Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 8, 2019

OPPORTUNITY – Holiday Stories

Now is the time to think and write about the holidays, and submit a story for 2020 holiday book.

Stories about Christmas

Everyone loves holiday stories and our contributors write great ones. They are so good that we create a new edition for the holiday season every year. We are now collecting stories for our HOLIDAY 2020 book and we are looking for stories about the entire December holiday season, including Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and New Year’s festivities too.

We want to hear about your holiday memories and traditions. The rituals of the holiday season give a rhythm to the years and create a foundation for our lives, as we gather with family, with our communities at church, at school, and even at the mall, to share the special spirit of the season, brightening those long winter days. Please share your special stories about the holiday season with us. Be sure that they are “Santa safe” so that we don’t spoil the magic for precocious readers!

Here are some suggested topics, but we know you can think of many more:

• The True Meaning of the Holidays
• Holiday Traditions
• Memories of the Holiday Season
• The Love of Family
• Family Reunions
• Holiday Humor
• Gift Giving
• Gift Receiving
• Regifting
• Decorating
• Eat, Eat, Eat… and Be Merry
• Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child
• Christmas Through the Eyes of Your Pets!
• Here Comes Santa Claus
• Things that went wrong!
• Holiday food and traditions
• The weird things your family does
• Funny anecdotes
• … and any other stories you would like to share

If we published your story in a previous Christmas book please do not submit it again. We will not publish it. If you submitted a story and we did not publish it and it will fit in this book, please do submit it again.

The deadline date for story and poem submissions is JANUARY 30, 2020.

https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/submit-your-story 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 7, 2019

Illustrator Saturday: Deborah Melmon

Deborah Melmon is out featured Illustrator this Saturday. Here is Deborah telling you a little bit about herself. “Over the last ten years, I have illustrated over fifty children’s books which include picture books, readers, and board books. As a free-lance artist, I have also designed greeting cards, gift wrap and fabric. I graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and continue to live in the Bay Area with a nutty terrier named Mack.

“My illustration process is a hybrid of pencil sketches, hand-painted backgrounds and textures which I scan into Photoshop and then manipulate digitally. This gives me the ability to submit high resolution art in layers and to also make alterations to the art quickly. I love to create work that is fun and engaging for kids with lots of details and humor.

“I love…

Almond milk lattes, bird watching, walking 10,000 steps every morning, living with dogs, online courses, golf, podcasts, Maui, walking barefoot, growing tomatoes, bird feeders, Netflix, problem solving, Irish accents, New Zealand, collecting picture books.

“Clients Include…

Two Lions Publishing, Capstone, Scholastic, Zondervan, Kar-ben Publishing, Parragon UK, Highlights Magazine, Music Together, Kane Press, Viking Children’s Books, Penguin Young Readers Group.”

Here is Deborah sharing her process:

 

 

My sketches are loose and I try to keep that feeling in the final art. I think this is a good example of it.

Finished color illustration

This is a sketch I sent the art director while we were trying to work up the cover. Neither the editor or art director had a clear direction on how the cover should look. Sketch 1 is the first idea I had which missed the mark a bit as it didn’t really convey the idea of Santa’s Secret.

My second idea which turned out to be more how the art director thought it should go, showing all three Santas. Comments on this version were to emphasize the winking Santa in the department store, brighten up the background, and turn the little girl’s notebook around so we could see her notations.
Third image is the final art that was used.

PUBLISHED COVER – IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A SANTA BOOK GIFT, HERE IS THE AMAZON LINK

TO READ THE BOOKS JOURNEY, CLICK HERE

SOME OTHER BOOK COVERS ILLUSTATED BY DEBORAH BELOW:

Interview with Deborah Melmon

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating in one way or another for over 25 years. I got a bit of a late start with my career as an illustrator. I didn’t graduate from art school until I was well into my thirties.

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

When I was in high school, my art teacher, Mr. Jenkins, asked my girlfriend and I if we would like to paint windows at Christmas time. He went to the shopping center next to our high school and got us the jobs and we would paint after school and on weekends. It was so much fun! I actually turned it into a window painting business for several years to earn extra money around the holidays.

Have you always live in California? 

Yes, I was born in Los Angeles, as were my parents, and lived in Long Beach during my childhood.  I moved to the Bay Area while my husband was attending dental school and fell in love with the climate in Northern California.

How did you decide to attend the Academy of Art University in San Francisco?

I always wanted to attend art school, but life had other plans. When my marriage ended, I decided to just finish my degree in industrial education at California State University, Long Beach as the art department was impacted.  I took every technical illustration class I could. My professor was watching me ink an exploded view of a piece of machinery in 3-D and told me I should go to art school. It was his encouragement that gave me the confidence to pull the trigger. The Academy was an easy fit as I was so familiar with the Bay Area. I showed a portfolio and was accepted.

