Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 23, 2017

Book Winners – Cover Reveal – Industry News – Kudos

Carl Scott has won DADDY DEPOT by Chana Stiefel
Emily Wayne RENATO AND THE LION by Barbara DiLorenzo

Cover Reveal: David L. Harrison’s new book A PLACE TO START A FAMILY coming out on January 18, 2018.

Scholastic reported fiscal fourth quarter 2017 sales through May 31 of $499.6 million, down $14.2 million from a year ago, on lower sales in children’s publishing and distribution and international. Operating income for the quarter was $64.2 million, up $5.8 million on increased education sales and lower costs.

Children’s trade sales were $43.3 million for the quarter (down $2.4 million from a year ago), though for the full year trade sales were $307.9 million on last year’s new Harry Potter books, compared to $211.7 million in fiscal 2016. The Potter gain comprised all of the year’s sales increase and then some: 2017 sales of $1.742 billion were up $69 million.

Keanu Reeves is a co-founder of a new Los Angeles-based independent press, X Artists’ Books. Created with artist Alexandra Grant and designer Jessica Fleischmann, the press will be a “a small publisher of thoughtful, high-quality, artist-centered books that fit within and between genres.”

Cindy Johnson has been promoted to managing editor for Random House Children’s/Golden Books. Megan Williams has been promoted to associate managing editor for Crown Children’s.

Sanford J. Greenburger has hired Mary Kate Skeehan as senior scout (she has been sub rights associate at Norton), and John Bowers as scout (he was at The Bent Agency), with Hanna Masaryk promoted to senior scout children’s and YA.

Lauren Smulski has been promoted to associate editor for Harlequin Teen.

Erica Finkel has been promoted to editor for Abrams Children’s.

Talk tomorrow,



Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 22, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Karlen Tam

Karlen draws inspiration from the timeless tales of world mythology, philosophy, and many hobbies to craft her own little worlds. She embraces the identity “Jack of All Trades, Master of None,” because the rest of the saying goes, “oftentimes better than master of one.” Karlen’s preferred medium is digital art because of its endless storytelling potential, and while she is known for her illustrations, she also works in 3D because of her keen interest in creating interactive stories. She self-published her first major project Japanese Folktales: a book of stories and sketches (2016) as a mode of exploration into genres, themes and visual styles that would gel with her interests. Karlen now collaborates with Boneshaker Press, making illustrations and stories for fantasy-themed artbooks, and independently works on picture books and visual development. 


I start by getting a feel for the characters. What kinds of things can I show them doing to show their personality? How do they interact?

After deciding on their interaction, there are an infinite number of ways to show it. Posing and staging can be explored by making lots of thumbnails.


I will keep making more thumbnails until the “right one” happens, and then make a more detailed sketch of it. If I’m not satisfied with the pose, I’ll probably draw it a couple more times.

Before starting the actual illustration, I will go through several revisions of the characters designs, as well as a rough color layout of the illustration. The scribbles above the cat sketches were attempts to map out the elements in the room. These are throwaway sketches that no one will ever see but they are instrumental to the development of the final image.

Finished Illustration

I asked Karlen about her heritage. Here is her answer:

I’m Chinese and I was born in the US, though sometimes people mistake me for a Japanese person because of my book. I’m very interested in Japanese culture because my favorite video games and shows are inspired by it. However, some parts of Japanese traditions are influenced by Chinese culture – for example one of my favorite shows Dragon Ball, while produced in Japan, was loosely based on characters from Journey to the West, a classic Chinese novel that I also grew up with.

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been making illustrations for 7 years.

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

It was a dragon design for a dragonboat team uniform in 2010.

Why did you choose to attend the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, Brooklyn, NY?

Polytechnic Institute was know to produce the best engineers, so the original career plan was to be a mechanical engineer to sustain myself, and do art on the side. Polytech offered a scholarship that was hard to refuse. I thought attending this school was the least bumpy road to allow me to do art while still keeping my parents happy.

Can you describe what makes up Integrated Digital Media?

I switched to the Integrated Digital Media major in order to stay in the same school to keep my credits and scholarship. The Digital Media program offered courses in web design, game development, video/image and audio editing, sound design and 3D animation. It gave me a medium to channel my creative tendencies into something that was more than just a picture. I chose to focus on 3D game development.

Do you think art school influenced your style?

While I didn’t attend art school, being at a technology school gave me a very logical approach to creating art. I’m always looking for the visual problem to solve, and therefore style should be part of the solution. I don’t have distinctive visual “style” in my work but rather a tendency to solve problems with similar solutions.

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

It was very difficult after I graduated since my skillset was so varied. My first job was a tutoring middle and high school kids for placement tests and SATs, respectively. I was doing artwork on the side.

Can you tell us a little bit about your 3D Sculpture Skull Kid Figure and 3D Printing?

The Legend of Zelda was one of the major influences that got me into drawing, so naturally I enjoyed making artwork based on that game franchise. The Skull Kid figure was created out of frustration; I was unable to purchase the limited edition bundle of Majora’s Mask (that came with a Skull Kid figure), so I decided to make a better model that could not be sold out since 3D prints are made to order and everyone could own a high quality sculpture of their favorite character. I always wanted to try 3D printing, and while this was an ambitious project for my first foray into 3D printing, it was well-recieved and a great learning experience.

How did you come up with the idea for the Season’s Greeting ice skaters illustration that you won for at the NJSCBWI conference? What medium did you use?

I make holiday cards every year because it’s a chance to create anything I wanted, to give as my “gift” to people I care about. I was trying a new pencil and ended up doodling a raccoon figure skater. It felt like he needed a skating partner, and I drew a rabbit skater right after. One thing led to another…and then the final piece was digitally painted in Photoshop.

The illustration with Boneshaker Press at the bottom an illustration for a cover?

The illustration of the Simurgh was a piece for Encounters with the Imaginary, an artbook featuring mythical creatures. It ended up being one of the illustrations featured on the cover.

Do you still create videos for companies? How did you get started doing that?

I currently work as a 3D game artist and animator at a company that makes educational simulations. I came into the company when they were working in Flash, but later helped them transition to 3D in order for them to be able to expand their products to mobile platforms like phones and tablets.

Has any of your artwork been used in a video game?

We use the Unity game engine at work, where I worked on all the characters as well as some of the background art in the products. While they’re referred to as simulations, they’re technically video games, so yes.

What made you join the SCBWI?

I’ve always considered children’s books as a possible path for my illustration career. When a colleague invited me to go with her to a conference, I just tagged along.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

There was not a specific moment when I decided I want to illustrate for children. I want to create work that people of all ages can enjoy, so my illustrations tend to be family-friendly.

