Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 1, 2014

Free Fall Friday – Results – Jenny Bent

patricia Pinsk summer_pinsk_02
This Goldilocks illustration was sent in by Patricia Pinsk. It was done as a paper collage with ink, watercolour, digital textures. Her work includes multi-media drawing, illustration, photography, glass-work, sculpture as well as Web-based graphics for the corporate world. Website: http://www.patriciapinsk.com Twitter: @PatriciaPinsk

Below are the first page critiques done by literary agent, Jenny Bent. We can all learn a lot from what Jenny had to say.

Deena Graves – TERRAZA – Young Adult

Pizza sauce, garlic, and beer did not mix. Not when all three meshed, creating a gag-inducing stench in the faded black fibers of my Perky Pepper T-shirt. Dixie would shoot me dead for sure. The last time I came home from the pizza shop smelling like a garbage disposal, she threatened to hose me down in the front yard before I’d “ever step one soiled foot” into her home.

Shrugging into my fleece jacket, I ignored the stink of my shirt and shoved my dark-framed glasses back up my nose. I scowled down at my beat-up Mongoose and the flat tire forcing me to walk my happy ass home.

“Hey, Luc!” a voice called from behind. I kept walking, stealing a quick glance over my shoulder. Max jogged toward me, holding up the sides of his pants. I snorted. If he didn’t wear them so low, maybe the stupid things would stay up.

“Wait up, man,” he panted, pulling up beside me. “You know bikes were designed to be ridden, right?” Max eyed my flat and sucked in a breath. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” I tossed him the souvenir I’d found wedged in the rubber tread. “And they ride better when the tires aren’t shredded.”

He inspected the chunk of weird black glass about the size of a half-dollar, tossing it from hand to hand. It weighed next to nothing, and no thicker than my pinkie, but its wicked, chiseled edge had almost cut my finger trying to dislodge it. “This was in your tire?”

I nodded. “I bet it was Manager Mike, the douche nugget.” I scowled out at the dark, Edison Square of squat, brick buildings. The stretch of small-town antique shops, specialty clothing stores, and trendy eateries had long since closed for the night. A brisk October wind cut through my fleece jacket.

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

Terraza

Lively voice which is great, I’m seeing too many flat voices in YA contempt these days. Not sure the voice is always completely authentic– “gag-inducing stench” doesn’t feel to me something like a teenaged boy would say. I did like the voice overall however. And line by line the writing is strong here.

I would like to see this author push themselves a little more to write a really “wow” first page. The skill level is there. But I am not sure from reading this that the book is beginning at the right point. I like the hint of mystery that someone sabotaged his bike. But the writer is starting with a conversation, which can be a tricky way to start a book, particularly when the conversation is not necessarily a very interesting or illuminating one.

I would try instead to either start in a place that is a bigger moment for the character or a place with perhaps more emotion for the character.

Alternatively, the author could perhaps have the character show/feel a little more here. What is his mental state as the story opens? We don’t know, beyond annoyed, and I’d like a little more on that. What is his general frame of mind as the story opens? What is he thinking about as he leaves work, is there anything significant on his mind? How does he feel about his friend Max beyond the thought about his pants, I can’t tell. If the author gave us more access to thoughts/feelings, we could get a better sense of him right away. Also, perhaps these two could banter a little more and we could get a sense of their personalities and relationship that way. Right now their conversation isn’t that interesting. It’s there to convey information about the bike, some of which we know already (there’s a flat tire) but it should serve more purpose than that–it should also illuminate character and it should also entertain. And is there a different way he could react to the flat tire? Something funny or unusual that would really intrigue the reader?

And finally, I would love the author push him/herself a little more with the opening line. The opening line to a book should be the best sentence the author has ever written. It doesn’t have to be necessarily super action-packed or dramatic, but it should instantly intrigue, or amuse, or create thought. I fear that this one is a bit of a throw-away.

__________________________________________________________

Helen Landalf – CLEO – YA novel 

The minute I slither into my sequined tank, Joan starts to disappear. I yank it down to show a little cleavage, slide on my black lace over-the-elbow gloves, and she fades even more. Then I squeeze into a pair of velvet leggings that hug her queen-size thighs, top them off with a flirty skirt, and step into my red stilettos. She’s almost gone.

