatomy, behavior, body language, etc., even though they’re very loose drawings. There were a number of animals in Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo that I hadn’t drawn before, so I filled a ring binder with reference just for that project.

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The original pick-up truck for Cat Napped! was a struggle, but after sharing with my editor, we realized it was too square and modern, so I went back and researched vintage trucks from the 40s and 50s. The end result was a bit of a hybrid but its softer, curvier edges suited the tone of the book far better than the angular truck I had originally drawn.

LeezaHernandez_Blog

The internet is a powerful tool—National Geographic (nationalgeographic.com), Nat Geo Kids (kids.nationalgeographic.com), NASA (nasa.gov), and Pinterest (pinterest.com) are some of my favorites but discipline is key. The amount of research I do depends upon the project but I have to be careful with the amount of time I spend researching versus creating the art.

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I use a timer to stay on top of it. And even if I am not researching for a particular project, I carry a sketchbook with me and either have my phone or camera for taking any pictures. Inspiration strikes when I least expect it so I like to be as prepared as possible.

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Have you found most art directors and editors give you a lot of freedom when illustrating a book? Do they want to be involved all the way through the process?

Once, I was given very specific art notes for an educational book but the turnaround time was tight, so the notes were helpful for me to jump right in. I’ve received minimal notes for nonfiction projects if there was a point that needed to be demonstrated visually for some specific text. For example: the Homework books sometimes have charts.

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For the fictional projects, I’m pretty much left to it for the first round of sketches, then the art director and/or editor and I discuss together. Sometimes, I’ll offer up additional sketch options for a handful of spreads if I have lots of ideas and can’t decide which direction to go. There can be a lot of back and forth on the cover, though.

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

My art materials—pencils, brushes, paper, inks, sketchbooks—I’d be kinda lost without them!

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

Yes, even if it’s only for ten minutes, that’s my rule.

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

To travel, keep making art, and continue creating books for young readers—that would be lovely!

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Thank you Leeza haring your journey and process with us. Can’t wait to see your career go forward. You can visit Leeza at her website: http://www.leezaworks.com to see more of her work.

If you have a moment I am sure Leeza would love to read your comments. I enjoy them too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: John Lithgow, Leeza Hernandez, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo

9 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Leeza Hernandez, last added: 11/22/2014
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2. Highlights Fiction Contest

Highlights Fiction Contest

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HIGHLIGHTS 2015 FICTION CONTEST GUIDELINES

CATEGORY:

Mystery stories

PRIZES:

Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit http://www.highlightsfoundation.org)

ENTRY DATES:

All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2015.

RULES:

No entry form or fee is required.

Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.

We welcome work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished and not found online.

Stories may be any length up to 750 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.

No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.

Entries not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned.

Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights.

SEND ENTRIES TO: 

FICTION CONTEST
Highlights for Children
803 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431

WINNERS:

The three winning entries will be purchased by Highlights and announced on Highlights.com in June 2015. All other entries will be considered for purchase by Highlights. For details about our purchase policies, please see our contributor guidelines: https://www.highlights.com/contributor-guidelines

Highlights for Children Fiction Contest Winners for 2014:

“Harold’s Hat” by Mike Allegra
“Easter with Baba Lena” by Vila Gingerich
“Heart Surprises” by Clare Mishica

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, children writing, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, writing Tagged: 2014 Highlights Fiction Contest Winners, Highlights Fiction Contest

6 Comments on Highlights Fiction Contest, last added: 11/18/2014
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3. Illustrator Saturday – Maja Sereda

majaMaja Sereda has illustrated number of picture books published in English, Afrikaans and other African languages. She has received 3 ATKV awards for best illustration (category ages 3–6) in 2008, 2009, 2011. And her book A kite’s flight written by W. Gumede won the Crystal Kite member’s choice award for the Africa region, 2011. Her latest book La Grande Fleur, written by Yves Pinguilly, was published in France (2013).

Maja tackles each project with great passion and enthusiasm, which she best communicates through her fun and quirky illustrations. Maja works in soft pastels as well as digital media. She loves drawing all creatures great and small, including little children!

Here is Maja explaining her process:

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I create a sketch for my illustration using a colour pencil on 60gsm paper.
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The sketch is scanned and rough colour dropped in.

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I trace image onto final pastel paper and start pasteling.

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I always work from left to right or from the center outwards in order not to smudge the pastel. It is a very delicate medium.

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To create details I use pastel pencils, whereas for the fine outlines I once again bring in a colour pencil. Most often a brown.

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Background is drawn last.

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Final Illustration

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Below: Snow Games written by Joanna Marple (www.utales.com) 2012

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LA GRANDE FLEUR COVER

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La Grande Fleur was published in France by Oscar Editeur in 2013.

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The book was part of the French/South African season.

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La Grande Fleur interior art.

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How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating books since 2007.

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What made your family move from Poland to South Africa when you were young?

My dad received a work contract and decided to take it. It was supposed to be a temporary move, but I fell in love with South Africa and persuaded my family to stay.

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Have you ever gone back to Poland?

I like to visit from time to time. I still have family and primary school friends living in Poland.

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What University did you attend and what did you study?

I studied BA (Information Design) aka graphic design at University of Pretoria.

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

I did a number of illustration jobs while working in the design/advertising industry, such as story boarding or product drawings. I believe the very first paid illustration job was my first book.

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

I moved to Dublin, Ireland for a year where I worked for a marketing company as a junior art director.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

It was in my final year of studies. I realized that I’ve chosen the wrong field. Design was simply not for me. It took me a few years before I could start freelancing and working as a full time illustrator.

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How many picture books have you illustrated?

Approximately 17 picture books, however I’m not counting illustration work done for educational books.

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Were any of them published by a US Publisher?

Unfortunately not, however I’m hoping it will happen one day soon. I’m always dreaming and wishing.

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What was the first picture book that you illustrated? And how did that contract come your way?

My sister put me in touch with a client who wanted to illustrate a story that her father wrote. It was small private project. Out of that book, an illustration of mine title ‘catching rabbits’ was born, which I sent to a local South African publisher. They replied immediately and asked me to pitch for a book. I had my first real book contract within in a week. I was over the moon.

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How do you connect with art directors and editors and find illustration work?

So far I’ve been very lucky. Work finds me. Nevertheless, from time to time I do like to contact a publisher via email and send them my updated portfolio.

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Are you represented by artist agency? If so, who? If not would you like to find one?

I’m not represented by anyone at the moment and I am currently looking for US representation. In South Africa, the market is very small and a freelance illustrator can easily approach publishers directly.

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It looks like you have illustrated books in many different languages. How do publishers help you work with a book that is written in another language?

Even though my Afrikaans isn’t very good, I do understand it and therefore am able to read a manuscript without translation. Many of the other African languages are sent to me with the English translation. I’m currently studying French. One of my latest books LA GRANDE FLEUR written by Yves Pinguilly, was also translated for me into English.

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

I do regular work for a local magazine Hoezit! It is also an Afrikaans publication.

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Have you done any work for educational publishers?

I work for educational publishers on a regular basis. This work however doesn’t inspire me and therefore doesn’t feature in my portfolio. I prefer to work on picture books for young children.

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What is your favorite medium to use to do your illustrations?

At the moment, it’s soft pastels. I simply love the medium – the intensity and variety of colour is incredible. Most of my recent work has been done in pastels. In the past, I’ve worked with gouache, acrylic, ink, oil and Photoshop.

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Has that changed over time?

I have grown a lot as an illustrator, I don’t think one ever stops growing and learning. When I started illustrating my focus was simply on creating sweet, quirky illustrations, but now I’m leaning more and more towards fantasy and also more personal work.

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What do you consider is your first big success?

My first book received an award for best illustration, it definitely inspired me to keep going.

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Do you ever want to write and illustrate a picture book?

Yes, mostly definitely. I write and sketch ideas often – my big aim is to set aside some time and only focus on doing my own book. Perhaps this coming year! Recent trip to Reunion Island was very inspiring and I would like to use some of the incredible imagery in my book.

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Would you be open to working with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?

Yes, and I have in the past although these projects are often tricky. There is the issue of budget, quality of the writing, etc.

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

I take photographs, I search the web, look through books. Research is vital for any project.

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Do you think your Polish roots or the South African culture is reflected in your art?

Little bit of both, however I do feel a stronger connection with my polish roots.

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

I have so many things, it’s difficult to choose! Pastels of course, but also colouring pencils. I find them fantastic to sketch with, much better than the graphite pencil.

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

As much as I can, but I don’t have a specific number of hours in mind. I also believe it’s good to take breaks from drawing and creating. I love spending time behind the camera lens as well, especially photographing birds and insects.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. Hasn’t it for everyone? It is incredible how we are all connected, we share our work and meet fantastic people online.

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Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop for my digital artwork. I also use to help me plan layouts.

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

Yes, I use a Wacom tablet.

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

I have many dreams, it’s hard to summarize them all here. Ideally I want to have the freedom to write and illustrate my own books. Also create a product line using my art.

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What are you working on now?

I have one or two potential books to create. I’m still deciding which one to take on.

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

I love using 60gsm layout paper for sketching because it’s slightly transparent. I can always overlay my sketches and work over them.

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

Work hard, believe in your dream, make sure that the work you produce is of high quality and then be brave. Not everyone is going to be a fan of your work, but sometimes you simply have to look for the right audience.

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Thank you Maja for sharing your journey and process with us. Please let us know all your future successes. We’d love to hear about them and cheer you on. You can see more of Maja’s work on www.childrensillustrators.com/majasereda and see more of  her portfolio on:  http://www.facebook.com/MajaSeredaIllustration

If you have a moment I am sure Maja 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: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Illustrator Journey, Maja Sereda, University of Pretoria

6 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Maja Sereda, last added: 11/16/2014
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4. New Agent Looking For Clients at Writers House

alec-shane-literary-agent-220x300Alec Shane has been promoted to agent at Writers House, which is one of the largest literary agencies in the world. It prides itself on providing an extraordinary amount of individual client attention combined with the full service benefits of foreign and sub rights departments, as well as a full accounting and royalty staff.

Alex began his career at Writers House as an intern in September of 2008 and simply refused to leave, so he was given the wonderful job of Assistant to Jodi Reamer. And while he continues to work under Jodi’s careful tutelage, he is now also in the process of actively building his own list and currently represent a fairly eclectic mix of Children’s and Adult fiction and nonfiction. He is eagerly looking for both.