Have you done any book covers?

I’ve done a cover for my self-published book.

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

Yes, I’m currently working on my own picture book.

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

It depends on the subject, but it’s also very difficult to find time for that since I’m working on a bunch of my own projects.

Have you illustrate any books?

I’ve done illustrations for anthologies, as well as for my own book of Japanese Folktales.

Have you worked with educational publishers?


Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?


Have you tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

No, but I would like to.

Do you have an artist rep.


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


I promote my work through social media and attend conferences and conventions.

What is your favorite medium to use?

My favorite medium is watercolor even I don’t get to use it very often. I love how the colors blossom and flow into each other.

Has that changed over time?

I used to like colored pencils and graphite before moving to Photoshop. Photoshop is most versatile but I change the tools I use to keep the ideas fresh.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?


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

The computer.

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

Most of my spare time is spent on honing my art skills.

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

Always! I don’t know how to work otherwise. Sometimes I might visit the museum if I really get stuck but generally doing research is a must.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Definitely. The greatest skill-jump I made in my craft is from taking art courses and participating in art groups online, since I didn’t attend art school. All the progress made in my career would not have been possible without the support of the people I’ve met in the online art community, some of whom have become my closest friends.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop for all my illustrations.

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

I use a Wacom Cintiq tablet.

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

I would love to work on animated film or make my own video game one day.

What are you working on now?

I am working on the Encounters with the Imaginary Vol. 2 artbook Kickstarter campaign with Boneshaker Press, my own little picture book, and also a visual development portfolio. I’m also waiting on a decision to be made about a potentially illustrating for a historical children’s book.

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.

Charcoal is hard to control and therefore good for generating ideas that you wouldn’t come up with normally if you had used a tool you were comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to make a mess.

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

Always carry a small sketchbook with for when you. You’d be amazed by how much you can accomplish if you take out your sketchbook instead of your phone during idle moments.

Thank you Karlen for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Karlen’s work, you can visit her at her website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Karlen. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 21, 2017

July Featured Editor – Mira Reisberg

Dr Mira Reisberg editor at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s imprint Spork has agreed to be our featured editor for the month of July and critique four first pages. Besides being an editor, she is a multi-published, award-winning children’s book illustrator and author whose books have sold over 600,000 copies. She also runs and continues to help children’s book writers and illustrators get published with the courses she conducts at the Children’s Book Academy. In a former life not too long ago, Mira was a literary agent and a children’s literature professor. She has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on kid lit.

Here is Part Two of my interview with Mira:

Do the illustrators you sign to illustrate Spork’s picture books sign work for hire contracts?

No. Getting a flat fee for work for hire is not a great deal for illustrators unless it’s a self publishing job and it pays decently or it’s fabulously well paid. Spork doesn’t give a big advance but it gives really good royalties instead that are much better than industry standards. So over the long term it’s a really good deal.

Do you provide editorial feedback to writers that you work with?

Yes I’m definitely an editorial Editor pushing those I work with to deepen meanings or humor, create more dramatic scenarios, amp up their characters, and play with language more. I think my PhD training made me pretty analytical which helps with looking at plot flaws and inconsistencies.

Do you have a plan for how many picture books you would like to sign in your new position?

Yes, I only want to sign 2 to 3 books so that I can do the best I can with them and have some kind of balance with the Academy, Spork, my own creativity, and if possible having a little bit of a life. I am much more interested in quality than quantity.

Did Clear Fork close picture book submissions to give you more time to get settled?

Yes, time to get settled and to do more in depth editing and art directing on the already contracted books.

Clear Fork has only closed picture books submissions so that we can catch up on the backlog of already signed books and so that I can acquire 2 to 3 myself. It takes time to make wonderful high-quality books and set up good promotional systems. Once this is all set up, we will be accepting more picture books so that the press can be sustainable and do quality books.

Are you planning on taking Spork in a new direction?

No it’s not a new direction, we just need to set up good systems to do fewer books per year that are of a much more consistently higher quality and once we’ve finished editing and art directing the currently contracted picture books and gotten them out into the world in a good way, plus some select new ones that I’ll be acquiring, then we’ll be opening up to picture book submissions again.

Working for Spork is such a wonderful extension of what I’ve already been doing for a long time in helping bring beautiful or fun or meaningful books into the world, and a big bonus is that working with Callie is a real joy and getting to help my students even more is a big thrill.

Tell us a little bit about The Children’s Book Academy.

The Children’s Book Academy is my baby and I love it and my students very much. I took the job with Spork to help my students who were already contracted with them as well as future students who will be. As you can probably tell from what I’ve already written I am being very cognizant of the need to pace myself so that both Academy students and Spork do really well. I made the mistake when I was a literary agent of signing too many people and doing too much editorial work and it cost me my health and sanity for a period. I learned the hard way that need is infinite and I am finite so my task will be finding balance and doing a better job of time management and not signing stories or illustrators that need a lot of work.

Children’s Book Academy mailing list with free webinars, big discounts and other goodies

The Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books – a highly interactive time-flexible e-course taught by two editors

The Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s e Books – a highly interactive time-flexible e-course taught by two art directors  (will be updating soon)

Fab free mini-course/webinar The Pleasures (and how to) of Writing Humor and Heartbreak for Kids–heartbreak.html

Bio: Mira Reisberg has helped MANY authors and illustrators get published. She has worn just about every hat in the industry including illustrator, author, and literary agent. Mira holds a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature. She has taught children’s literature courses at Washington State University, Northern Illinois University, San Francisco City College Extension, and US Berkeley Extension. Mira also works as an editor and art director at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s book imprint Spork and is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and writer. You can follow her on Twitter at @ChildrensBookAc

Stop back next Friday to read the four first page critiques from Mira.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 20, 2017

SCBWI PJ Library Jewish Stories Award

SCBWI PJ Library Jewish Stories Award

SCBWI in partnership with PJ Library has established the Jewish Stories Award to encourage the creation of more high quality Jewish children’s literature. PJ Library®, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, sends the gift of free Jewish children’s books to more than 170,000 North American participants each month.

Deadline: Submissions will be accepted from September 1st 2017 through October 31st 2017 only.