“Joan,” comes Mom’s voice from outside the bedroom door. “Are you in there, honey?”

Elizabeth Taylor, in her Cleopatra gown and headdress, gazes down at me from the poster above my dresser. Ignore her, she seems to say. You’ve got work to do.

I glance at my phone, but there’s no text from Matt. Grabbing the bottle of foundation, I slather the cold, sweet-smelling liquid along my skin. The little potholes left over from Joan’s acne outbreak back in middle school? Gone. Next comes blush, the soft brush whispering glitter and bone structure onto Joan’s chipmunk cheeks, followed by eyeliner that sweeps into a dramatic V at my temples, adding flair and width to Joan’s squinty eyes. I glance up at the poster again and paint it thick and black, just like Liz’s.

The doorknob wiggles. “Joan?” Mom says.

“Be out in a sec.” I fluff my limp brown hair to create the illusion of fullness and then dim the lights on my makeup mirror. Leaning forward, I suck in my cheeks and survey my work. Not bad. All I need now is a dab of lipstick, and my transformation will be complete.

Just as I’m snatching up the tube of Burgundy Plum, the Lady Gaga ringtone blares from my phone.

“Hi, Matt,” I say. “Hang on, I’m coming.”

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

CLEO:

This is another one with strong writing that could have a stronger opening line. For inspiration, here’s a link to 20 great opening lines in YA fiction:

http://www.epicreads.com/blog/20-amazing-opening-lines-in-ya/

I like the concept here that we are watching someone’s transformation. And there is a great use of physical detail here. But again, as with the last critique, there’s not enough information about this character’s state of mind as this is happening. I want to know more about her and I’m not getting anything about her personality from this–all I’m getting is physical characteristics and perhaps that she is pretty hard on herself about the way she looks.

I love the part where the poster of Elizabeth Taylor seems to talk to her, that gives this a little edge that it really needs. But let me learn more even about this character from her inner thoughts or her dialogue, make every line really work. Maybe she could say something funnier or more interesting to Matt? To her mom? Think something interesting while she is doing this that lets me know something about her or her state of mind while she is doing this? Why does she need to transform? What about transforming makes her feel strong or special? Why does she love Elizabeth Taylor?

I think adding this level of detail and characterization, as well as working on the opening lines, will give this already strong first page some extra added oomph. Remember that you never have much time to hook the reader and focus on making this character as vivid and lively as possible.

_________________________________________________________

Mieke Zamora-Mackay               SHADOW                                     Young Adult

The hall is buzzing. Not the usual humdrum of the first hour of school. It’s a serious buzzing. Whispers about someone. Murmurs about something that’s happened.

In the woods…

Junkie…

Huffing…

Dead…

These are the words that float above the din.   No one looks my way, but there’s enough space for me to walk through the sea of bodies. I’m used to it. Everyone always walks around me, like I’m encased in some bubble. Protecting their personal space, they’re probably afraid that if they brush up against me, I’ll know everything they keep hidden inside. See into their dark hearts and thoughts, their misdeeds, acts of violence and carnal desires. It comes with being the daughter of a self-proclaimed medium; the local town kook.

The truth is, I don’t know any of their secrets. I don’t see anything they have to hide. Instead, I see spirits, ghosts – lost souls.

I see the part of every person that has left their physical body. Usually, they’re just trying to find their way home, or revisiting a part of their life they wish to say goodbye to. Some just really don’t know what’s happened to them.

I reckon that’s how the fresh one walking in my direction is feeling.

I keep my eyes down low. I don’t want him to catch me looking. He’ll know instantly that I can see him, and that won’t do. Lost spirits are never up to any good. The fact that they don’t have a clue about what’s happened to them in the first place is an indication of that. And this one’s got trouble written all over him.

