Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 21, 2018

ASK CAT – Two Must Haves Portfolios

On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Cat 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.



It’s August already!  The end of summer and the beginning of a fresh, new FALL is nearing!  Funny how a time can be both sad and so exciting at once!  So let’s look ahead as we still live the summer ‘ease’…..

Fall is the time of new energies, conferences, new beginnings, reorganization, and professional promises to oneself….rather like a new year.  The most obvious attention focus is your work and how best to show and promote it. I’ve written of this before, but we received a well stated question about portfolios – for the beginner perhaps….how best to set them up. It’s a very timely question this time of year and so we’ll address that. It might be helpful for even the most seasoned artist as we reassess ourselves this FALL!

There are two MUST HAVE portfolios….First and foremost an online website, and then a physical portfolio for showing at conferences, reviews, and visits with buyers.  We’ll look at both, but they do overlap, of course.  You can use the same images in both, but it’s fun to have some surprises in each as well. The WEBSITE (and you can do other on-line presences, but do a website for sure!) should be clean and easy to see and navigate. No ‘cute’ gimmicks or annoying movable parts if possible. You want them to come back and the ‘cute’ isn’t after the first visit! We recommend a home page with larger thumbnails so that at first glance viewers can get a nice overview of your work and style. Have about 20 of your very best and most recent works there. Color pieces should be together; group repeat characters in different situations seen interrelating; style types grouped together, with black and white on a different page or separate on the same ‘work’ tab. If you have VERY different styles (and we suggest limiting this to only two styles presented) ….like highly realistic and then quite stylized, (and you want work in both)….have them on different labeled pages (same website). CONSISTENCY is a magic word. Being MEMORABLE is a must ….and you can’t be memorable if you show a confusion of styles and mediums. It’s the wrong message even if you are good at them all!  Makes them think you can’t see the differences.  Keep it simple….and clear. And remember not to use old/outdated work!!

About paint styles and mediums: We feel work can be shown together that uses different mediums if the STYLE is the same. If your style varies as the medium varies then show it grouped together separately in all watercolor for instance, then perhaps painted cut papers, or oil. But the STYLE is what  is most important…. it’s how they will expect you to handle characters, scenery, expressions, color etc.  You can talk with the buyer about their favorite method of illustration after they’ve contacted you for a job. OH, and ALWAYS ask what their favorite pieces were for every job….it’s so helpful for producing what they ‘expect’ Expectations are most important to get clear from the very start.

As to subject: if it’s for Kidlit…. well – KIDS!  all ages, sizes, shapes, ethnic backgrounds, and show them interacting when possible; that tells a story! Be sure to show same characters more than once for a couple of images…so it ‘tells a visual story.’ Show different expressions, perspectives, inside or out locations etc. Just be sure they are CONSISTENT in character. It tells buyers so much to see this in a portfolio….very confirming of their trust and expectations for you. In order to hireyou, they need to be completely comfortable with what you are likely to do for them. It’s quite different than buying a finished art piece. They are buying a trust in your promised and perceived abilities. Along with kids, show adults and certainly animals alone or with the kids, if that is your ability. Mystical subjects are fun, as are monsters and robots and whatever you love to do. But we truly believe that if you want to do illustration work for children’s literature, you need/should show children! It widens the range of potential work. Keep working at it until you are completely comfortable drawing your characters and their movements. It’ll come… show ONLY your best! NO WEAK PIECES in either portfolio!

Now for a Physical Book: 9×12 add-on pages (black paper inserts sets off art nicely) is a nice size, but it can be slightly smaller or larger…not too large for oh so many reasons!  Here you will want to show 12-15 prints of your best work (published too if you have some)…. with the emphasis the same as for the on-line suggestions.  Group by style with color separate from b/w (maybe a couple of pages of b/w at end if you do it well and want to do it professionally.) We like a book that is CONSISTENT in style as it’s a fast opportunity to make an impression. Keeping it SIMPLE helps this.  Viewers sometimes only take a minute or less to flip through a portfolio showing. Even during a visit they will move fast….the OVERALL impression must first capture them.  Then an outstanding piece or two might stop them in a great way.  That’s IDEAL! Put your best/favorite at the beginning, and also at end….leave them with a bang! (if they get that far.)  One image usually per page, though you can break it up (like a picture book) with maybe two vignettes on one or two pages. Great if you can get the book to ‘read/flow’ like a picture book. That helps their imagining your work IN a picture book! Again, like on-line, you’ll want to try and do one or two that are consecutive narrative images from the ‘same story’… same characters, different spreads. Try having three images from one of your stories in fact. You can ‘borrow’ a well known story, or just make up a series of images that feels like an actual story. If you have a dummy of a story you’ve done, you should show that. That illustrates how you might ‘think’ a story.  If your portfolio is in a showcase be sure to safely attach the dummy to your portfolio.  During a visit you can mention the dummy and they’ll most likely want to see it. You might want to have an extra copy with you to leave behind when they love it!  That reminds me, it’s a good idea to have a smaller, inexpensive physical portfolio for leaving with an editor or art director if they request it. Never ever leave your  bigger good portfolio behind.  And don’t SEND it…use these smaller inexpensive ones. Most ‘sending’ is done digitally now anyway. It’s a very good idea to have postcards of two images each (front and back… 5×7 at least…all your contact info and name clearly visible) to leave behind whenever you are showing your physical book.

This is the basic information for your new FALL portfolios !! = Create, then beautifully print your best, most proficient, memorable work and show it off in a clean, simple, stunning manner both on-line and in a ‘book’.   It’s rather like the first day of school each Fall….. new outfit, new crayons, new haircut maybe, but it’s still YOU making a great first impression!  Remember, often you only get ONE CHANCE to make a great first impression.  Knock their socks off!

A thought for next month, perhaps, send me/Kathy an illustration you have a question about and I’ll try to answer your question in a way that helps ALL artists and you. No guarantee we’ll use yours, and you have to be comfortable with the image being seen by everyone who follows Kathy, but I’ve done this before and it’s great fun. Let’s give it a try something new for summah! Send your question and image to kathy.temean(at)! Include your bio and picture.

Christina Tugeau
The CAT Agency Inc.

Thank you Chris for another great article. I am getting out my sketch pad to do some blind contour drawings. 

Please help keep this column going by sending in your questions.