On the fiction side, he loves mysteries, thrillers, bad-ass protagonists with a chip on their shoulders, beautifully told historical fiction (The Vietnam War, the Maccabees, and The American Revolution fascinate him in particular),well-researched adventure stories, and great horror. He says, “I haven’t been scared to turn off the light in far too long and something needs to be done about it.”

In terms of children’s books, getting boys to read again is especially important to him, and thus he’s particularly on the lookout for a fun middle-grade adventure series, ghost story, or anything else geared toward younger male readers.

On the nonfiction side, he’s attracted to odd, quirky histories, biographies of people he didn’t even know existed (but definitely should have), “guy” reads, humor, narrative nonfiction that sheds light on under-the-radar events and lifestyles, and all things sports. He is also currently up in the air as to whether or not he believes in ghosts, hauntings, and the supernatural, so if you have something that can convince me one way or the other, I’d love to see it.

Alex majored in English at Brown University, a degree he put to immediate use by moving to Los Angeles after graduation to become a professional stunt man. Realizing that he prefers books to breakaway glass, he moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue a career in publishing. Alec quickly found a home at Writers House Literary Agency, where he worked under Jodi Reamer and Amy Berkower on a large number of YA and Adult titles.

Twitter handle: @alecdshane.

He is looking for: Alec is now aggressively building his own list. “What I’m looking for in fiction: mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and books geared toward young male readers (both YA and MG).

What he’s not looking for: Romance (paranormal or otherwise), straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, travel memoir.”

PROJECTS/SALES/BOOKS:

SHARK WARS, EJ Altbacker
THE BOOK OF BLOOD, HP Newquist
MONKEY TOWN, Ronald Kidd
HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES, Mark Stein
SHARK WARS 6: THE LAST EMPREX, EJ Altbacker (Razorbill)
YOU MIGHT REMEMBER ME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PHIL HARTMAN, Mike Thomas (St. Martins)
SEEING AMERICA, Nancy Crocker (Medallion Press)

Submission guidelines: He accepts e-mail and snail-mail queries (although email is preferable), and will usually respond within 4-5 weeks. Please send the first 10 pages of your manuscript, along with your query letter, to ashane [at] writershouse.com with “Query for Alec Shane: TITLE” as your subject heading – no attachments please! If sending via regular mail, please include a SASE with proper postage.

Writers House
21 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10010
phone 212-685-2400

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Looking for Clients, Alex Shane, Fiction and Non-fiction

1 Comments on New Agent Looking For Clients at Writers House, last added: 11/12/2014
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5. Few Weeks Left For WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign

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You can help make a difference by making a donation.

 

There are lots of things you can receive by contributing to the cause. Example: AGENT critiques and EDITOR critiques from editors at Big 5 publishing houses.

An unforgettable opportunity to have a private dinner in NYC with incredible bestselling & award-winning authors Jacqueline Woodson AND Matt de la Peña

Coming soon – a limited number of discounted registrations for Fans of SCBWI – including a VIP critique at their annual LA conference in 2015! Many thanks to Lin Oliver, Sara Rutenberg and Kim Turrisi for offering this. Can’t wait to see how quickly they go!

Here’s the link to the WNDB campaign: http://igg.me/at/diversebooks Maybe even find something you could give as a holiday gift with your donation.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, children writing, Editors, Events, need to know, opportunity, Publishing Industry Tagged: Agent and Editor Critiques, Matt de la Pena, Private Dinner in NYC Jacqueline Woodson, SCBWI Discounted Registrations, We Nee Diverse Books

2 Comments on Few Weeks Left For WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign, last added: 11/10/2014
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6. Illustrator Saturday – Sholta Walker

MeSholta Walker was trained and graduated as a painter in 1988 and since 1995 he has worked professionally as a full-time artist and illustrator.

The great majority of his work has been for children, with clients across the World, including Harper Collins, Random House, Egmont, Annick Press, The BBC, Macmillan and Oxford University Press.

Most of the illustrations you see here combine digital techniques with more traditional skills and media. He uses vigourous ink line work, which is usually digitally coloured and enhanced. This has given him an opportunity to produce illustrations for my clients which give great scope for expressing ideas.

Some of the work shown here is also available as limited edition
prints.

His published books include Long Grey Norris, King Arthur, Bug Wars and The Beastly Beast.., a compendium of short stories by author Garth Nix. I have recently completed work for a book by Michal Kozlowski called Louis, the Tiger Who Came From the Sea.

Here is Sholta discussing his process:

Creating ‘Bug!’ and Brer Fox

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I made these drawings a few years ago. Both at the time were fairly experimental, but borrowed heavily from methods I was already regularly using. Brer Fox was a character I was asked to develop along with his nemesis Brer Rabbit, for a UK publisher. Bug! I made when I worked briefly with an animator-friend while he was working on his Masters Degree in animation.

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The picture always begins with a drawing on paper. If I’m working on a character I always rough him or her out in pencil. It usually takes several attempts to create the character I’m after. It’s important to get this stage right. Any decisions made now will set the tone for the whole image and are likely to remain with you to the end of the project. The drawing process helps inform the image you have in your head, which then feeds back to your drawing. At its best this busy two-way street of drawing and imagining is a marvelously efficient creative process.

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When I have the character I want, I either trace it through a lightbox or work directly over the top in Indian ink with a dip-pen. The type of commission will dictate how free and expressive I am with the pen. In the case of Brer Fox particularly, I was trying to work very freely. One way I do this is to create all the initial pencil sketches as quickly as I can. When I find the drawing I like I then reproduce it by drawing over the top with my pen at a similar speed. This gives the drawing energy and enables me to exploit the naturally temperamental nature of a traditional drawing nib when it’s loaded with ink.

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While still fairly loose, Bug! was a little more considered. Also, I created the bug character and his background as two separate drawings and combined them in Photoshop later.

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Once the ink is completely dry, any pencil marks are erased and the drawing is scanned and opened in Photoshop. The ink line now has to be separated from the the paper surface. To help improve definition I usually increase the contrast before selecting out the black lines in one piece. The drawing part of the scan is then pasted into a new document, creating a new layer over a white background layer. The original scan is now discarded. At this stage I take the opportunity to have a good look at the image and to erase any dust specks and unwanted ink spots that were picked up in the selection. I may also make any adjustments or small additions to the drawing using Photoshop’s pencil and brush tools. Finally I ‘multiply’ the layer to prevent any whitening of the pixels in the final artwork. Because I like the honesty of a hand made ink drawing I make no further digital enhancements to it.

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In the case of Bug!, the character’s colour was created in Illustrator. I imported the line drawing (without the garden) into Illustrator, then, on a new layer, between the white background and the drawing layer, I put in the colour in a series of simple, fairly roughly drawn shapes. In more complex images I may create the colours on several layers, but on a simple image like this, one colour layer is sufficient. Brer Fox was slightly different. He stayed in Photoshop because in this case I didn’t want the flatter look that Illustrator tends to give my drawings. The layering technique however is identical, with the basic under-painting on the figure created using the lasso tool to make a shape into which I drop the colour. Further painting, shading and colour were then added with various brush tools. A basic background layer is also quickly rendered at this stage.

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To create the textures in Brer Fox I went back to paper and ink. All the effects in this image are made using either ink applied through a mouth diffuser, (a simple breath-powered spraying device) or from an old toothbrush. The results are then scanned and separated out as in the original drawings. They are then collaged into the artwork, each on a separate layer. For Brer Fox I also experimented with some scans of torn paper. With Bug!, only the garden received this treatment. Once colouring of the insect character was complete in Illustrator, I returned him to Photoshop and combined him with the garden scene that I had drawn and coloured separately in Photoshop using the textures I made in a similar way to those previously described.

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Finally, I added any extra bits and spent some time continuing to tweak the drawing. Some layers are switched off or discarded and occasionally some basic effects are added as in Brer Fox’s drop shadow. I’ll often go back at this stage and draw some new elements (extra flowers maybe) that I think might further improve the image. These will then be scanned and added to the drawing, colouring them up as necessary. A key feature of much of my work is that the process remains very fluid right up to its completion.

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How long have you been illustrating?

Full-time, around twenty years. I spent a few years before that working part time on occasional commissions that came my way.

 

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What made you choose to you study art at Cheltenham College of Art in London?

That’s Cheltenham College of Art in Cheltenham, England. Cheltenham is a large town about one hundred miles West of London. I had a bit of a shaky start in fact. In England, most visual arts degrees begin with a year-long Foundation Course, which most students are expected to complete, usually at a different college, before beginning their three-year degree proper. My foundation year was very enjoyable and successful, but I left still unsure in which direction I was going to take my art. Eventually I chose Fine Art with a painting specialism, but I think my lack of certainty was picked up during the several interviews I attended at various art colleges and found to the surprise of most people that knew me that I wasn’t offered a place at any of them on the first round. So I got a job and tried again a few months later. I was finally accepted at Cheltenham. I’d like to say this was the college I had my sights on all along; that I had studied the work of the tutors and lecturers there; that I was drawn to the verdant Cotswold Hills that rise majestically above the town, but none of that would be true. Nope. It turned out they were the only college that would have me.

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

I’m not too sure, but I think it was probably a tiny drawing for one of those classified small ads you see in the back of newspapers. It was around 1986.

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

When I graduated I had no idea what to do. Looking back I think plenty of ex-students, particularly with art degrees find themselves in a similar situation. I’m not sure how it is now, but there was absolutely zero consideration given by the colleges as to what their students would do when they left. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing because fine art courses should not be job-training courses. So when I left I discovered two things pretty quickly: first, I needed to earn some money and second, degrees in Painting do not make you very employable. I was no longer comfortable at home, so I moved to London where most British students seem to pitch up after graduating. I worked briefly at the famous Cornelissen and Son art shop near the British Museum. The shop’s been trading since 1855 and has and still does supply materials to some of the greatest names in British Art. Then I bought a bike and spent a year as a bicycle courier, risking life and limb on the London streets.

 

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How did you decide you wanted to go into the freelance art business?