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

SHADOW

I like this one a lot! The voice is strong, the first line is good and the opening page shows us a lot of information about this person and their place in the world of the school without “telling” us too much. There’s a real attitude to the writing, which I like. I also like that the author sets up the character and tells us about who she is in an interesting way and then starts right into the action. It’s great that she sees this particular dead person and immediately forms an opinion about him that is intriguing to the reader. I want to read more because I want to know more about this ghost and why he’s trouble and what will happen between these two. I also like that the writer starts at a moment of interest in the action–the school is buzzing about something–what is it? And then he/she gives us a lot of information about the character by telling us that she’s an outcast–everyone is buzzing about something, but she wouldn’t know because no one tells her anything. This is a more interesting way of showing us something about her rather than simply telling us that she’s an outcast. There are plenty of question marks to keep us reading but enough information is provided that we don’t feel confused, which is an essential balance.

If the writer wanted to go a little further, she could give us a little more info about the particular state of mind that this character is in as the book opens, or how she feels about the fact that she is an outcast, but overall this is a very strong opening page indeed.

_________________________________________________________

Peter McCleery       THE STAND-IN           Contemporary Middle Grade

Middle-school is a lot like prison. There is a precise routine and schedule overseen by an all-powerful warden (the principal). There are authority figures who roam the halls and enforce strict rules (guards/teachers). You are allotted a certain time and place to eat grub. There’s a Supermax cell block for repeat offenders (detention). There’s even a rec yard and communal showers. And, of course, there is a very specific hierarchy of cliques and social groups among the inmates. You better know who you can trust and who you can’t.

In my line of work, I can’t trust anyone. If this were prison instead of Glenview Middle School I’d be called a Fixer. The guy who runs the black market. I like to think of myself as a businessman. Or entrepreneur, if you want to be fancy about it. I sell things to the inmate-students that make their 3-year stint here a bit more comfortable. At a fair price, of course. In prison, a fixer deals in cigarettes and shivs. Here, I deal in contraband junk food and fake doctor notes. Now, some of these things may or may not be “appropriate” or “legal” per se, but they do fill a need. I provide a valuable service. There is supply. There is demand. And there’s good, ol’ Digby Fisher in between making a little money. Is that so wrong?

The answer is no, by the way.

Shortly after my mom and I moved to Glenview (which should just be called The Affluent Town of Glenview because that’s always how they describe it the newspaper.) I knew I had a good thing. These kids get more allowance money than my mom gets in her paycheck. One day the vending machine went out of order (I had nothing to do with it, I swear! Just a lucky coincidence.) It just so happened that my mom was doing a Costco run that day. I added a few items to the shopping list. Snack-size Doritos, gum, M&Ms. The next day I sat next to the broken vending machine with a backpack full of snacks and sold out before third period. I provided a needed service. In many ways I was a hero. After maintenance fixed the machine

HERE IS JENNY BENT:

THE STAND-IN

I love the idea of this one and this is a good first page in that it has tons of voice and sets up an interesting, resourceful character that the reader will want to spend time with. However, to my ear, the voice was a little older than middle-grade at times, slotting into that awkward 14/15 year old territory, and in the second paragraph maybe even more 16. Examples of places I would loosen the voice are, “precise routine and schedule overseen ” and “a very specific hierarchy of cliques and social groups” – phrases like this feel a little formal for the target market. The age issue might just be because of Digby’s very in-depth knowledge of how a prison runs, even down to knowing the word shiv. It left me wondering whether he knew someone in prison or just watched a lot of old movies. The opening has a journal feel to it, but I would lose the direct talking to the reader halfway down as this can pull you out of the story. I liked some of the examples of the things Digby can source, like doctor’s notes, and the story about how this ‘job’ started was short enough not to feel like too much up front backstory, although I’d hope the present day plot starts on the next page, with the inciting incident following shortly after.
________________________________________________________________

Thank you Jenny for sharing your time and expertise with us. Your advice is invaluable.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 31, 2014

Agent Looking for Clients

MarykAgent Mary Krienke: Mary joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2006 after receiving her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She now lives in Brooklyn.

