Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 23, 2017

Illustraor Saturday – Andy Leimontas

Andy Leimontas lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with her husband and three children. Since 2001 she has been working as an English teacher for young learners. Funny and surprising stories are the only thing that her classroom cannot be short of. A restless imagination and children everywhere are the perfect brew for story-telling. Andy has been telling her own stories at home and school for many years, and it was time to bring them all to life. She has taken art lessons with respected artists and illustrators such as Darío Aguilar, Mónica Weiss, Natalí Sejuro, Leicia Gotlibowski, and Carlos Higuera. One of her pieces was selected for the “Feria Internacional del Libro de Guayaquil” in Ecuador, and some of her illustrations were exhibited in Sudestada 937 Gallery in Tigre, Buenos Aires.

HERE IS ANDY EXPLAINING HER PROCESS:

Once I have an idea in mind, I start sketching on my notebook. I focus on the scene composition, the characters’ poses and the background. The color comes later. I like an illustration that tells a story.

After the final idea is more or less defined on paper, I use my scanner to digitalize it. My sketches tend to be very rough, but it’s all I need; with the scanned image on the screen I begin working on the color palette and making any necessary adjustment to the illustration. I love to use limited colors palettes.

I use Photoshop to color my illustrations and create textures with different materials I find at home. Photoshop allows me to create brushes to get specific effects or patterns.  I am always looking for textures that look interesting and that I can snap a photo of and digitalize.

Finally, I work on details, adding contrast in some areas or modifying some shapes to get a better final work.

Interview Questions for Andy Leimontas

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating for 4 years now.

Have you always lived in Argentina?

Yes, I was born and raised in Buenos Aires.

Does Buenos Aires have a vibrant artist community?

Yes! Buenos Aires is known for its multi-cultural scene and an amazing artist community really aware of the demands of this modern and lively city. From its architecture to its theatres, museums and art galleries, Buenos Aires radiates art and culture.

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

I recently started to create illustrations and write stories for children with the idea of, someday, to become a professional artist/writer. You could say I am new to this amazing world! I got to sell an illustration in a small exhibit 2 years ago. That was my first sale.

Did you study art in college? If so, what school?

No, I’m self-taught.

Your website says you are taking art lessons with well-known artists and illustrators. Could you tell us more about this?

I’ve always loved to draw. Growing up, I would spend hours drawing and crafting art projects; it’s been always a hobby of mine. When I finally decided to become a professional illustrator, I knew I had to learn more about the formal process, so taking art classes was the next logical step. I started taking classes with the great professor Darío Aguilar, who introduced me to this business, and showed me the tools of the craft. By taking classes and experimenting on my own, I was able to develop my technique and find my own style.

I also took classes with Mónica Weiss, Leicia Gotlibowski  and Carlos Higuera.

What do you think influenced your style?

I think that wanting to try every new thing I learnt combined with a lot of testing forged the road to where I am now.

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

I have a degree in hotel management, but my first job was as an administrative assistant. Then I got married, and while raising my children, I decided to go back to school to become an English teacher and I’ve been teaching ever since.

How did “The Catch of the Day”, happen to get selected for the Feria Internacional del Libro de Guayaquil, Ecuador? Can you tell us a little bit about this award?

As a beginner illustrator, one of the best things you can do is try to send your artwork to as many contests as you possibly can. So I sent this piece to be included in the Roald Dahl’s commemorative display at the Feria del Libro, and to my surprise and delight it was selected!

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I’ve been teaching and working with kids for a long time. I love to tell stories and build these big displays and posters that we hang in the classroom’s walls, just for fun and to make the stories more interesting. I am very creative and kids are very visual, so it was the perfect match; I knew I had to take advantage of this.

First, I was more interested in writing children’s stories, but then I thought… why not? Drawing comes so naturally to me… I could illustrate my own stories. It was like a door had just opened in front of me and I had this huge, amazing playground to set my ideas free.

Have you had an opportunity to illustrate a picture book, yet? If so, what was the title?

No! I´d love to! It’s a hard business because there are thousands of excellent illustrators. I haven´t had the chance yet.

Have you ever gotten an illustration job with a US publisher?

I would love to! I’m just starting to promote my work.

Do you have an artist rep. If so, who and how long have you been with them?

I am in the search of an agent. I know it can be a long process, but I am confident that I will find one soon.

I see that you are an English teacher. How did that come about? How old are the children you teach?

When I was a little girl I took private English classes, and once I had my first child I realized that it was funny and challenging to teach English to young learners. I attended college to become an English teacher and, at the present, I am in charge of 2nd grade students.

Do you ever try to fit in creative writing with your students?

All the time! Kids are very open to new things; they really enjoy experimenting with their own creativity. They are a fantastic source of inspiration as well!

Are you able to incorporate your artistic skills into your lessons with your students?

Of course! They know I love to illustrate so Art is always part of my lessons.

Do you participate in art exhibits to market yourself?

