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1. Outlining Your Novel

outlining your novelI am a big believer in creating an outline of your story and keep telling other writers how much it will help them with writing their novel. They nod their head, when they really want to pat me on the head and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” So tonight read the beginning of K.M. Weiland’s “how to write book” titled, OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL, hoping to find someone else who could help persuade others to realize how much it will help them with their manuscripts. After reading the excerpt below, I bought the book and I hope you will check it out. She lays out some good reasons to outline.

Here it is:

Benefits of Outlining Your Story

 

  1. Ensures Balance and Cohesion

In an outline, you can see at a glance if the inciting even take place too late in the sotry, if the middle sags, or if the climax doesn’t resonate. Instead of having to diagnose and remedy these problems after the first draft, you can fix problems in the outline in only a few keystrokes.

  1. Prevents Dead-End Ideas

How many times have you started writing an exciting new plot twist, only to realize – 5,000 words later – that it’s led you to a cul-de-sac? You either have to spend valuable time bactracking and trying to write your way around the roadblock – or you have to cut the subplot altogether and start afresh. Outlines allow you to follow plot twists and subplots to their logical end (or lack thereof) in much less time. You can identify the dead-end ideas and cull them before they become annoying and embarrassing ploy holes.

  1. Provides Foreshadowing

It’s nearly impossible for an author to foreshadow and event of which he has no idea. As a pantser, when a startling plot twist occurs late in the book, you’ll have to go back and sow your foreshadowing into earlier scenes. Not only is this extra work, it can often be difficult to make the new hints of what’s yet to come flow effortlessly with your already constructed scenes. Because an outline give you inside knowledge about what’s going to happen in subsequent scenes, it provides you the opportunity to plant some organic foreshadowing.

  1. Smoothes Pacing

Like foreshadowing, pacing often requires inside knowledge. If the author doesn’t know the protagonist is about to be shot in the back, he can hardly adjust the pacing to introduce this shocking new event in the right manner. An outline shows you the places where your story is running too fast and the places where it is lagging and sagging.

  1. Indicates Preferable POVs

When working with multiple points of view it can often be challenging to know which scene should be written from which POV. Too often, we write a scene from one character’s POV, only to realize a different character’s narrative perspective would probably have offered a better experience for the reader. As a result, we’re forced to go back and rewrite the entire scene. Outlines allow us to make educated decisions about POV, thanks to insights regarding plot and character. Just as importantly, outlines permit us to look at the balance of you POVs over the course of the entire novel, so we can ensure each character is getting an appropriate amount of time at the mic.

  1. Maintains Consistent Character Voice

When writing without an outline, we’re often discovering the characters right along with the readers, and because our perception and understanding of our character often evolve over the course of the story, the result can be an uneven presentation of the character’s voice.

  1. Offers Motivation and Assurance

Writing a novel can be overwhelming. Typing thousands of words is an undertaking in itself – but when those words all have to hang together in a way that is sensible, entertaining, and resonant, that’s enough to make our knees start shaking beneath our desks. Outlines give us the assurance that we can craft a complete story; all we have to do now is fill in the blanks. And because those blanks are ones that fascinate us, outlines also motivate us to keep on writing through the tough spots, so we can get to the good stuff.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, How to, inspiration, reference, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: Benefits of outlining Your Story, K.M. Weiland, Outlining your novel, Reason to outline

1 Comments on Outlining Your Novel, last added: 11/25/2014
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2. Illustrator Saturday – Leeza Hernandez

leeza_johnlithgow

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!

Leezawcat

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.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

These are the thumbnail sketches for the book layout.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

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.

binderreference

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!

CreativeReference

Below you can see the process of the cover art.

ZooBook_Cvr_Color_final

Below is an up close look at the final cover.

never play music

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!

Leeza_IF_wisdom400

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!

BN-AB341_lithgo_Q_20131019141529

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!

BN-AB343_lithgo_Q_20131019142150

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!

BN-AB344_lithgo_Q_20131019142409

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.

BN-AB345_lithgo_Q_20131019142620

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.

eat your math homework

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.

A1iVTcr9IqL__SL1500_

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

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

eat your mathinterior

Do you have plans to write and illustrate another book?

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

leeza-rabbitscropped

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!

PencilOnArches

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.

eysh-6-7

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.

herman-and-his-penguins

Do you own a graphic tablet?

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

hernandez_winter_a72dpi

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!

Hernandez_Wolf

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.

lhernandez_wolf

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.

leezaillustration1

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.

dog

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.

leezadg_originalsample

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.

leeza

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!

leeza in and outcropped

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.

leezaDG_lastSpreadFinal

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!

leeza rock bandcropped

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

10 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Leeza Hernandez, last added: 11/24/2014
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3. Format Your Book for CreateSpace by Roxanne Smolen

RSmolen1_pp

Roxanne Smolen

Ever think about self-publishing a book using CreateSpace? Maybe you have hesitated because you were nervous about the expertise needed to digitally format the manuscript to look professional. Well, Roxanne Smolen has worked through the process, wrote up the step-by-step process below, and is willing to share it with you.

Here is Roxanne:

I think of myself as an Indie author, although I’m actually a hybrid. I have seven books published by a small publisher. Those books can be found in every book selling venue possible. But honestly, almost all my sales are through Amazon. I started thinking, why sell through a publisher and give them a healthy cut when I can make more money by doing it myself?

So I began self-publishing. I published two middle-grade books that I wrote with my young granddaughters (under the name R.A.P. Smolen), four writer’s advice books that I wrote with seven other authors (under the name of C. S. Writers), a science fiction novel that I wrote about a woman who literally goes to hell (Satan’s Mirror), and the first three novels of my current book series (The Amazing Wolf Boy).

wolfboy coverThe Amazing Wolf Boy is a humorous paranormal romance for young adults about a sixteen-year-old nerd who turns into a werewolf during Christmas Eve dinner. His parents banish him to Florida (That’s where I live. What a coincidence.) where he fails to fit in with the other kids. You can buy book one here.

I’m pretty proud of the book, not only because I wrote it but because I published it. Self-publishing does not carry the stigma it once did. If you are thinking about publishing your own book, my biggest piece of advice is to proofread and edit carefully. It’s so easy to publish a book nowadays authors are putting their work out there with all sorts of errors. You don’t want to be that guy.

The best thing, of course, is to hire an editor. But good editors are expensive, and many of us can’t afford such an investment. If you plan to do it yourself, I have a tip for you—change your font. Just for the editing process. Make it something a little difficult to read, like Broadway or Impact. Something to make you focus. Your brain doesn’t always read what your eyes see; it reads what you thought you wrote. That’s why we can read over a sentence with a misspelled or missing word twenty-five times and not pick it up. If you change your font, your brain will think it’s reading something new and it will pay attention.