After a year or two of struggling to pay my way in London, I thought I needed to make a decision. As a child, making pictures was always something I enjoyed doing and was good at. My degree had pointed me towards traditional oil painting but at that time I could see no way that I was going to be making oil paintings for a living. It was a very slow start. My dad was publishing a music magazine at the time and he managed to convince the editor (thanks Paul!) to ask me to try illustrating a few things. The jobs were very occasional and fairly straightforward, but it was these simple commissions that really got the ball rolling for me. I continued working in various low-paid jobs, but it was those occasional illustration commissions that gave me a sense of purpose. Doing something I enjoyed while being paid to do it. I decided fairly quickly that this was what I needed to pursue.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I never decided, my work seems to lend itself to that. When I began as an illustrator I just drew stuff. I had no idea what the illustration business was like and never gave a thought to the idea that illustration could be classified into ‘types’. After my degree, my first portfolio consisted mainly of miniature versions of what I had been producing at art college. Many were very dark and introspective, typical art student stuff really. The colours were full of dark reds and blues. Lots of angst. I was still somewhere between a painter and an illustrator. All my techniques were from three years’ training as a painter working in oils on canvas, so as an illustrator I really had to start from scratch. That meant finding new materials and methods that suited my approach and were practical. As my work developed, much of it became brighter and I found I could express and develop in my work a kind of knowing humour and a sense of the absurd that I have always enjoyed and has always been a part of my character I think. Adults seem to like this at least as much as their children and it appears in most of my best work. I think that this has always been there in my work even during my student days, but as I’ve evolved as a working illustrator I’ve learned to refine it and make it more accessible.

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How did you get the job to illustrate Buzz and Bingo in the Starry Sky with HarperCollins?

Wow, that one was quite a while ago. It came through my agent. In fact, now I think of it, it was probably the first full book commission I had with Harper Collins. I think it was also the first book I illustrated digitally. It was actually part of a series for young readers and as far as I’m aware has been very popular in British schools. I have met several parents over the years that know me by name and then realize their son and daughter is learning to read with one of my books. It’s always nice when that happens. My sister lives in Spain and she called me one day to say that her daughter was reading a book I had illustrated as part of her reading program. That was perfect because I had included a dedication to her and her brothers on the title page. I think my sister cried.

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Have you done any other books with HarperCollins?

Yes several. At least four or five.

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What was the first picture book that you illustrated? And how did that contract come your way?

My first picture book was probably one of the Buzz and Bingo series. I had illustrated a few books before that, but they were more for slightly older readers, so they weren’t strictly speaking ‘picture books’. I had worked on other commissions for Harper Collins prior to Buzz and Bingo so I had built up a bit of a track record. I often think that is, at least in part, how it works. Once a client is happy you can make a deadline, you are professional and reliable and assuming they like what you do of course, you are likely to be asked to take on bigger projects.

 

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How many books have you illustrated?

Well, if you mean both part books and as full cover-to-cover commissions, then the answer’s probably hundreds. If you mean whole books, then probably around thirty.

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Before you had an Art Rep., what did you do to help connect with art directors and editors and find illustration work?

It was a long and painful process. Once I had set my mind to being a professional illustrator I knew I needed to start building a portfolio to show round. I put together about fifteen drawings that included several of the commissions I had been picking up as well as some of my own work. One idea I had was to buy a few magazines and find articles in them that I felt I could illustrate. If they were successful I would then include them in the portfolio. The next step was to travel to London from Bath where I was by then living and show my work around. In those days, before the internet and online portfolios, this was the only way to do it. I must have spent a fortune on fares, not to mention postage for all the mail shots I made. I picked up very little direct work from all this effort and expense, but I don’t regret it at all because I really got to see what it was I needed to do while showing me what the publishing, design and advertising world outside my studio really looked like. I also still remember to this day some of the dozens of busy art directors and designers I saw who, almost to a person, patiently leafed through my portfolio and usually sent me away with some valuable words of advice. Anyway, I did that for a year or so until I decided it was time to reassess the situation. It was then I turned my mind to getting an agent. I thought if I found the right one, they would do all that work for me.

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How did you connect to your artist agency, Illustrationsweb.com? How long have they been representing you?

Yet another trip to London in around 1995 with a list of illustrator’s agents in my pocket finally brought me together with Illustration, which is Illustration USA Inc’s parent company. At that time they lurked up a flight of stairs in a dusty old office in the heart of Soho, West London. They were called Garden Studio then and had been since 1929 when they were first established. It was there I met the excellent Harry Lyon-Smith who took my portfolio away and told me to come back after lunch. When I returned he offered to represent me and that was that.

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Tell us a little bit about the 200-year-old building in your backyard and the studio you have in there.

I think it was once just a simple stone outbuilding. It was converted to something reasonably habitable about twenty-five years ago and given an electricity and water supply. I’m in Somerset, England, so everything older than about a century is built from stone. The walls are two feet thick, which is normal in old buildings here, but it makes mobile (cell)-phone use next to impossible. If anyone needs to call me at work it’s landline only I’m afraid. Oh, and the roof leaks a bit. I sit beside a window that looks out onto our garden and an apple tree that produces a rare local apple called Ashmead’s Kernal. If you can ignore their gnarled and crusty appearance and take a bite you’ll find they’re incredibly juicy and sweet.

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No, not so far.

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What is your favorite medium to use to do your illustrations?

Dip pen and Indian ink. Then Photoshop and Illustrator.

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Has that changed over time?

Yes. When I began as an illustrator I developed a way of working that had its beginnings in my pre-art college mid-teens. I would create a pencil drawing that I would render in water-colour and gouache. I would then work over the whole thing in coloured pencil, before putting an ink line drawing on top. This made for beautifully vibrant illustrations, but was hugely labour-intensive. It meant I would often be up all night for even the simplest commissions. I realized this wasn’t sustainable, so in around 2000 I bit the bullet and bought an Apple Mac. Over the next year I figured out a way of working that still retained plenty of me, but was just far more efficient.

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What do you consider is your first big success?

Probably Louis, the Tiger Who Came From the Sea. It’s a difficult question really because I’m very self-critical and I’m usually reluctant to pore over past work too long. I’m always thinking about the next opportunity to get it ‘right.’

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How did that come about?

Apparently out of the blue. It’s how all the best work comes. You’re sitting around one day trying to remember how you ended up doing what you do when the ‘phone rings. Or the email arrives, as it usually is these days. In the case of Louis the Tiger, Colleen Macmillan at Annick Press contacted Stacey at my agent’s New York office and offered me the commission. They had seen my portfolio and decided I was the one they wanted to illustrate Michal Kozlowski’s wonderful story. It’s great when that happens.

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Do you ever want to write and illustrate a picture book?

Yes

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Would you be open to working with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?

Absolutely. In fact I’ve illustrated a few of these already. Initially I was quite wary of working with self-publishing projects because commissions like these can lack structure and any real management process. I worried the job could really get out of hand. Before you commit I think it’s important to read the manuscript (don’t forget they’ve usually not been through any kind of editorial process) and also try to get a clear idea of what the client (author) is expecting from you and what if any experience they have of producing a book. The great thing about self-publishing commissions is they often give you great creative freedom because there are no sales departments controlling the process as so often happens with established publishers.

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

Very rarely. If an illustration requires a certain animal for example I usually reach for one of several natural history or wildlife reference books I keep. I recently completed ‘How to Slay a Werewolf’, a new book for Conran Octopus here in the UK. The story’s set in early Twentieth Century England so I had to get the clothes more or less accurate and then there was the werewolf of course, which required a fair bit of preliminary work. The internet has changed everything. In the past research usually meant repeated trips to the local library and bookshops and owning shelves groaning with reference material. Now most research is a mouse click away.

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Have you done any work for educational publishers?

Yes, lots.

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Has all your work come from European publishers?

No. I have worked on projects from around the world. My agent has seen to that. As well as most of Europe, I’ve worked for clients in the USA, Australia, Canada, South Korea and South America.

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

My bicycle, hanging on the wall.

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

I don’t usually need to make a conscious effort to because I’m usually busy. This was one of the reasons I was drawn to illustration in the first place. I knew if I was a working illustrator and I was getting regular work, the commissions would keep me busy – I wouldn’t have to risk being stricken too often with that dreaded lack of motivation so many artists can suffer from.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely! Having my work on the web is like having a private art gallery in every home and office on the planet that has access to the internet.

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Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

Photoshop.

160-82920Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

I couldn’t work without one. Working with a mouse is about the same as drawing with a bar of soap.

160-86961Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

One or two. I really need to write and illustrate a book.

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What are you working on now?

I’ve just completed the front and back cover art for a self-publishing project actually. Very imaginative. Very weird…

160-86754Do 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.

Yes: If you work digitally invest in the best and biggest display you can find. Preferably two. Don’t forget it’s your canvas. If you make your pictures on paper, remember, if you want your work to outlast you, use the best paper and media you can find.

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

Whatever you do don’t follow fashions. Be you and keep being you.

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Thank you Sholta for sharing your journey and process with us. Please let us know all your future successes. We’d love to hear about them and cheer you on. You follow Sholta on Twitter @Sholtawalker
or visit his agency at: http://www.illustrationweb.us/artists/SholtoWalker/view

If you have a moment I am sure Sholta 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, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process, Tips Tagged: Cheltenham College of Art in Cheltenham, England, Ilustrationweb.com, Sholta Walker

0 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Sholta Walker as of 11/8/2014 2:14:00 AM
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7. Interview with Author Margo Sorenson

margoAuthor of twenty-nine books, Margo Sorenson was born in Washington, DC, and spent the first seven years of her life in Spain and Italy, living where there were few children her age, so books became her friends. She finished her school years in California, graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles. After teaching high school and middle school and raising a family of two daughters, Margo is now a full-time writer, writing primarily for young people of all ages, toddlers through high schoolers. Margo enjoys writing for young readers since she believes they are ready for new ideas and experiences, and they really enjoy “living” the lives of the characters in books. 

Besides winning recognition and awards for her books from various groups, including the American Library Association, Margo was invited to donate and archive her working papers with the internationally-known children’s literature collection, the Kerlan Collection, at the University of Minnesota.

A couple of weeks ago I featured illustrator David Harrington. One of this new books was Spaghetti Smiles written by Margo. I thought it might be fun to hear about her journey as a writers, so I interviewed Margo and below are the answers to the questions I asked:

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What was the inspiration behind writing Spaghetti Smiles?