What did you study there? Which classes were your favorites?

At the time, I was enrolled in the Illustration Department, headed up by Barbara Bradley. Lots of figure drawing, color theory and illustration classes that covered all aspects of illustration. There were no children’s book illustration classes, but my work was definitely leaning that way.

Do you feel school helped you develop you style?

It helped me develop “a style.” My work was whimsical and quirky, but highly influenced by my instructors and a bit all over the map. I look back at some of that artwork and it looks so dated and unfocused. Not anywhere near what my art looks like now.

Did the school help you find work using your art skills?

In my senior year, my instructor would bring in art directors with real assignments. I was published several times doing editorial work. But I always assumed I would work freelance and just find work through my rep or on my own.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

Somewhere, deep down, I knew I would illustrate a children’s book. It was just what I gravitated to and I had quite a large picture book collection. For years, I worked in the children’s educational market. I worked on small readers and board books, but feedback on my portfolio was that it was “too educational looking” for trade books. I also had a rep that was more connected in advertising than the children’s market so I ended up skirting around the edges of what I really wanted to do for many years.

Was Crunchy MunchyPaperback by Brenda Parkes your first published book?

I can’t remember if it was the first, but it was part of the educational market I was working in.

 

How did you get that job?

I got that job through my rep.

Did you sign a two book deal when you got the job to illustrate Underpants Wonderpants after you finished Underpants Thunderpants by Peter Bently? 

I did not sign a deal with Parragon for the Peter Bently books. As I recall the first book did well and Peter was asked to write a sequel after the fact. There was a third story floating around but it never came to fruition.

Mitzvah Pizza by Sarah Lynn Scheerger came out in May with Kar-Ben Publishing. I noticed that you also illustrated Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup by Pamela Mayer. Have you published other books with them?

Yes, I think I’ve done five books for them. Picnic at Camp Shalom was the first. It was my very first 32-page picture book and I remember how panicked I was at the time. I didn’t really know how to put a book together as we were never taught that in art school. I only had the experience of the small readers I had worked on in the educational market – which were highly structured by editors and art directors. This was the first time that I could really do what I wanted to do as an artist.

I featured Santa’s Secret by by Denise Brennan-Nelson, published by Sleeping Bear Press on Writing and Illustrating. Did Sleeping Bear Press give you guidance on their vision for the book or did they just set you free?

They set me free! Except for telling me the age of the little girl I was given a lot of blank white pages to start. But I’ve illustrated over 50 picture books, so now the process is more of excitement rather than trepidation. And I’ve learned that when I get stuck, stepping away, taking a walk or a nap, or just shutting it down until the next day will turn things around. Putting a book together is like a puzzle and I really love the design process.

It looks like you have another Christmas book out this year. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: A Highlights Hidden Pictures® Storybook (Highlights(TM) Hidden Pictures® storybooks)by Clement Clarke Moore.
Was this your first opportunity to illustrate a hidden picture book?

I have worked for Highlights High Five magazine for years and have done many hidden pictures pages for them. So I’ve had experience designing this type of artwork. But this was the first picture book I have ever done. The book was on a fast track and there were many, many hidden objects including both on the front and back covers and the title page. It was hard not to repeat myself!

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

I have toyed with the idea of writing my own book, but it would be like starting another career and I’m not sure at this stage in my life that I have the patience to try and write and continue illustrating.

Are you represented by an artist rep.? If so, who and how did you connect? If not would you consider using a rep at this stage in your career?

I had a rep for many years after I graduated from art school. She was representing one of my instructors at the time. But my career as a picture book illustrator took off after we separated and I took control of marketing myself. I think it was at a time where the internet, blogs, websites were just easier to navigate. My sister helped me do a huge mailing and things just took off from there.

Have you illustrate a book for a self-published author. Is that something you would do now?

I do get asked to illustrate for self publishers but most of them don’t truly understand the process or the cost. I suggest they join SCBWI. There are so many resources for the self-publishing writers on that site.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Digital for sure! A good scanner, Photoshop and the iPad pro and Procreate have changed how I work incredibly. I use the iMac with a Wacom tablet. I sketch on the iPad or sometimes directly on my computer. I remember the days of tracing paper, but now it is just much more efficient to size and resize digitally. I have printed out sketches on watercolor paper and painted directly that way. I have drawn final line work onto paper and scanned into the computer and added color in Photoshop. But now with Procreate, I airdrop the artwork back and forth between my computer and my iPad. I can add textures in Procreate and tighten up the final art with the iPad while sitting in front of the TV. Keeps me from sitting at my computer all day long.