PersnicketyI would also advise you to take care with your book formatting. Readers don’t have the patience to read text with large gaps or ragged indents. On that note, I have written a tutorial.

How to Format Your Book for CreateSpace

I get a lot of formatting questions, so I thought I’d put it all down in one place. If you find it useful, let me know.

Note: I use Word 2010. Your version of Word might look a bit different, but it should be similar enough for you to figure out.

And now, without further ado, here is how I format a book for CreateSpace.

Ready, Set, Go

  1. Open your Word .doc
  2. Set the margins. Go to PAGE LAYOUT –> MARGINS –> CUSTOM MARGINS.
    1. Under the Margin Tab, make the top 1″, the bottom 1″, the inside .9″, and the outside .6″.
    2. Orientation should be Portrait.
    3. Multiple Pages should be changed to Mirror Margins. That’s it for the Margin Tab. Don’t close the box yet.
  3. Then under the Paper Tab, change the Paper Size to the size of the book you are planning to publish. I like my books to be 8″ by 5″ so I change:
    1. Width to 5″
    2. Height to 8″. Then click OK to close the box.
  4. SELECT ALL (it’s over in the top right-hand corner.) Delete all tabs by using REPLACE (also in the top right-hand corner.)
    1. Go to the Replace Tab
    2. Click More
    3. Click Special
    4. Click Tab Character
    5. Leave REPLACE WITH blank
    6. Click REPLACE ALL
  5. SELECT ALL
    1. Click the corner box next to Paragraph.
    2. Under Indentation, go to SPECIAL
    3. Select FIRST LINE
    4. Under BY type .25
  6. SELECT ALL
    1. Change line spacing to 1.5
    2. Click both REMOVE SPACE BEFORE and REMOVE SPACE AFTER so both read ADD.
  7. SELECT ALL
    1. Change your font and font size. I usually use Georgia 12pt.
  8. SELECT ALL
    1. Justify your margins. Yes! Don’t argue with me.
  9. SELECT ALL
    1. Under PAGE LAYOUT, click Hyphenation and Automatic.
  10. SELECT ALL. Make sure you don’t have any double spaces after punctuation. (This is for all us older authors because we were taught that in high school.)
    1. Go to the Replace Tab
    2. Under FIND WHAT, hit the spacebar twice
    3. Under REPLACE WITH, hit it once
    4. Click REPLACE ALL
  11. Make sure the end of every chapter/short story has a new page character.
    1. Go to PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS
    2. Under Section Breaks, click NEXT PAGE (One caveat to this is if you are publishing a book of short stories. You want each story to start on the right-hand side, right? Or some people want each chapter to start on the right. In that case you would click ODD PAGE.)
    3. There should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on blank pages.

Front Matter Matters

In order:

  1. TITLE PAGE
    1. Use a larger font and make it bold.
    2. Type your book title about halfway down the page.
    3. Type your name at the bottom. (This should give you plenty of room to sign at book signings.)
    4. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  2. COPYRIGHT PAGE
    1. Type in your Copyright Notice.
    2. Example: This is a work of fiction. The characters and events described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or to living persons alive or dead. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written permission of the publisher except for brief quotations embodied in critical reviews.
    3. Copyright © (date) by (your name)
    4. ISBN (Type in the number provided by CreateSpace.)
    5. You can also add your publishers name, state, website, and logo if you have started your own company.
    6. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  3. DEDICATION PAGE
    1. This is optional. If you are dedicating your book to a loved one or an organization, type it here.
    2. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  4. TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. You should have a table of contents to list each chapter or short story.
    2. Go to REFERENCE and click Table of Contents.
    3. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  5. NOTES
    1. If necessary, add a blank page at this point (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE) so that the first page of your story starts on the right-hand side.
    2. There should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on the FRONT MATTER (or the back matter either for that matter.)

Back Matter Matters Too

  1. Add a page for Your Author’s Bio, headshot (I mean a photo, not an actual… although if you’re writing horror and you’re good with make-up…) website, and email address.
    1. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  2. Add another page for a list of your previous works and where to buy them.
    1. End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT –> BREAKS –> NEXT PAGE)
  3. If you are writing a series, you can put an excerpt of an upcoming book here.
  4. Remember, there should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on the front or back matter unless you want to use Roman Numerals.

About Your Headers and Footers

  1. Go to the first page of your story. (Story, not Front Matter.)
    1. Click INSERT.
    2. Click HEADER.
    3. Choose your Header Style. (I usually use Blank.)
    4. Type the name of your book. (I recommend using a smaller font.)
    5. Highlight what you just typed and Right align it. (On the Home Tab.)
    6. Under HEADER & FOOTER TOOLS click ODD & EVEN PAGES.
    7. Make sure LINK TO PREVIOUS is not selected.
  2. Now go to the second page of your story.
    1. Click the Header and type your name.
    2. Highlight what you typed and Left align it.
  3. You should now have your Title on the right and your Name on the left on alternating pages.
    1. Check to be sure the header hasn’t shown up on your Front Matter.
    2. If it has, delete it and de-select LINK TO PREVIOUS on each page.
  4. Go back to the first page of your story.
    1. On the left-hand side of the HEADER & FOOTER TOOLBAR, you will see Page Number. Click it.
    2. Choose Bottom Of The Page.
    3. Choose your style. I use Plain Number 2.
    4. Note: You will have to do this twice—once for the right-hand (odd) side and once for the left-hand (even) side.
    5. Note: You may have to format the page numbers to get them to run consecutively. To do that, click Page Number again and scroll down to Format Page Number.

Easy Peasy

Kill the Widows and Orphans

Widow

  • A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the rest of the text.

Orphan

  • A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page/column.
  • A word, part of a word, or very short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph. Orphans result in too much white space between paragraphs or at the bottom of a page.

Word kills your widows and orphans by default, but the result makes a ragged bottom margin. I’m one of those persnickety people who feel that when you open a book, the bottom margin on both pages should match up. So I kill them manually.

  1. Click the corner box on PARAGRAPH.
  2. Click the LINE AND PAGE BREAKS Tab.
  3. Uncheck Widow/Orphan Control.
  4. Go through each page of your 500 page book and look for Widows and Orphans, adding or deleting words until the page looks right.

And Another Thing…

The first paragraph of each chapter and after a drop should be flush left, meaning don’t indent. Also, the first letter of the first word of that paragraph should be fancied up. I’m sure you’ve all seen the first letter in a different font with scroll work, etc. The problem is that it messes with the line spacing of the paragraph. The only work-around I know is to insert a picture of the necessary letter in the desired fancy font and then have the text wrap it so there is no problem with the spacing. But that is a lot of work for little gain. I just bold the first letter and leave it in the same font as the rest of the paragraph.

Easy Peasy

When all looks good, you need to save the book as a PDF. Word can do this for you.

FILE –> SAVE AS –> PDF

Now you are ready to upload the .pdf to CreateSpace.

See? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3… 4, 5, 6… Oh, you get the picture.

Thank you Roxanne for sharing this process with everyone. I know this will help a lot of writers, if not now, later. I am sure they will want to save this for future use. Here is the link to visit Roxanne’s blog: http://www.moonrox.wordpress.com/

Talk soon,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, demystify, How to, Process, Publishing Industry, reference Tagged: CreateSpace, Formatting your book

2 Comments on Format Your Book for CreateSpace by Roxanne Smolen, last added: 11/19/2014
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4. To My Fellow Horrible Acne Sufferers

It’s been a long time since I had acne. Thankfully. Because I had severe cystic acne–the kind that looks like open sores all over your face and chest and back–all through college and well into my late 20s. I think I saw the last of it when I was 29, and that was only after two full rounds of Accutane. Accutane is some scary stuff. I had to sign all sorts of waivers and promises to stay on birth control because the drug causes horrible birth defects. Over the course of the two years I used it, I couldn’t wear contacts because my eyeballs dried out. I had to put lotion on every inch of my skin several times a day because it was all so parched and flaking. I felt itchy and sore. But yes, the drug finally worked. And I was incredibly grateful.

Which is why I’m posting this video. Because if I had known when I was younger what Randa and Nina have discovered, I would have changed my diet right away. Acne like the kind they and I had destroys your self-confidence and makes you want to crawl into a hole and not let the world see you. And in my case, unlike theirs, I was also obese in college, so between that and the acne, you can imagine I wasn’t really enjoying my 20s.

If I could go back to the young woman I was and whisper in her ear, “Hey! Look at this!” I would. But until I’ve worked out all the mechanics of time travel, the best I can do is to help any of you who might be suffering from the same problem. Because it is suffering–I know that too well.

Best of luck to all of you! And thanks Nina and Randa for sharing your story and your pictures. I know that was hard!

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5. Three Tricks For Showing Rather Than Telling

Three Tricks For Showing Rather Than Telling

 by Trish Wilkinson

trish20131226_D800_trishwilkinson_family_5447_trish_2x3-225x300For readers to become invested in a story, they need to “see” characters’ movement and action within a setting. Writers often hear, “Show don’t tell,” and sometimes we think, “But I did show – didn’t I? How do I fix this?”

Here are a few quick tips for showing rather than telling:

  1. Use ACTIVE VERBS rather than passive ones wherever possible.

Keep this list of passive verbs near your computer until you get in the habit of using them sparingly. (I tell my students: “If you must use passive verbs, limit them to no more than one or two on a page.”)

  • Forms of be to AVOID: is, are, was, were, be, being, and been
  • Auxiliary verbs: am, did, do, does, can, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, has, have, had, could
  • Adjectives (describing words)
  • Adverbs (words used to modify verbs that tell us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent – words ending in –ly; other examples: yesterday, here, barefoot, fastest)

Telling/Passive: She was running quickly to the dilapidated shed because she needed a place to hide.

Showing/Active: She sprinted to the shed, slipped inside, and crouched under a sawhorse behind a stack of paint cans.

  1. Place your characters in a setting at the beginning of every scene, so your reader can “see” them.

Begin every scene with a few words of setting BEFORE a character shares thoughts or engages in conversation. Otherwise, fuzzy talking heads float in space until the writer gets around to putting the characters in a specific location.

Example:

I heard the T.V., so I went to the living room and found my dad on the couch rubbing his temples.

            “You got it wrong,” I said. “Someday these time-wasting doodles will make me rich.”

A quick aside: Forget all the fancy words you learned in middle school – replied, chortled, stuttered, etc. – and use SAID, which is considered the invisible dialogue tag.

  1. Write ACTION TAGS within conversations rather than dialogue tags wherever possible.

If your characters shove their hands in their pockets or tuck a curl behind an ear or move to the other side of the room, action tags can show details and movement, adding to the depth of the scene.

Example:

I heard the T.V., so I went to the living room and found my dad on the couch, rubbing his temples.

“You got it wrong.” I dropped my drawing in front of him on the coffee table. “Someday these time-wasting doodles will make me rich.”

These three things: active verbs, establishing the setting, and using action tags in dialogue, will transform your scenes from flat and fuzzy into mental motion pictures.

Trish Wilkinson is a writing coach, content and line editor. You can find her at: www.write-to-win.com

Thanks Trish for sharing your expertise with us. I am sure it will help many of the new writers who visit and also help remind the rest of us to always strive for an active voice.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, How to, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Action Tags, Active Verbs, Trish Wilkinson, Write to Win

6 Comments on Three Tricks For Showing Rather Than Telling, last added: 11/14/2014
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6. Five lessons from extreme places

Throughout history, some people have chosen to take huge risks. What can we learn from their experiences?

Extreme activities, such as polar exploration, deep-sea diving, mountaineering, space faring, and long-distance sailing, create extraordinary physical and psychological demands. The physical risks, such as freezing, drowning, suffocating or starving, are usually obvious. But the psychological pressures are what make extreme environments truly daunting.

The ability to deal with fear and anxiety is, of course, essential. But people in extremes may endure days or weeks of monotony between the moments of terror. Solo adventurers face loneliness and the risk of psychological breakdown, while those whose mission involves long-term confinement with a small group may experience stressful interpersonal conflict. All of that is on top of the physical hardships like sleep deprivation, pain, hunger, and squalor.

What can the rest of us learn from those hardy individuals who survive and thrive in extreme places? We believe there are many psychological lessons from hard places that can help us all in everyday life. They include the following.

  1. Cultivate focus.

Focus – the ability to pay attention to the right things and ignore all distractions, for as long as it takes – is a fundamental skill. Laser-like concentration is obviously essential during hazardous moves on a rock face or a spacewalk. Focus also helps when enduring prolonged hardship, such as on punishing polar treks. A good strategy for dealing with hardship is to focus tightly on the next bite-sized action rather than dwelling on the entire daunting mission.

The ability to focus attention is a much-underestimated skill in everyday life. It helps you get things done and tolerate discomfort. And it is rewarding: when someone is utterly absorbed in a demanding and stretching activity, they experience a satisfying psychological state called ‘flow’ (or being ‘in the zone’). A person in flow feels in control, forgets everyday anxieties, and tends to perform well at the task in hand. The good news is that we can all become better at focusing our attention. One scientifically-proven method is through the regular practice of meditation.

  1. Value ‘knowhow’

Focus helps when tackling difficult tasks, but you also need expertise – high levels of skills and knowledge – to perform those tasks well. Expertise underpins effective planning and preparation and enables informed and measured judgements about risks. In high-risk situations experts make more accurate decisions than novices, who may become paralysed with indecision or take rapid, panicky actions that make things worse.