Award: $2,500 will be awarded to the author of the manuscript deemed most promising for publication and for distribution by PJ Library. PJ Library will make every effort to partner with a publisher to have the manuscript published and to carry the book in the PJ Library program. The award is separate from and in addition to any monies received by the author from a publisher. The author will also receive tuition to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York and a transportation and accommodations stipend of up to $500, as well as PJ Library’s Author Incentive Award (for more information about the Author Incentive Award visit:

Eligibility: The manuscript must be an original work of fiction or nonfiction written in English and geared toward children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years. Whether the manuscript exemplifies a Jewish value, takes place during a Jewish holiday, or addresses Jewish history, it must contain Jewish content. Reference books, books about the Holocaust, and books about the death of a close family member will not be considered. Text only and text with illustrations submissions are welcome. Text with illustrations submissions should include one finished piece of art and 2-3 sketches. The author must be a member of SCBWI, and may submit more than one manuscript for consideration, however manuscripts previously submitted to PJ Library and manuscripts under contract will not be accepted.

Guidelines: All submissions will be accepted only via email at as PDF or Word documents with the subject line “SCBWI PJ Library Jewish Stories Award Submission” and with complete contact information (name, address, email address, and telephone number) in the body of the email. The PJ Library Book Selection Committee will determine the finalists and a three-member panel of judges comprised of a representative from PJ Library, a librarian or other leader in the children’s book field, and an author, will make the final selection. The winner will be announced at the 2018 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York.
Book ideas for PJ Library for ages 6 months through 3 years
Book ideas for PJ LIbrary for ages 4 through 8

Questions?: visit for more information; if your question is not answered there, email

Here is the link to last weeks post about idea they would be interested in seeing.

Talk tomorrow,



Jack, a common gray squirrel, has learned some of the simple machines. Taught by his human friend Collin, he’s chased construction machines from his wood, and saved his friend Rat who was captured by scientists looking for Jack. The scientists show up at Collin’s house. Worried for Jack, Collin takes Jack to an animal sanctuary, where he meets other squirrels and animals. But soon the scientists show up again. Jack, with the help of Addy, a female squirrel, and other animals, wage a last battle. For Jack it will mean he’ll go free-or be caged forever.


Yep, all good things come to an end, and I’m kind of sad—and glad—to see the final book in Jack’s story. It’s time for this squirrel and me to move on. Writing and Indie publishing this series has been similar to Jack’s story: learning strange new things, discovering who and what I can trust, leaving the familiar behind, and most of all, learning about myself.

Indie publishing is not easy and it’s not for the lazy, like Jack’s friend Jerk who only does what he has to (unless you just want to throw a book ‘out there’ and not worry about sales or reviews). It requires a lot of tedious work like reworking the text over and over until it’s perfect. Unless you pay for it, there is no copyeditor to catch mistakes. (I just read a book by a bestselling author and pubbed by one of the top publishers has a major mistake- the wrong character is answering a question; that character isn’t even in that chapter). It happens, but Indie authors are held to the same, maybe higher, scrutiny. There are too many lazy authors who say, ‘That’s good enough’ when it isn’t. This is part of the problem; authors throwing out crap just to say they are published. Those attitudes and actions make it that much harder for those of us who put out good books to fight the stigma.

Just like Jack, there will be individuals who will scoff and try to diminish your work, like Fox did at Jack’s idea to stop the construction machines. Fox didn’t believe in Jack’s ability, and even when Jack proved himself, Fox dismissed him. So many bloggers have the notation ‘We do not review Indie books.’ Fellow authors refuse to give a blurb, and I get the feeling it’s with an attitude of ‘I can’t be associated with an Indie book.’ (Yet, it’s okay to help push their traditional books). Forget trying to get into certain book festivals, Barnes & Noble, and even independent bookstores. Indie books are reviled- unless they suddenly start outselling traditional books (remember Amanda Hocking? Once she sold a million + copies, publishers couldn’t run fast enough to her door.). Just because my book hasn’t (yet) sold quite as much does not mean that it is lower quality. I’ve had it professionally illustrated (thank you, Cathy Daniels for such a superb job) and the illustrations stack up better than some art I’ve seen in traditional books. My books have been revised and polished uncountable times, looked at by agents and editors, not to mention beta readers. There are traditional books that I’ve read (or tried to) that I shake my head at and wonder why it got a contract. There is no love for Indie books from the publishing world. Even Amazon’s Createspace throws obstacles up. For inclusion in channels that can distribute to libraries, schools, and bookstores, you must have their ISBN number. BUT- if you have their ISBN number, it’s barcoded on the back of the book with 9000 and no set price, which screams Indie published, which automatically turns off libraries, schools, reviewers, bookstores, etc. It’s a Catch 22 and the Indie author is the one getting screwed.

Both Jack and I had to harden our resolve, trust in those who believed in us, and persist in our efforts to achieve our goals. It’s sometimes a lonely journey. There are numerous awards for traditional books- and only a few for Indies. For children’s books, there is the Caldecott, the Newberry, the Golden Kite, Crystal Kite, the Coretta Scott King award, and dozens of literary, library, and organization awards Any costs to enter a contest are picked up by traditional publishers. Indies, who have to pay to enter an award, have Book Life. Benjamin Franklin (prohibitively expensive to enter), the Spark, and a few others. It’s the same with reviews. While not all traditional books get a review, Indies seldom do, unless I’d like to pay the same corp who does traditionals for free…But most reviewers inevitably turn up their noses.

It’s a lengthy learning process. Just as Jack had to learn how to use simple machines like the inclined plane, the lever, the wheel and axle, etc. bit by bit, it’s the same with Indie publishing. The tech work of formatting so that each page has the same number of lines, that pictures bleed off the edge of the page like you want, getting the right ISBN, filing for and obtaining copyrights, and mostly fighting against a prejudice designed to make it as hard as possible to be a successful Indie author is tiring. It’s frustrating. It sucks up your life.

Jack is moving on; maybe to a new adventure elsewhere. I hope to hear from him. If a traditional publisher is ever interested, I know Jack would love to share his stories. As for me, I’m going back to traditional publishing; a bit jaded yes, but wiser and more determined. Not for one second would I discourage others from the Indie path- some authors have achieved a success beyond anything a traditional publisher could have given them, and sometimes it’s the only way a book you truly believe in, like I did with Jack, will get published. It’s like standing at the top of a mountain after scrabbling your way to the top. Your hands might be scraped and bloody, sometimes rocks pelted you from above, others may have passed by on the way to the top before you, some are still down below, and might never make it up, and all you want to do is rest. So I recommend you be as prepared as you can before you start that climb, clear your calendar, and stiffen your spine. You’re in for a long, demanding journey.