Not much. I have started to promote my work just recently.

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

Yes! That is my dream and I’m working hard to make it happen.

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

Even though I would be more interested in a traditional publishing project, I don’t see why not. The market is much more inclusive and competitive nowadays, so you have to be open to new trends.

Have you tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

No, but that would be fun!

What do you think is your biggest success?

After investing so much time on developing a technique, experimenting with different media, and basically trying to find a style I am comfortable working with, and gives life to my stories, I finally feel I am ready to take my dream to the next level. That is my biggest success so far. Be ready for the big challenge ahead.

Have you done any book covers?

No, but that’s something I would enjoy doing.

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

As I’m trying to promote my work, social media is very important to get the word out. I’m pretty active in Twitter, buy also have a website. And, of course, I participate in contests and send my portfolio to agencies.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love to illustrate with mixed media, a combination of manual and digital work.

Has that changed over time?

Yes. In the past I used to work with pastel chalks, one of my favorite mediums.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes, a small corner in my attic that I am remodeling these days.

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

I try to work at least a couple of hours a day.

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

I use a lot of pictures as reference. Sometimes I need to imagine a specific body posture or scene so I ask any volunteer at home to pose for me and then I use those photos as a guide. Online research and books are great sources of information too.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Definitely! It has simplified things and opened doors on a global scale.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop all the time.

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

I´d like to. I have one but I need to find the moment to try it.

What are you working on now?

Aside from working at school and at home (I’m a mother of three!) I am working on a children´s book project and on the creation of new illustrations for my portfolio.

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.

Something I love to do is to work with textures. You can create your own by using different materials at home. For example, you can look around for all those surfaces and textures with the potential to become a great accent to your work, take photos of them and apply them digitally. Also, you can use your watercolors or micro pen to draw your own patterns and use them in the same way. The possibilities are infinite!

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

Persistence is the key. Don’t give up. First, work hard to find your style, it has to be unique, it has to be YOU. Things don’t happen at once. Then, read, investigate, and study the market; look for what’s best for you, topics and things that fit who you are and what you’re trying to communicate.

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 22, 2017

September Featured Agent – Thao Le – Inteview Part Three

THAO LE has agreed to be September Featured agent and critique four first pages submitted. She is a literary agent at the Dijkstra Agency where she also handles the agency’s financials and select contracts.

She is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego with a double major in Econ-Management Science and Chinese Studies. While interning at the agency during college, she realized where her true love lies — books — and joined the agency full-time in the spring of 2011.

Thao is looking for: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Books by author/illustrators, Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is selectively open to Romance.

In the Adult and YA Sci-fi/Fantasy realms, she enjoys stories rooted in mythology, fairytales, and legends with atmospheric settings and strong world building. Particularly stories that are inclusive and multicultural. She’s also a fan of magic realism.

In contemporary YA, she’s seeking witty, heartfelt writing with an authentic teen voice. Especially stories about family and friendships. Think Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, or Sarah Dessen.

In Middle Grade, she’s looking for fantastic adventures and clever protagonists the likes of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Soman Chainani’s School of Good and Evil.

In the picture book arena, she is only currently taking on author/illustrators, however she’s a fan of Jon Klassen, Kate Beaton, Cale Atkinson, and Liz Climo and would like to add projects in the same vein to her list.

In Romance, she’s drawn to heroes/heroines who turn stereotypes and tropes on their heads (such as heroines in typically male roles and sensitive heroes who aren’t necessarily alpha, but just as swoonworthy). She enjoys historical romance the likes of Julia Quinn, Courtney Milan, and Eloisa James, speculative romance similar to Gail Carrier’s Parasol Protectorate series, and contemporary romance that is as addictive as Sonali Dev’s Bollywood series.

In general, she loves beautiful literary writing with a commercial hook. She is most excited to add more writers of diversity (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to her client list.
Check out her tumblr for more publishing related posts: http://agentthao.tumblr.com/

Submissions should be emailed to thao@dijkstraagency.com

Please check http://www.dijkstraagency.com/ for full submission guidelines and policies.

Fiction: Please send a query letter, a 1-page synopsis, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), and the first 10-15 pages of your manuscript. Please send all items in the body of the email, not as an attachment.
Author/Illustrators with dummy: Please send a query letter, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), full manuscript text pasted below your query letter, full dummy (in pdf format as an attachment) that includes 1-2 color samples, and link to online portfolio.

Please note that Thao does NOT represent: non-fiction, adult literary fiction, adult general fiction, mystery/thriller/suspense, memoirs, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, or short stories.


 

17. What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?
Usually within 1-3 days, depending on the urgency of issue. I want my authors to feel like they can rely on me when there’s a fire and we can appropriately address any issues that come up. Sometimes though I need more time to look into something before I can get back to them, but I usually let them know that I receive their email and I am on it.