Expertise also helps people in extreme environments to manage stress. Stress occurs when the demands on you exceed your actual or perceived capacity to cope. An effective way of reducing stress, in everyday life as well as extremes, is by increasing your ability to cope by developing high levels of skills and experience.

Developing expertise requires hard work and persistence. But it’s worth the investment – the dividends include better assessment of risk, better decision-making, and less vulnerability to stress.

Climber
Climber, by aatlas. Public Domain via Pixabay.
  1. Value sleep.

Getting enough sleep is often difficult in extreme environments, where the physical demands can deprive people of sleep, disrupt their circadian rhythms, or both.

Bad sleep has a range of adverse effects on mental and physical wellbeing, including impairing alertness, judgment, memory, decision-making, and mood. Unsurprisingly, it makes people much more likely to have accidents.

Many of us are chronically sleep deprived in everyday life: we go to bed late, get up early, and experience low-quality sleep in between. Most of us would feel better if we slept more and slept better. So don’t feel guilty about spending more time in bed.

Experts in extreme environments often make use of tactical napping. Research has shown that napping is an effective way of alleviating the adverse consequences of bad sleep. It’s also enjoyable.

  1. Be tolerant and tolerable.

Adventures in extreme environments often require small groups of people to be trapped together for months at a time. Even the best of friends can get on each other’s nerves under such circumstances. Social conflict can build rapidly over petty issues. Groups split apart, individuals are ostracised, and simmering tensions may even explode into violence.

When forming a team for an extreme mission, as much emphasis should be placed on team members’ interpersonal skills as on their specialist skills or physical capability. Research shows that team-building exercises – though often mocked – can be an effective way of enhancing teamwork.

Effective teams are alert to mounting tensions. Individuals keep the little annoyances in perspective and respect others’ need for privacy. To survive and thrive in demanding situations, people must learn to be tolerant and tolerable. The same is true in everyday life.

  1. Cultivate resilience

Extreme environments are dangerous places where people endure great hardship. They may suffer terrifying accidents or watch others die. Such experiences can be traumatic and, in some cases, cause long-term damage to mental health.

But this is by no means inevitable. Research has shown that many individuals emerge from extreme experiences with greater resilience and a better understanding of their own strengths. By coping with life-threatening situations, they become more self-confident and more appreciative of life.

Resilience is a common quality in everyday life. We tend to underestimate our own ability to cope with stress, and overestimate its adverse consequences. Some stress is good for us and we should not try to avoid it completely.

Featured image credit: Mount Everest, by tpsdave. Public Domain via Pixabay.

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7. Mastering Kid-Speak – Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

A Dialogue Tune-up: Mastering Kid-Speak

Dialogue is one of the most important pieces of any manuscript, and this often goes double for children’s works. Dialogue moves the story along, develops the connection between your readers and the characters and keeps things tangible and realistic.

That means that mastering Kid-Speak is unequivocally important.

There is a rhyme and rhythm to the way that kids communicate, where they pause to think, how they choose their words, the direction their stream of conscious takes them in. I’ve often wondered if there are linguists who study children specifically.  I bet we could learn a lot about the development of the brain and human instincts by looking at how and why kids pick their words.

As writers, if our characters don’t sound realistic, we’ve already lost the battle.  It’s something a child will instantly and instinctively pick up on.  The character will seem fake and they won’t bond with them.  Even in a plot-driven story, if the readers don’t connect with the characters, the story won’t resonate.

Here are a few things you can do to work on the dialogue in your stories: 

Eavesdrop!

Listening to children talk is one of my favorite things to do. This can be a bit trickier to do with older kids.  Teenagers aren’t big on you overhearing their devastatingly important and secret information.  But there’s a great trick to overcome that.  Stick two or more kids in the back of a car and drive around a while.  Even teenagers will fairly quickly forget that you can probably hear them and get swept up in the excitement of their chatter.  When hushed whispers are completely ignored, they often become full-volume conversations within a few minutes.

It’ll be a hit with the other adults in your life too! The fact that I’m quick to volunteer for anything kid and car-pool related is a much-appreciated running joke among my friends and family.

Listen to yourself:

Most writers understand the value of reading the dialogue sections of a manuscript out-loud. But you can take this even further.  Record yourself reading it.  Play it back.  Have someone else read it to you.  Have multiple someones read it to you.

Better yet, have an age-appropriate child read it to you. See how it sounds coming from them.  Does it sound natural?  Stale?  Funny?  Bland?  Vocabulary that encourages learning and reaching is excellent when carefully placed in children’s books.  But (unless it’s your character’s quirk) you want to keep the dialogue age-appropriate.

Hearing how the lines sound with the natural intonation of a child’s voice can be a simple and surprisingly effective way of polishing up the dialogue.

Give Everyone Their Own Unique Voice

If you ask five kids the same question, you will get five different responses, even if they all have the same general answer. You have a voice as a writer.  Be sure each of your characters has a voice of their own as well.

We all have our little verbal tics, especially kids. Some are simple speakers, short, two to three word sentences.  Some seem to look for any opportunity to use flowery, descriptive words.  They know different words based on who and what occupies the majority of their time.

A friend’s five year old used the word “bonemeal” when he was commenting on my conversation with his mother about my garden next year. Turns out, it’s basically a type of fertilizer in Minecraft.  I was amazed that he made the connection to a real-life garden, but it was just his natural Kid-Speak.

A great test for this is to pull out all the dialogue in your manuscript and see if you can tell who said what without even looking at the character name. 

It’s not an easy test. But for me, it’s given me great perspective on places I need to have the opportunity to personalize and develop that critical bond between my readers, and the characters they’re going to take the journey with.

Dialogue does so much in our manuscripts. It allows us to remove unnecessary words, breaks up long, difficult to read paragraphs, advances the story, gives us relatable realism and lets us see how a character thinks.  Take these opportunities to really let the uniqueness of your characters shine, and capture your readers.

Kid-Speak varies for different ages, backgrounds and situations, making it a versatile and powerful tool to make your story, and your character jump off the page and into the reader’s heart.

Your character’s personalities, and your manuscripts, are worth it.

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

Thank you Erika for another great post. I always enjoy them.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, How to, inspiration, Writing Tips Tagged: A Dialogue Tune Up, Erika Walssal, Guest Blogger Post, Mastering Kid-Speak

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8. 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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9. Ask an Editor: Hooking the Reader Early

In this series, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares advice for aspiring authors, especially those considering submitting to our New Visions Award

Last week on the blog, I talked about the importance of following submission guidelines and basic manuscript format. This week, I wanted to go into more detail about why a reader might stop reading if they’re not hooked right away. Here are some comments I’ve heard our readers make about manuscripts that didn’t hook them:

  • Story does not captivate in first few chapters
  • Boring
  • Writing not strong, or not strong enough to hold a young reader’s (or teen’s) interest
  • Parts of the writing are very strange (not in a good way)
  • Sounded too artificial
  • Reminds me too much of something that’s really popular
  • Too Tolkienesque or reliant upon Western European fantasy tropes
  • Concept cliche

How do you get your writing to have that “zing” that captivates from the very beginning? This is a little tougher than just following the directions—this is much more personal to each reader and each writer.