Hope this illustration by Constanze Von Kitzing ( will inspire everyone to look for an illustration and send in a question to Chris and Christy. Constanze  was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Send them to kathy(dot) and put ASK CAT in the Subject Area.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 20, 2018

Tribute to Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin passed away the last Thursday. This is the first chance to post something here on Writing and Illustrating about the Queen of Soul. She was an American singer, songwriter and pianist. She haad her first child at the age of 12 and her second child at the age of 14. Signed her first song contract at the age of 14. At the age of 16, Franklin went on tour with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in 1968 sang at his funeral. She signed with Columbia Records at the age of 18.  She sang for many important people including the Pope and three United States Presidents.

I am sure many of her songs have inspired some of the books we have read. I don’t have one to name, but I do know songs play a big part in our lives and that “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas inspired Jerry Spinelli to write Maniac Magee. If you know of any books inspired by Aretha’s songs, please share it here, so we can share it with her fans. 

We are very lucky that technology allows us to feel like she is still with us and generations to come will be able to hear her words, voice, and music. Aretha really earned our respect. 

Aretha proving that full figured woman are beautiful.

Respect – 1967

Aretha signing for the Clinton’s.

Aretha signing for the Obama’s. (Who is the blonde in the video? I know I should remember her name.)

RIP Aretha.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 19, 2018

Illustrator Sunday – Alice Faegan

Alice Feagan is a children’s illustrator specializing in digital collage. Her work is featured in picture books, children’s magazines, and on products for clients like Kids Can Press, National Geographic Kids Magazine, The Vail Valley Foundation, & Boston Children’s Hospital. She lives in Edwards, Colorado with her husband, son, and a mischievous pug, Homer.


Hello, Alice!

It’s a pleasure to take a look at your art- here we go!

Your first piece is FULL of amazing tiny details- and you haven’t cut corners anywhere. Each element looks unique and would be delightful to any viewer, as there’s so much for the eye to soak up! The textures are rich and the colors, while subdued, are beautifully sophisticated- there’s a wide range of color without the image ever feeling over the top. It gives the feeling of a dark, quiet study, full of curious objects… and that’s precisely what it is!

My one suggestion here, were I your art director on this book, would be to take a look at the girl standing on the floor. Generally, I think it’s best to avoid looking at a character’s back. I think it’s useful in some scenarios where it adds drama or a pause before the character’s facial expression is revealed, but in this scene, it looks to me like the friends are exploring an amazing collection of specimens. The pose of the girl on the bottom looks impatient and it’s hard to tell what she’s doing- also, there are some inconsistencies in her coloring (arms vs. legs)- or if those are sleeves, all the more reason to see her hands as the coloring of the girl’s arms/sleeves, legs, and hair are all VERY close. I would recommend that she be shown looking up at the girl on the ladder, in profile. I’ve done an edit (shown below) to illustrate what I mean. An alternative could be to show her facing forward and holding something interesting in her hands, or maybe she could be reaching for something.

An example of a perfect scenario in which viewing characters from the back is effective and appropriate would be your second image!

This image, despite showing the girls’ backs, still tells us a lot about what they’re experiencing. They’re supporting each other, holding hands, bracing themselves in front of the unknown. The large black shape towers over them and shows an awesome example of how scale can be used to heighten drama and emotion in a piece.

I think the only issue in this piece comes into play with regards to the texture- specifically on the hair of the girl on the left. As before, her coloring is very consistently burnt orange, and it makes her harder to read visually. Her hair has a texture that feels almost like wood and I think that is competing with the natural textures of their environment. For this specific piece I made adjustments to the coloring to what I think would look best, though this may need to be adjusted when looking at the book as a whole- you’ll want to pick something that’ll work on every spread. Also, this may be an odd thing to point out, but both girls are barefoot. I have a feeling someone might ask “why”, even if it isn’t all that important.

Which brings me to image number 3!

In this image, the coloring on the girls is more coherent and works well. I love the steep angle of the composition- it’s working beautifully to drive home the feeling of not just movement, but the action of CAREENING down a bumpy hill, relentlessly chased by a bear! The area where this isn’t being communicated all the way, would be in the girl’s poses/expressions. I understand wanting to make their eyes bug out wide by adding the white around them. Personally, I think I would prefer to see you push their expressions without changing the style of the eyes like this, but I do also understand how it’s a nod to a cartoonish way of expressing wide-eyed fear! Also, the girl in the back of the wagon is leaning back a bit- while there is certainly going to be wind from their descent blowing her hair behind her, I wonder if she might be more emotive by leaning forward, clinging to the girl in front of her, as if urging her and the cart to go faster so that they can escape!

Lastly, here you might want to consider using color or lighting a little to boost the drama one step further.  In my edit below, I roughly edited the girls to show the pose I mentioned, and I used a gradient to go from darkness behind the bear to light to imply that the girls are headed towards safety (hopefully). The dark shade over the bear is also red tinted- another subtle nod at the idea of “danger”. The more muted palette works better in the more quiet moments, but in these moments of intensity, I think you’d benefit from pushing your palette just a bit more to reflect the action. You could certainly go further than what I’ve suggested below, but it hopefully gives you a hint at what might work!

In conclusion, my general tips would be to be sure that there’s enough contrast and consistency in the colors of your pieces, particular in your people, and to look closely at how poses can help heighten your storytelling. That said, I’m really excited by the palette, shapes, movement, and texture in your illustrations! You have great control over the angles and edges of the cut paper look of your work- Though the edges are never soft, you can still show a great range of objects and characters and keep them all feeling unique but related within the world of your illustration. There’s a beautiful level of sophistication and quiet wonder in your art and I wish you all the best- it’ll be great to see even more from you, Alice!

Thank you Andrea for sharing your time and expertise with Alice and us. Can’t wait to hear about your online workshop with Mira and the illustrator/writers when it is done.

Andrea Miller has designed and/or art-directed many successful children’s books for both Sterling Publishing and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt including, “Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast” by Josh Funk, “Mira Forecasts the Future” by Kell Andrews, “Accident!” by Andrea Tsurumi and “Winter Dance” by Marion Diane Baur. Most recently, she co-art directed and designed the #1 national best-selling children’s book, John Oliver’s “A Day int he Life of Marlon Bundo”. Andrea is also a published illustrator, and is co-creating a series of comics with her wife. She is excited and honored to jump in with the Children’s Book Academy for a rewarding experience as part of their esteemed faculty while looking for fresh talent in this course.


I WANT TO THANK BOTH ANDREA AND MIRA FOR THE EXCELLENT JOB THEY DID WITH ILLUSTRATOR SUNDAY. I can’t wait to see what comes out of the online workshop they are starting on the 20th. The Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Art Director Andrea Miller starting August 20th right here

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 18, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Greta Songe

I was born and raised in the bayou country of South Louisiana. After landing in Iowa for graduate school, I fell in love with the landscape, the sense of community, and the people. I currently live in Iowa with my husband and son.