18. How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?
Email more than phone, but usually an initial email to lay out the issues and follow up to schedule a phone call to talk them out if necessary. Prior to going on sale, I usually have a quick chat with my client about what their preference is. Some like seeing responses immediately as they come in, others want only positive news, etc… we talk it out to make sure it works. And of course I talk with them during the sale process too in case preference for communication changes. In general, I think communication is key to the success of the agent/author relationship.

19. What happens if you don’t sell this book?
We’ll discuss if there are any helpful feedback from editors, if a revision should be considered. If for some reason we realize the current project just isn’t marketable at this time, then we would discuss the author’s other projects that may be more marketable and work on getting that ready for sale.

20. How many editors do you go to before giving up?
It’s on a case by case basis. I go by the feedback I’m getting from editors and my conversations with the author. In the end, depending on the project and the author, we will discuss how far to pursue a project before we should shelve it and move on.

21. How long is your average client relationship?
I’ve been in the publishing industry since 2011, but only started agenting at the end of 2012/early 2013, so my average client relationship is a bit short (2-3 years). I do aim to represent an author’s career, not a single book when I approach them about representation so hopefully that statistic will long grow as I continue to agent!

21. Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?
The Dijkstra Agency has our own (super awesome) in-house subrights manager and she handles foreign, film, audio, and other subrights for us.

22. Are you open to authors who write multiple genres?
Yes, so long as the genres are genres I represent. Often I will ask the writer on “the call” about what else they are writing to get a better idea about what they foresee for their career and to see if we are a fit. I consider their career trajectory and what they want to accomplish and how I fit into that and can help them rather than just if I like the one book they queried me with. Of course the book that hooks me is a big consideration because it is representative of their writing, but I do want to look at the whole picture to make sure I’m a good fit for them and them for me. It should be mutually beneficial.

23. Are you interested in being invited to writer’s conferences?
Yes and I often attend a few a year.

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR FIRST PAGE RESULTS WITH THAO:


SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:
In the subject line, please write “SEPTEMBER 2017  Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

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

DEADLINE: August 21st.
RESULTS: September 29th.

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 21, 2017

Agent Looking For Clients – Jessica Faust

Jessica Faust
BookEnds Literary Agency

Jessica Faust

President & Literary Agent

As owner and President at BookEnds, Jessica Faust prides herself on working closely with her authors to make their goals come to fruition. Jessica has worked with a number of bestselling and award-winning authors. Her areas of expertise are in the genres of mystery, suspense, thrillers, women’s fiction, romance, and young adult. In nonfiction her focus is primarily on self-empowerment, business, entrepreneurship, career, personal growth, current affairs, and self-help. More specifics on what she’s looking for can be found on our submissions page.

A veteran of publishing, Jessica began her career in 1994 as an acquisitions editor at Berkley Publishing, Macmillan, and Wiley, where she had the unique opportunity to acquire and edit both fiction and nonfiction. Jessica takes her editorial experience and passion to the agency, where she works with her authors to make their books the best they can be and build a career beyond just the first contract.

Jessica has been a regular columnist with Romantic Times magazine, taught at New York University’s Continuing Education Program, been recognized as Agent of the Year by the NYC Romance Writers of America, and is asked regularly to speak at writers’ conferences throughout the world. She is a member of RWA, MWA, SCBWI, ITW, and AAR.

Jessica is most actively seeking dark. Dark thrillers, suspense, mysteries, YA and romance. I’d love to see psychological suspense in the vein of Girl on a Train or suspense series like that of Linda Castillo. I’m always a sucker for a clever hook and a really damaged female protagonist (although I’m not adverse to a really damaged male protagonist.

Romantic suspense that’s dark. Think Shelley Coriell or Karen Rose.

I always love historical mysteries. I’m especially fond of those set in NYC or the Regency period, but surprise me with a setting I didn’t know I’d love.
Send me something akin to Sarah Addison Allen and you’ll have my heart.

I’d like a story with marital strife and dark secrets. The wife who discovers the dark secret her husband is keeping, or who is struggling to keep her own dark secret hidden. This could be psychological suspense, romantic suspense or women’s fiction. It could be any genre really. YA (without the marriage).

I’m also hungry for a wilderness survival story. This could be adult or YA. It could be women’s fiction, or suspense.

A native of Minnesota, Jessica now lives in New Jersey. Her personal interests include cooking, entertaining, reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

You can contact Jessica at JFSubmissions@bookendsliterary.com or follow her through Twitter at twitter.com/BookEndsJessica.

Submit using Query Manager: https://querymanager.com/query/1006

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 20, 2017

ASK CAT

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

chrisandchristy

Here’s Chris:

Kathy Glynn asked:  “I have written a children’s picture book and have decided to illustrate the book on my own because I am an artist too.  [I have written my first book that will be published in Feb. ’18 but it is not a children’s book.]  What financial compensation can I expect from a publisher who is interested in publishing the book [children’s book], since I would be both the author and illustrator?”