I do still like to dabble with traditional materials, but mostly for texture. I’m currently playing with Pan Pastels. I love working digitally, but I never want the artwork to look that way. Texture is the key for me.

 

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

I’m working on my craft when I’m working on a job, but I wish I had more time to play and experiment. Deadlines can be exhausting and many times I just want to take a break. I’ve found the best way to work on art for myself is to take an online course. Very stimulating. And I love learning new things.

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

With the internet I rarely take pictures anymore, unless I just need a shot of a hand position. I can get all I need off the internet. But yes, with each project I research locations, people, animals, etc. I look at other artwork for inspiration and color palette ideas.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on another picture book for Sleeping Bear Press about a tooth fairy. Due to be released in 2020.

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

I love the Bardot Brushes for Procreate. And Blackwing pencils for my sketchbook. Online I purchase from Dick Blick, but get me in a good art supply store and I impulse shop. My goal is to one day use up all the art supplies I have sitting on my shelves.

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

Put in the work and be easy to work with. If you are agreeable and willing to please your client, you will get repeat assignments, which is how I built a business. I have done multiple books for each of the publishers I’ve worked for. It’s never been easier for artists to learn new things and market their work. Marketing with a postcard, no matter how old school that seems, is still the way to get your art in front of an art director. That’s exactly how I got Santa’s Secret with Sleeping Bear Press.

Thank you Deborah for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure to let us know your future successes. To see more of Deborah’s work, you can visit her at: 

Website: http://www.deborahmelmon.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deborahmelmon/ 

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Deborah. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too. 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 6, 2019

Illustrator Critique of Anastasia Ward by Mira Reisberg

Sorry for resending. It has come to my attention if you are a follower and receive this everyday, you can not see the videos in the post. You must go to http://www.writingandillustrating.com to watch. In the future, I will make sure to remind you about this problem and provide the link, so you don’t miss anything. I’ve been doing this for over ten years every day and I never realized this.

Hullo friends of Kathy Temean’s blog, we are trying something new and different for the next few Fridays with some video illustration critiques so I can also teach some Photoshop tips as part of it and because it’s so much easier to show rather than tell. Anastasia Ward’s work is wonderful but there is always room for improvement, especially in keeping characters consistent and paying attention to where the gutter or middle fold in your book’s binding is. One of my favorite sayings, which I may have invented is, “in life as in children’s book illustration, stay out of the gutter.” Also keep in mind that like all critiques, as many people as look at your work, that’s as many opinions that you’ll get, so take what you like and leave the rest. I hope you find it fun and helpful.

Mira

If you can’t see the video below, click this link:
http://www.writingandillustrating.com

 

MIRA’S BIO:

Dr. Mira Reisberg has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature. She is an acquiring Editor and Art Director at Clearfork/Spork and is also the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Her students have published over 370 books and won ever major North American award. Mira’s 8 published children’s books have won awards and sold over 600,000 copies.

She is excited to be co-teaching the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books interactive e-course with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Art Director, Andrea Miller starting January 13, 2020. You can find out about it here: http://bit.ly/KidLitArt

There is currently a $70 discount with this code here: 2020ArtLove Mira lives in a 100 year-old house in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two cats.

Mira Reisberg Ph.D.
Editor/Art Director Spork Children’s Books
Director/Instructor at the Children’s Book Academy
E mira@childrensbookacademy.com
W http://www.childrensbookacademy.com

ANASTASIA’S BIO: Anastasia Ward is a digital illustrator with a passion for telling stories. She quit her day job to pursue a career in illustration full time a little less than a year ago, but has been working part time as a freelance illustrator for about 6 years. She mostly works with self published authors, illustrating and package their books for print, and doing random illustration work for other clients. It is her goal to find an agent that can help her break into traditionally published children’s books and YA novels. Because her client’s taste in styles varies greatly, she has grown accustom to working in multiple styles, or creating a style that is suited for each of my clients needs, but her own personal children’s style is shown through the illustrations she provided here.

https://www.anastasiawardillustrations.com/

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Mira will critique one submission starting today and continue each Friday until the end of December.  She will discuss many things like how you can tweak to help you sell your work, plus much more. Submission opportunity will end on December 22nd.

Please send Two or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:
Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com. Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide and your name should be in the .jpg title.

Put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and send to kathy(dot)temean(at) gmail.com and include a blurb about yourself I can use to introduce you to everyone.