I create artwork for surface design, home decor, editorial illustration, and children’s literature. My artwork is influenced by my experience as a printmaker and my love of texture and pattern. While I enjoy the flexibility inherent to digital processes, for me, it is essential to stay grounded in traditional studio practice and hands-on creating. Designs typically begin in the realm of drawing, painting, paper-cutting, or printmaking. Most designs are finished digitally, using it as an opportunity to fine tune compositions and color.


I will typically just doodle one particular creature, trying to work with different proportions and features each time I draw it just to play around. In the image below you can see all the various states of the lion I created. I finally landed on something I liked in the bottom right-hand corner of the first image below. Ultimately that’s the one that I based my final character on.

I often work with papercuts as a way to gather the basic shapes of my illustration. I find that the precision I get in doing that digitally is just too clean for me. I like the awkardness of hand-cutting the shapes and need a little grittiness in my process! Plus, it is a welcome break from working on the computer.  It can be a bit tedious and I don’t do it 100% of the time, but I really it.

I have plenty of textures and marks that I create by hand. I have a stockpile of these that I work with all the time once I get to the digital phase. There are so many digital tools now that mimic these, but I like the handmade quality of them and the uniqueness of creating my own textures. I layer them on top of the shapes I create or turn them into brushes in Photoshop. The bottom texture eventually became a tumbleweed in one of the Lion illustrations. And, who doesn’t love a good spatter?! That shows up all over the place in my work.

I scan everything in and usually compose digitally. I add color and texture. I play with proportion and add details to the illustrations.

After much editing, fine-tuning, and plenty of layers in Photoshop later, I arrive at my final design.


How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been doing artwork in the illustration realm since about 2008. It started out as mostly work geared towards surface and print design and has evolved since then. In May of 2015, I went to my first SCBWI regional conference. So, in the six months prior to that I worked on getting together a cohesive portfolio that focused more on character design and illustrations that seemed fitting for the kid lit world. Lots of my pattern designs had characters in them, so it felt like a very natural next step and one I was excited to explore.

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

The first paintings I sold were when during my time as an Artist In Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee. We had regular weekly open studios and a lot of people who were there attending the classes would come through. I sold small still life paintings. Before then, I was immersed in school and didn’t really sell my work. So, I was always super excited to have the work leave my studio and go into someone’s home. The first illustration job I got since beginning to work within this particular industry was with Faces Magazine. I met the fantastic Art Director, John Sandford, at a conference and he later offered me the opportunity to do an illustration for them in 2016.

Why did you choose to get your BFA Painting/Drawing Louisiana State University?

I was born and raised in South Louisiana, and  LSU was a short drive from home. It was just the right distance for me at that age. I could go home on the weekends if I was home sick, but still feel a sense of independence. I actually started school determined to be a Physical Therapist, but I sort of accidentally took a Printmaking class. (Thank goodness!)  It was then that I realized I needed to pursue Art instead. It just clicked as the right place for me. I took lots of Art classes there, including some with professor named Michael Crespo who ultimately became a really important mentor to me. He really helped guide me as a young artist, which was really fantastic especially since I didn’t come from a family where anyone else was an artist.

Suffragette Emily Davison

What made you decide to get an MFA in Painting with a minor in Printmaking from the University of Iowa? 

Actually, that same mentor from undergrad put the University of Iowa on my radar. When I graduated with my BFA, I was dead set on moving to the East Coast to go to graduate school. He suggested that I consider Iowa because it was a fantastic place for Painting and Drawing. I decided to visit and check it out. Much to my surprise, I instantly fell in love with Iowa City. It was new and different, but it also seemed very welcoming. I decided to move soon after and I began graduate school at the University of Iowa in the spring of 2001.

Did any of the schools help find illustration work for you?

No. Illustration wasn’t really my focus when I was in school. I did lots of oil painting and focused on observational painting, usually still life. I was always doing playful doodles and designs, and drawing characters during that time, but they never really had a home in the body of work I was making as a student. So, it wasn’t until many years after school that I became interested in illustration.

Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

I definitely feel like the work that I made during that period and the range of classes that I took have led to my personal style. The still life paintings that I made as a student always contained lots of patterned fabrics and surfaces. I reached a point where I stopped painting those from life and just started making up my own patterns. So, that was a really direct path to how I became interested in surface and pattern design. Now, I find in my illustration work I am often trying to mimic a lot of the aesthetics that I love in printmaking or traditional painting even if I am working digitally. Also, I think the observational drawing and figure drawing classes I took,  play a big part in my ability to draw the things that are in my head. It’s also just given me a better understanding of creating form, understanding light, and creating space. I think that stuff all comes in when I’m creating illustrations.

When did you decide to use your illustrations for fabric, wallpaper, mugs, etc.?

That actually came first, even before kid lit illustrations. As I mentioned, I was creating patterns for my still life paintings and then realized—“Oh, this is a thing!” I hadn’t really been aware of that realm of art-making before then. Around 2010, I began entering weekly contests on Spoonflower as a way to get involved, stay motivated, challenge myself, and gauge how people responded to my designs. I didn’t know anything about creating repeats. So, I dove into that process and learned a lot from resources that I could find online and the community on Spoonflower. Currently, I am trying to carry more designs through print-on-demand services like Society6, although I would definitely like to license more of them for things like home décor, children’s décor and clothing, etc. on a larger scale. I really love seeing my patterns on actual products and I want them to live out there in the world with other people. It’s a good process for me as a designer too. It helps me be more considerate at times when I am designing. Whether it’s thinking about how a design would work in a book, on a mug, a shower curtain, a shirt, or a backpack, it provides an extra level of awareness that is helpful if one wants to create marketable work. Context can be super important.

Do you design greeting cards?

I haven’t made designs specifically for greeting cards lately. It’s just not something I am focusing on currently.

How did you get the job as Assistant Professor of Art at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa?

From 2007-2010, I was teaching full time in Florida and left that job to be with my partner, John Martinek, who is also an artist. It was my first full-time teaching job, so it was a risk to resign from there. However, I was very lucky that a job opened up in the area and I applied. I was teaching as an adjunct already, so I had experience at the school. I went through the interview process, and I was offered the job. I am about to begin my 7th year of teaching there.

When did you decide that you wanted to illustrate for children?

It was something I always wanted to do from a pretty young age. I put it aside as a goal as I was going to school for Painting and Drawing and really up until 2014 when I had my son, Emmett. After having him, I was suddenly immersed in that world of children’s books, reading book after book after book. It reignited that passion and reminded me of why I love illustration so much.