This is a good ‘add -on’ question to my Aug. ASK CAT about pricing.  Sorry I didn’t address this well enough.  When you are both author and illustrator of a book, you get ALL the advance and royalty offered.  In other words, if the advance would have been $5000 for the art for a book, doing both might be $7500-$10,000 depending on publisher. (remember the advance can vary greatly from $5000 or less even to $30,000 or more! This due to publisher and so many variables I mentioned before.) You note I didn’t just double the advance because the writer will often get less than the artist.  Don’t ask me to explain that…. but it’s a fact!  I suspect it’s because the art takes a very discernible amount of time generally where the writing time frame is so hard to judge, thus hard to price per hour.

The royalty IS doubled however generally.  For general sales by the publisher the artist gets 5% and writer gets 5%, so both equals 10% on hard cover of instance. For the sub-rights, the artist or author alone would get 1/2 of the $50% royalty….or $25% on most types of sub-rights.  (it’s written like that in contracts and confuses people often. The ‘split’ is explained in a separate paragraph later in most contracts.)  So the author/artist gets the whole $50%.

This might be a good time to address the agent’s compensation for artists and writers generally, and for the combination.  Artist Agents normally take 25% (some 30%) of the fee negotiated for most projects- trade and educational and other.  We try to negotiate it higher to cover that, but that’s not guaranteed of  course.  Lit Agents normally take 15% of the author fee.  Again, it’s hard to explain except that the time and effort is easier to ‘see’ and price per expected hours than it is for writing a book…which may take a longer or shorter time frame.  So the artist fee is higher than the author’s based again on the expected time it’ll take, fee per hour, and effort over a six month or so period. Our compensation for combination writer/artist is the Literary 15%.  We take the same 15% from the royalty payments should it ‘earn out’ and pay royalties.  The art effort is the same for this artist, but because it is their total project and time frame, the 15% seems fairer in this instance.  I believe most Artist/Lit agents follow this practice, but always ask.

I want to mention that publishers LOVE the combination of ARTIST/AUTHOR as you might have noticed when reading PW magazine, or looking at books at the bookstore.  So if you do both – GO FOR IT!  Be aware however, that if you present both together, they will be of course judged together.  If they love the ms and hate the art, they will reject it. If they love the art but hate the ms, they will reject it.  BUT if they loved the art, they might consider you for illustrating another ms!  We often present artist’s dummies and sometimes get this result.  Not all bad!

We had a grouping of other questions from my Pricing Help of Aug. too and will address them in Oct.’s ASK CAT.  However, one I wanted to tackle initially here…. and welcome further comments or questions about it.  “how many of or clients can do this full-time and earn a substantial living?”
Simple answer:  that information is private about our artists…  BUT, I have to remind you that for most artists, children’s book illustration is a ‘free-lance’ industry.  A good number of our artists have another day job, or part time job, or a spouse/partner with one.  Many work in other art markets as well, or are gallery artists etc. This market is often referred to as a ‘labor of love’….and it is! But many of our artists do VERY nicely with it.  Each year is different of course, and nothing is for sure.  One can be booked up two years in advance and then suddenly not be working!  Keep money aside for taxes and for the future ‘quiet spots’ always.

I do hope this has been further clarifying.  Share your thoughts! NO question is a foolish one!

Do send on more questions about our wonderful industry!!

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

Chris and Christy, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer questions and helping everyone trying to build their careers in the children’s publishing industry. This was a terrific questions and a terrific answer. – Great article.

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

Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.

NOW SIT DOWN AND WRITE UP YOUR QUESTIONS FOR “ASK CAT.”

Hope this illustration by Leslie Withrow will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. www.lesleybreenwithrow.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

After reading Author Janice Repka’s Middle Grade Novel, THE CLUELESS GIRL’S GUIDE TO BEING A GENIUS and tears running down my checks from the laughter, I contacted Janice to see if she would like to be featured and share her book with you. She agreed to give away a copy of her funny well-written book.

If you would like to win a copy, please leave a comment, reblog, tweet, or talk about THE CLUELESS GIRL’S GUIDE TO BEING A GENIUS on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK’S DESCRIPTION:

Aphrodite Wigglesmith is a thirteen-year-old prodigy. After a fast track through Harvard, she’s back at her old middle school to teach remedial math and prove a bold theory: anyone can be a genius with the right instruction. Enter Mindy, a ditzy baton twirler who knows more about hair roots than square roots. What could she possibly learn from such a frumpy nerd, except maybe what not to wear? But somewhere between studying and shopping, the two girls start to become friends. They’re an unlikely pair, but in this uproarious middle-grade comedy, wacky is the norm and anything is possible – just like middle school

BOOK’S JOURNEY:

Many years ago, I belonged to a writer’s group that focused on short stories. At one point, my fellow writers began to explore the idea of putting their stories together in collections for publication. The problem that arose was that while each story was strong individually, there was no common theme to hold them all together. Throughout my writing career, my problem has run the opposite. No matter what I write, I seem to continue to explore the same themes: fitting in, individuality, and self worth.