Is your writing boring readers?

There are a couple different issues in the list above. Some readers lost interest simply because they were bored. If you find yourself telling readers of your book, “Don’t worry! It gets really good in chapter five!” consider whether you’re starting your book at the right moment in time. The phrase “late in, early out” is one to remember—perhaps you don’t need all the information that leads to the “really good” part. Or perhaps you need to revise to make that information more interesting and faster paced.

I don’t recommend simply dumping this information into a prologue. Many young readers skip prologues entirely, and many more readers will lose interest if your prologue is long and boring—it’s the same principle as saying “just wait till chapter five!”

If the information in your first few chapters are crucial, yet readers are getting bored by it, consider spooling that information out little by little over the course of the book. You need to find the balance between giving enough information for the reader to be intrigued and wanting to know more, without overburdening the reader with so much information that they become overwhelmed or bored.

been there done thatFor example, take the first few pages of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. On page 1, Taylor sets up the scene: it’s an ordinary day in Prague (interesting point number one: how many books are set in Prague?) and Karou is walking down the street toward school, minding her own business. It’s an active scene—something is happening—but it’s more about Karou’s internal mundane thoughts. However, it doesn’t stay mundane for long. By page 2, she’s been attacked.

But it’s not your average “you have to have an action scene in the first scene!” attack. The author plays with expectations, intriguing the reader and making you want to know what happens next. We get some ex-boyfriend banter (also against expectations) and the promise of interesting, embarrassing things to come by the end of the chapter.

It helps that the book is well written. But it’s more than good prose that hooks the reader here—she spools out just enough to let you know that this is a unique book, and that you want to know more. The next two chapters do the same thing, and bit by bit, the reader comes to know Karou’s intriguing magical background.

What she doesn’t do is infodump in a prologue or the first few chapters about Karou’s history, the history of the world, and the history of the strange beings who raised her. Save those details for when they matter.

Look at your favorite books and read like a writer. For hooking a reader, look in particular at excellent examples of the first five pages of a wide variety of books. There are many ways to effectively open a book, and you need to find the way that works for your story. Reading other books like a writer will help you to zoom in on ways to perfect your craft.read like a writer

Another great resource for writers trying to figure out how to hook readers is editor Cheryl Klein’s essay “The Rules of Engagement” in her book Second Sight. It’s no longer available online (and I don’t believe the book is in e-book form), but it’s worth the price of the book for her discussion of various ways to hook readers via character, insight, action, and other methods. (Bonus: you also then get access to all her other thoughts on writing and revision.)

Over-reliance on common tropes

Several readers commented that several books relied too much upon Western European fantasy tropes (elves, fairies, etc.). There are ways of hooking readers with familiar story elements, but often most high fantasy tales boil down to “my elves are better than yours.”

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownLook for new inspiration. (We’ll cover worldbuilding more in full in a few weeks.) But especially in the first few chapters of your book, avoid leading with ideas that have been-there-done that.

If your story concept relies on tried-and-true tropes, it’s not the end of the world. Take a look at books coming out now that are successfully changing the mold—books like The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, who has revamped (haha) the vampire genre, for example. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown updates the genre, makes vampires scary again. In what ways can you update and revamp the concepts in your book to hook readers?

The solution to your writing being “not strong enough”: practice 

The number one complaint as to why a reader wasn’t hooked was that the writing wasn’t good. Once you get past obvious grammar and punctuation mistakes, this comes down to a greater need to practice your craft. Write regularly—it doesn’t have to be every day, but do it consistently. If your problem is time, you might find useful this advice from New Voices Award winner Pamela Tuck on how to carve out time to write on a regular basis. She has ELEVEN children, who require a lot of time and attention, especially because she home-schools them.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get. And next week, we’ll begin to drill down on elements that you can work on in the whole book, such as voice.

Stacy Whitman photoStacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. 


Filed under: Awards, New Voices/New Visions Award, Publishing 101, Tu Books, Writer Resources Tagged: ask an editor, how to, Laini Taylor, New Visions Award, Science Fiction/Fantasy, stacy whitman, Tu Books, writing advice

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10. Amazon Sales Strategies

This week we will look at a few strategies you can use to increase the sales of your books.

amazoncats

If you buy any books on Amazon, you may have noticed they list the Best Selling Books. You should give these categories some thought. It may help you get on one of their lists and getting on one of the lists will greatly improve your chances to get noticed and bought.

1. Try to choose a niche category on Amazon. There are less books, so you will have a better chance to be listed at the top.

2. By clicking the book ranked #100 in any given category, you can consult the Rank to Sales Estimator to see how many sales you need to qualify for that categories Best Seller List.

3. Self Published authors get to choose two categories.
Traditional publishers get to choose up to five categories. Make sure your publisher knows how the system works and how they can use it to their advantage. Choosing “Fiction” might not be the best category due to so many books. (over a million)

4. Example: Kindle Store> Kindle ebooks > Fiction> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense> Thrillers> Political. Your books will still show in all the categories above the one you chose.

A few scenarios:

Fault in Our Stars [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#6 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) This a list of all books (no categories)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary
#1 in Books > Teens > Love & Romance

Isla and the Happily Ever After [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#11,151 Paid in Kindle Store
#100 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary

The First Third [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#172,765 Paid in Kindle Store (See how this book was able to make the Top 100 List by picking Social Issues? That’s because there is less competition. This helps give the book a chance to be seen.)
#100 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Social Issues

The Year We Disappeared: A Father – Daughter Memoir [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,006 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Social Issues
#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Biography
#33 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Children’s Nonfiction

Neverwhere [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,867 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Classics
#11 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Fantasy
#79 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror

5. Make sure you check to make sure the category you pick is on both the book side and the kindle side if you have a print book. Some of the categories do not match up.