In 2013,I had the pleasure of meeting illustrator, Jennifer Black Reinhardt when we both had booths at a local artisans fair. She told me about SCBWI. It was in the back of my head for a while, and after having Emmett, I signed up for our regional conference. I signed up for a portfolio review at the conference too. I learned so much at that meet-up and it really helped me realize that this was the right home for some of my work. It was seriously, pretty magical to realize this was the perfect home for a lot of the characters I would compulsively doodle in my sketchbooks. Drawing characters and scenes for this realm of illustration just made me so happy.

Have you made a book dummy to help sell a book idea?

I have not. I have a couple of ideas rolling around, but have really just remained focused on illustration as of late.

Have you illustrated a picture book? If so, how did that book come your way?

I have not, but I would love to.

Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who and how long have you been with them. If not, would you be interested in having one?

I do not. I would definitely be interested. I think having a an artist rep is the logical next step for me.  I love illustration and want to do more of it. I do a lot of direct emails, and have sent a few rounds of postcards. I really feel that having a rep would be a good step at this juncture to help me navigate the business side of this process more effectively. Their ability to promote my work in new ways and open the door to more opportunities would be a welcome addition. I think having a rep who has an eye for connecting the work I make to the right projects would be really fantastic and helpful.

Have you done any book covers?

I have not.

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

I would consider it.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

I have not.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

Yes, I have a had the pleasure of working with Faces magazine.

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

Absolutely. It is not something I am intensely focused on currently, but there are seeds there that I hope to grow eventually.

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

Yes. I really love the storytelling potential of illustrations alone.  

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love to draw. My favorite pens are a Papermate Flair felt tip pen and a Pentel brush pen. Lately, I’ve been really into Caran d’Ache Classic Neocolor crayons. They feel like crayons for adults. 🙂 I love the grainy texture and high pigmentation of those.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, definitely. I change up what I use in my processes regularly. I used to do mostly papercuts to establish forms and figures in the illustrations. I use more variety now. I also use digital processes a fair amount. I work in bits and pieces, creating the original sketches and layouts by hand, as well as shapes and textures, knowing the final composition will happen digitally. This gives me some flexibility and leaves space in creative process for surprises when I put it all together in Photoshop or Illustrator. I love the happy accidents that can happen in both realms. That is an important part of my process.

Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?

My partner, John,  and I both have studios at our house. Both are repurposed bedrooms in the basement. My space is a mess most of the time. I fluctuate between painting, drawing, printing, digital, and I also like to sew. So, all of those things coexist in that space—sort of. I often work at the kitchen table when I am home alone because the lighting is much better. In the winter I retreat to the studio more often.

Are you active in your SCBWI Chapter? If so, have they helped open any doors for you?

I am. I would like to be more active. I haven’t been able to attend meet-ups as I’d like. I’m about an hour and a half away from where they usually happen which is often tricky for me.  They are really the reason I am pursuing this. Jennifer Black Reinhardt’s initial suggestion to look into SCBWI, our local conferences, and just the support and advice they have offered so freely anytime I have reached out is fantastic. They are a super talented group, and inspire me to push myself in the field.

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

I don’t have a very strict schedule. I try to just be making work regularly even when I don’t have deadlines. I feel like I grow the most when I am working consistently.

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

I often will collect photos and read up on whatever the topic may be that I am illustrating. I take photos and do some really simple Google searches just to get familiar with the subject or topic. Even if I think I am really familiar with something I need to draw, I like to look at a few images anyway. There are so many little nuances and subtle characteristics I discover when I really look at something. That always adds character to my illustrations.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. It has created a point of connection to like-minded folks. I have joined Facebook group and learned about various opportunities via online research. It is how I research publishers, utilize SCBWI resources, sift through Instagram to discover new artists, and how I am able to share my work with a larger audience.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I am really proud of my illustrations for Faces magazine. Since that was the first major opportunity I had in this field, it really stands out for me. I am most proud though of my growth as an illustrator. Looking back on the work I made just a few years ago, I can really see growth and improvement. I am soaking up all I can along the way, and it feel great to see my work improve over time. My goal is to always have that be the case. I always want to look back at my work from a year ago and be able to see that I have continued to grow.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop.

How often do you use your printmaking skills with your illustrating?

I feel like it is embedded in the work I make. The textural aspects, potential of layering, and my love of the look of a monotype or woodcut shows up in my work a lot.

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

I use a Wacom Intuos 4.

How do you find places to exhibit your art?

I have been lucky that over the last two years I have been invited to show my work. Most recently I had a show with the University of Iowa Museum of Art featuring my Accumulation drawings and prints. In the upcoming month, I will show my work at the college where I teach.

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

Yes, I want to illustrate children’s books, work with educational publishers, and do more work with magazines. I’d also love to see my patterns licensed for products for kids or home decor on a larger scale outside of the print on demand services.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am preparing work to show at my upcoming exhibit at Kirkwood Community College. I’m also in the process of getting a round of postcards sent out to publishers. Other than that, I have a few more ideas for illustrations I would like to add to the Lion and Bird sequence, as well as another scene featuring Hippo and his little friend. 

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

My favorite drawing tool is a Pentel Brush Pen. The fact that it’s a real brush and can be refilled is perfect. There is so much potential for line quality in one tool. I love that. Really dry scrubby marks or really thin fluid lines using just the very tip of the brush are both possible. It’s portable without having to carry around a container of ink too. Not that I’ve ever spilled ink in my bag or anything! 😉  

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

The advice that I follow is just to stick to it and keep a steady pace. I wouldn’t consider myself a “success”, but I have hit a few goals that I set out for myself. I really believe you have to be resilient and persistent. In other areas of my life, I have witnessed effort over time paying off. I hope that’s the case in this field too!  

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

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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 17, 2018

Agent of the Month – Andrea Morrison – Writer’s House

Andrea Morrison is August’s Agent of the Month and will be critiquing four first pages. Andrea started at Writer’s House in their California office in 2009 as an intern to Steve Malk and first learned under Brianne Johnson, and then went on to assist Rebecca Sherman and Geri Thoma. She’s had the opportunity to work closely with a variety of bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators, in genres ranging from picture books to middle grade and YA to adult literary fiction and nonfiction. She is actively building her own list of clients.

Andrea studied Literature & Writing at University of California, San Diego and earned my MFA in Fiction from Columbia University—not only does she understand the revision process from an agent’s point of view, but she also understands it from a writer’s perspective. She truly loves editorial work, and is hands-on when it comes to helping authors revise and build projects.