It’s no wonder then that when I sat down to write The Clueless Girl’s Guide to Being a Genius these same themes quickly emerged. The book is about an unlikely friendship between two girls who seem like opposites, but actually have much in common beneath their surfaces. Aphrodite is extremely intelligent when it comes to fractions and subtraction, but she feels out of place among people her own age. Mindy is one of the most popular girls in middle school and a skilled baton twirler, but she feels like none of her friends get her. It’s this feeling of each being the odd one out that draws them together. Throughout the book, they both learn to overcome their insecurities and to accept themselves and each other for the unique people they are.

Despite the seriousness of those themes, I also wanted to use plenty of middle school humor to keep the pages turning. Making my protagonist a 13-year-old teacher assigned to teach a class of other 13-year-olds helped set up a comedic situation that I knew could lead to lots of awkward and funny moments. To keep it fun, I made sure no more than three pages went by before something humorous was said or done. When my funny bone started feeling a bit strained, I added a character who was known for telling silly jokes at inopportune times so he could carry some of the weight for me. Few things are as rewarding for me as hearing a reader tell me how hard she laughed when she read something in the book.

I wrote The Clueless Girl’s Guide to Being a Genius to be a book for reluctant readers. I wanted it to be a book kids read because they enjoy it and not because a teacher has assigned it as required reading. This meant I had to keep the pacing quick, the language accessible, and the tension high. Writing a book for children who don’t like to read is a bit of a daunting task, but I feel very strongly that it’s one of the highest callings for a children’s book writer. It only takes one book that a child really enjoys to make that child pick up another book and keep reading.

For me, the funniest thing about The Clueless Girl’s Guide to Being a Genius is how it seemed to predict the path my own life would take. After I had sent the final draft of it to my agent, I decided to enroll full time in a program to obtain my Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. By the time I graduated, the book had been published by Dutton’s Children Books and was on its way to becoming a Scholastic Book Club pick. I was on my way to my first gig as a full-time Assistant Professor of English at a state university. Just like Aphrodite, my specialty now is teaching remedial students how to believe in themselves and realize their full potential. I guess it really is true what they say about life imitating art.

JANICE’S BIO:

Janice Repka is the author of The Stupendous Dodgeball Fiasco (2004) and The Clueless Girl’s Guide to being a Genius (2011), both humorous middle grade novels published by Dutton Children’s Books. The Stupendous Dodgeball Fiasco was a Junior Library Guild selection and a 2008 Nebraska Golden Sower Award Honor Book. It was also nominated for the Sunshine State Young Reader Award, the Young Hoosier Book Award, the Great Stone Face Award, and the Keystone to Reading Book Award. The Clueless Girl’s Guide to being a Genius was a Scholastic Book Club pick. Repka’s short stories and poetry also have been published by Writer’s Journal, The Antietam Review Literary Journal, Potomac Review, and The Louisiana Review, and in the anthology The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communication from Point Park University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Janice Repka has a Master of Arts degree in English and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from McNeese State University. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at John Tyler Community College in Richmond, Virginia.

Thank you Janice for sharing your book and journey with us. I am sure the winner will love your book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 18, 2017

FUTURESCAPES No Fee Writing Contest

Write your story, change the world

FutureScapes is an annual writing competition that asks writers to envision a particular future, and tell us its story. We could run projections and publish reports, but there’s a reason why Oscar Wilde didn’t say, “Life imitates empirical studies.” We want to help writers of excellent potential find their voice while shaping tomorrow.

2017 Theme

For 2017, the Futurescapes Contest theme is “Blue Sky Cities.” We’re seeking stories set in a near-future city where significant strides have been made toward improving air quality, climate adaptation, or even net positive impacts on climate and air quality.
We want to see your vivid ideas and concepts, but don’t forget the basics of story: strong voice, compelling characters driven by real desires, facing serious obstacles that sum to an engaging plot and story.

You need not paint us a utopia – we don’t really believe in those. We believe that at any given time, depending on individual perspective, every city has dystopian and utopian aspects. The key is to show us a solution, but don’t strip it of realistic political, scientific, or logistical obstacles, and don’t neglect the possibility and ramifications of unintended consequences from even the best solution.

-NO ENTRY FEE FOR SINGLE ENTRY, OPTION TO SUBMIT SECOND ENTRY FOR A FEE
-FINAL AWARDS DETERMINED BY PROFESSIONAL AUTHORS
-$2,000 PRIZE FOR FIRST PLACE
-5 RUNNERS UP EACH RECEIVE PRIZE OF $500
-PUBLICATION IN ANTHOLOGY DISTRIBUTED TO MAYORS, GOVERNORS & MEMBERS OF THE U.S. CONGRESS

No entry fee is required to submit one (1) entry to the contest.