View More:

Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans is book 2 of the Evolution Revolution series, Evolution Revolution:Simple Machines was her first solo novel. She is also the co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series (Sirenz,Sirenz Back In Fashion, Flux), and one of 13 authors in the anthology,Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap). She’s written for magazines and newspapers, and has given presentations and workshops at NJ SCBWI conferences. Currently she’s working on sci fi, historical, fantasy, and time travel novels and loves to hear from fans on Twitter (charbennardo) or through her blog.



Cathleen Daniels has been a published illustrator since 1990. Her clients include Simon & Schuster, Barnes & Noble, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Legend Entertainment, Fleer Trading Card Co, Topps Trading Card Co. Her professional awards include Best Logo Design NJ-SCBWI 2009, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Visual Artist Fellowship Award 2008, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Illustrators & Writers Of The Future Contest, Honorable Mention 1992. Cathleen was also a N.J. State certified Commercial Art educator from 2002-2014. Her educator awards include N.J. Governor’s Award in Arts Education 2006, Outstanding Educator in the Arts Award, VSA Arts of New Jersey 2006. VSA is an affiliate of the JFK Center for Performing Arts. Cathleen now spends her time illustrating for kids, playing with her cats and bugging her husband, daughter and neighborhood squirrels to pose for photo reference! You can find her work at

Thank you Charlotte for sharing your journey with us and offering one lucky winner the third and final book in the series, Evolution Revolution: Simple lessons.

Also, Congratulations to Cathleen Daniels for creating the gorgeous covers and wonderful interior illustrations in this series.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 18, 2017



On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Catugeau Artist Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.


Here’s Chris:

It’s black and white!  In this age of every possible color and so so many mediums to choose from, the simple, basic, essential black and white of illustration is too often forgotten.  We don’t get a ton of requests for it these days. One might ask if b/w illustration is even much of ‘a thing’ any longer, and I would answer a loud YES!

Now it’s true that there used to be a lot more b/w illustration needed and assigned, especially for the educational materials area.  For math, reading, spelling, music …so many programs… there was always the b/w component. Several of our now Trade picture book artists cut their teeth with this low paying but constant work.  Great, great practice in character development and body language and simple details. This for some reason has pretty much left the industry with a few exceptions.  (often done overseas for pennies – we can’t compete)

There is however still a big market for chapter book b/w illustration, in line and grey tones.  This genre is often a great way to ‘break into’ a publishing house in fact.  Buyers will take a chance on a new illustrator with a color cover perhaps and some b/w spots for chapter headers.  Or perhaps a fairly well illustrated middle grade story with one full page of a b/w tonal scene with several characters interacting per chapter.  So if your an artist who enjoys b/w drawing you should definitely show this sort of work.  It can be line and/or fully rendered. Your characters want to be the appropriate age however.  There isn’t much b/w illustration for 2-6 year olds.  Limited color maybe, and b/w competence helps with that tremendously!  Don’t forget the color cover samples to go along with the b/w samples…with again age appropriate characters. Put the covers in with your color portfolio presentation, and the b/w together at the back of a book, or on a separate page perhaps on your website. (we have a separate b/w section with each artist who wishes having a b/w page of their own.)

I want to HIGHLY recommend every artist doing b/w sketching constantly!  Of course you do it for sketches for a job, but do it when you go out to a park, or to a soccer game, or on vacation, or are on the subway!  With a black pen! These quick, spontaneous sketches are wonderful practice for the more ‘serious’ work whether in b/w or color.  Keeps you limber, loose and ready for surprises….the stuff that great art is made of!  Also, working in b/w with tone forces you to see the ‘light/dark composition’ of the whole, and then within the details. Contrasts are the composition’s most basic form. This is essential to understand if you are to do GOOD color work!

And while we’re talking mediums a bit, I wanted to mention other ‘practice’ mediums I would NOT suggest you show in your portfolios, book or on-line.  Crayons for one.  There is a certain charm about the texture of a crayon and it might be just the thing for a particular image or part of an image, within a bigger context, but it is rarely used as a serious medium in children’s book illustration today.  It yells ‘amateur.’  As does overworked watercolor.  Also over textured acrylic work.  Colored pencil are usually used with watercolor for depth and detail, but it’s hard to make them work effectively on their own.  Now as soon as I say this, someone will point out an award winning book using that medium.  When you are award winning, feel free to use whatever medium you wish.  But I’d advise you to stick to more professionally recognized mediums, or combinations there of, while you are breaking into the industry.  Make deviation the exception that makes the rule.  You want to be taken seriously.  Study what other working artists use.  Study what you enjoy using. Try various mediums and see what fits you and your style of drawing and coloring.  So many ways to go….have FUN!

I was asked if we at the agency ever see an illustration by one of our agency artists that we (reps) feel might be better in another medium and tell them to try that.  That’s a good question actually.  It may occasionally happen that a editor/AD might suggest to an artist that one medium they are trying for a piece/book might not be the best choice. But I bet it’s rare.  I can’t remember telling an artist to change mediums.  Perhaps as they experiment (and we always encourage that) we might have an opinion about what works best or not for the piece and the market.  But we take on artists who have normally ‘found themselves.’  They are professional, even if they haven’t yet been paid for their work.  They may experiment, but they know what DOES work.  Remember, publishers hire an artist, at least initially, for their proven, consistent style, color and abilities generally.  They are doing so with the EXPECTATION that they will get something along the lines of the samples they see on their pages or site.   And they better get that.

I hope these have helped…do send on more questions about our wonderful industry!!


Christina A. Tugeau Artist Agency LLC is the first mother/daughter agency in the business! A trained artist herself with a BA in Fine Art, Chris Tugeau has been in the children’s illustration industry for over 25 years. Since opening her own agency in 1994, Chris has enjoyed representing many talented artists, and has been an active part of the illustration community; writing and presenting for SCBWI regions around the country. She is also the author of SCBWI Illustrator Guidelines. A veteran artist and rep, Chris is an advocate for ethical fairness and the bright future of children’s publishing. She’s also a mother of 3, a grandmother to 8, and best friend to husband, Bill.

Chris and Christy, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer questions and helping everyone trying to build their careers in the children’s publishing industry. Please help keep this column going by sending in your questions.

Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.


Hope this illustration by Holly Hatam will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. Holly was featured on Illustrator Saturday August 27, 2016. Take a look.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 17, 2017

Agent Looking for Clients – Wishlist

Eric Smith is an associate literary agent at P.S. Literary, with a love for young adult books, sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. He began his publishing career at Quirk Books in Philadelphia, working social media and marketing on numerous books he absolutely adored. Eric completed his BA in English at Kean University, and his MA in English at Arcadia University. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books appear on Book Riot, Paste Magazine, Barnes & Noble’s blog, and more. As an author, he’s been published by Bloomsbury, Quirk, and Flux.