6. If you are self-published you will need to do this for yourself, but don’t assume your publisher is choosing the best categories. Do your homework and discuss what you have found with them. But make sure you do this before they list it on Amazon.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, demystify, How to, Marketing a book, need to know, success, Tips Tagged: Amazon Book Sales Strategies, Amazon Rankings, How to Sell More Books, NJSCBWI 2014 Workshop

9 Comments on Amazon Sales Strategies, last added: 8/4/2014
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11. Amazon Reviews and Ebook Price Reductions

reviews

  • Give out a ARC to people who have a large following on their blogs, but ask them to commit to reading your book and doing a review. Need to work on this months before your book is released. Remember the more reviews you get the better your book will do, but they need to be good reviews.
  • For the people who you gave an ARC to, ask them to pass on the book to another person to read to expand your audience.
  • Ask everyone who does a review on Amazon to also put it up on Goodreads, too.
  • If you have an ebook, consider having Amazon offer it on their Deal of the Day. Reducing the price for a few days or a week, will boost your sales and start word of mouth.
  • Have family/friends/colleagues/fans buy your book during a ‘soft’ launch (pre-advertising, or promoting your book on social media).
  • Price your book at 99 cents (the lowest allowed by Amazon) and drive as much traffic as you can during your ‘soft’ launch window.  Once you have the bar filled you can re-price your book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, How to, Marketing a book, need to know, reference, Tips Tagged: Advanced Reader Copy, Amazon Ebook Price Reduction, Amazon Reviews

1 Comments on Amazon Reviews and Ebook Price Reductions, last added: 8/7/2014
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12. Illustrator Saturday – Rebecca Caridad

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 MFA Illustration Spring Show

Here is Rebecca discussing her process:

rebeccaSecretGarden_reference

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

rebeccaCaridad_Sketches

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage1

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

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage2

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

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage3

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

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage4

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

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage5

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

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage6

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

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage7

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

rebeccaSecret Garden_stage8

Work to finish the highlights, shadows, and details.

rebeccaScreen Shot_showing layers

View of screen and layers in Photoshop.

rebeccaSecret Garden_resubmit2wText

Final illustration.

How long have you been illustrating?

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

rebeccacharlie

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

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

rebeccacharlotte

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

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

rebeccacinderfloor

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

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

rebecca snow

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

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

rebeccadoctor

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

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

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

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

rebeccaboydog

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

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

rebecca4

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

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

rebecca2

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

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

rebecca5

Have you worked with educational publishers?

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

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No, but I would like to.

rebeccadragon

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

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

rebeccaad

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

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

rebeccabug

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

If not, would you like to have one?

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

PenguinLogo_line

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

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

rebeccapenquintwins

What is your favorite medium to use?

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

Has that changed over time?

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

rebeccadowntheshore

Do you have a studio in your house?

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

rebeccatree

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

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

rebeccahappy

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

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

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

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

rebeccastaurt

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

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

rebeccapenquinyellow

What do you feel was your biggest success?

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

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

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

rebecca8

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

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

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

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

rebecca7

What are you working on now?

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

rebeccapajama

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

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

rebeccamouse

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

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

rebeccaoil

Above: One of Rebecca’s oil paintings.

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

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Rebecca Caridad, last added: 8/11/2014
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13. The Making of Storybooks – Studio B

HAPPY LABOR DAY! 

Since it is now September, I figured I would post this opportunity for those children’s writers and Illustrators who live within driving distance in Michigan, New Jersey , PA, and New York to met David Small and Holly McGhee.

The third poster down: Studio B in Maplewood, NJ is bringing together five children’s author/illustrators to discuss the process of writing a children’s book.

You can see all the details in the posters below:

Bookbug-CATCH-THAT-COOKIE-PROMO1

Catch-That-Cookie-Maplewood-Library-smaller

scratches-scribblesPoster-082214

A COMPLETE LIST OF APPEARENCES:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 6 P.M., Kalamazoo Public Library

A Conversation with David Small & Hallie Durand

315 South Rose Street , Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Here’s the link.

Thursday, September 11, 2014, 5:00 P.M., Bookbug, Kalamazoo

Cookie hunt & Book signing

3019 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

And here’s the link for that one.

Saturday, September 13 2014, 3:00 P.M., Maplewood Library

Scavenger hunt & Cookie decorating, with a live rogue cookie!

51 Baker Street, Maplewood, NJ 07040

http://www.maplewoodlibrary.org/kids-events/

Sunday, September 14, 2014, 12:00 P.M., Paramus Public Library

Scavenger hunt & Reading, with a live rogue cookie!

E116 Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652

RSVP 201-599-1309

Sunday, September 14, 2014, Studio B Honcho

Scratches & Scribbles Event for aspiring or already arrived Writers & Artists

60 Woodland Road, Maplewood, NJ 07040

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/830322

Monday, September 15, 4:00 P.M., WordsMaplewood Bookstore

Hallie Durand & David Small

Quick Drawing Lesson, Shapes & Contours, & Book Signing

179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, children writing, How to, inspiration, opportunity Tagged: David Small, Hallie Durand, Mark Your Calendars, Studio B, The Making of Storybooks

4 Comments on The Making of Storybooks – Studio B, last added: 9/2/2014
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14. Ten Tips to Juice Up Your Protagonist

Most writers know every story needs a protagonist with a problem, but your MC also needs to be interesting, compelling, and sympathetic to keep the readers wanting more. We want our characters to jump off the page and grab our readers by the throat. Plus, we want our readers to remember and think about our characters and our story long after they close our book.

Here are ten ways to make your protagonist do just that: 

 

1.  MC has a problem that needs to be solved

Make sure your protagonist is the one with the problem and no one else can solve this problem (or solve it as well as he or she can. The MC has to be central to the entire issue.

2.  MC has the ability to act

Don’t let your protagonists go around just reacting to things when they happen. Your MC should make things happen and move the story along through his or her choices and actions. A protagonist who knows what she wants and makes the story happen is a far more compelling character than one who sits around and waits for the story to happen. Make sure your protagonist is more than just someone in the middle of a mess.

If this is not happening in your book, you need to adjust your story in order to get your protagonist in a position where they can affect the change.

3.  MC needs reasons to act

You can always give your MC something to do, but they need to have good reasons for their actions or your story will start to stretch credibility as to why they would get involved in something that clearly don’t care about. If you want to have your protagonist risk their life or happiness, make sure it’s for a reason readers will understand. NOTE: This is where a critique group comes in handy.

4.  MC needs a compelling quality

Like I said in the beginning, we want to make our MC interesting. Maybe they’re funny, smart or twisted. Maybe your MC has an unusual talent, skill, or quark. Whatever you choose, there needs to be a quality that makes a reader want to know more. Most times the thing that is compelling is also contradictory, making the reader want to know how these two things work together, thus hooking the reader.

5.  MC has something to lose

Just having a reason to act isn’t enough, so think about having your MC lose something that matters. This is a powerful motivating tool that will enable you to force your protagonist to do what he normally wouldn’t. You can have them take risks they would never take if there are consequences hanging over their head. This will make readers worry that your MC might suffer those consequences and lose what matters most to him.

6.  MC should have something to gain

An important aspect of the story’s stakes that’s sometimes forgotten or not thought through well enough is giving the MC something to gain. Readers want to see a protagonist rewarded for all their hard work and sacrifice, and a reason for your protagonist to keep going when everything says give up.

7.  Give Your MC the capacity to change

The sole of the story is character growth. It’s what turns it from a series of plot scenes to a tale worth writing. Giving your protagonist the ability to learn from his experiences and become a better (though not always) person will deepen your story. Your MC shouldn’t be the same person as they were when the story began.