The primary inspiration for this book was the question I always tell students during school visits: “What if?” Watching and listening to people in many different places can serve as the impetus for a wacky and crazy idea, if you ask yourself, “What if?” about what you see and hear. For example, for SPAGHETTI SMILES, one of my ideas was generated by the fact that our daughters used to have sleepover birthday parties in elementary school, and what they loved to do was to have “make-your-own-pizza” parties. The girls would line up in front of all the ingredients and create their own pizzas, some making faces and some making designs. I always wondered, “What if?” the pizzas could rearrange their own faces? The other “What if?” question popped into my head when our favorite Italian restaurant lost its neighbor, a toy store. The store remained vacant for some time, and I wondered, “What if?” a bank moved in next door? Or a post office? Or a gas station? What if things got mixed up between the restaurant and its new neighbor? What would be some of the wacky things that might happen? Because I love cooking Italian food and Italy (and lived there as a little girl) and reading, everything fell into place.

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Back Cover of SPAGHETTI SMILES

How long did it take you to write your new book?

I wrote the first draft in 1992! Yep, that’s 22 years! There was a lot of revising and there were many, many rejections of various versions, but, I really wanted young readers to find out about Jake and Uncle Rocco and let their imaginations loose, so I kept going.

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Title Page

How long did it take you to find a home with Pelican Publishing?

I queried them in 2010, received an invitation to send the manuscript in 2011, and received the offer in 2012. It took two years to get it published, which is fairly typical for a picture book. As you well know, publishing does move slowly, but, the book was worth the wait, because I am so happy with everything that Pelican has done for the book, including signing up awesome illustrator David Harrington, whose whimsical illustrations really bring the story to life!

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What did you major in at the University of California in Los Angeles?

I majored in medieval history – yes, I was a geek, and you could say I still am!

It sounds like you lived in lot of places around the world. Is there a story behind that?

My father was in the US Diplomatic Service when I was young, so I was partly raised in Spain and Italy, before I returned to live in the US for the first time – what a shock! J After I grew up and married, my husband’s job took us lots of places, which is why we lived in California, Hawaii, and Minnesota. Different locations are great for writers, because absorbing the new atmosphere and all the sensory details can combine to make writing richer and more varied.

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What inspired you to start writing children’s books?

Some of the parents of my students encouraged me to write, after I had taught their kids to write for national contests, such as the Scholastic writing contest.

What was the title of your first published book?

My first published book was HOW TO SNEAK UP ON A GOOD BOOK, a reading record book that I co-authored with my school’s terrific librarian, Anne Polkingharn. It is now out of print, since people realized they could Xerox many of the pages (gasp!) and thus stopped buying it! It was fun devising creative projects that kids could use to report on books they read, and it is the only one of my 29 books that is out of print.

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When did that come out and how did you get the contract for that book?

That was published in 1994, and I researched educational publishers, happily finding Perfection Learning Corp. J Then, they offered me contracts to write a total of 21 more books for them for their enrichment and supplemental literature reading program, many of which are for reluctant readers.

Do you have an agent? If so, who?

I do not have an agent, nor have I ever had one. I wouldn’t mind an agent, but, open communication would be key. Being in the loop and knowing what is going on are very important to me. I’ve been very, very fortunate to have wonderful editors and publishers, so an agent hasn’t been necessary. For example, North Dakota State University Press/North Dakota Institute of Regional Studies just re-released my middle grade historical fiction TORI AND THE SLEIGH OF MIDNIGHT BLUE as an ebook, simply because they believe in the story, which means a great deal to me.

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It looks like you have written books from young children to young adult, plus fiction and non-fiction. Do you gravitate to one more than another?

That’s a hard question –except for the non-fiction! Although I loved learning about new ideas and had fun writing the books, I am pretty much done with non-fiction, simply because some of it felt like homework! I wrote TSUNAMI and HURRICANE before the internet was as ubiquitous as it was today, and I trudged through the snow (yes, really!) to the Edina (MN) City Library to do my research. Making sure facts were correct and making sure they were explained in a way that makes sense to young readers were a challenge – and I ended up using about forty bibliographic sources for each one. Whew! What was fun was making some lasting friends writing TSUNAMI when I interviewed the two geophysicists who ran the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the International Tsunami Warning Center, and we are still in contact to this day. When my family goes to Hawaii, we try to stop by the PTWC in Ewa Beach, Oahu, and say hello! I enjoy writing picture books and I enjoy writing young adult, but, because of the current young ages of my grandchildren (the Adorables) I gravitate more to writing for younger readers right now. But, as a writer yourself, you know that is liable to change anytime!

At this stage in your career, do you still find you need to revise when writing a new book?

Whoa! Are you kidding? J I’ll put manuscripts away for a while and then take a look at them much later and wonder, ‘What was I thinking???’! It’s all about revision, all the time!

Do you still receive rejection letters?

Absolutely! When I do author visits, I always ask the kids to guess how many pounds of rejection letters I’ve received (that’s just the letters, not the manuscripts!) – I’m up to over 35 pounds!

Do you feel your writing style has changed over the years?

My writing style has definitely changed – thanks to editors and my critique partner, children’s author Bonnie Graves (    THE BEST, WORST DAY, MYSTERY OF THE TOOTH GREMLIN, etc.). Her voice rings in my ears: “Spare! Spare!” I hope I use words more economically these days – and I definitely use fewer (if any!) adverbs. Some of my earlier books like DANGER CANYON (still my best seller!) use more adverbs than I’m comfortable with using these days, but that doesn’t seem to keep young readers from reading them!

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Are you someone who follows a daily routine with your writing?

I don’t follow a daily routine, unless I am working on a manuscript. Then, I start early in the morning, (with plenty of coffee!), and write like crazy. If I’m not working on a manuscript, I’ll try to daydream “what ifs” in odd moments, and write those ideas down to work on later.

Do you ever do any research when you write a fictional picture book?

I definitely do research when I write fictional picture books. We writers owe it to our young readers that the backstory is accurate, even though a lot of it might not even appear in the story. When I was writing Ambrose the Medieval Mouse stories (AMBROSE AND THE PRINCESS, AMBROSE AND THE CATHEDRAL DREAM) for Liturgical Press, I even sent the manuscripts to my former medieval history professor, the late Dr. Bryce Lyon, professor emeritus, Brown University, for vetting, making sure all the details were accurate. He was delighted to be of use and was a big help. As one example of many, my manuscript read, “Peasants and farmers crowded into the cathedral,” and he wrote me that “peasants *were* farmers,” so I deleted “farmers.” He was tickled that I dedicated both books to him as well as to my dear, supportive family.

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How do you market yourself to secure school visits?

My author website has a whole section on my author visits, and I try to make sure that my name is found on various websites that list authors who do school visits. I also do twenty-minute complimentary Skype visits, and there are some websites that list those, as well, including that of my virtual author friend Kate Messner. Sometimes, I’ve even gotten a school visit through Twitter, such as this past September, when my friend and School Library Journal Librarian of the Year Michelle Colte (Hale Kula, Schofield Barracks, Wahiawa, HI) suggested through a Tweet to another librarian, Debbie Vandersande of Kahala Elementary, that she contact me for a visit – and it happened!

What is your greatest success story?

My greatest success story is when I hear from young readers that something I wrote spoke to them in some way – that they connected with the characters and the story. That’s really the reason I think that any of us authors write; when I was growing up, reading broadened my horizons and let me live lives I never thought I would, and I hope I can do the same for young readers.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a YA novel set in Italy, which is under submission, and a number of picture books, including UPSIDE-DOWN PUPPY and NO NAP, GRANDPA. I love the whimsy of picture books and thinking outside the box, and I love to hear young readers giggle!

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers looking to publish a book?

Yes, though it’s always tricky, since writing is so personal, especially at the very beginning of a writing career. One of my favorite sayings is from Ellen Kozak: “The First Commandment for writers is ‘Thou Shalt Not Fall In Love With Thine Own Words’.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that – it’s embarrassing, actually! Find a good critique partner, take your time, revise, revise, revise, and never give up.

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Thank you Margo. I enjoyed reading your answers. Good Luck with the book. Keep in touch. Use http://www.margosorenson.com/ to read more about Margo and her books.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process, Tips Tagged: Margo Sorenson, Spaghetti Smiles

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8. New Poll – Vote For Your Favorite Halloween Poem

©-Michelle-Kogan-Cats-&-Spider-Illo-10-2014-

Almost missed sharing this wonderful illustration sent in by Michelle Kogan. She is an illustrator/painter/instructor and writer from the Chicago area. Here is her website: www.michellekogan.com Her cards are available in her Etsy shop – www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com

Last Thursday I posted the Halloween Poems sent in for the holiday. I was impressed with the talent out in the audience and will repeat this for other holidays. I decided to create a poll and let everyone chose their favorite poem. I left out Eileen Spinelli on purpose.

I will give the winner of the favorite Halloween poem a chance to be interviewed by me on this blog and show off their work: Book, illustrations, Poems. The winner can hold on to the win for when their book comes out or they can use it immediately. So if you had a poem on last Thursday’s post or have a friend who had their poem posted on October 30th, vote and tell all your friends to vote, too.

Click here to read the poems: 

Voting is open until November 9th.

Take Our Poll

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Competition, Poems, Win Tagged: Carol Jones, Carol MacAllister, Carol Murray, Donna Weidner, Jane Resides, Kelly Fineman, Pia Garneau, Poll - Vote, Robert Zammarchi, Vivian Kirkfield, Wendy Greenley

1 Comments on New Poll – Vote For Your Favorite Halloween Poem, last added: 11/5/2014
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9. Free Fall Friday – Book-Give-a-Way: Karen Romagna

Here is your chance to win a copy of Karen Romagna’s new book, VOYAGE. All you have to do is leave a comment and be willing to write a short review of the book if you win. The review can be on your blog, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Facebook, or Goodreads. (See more at bottom of this post.)

Voyage Covercropped

Karen Romagna has just finished illustrating her first picture book. Voyage launched at The National Book Festival in Washington, DC on August 30, 2014 and is available in bookstores October 1, 2014. Written by former US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, Voyage is the tale of a young boy setting off for an adventure on the open sea. Karen used the softness of watercolor in illustrating this wonderful dreamlike tale.

Romagna, Karen Headshot cropped

Karen is a traditional painter. Her illustrations are primarily done in watercolor However, she also loves painting in oil.