Young Adult: Eric is eager to find bright, diverse new voices in YA. Send him any genre in YA. He reads (and sometimes write!) YA frequently, so he’s fiercely passionate about YA books. You can also find him blogging about it on BookRiot, Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads, and Paste Magazine. If he talks about something on there, it means he loves it.

Eric says, “I’d love to find more diverse sci-fi and fantasy YA. I’m a big fan of Tahereh Mafi, Kat Zhang, Justina Ireland, Zoraida Cordova, Renee Ahdieh, Ellen Oh, Sabaa Tahir, Melissa Grey, Courtney Alameda, and Sangu Mandanna. Zhang and Cordova’s debut trilogies helped get me into YA in the first place.” 

I also adore novels that genre blend, like Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly Series (fantasy, steampunk, zombies!), Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not (contemporary with a twist of sci-fi), and anything by Nova Ren Suma (magical realism and mystery!).”

Oh, and I love a really good, contemporary read that will make me cry. I LOVE TO CRY, and frequently talk about that on Twitter. See books by Lauren Morrill, Lauren Gibaldi, Aisha Saeed, Jeff Zentner, Ashley Herring-Blake, Randy Ribay, David Arnold, or Rebecca Phillips. They can be sunny and happy, or tragic and heartbreaking. Or both!” 

And please, PLEASE send me your LGBTQ books. Hero by Perry Moore is one of my absolute favorites, and I’d love to get a geeky book in my inbox. See books like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Adam by Ariel Schrag, Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler, and Proxy by Alex London to get an idea of what I like. And the entire Robin Talley catalog. Every book she’s written.”

Science Fiction & Fantasy: Looking for high fantasy and exciting sci-fi, new worlds that simply can’t be put down, but that also do a bit of genre blending. John Scalzi is probably the perfect example. Redshirts (sci-fi collides with pop culture) and Lock In (sci-fi smashed up with noir and mystery) are great comps for what I love. Also see Chuck Wendig’s entire publication history. I love a memorable voice in genre, and his is one of the best.
When it comes to wildly imaginative worlds, he adores the work of Cherie Priest, Fran Wilde, and Gail Carriger. He’s not limited to steampunk though, he just happen to love a good steampunk story.

Cookbooks: Eric is particularly interested in cookbook ideas from bloggers. Do you have an awesome food blog with a growing audience? Can you take amazing photos? Are you an active part of the food blogger community? Eric says, “Let’s talk. I’m very open to helping develop ideas here, even if the book isn’t quite there yet.”

Non-Fiction: When it comes to non-fiction, Eric is interested in books that focus on pop culture, geekery, and/or teach readers about the odd and the unique. If you’ve ever picked up a book by Mary Roach, you’ll know exactly what he’s talking about. Non-fiction that explains big ideas and large concepts in ways that are accessible, fun, and humorous.
He’s also interested in essay collections, particularly humor, though I’m open to anything that’s really compelling. Think Davy Rothbart. Give him your awkward confessions. Make him laugh.

Blog to Book Ideas:He would love to work with bloggers kicking around ideas for developing their blog into a book. Think your massively popular Tumblr deserves a fun hardcover gift book? Let’s discuss.

Literary & Commercial Fiction: Very open to and excited to read some adult literary fiction, especially anything contemporary with a rom-com twist (think Nick Hornby) or mystery / thrillers that touch on current affairs (think Jon McGoran).
Eric is also very interested in literary fiction that does a bit of genre mashing. Think Station Eleven, The Last Policeman (one of my favorite books ever), or The Night Circus.

What Eric is Not Looking For:
Middle Grade or Picture Books (pitch my colleague Maria!)
Angel & demon love stories, Heaven / Hell stories.
Epics that are far over 100k+. He can do 100k, but if you’re hitting those 200k+ numbers, not right for him.
Non-fiction about sports or politics.
Thrillers about terrorism.
Horror novels. He likes them, but says he doesn’t know what makes a good one.
Anything comped as “Lovecraftian” (he was racist, not interested)
Commercial fiction about sports (exceptions made for sports YA, he loves sports YA!)

Please limit your submission to just a query letter that consists of the following:

  • Paragraph One – Introduction: Include the title and category of your work (i.e. fiction or nonfiction and topic), an estimated word count and a brief, general introduction.
  • Paragraph Two – Brief overview: This should read similar to back-cover copy.
  • Paragraph Three – Writer’s bio: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background (awards and affiliations, etc.).


  • Do not send attachments. Please use text within the body of your e-mail.
  • Please do not submit a full-length manuscript/proposal unless requested.
  • Always let us know if your manuscript/proposal is currently under consideration by other agents/publishers.
  • Address your query to the attention of the agent you feel is the best match for your work.
  • Please do not query multiple agents at the agency simultaneously – if you don’t receive a response to your query within 4-6 weeks it means a no from the agency.

We only accept submissions via e-mail. Queries should be directed to
We do not accept or respond to phone, paper or social media queries.

Check out Eric’s recent sales:

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 16, 2017

Opportunties: Art Giveaway and Illustration Lead

Today we have a fun opportunity to win this 11”x14” archival print done by Mike Ciccotello, titled, STAR SEEKER, on cold press watercolor paper.

STAR SEEKER: You are the key to achieving your goals. No one else is going to do it for you. Find your star and make it shine.

Mike is working to promote his Instagram feed and would love your help, so all you have to do to get in the running for STAR SEEKER is to leave a comment here saying you visited Mike’s Instagram page – clicked and followed him. Of course, you will get additional points for promoting on Facebook, Twitter, reblog, or your other social media channels. You can find him on Instagram at @Ciccotello or use the above link.

Other ways to follow along with Mike’s projects:
Instagram: @ciccotello
Twitter: @ciccotello
Facebook: The Art of Mike Ciccotello


The search is on for an artist for David L Harrison’s next book of poems from Boyds Mills. David said, “Just got the word yesterday. No pub date yet but I’m delighted to reach this point. The subject is animals that roam after dark so the artist will need to render realistic depictions to meet science classroom teaching requirements.”


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 15, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Kim Kurki

Kim Kurki has been working as an illustrator since graduation from Kutztown University in May 1980, BFA, magna cum laude.