8.  MC needs an interesting flaw

It is the flaws that make your MC interesting. Flaws let you show character growth and give your protagonist a way to improve themselves. Maybe your MC knows about this flaw and is actively trying to fix it, or perhaps he or she hasn’t a clue and change is being forced upon them. This flaw could be the very thing that allows your MC to survive and overcome the problems. Of course, it could also be the cause of the entire mess.

9.  MC has a secret

You don’t want your MC to be predictable – boring. A good way to keep your protagonist interesting is to have your MC hide something. Readers will wonder what that secret is and how it affects the story. Having your protagonist be a little cryptic, will keep your readers dying to find out.

10. MC needs someone or something interesting trying to stop him

Don’t forget that your protagonist needs an antagonist standing against him. The stronger the antagonist is that goes up against your MC, the more tension, suspense and victory you will provide for the reader. Give the reader a villain they will love to hate. The payoff will be keeping your readers turning the pages and reading into the wee hours of the morning.

Do you have another tips for juicing up your characters? We’d love to hear it.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, How to, list, Process, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: Juice Up Your Protagonist, Ten character Writing Tips, Writing compelling characters

9 Comments on Ten Tips to Juice Up Your Protagonist, last added: 9/3/2014
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15. Laurie Wallmark – Writing Books for Children

princetonlogo

Do you have an idea for a children’s book? Would you like to share your story with children around the world? Well, Laurie Wallmark is teaching
WRITING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN at Princeton Adult School.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThurs 7:00-9:00pm

October 2 – November 6

In this course you’ll explore: the many joys of writing for children; types of children’s books; elements of a great story; tips to make your writing sparkle; traditional vs. self-publishing; printed books and e-books; avoiding scams, and much more.

Here is the link to sign up.

Share it with your friends who may be starting out on their path to publishing.

Most of you already know Laurie, she was a wonderful Assistant Regional Advisor while I was Regional Advisor for the New Jersey SCBWI.

Here is a little bit about Laurie you might not know:

Laurie is pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has written numerous articles and stories in children’s magazines (Highlights, Spider, Cricket, and others). Her debut picture book, Ada, will be published by Creston Books in 2016.

Visit Laurie’s blog entitled “All News, No Schmooze: News and Notes for Busy Children’s Book Writers” at http://www.lauriewallmark.blogspot.com.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Author, children writing, How to, need to know, opportunity, Process, Publishing Industry, Self-publishing Tagged: Laurie Wallmark, Princeton Adult School, Writing Boooks for Children

4 Comments on Laurie Wallmark – Writing Books for Children, last added: 9/7/2014
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16. Pledge This Before Starting a Thriller Novel

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

damngoodthriller

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kathy


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

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

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

    damngoodthriller

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kathy


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

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

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

    Four Week Online Class starts October 6, 2014

    Cost: $250

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

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

    What You Will Learn

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

    How the course is structured:

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

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

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

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


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

    6 Comments on Picture Book A to Z’s: Plotting in Picture Books, last added: 9/14/2014
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    19. 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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    20. 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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    21. Illustrator Saturday – Lisa Fields

    backfb1
    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

    9781558855045_p0_v1_s600

    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.

    509bc1_7978e3d2de92487a90d47d68f35dafd6 (1)

    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.

    all you need is love

    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.

    beatles

    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.

    king

    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.

    childrenvoices1-original

    MovSoulFINALblog_edited-1-1-original

    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.

    7promo1-original

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

     

    8promo1-original

    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.

    9promo1-original

    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.

    10promo1-original

    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.

    11promo1-original

    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.

    cake

    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.

     

    12promo1-original

    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!

    14promo1-original

    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.

    dog

    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.

    9781558857018_p0_v1_s600

    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.

    aborigines

    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.

    9781558855878_p0_v1_s600

    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.

    heart

    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!

    ice cream

    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.

    listen

    Have you thought about writing and illustrating your own books?

     

    mamabear

    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.

    1455103_617587094179_656063801_n12-original

    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.

    MemorialDay11-original

    Do you use Photoshop in your work?

    I do use Photoshop on my wacom cintiq.

    party

    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.

    sample1_edited-11-original

    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.

    illustration6_edited-11-original

    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

    sample41-original
    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.

    sample51-original

    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.

    scary

    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.

    swim

    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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    22. Illustrator Saturday – Anna Guillotte

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

    Here is Anna showing one of her techniques:

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

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

    anna2

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

    anna3

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

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

    anna4

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

    anna5

    I added additional shadowing on a separate layer.

    anna6

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

    anna7

    Another layer is added for the foreground objects.

    anna8

    Now the characters are colored in on another layer.

    anna9

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

    anna10

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

    anna1412009388223

    How long have you been illustrating?

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

    annabearonardo-morning

    Where did you study graphic design?

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

    annabearonardo-sticky-wake-up

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

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

    annabearonardo-catapult2

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

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

    annachester-peanut-cover-2

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

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

    annabearsnakefilecropped

    What do you think most influenced your style?

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

    annaboypeekingfilecropped

    When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

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

    annafilecropped

    What type of art jobs have you landed?

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

    annabathfilecropped

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

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

    annapaintfilecropped

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

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

    annarain

    What made you decide to move to Germany?

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

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

    annawater-shoes

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

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

    annatank

    Have you exhibited your illustrations in Germany?

    Not yet : )

    annahappy_birthday

    Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

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

    annachester-run

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

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

    annagoodbye-postcard

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

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

    annafood_music

    What is your favorite medium to use?

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

    annapig-poster-morning

    Has that changed over time?

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

    annapig-ride2

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

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

    annashopping

    What are you working on now?

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

    anna_400

    Do you want to write and illustrate a picture book?

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

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

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

    annaSCBWI-comic

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

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


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

    4 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Anna Guillotte, last added: 10/12/2014
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    23. Let’s Talk Point of View

    rivet your readersI added Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View to my writing library and want to recommend that you check it out. The information is good and the price is right – $3.99 on Kindle and $5.39 in paperback. You can take a look at Jill’s romantic suspense novels by clicking this link to her website. http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com/

    Below are just a few things that Jill explains in her book. She gets more in depth during the book.

    In fiction writing, the position from which anything is considered in any given scene should be the character through whose head we are viewing events. That character’s psyche – his or her very soul – is the standpoint from which everything else in the scene is presented and evaluated. This particular character is the point-of-view character or POVC.

    In order to remain firmly inside the POVC’s head, nothing in a scene can be presented for reader consideration that is outside that character’s awareness.

    First Person:

    Requires that nothing can be heard, seen, or experienced except through the senses of the character relating the story. However, a first-person narrative does allow for the viewpoint character to skip ahead in the sequence of events, and make a comment like, “If I had known…”, but you should weigh the moment and decide if the segue into telling is worth the loss of immediacy.