Mary works with Sterling Lord and represents literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic YA that pays close attention to craft and voice. She is especially drawn to new and emerging writers who seek to push boundaries of form and content, and she responds most strongly to writing that reaches great emotional and psychological depths. She is equally interested in work that illuminates through humor or by playing with genre. Her other interests include psychology, art, and design.

How to submit: You can email Mary with your submissions. For fiction, please send a synopsis and the first three chapters or a 50 page sample. If submitting non-fiction, send a detailed proposal.

Queries should be sent to info @ sll.com with “Attn: Mary Krienke” in the email subject line. Cover letters should be in the body of the email but send the actual submission as a Word document attachment.

You can find Mary on Twitter: @MaryKrienke.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 30, 2014

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 rank2
Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 29, 2014

Working Out the Details

erikaphoto-45Hello again! Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

PATIENCE: Working out the Details

Speaking from my own personal situation, I just did a major revision on my chapter book. It brought my story a bit more full circle, drawing some of the ending and pulling piece of it into the beginning.

Exciting stuff and I love the way it’s reading now.

But that was a pretty major revision for me, and I’m realizing that in some ways, it’s set me back a good bit. There are parts that don’t flow as well now, character reactions that don’t make sense and redundancies that are just plain annoying.

While I knew it would happen, to be honest, it’s quite frustrating.

Grumble, grumble… I JUST went over all this stuff…

There is a part of me that instinctively desires to push things back the way they were so I can make certain scenes read through properly again.

Plus, I have this crazy voice in the back of my head. It keeps thinking about the SCBWI conference I attended at the end of June, the people I talked to, the editors and agents who showed interest and who I have this amazing opportunity to submit to. And the voice says:

YOU MUST SUBMIT IT NOW!! 

Voice absolutely hates the idea of letting too much time go by. It thinks that the agents and editors will wonder… what took so darn long???

And while you may get different opinions from different people, the logical side of my brain knows that Voice is simply wrong. They knew I had revisions to do, and I’m talking an extra month or two, not years.

Agents and editors, of all people, KNOW how long revisions can take. All the ones I spoke to, not only understood, but respected writers for taking the time to do revisions correctly and present the absolute BEST manuscript possible.

Now, don’t get me wrong, deadlines are important, and being realistic is important. In this case, there is no “deadline”. But still, I don’t want the agents and editors who were open to seeing my work to wait an entire year to see it. Largely because the chances of them still remembering who I am drop pretty dramatically. And if at all possible, I definitely want that little light to go on.

But revisions often lead to more revisions, and I think it’s important to ride that train until it naturally evens out and becomes the story that it’s meant to be.

So whenever making a major revision, keep in mind that you may end up producing more necessary changes than you expect. And don’t be afraid to change things that may cause large re-writes or entire character redevelopment.

After every major revision, I remind myself that I need to take the time to do what I call domino revisions

How did my revision affect the arc and rhythm of the story? Is there too little or too much action at any particular point now? Does a chapter break or mini climax need to be altered?

How did it affect the characters? Experiences shape our interpretation of everything around us. If a character’s experience changed at in my revision, their reactions to things later on may need to change as well.

Did my revision involve the scene, timeline, family dynamics… anything where I need to check for congruence throughout the rest of the manuscript.

The list goes on.

Manuscripts develop like the people created on their pages. Growing up can take much longer than we’d like, and the stage before we become adults can be the most frustrating part.

Who hasn’t met a teenager who makes dramatic changes? It’s not easy. But whether they stick with those changes or not, they are often a big part of what shapes them as an adult.

Our manuscripts need a lot of patience, as they are becoming the living beings they are meant to be. But you know what…. they’re worth it!

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 28, 2014

No Fee Short Story Contest

KendraShedenhelm_YouTheMagician_Space

Kendra Shedenhelm sent in this “out-of this world” illustration from an upcoming book she illustrated titled, “You, the Magician.” You can visit her site at http://kendrashedenhelm.com/.

Creative Writing Institute’s

International Short Story Contest Now Open

No Entry Fee

DIRECTIONS: Read all guidelines (rules) carefully.

CASH PRIZES!