Below you’ll find detailed information about the types of projects Andrea’s looking for:


I’m excited about literary and upmarket commercial fiction that blends gorgeous sentence-level writing with stories featuring younger protagonists, eg. Janet Fitch’s WHITE OLEANDER—one of my favorite books ever, Celeste Ng’s EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, and Elissa Schappell’s BLUEPRINTS FOR BUILDING BETTER GIRLS. I’m a total sucker for vivid descriptions of California, and appreciate true-to-life fiction, but am also intrigued by fiction with magical elements or books that take place in worlds slightly different than our own. For example, I fell in love with Leslie Parry’s CHURCH OF MARVELS. I’m game for beautifully constructed short story collections, literary thrillers and mysteries, novels told in stories, illustrated adult books, books that take place in a variety of locales. Recent favorites: THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR by Rufi Thorpe and GOLD FAME CITRUS by Claire Vaye Watkins. On my reading list right now: THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL by Naomi Jackson and MR. SPLITFOOT by Samantha Hunt.


I’m especially selective when it comes to nonfiction, but I’m interested in narrative work—memoirs, essay collections, etc. I’m a fan of Leslie Jamison, Meghan Daum and Alex Mar. I’m curious about stories that take place close to home and in other countries, that explore little known ways of life as well as work that illuminates experiences we all have. In this category, I gravitate toward work that makes me laugh or cry or both, all in a few pages. I’m drawn toward work that’s elegant, toward work that’s provocative. I also love nonfiction that helps me understand, that makes me want to highlight sentences and write quotes in my notebook. I’m a fan of work that defies genre lines. One title I read recently and loved: Nadja Spiegelman’s I’M SUPPOSED TO PROTECT YOU FROM ALL THIS. Next on my nonfiction list: Molly Crabapple’s DRAWING BLOOD.


I have a soft spot for literary YA. I like both true-to-life books and novels that include magical elements (I love low fantasy and magical realism, but I’m not the right match for high fantasy novels). I’m interested in stories about love, friendship, family dynamics, and mixtures of all of the above. Mysteries are great here, too. I do really like edgy Young Adult work, stories involving artwork, books that take place in a variety of locations, and novels that explore rarely discussed topics. A few YA titles I love: WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart, BONE GAP by Laura Ruby, BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver, I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. Next on my reading list: INFANDOUS by Elana K. Arnold.


I love Middle Grade novels about friendships, and those that reveal intricacies of family relationships. I also love adventure stories, and when magical elements reveal truths about our world. I’m definitely a fan of the quirky, whimsical, and laugh-out-loud funny in this category. Voice is extra important. Illustrated middle grade works and graphic novels are great, and as in all categories, books that challenge traditional forms. For example, FLORA AND ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell is one of my favorites. Other favorites: WILDWOOD CHRONICLES by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis, WONDER by R.J. Palacio, TIMMY FAILURE by Stephan Pastis and THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick. On my reading list: LOST IN THE SUN by Lisa Graff, ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and WATCH THE SKY by Kirsten Hubbard.


I’m looking for quirky and humorous picture books filled with heart, and stories that help kids learn more about environments they know well, and other ways of life they’re less familiar with. I’m passionate about working with writers and illustrators who have stories they can’t help but tell, and who are excited about sharing tales that children will remember in their teens, in their thirties, in their sixties…stories they’ll want to pass on to their own children and grandchildren. I remember reading MARTHA SPEAKS and A BARGAIN FOR FRANCES countless times as a kid, and I’m looking for books that will also be read multiple times, with characters who are what Martha and Frances were to me. I’m extra selective when it comes to picture book text: I’m a fan of sparse text in general, and I’m most likely not the best match for rhyming text. I’m particularly excited about working with illustrators and author/illustrators—some illustrators whose work I admire: Dana Wulfekotte, Scott Campbell, Diana Sudyka, Matt Phelan, and Birgitta Sif…just to name a few! (The list could really be SO, so long.)

Part TWO of My Interview with Andrea Morrison August Featured Agent 

How important is the query letter? 

It’s important in that it needs to hook the agent in, to get them excited about your book and the story you’re telling. You want to reel someone in so they are very interested in reading the sample pages. And then the sample pages will speak for themselves!

I think the best way to prepare your query letter, aside from researching what query letters look like, is to look at how book jackets pitch books to readers – see how a story is presented to a potential buyer. That’s what you want to do in your pitch.

Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

It totally depends on the sample pages. Make sure the opening feels strong, and that it feels like an accurate representation of what the narrative in the rest of the book will be like.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

It completely depends – sometimes I know immediately that the subject matter, or genre, or the style of writing isn’t a match. Otherwise I do read the 10-15 pages, and often ask to see more if I’m connecting.

Have you ever rejected a manuscript, but gave the writer the option to revise and resend?

Yes, often.

Any pet peeves?

When a writer has queried everyone at our agency (we don’t want to compete with our colleagues), or when a query letter is not included.

Do you let people know if you’re not interested?

Yes, I do send pass letters.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material?

2-8 weeks.

What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?

I try to respond to clients as soon as possible – sometimes it’s within minutes, and generally it’s within 24 hours (unless I’m out of office). Otherwise, I may be waiting for a response from someone else before getting back to the client, but I try to do my best to let clients know where things stand if I’m not responding quickly. 

Do you have a place where writers can visit to stay up-to-date on what you would like to see? Blog?

I am on Twitter at @AndreaAgency.

Check back next Friday for Part Two of my Interview with Andrea.


In the subject line, please write “AUGUST 2018 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE”  Example: 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: August 24th.
RESULTS: August 31st


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 16, 2018

Book Giveaway – GREAT MORNING!

Book Giveaway — GREAT Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong 

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong have a new book of poetry—for principals! GREAT Morning! Poems for School Leaders is their brand-new anthology of 75 poems by 50+ poets. Three lucky people will win a copy each. For a chance to win, leave a comment—or reblog, tweet, or mention this post on Facebook with a link for additional chances to win (let us know in the comments where you shared this post). Next Friday, check here to discover the winners. 

Link to their website:


GREAT MORNING! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud features poems with ready-to-read intros and intriguing facts for a full year of morning announcements at school! 75 poems by 50+ poets cover topics such as:

safety drills, school forms, diversity, inclusion, transportation, kindness, compassion, willpower, mindfulness, volunteerism, reaching out, community, science, technology, and more.