However, an author may opt to submit a second story for consideration in the contest for a fee of twenty-four dollars ($24).
By entering the contest, contestants acknowledge that they have read the instructions.
Prize money constitutes compensation to the winning authors in exchange for the purchase by the contest of exclusive print and electronic rights of the story for a period of one (1) year following the first date of publication of the story.

All entries must be original works written in English. Plagiarism of any kind will not be tolerated.
Professional authors are not eligible to enter the contest. A professional author is defined as someone who has accepted payment and/or signed contracts for published fiction in the amount of either; a) four paid published works of short fiction at a minimum average compensation rate of 6 cents per word with a total compensation of at least $1,000; or b) a work of long fiction (40,000 words or greater) for which the author was paid at least $2,500 in compensation.

Entries must be works of prose not to exceed 8,000 words in length.

Excessive or gratuitous violence, language, or sexual content will not be tolerated.
The story must be written on and conform to the official theme of the contest year. The theme for the 2017 contest year is: Blue Sky Cities.
All entries must be submitted electronically through the submission form available on the contest website.

Entries must be double-spaced, follow standard manuscript format, with the title and page number on each page. The entry should include a cover page listing the author’s name. The author’s name should appear nowhere else in the document.
Each contestant may submit only one entry per contest year.

The prizes for the contest shall consist of one (1) first place prize in the amount of $2,000, and five (5) runner up prizes in in the amount of $500 each. As noted, prize money is considered compensation in exchange for the purchase of story publication rights by the contest. As such, compensation will consist of a minimum amount of $.0625 (6.25 cents) per published word.
Winners will be individually notified by contest staff.

DEADLINE: OCTOBER 13TH

APPLY HERE

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 17, 2017

Illustrator Sunday – Lydia Mueller & Book Winners

Tess Alfonsin wins COME WITH ME by Holly McGhee
Jim Chaize wins THE ADVENTURES OF CAVEBOY by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Please send addresses.

Sharismar Rodriguez is an Associate Art Director for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers and their imprint Clarion Books, where she designs and art directs children’s books for all ages, from Picture Books to Middle Grade and YA novels and Non-Fiction volumes. She started her career in children’s publishing right after obtaining her BFA in Visual Communications from Parsons School of Design.

Some of her work includes award winning and note worthy titles such as New York Times bestseller Greenglass House by Kate Milford, illustrated by Jaime Zollars; Society of Illustrators Los Angeles Illustration 50 West winner 10 Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the School Bus by John Grandits, illustrated by Micheal Allen Austin; Maybe Something Beautiful, an ALA Notable Children’s Book recipient, by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez; among other books.

When she’s not busy collaborating with amazing illustrators, writers and editors, she’s a secret art crafter, a compulsive Pinterest “pinner”, and a notebook-under-the-mattress writer.

Sharismar enjoys a wide-range of illustration styles to match the wide range of stories that she publishes.

Thank you very much, Lydia, for sharing your illustrations with us. This blue, fluffy bunny is cute, clever AND funny! You told us so much about this character in only 2 spreads, BRAVO! You have just engaged your audience and we want to know more. 

I can definitely see your background in Animation and Graphic Design in your samples and it’s working in your favor; it’s in the pacing of the story, it’s in the settings and characters’ design and I think it gives the art a familiarity that kids, especially the young reluctant readers, could relate to because it’s evocative of the motion graphics they see on TV and Video Games. I also love that while the color palette is neutral it has splashes of bold colors and fun textures that gives this digital art lots of richness.

This first sample, the full bleed spread, is a pleasant opening spread, and if it’s not an opening spread it shows a pivotal moment in the story, and that works too. I really like the bunny’s expression and body language, there’s no question that he has come upon a discovery. I see you tried to give the broken guitar a spotlight, I say “tried” because I think you where a little shy with it and I feel the spotlight on the guitar should be a bit stronger and more obvious. The sun rays coming down from in between the trees is a very nice touch that you can push a bit further and it could give you an opportunity to add beautiful golden tones to make the art even brighter.

The details in the background, the RV and the tent, spark my curiosity, will there be humans in the story at some point or are there just a representation of the humans’ obliviousness to these wonderful creatures their world? 

I love that your second spread is a mix of spots and a full bleed page, it gives me a sense of how the pacing of the book could be and it shows a good range and balance, but I think that it would flow even better if the third spot were also silhouetted as the two above. I suspect that you are trying to show the bunny running through the trees except that, by showing the forest in the previous spread and in the opposite page you already have this covered. In this particular case I think it’s more important to show the action of the bunny hopping, which is more exciting than emphasizing his surroundings.

The last page (full bleed on the right) is ADORABLE! The characters expressions are on point, the bunny looks so content singing to the bird and the bird’s reaction is priceless. I can read so much into this piece, it could be a story about friendship, or it could be about a bunny trying to “pay it forward” by serenading a signing bird and much more.