First place: $200 USD or a free writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Second place: $100 USD or a credit of $150 toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Third place: $50 USD or a credit of $100 toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Plus: seven additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our anthology & Ebook, entitledWhat Could Possibly go Wrong?

ONE submission per person

  • When you’re ready to submit, scroll to the bottom of the page at http://CreativeWritingInstitute.Submittable.com/submit and click on SUBMIT. Entries will only be accepted on that form. Fill out your name and address, and follow the prompts to a space where you can copy and paste your document into it.  Do NOT send attachments or emailed entries as these will NOT be accepted.
  • Especially note our requirements for G-rated literature. Please see #1 below for further definition.
  • By entering this contest, you are saying this story has not been previously published, you grant minor editing rights for publication, and Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Choice stories in our anthology, “What Could Possibly go Wrong?” All Rights return to the author upon publication.

This is a themed contest. Your story must be original and unpublished (except on personal blogs, critique groups, or personal web pages) and must be between 1,000 and 2,000 words.

Your story may be any genre, but these exact sentences must appear together in the story:

I have a list and a map. What could possibly go wrong?

Accepting submissions until midnight, August 9, 2014, USA Eastern Standard Time.

  • Entries will only be accepted through the submission form. As you go through the submission process, there will be a space for you to copy and paste your document into. Do NOT send attachments or emailed entries as these will NOT be accepted.

ENTRIES MUST FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES OR BE DISQUALIFIED.

1. Any genre: Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Humor, Romance, Children, etc., No erotica, profanity, swearing, or gore. (Swearing includes but is not limited to the following: hell, damn, bitch, taking God’s name in vain, and other similar words.) This is a “G” rated contest. One swear word will disqualify your entry. Good writers can make their point by showing the character’s attitudes. Questions? Query the head judge at cwicontests@gmail.com.

2. Entries must be 1,000 to 2,000 words. (This is a strict word count, but don’t count the title or personal information in the word count.) Place the word count at the top of page 1 before submitting.

3. One entry per person, please.

4. By entering this contest, you are stating that the story is your own copyright. You are stating that it has NOT been previously published by a professional or semi-professional publication. You are stating that you grant minor editing rights for publication, and if chosen, Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Choice stories in our anthology, “What Could Possibly go Wrong?” All Rights return to the author upon publication.

5. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, style, and technique.

6. Be sure that your entry has been proofread and edited. Points will be deducted for poorly structured sentences, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors. Your entry should reflect your commitment to writing.

7. Read tips and tricks on how to win a contest on http://www.cwinst.com .

Winners will be notified by email on or before September 12, 2014.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 27, 2014

The Future of the Independent Book Store

One of the questions I asked Editors and Agents was about the Indy Book Stores. Over the last year, I’ve heard so many writers and illustrators voice their concern about the stores future. We’ve seen some of our favorite book stores shut their doors and every publishing professional knows how lost we would be without them out there to help promote our books, so I had to ask.

First slide responses from editors:
indyeditors
Second slide shows agent responses.
indyagents

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 26, 2014

Illustrator Saturday – Colleen Kosinski

 

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

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

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

Here is Colleen explaining her process:

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

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

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

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

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

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

colleenstep_1_pencil_sketch_cape may girlOriginal pencil sketch

colleeenstep_2_scan_and_cut_cape may girl

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

colleenstep_3_color_layers_cape may girl

Colored layers built up.

colleenstep_4_highlights_shadows_cape may girl

Shadows and highlights are added last.

colleenseagull_pencil_sketch

colleenseagull_full_colorI brought the colored drawings back into the original composition.

colleencapemayflag sketch

colleencape may flag_full_colorI adjusted scale and brightness.

colleencape may houses_pencil_sketch

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

colleencape may girl 3_head_tilt

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

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

colleendiving girl comp5

How long have you been illustrating?

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

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

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

colleenbeach girls14

What were you favorite classes?

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

Did the School help you get work?

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

colleenriver of wishes9hair lowered a smidge3tdep5_6_14_3NO-WORDS

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

In high school the teachers would commission me for artwork.

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

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

 

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

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

When did you do your first illustration for children?

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

colleenswimming with the fish7

How did that come about?