Karen grew up surrounded by art, music, brothers, sisters and parents that always supplied paint, paper, and the freedom to try new things. She lives in rural New Jersey where she and her husband, John, raised two sons, Matt and Tim, in a house filled with music and art… and hopefully a spirit that has allowed her sons to try new things too.

For those of you who are not a member of the New Jersey SCBWI, Karen is the Illustrator Coordinator for the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Romagna_Boy reading book

I asked Karen if she would share the story behind Voyage and it’s beginning. Here is what she told me:

“Voyage” had an interesting beginning. Billy Collins wrote the poem back in 2003 in celebration of John Cole’s 25 years as Director of the Center of the Book in the Library of Congress. As John Cole wrote at the beginning of Voyage, “The creation and presentation of “Voyage” was wholly in the spirit of the Center of the Book, which was created to stimulate pubilc interest in books, reading and literacy.”

In 2013 Bunker Hill Publishing approached me wondering if I might be interested in “a collaboration with the poet Billy Collins!”  Well…, of course!  The publisher had seen a copy of the poem hanging on the wall in John Cole’s office and approached Billy with the idea of making it a picture book.

Billy Collins likes to pick the illustrators for his books and went surfing the net. He came across a painting of mine that made him think I should illustrate this poem. He asked the publisher to get in touch to see if I might be interested in this project. Well… “Of course!” Bunker Hill had an illustrator in mind for the book as well and asked me to submit a sample illustration along with a thumbnail dummy. Wanting to make sure I was giving myself the best shot, I asked the publisher if he wouldn’t mind telling me exactly which illustration Billy Collins had seen that made him feel I was the right artist for his book. “Of course!” he said “It’s the one of the boy in a boat.”

Well, my heart melted… that was not one of my illustrations… it was a portrait of my younger son, Tim. There was always something magical about my second child. He would find himself in a great adventure with a piece of rope that he’d found.

In the end I was chosen to illustrate “Voyage”. …so Tim will carry on this great adventure for a long time.

You might be interested in watching this video of Billy Collins and Karen Romagna talking about the book at the National Book Festival where she launched her book in Washington, DC. I laughed when Karen said she almost threw out the email from the publisher she received asking if she had any interest in illustrating the book thinking it was junky mail. Thank goodness she didn’t. Congratulations, Karen!

 

If you would like more changes to win you will get additional entries when you Tweet, reblog, or talk about Voyager on Facebook (Must check back and let me know what you did, so I can enter the right amount of tickets with you name on it.

DEADLINE: November 3rd. Winner announce November 4th.

Check back next Friday to read the four first page critiques.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book, illustrating, inspiration, Picture Book, Process, publishers Tagged: karen Romagna, NJSCBWI Illustrator Coordinator, Voyage

11 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Book-Give-a-Way: Karen Romagna, last added: 10/24/2014
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10. The Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize – No Fee

NO FEE WRITING CONTEST:  PRIZE: $5,000.00. 

DEADLINE: 10-31-2014.

horat

Black Balloon Publishing will accept submissions for the 2014 annual Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize between October 1st and October 31st, 2014. The winning author receives $5,000 and a Black Balloon book deal.* There is no reading fee.

WRITING CONTEST WEBSITE

Black Balloon Publishing invites entries of finished, unpublished and original fiction manuscripts of over 50K words to The Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize. The winning author receives a $5,000 cash prize and a book publishing deal with the company.Submit only unpublished fiction manuscripts (50,000 words and up) written in English. Short stories, previously published as collections, are still eligible. The initial entry process requires you to submit a partial manuscript of under 4,000 words.Black Balloon Publishing is a well-known author-friendly indie press based in New York, NY. The company publishes crossed genres of creative fiction, narrative, and nonfiction that showcase experimental forms of strong storytelling.

Black Balloon will announce a winner on Monday, February 2, 2015.**

Submission Guidelines:

  • Fiction manuscripts only, please (novels or short story collections)
  • Manuscripts must be complete, unpublished and original. Prior print or digital publication of individual stories from an unpublished collection is acceptable; please ensure your submission acknowledges all outlets in which individual stories have been previously published (if a work is discovered to have been posted or published elsewhere—and not openly acknowledged by the author in advance—we will remove the manuscript from consideration).
  • Self-published novels and story collections are ineligible, including work that has been published digitally.
  • Manuscripts must be over 50,000 words in length
  • International English-language submissions are welcome
  • Submissions must be received between October 1st and October 31st, 2014

DEADLINE: October 31, 2014

Use the link below to submit (scroll to the bottom of the page).

https://electricliterature.submittable.com/submit/35240

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book Contracts, Competition, Contest, earn money, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: Black Balloon Publishing, Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize, No Fee Publishing Contract Contest

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11. Polis Books Actively Seeking Submissions

PBlogo

Polis Books is an independent digital publishing company actively seeking new and established authors for our growing list. We are currently acquiring titles in the following genres. Submissions in the following genres should be to submissions@polisbooks.com.

We are currently acquiring:

• Mystery

• Thriller

• Suspense

• Procedural

• Traditional crime (i.e. ‘cozies’)

• Science Fiction

• Fantasy

• Horror

• Supernatural

• Urban Fantasy

• Romance

• Erotica

• Commercial Women’s Fiction

• New Adult

• Young Adult

• Humor/Essays

We are not currently acquiring:

• Children’s Picture books

• Graphic novels

• Short stories or stand-alone novellas

• Religion

Submission Requirements:

• Query Letter

• Three Sample Chapters

• Author Biography (include information about personal blogs, Twitter handle, or other social media outlets you feel we should be aware of)

Query letter and sample chapters should be emailed as attachments (not in body of email) to:

submissions@polisbooks.com

They will reply requesting more information on a submission-by-submission basis. 

They give a small advance and 40% royalties.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book Contracts, need to know, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Publishing Industry, Royalties Tagged: Acquiring new and established authors, Digital Publishing Company, Polis Books

0 Comments on Polis Books Actively Seeking Submissions as of 10/20/2014 12:22:00 AM
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12. Polis Books Actively Seeking Submissions

PBlogo

Polis Books is an independent digital publishing company actively seeking new and established authors for our growing list. We are currently acquiring titles in the following genres. Submissions in the following genres should be to submissions@polisbooks.com.

We are currently acquiring:

• Mystery

• Thriller

• Suspense

• Procedural

• Traditional crime (i.e. ‘cozies’)

• Science Fiction

• Fantasy

• Horror

• Supernatural

• Urban Fantasy

• Romance

• Erotica

• Commercial Women’s Fiction

• New Adult

• Young Adult

• Humor/Essays

We are not currently acquiring:

• Children’s Picture books

• Graphic novels

• Short stories or stand-alone novellas

• Religion

Submission Requirements:

• Query Letter

• Three Sample Chapters

• Author Biography (include information about personal blogs, Twitter handle, or other social media outlets you feel we should be aware of)

Query letter and sample chapters should be emailed as attachments (not in body of email) to:

submissions@polisbooks.com

They will reply requesting more information on a submission-by-submission basis. 

They give a small advance and 40% royalties.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book Contracts, need to know, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Publishing Industry, Royalties Tagged: Acquiring new and established authors, Digital Publishing Company, Polis Books

0 Comments on Polis Books Actively Seeking Submissions as of 10/20/2014 5:34:00 PM
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13. 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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14. 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.

davidexoticwoman

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.

jumpoutboat

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.

wave

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.

shiver

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.

holdinghead

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.

tigermountain

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.

cook

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.

fishbowlcage

How long did you have to illustrate each one?

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

artclass

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.

jumpingfish

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.

pp-secret-sauce1

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.

library

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.

redponytail

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.

lady in red

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

My Mac!

splat

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.

ghost

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.

balc

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

Yes, Wacom Cintiq, it’s amazing!

hand

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.

cleocat

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.

santa

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.

birds

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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15. SCBWI SPARK AWARD – Self Published Books

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


 

THE INAUGURAL SPARK AWARD WINNERS

 

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

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

Guidelines:

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

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

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

4. The book may be fiction or nonfiction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please note that books submitted will not be returned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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16. Illustrator Saturday – Lita Judge

masthead_11

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

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

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

toad_2

Here is Lita talking about her process:

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

A

B

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

E

F 09_Born_in_the_WildCover for BORN IN THE WILD

10_Born_in_the_Wild

Interior and end pages

11_Born

How long have you been illustrating?

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

untitled

Above: Cover of One Thousand Tracings, 2007 Hyperion)

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

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

K-2_Dinosaurs

Lita on dinosaur dig

Did you do illustrating work for them?

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

how-big_500

Cover of How Big, released 2013, Roaring Brook Press

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

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

05_Stockholm_cemetary

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

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

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

redhat

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

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

RedHat_interior-7

What do you think influenced your style?

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

RedHat_interior-8

thumb8

When did you do your the first illustration for children?

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

ugly

How did that come about?

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

01_Cover-450x450

How many children’s books have you illustrated?

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

redsled

About_001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What was the first book that you wrote and illustrated?

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

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How did you find a home for that book?

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

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What book would you say has been your most successful?

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

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What book award are you the most proud of winning?

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

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Have you worked with educational publishers?

No.

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

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

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Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you?

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

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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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17. On-The Verge Emerging Voices AWARD

SCBWI Grant and Award Logos

The SCBWI established the On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award in 2012 with funding from Martin and Sue Schmitt of the 455 Foundation. The grant was created to foster the emergence of diverse voices in children’s books.


Deadline: 

Applications accepted between September 15th and November 15th, 2014

Award:

Two writers or writer/illustrators will each receive:

  • An all-expense paid trip to the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles August 1-4, 2015 (transportation and hotel)
  • Tuition to the SCBWI Summer Conference
  • A manuscript consultation at the Summer Conference with an industry professional
  • An additional meeting with an industry professional
  • Tuition to the Summer Conference Writers or Illustrators Intensive
  • A press release

 

Eligibility:

Any writer or writer/illustrator from an ethnic and/or cultural background that is traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America. (American Indian, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander)

The manuscript must be an original work written in English for young readers and may not be under contract.  The applicant must be over 18, be unpublished, and should not yet have representation.

Guidelines: 

All applications will be accepted via email only between September 15th and November 15th at Voices@scbwi.org and must include the following:

In the body of the e-mail:

1. An autobiographical statement and career summary in less than 250 words.

2. Why your work will bring forward an underrepresented voice in less than 250 words.

3. A synopsis of your manuscript in less than 250 words.

Attached to the e-mail:

4. A PDF of your entire manuscript.  If the manuscript is not complete, it is not eligible.

The winners will be announced December 19, 2014 and the award presented at the 2015 SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, August 1-4.