From 1980 to 1984, Ms. Kurki held full-time art department positions at a stationery/gift company and then a screenprinting company. Freelancing since 1985, her work has been published and distributed world-wide on fine art prints, decorative tins, greeting cards, packaging, and various paper products. A partial client list includes Schiftan, Inc., The Scafa/Modernart Group, Keller-Charles of Philadelphia, CLEO Inc., CR Gibson Co., Marcel Schurman Co., Paramount Cards, and Current Inc. Recent work includes commissioned fine art illustrations for Merck & Co. Inc. and illustrations for several publications produced by Yankee Publishing, including The Old Farmer’s Almanac. For over 8 years, she wrote and illustrated for National Wildlife Federation’s Your Big Backyard magazine creating a monthly column which features birds, animals and plants that children can find in “their own backyards”. Her first book, “National Wildlife Federation’s World of Birds: A Beginner’s Guide”, has evolved from that collection of work.

In recent years, Ms. Kurki has created artwork that expresses her personal vision: a “sense of wonder” about the natural world.These realistic watercolor impressions of nature depict botanical subjects, wild plants, and natural environments. Many of these paintings/drawings have been accepted in juried exhibitions.

In addition to her own work, Ms. Kurki designs stained glass panels for Bill Osler of Osler-Kurki Studio Stained Glass in Penns Park, PA. Their work can be seen in numerous public buildings and private residences.

Here is Kim discussing her process:

The first book that I wrote and illustrated is “National Wildlife Federation’s World of Birds: A Beginner’s Guide.” It evolved from an 8-year gig writing and illustrating for NWF’s Your Big Backyard magazine. Each month, my page, called “Explore the Big Outdoors,” introduced children to the wonders of nature that they could find in the world around them. Topics included birds, mammals, insects, wildflowers, reptiles & amphibians, and other fascinating phenomena. Here is the process to complete a page; in this case, it’s the Pileated Woodpecker.

Using books, magazines, and other sources, I researched the bird, and took lots of notes. I looked for the most interesting facts I could find.

Once I digested all of that info, I made lists of keywords that might work in the poem and made quick sketches of concepts that I found particularly interesting. The magazine is for ages 3-6, so my 5-year-old brain came in handy to determine which cool facts to include.

The poem came next – 4 lines that I felt would describe the bird’s most interesting and obvious trait.

For the title, I searched through many fonts to find a typeface that expressed the woodpecker’s personality, appearance, or activities.

Using many reference photos, I made preliminary sketches to organize and map out the cool facts that I wanted to include. Using banners, arrows, vignettes, and decorative borders, I presented the unique and important characteristics of the bird. I like to think of this as my “antique advertising” style.

This is the pencil sketch with the desired layout. I taped the printed poem into the bottom banner, scanned the drawing.

I printed it out so I could choose my colors using markers.

The final art is ink & watercolor. I transferred the drawing to hot press watercolor board, tracing it down with homemade graphite paper. Using Rapidograph technical pens in 3 point/nib sizes, I inked the drawing first and then “colored in” with watercolor. I’m a pretty good “colorer.” I won a “Best Coloring” award in 2nd grade.

Here is the printed magazine page.

So after 8 years of creating “Explore the Big Outdoors,” the series had run its course, and I had 94 pages that I owned the rights to. Hoping to publish the whole collection as a book, my friend/agent found a publisher who thought it was best to separate the pages into categories (i.e. birds, mammals, insects, plants, etc.) and it was determined that a bird book would be the first in a series. Out of the 94 pages, only 17 depicted birds, so I had to research, write and create artwork for the remaining pages of an 80 page book. Each 2-page spread would consist of the “main bird” on the left page, and the right page would flesh out more info about that bird, plus feature info about similar species, whether found in North America or in other countries around the world. Here I am holding my book, National Wildlife Federation’s World of Birds: A Beginner’s Guide.

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been illustrating for almost 40 years, since graduating from college in 1980.

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

My 10th grade chemistry teacher, Ivan Kayser, hired me to paint a property sign as a gift for his landlord. He was living in a carriage house on an estate in Bucks County called Fox Briar Farm. I painted a whimsical fox and hand-lettered the name. I think this was during my college years or shortly thereafter. He also commissioned a “fantasy portrait” of him and his wife walking through a magical woodland. I remember there were teddy bears pictured that represented the happy couple. Ivan has been a cheerleader for my art career ever since I decorated our 10th grade chemistry classroom with a wall-sized, illustrated Periodic Table of Elements (in puns!).

What made you decide to become an illustrator and study at Kutztown University?

I always did well in elementary school art class, but I was usually still working on the “drawing part” of an assignment when the other kids were finished coloring theirs. I was asked to do bulletin boards, report covers and programs for events. I made lots of greeting cards for friends and family, so becoming an illustrator seemed like an appropriate career. I chose Kutztown, mostly, because of its rural and geographic location – far enough from home to live on campus and close enough to return home easily. KSU also had a curricula that included all the areas of study that I was interested in. I was an Advertising Art major, which was later renamed Communication Design. I completed all of the Illustration courses available and then was able to plan my own assignments for an Independent Study program, so I concentrated on more Illustration. Beginning with the graduating class of the year before me, 1979, KSU began to develop a great reputation for its art program. I witnessed this first hand when later working in the field, as I had the opportunity to review the portfolios of KSU grads who were applying for jobs where I was employed. The best ones came from KSU and Tyler School of Art, which, ironically, was my second choice for college if I had wanted to live in the “city.”

Do you think your job working in the art department at a stationery/gift company and a screen-printing company helped develop your style?

I think I had already developed a linear, stylized look that could be either whimsical or realistic, but having to adapt my ideas to the products in the stationery/gift market and the production parameters of screen-printing certainly stretched my capabilities as an illustrator and designer. The 4 years I spent as a full-time employee gave me enough professional samples of my work to put together a portfolio to show for freelance assignments.

How did you connect with Merck & Co., Inc. and have them commission your fine art?

A stained glass colleague, Mark Beard, had fabricated a piece for Merck’s Chemistry building at their facility in West Point, PA. He had been commissioned by a corporate art consultant, Mary Alice DeVirgilis, who had the responsibility of placing art in various buildings on that campus and other Merck locations. The head of the Chemistry department had an interest in alchemy, the medieval practice that lead to modern chemistry. Mark’s stained glass panel depicted some alchemy symbolism, but the chemistry head wanted some sort of chart that listed ancient elements. Mark recommended me to do a fine art illustration because he knew that I was good at hand-lettering. He put me in touch with Mary Alice, and I came up with an idea of a sort of antique map document to organize the names of the elements and other symbolism of alchemy.  (see images: Alchemy Chart) This was the start of a 5-year relationship with Mary Alice and Merck. I was commissioned to do artwork for several other buildings, including two illustrated 3-panel timelines for the Training division and the Research division, a series of botanical drawings depicting plant sources for some of their pharma products, a tile wall mosaic, and stained glass panels for the Research division.