*******

Mira, fabulous job. I plan to watch it a few times. See you next Friday.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 6, 2019

Illustrator Critique of Anastasia Ward by Mira Reisberg

Hullo friends of Kathy Temean’s blog, we are trying something new and different for the next few Fridays with some video illustration critiques so I can also teach some Photoshop tips as part of it and because it’s so much easier to show rather than tell. Anastasia Ward’s work is wonderful but there is always room for improvement, especially in keeping characters consistent and paying attention to where the gutter or middle fold in your book’s binding is. One of my favorite sayings, which I may have invented is, “in life as in children’s book illustration, stay out of the gutter.” Also keep in mind that like all critiques, as many people as look at your work, that’s as many opinions that you’ll get, so take what you like and leave the rest. I hope you find it fun and helpful.

Mira

 
MIRA’S BIO:

Dr. Mira Reisberg has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature. She is an acquiring Editor and Art Director at Clearfork/Spork and is also the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Her students have published over 370 books and won ever major North American award. Mira’s 8 published children’s books have won awards and sold over 600,000 copies.

She is excited to be co-teaching the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books interactive e-course with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Art Director, Andrea Miller starting January 13, 2020. You can find out about it here: http://bit.ly/KidLitArt

There is currently a $70 discount with this code here: 2020ArtLove Mira lives in a 100 year-old house in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two cats.

Mira Reisberg Ph.D.
Editor/Art Director Spork Children’s Books
P 503.255.0152
E mira@childrensbookacademy.com
W http://www.childrensbookacademy.com

ANASTASIA’S BIO: Anastasia Ward is a digital illustrator with a passion for telling stories. She quit her day job to pursue a career in illustration full time a little less than a year ago, but has been working part time as a freelance illustrator for about 6 years. She mostly works with self published authors, illustrating and package their books for print, and doing random illustration work for other clients. It is her goal to find an agent that can help her break into traditionally published children’s books and YA novels. Because her client’s taste in styles varies greatly, she has grown accustom to working in multiple styles, or creating a style that is suited for each of my clients needs, but her own personal children’s style is shown through the illustrations she provided here.

https://www.anastasiawardillustrations.com/

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Mira will critique one submission starting today and continue each Friday until the end of December.  She will discuss many things like how you can tweak to help you sell your work, plus much more. Submission opportunity will end on December 22nd.

Please send Two or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:
Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com. Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide and your name should be in the .jpg title.

Put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and send to kathy(dot)temean(at) gmail.com and include a blurb about yourself I can use to introduce you to everyone.

*******

Mira, fabulous job. I plan to watch it a few times. See you next Friday.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 5, 2019

Book Giveaway – EVERYBODY CAN DANCE by Kara Navolio

Kara Navolio has written a picture book titled, EVERYBODY CAN DANCE. She has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Kara!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The music starts. You feel the beat.

You clap your hands and tap your feet.

Everybody twist and twirl!

Everybody can dance!

BOOK JOURNEY:

“Everybody Can Dance!” was a book I was meant to write. Many things in my life led up to the creation of this book. Let’s start with the summer of 1980 when I was 16. I went to Spain as a foreign exchange student and was placed with the Olavide family in Madrid. The parents, Isabel and Javier, had 5 children:  Bela and 4 boys. I spent most of the summer following Bela around to her dance classes, get-togethers with friends and cousins, sight- seeing and shopping.  Bela went on to become a professional Flamenco dancer, traveling around the world. She returned to Madrid and opened her own dance studio. Although I stayed in touch with the Olavides through yearly Christmas cards, I would not see Bela again until 2016, 36 years later!

When my husband and I decided to take a trip to Spain in 2016, it was a blissful reunion. Bela invited us to see her students dance. I didn’t know until I arrived at the show that Bela’s students were young adults with Down Syndrome.  Seeing the joy in their faces and the pride Bela had in her students made my heart burst. It was beautiful.

Yet, the idea for a children’s book was nowhere in my thoughts at that time. I was working on two other manuscripts not related to dance. It was not until 2017, when I was revisiting my memories of that trip, that the idea came to me in a flash. With thoughts of Bela’s students combined with my experience watching my daughter dance for 15 years and seeing my niece Jenna, who is a Little Person, dance when she was younger, the idea that every person has this desire to express themselves was born.  I knew then that I wanted to write a children’s book that showed kids that dance is one way we can all come together. No matter what we look like or what our skill level is, dance is unifying. I wanted to write a book that could do its small part to show kids that we are all more alike than different.

I furiously wrote a first draft, took it to my critique groups, and revised. My critique groups helped me a lot with getting the rhythm right. I had never written in rhyme before and didn’t really know what I was doing, but I knew that a book about dance needed to have a good beat. I revised it 17 times heading into a writing conference at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. There I got lots of positive feedback but no offers. I spent another year sending it to agents and small presses. Finally in April 2018, Brandylane Publishers offered me a contract.