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

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

After all the positive feedback at the NJSCBWI conference.

colleengoldilocks comp_v7

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

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

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

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

colleenflying girl comp4

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

Yes.

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

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

colleenbad luck boy new comp6

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

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

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

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

colleenjaquar11What is your favorite medium to use?

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

Has that changed over time?

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

colleentweed_composition_v6

Do you have a studio in your house?

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

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

My laptop computer.

colleenHanging Around4

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

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

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

Yes, I take pictures and research reference images online.

colleenskunk girl_portfolio3

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

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

What do you feel was your biggest success?

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

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

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

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

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

colleen02_2ps_mother_and_baby_all_the_layers4

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

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

What are you working on now?

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

colleen06_2ps_fire_all_the_layers4

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

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

colleencozette and the black umbrella7

 

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 25, 2014

Free Fall Friday – Possible Opening & Kudos

amal10_small
Another wonderful illustration by Amal Karzai. Thought it showed the feeling of this post. Website: http://www.amalillustration.com Blog: http://amalimages.blogspot.co.uk/

There might be a spot opening up at the Avalon Full Manuscript Critique Writer’s Retreat. If you are one of the people who have been kicking yourself for not getting in for this opportunity to get a critique with Agent Ammi-Joan Pacquette from Erin Murphy Agency or Agent Heather Alexander from Pippin Properties, send me an email and I will get back with you.

WOO HOO! It seems like a number of you jumped on the post where I told you about Schoolwide.com had a call out for submissions, because I’ve heard from a number of writers this week who have heard back from them. Most have received very nice letters showing interest in their manuscript and asking for revisions, which is great and could be a start of something big, but Sheila Fuller had her book ALL NIGHT SINGING accepted. Congratulations Sheila!

Christopher Behrens’ finished his book, found an illustrator whose work has been on The Today Show, used Jim Whiting and Writer’s Digest for editing, then self-published his book Savanna’s Treasure this past spring.

Kirkus gave him a good review in June and now The Community Life Newspaper wrote an article the book.  If you would like to read the article, here is the link: http://www.northjersey.com/arts-and-entertainment/books/longtime-dpw-employee-pens-first-children-s-book-1.1052358

Savanna’s Treasure is available everywhere online and in all formats, including the ebook.

Two of the comments from Kirkus:

“…story enriched by an inspiring animal alliance….a good fit for early readers.” —Kirkus Reviews

 

Good job Chris!

 

Check back next Friday for the First Page Results.

 

Talk tomorrow,

 

Kathy
Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 24, 2014

Price Drop – Revise Your Novel in a Month

jillandmarthaSince, agent Jill Corcoran is such a good marketer, I am sure most of you already know about the video series that author of the PLOT WHISPERER, Martha Alderson and literary agent Jill Corcoran released three months ago.

You can watch the first video in the series for free, which I did last week. It was very good and since I watched it, I’ve been wondering how I could come up with the money to rent the rest of the series.

Today, Martha and Jill lowered the price to $75.00 to rent the 8 part series for a whole year, so now I can afford to buy the series and learn from what they have put together.

If you are a picture book writer, they even have something for you. You can pre-order: How to Write & Sell A Picture Book- Pre-Order and SAVE $25 https://vimeo.com/ondemand/writesellpicturebook

Here is the information for the Revising Your Novel in a Month: http://vimeo.com/ondemand/reviseyournovelinamonth

In this 8 Video (5.5 hours) Series, Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson and Literary Agent Jill Corcoran provide step-by-step instruction on how to revise your
• Concept
• Structure and design
• Tension and conflict
• Character growth and transformation
• Pacing
• Cause and effect
• Meaning
• Hook
• Polish
• Prose
in preparation for a major rewrite of your novel.