Create a school culture of positivity using poetry as a tool! These poems are short and easy to read; they take just a minute to share. Readers can be principals, student leaders, office staff, custodians, lunch staff, specialist teachers, parents, and community guests.

50+ poets contributed poems to this book:

Alma Flor Ada, Brod Bagert, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Robyn Hood Black, Susan Blackaby, Merry Bradshaw, Lydia Breiseth, Joseph Bruchac, Kate Coombs, Cynthia Cotten, Kristy Dempsey, Margarita Engle, Janet Clare Fagal, Catherine Flynn, Xelena González, Lorie Ann Grover, Mary Lee Hahn, Avis Harley, Jane Heitman Healy, Sara Holbrook, Ann Ingalls, Julie Larios, Renée M. LaTulippe, B.J. Lee, Suzy Levinson, Elaine Magliaro, Kenn Nesbitt, Eric Ode, Linda Sue Park, Ann Whitford Paul, Greg Pincus, Jack Prelutsky, Bob Raczka, Heidi Bee Roemer, Caroline Starr Rose, Laura Purdie Salas, Michael Salinger, Darren Sardelli, Liz Garton Scanlon, Michelle Schaub, Laura Shovan, Buffy Silverman, Eileen Spinelli, Traci Sorell, Elizabeth Steinglass, Holly Thompson, Linda Kulp Trout, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Carol Varsalona, April Halprin Wayland, Carole Boston Weatherford, Kay Winters, Allan Wolf, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Janet Wong, and Jane Yolen.

Transform your regular “good morning” welcome into something fun and inspirational—and make any morning a GREAT Morning!

Features the work of the creative team of Sylvia Vardell link: and Janet Wong, link:, as well as 50+ contributing poets. (177 pages. K-8.)

This book aims to contribute to a positive school culture that emphasizes kindness and respect with morning announcement poems that have intriguing “Did You Know?” intros and engaging “Follow Up” closings. Elementary school principals are envisioned as the primary readers of this book, but guest readers can include the office staff, lunch staff, nurse, custodian, volunteer parents, local celebrities, and student leaders. The “linked poems” identified in the “Connect” sections are ideal for teachers, reading specialists, and librarians to share along with “Hidden Language Skills” for each poem that present interesting tidbits about punctuation, capitalization, or poetic forms and techniques.

Here’s an example featuring “Time for Lunch” by Caroline Starr Rose, linked with “Things Not to Do” by Eileen Spinelli.


For years, teachers have been using poetry to engage children—and not just in language arts. Poetry is a great tool to introduce vocabulary and reinforce concepts all across the curriculum, especially in social studies and science. We started asking ourselves: how can we harness the power of poetry to make positive changes school-wide? And the answer was: start at the top—at the beginning of the day, with the principal. When children hear poems over the morning announcements, they get the message loud and clear: poetry has power!

We started by making a list of topics: school forms, safety, transportation, rules, inclusion, diversity, health and wellness, leadership and respect, gratitude, and so on. We originally envisioned a much smaller book. In the first few drafts, the only poems in the book were poems written by Janet. In later drafts, though, we started including exemplar poems that had appeared in previous books from The Poetry Friday Anthology seriesand that were right on target in terms of our themes. Ultimately we decided to expand the book in order to include brand new poems, as well; the next thing we knew, our book was twice as large as we’d envisioned. And yet there still are many, many poets we wish we could’ve invited as contributors; we now have approximately 175 poets represented in our books! 


Sylvia Vardell is Professor at Texas Woman’s University and teaches children’s and young adult literature. She has published five books on literature, plus more than 25 book chapters and 100 journal articles. Her current work focuses on poetry for young people, including a blog, Poetry for Children. Link: She lives in Dallas, TX.

Janet Wong link: is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former lawyer who became a children’s poet. Her work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other shows. She is the author of 30 books for children on identity, chess, creative recycling, yoga, and more. She lives in Princeton, NJ.

Together, Vardell and Wong are the creative forces behind The Poetry Friday Anthology and Poetry Friday Power Book series. ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Sylvia Vardell is Professor at Texas Woman’s University and teaches children’s and young adult literature. She has published five books on literature, plus more than 25 book chapters and 100 journal articles. Her current work focuses on poetry for young people, including a blog, Poetry for Children. Link: Her favorite pets are dogs and she’s had three of them (Luther, Yenta, and Caesar, each for many years), as well as Leonardo the tortoise, and Pecky the parakeet. She lives in Dallas, TX.

Janet Wong link: is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former lawyer who became a children’s poet. Her work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other shows. She is the author of 30 books for children on identity, chess, creative recycling, yoga, and more. She has had dozens of pets, including birds, fish, a frog, hamsters, lizards, turtles, a cat, and favorite dogs named Bernadette, Coco, Nissa, and Angel. She lives in Princeton, NJ.


Together, Vardell and Wong are the creative forces behind The Poetry Friday Anthology series and the Poetry Friday Power Book series. You can learn more about their books at

Books by Vardell and Wong have won numerous awards and accolades, including the ILA Notable Books for a Global Society (NBGS), NCTE Poetry Notables, Children’s Poet Laureate Pick of the Month, CBC Hot Off the Press, and NSTA Recommends.

Thank you Sylvia and Janet for sharing your journey with us and offering one lucky winner a copy of your new book, GREAT MORNING!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 15, 2018

Book Giveaway: HEY, HEY, HAY! by Christy Mihaly

Author Christy Mihaly has a new picture book titled HEY, HEY, HAY!. 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 Christy!


A joyful rhyming story about a girl and her mother and the machines they use on their family farm to make hay.

Mower blades slice through the grass./A new row falls with every pass./Next we spread the grass to dry./The tedder makes those grasses fly!

A girl tells the tale of making hay as Mom uses a mower for mowing grass, then a tedder for aerating the grass, and eventually a baler. Told in rhyme and illustrated with fabulous art by JOE CEPEDA, each part of the process is a celebration of summer, farming, and the mother-daughter relationship. Back matter includes a glossary.


Hey, Hey, Hay! was inspired by the hayfields surrounding my home. I’d been writing children’s magazine pieces, primarily nonfiction, for a few years. I was starting to write picture books. I was working on a pair of picture book biographies when my family moved out of town and into the country. There, in between bouts of research and writing for my biographies, I watched the beauty of the changing seasons in the fields and forests around me.