The way you handled the musical notes, staff lines, and the loose feathers adds so much energy to this illustration and the perspective is pitch perfect. My only suggestion for this piece is that I’d somehow make the pagination of the book work so that this piece is in a page turn, to make it even more of an impactful moment in the book. 

Lydia, I’m very happy that your path has led you to the world of Illustration; I think you are a great addition to this industry.

LYDIA MUELLER’S BIO:

Lydia Mueller is an illustrator represented by Lemonade Illustration living in the cornfields outside of Chicago. She went to school for animation and has a great love for cartoons and anything labeled as “weird” or “fantasy”.  She worked in graphic design for several years but 2 years ago she decided to get serious about illustrating – something she always loved because of the storytelling aspect.


 

Sharismar, thank you for sharing your expertise with us. I enjoyed Lydia’s artwork and hearing your thoughts.


 

Opportunity: $70 Discount available if you register by Tuesday, plus a new half off Graphic Novels Bonus and Invoice:

Sharismar is working with illustrators during the industry’s leading online children’s book illustration course – Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books – starting September 25th. Click Here for Details.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 16, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Amanda Moeckel

Amanda Moeckel makes art for children’s books, editorial publications, and peoples’ walls. She lives in New York City, but grew up in rural Massachusetts.  In 2015, she graduated from the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program at School of Visual Arts, and a video trailer for her thesis project can be viewed HERE.

In art, she aims to find emotion and light.  Watercolor, gouache, acrylics, ink, silkscreen, and pastels are her go-to tools, and while she sometimes embellish digitally, she prefers the grit of traditional media.  

Currently, she taught ages 11-18 at Renaissance Art Studio, and she is available for one-on-one art tutoring and portfolio review via Skype or in-person.  Amanda spends many evenings teaching inebriated adults at Muse Paintbar in Tribeca.

Lastly, she says she is the most animal-obsessed person you’d ever meet, and she channels that love into a pet portrait side business, MyAnimalArt.com, and a collection of art about animal protection and humane education, ConsiderAnimals.com.  

HERE IS AMANDA DISCUSSING HER PROCESS:

In order to talk about my process, I need to include a little bit about my stylistic journey. My process has gone, over the past two years or so, through many changes, in pursuit of landing on a picture book style with which I am happy. In 2015, I was overjoyed to find the ethereal light, color and softness in the style of “Only the Good Dreams,” done entirely with acrylic and pastel.  Then, researching more picture books and getting feedback from publishers, I realized that it’s tough to get away with such softness in print, so I began craving more line.  I added line to my illustrations, using graphite and coloring the line digitally in Photoshop. Then I discovered a love for watercolor and gouache, so many of my 2016 illustrations had a combination of watercolor washes and graphite line, colored digitally. Now I’m craving more flat, graphic areas, so the book I’m working on now will combine all the things I’ve discovered that I love for the first time; light, line, watercolor/gouache texture and flat color.

Here are some progress shots of I Will Arise and Go Now, since I can’t share my current illustrations yet


Character drawing in graphite

Foliage in graphite

Main foreground wash in watercolor

Coloring of graphite lines digitally

Changing the hue of certain areas of watercolor wash digitally

Defining background areas and adjusting colors

Also, here is a video of my process for St. Ephraim, one in a series of three Imaginary Cities, which was just done for fun, by hand. I made a random watercolor wash, then used watercolor, gouache and colored pencil to turn it into a city:
https://vimeo.com/208718505

Making of “Imaginary City #3: St. Ephraim” from Amanda Moeckel on Vimeo.

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating professionally for about two years.  I began pursuing children’s book illustration in 2010, though, educating myself online at underdown.org, and through books.  I also learned a lot from joining the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attending conferences. In 2013, I was accepted into the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Program at School of Visual Arts (SVA) and graduated in 2015, so I mark that as the beginning of my illustration career.

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

My first commissioned work was a pet portrait, although I can’t remember which one. After undergrad in 2001, I wanted to try to make a go of being a professional artist so I started a pet portrait business (MyAnimalArt.com).  I think I’ve done almost 500 portraits by now. It’s a nice little side income, and it allows me to experiment with techniques and styles.

What college did you attend before you choose to go to the School of Visual Arts for your MFA in Illustration?

I studied Painting at American University.

What type of things do you study in the Visual Essay program?

We studied illustration in all its forms: editorial, children’s books, comics, graphic novels, fine art, etc. There are twenty students in the program each year, and we all have a specific focus, so we tailor our education to that focus. Mine was children’s books.  The main goal of the program is to help us develop our specific voice within our chosen focus, though, and every class is based around that goal.  I can’t believe how much I changed in such a short time with individuation of style as the goal. Seeing so much art every day, finding what I like, what subject matter draws me in, really helped me find my own voice. It’s ever-evolving, but I do feel I “found myself” in school.

Can you tell us a little bit about your thesis project?