To complete the course in a month, watch two videos a week. Or, work at your own pace and take more or less time on the step-by-step exercises. You decide your revision pace as you explore and complete each video exercise based on your own individual needs in preparation for a major rewrite.
• 8 videos (available for viewing as many times as you would like for 1 year)
• 30 writing exercises- one for each day of the Revise Your Novel Month

apathtopublishing.com/for-those-who-purchased-aptp-videos/

PlotWriMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
I. TRAILER
a. Introduction
II. OVERALL STORY LEVEL
a. Video #1: HOW TO REVISE + CONCEPT & CHARACTERS
• Welcome
• How to Approach Revision
• Organization
• Concept
• Characters
• Story Titles
III. PLOT AND STRUCTURE LEVEL
a. Video #2: TRANSFORMATION + GOALS
• Review
• Layers of Plot
• Transformation / Change
• Goals
b. Video #3: CONCEPT + ENERGETIC MARKERS
• Review
• Concept
• Energetic Markers
• Plot Planner
IV. SCENE LEVEL
a. Video #4: SCENES AND THEMES
• Review
• Scene and Summary
• Themes
• Character Motivation
• Antagonist
b. Video #5: CLIMAX
• Review
• Preparation
• Anticipation
• Event
• Reaction
• 3 Major Plot Lines
• Antagonist Crisis
c. Video #6: BEGINNING & END
• Review
• Beginning
• Traits, Skills, Knowledge, Beliefs
• Cause and Effect
• Antagonists
V. WORD LEVEL
a. Video #7: MANUSCRIPT VOICE + CHARACTER & ACTION
• Voice
• Transformational Journey
• Backstory Wound
• Subplots and Theme
• Crisis

b. Video #8: FIRST PAGES + FINAL TEST
• Every Word Perfect
• Sentence structure
• Dialog
• Prepare for Rewrite
• Rewrite
• Concept
• Structure and design
• Tension and conflict
• Character growth and transformation
• Pacing
• Cause and effect
• Meaning
• Hook
• Polish
• Prose
To complete the course in a month, watch two videos a week. Or, work at your own pace and take more or less time on the step-by-step exercises. You decide your revision pace as you explore and complete each video exercise based on your own individual needs in preparation for a major rewrite.
• 8 Instructional videos (available for viewing as many times as you would like for 1 year)
• 30 writing exercises- one for each day of the Revise Your Novel Month
Who will benefit from PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month:
• Writers seeking to write a great novel
• Writers with a draft of a novel and uncertain how to proceed
• Writers with story problems
• Writers who feel blocked
• Writers who wish to move from where they are to where you wish to be
• Writers committed to improving your craft
• Writers interested in digging deeper into your story
• Writers needing help organizing for a major rewrite

Dolly D. Napal watched the series and said, “Don’t let the title fool you. This is not only a revision course. It’s a fully comprehensive writing course for PB, MG, YA, and Adult writers, at any point in their career.”

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 23, 2014

Women In Nature Books: Call For Submissions

Women in Nature: An Anthology, is the first book in the WIN-Women in Nature Series.  The WIN series are collections of stories from women all across the North American continent… and beyond!  These are true stories about the varied ways in which these women relate to ‘nature’ and our natural environment.  Each book also contains complete chapters by prominent and passionate women, experienced in related aspects of ‘nature’.  Subsequent WIN books will include: WIN on Dwelling; WIN on Indigenous Ways; WIN on Food, WIN on Adventure; WIN on Water;  WIN on Healing; WIN on Children; and more!

 

OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS!
We have received some amazing stories for our first WIN – Women in Nature book.   

We are looking for good fun engaging stories!  Inspiring, uplifting, adventurous, funny, stories … of your relationship with ‘nature’!

 

CALL FOR  Your True Nature Stories!!!

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Picture

From wilderness living to urban gardening, we want your personal stories that reflect a transforming or transcending connection to ‘nature’.  We are looking for stories that can open our perspectives conceptually, or ‘show us how’ to do something experientially.  We’re talking about living with the earth, not on her.  How do women connect with nature, and the reciprocal and essential relationship with the earth and all that is in it?

Guidelines:

  1. Your story must be true.
  2. Your story should be told in first person
  3. Good quality writing is as essential to your story, as is your story.
  4. Your story should relate to a personal experience that then translates into insight, advice, creative ideas, or transcending awareness!
  5. Your (funny, somber, endearing, emotional or otherwise) story should be between 750 – 2000 words
  6. If your story is chosen, you will be given author exposure, as well as varied options for compensation including copies of the book, discounts, (and other monetary and non-monetary rewards to be further specified.)
  7. We are currently accepting stories from women (as this is a women’s anthology) from ages 18 and on…. however, we are open to stories from men… about women.