They found the perfect illustrator for this project, Ruth-Mary Smith, who brought my vision to life and added her own touches to make it even better. I loved working with a small press as it allowed me a lot of involvement with feedback on illustrations and cover design. I also loved that it only took 1 year to see my first book in print.

KARA’S BIO:

Kara writes stories for children that focus on the joys and wonders of childhood. She is also a freelance writer, telling stories of real life heroes and interesting people for several local newspapers since 2015.
Kara has been working with children since her college days. Even as she was earning a degree in Business from UC Berkeley, she was volunteering in a local school helping children learn to read. When she had her own two children she volunteered in their classrooms and at their schools for 16 years. Currently she is a docent at The Bedford Gallery where she takes school children on tours and teaches art in local schools.

She loves to read, travel, take photographs, paint, hike, dance, cook, and spend time with her family. She lives in Walnut Creek, California with her husband and everyday makes it a goal to learn something new.
Her first picture book “Everybody Can Dance!” will be released in May 2019 by Brandylane Publishers, Inc. It celebrates the joy of dance with a message of inclusion and shows children that no matter what you look like, your physical ability or style, everybody can dance!
Visit her at karanavolio.com

Kara, thank you for sharing your book and its journey with us. Any book that promotes dancing and celebrates our differences, brings a smile to my face. With these beautiful illustrations, it looks like a winner to me. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 4, 2019

Cover Reveal – Book Winners – Kudos

LET’S CELEBRATE!

We Have book winners, a new book coming out, and industry promotions.

Congratulations to David L. Harrison. This book looks fabulous. I can’t wait to feature you and your book in February. It is available on Amazon for Pre-Order.

*******

BELOW ARE THE WINNERS OF THE NEXT THREE BOOKS. MAKE SURE YOU SEND YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS!

Kristen Johnson won A DAY SO GRAY by Marie Lamba

Donna Taylor won MISS PINKELTINK’S PURSE by Patty Brozo

Tina M Cho won SNOW GLOBE WISHES by Erin Dealey

*******

KUDOS:

Alicia Brooks has joined JVNLA as a literary agent. She was previously editor at Picador and St. Martin’s Press.

Emily Osborn has joined the Martha Kaplan Agency, specializing in children’s and YA.

Tiffany Liao has been promoted to senior editor at Holt Children’s.

At Random House Children’s Polo Orozco has been promoted to assistant editor.

Brenda Angelilli has joined Abrams as associate art director of children’s books and ComicArts. She was previously senior designer at Harper Children’s.

Jenny Bak has joined Viking Children’s as executive editor. She was editorial director at Jimmy Patterson.

CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 3, 2019

Book Giveaway – Maximillian Villainous by Margaret Chiu Greanias

Margaret Chiu Greanias has written a picture book titled, Maximillian Villainous, illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow and published by Running Press Kids. Margaret has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Margaret & Lesley!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


BOOK DESCRIPTION:

For anyone who loved Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, this is a humorous and important picture book about learning to follow your heart and proving that kindness can outweigh villainy any day.

Maximillian Villainous is a monster who doesn’t have the heart to be a villain. His famous family play tricks on Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and Max spends his time undoing them. So when he brings home a pet bunny to be his sidekick, Max’s disapproving mother hatches a plan. She challenges Max and the bunny to become a devious duo; otherwise . . . the bunny hops. If they want to stay together, Max and the bunny have no choice but to go against their good nature. They blunder into villainy with comical effect until Max discovers that embracing his good heart may just be the key to pulling off the most devious deed of all and winning his family’s acceptance.

Delightfully fun and irreverent, Maximillian Villainous is an empowering story about embracing one’s true self and finding acceptance. Up and coming illustrator Lesley Breen Withrow brings the characters to life with bold and colorful illustrations in a style reminiscent of Richard Scarry.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Thank you for hosting me on your blog! My journey to publication started much like many other writers–with a love for books. Some of my fondest childhood memories include browsing through library bookshelves, checking out a stack of books half my size, and then taking them home, where I’d sprawl out in a warm sun ray and pore through my haul. Books provided me escape and entertainment. I loved getting lost in fantastical stories where the animals talked and magic was a way of life.

So when I began writing picture books, the stories I wrote often involved monsters, big foots, superheroes, talking animals, and obviously, villains.

The first draft for Maximillian Villainous (originally titled, “Max Wants a Pet”–clever, I know ) came fairly quickly in 2013. This can happen when I can hear the story voice clearly in my head. But you can see for yourself (below) how much of that first draft actually made it into the published book.