The hayfields were particularly captivating. ​When the grass grew high enough, on a dry and sunny summer day, it was time to cut the hay. I found the haymaking process fascinating and charming. First, the big tractor pulled the giant mowers to cut broad swathes up and down the field, leaving the long grasses flat on the ground. Next the whirring tedders “wuffled” the cut grass to aerate it and facilitate drying. Then the big hay rake rolled up and down the field to form long windrows—piles of hay running the length of the field. And finally, the baler created neat bundles of hay. The process had an air of magic to it – making hay was storing summer’s grasses so they’d feed the animals all winter long. The rhythms of the haying machines seeped into my mind, and I started to hear these lines running around in my head:

“Listen and I’ll tell the tale/of storing summer in a bale.”

At first, I thought this little ditty could be the beginning of a nice poem. It soon became clear, though, that HAY wanted to be a book—a rhyming picture book. I researched children’s books and couldn’t find any others about haymaking. Clearly, I needed to write one! My book would be informational, and include the facts about hay—because, after all, I’m a nonfiction writer. But I invented a young narrator to tell the story of how we make hay.​

It didn’t take long to write a first draft, but then I did a great deal of research and fact-checking to make sure that everything was accurate. I asked some farming friends to review it, too. I revised and revised.

I had just finished the manuscript when I attended a conference where I met Holiday House executive editor Grace Maccarone. Grace was lovely and I liked what she said about Holiday House. I knew they published a lot of farm-oriented books. I listened carefully when she described the kinds of manuscripts she was looking for, and I was pretty sure that HAY might fit the bill. A few months later, after some more anxious revising and polishing, I sent the manuscript off to Grace, and crossed my fingers.

The word came: Grace liked it! She took it to acquisitions and in July 2015, we had a contract. I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled. A few months later, I attended the SCBWI conference in New York and met Grace at her office. (Squee!) She told me that she’d signed the talented Joe Cepeda to illustrate HAY. When the art came through, it was such a delight. Then we had a flurry of adjustments in art and text to make it all perfect. And now at last, a book. I’m looking forward to sharing the story of hay—and switchel—with kids, both rural and urban, and their families. Hey, hey, hay!


Christy Mihaly started writing for young people after 25 years of legal writing. She finds writing for kids is more fun and writes children’s books, articles, stories, essays, and poems. Her 2018 picture book, “HEY, HEY, HAY!” tells the story, in rhyming verse, about how by making hay we can store summer in a bale.

She is particularly drawn to nonfiction — all kinds of nonfiction! Recent nonfiction titles include “California’s Redwood Forest,” “Getting Paid to Make Cosplay Costumes and Props,” “Moose,” “All About Apps,” “Elephants,” and “Using Math in Fashion.” Christy is a founding member of GROG, the group blog for writers and readers of children’s literature. She has at various points made her home in eight different states and in Spain, and is now

Christy has a nonfiction book for ages 12-18, Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought, releasing October 1. Diet was co-written with Sue Heavenrich and is being published by Lerner/TFCB.

Christy has published a half-dozen books in the educational market. She writes articles about science, nature, technology and history for children’s magazines, as well as poetry and short stories. Two of her poems are included in the spring 2018 poetry anthology, Imperfect: Poems about Mistakes, an Anthology for Middle Schoolers.

Christy enjoys walking in the woods with her dog, and playing the cello (though not simultaneously). A founding member of GROG, the group blog for writers and readers of children’s literature, Christy blogs about writing and books. ( She is represented by Erzsi Deak, of Hen&ink Literary Studio. Please stop by her website at

Thank you Christy for sharing your book and journey with us. Your text and Joe Cepeda’s illustrations are sure to make this big seller. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,





Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 14, 2018


Q: I’ve been wondering, just what IS ‘authentic voice’ in writing, and how do I find mine?

A: Great questions! There aren’t quick or easy answers, but it’s important to explore this topic, because I believe that our most powerful writing comes from a place of authentic voice.

First, let’s see if we can define authentic voice, in the context of creative writing.

Here is a beautifully concise and clear explanation from a website created for ESL teachers called Learn English (

“Good writing should have an Authentic Voice. When you read first–rate writing, you feel the presence of the writer. The writer’s character and sense of self permeate the writing and project authenticity. This writer, you think, knows what he’s talking about and means what he says; you feel that only this particular writer could have written that particular piece – it is stamped with his personality. You are drawn in to this writer’s world and engage with it.”

That’s a tall order.  So, let’s move on to how a writer might find, discover, unearth his or her own authentic voice.

My go-to tool for this sort of work is a daily journal.  Like many people, I journal first thing in the morning, when it’s easier to connect to the unconscious state I just left behind in dreams.  My preferred method is free association, in which I begin with a random thought arising in my sleepy brain as I awakened; a sensory-based description of the surroundings in which I am writing the pages this morning; an interior exploration of what I am feeling at the moment; a reflection on an aspect of living life which seems important to me right now; and so on.  Sometimes, I’ve written “I don’t have anything to say” for a half page, in so many words, and let it flow from that. I’ve committed the time and the paper sheets to this pursuit, so no matter what, I must go on.  The point with such journaling is to let yourself write two or three pages each day without censoring yourself, and without trying to accomplish any mission.  It’s a way to get mental muscle memory for the writing process.  It’s how to overcome a fear of a blank page.  It’s a path toward your authentic voice.  And that can be the most important benefit of the journaling practice: it leads you to your authentic self, the speaker of your authentic voice.

If you keep doing those daily journal pages for a time, and I hope you do, you can look back on them to ferret out key clues to finding your authentic voice: frequent themes come up inevitably, and that tells you what sort of topics and characters you might express most fully and authentically in future creative projects.  You will inevitably and naturally develop a way of expressing your thoughts in words through allowing yourself to write without expectation of publication or editorial criticism.  Your authentic voice will rise up in your free writing exercises, in all its glory.

It will take time for your natural writing rhythm, patterns, and viewpoints to be revealed to you, but it will happen…and when it does, give yourself permission to use your authentic voice in the ALL your writing, even that which you do for publication.  It will be the mark that helps make your manuscripts strong, unique stand-outs in the literary crowd.

One last thought:  here is how to NOT find your authentic voice.  When you consciously try to replicate the style and the structure of another writer’s work only because it proved commercially successful, and you hope it will prove an easy sale. Unless you are a ghost writer, this copy-cat approach isn’t likely to bring success financially or artistically.  It’s far more likely to hamstring your own creativity and will delay the discovery of what makes you unique, special, and authentic as a writer.

Wishing you happy—and authentic—writing!