When your work is published the author/illustrator should include in the acknowledgement “This book was made possible in part by a grant from SCBWI”

VIEW PAST WINNERS

Questions? voices@scbwi.org

Good Luck! Remember you can not win if you don’t submit.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, awards, Competition, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishing Industry Tagged: ethnic and/or cultural background, On-The Verge Emerging Voices AWARD, SCBWI, Two Awards

1 Comments on On-The Verge Emerging Voices AWARD, last added: 9/16/2014
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18. Kidlit Online Novel Writing Class

Crafting the Kidlit Novel ​- Four Week Online Class

starts October 6, 2014

kamicroppedOne Bite at a Time: How Writing a Novel is Like Eating a T-Rex and Other Things That Bite Back 

With Children’s Authors

Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck

The idea of writing an entire novel can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be when you learn how to move in stages. Children’s authors Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck break down the elements of solid novel writing, beginning with the hook and on through pitch, character development, plot structure, and practical tools for writing through to the end. Though the focus will be on middle grade and young adult writing, the tools are useful for anyone who wants to complete a publishable work.

rebeccaNaNoWriMos! This class will organize your approach so you launch into November with a plan that will result in a novel-like construction and not simply 50,000 words.

Bonus Critique: Register before September 20, 2014 and receive a free five-page critique and 20-minute Skype session with Kami Kinard, redeemable within six months of the course’s completion.

In addition, you will be entered to receive a free written critique of the first chapter of your novel (up to 5 pages) from Agent Rachael Orr of Prospect Agency. 

You have the option of registering for the four-week class for $250 or the class PLUS a 25 page critique with a 60 minute telephone or Skype conversation for $350.

Click this link to register and read more: http://www.kidlitwritingschool.com/crafting-the-kidlit-novel.html

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, How to, Middle Grade Novels, writing Tagged: Agent Rachel Orr, Crafting the Kidlit Novel ​, Kami Kinard, online writing class, Rebecca Petruck

3 Comments on Kidlit Online Novel Writing Class, last added: 9/19/2014
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19. How to Spot a Great Picture Book

dilysDilys Evans has been providing advice to young artists since 1978, when she founded Dilys Evans Fine Illustration.

Below is a summary of that advice—10 characteristics that she believes all outstanding picture books have in common.

Use it as a guide as you evaluate the picture books in your collection.

1. In the Beginning Was the Word
The pictures must be truly inspired by the story.

2. Preparation Is Paramount
The artist knows his or her characters, subject, and the setting inside and out.

3. A Great Cover Is a Great Start
If the cover art is compelling, it will make the viewer pick up the book and turn the pages.

4. The Artist Sets the Scene before the Story Begins
The inside flap offers a great opportunity to set the stage for the story or introduce a character.

5. The Endpapers Involve the Reader
Endpapers are another opportunity to add to the story or overall design of the book.

6. The Medium Is the Message
The perfect choice of medium to illustrate the text should convey every mood and nuance.

7. Every Picture Tells the Story
Every image is central to the story and moves it forward to the next page.

8. The Book Is a Form of Dramatic Art
Every scene must be carefully chosen to dully illustrate the drama and excitement of the story as it unfolds.

9. Art and Type Should Be a Perfect Marriage
The typeface should seem to be almost an extension of the art itself.

10. White Space Rules!
White space is a compositional element and not just a background to present the art.

Printed by the School Library Journal, September 2005

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, How to, list, picture books, reference, Tips Tagged: Dilys Evans, Guide to Evaluate a Picture Book, How to Spot a Great Picture Book

5 Comments on How to Spot a Great Picture Book, last added: 9/20/2014
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20. 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).

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

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

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I found the fruit and vegetables on the internet.

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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)

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Here is the final illustration entirely painted with acrylics.

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Book Covers

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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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21. Schneider Family Book Award

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The Schneider Family Book Award The Schneider Family Book Awards honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

Bibliography of Children’s Books about the Disability Experience (pdf)

Administered by:
American Library Association Award and Frequency:

Three annual awards each consisting of $5000 and a framed plaque, will be given annually in each of the following categories:

Birth through grade school (age 0-10)

Middle school (age 11-13)

Teens (age 13-18). (Age groupings are approximations).

The book must emphasize the artistic expression of the disability experience for children and or adolescent audiences. The book must portray some aspect of living with a disability or that of a friend or family member, whether the disability is physical, mental or emotional.

This award is given out on an annual basis.

Eligibility:

1.The person with the disability may be the protagonist or a secondary character.
2.Definition of disability: Dr. Schneider has intentionally allowed for a broad interpretation by her wording, the book “must portray some aspect of living with a disability, whether the disability is physical, mental, or emotional.” This allows each committee to decide on the qualifications of particular titles.
3.Books with death as the main theme are generally disqualified.
4.The books must be published in English.
5.The award may be given posthumously.
6.Term of eligibility extends to publications from the preceding two years, e.g. 2007 awards given to titles published in 2006 and 2005. This may be changed to one year when the award is well established.
7.Books previously discussed and voted on are not eligible again.

Application Instructions:

1.Complete the online application for each submitted title.
2.Send one copy of each submitted title to the Schneider Family Book Awards Jury members. (addresses included in the online application)
3.Send one copy of each submitted title to the ALA Awards Program. (address included in the online application)
4.Titles submitted for the Schneider Family Book Awards will not be returned.
5.Books must be received by December 1, 2014 to be considered for the 2015 award.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, awards, children writing, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Picture Book, Places to sumit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: America Library Association, Awards honors an author or illustrator, Schneider Family Book Award, Three Annual Awards

1 Comments on Schneider Family Book Award, last added: 9/22/2014
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22. NJSCBWI Fall Craft Weekend

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Princeton Theological Seminary
Stuart Hall and Mackay Campus Center
Princeton, NJ

Event kicks off at noon on Saturday November 1, 2914 and parts run through Sunday, finishing at 5 p.m.

Editors/agents include: Amy Cloud (editor, S&S), Janine Le (agent, Sheldon Fogelman Agency), Leon Husock (agent, L. Perkins Agency), Brooks Sherman (agent, The Bent Agency), Connie Hsu (editor, Roaring Brook Press), Shauna Rossano (editor, G.P. Putnam’s Sons), Patrick Collins (creative director, Henry Holt). Author/illustrators include: Joyce Wan (author/illustrator), Darlene Jacobson (author), Kit Grindstaff (author), Laurie Calkhoven (author), Yvonne Ventresca (author), Ame Dyckman (author),  … plus more to be announced!

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 ~ Craft Afternoon

(FREE SCBWI Members / $45 Non-SCBWI Members)
Noon to 5 p.m. (Stuart Hall)
Enjoy an afternoon of craft-related workshops with editors, agents and author/illustrator presenters, to help you further your writing/illustrating skills in the world of children’s books. Afternoon includes editor/agent panel, picture book, MG/YA workshops, and more! Bring a bag lunch.

*Registration is required, even for SCBWI members. 

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2013 ~ Dinner with the faculty

($65 SCBWI members / $85 Non-SCBWI Members)
Relax for dinner with our Saturday guest editors and agents.
6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. (The Lounge, Mackay Center)

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 ~ Peer Group Critique

8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Stuart Hall)

(FREE SCBWI Members / $25 Non-SCBWI Members)
Meet with fellow PB, MG or YA writers to review each other’s manuscripts and get the feedback you need to revise, revise, revise and move forward on your path to publication.
*Registration is required for this free event.

Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014 ~ Writers Day
8:00 a.m to 5 p.m. (Stuart Hall and Mackay Center)
($240 SCBWI Members / $275 Non-SCBWI Members)
Confirmed editors and agents:

  • AGENTS: Leon Husock, L. Perkins Agency;  Janine Le, Sheldon Fogelman Agency; Brooks Sherman, The Bent Agency.
  • EDITORS: Amy Cloud; Simon & Schuster, Connie Hsu, Roaring Brook Press; Shauna Rossano, G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

This awesome, jam-packed day, all about the craft of writing books for young readers, has been created especially for you. Enjoy the benefits of our opening editor/agent panel, participate in a first-page session, gain feedback in a one-on-one manuscript critique with an assigned editor*, attend breakout sessions, eat breakfast and lunch, and enjoy afternoon tea/coffee. The deadline to submit your manuscript for critique is September 30 at 5 pm. (Note: You can only sign up for either Writers Day or Illustrators Day, not both.) *If attending both days, your one-on-one manuscript critique may be scheduled for Saturday.

*Writers Day manuscript submissions are due no later than 5 p.m., Sept 30, 2014.  

Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014 ~ Illustrators Day
8 a.m to 5 p.m. (Stuart Hall and Mackay Center)
($240 SCBWI Members / $275 Non-SCBWI Members)
Prepare to work hard! Illustrators will work with Patrick Collins (Creative Director, Henry Holt) and Joyce Wan (published illustrator/author). The intensive will begin with everyone together, then illustrators break off with their pre-assigned illustration project mentor* for their group critique. The intensive also includes artwork display, portfolio and promo card display, breakfast, lunch and afternboon tea/coffee. (Note: You can only sign up for either Writers Day or Illustrators Day, not both.)

Talk tomorrow,
Kathy

Filed under: authors and illustrators, Conferences and Workshops, Editor & Agent Info, Events, illustrating, opportunity, writing excercise Tagged: Fall Craft Weekend, NJSCBWI, Princeton Theological Seminary

1 Comments on NJSCBWI Fall Craft Weekend, last added: 9/25/2014
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23. Free Fall Friday – Results

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Let’s all brew a cup of tea and join the characters having tea in this illustration by Denise Holmes. Seems like a great way to enjoy reading the critiques done by Agent Rachel Brooks for September’s first page winners.

Denise Holmes created the above illustration for a collective called The Happy Happy Art Collective. She is represented by Nicole Tugeau over at T2 IllustratorsHer first picture book was released in June 2014 – If I Wrote A Book About You by Stephany Aulenback! Here is Denise’s website: www.niseemade.com

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Rachel_Brooks_LPA_photo_17781343_stdAgent Rachel Brooks from the L Perkins Agency critiqued the following first page winners. Hope you take the time to read. You can learn a lot from listening to what the experts have to say about a first page, even if it is written by someone else.