(I’m waiting for Margaret to send a larger readable version and will replace when I receive it.)

Despite this, based on the feedback I got from critique partners, I had the feeling that this story would be “the one.” This fueled me to do countless revisions based on critiques, both professional and peer. The bad news was I felt like I floundered my way through my revisions. The good news is that even after spending so much time revising, I still loved my story.

Then, I received two critiques that I felt were instrumental in getting my story into publishable shape.

The first was a critique from literary agent Sean McCarthy, who I first queried unsuccessfully in 2015 but is (happily) now my agent. His comments are actually something I try and remember even today in order to give my stories the best chance in a competitive marketplace: emphasize the unique twist of the story. In my case, I had written a story about how a villain child (Max) convinces his parents to let him keep a pet bunny. In my original manuscript, Max does things any child might do–show his family that he could provide food, shelter, and toys for the bunny (albeit with villainous touches). Only when I changed his approach to be more specifically villainous did my story take full advantage of that unique twist.

The second critique was from an editor through an SCBWI workshop I took. She suggested that I start the story just before the climax (In hindsight, Sean also hinted at this in his critique). Obviously, this required a re-write. I dove deep and fleshed out a part of the story that I hadn’t explored, finding the story in between my manuscript’s climax and resolution.

After countless critiques for which I am forever grateful and well over 30 revisions, my manuscript was finally ready to submit in 2015! I queried the story with a round of agents and found one who felt the story had promise. He felt the story would have a better chance of selling if it was illustrated before we went out on submission. So we picked Lesley Breen Withrow for her bright, fun style that would perfectly offset a potentially darker story. Lesley brought the characters to life and created a dummy, and the story sold after about four months on submission to Running Press Kids. “Maximillian Villainous” published in August 2018.

MARGARET’S BIO:

Margaret wrote her first terrifically terrible book in fourth grade. From grade school through college, she suffered through English—she was especially bad at analyzing stories and writing essays. Then, during her very last year of college, she took a creative writing class and discovered she loved writing. Despite this, it wasn’t until her second child was born that she remembered her love of children’s books. She’s been writing ever since. She grew up in New York, Texas, and California, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three children, and a fluffle of dust bunnies.

ILLUSTRATOR LESLEY BREEN WITHROW:

Lesley Breen Withrow is an artist and illustrator whose artwork can be seen on many products including children’s books, stationery items, children’s apps, and toys. She is the illustrator of You’re My Boo, Kate Dopirak (September 2016, Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster) and is also the illustrator of Bunny Bus, Ammi-Joan Paquette (Winter 2017, Farrar Straus Giroux). Her sample illustration was the inspiration for the book Bunny Bus. Lesley lives with her family on beautiful Cape Cod. Learn more about her at lesleybreenwithrow.com. Leslie was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Margaret, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. I love Leslie’s illustrations. It looks like she has done a wonderful job bringing your story to life and with all the revisions and hard work you put into polishing this book, I expect it will be extremely successful. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 2, 2019

Agent Looking for Clients – Chelsea Eberly

Chelsea Eberly I began her publishing career as an editor of Kindergarten and Pre-K reading textbooks at McGraw-Hill, which gave her a solid respect for everything the School/Library market does, but she always knew that children’s book publishing was her true passion. After attending the Columbia Publishing Course, she joined Random House Books for Young Readers, where she rose to become a Senior Editor. she’s had the pleasure of publishing multiple award-winning and New York Times bestselling books, editing authors such as Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Matt de la Peña, Mark Siegel, Julia Walton, and Jessica Cluess to name only a few.

Now as an agent with Greenhouse, she brings her deep understanding of how publishers think and vast editorial experience to my role as an expert advocate for my clients. She loves to help her clients think Big Picture about their career goals, and then work with them to develop the strategy that will allow them to achieve their dreams. Basically, she loves books and the people who make them. Chelsea says, “There’s nothing better than falling in love with a story and then telling everyone you know that they HAVE to read this book! If I love something, you will hear about it, and I bring that energy and enthusiasm to my clients’ work on a daily basis.”

“My taste is upmarket and decidedly commercial. Bring on multiple hooks and best-in-class storytelling!”

Chelsea represents authors of middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, and women’s fiction, as well as writer-illustrators of picture books. As a former Senior Editor at Penguin Random House, she edited award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors such as Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Matt de la Peña, Mark Siegel, Julia Walton, and Jessica Cluess to name only a few. She has a deep understanding of how publishers think and is an expert advocate for her clients. Chelsea is also a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree, which recognizes “the rising stars of the US publishing industry.”