Submissions should include: Your story and a brief (50 word) author bio..

SUBMIT TO SPECIFIC WIN BOOKS AS FOLLOWS:


FOOD
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Food book, is to generate an awareness of the food we eat, where it comes from, and how what we eat affects all life on this planet.
We are looking for your true stories about food, particularly stories that celebrate sustainable and organic food and food sources as they relate to our natural environment.  We also welcome stories that reflect the emotional relationship humans have with food, as well as stories that encourage an awareness of connection.

 

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON FOOD TO    carly.womeninnature@gmail.com     DEADLINE foe submissions 1 September 2014

 

ADVENTURE
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Adventure book is to encourage awareness, respect and intimacy as we seek out adventure.  We are looking for your true stories about your adventures in, and more significantly ‘with’, nature.  Adventures – hiking, climbing, deep sea diving, dog sledding, kayaking, spelunking, wilderness research, horseback riding, swimming, mountaineering, skiing, surfing – can unfortunately sometimes become an activity of disregard and disrespect.  We are looking for experiences that celebrate and appreciate the beauty and awe of the natural environment – and instill an intimacy and awareness of reciprocity – while experiencing all of the challenges, adventures, and inspiration nature has to offer!

 

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON ADVENTURE TO    carol.womeninnature@yahoo.com      DEADLINE foe submissions 1 September 2014
 
CHILDREN
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Children book is to encourage the engagement of children with the natural environment, and to nurture an understanding of their existential and intimate relationship with all living things. We are looking for your true stories about children and their relationship with nature. We welcome stories about your childhood experiences in nature, as well as stories about getting children into nature, and your experiences observing children in nature. All stories should move beyond children merely playing an activity outdoors and should focus on the interaction with nature.
 
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON CHILDREN TO   
roslyn.womeninnature@gmail.com       DEADLINE for submissions 1 September 2014
 
HEALING
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Healing book is to encourage an understanding of our reciprocal relationship with the nature, and how the health of the earth and our own health are intimately intertwined.  We are looking for your true stories about healing, both the healing of nature and how nature heals us.  This includes both physical and emotional healing through anything from plants and animals, to the healing power of simply being in nature’s bliss.

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON HEALING TO    carol.womeninnature@yahoo.com        DEADLINE foe submissions 1 October 2014

GENERAL – For stories that do not fit into any of the above categories, please submit through our standard contact form below.
And, watch for more WIN titles and varying submission deadlines.

IDEAS… to get you started
We are looking for any  personal story that connects you to ‘nature’.organic or urban gardening  FOOD
foraging for wild edibles  FOOD
camping under the stars  ADVENTURE
live trapping bugs and setting them free outside
kayaking and white water rafting  ADVENTURE
rock climbing and mountaineering  ADVENTURE
nurturing a wounded critter  HEALING
painting your house with natural pigments  DWELLING
natural everday living stuff  CHILDREN
hiking and backpacking  ADVENTURE
mushrooming  FOOD
natural horseback riding  ADVENTURE
collecting rainwater  FOOD
composting  DWELLING/HEALING/FOOD
passive solar heating  DWELLING/ENERGY
getting fire from friction  DWELLING/ENERGY
building a natural shelter  DWELLING
cooking on an open fire  FOOD
hunting and fishing  FOOD/CHILDREN
creating an outdoor labyrinth  HEALING
braintanning hides  DWELLING
working with animals  ANIMALS/HEALING
water – rivers, snow, streams, oceans  WATER/HEALING
shearing and spinning wool  ANIMALS/DWELLING
teaching children about nature  CHILDREN
research field work  ADVENTURE/HEALING
building a sweatliodge  HEALING
sleeping outside on your back deck  CHILDREN

etc…. etc
 
A story about anything that
connects you
to the earth!

 
Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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