CODENAME FOX by Donna Maloy

PROLOGUE. London. September, 1800.

I was all of seven years old, but Noreen’s iron shovel looked to me as big as a Scots battle axe. It clanged on the stone floor, not an arm’s length from my head.

“Oh, please don’t hit her!” my brother cried, yanking on her skirts.

But the scullery maid was determined. Her shovel banged down again, this time against the hearth behind me. A piece of stone whizzed past my whiskers.

“Get out o’ me way,” she told Graham. “Nasty, dirty thing that is. Tracking flour all over me clean floor.”

With a yell like a savage pirate, four-year-old Graham chomped down on her arm. The shovel flew out of her hands, clattering to a stop—right in front of Papa’s black, spit-polished boots. He’d come to see what all the noise was about. Now I was in a different sort of trouble.

With a sob, Graham pulled at Papa’s leg. “Make Noreen stop trying to kill Celia!”

Papa’s head jerked up and he looked toward the corner where I crouched.

“Celia?”

I couldn’t see any point in lying. Shaking with fear, I looked up and nodded.

He stared at me. Of course I didn’t look much like an Ashleigh right then. I looked like a small, flour-speckled mouse.

“Come here,” he said, much too calmly. I could almost feel a spanking on the way.

“Miss Ce-Celia?” Noreen frowned. “But that’s only a dirty little mousie, idn’t it? What’s wrong with killin’ it?” She backed up against the chopping table, eyeing my father and me as if she didn’t know which of us worried her more.

“Get out,” Papa said quietly, speaking to the girl but never taking his eyes from me. Oh, I was in for it now. That was the voice Papa used with stable boys who played dice.

HERE IS RACHEL:

CODENAME FOX by Donna Maloy

This title is intriguing! Sounds like a story filled with fun adventure, although it doesn’t give me a 1800s London vibe, more sci-fi or spy.

I think this opening line could be stronger. It tells us the character’s age, rather than showing us how old the character is through how he talks, the story, etc. Also, the diction of this character doesn’t feel like a seven year old, but a much older character looking back and retelling the tale? If that’s the case, then the diction fits, but if he is in fact seven, the language needs reworked.

When the “stone whizzed past my whiskers” I thought it was a cat (or even fox as the title suggests) but it is actually a mouse. Maybe you can weave in some more clues that this is a mouse talking rather than telling us “I looked like a small, flour-speckled mouse” later down the page.

There’s quite a bit of repetition in this one page about the mouse/person being in trouble, being “in for it”, having a spanking on the way, etc. I don’t think we need to be told so much, since the shovel and yelling definitely tell us this isn’t going well.

Without knowing when chapter one starts in time and events, it’s hard to recommend whether you need this prologue or not. But the prologue camp is usually pretty divided on whether you should have one or cut it. It’s something for you to consider—do readers need this info for the rest of the story to make sense or is it setup that could be woven in throughout? If the answers is yes, readers do need it, then it’s good you have lots of action.

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A SPARROW IN THEHAND   MG by Darlene Beck Jacobson

Helen hurried down the dirt road, clutching her lunch sack in one hand.  She reached for  her sister Fran’s arm with her freehand, trying to get her to move faster.

Fran pulled away from Helen’s reach and continued to plod along. They were going to be late; why couldn’t Fran see that?

The sun poked out its head between two grey clouds just as they reached the schoolyard and the bell rang. Miss Thomson stood in the doorway of the one room building glaring at the sisters.

“I don’t tolerate tardiness.”

Helen stopped at the door, gasping. Her heart dropped like heavy stone as she struggled to steady her breathing. “I’m…sorry…Miss Thomson.” She took a deep breath, feeling calmer. “Ma needed our help this morning. It won’t happen again.”

Miss Thomson stared at Helen, lips pinched closed by an invisible clothespin.  “See that it doesn’t, Miss Wasekowski.” She looked at Fran.  “That goes for you too.”

“Yes, Miss Thomson,” Fran said, her plump cheeks flushed from hurrying.

Helen’s breathing finally settled as she smoothed her shoulder length hair from her face. Her eyes darted around the room, searching for her friend Mary. Why wasn’t she here?

Miss Thomson marched to the front of the room. Her stiff, proper skirt stood at attention. Helen bet her laced up shoes pinched her toes as tightly as the bun in her hair pulled at the corners of her cold, dark, eyes. She was nothing like Miss Norton, the teacher who left last year to get married. Miss Norton was like a willow tree, bending and flexible when the situation called for it. Helen doubted Miss Thomson liked teaching or children for that matter.

It was Miss Norton who had given Helen a thirst for learning that never seemed to be satisfied. She’d also ignited an ember that Helen kept buried deep in her soul. That ember was dormant. Waiting. It held Helen’s hope, dream, wish, to become a teacher one day.

No one – except her best friend Mary – knew of Helen’s deepest desire. Mary also held a secret desire of her own. To become a nurse. Both girls knew their dreams were like the wings of a bird – fragile and easily broken.

HERE’S RACHEL:

A SPARROW IN THE HAND by Darlene Beck Jacobson

The description of Miss Thomson is great with her pinched bun and skirt standing at attention. I can picture her for sure! But I’d like to see what Miss Thomson looks like sooner, while she glares out the doorway, rather than waiting until the kids are seated in class to describe her. It might make their tardiness feel more threatening.

Some of the language choices don’t feel MG-aged to me. For middle grade, I’m thinking Helen and Fran are somewhere between 10 to 14 ish? For example, I’m not sure “ignited an ember” or “a thirst for learning” are phrases that a kid of that age would use in that way. The author voice rather than the character’s voice is coming through here.

I’m also a bit confused about why the dreams of becoming a nurse and teacher are so fragile? These don’t seem like farfetched ambitions on the surface. I think I’m missing something here as far as setting that would reveal why these dreams are so fragile. It’s great to know their dreams early on, so the seeds are there, and just need a little nudge to get us to connect with why they’re at risk of being shattered.

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Michelle Kogan Early Chapter Book Through a Sunflower

Rhea wanted to grow a sunflower house more than anything in the world. But even more then that, she wanted to grow it all on her own. She was going to enter it in the Petalpath 10th anniversary magazine contest and try to win $100.00. Ever since her dad lost his job everyone in the family was helping out. Rhea wanted to show she was big enough to help too!

“Come on sunflower, stand up!” Rhea said.  “I’ve replanted you three times, ‘cause the squirrels ate the seeds.”

“Can I help?” called her mom.

“No, I want to do it myself!” said Rhea, “I’m growing my own sunflowers this year! I’ve been helping you for the last three years. This year you even said, I know enough to grow them all by myself!”

“You know sunflowers, you haven’t given me an easy time. This is the third time I’ve replanted your seeds, cause the squirrels kept on eating them. Now stop wiggling around so I can get you propped up!”

As Rhea wrangled with her sunflowers she noticed a caterpillar that was staring right at her. She slooowly moved closer bringing her eye-to-eye with the caterpillar, and stared right back. The next minute the caterpillar cocked it’s head and starred up, then back at Rhea, and then up again.

“Hey caterpillar, what’s going on up there?”

A goldfinch swooped down barely missing Rhea. It nosed right into her back pocket and plucked out her sketchbook. Her prize sketchbook where she had been keeping all her notes and

HERE’S RACHEL:

THROUGH A SUNFLOWER by Michelle Kogan

The idea of Rhea wanting to help out her family financially is great. It shows us how much she loves her parents, while being selfless in giving up the prize money.

Is a “sunflower house” a greenhouse for sunflowers? A house for one single special sunflower? I’m having trouble picturing this.

It switches between singular and plural for how many sunflowers Rhea’s growing, so whichever it is, don’t forget to be consistent. We need to be able to picture if she’s growing a flower or a whole bunch of them!

The transition from staring at the caterpillar to the goldfinch is a bit awkward. Why is the caterpillar important if the real action is the sketchbook getting stolen? The sketchbook list could be integrated in some way sooner too, so we know what is going on with the sunflower/contest from the start.

Integrating sunflower into the title is smart, but I think it could be tweaked, since it doesn’t sound as fun and grabbing for kids as it could be. It’s all about this awesome sunflower contest, so bouncing off of that could be cool.

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Alice Golin Normal – Young Adult Novel

The calendar on the wall stares at me. Stark diagonal lines drawn through bright blue numbers. Reaching under my pillow, I curl my fingers around the thick black crayon I use to mark each day. Each daty that Dad’s been missing. Twelve so far in September. Choking back tears, I put a slash through yesterday.

Leafing back through the months I come to the end of May. A red circle like an evil eye marks Memorial Day, the day we were told of Dad’s disappearance somewhere in Afghanistan. How? Why? We get no answers. Do they even know?

My phone rings. A real call. not a text. Ignoring it, I stare at the red circle desperately hoping for some message. some sign. But the numerals 31 tell me nothing. Unless choosing Memorial Day was some hidden code.

I shudder at the thought and let the pages slip through my fingers until I’m back to September. The box for today is fresh, unmarked.

“Please God,” I whisper, “let us hear today.” But unlike those early days, I have little hope.

My phone keeps ringing. Stops. Rings again. The caller has no mercy. Giving in, I grope around on the floor until I find the intruder.

“Get out of bed, Nikkia,” Micah says gently.  And then, more sharply, because he knows I don’t want to listen, “Now!”

I want to shout, ‘No, I won’t. Not until we hear from Dad.’ But Micah’s gone and besides there’s no point. If I don’t get up, Mom will come for me. And she’s got enough to deal with.

My phone rings again. I grip it tightly, tempted to throw it across the room. It’s Gillian. She and Micah must have planned this.

HERE’S RACHEL:

NORMAL by Alice Golin

It’s clear that your protagonist is in a lot of pain over missing her dad, and it’s great you let us in on this emotional connection from the first page.

It’s not clear why she isn’t answering the phone. This call seems important, but then she ignores it. Confused a bit here, since isn’t she desperately wanting to hear from her dad or any news about him? Wouldn’t she pounce on any call to see if it was news?

Micah appears, but where did he come from? It feels like the transition is a bit awkward from the phone to being told to get out of bed. Is he a friend, sibling? Was the door open, or did Micah have to open it, in which case wouldn’t she hear him coming in? I think the author is seeing this scene more clearly than I am.