    You may ask, “Isn’t first person automatically deep POV? No. It is possible to write “Shallow” and “telling” first person.

    Second Person:

    This viewpoint character is “you”. It is a problematic and difficult POV. Reader want to identify with the characters in a novel; they don’t necessarily want the writer to point the finger at them as the “you” character. Usually is an awkward presentation. Though writer will use this when describing a step-by-step “How to book”.

    Third Person, Single POV:

    Reqguires the author to remain inside one character throughout the story (much like first person). This creates an excellent opportunity for reader to identify with the main character. A drawback is the limitation in what can be shown. Events that happen outside the POVC’s experience must either be told to him by another character or discovered by that character in another way.

    Third Person, Multiple POV:

    Using this method, the writer puts the reader into the heads of more than one character during the course of the story. Romances do a lot of this by telling the story through the POV of the male and females protagonist. A scene with multiple POS’s is hard to pull off, unless you are a season writer. Head hopping can be confusing, so you are better off not ping-ponging around in everyone’s head. You will be better served by staying in one POV throughout the scene and conveying the subtleties of the reaction, attitude, and emotion emanating from other characters by employing body language, voice inflection, and mannerisms. By staying in one person head, they can misread the situation, and the misperception creates additional conflict valuable to the story.

    Third Person, Omniscient POV:

    The viewpoint character is an omniscient narrator who tells a story about a cast of character from an all-knowing position. The narrator himself becomes an unseen character that can share things that even the characters do not know about themselves, so may have a god-like feel. Sweeping epics like Lord of the Rings employ this POV to good effect. The advantage is that this POV helps manage the length of the story and the sheer number of characters. Book Thief with its narrator being Death comes to mind.

    Are there any areas where I violate the basic Point-of-View by inserting comments that the POV character cannot know?

    Example: Dan turned away and didn’t notice Harry slip out the door. (Dan would not be able to see Harry’s sneaky retreat.)

    Here is a rewrite:

    Fists clenching and unclenching, Dan gazed around the kitchen. Where was that Louse? He had to be here somewhere.
    “Harry, I need to talk to you. Now!”
    Silence answered Dan’s shout.
    He strode toward the living room. A gentle whoosh of air behind him stopped him in his tracks. Dan whirled. The screen door was settling back in place. The coward was on the run.

    Now the reader knows that Harry slipped out the door, but we haven’t left Dan’s POV in order to convey that information. Plus, by refusing to take the lazy way out and “tell” the information through a POV violation, the story becomes much more immediate and exciting.

    Love her examples. I think you will, too.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, Book, How to, reference, revisions, writing Tagged: Basic Tenses in Story Telling, Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Point-of-View, Rivet Your Readers in Deep Point of View

    3 Comments on Let’s Talk Point of View, last added: 10/15/2014
    Display Comments Add a Comment
    24. Let’s Talk Point of View

    rivet your readersI added Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View to my writing library and want to recommend that you check it out. The information is good and the price is right – $3.99 on Kindle and $5.39 in paperback. You can take a look at Jill’s romantic suspense novels by clicking this link to her website. http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com/

    Below are just a few things that Jill explains in her book. She gets more in depth during the book.

    In fiction writing, the position from which anything is considered in any given scene should be the character through whose head we are viewing events. That character’s psyche – his or her very soul – is the standpoint from which everything else in the scene is presented and evaluated. This particular character is the point-of-view character or POVC.

    In order to remain firmly inside the POVC’s head, nothing in a scene can be presented for reader consideration that is outside that character’s awareness.

    First Person:

    Requires that nothing can be heard, seen, or experienced except through the senses of the character relating the story. However, a first-person narrative does allow for the viewpoint character to skip ahead in the sequence of events, and make a comment like, “If I had known…”, but you should weigh the moment and decide if the segue into telling is worth the loss of immediacy.

    You may ask, “Isn’t first person automatically deep POV? No. It is possible to write “Shallow” and “telling” first person.

    Second Person:

    This viewpoint character is “you”. It is a problematic and difficult POV. Reader want to identify with the characters in a novel; they don’t necessarily want the writer to point the finger at them as the “you” character. Usually is an awkward presentation. Though writer will use this when describing a step-by-step “How to book”.

    Third Person, Single POV:

    Reqguires the author to remain inside one character throughout the story (much like first person). This creates an excellent opportunity for reader to identify with the main character. A drawback is the limitation in what can be shown. Events that happen outside the POVC’s experience must either be told to him by another character or discovered by that character in another way.

    Third Person, Multiple POV:

    Using this method, the writer puts the reader into the heads of more than one character during the course of the story. Romances do a lot of this by telling the story through the POV of the male and females protagonist. A scene with multiple POS’s is hard to pull off, unless you are a season writer. Head hopping can be confusing, so you are better off not ping-ponging around in everyone’s head. You will be better served by staying in one POV throughout the scene and conveying the subtleties of the reaction, attitude, and emotion emanating from other characters by employing body language, voice inflection, and mannerisms. By staying in one person head, they can misread the situation, and the misperception creates additional conflict valuable to the story.

    Third Person, Omniscient POV:

    The viewpoint character is an omniscient narrator who tells a story about a cast of character from an all-knowing position. The narrator himself becomes an unseen character that can share things that even the characters do not know about themselves, so may have a god-like feel. Sweeping epics like Lord of the Rings employ this POV to good effect. The advantage is that this POV helps manage the length of the story and the sheer number of characters. Book Thief with its narrator being Death comes to mind.

    Are there any areas where I violate the basic Point-of-View by inserting comments that the POV character cannot know?

    Example: Dan turned away and didn’t notice Harry slip out the door. (Dan would not be able to see Harry’s sneaky retreat.)

    Here is a rewrite:

    Fists clenching and unclenching, Dan gazed around the kitchen. Where was that Louse? He had to be here somewhere.
    “Harry, I need to talk to you. Now!”
    Silence answered Dan’s shout.
    He strode toward the living room. A gentle whoosh of air behind him stopped him in his tracks. Dan whirled. The screen door was settling back in place. The coward was on the run.

    Now the reader knows that Harry slipped out the door, but we haven’t left Dan’s POV in order to convey that information. Plus, by refusing to take the lazy way out and “tell” the information through a POV violation, the story becomes much more immediate and exciting.

    Love her examples. I think you will, too.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, Book, How to, reference, revisions, writing Tagged: Basic Tenses in Story Telling, Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Point-of-View, Rivet Your Readers in Deep Point of View

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    25. Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales

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

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book, demystify, How to, list, need to know, Publishing Industry, reference Tagged: 2014 NJSCBWI Conference, Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales, How to Sell More Books

    4 Comments on Amazon Ranking vs. Daily Book Sales, last added: 8/2/2014
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