A Midwesterner turned New Yorker, Chelsea regularly presents at writing conferences across the country and enjoys teaching craft. Follow her on Twitter at @chelseberly and discover more about her taste on her Publishers Marketplace page.

What Chelsea is seeking: High-concept, commercial reads that will stand out in the crowded US market with depth and heart. She is actively building her list and is primarily interested in fantasy, magical realism, contemporary fiction (particularly romance, thrillers, and humor), and graphic novels—though please surprise her with an excellent read that she didn’t know she needed. She has a soft spot for literary when there’s a strong plot propelling the reader forward. Chelsea would love to see projects from underrepresented voices. She is also interested in reads that thoughtfully address mental health and learning disabilities as part of the story but not necessarily the main focus. She is open to non-fiction with a unique point of view and/or a platform-driven project.

In MG, she is eager to represent: An unforgettable voice and an uplifting take on the problems that middle-school readers face, especially if the story is told from a specific point of view that can act as a mirror, window, or sliding glass door into diverse experiences. She loves when authors tackle Big Truths in a heartfelt way. She is also on the lookout for memorable characters in action-packed fantasy adventures and humorous voices that can grow to become series juggernauts.

In YA, she would love to find: A great love story, a unique fantasy world, and a heart-pounding mystery/thriller. She loves when authors are thoughtful about structure and voice; e.g. a ticking-clock timeline, a closed setting, a journal-entry format, Death as a unique narrator, and so forth. Ambitious projects with multiple commercial hooks and an empowering sensibility with feminist and social justice angles are a plus. She falls head over heels for any story that can surprise her.

In the Graphic Novel medium, she looks for: Middle Grade and YA contemporary, fantasy, fractured fairy tales, unique retellings, and select historical/non-fiction projects if they have clear hooks. She loves when authors are mining their own experiences in an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical way. Hit her with side-busting humor or box-of-tissues feels. She has a soft spot for cats.

In Picture Books, she is highly selective, looking for writer-illustrators who can create a strong character, a clear conflict, and write with a humorous voice and/or a surprising twist at the end. Chelsea loves creators who understand the sense of community that being read a book aloud delivers. She is open to non-fiction if the story has multiple hooks and an evergreen, contemporary delivery.

In adult women’s fiction, Chelsea is extremely picky. She loves upmarket contemporary fiction with a feminist angle, a strong romantic thread, and/or a domestic thriller/mystery. Think QUEENIE, ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE, AYESHA AT LAST, BIG LITTLE LIES, and WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING as examples of her taste.

http://greenhouseliterary.com
twitter: http://www.twitter.com/chelseberly

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

If you are an illustrator, I hope you will see this. The Picture Book Whisperer, Dr. Mira Reisberg (AKA the Fairy Godmother, and Clear Fork Publishing/Spork Art Director and Editor) and possibly Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Senior Designer and Art Director Andrea Miller will give feedback on 2 or 3 of your illustrations that show your talent for illustrating the same characters for a potential book. Published or unpublished: This is a great way to get your artwork seen and open doors. See instructions below on how to take advantage of this opportunity.  At the very least you will learn from the comments and suggestions. This first week is short, so if no one submits by 12 pm EST on Wednesday, we will skip this coming Friday and start on the 13th.

Obviously, you have more opportunity to be chosen the sooner you submit.  

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Please send Two or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:
Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com. Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide and your name should be in the .jpg title.

Put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and include a blurb about yourself I can use to introduce you to everyone.

Mira will critique one submission starting this Friday December 6th and continue until the end of December.  She will discuss many things like how you can tweak to help you sell your work, plus much more. Opportunity will end on December 22nd.

Into the Void Poetry Prize

Prizes

1st Place: $500 + publication in print and online in Issue 16 of Into the Void
2nd Place: $100 + publication in print and online in Issue 16 of Into the Void
3rd Place: $50 + publication in print and online in Issue 16 of Into the Void

Timeline

November 1: Submissions open
January 31: Submissions close
February 1: Shortlist announced
February 14: Winners announced

Rules

  • Poems must be a maximum of 60 lines, including line breaks and not including the title. The line count will be strongly enforced: poems of more than 60 lines will be rejected without refund.
  • Poems must be unpublished in all formats including personal websites and blogs.
  • Poems must contain no identifying information in the document or in the title of the document or in the “Title” section within Submittable as submissions are read blind in keeping with Into the Void’s ethos of fairness and equality. The blindness policy will be strongly enforced: a submission that includes identifying information will be rejected without refund.
  • Simultaneous submissions are allowed but submissions must be withdrawn immediately when accepted elsewhere and will not be refunded.
  • This contest is open to writers based anywhere in the world.