This first page overall feels slower and more repetitive than it could be. The core information of her dad disappearing and not wanting to get up are there, but then the pacing and interest-level get dragged down some by talking about the calendar then searching for the ringing phone at-length. I’d rework this to keep the core info, but relay it in a more concise, emotion-heavy way. This will help us immediately feel for her that she wants to hear from her dad but hasn’t in so long.

Shorter titles can be good, but I think this one could be more grabbing. Maybe tweak it, possibly keeping NORMAL in it, but ramping up the grab-me-factor. Then we’ll be sucked in!

Thank you Rachel for sharing your time and expertise with us. It is truly appreciated.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, authors and illustrators, illustrating, inspiration, revisions Tagged: Denise Holmes, Free Fall Friday - Results, L Perkins Agency, Rachel Brooks, T2 Illustrators

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results, last added: 9/26/2014
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24. Illustrator Saturday – Lisa Fields

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LisaFieldsLisa Fields is an illustrator based out of New York City and is represented by Chris Tugeau.

She received her BFA in Illustration from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida and attended The Illustration Academy.

Lisa is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Some clients include:

Boys’ Life
Cobblestone Magazine
Cricket Magazine
Dig Magazine
Faces Magazine
Highlights for Children
Houghton Mifflin
Kaeden Books
Odyssey Magazine
Pelican Publishing
Pinata Books
Ranger Rick Magazine
Tricycle Press

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1. How long have you been illustrating?

I graduated from college in 2006. After graduating I moved back home with my parents for a while so I could start my freelance illustration career…but obviously like most artists I have been drawing for as long as I can remember.

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How did you end up attending the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida to get your BFA?

I can’t remember how exactly I came across Ringling in my art school research. I know I had my portfolio reviewed by them at one of the school fairs. Ringling was rated one of the best art schools and it was in Florida by the beach! As an 18 year old I was very excited about both of those things. I went to visit the school with my mom and after the visit decided that out of all the art schools I had seen it was the best fit for me as a person and as an artist.

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What types of classes did you take that really helped you to develop as an illustrator?

I learned a lot in figure drawing/painting classes. It is amazing how much you learn from drawing from life.

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Tell us about the Illustration Academy. Is that an online college?

The illustration Academy really changed my life. It is a summer program that I attended after my junior year and then again after my senior year of College. I found out about it because Ringling actually hosted them for a few years. They gave a presentation to my school and once I saw it I knew that it was something I needed to do. Along with the amazing faculty that stays the entire workshop, every week there is a guest artist that comes in and gives you an assignment, critiques your work and talks about the industry in general. You get to meet, work with, and get advice from the top illustrators in the industry today. I encourage artists of any level to check them out: http://www.artconnectionacademy.com/IllustrationAcademy.aspx.

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What did attending the Illustration Academy bring to the table for you?

I learned invaluable advice from all the faculty at the illustration academy. They helped me round out my portfolio and gave me a realistic view of what to expect once I got out of school. It was also a great time and REALLY inspiring.

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What was the first things you did that you got paid to do?

The first assignment I was paid for was for a Magazine called Las Olas magazine. I illustrated portraits of five local chefs in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Have any of your college connections ended up helping you get work?

 

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How did you end up leaving in Florida to live in New York?

The first assignment I was paid for was for a Magazine called Las Olas magazine. I illustrated portraits of five local chefs in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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How and when did you decide that you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

Illustrating children’s books was something that I was always interested in but for some reason coming out of school I really did not have that many images of children in my portfolio. When I got out of school adding more images of kids to my portfolio was one of the first things I worked on.

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What was the title of your first book? When and how did you get that contract?

The first children’s book I illustrated was The Triple Banana Split Boy with Pinata books. The art director contacted me after a promotional mailing that I did. I would send out postcards every couple of months to a mailing list that I had created. The mailing list was mostly compiled from this book: http://www.amazon.com/2014-Childrens-Writers-Illustrators-Market/dp/159963726X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=8-1&keywords=childrens+book+artist+guide.

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How long have your been represented by Christina Tugeau? How did the two of you connect?

I am fairly new to Chris’ agency. I have been represented by her for a little over a year now. One of her former artists that she used to represent was a teacher at Ringling and I remember him telling me and my friend to check out her site. I didn’t think I was ready for an agent at the time but agency with the Cat was always in the back of my mind. When I decided I wanted to get an agent she was the first person I emailed and I was thrilled that she wanted to set up a meeting the next time she came to New York City.

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What types of things do you personally do to get your work seen by publishing professionals?

I still send out postcards myself every now again but that is mostly for editorial work. I try my best to stay active on social media because you never know who might end up on your page. I have a Facebook page and a twitter account. I have to admit I don’t think I have quite grasped the world of Twitter but I still tweet out new images just in case! I also try to keep my website and blog up to date with my most recent work. I am always bummed myself when I go to artists blogs that I like and it has not been updated in a few years so I try my best to keep on top of it.

 

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Have you ever tried to write and illustrate your own story?

This is definitely something that I am interested in. I have a few ideas floating around my head that I have to get on paper. I used to write stories and illustrate them all the time when I was a kid. It is hilarious to find them and read them now. I remember in elementary school we would get to write a story every year that would be published in the “publishing center” (ie a cardboard cover wrapped in wallpaper). It was the best time of the school year. One of my masterpieces was called The Princess and the Unicorn. You can’t get any more girly than that!

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What is your favorite medium to use?

These days I have been working digitally. I got a Wacom cintiq a couple of years ago and fell in love with it. I live in a little NYC apartment so it is more practical for me to sit down at the computer instead of setting out all the paints.

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Have you seen your style change since you first started illustrating?

I think my style has changed a lot. I learn with every project that I do and I am always trying to do better than my last assignment. I think someone would probably be able to tell that the images were drawn by the same person but I think my work looks a little more polished and consistent now.

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How many picture books have you illustrated?

I am currently working on my 4th book with Pinata books. I have illustrated two books for Pelican Publishing and one for Tricyle Press which was an imprint at Random House.

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How did you get the contract with Pinata Books to illustrate GRADMA’S CHOCOLATE?

I had already illustrated The Triple Banana Split boy with Pinata Books. I think the art director I worked with thought that Grandma’s chocolate would be a good fit for me as well.

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I see you, also illustrated TRIPLE BANANA SPLIY BOY with Pinata Books, too. Was that a two book deal?

It was! It was the first book that I illustrated.

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What is your biggest success story? The thing you are most proud of?

I am always proud if a client comes back and asks me to do more work for them. After leaving school you don’t really get critiques anymore which is something that you were so used to all the time. When a client comes back to you and asks you to do more work for them that’s how you really know they were happy with what you did for them in the past. There are so many artists out there to choose from so it means a lot!

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Are you open to working with self-published authors or is that something Christina would not let you do?

Typically I work with publishing houses but I might be open to it if it was a story that I really liked as well.

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Have you thought about writing and illustrating your own books?

 

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Is Lewis Tewanima: Born to Run your latest picture book? How did Christine get that contract for you?

Lewis Tewanima: Born to Run was the second book that I did for Pelican Publishing. I already had a contact at Pelican before I was represented by Chris. Again, I got the first book from a postcard mailing. The art director told me she had been keeping my postcards for years so you shouldn’t give up hope if you do not hear back from people right away.

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Have you done any work for educational publishers?

Yes, I have done a lot of work in the past year for educational publishers through jobs that Chris has gotten me. I am currently working on my 4th reader for Heinemann Books at Houghton Mifflin. These types of jobs I think would be very hard to find without an agent so it has been really great working with Chris.

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Do you use Photoshop in your work?

I do use Photoshop on my wacom cintiq.

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Do you own a graphic tablet?

I have a big wacom cintiq at my desk and also a portable one so I can take my illustrations on the go with me (or sometimes it is nice to just sit on the couch and work in a differnet room). I am able to sync my files between the two devices with Adobe’s cloud service.

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How much time do you spend illustrating?

I draw every day. If I don’t have an assignment to work on I work on some of my own stuff.

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Do you have a studio set up in your house?

I have a studio area does that count?…NYC apartment living. One day I will have a house with a studio! J

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Is there anything in your studio, other than paint and brushes, that you couldn’t live without?

I have a rather large collection of children’s books and art books. I often look at them for inspiration. The children’s books have a wide range of styles. It is fun to see how different artist approach illustrating a book. My all time favorite is probably Kadir Nelson and I am loving Peter Brown and LeUyen Pham books these days as well.

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Do you take pictures or any other type of research before you start a project?

Yes, reference pictures are important for me. I usually find photos online or I take photo reference myself. The internet is an amazing tool. I don’t know what I would do without it. It would be nice to take reference pictures myself all the time but often projects call for different ages and ethnicities and the chances of knowing a model that fits the bill is not very likely in most cases.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

The internet has definitely opened doors. Being able to have your portfolio online, up to date and accessible at all times is important.

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

I would like to write and illustrate a book.

underwater

What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on some pirates for an article in Appleseeds magazine. The art director would like the pirates to be a bit menecing…which is not something that I typically do. It is a challenge and I am having a lot of fun with it! I am trying my best to make sure they are not cute, menecing pirates. I am also working on sketches for a reader for Heinemann and sketches for a book for Pinata.

window

Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?

I know that I have mentioned it a couple of times already but I love my Wacom cintiq. If you work digitally you should definitely look into it. It is expensive…but it is so worth it!

school

Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?

One of my favorite things to do is go to the bookstore and check out what is on the shelves. You will be inspired and will also see what art directors are looking for. If there are books that look like something your work would be a good fit for write down the name of the publisher/imprint and add them to your mailing list. I have had multiple people tell me that they saved my postcards until a project comes along that I would be a good fit for so stick with it and don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back from people right away.

construction


Filed under: authors and illustrators, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Lisa Fields, The Ringling School of Art and Design

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Lisa Fields, last added: 9/30/2014
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25. Free Fall Friday – NaNoWriMo – PiBoIdMo

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

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

DEADLINE: September 24th.

RESULTS: October 31st.

ILLUSTRATORS: Illustrations needed for this blog.

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

NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo Kick-Off night.

charandtarae4aaf098-734e-4498-8916-4daf380d2799

FREE EVENT!* 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New to generate some new ideas? Read on …

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

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

Click here to register for the NaNoWriMo/PiBoIdMo event

About Charlotte: 

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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