Dianne Ochiltree is a nationally recognized author of books for the very young. Her books have appeared on numerous recommended reading lists, classroom desks and library shelves. Her bedtime book, LULL-A-BYE, LITTLE ONE, was a selected for the Dollywood Foundation’s childhood literacy initiative, Imagination Library in 2007. Her picture book, MOLLY BY GOLLY! THE LEGEND OF MOLLY WILLIAMS AMERICA’S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER, received the Florida Book Awards (FBA) Bronze Medal in the Children’s Literature category in 2012 and was chosen for the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer list of feminist literature for girls. Her picture book, IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT, won the FBA Silver Medal in 2013. Her 2015 title, IT’S A SEASHELL DAY, was given the FBA Gold Medal/Gwen Reichert Award as well as the Gold Medal for Florida picture book from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. For more information about Dianne’s books, go to

Dianne, thanks for sharing your expertise with us. Another great article.

REMEMBER: To send in your questions for Dianne. Use Kathy(dot)Temean(at) Please put ASK DIANNE in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,


BOOK WINNER: Susan Uhlig won Priscilla Burris new book HELLO SCHOOL. Susan please send your address.

Congratulations to Amalia Hofman for signing a new nonfiction picture book contract, THE BRAVE CYCLIST. It will be published by Capstone Publishing in 2019.

Here is a sneak peek at the cover reveal for Sherry Howard and Anika A. Wolf’s sublimely fun and meaningful book Rock and Roll Woods. Both the author and illustrator did great work together to make this book sing in terms of language (with great rhythm) and story, and art. Besides being a beautiful and fun book, it also has deeper levels of resonance for kids on the autism spectrum including insider jokes for parents and teachers of kids with this disorder. With 1 in 59 kids dealing with autism, we hope that all kids get to see, learn from, and enjoy this book, especially kids on the spectrum.

Want a chance to win Signed copy of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM, TLCB Swag Package,Cherry Blossom origami paper (and if a teacher or librarian wins, Kathleen will also do a 50 minute Skype visit). Here is the Link:

“Told with reverence and authenticity, Yuriko’s journey is inspired by the author’s mother’s real-life experiences growing up in Hiroshima and surviving that tragic day on Aug. 6, 1945. Tragedy and hope collide in this promising middle-grade debut”- Kirkus Review

Recently Nominated 2019-2020 Volunteer State Book Award (Tennessee)
Recently Nominated NC School Library Media Assoc. YA Book Award
Nominated 2018 Sakura Medal, Japan
Nominated Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction
SCBWI Crystal Kite Award Finalist(southeast region)
Scholastic WNDB Reading Club Selection, 2018 & 2016
New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention YA category

Sarah Stein has joined Harper as senior editor. Previously she was senior editor at Penguin Books.

Priyanka Krishnan, formerly at Harper Voyager, has joined Orbit as editor. Bradley Englert has been promoted to editor.

Tom Miller has joined Liza Dawson Associates as senior agent. He spent the last three years at Carol Mann Agency.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 12, 2018

Illustrator Sunday

Victoria’s love for drawing led her to pursue a well-rounded artistic background with courses completed in a wide range of concepts and media, including drawing and composition, figure drawing, painting, illustration, multimedia and game design. She became an executive board member of the Simi Valley Art Association at the beginning of 2015, where she quickly gained local recognition for her uniquely stylized pen-and-ink illustrations. Her work in the association has won various awards.

As a member of SCBWI, Victoria has participated in critique groups, Sketch Crawls, the Ventura County regional chapter Traveling Sketchbook, and the monthly DrawThis! challenge.

Victoria adores creating art that emphasizes the beauty of nature- and particularly birds, fish, insects, and floral designs, along with cute children and animal characters.

Victoria lives in Southern California with her husband and daughter, and three little dogs. When not drawing, reading or writing, Victoria enjoys watching movies with her daughter, eating dessert, and drinking coffee or tea. She is a fan of traditional animation, the Great Gatsby and the roaring twenties, and Audrey Hepburn films.

The attached samples are pieces from my own picture book dummy, Mockingbird, Make Up Your Mind, a rhyming and lyrical onomatopoeic board book all about the many sounds a mockingbird can make.


Hi Victoria, I’m enjoying looking at your work, most of which is really lovely and I really like the premise of your story. I have one main point I’d like to make, and it’s something that I see a lot, and that’s figure/ground confusion. Meaning that your character doesn’t necessarily stand out from the background. And the way to do this is through contrast – light against dark or vice versa and contrasting colors warm against cool or cool against warm. Your little leprechaun in this first image is very cute and I love his round belly. Having green against green with just the pink of his skin contrasting against the background sky makes him look a little disembodied with a floating head. So I might change that by adding a blue or light purple wash like I did in Photoshop when I added a quick and dirty new PSD layer at 30% so that you have a little more contrast for your little leprechaun.

The other thing I’d like to point out is that having his tail feathers cropped seems a little broken. And while cropping can be a terrific tool, sometimes I feel things look a little chopped off. I think you could angle your bird a little differently so that those tail feathers stay in the picture even if it means making your bird a little smaller, while still keeping the contrast of the big bird next to the tiny leprechaun. I had a quick go but feel that those tail feathers still need to be a bit longer.

In image above, I felt that the flat horizontal bird was deadening your composition a little so I angled her a smidge with the transform tool into more of a diagonal (always more exciting) and rounded her back a bit to make her a little more delightfully plum and full like your previous image.

In this final image, I’m not sure if my color tweak made it better or worse because there’s something very beautiful about your original. However it looks like it’s from a different place than your first color image with all the watercolor effects. Your leprechaun also changed substantially so I radically elongated and slimmed his face using the warp tool in Photoshop’s transform menu and slimmed and lengthened his nose. The only other thing I’d like to say, is that your butterfly lacks the sensitivity of everything else because it has a much thicker outline and is much more opaque and flat, so I’d think about redoing or eliminating it. I really enjoyed critiquing this and hope As always, take what you like and leave the rest, knowing that as many people as look at your work, that’s how many opinions you’ll get. I hope that you find something helpful in what I’ve written and done. ~ Mira

Mira Reisberg is a former university professor with a PhD in education and cultural studies focused on children’s literature. She’s also a former Literary Agent, and award-winning children’s book illustrator/writer as well as an acquiring Editor and Art Director at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s book imprint Spork. In addition, Mira is the Director of the Children’s Book Academy and is thrilled to say that her former students have now published over 230 books. She’s extremely excited to be co-teaching a fabulous mind, skills, and career opening course with Andrea Miller from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in just 9 days! Here’s the link to find out more or join her tribe here to receive helpful information, special offers, and lovely gifts.

Thank you Mira for sharing your time and expertise with Victoria and us. Can’t wait to hear about your online workshop with Andrea and the illustrator/writers when it is done.

Talk tomorrow,


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