Judge

Adam Levon Brown is an award-winning poet, mental health advocate/sufferer, and cat lover. He is the author of six poetry books and over 350 published poems. Adam’s work has been translated into Spanish, Albanian, Arabic, and Afrikaans. He won the 2019 Blue Nib Chapbook Award, and was twice shortlisted for the Erbacce Prize for Poetry. Adam is editor-in-chief of Madness Muse Press, a literary publishing press dedicated to enacting social change through the power of writing. He also volunteers as part of the social media team for the Oregon Poetry Association.

Adam is the author of poetry collection Break (Poetic Justice Books, 2019), a raw exploration of mental illness layered in self-reflection and introspection which simultaneously brings the reader to an awareness of their own vulnerability and humanity, awakening poet and reader to the reality of the world around us.

“A stirring exploration of trauma and healing…The collection’s greatest strength is the author’s wrenching honesty; it takes courage to reveal the realities of psychic pain, and these poems are braver than most in that regard.”
⁠—Kirkus Reviews

“Powerful and moving…Constructed in a vivid, free style verse, Brown’s poems bleed anguish and heartbreak and his feelings of desperation and powerlessness show the reality of mental illness.”
⁠—The Prairies Book Review

“Each piece speaks of the fragility of emotions, relationships, life influences, and states of mind. Each poem provides a piece to a puzzle, juxtaposed with each other to support a bigger picture. Break is recommended not only for poetry and literary collections, but as a reflective piece for mental patients and their families.”
Midwest Book Review

“Adam Levon Brown’s remarkable collection, Break, shaped as a connected series of poems of address, takes us with shaking hand and clear voice through the heart of family trauma, into the life that must cope with its consequences, and salvage from the nearly final wreckage the means not only of survival, but transcendence. It is a gift of light derived through confrontation, narrative inquiry, persistent yearning to say what is needed, and an arrival at voice that eclipses the narrative project. The poem-by-poem evolution of language matching with near perfection voice, leg by leg, to journey elevates this collection from remembrance to gift.”
⁠—Marc Zegans, author of La Commedia Sotterranea

Buy Break here

Fee

Each entry of a single poem costs CA$6 (US$4.50). There is no limit to entries per person. The money received from entries will go toward the prize money and judge’s payment, and anything extra will be used to cover the many costs of running Into the Void. None of the money received will go to any of the editors or staff of Into the Void. Each entry comes with a free one-year online subscription to Into the Void which provides full access to our website including past issues and the four forthcoming issues of the subscription year.

Submit

Submit one poem of up to 60 lines including line breaks per entry at the button below. In submitting to the competition you are giving Into the Void First World Publication Rights should your poem be a winner. All rights revert back to the author immediately following publication.

**N.B. All entries are read blind. Do not include any identifying information anywhere in the document or in the document name or in the “Title” section in Submittable.**
submit

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 30, 2019

First Half of 2019 Illustrator Saturday Favorites

Every year I pick my favorite Illustration from each weeks Illustrator Saturday Posts. Here is the first half of 2019. It is not an easy job trying to choose.JILL WEBER: Featured on January 12, 2019

CARRIE SALAZAR: Featured on January 19, 2019 

AMY SCHIMLER-STAFFORD: Featured on January 26, 2019

CATHERINE LAZAR ORDELL: FEATURED ON FEBRUARY 2, 2019

MARCIN POLUDIAK: Featured on February 9, 2019 

KAYLA HARREN: Featured on February 16, 2019

KHOA LE: Featured on February 23, 2019 

AMANDA HALL: Featured on March 2, 2019 

AMBERIN HUQ: Featured on March 9, 2019 

CHRISTINA WALD: Featured on March 16, 2019

LENA RALSTON: Featured on March 23, 2019

KATE  COSGROVE: Featured on March 30, 2019 

APRIL HARTMAN: Featured on April 6, 2019 

DAVID LORENZO: Featured on April 13, 2019

NOEL ILL: Featured April 20, 2019 

MARIFE GONZALEZ: Featured on April 27, 2019 

LAURIE KUTSCERA: Featured on May 5, 2019

KEITH HENRY BROWN: Featured on May 11, 2019 

ROMINA GALOTTA: Featured on May 18, 2019 

JOSHUA HEINSZ: Featured on May 25, 2019 

MARYANN COCCA-LEFFLER: Featured on June 1, 2019 

ANNE LAMBELET:  Featured on June 15, 2019 

EMMA ALLEN: Featured on June 22, 2019 

SHERYL MURRAY: Featured on June 29, 2019 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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