Did you knowingly decide to illustrate books that would be interesting for kids?

I think I have always wanted to illustrate children’s books, having a great interest in fantasy and the magic of nature. My whimsical style seemed appropriate to illuminate my “sense of wonder.” I collect illustrated books and the ones for children can be so beautiful AND fun.

How did the National Wildlife Federation see your artwork and offer you illustration work?

As a freelance illustrator, I was constantly sending samples of my work to potential clients. I had/have a subscription to National Wildlife Federation’s Ranger Rick magazine (for ages 7-12) since the 1980s (I was in my 20s). I love the stories and the articles about nature, and the photos are great reference material. They also used illustration, so I sent a sample kit to the Art Director. She liked my work but felt it wasn’t quite appropriate for Ranger Rick. She did, however, feel that their magazine for younger kids (ages 3-6), National Wildlife Federation’s Your Big Backyard, might be a good match for me, so she gave my sample kit to that Art Director. That started an 8-year gig with Your Big Backyard, doing a monthly column called “Explore the Big Outdoors.”  National Wildlife Federation later endorsed my book, “World of Birds,” allowing me to put their name in a banner on the cover.

Were you always interested in wildlife creatures?

Most definitely, and not only creatures, but plants (wildflowers) and other things in nature. Most of my childhood was spent outdoors, exploring woods, fields, and wetlands around my home. Some of my favorite backyard buddies were frogs & toads, turtles, bunnies, lightning bugs & butterflies, and I enjoyed discovering wildflowers and mushrooms. Trees were fun to climb and offered peaceful sanctuary or a magical retreat.

What was the first book you illustrated?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden-Fresh Cookbook. I did the cover and interior illustrations.

How did that come your way?

I had been sending sample kits on a fairly regular basis to the Art Director of The Old Farmer’s Almanac (Yankee Publishing). I really felt that my style was appropriate for their publications and I guess I was persistent enough to convince the AD, Margo Letourneau, to give me a try. My first project was the cover of their Every Day Cookbook, which later provided the format for the Garden-Fresh Cookbook. For about 10 years, I have had an ongoing relationship with Yankee Publishing, creating illustrations for a variety of their publications, including The Old Farmer’s Almanac (see images: OFA Astrologer’s Garden), the OFA Garden Guide, and the OF Almanac for Kids.

Have you won any award for your work?

Yes, I have won several awards over the years, the 2 most significant being for my work for Your Big Backyard magazine: 2009 Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) award for Best Department/Column in a Preschool Publication AND for my book, “World of Birds:” 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award – Gold Medal for Best Nonfiction Publication – Animals/Pets.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Ink & watercolor (Winsor & Newton) on Crescent hot press watercolor board. I have used Rapidograph technical pens forever. I also like to use colored pencil to achieve subtle shading.

I’m definitely more of a drawer than a painter.

Has that changed over time?

Not so much, although sometimes I won’t ink the drawings and choose to delineate detail with just pencil for a softer look. Also, I’m trying to loosen up a bit with perhaps more expressive backgrounds and less detail.

Are you open to illustrating self-published picture books from writers you don’t know?

Yes, if I like the subject matter and feel that my style is appropriate for it. The potential author has to have “done their homework,” researched the market, and be familiar with the steps it takes to organize and produce a book. I have been approached by individuals who have an idea, but they haven’t even written the manuscript yet.

Have you illustrated any book covers?

Just the 2 cookbook covers for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a math book cover for Continental Press, and my own cover for “World of Birds.”

Has your work appeared in any children’s magazines?

Besides the extensive work I did for Your Big Backyard magazine, I have illustrated Sunday school publications for Westminster Press and Presbyterian Church USA.

Would you like to write and illustrate a book for children?

I wrote and illustrated “National Wildlife Federation’s World of Birds: A Beginner’s Guide” for 7-12 year-olds. It’s the first in a series and I hope to follow up soon with World of Mammals, Plants, Insects, etc.

Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you? How did you meet and how long have they represented you?

No. My “agent,” who arranged the publication of “World of Birds,” is a long-time acquaintance/friend with extensive experience in the publishing industry, having worked for Barnes & Noble and Sterling Publishing for the last 40-plus years. He doesn’t look for work for me, but he can present my proposals to those of his connections which may be appropriate.

I did have a licensing rep years ago, but she is deceased. She was able to license several of my images from my stationery/gift experience to be used on other products. I met her when she was the Art Director for the Franklin Mint. I had sent her sample kits which she kept on file, and when she left the Mint to become a licensing rep, I became one of the artists that she represented.

Has exhibiting your work ended up getting you commission work or book contracts.


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

Besides all of the sample kits that I have mailed out over the years, I used to go to trade shows to get a look at what companies were producing and where I might fit in, and I would also peruse their catalogs online. To be honest, when I was writing and illustrating “World of Birds,” I didn’t have time for any other illustration projects, so I kind of stopped looking. Since its publication, I have been busy promoting the book at events for nature centers, environmental groups, libraries, adult groups, and schools. I still get assignments from Yankee Publishing and I also have stained glass commissions. If the opportunity arises, I refer potential clients to my website and my Facebook Author/Illustrator page. I also have a presence on LinkedIn, but probably not as comprehensive as it could be.

Do you visit schools to talk about wildlife and your artwork?

Yes, and that is where most of my energy is going these days. I have been doing assemblies in public and private schools. I have several Powerpoint slideshows that have the basic premise of “Exploring Nature is like a Treasure Hunt,” describing the wonders of nature that you can find in your own backyard. Obviously, since my book is about birds, I talk about our feathered friends, but also about nature in general, sharing fascinating facts and my collection of natural artifacts. I also have been tailoring my program to meet the needs of the students, whether they are studying something specific such as natural habitats or embryology, or using nature as inspiration for writing or visual arts. For older students, I can include a discussion of how my book happened and the importance of putting energy into whatever you are passionate about.

In the fall, I’ll be doing a family program at the Michener Art Museum which will focus on “Magic in Nature” and how the natural world has inspired my most creative work.

I did a couple of STEAM Expos (science fairs), a variation on the STEM curricula, including “A” for Arts, and I’m also expanding to adult groups, discussing native plants and how to attract wildlife to your backyard.


How did you get interested in doing stained glass?

I began dating a guy who had separated from his wife. They had started a stained glass studio together 13 years earlier. She was the designer and he was the fabricator. When it was determined that they would not continue to work together, I stepped in. I had never considered designing for stained glass, but my linear style seemed appropriate for the medium. After adjusting to the limitations of drawing for leaded panels, I had to learn a whole new palette based on the interplay of light and colored glass. I also learned to paint on glass to achieve detail (such as the petals in a flower or features of a face) using pigments that we fire in our kilns.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes, I have kind of taken over the house which is relatively small. An upstairs loft is my main studio with my drawing table, computer, and shelves of books. An adjacent room used to be a guest room, but now is home to my light table and shelves of more reference materials. The living room is part office and provided the extra space I needed to spread out my materials when working on the bird book. The stained glass studio is a separate building.

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

My craft at the moment is developing, scheduling, and doing presentations, so when I have an event coming up, that is my focus. In that category, things are slowing a bit for the summer, so when I’m not doing glass or professional gardening, I hope to concentrate on a few book ideas to “keep the ball rolling” in nature publishing. As a self-employed person, my work is my life and though I have myriad lists of creative projects and marketing responsibilities, the priorities change from week to week.

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

Always. For nonfiction topics, I love to do research and probably spend too much time collecting reference materials. Once I saturate my brain with information, the ideas kick in and take shape. I use my own photos as well as images I find in books, magazines, and online. For the bird book, I loved searching for the most fascinating facts that I could find.

For fiction/fantasy topics, I do take pictures of natural environments as a starting point and then my imagination fill in the blanks. I will also use references for accuracy in depicting natural phenomena that I want to include.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Having a website as an online portfolio is much more convenient than mailing out sample kits. My FB Author/Illustrator page has provided a platform to share what I have been doing with those that are interested. E-mail is also a valuable tool for quick and direct communication, whether it means sending assignments and sketches back and forth to an Art Director or reaching out to a vast list of potential clients.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

No. I use Photoshop Elements to scan and size images and maybe adjust for darkness and lightness, but I do not manipulate my artwork digitally.

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

No. Everything is hand-drawn.

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

Now that I seem to have established some credibility by having a book published, paths are opening up which feel like a direction that I have been following all along. My creative vision has always been to encourage a “sense of wonder” in kids of all ages, whether it’s through more books, programs, or whatever develops. I hope I am remembered as the crazy nature lady who convinced kids to go outside to play & explore & learn to love nature, ultimately growing into adults who respect nature and have the means to protect it.

On the other hand, a career dream might be to doodle for a living…

What are you working on now?

My next book, whether I traditionally or self-publish. I’m not going to elaborate, but you know it will have something to do with nature.

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.

Nothing that I haven’t already mentioned.

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

Develop your creative vision and let it guide whatever you do. Think about WHY you create art, not HOW. Where does your inspiration come from? Explore your passion. Your perspective of the world is unique. If you feel strongly about something, people will notice, and you will communicate. Work hard, accept necessary changes, follow through, and keep moving forward. Take walks, pet your cats and/or dogs, and every once in a while, eat your favorite snack.

(Can you say Cheetos?)

Thank you Kim for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Kim’s work, you can visit her at her website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Kim. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 14, 2017

July Featured Editor – Mira Reisberg

Dr Mira Reisberg editor at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s imprint Spork has agreed to be our featured editor for the month of July and critique four first pages. Besides being an editor, she is a multi-published, award-winning children’s book illustrator and author whose books have sold over 600,000 copies. She also runs and continues to help children’s book writers and illustrators get published with the courses she conducts at the Children’s Book Academy. In a former life not too long ago, Mira was a literary agent and a children’s literature professor. She has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on kid lit.

Here is part one of my interview with Mira:

Will you also have the title of art director?

Yes. My expertise is in both.

Do you have a vision for where you want to take Spork?

Yes I have a very strong vision, working collaboratively with the publisher, Callie Metler-Smith, of making the quality of books indistinguishable from mainstream big publishers while also taking risks on books that may not be as commercially driven. I think the key is having wonderful stories with strong characters and plots, lovely language and themes that connect with children’s lives either by creating understanding, meaning, or delight. I want our books winning awards and doing good in the world. At the same time running a press costs money so we will also have to have books that do well commercially to stay in business and balance out those that may not have as wide an audience. In addition, I am passionately committed to high-quality diverse books from diverse authors and illustrators so that kids can see themselves reflected not just as characters but also as creators as well as books that either create meaning or joy or both.

Do You Plan to expand beyond picture books?

I love working on chapter books and middle grades as well but because I have to pace myself, right now I’m only working on picture books so I can keep running the children’s book Academy as well.

What can someone do to get you to ask to see more?

At the moment, I’m only looking at manuscripts from my upcoming course because I know the students will be well-trained and so that I don’t get overwhelmed. At some point I’ll be looking at stories from former students and conferences where I present. Things that float my boat are stories with memorable characters, stories that make me laugh or cry or that feel important in some way, stories that bring to light things from all aspects of life that I (or kids) may not have known about before or that have an innovative approach to something I (or kids) already knew about. I love clever or beautiful language and books that make me care.

Are you interested in new illustrators?

Yes I’m absolutely open to new illustrators. Once again my first choice will be students from our upcoming Illustration course that I’ll be co teaching with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR and Clarion Books associate art director Sharismar Rodriguez in September, as well as from former students and illustrators that I meet at conferences. I’m especially interested in illustrators of color, of which there is such a big shortage. This is why we will be giving away diversity scholarships at the Academy for September’s course. I’ve also set up a Facebook page for illustrators to submit one piece of art, their bios, and a link to their website right here

Stop back next Friday to read Part Two of the Interview I had with Mira. In the meantime you can start submitting your first pages using the guidelines below:


In the subject line, please write “July 2017  Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page). REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: July 20th.
RESULTS: July 28th.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!


Still time to sign up for Mira’s picture book e-course starting July 24th. Every week – Monday through Friday, there are fresh lessons and exercises from the faculty released on their password protected website that also includes tons of resources that include lists of publishers and agents, worksheets, done-for you templates, and much more. There is an interact private Facebook group where questions are answered and small critique groups are set up for those who want to participate. There is a special webinar page for each week where students post responses to each webinars topic – e.g., thumbnails, quirky or memorable characters etc. Times are scheduled to accommodate folks in different countries as much as possible. These webinars are record for those who can’t make it live.

I took the Middle Grade Writing Course earlier this year and it was chuck full of information. Everyday there were new exercises and things to do. I couldn’t do everything, but Mira gives you access to all the files for six months – so you can work at your own pace. I certainly found the course made me focus on finishing the first draft of my new book.

An impressive fact: Over 140 Children’s Book Academy students have signed contracts for published books.

Talk tomorrow,


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