My thesis was a picture book titled “Only the Good Dreams,” about a girl who fears bad dreams.  She asks her stuffed animals to be gatekeepers of her dreams, and we follow them through a night as they fend off bad ones and allow in good ones. But since dreams can be tricky, they have to figure out how to deal with a good dream that turns bad. I shopped this story around to about 20 publishers, with no bites but some good editorial feedback, so I’ll be re-working it in the near future.

Did the school help you find illustration work?

It did, directly and indirectly.  SVA has a great reputation in the illustration world, and also we are exposed to quite a few publishing professionals during school, with whom we are welcome to begin relationships. My first editorial job was a direct result of a contest SVA had in collaboration with Playboy Magazine.

Do you think art school influenced your style?

Oh definitely. I don’t think I really had a style before school. Before school, I felt that if something was photorealistic, it was good.  If not, it was subpar. I completely flipped my very naive opinion by the time I graduated!

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

My first job was as a teacher at Renaissance Art Studio in Millburn, NJ.  It’s a wonderful little gem of inspiration, run by Adam Gustavson, an alum of SVA and long-time children’s book illustrator, and his wife Denise.  I worked there for two years, teaching ages 11-18.  Also, around the same time, I was hired as a Visual Coordinator for Henri Bendel on Madison Ave here in NYC.  That was a fun job, creating visuals for their window displays.

How did that job come your way?

My teaching job came soon after I met Adam at an alumni gathering at SVA. I was the blogger for the illustration program at the time, so I had an excuse to chat with all the alumni, and when I posted on Facebook that I was looking for a part-time job after school, he put his faith in me. I was and am so grateful for that first job, and learned so much teaching there.  I found the Visual Coordinator job on craigslist, and I think it helped that I had done a project for the windows of Paul Stuart, just a few blocks away, through SVA.

What was the inspiration for the illustration you placed in the NJSCBWI Artist Showcase?

“I will arise and go now,” was the line we were charged to illustrate for juried show in 2016.  I imagined a recurring dreamworld (as usual) where a little girl would visit an elephant friend and have adventures together. In this scene they are saying goodbye before she awakes.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

Hard to say. My first SCBWI conference in 2010 was a light bulb moment. I had the palpable feeling that these were “my people.” At the time I was working as a real estate agent in San Francisco, and I was very out-of-place as a sensitive artist in that thick-skinned world.  Then again, my passion may have started in middle school, when we had book projects. I remember feeling at home in those. Perhaps it started much younger, though, during the many days I would spend with my grandmother in the picture book section of our library. I remember pulling books from the shelves and sitting in a pile of them ‘till I read them all.

How long have you been illustrating dogs and cats?

Since 2001.

Do you have an artist rep. If so, who and how long have you been with them?

I don’t, but I probably should get on that.  First on my agenda is finding a literary agent who is a good fit, since I’m an author as well. I worked with a great agent for my first year out of grad school, but picture books weren’t really his area of expertise. It was a good experience, though, and helped me figure out exactly what I need to look for in an agent, namely someone with extensive knowledge of the picture book industry, with close working relationships therein, who is at least somewhat editorial.

Do you participate in art exhibits to market yourself?

Not yet, save a few I participated in as part of school at SVA.

Have you done any book covers?

I did one for someone’s self-published project.

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

Yes, I’m working on my debut picture book right now, as author-illustrator.  It’s called The Most Beautiful Song, and it will be coming out in Fall 2018 with Page Street Kids. It’s about a girl who plays piano and wants desperately to write her own song, but inspiration shows up at the most inopportune times, and she’s forced to battle rules and schedules set by adults on her quest to be a songwriter.  My publisher is Kristen Nobles, who worked as Art Director at Candlewick for many years, and this book will be on the inaugural list of Page Street’s new picture book imprint, so it’s all very exciting!

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

I wouldn’t say no if they have a great story, professionally edited, with a budget comparable to a major publisher. I illustrated one last year, in fact… a self-published book called “Out of the Cold” for the Lakes Animal Friendship Society, a Humane Education group in Canada. It’s about a child who comes up with a plan to build doghouses for families in need. The authors found me through the network of animal activists of which I’m a part, as well as my animal protection art website (ConsiderAnimals.com). It’s important to leverage the issues you care about, and the communities of which you’re already a part. I think the most heartfelt art comes from what we care most about, and I loved doing a story that will be used to help animals.

Have you worked with educational publishers?

Not yet.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

Not yet.

Have you tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

Not yet… I do love words. But my mind is open if a great idea floats in.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I’m darn proud of landing my first published book as an author-illustrator. The Most Beautiful Song is my story, start to finish, and it feels awesome to be appreciated not just for art, but for an original story idea. It’s like all of a sudden, someone handed me the mic, and I get to shout something to the world that I really care about.  The way this publishing contract came to me was through the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC earlier this year.  It’s funny, I left that conference wondering if it was worthwhile because it’s quite expensive, and SO popular. There were over 1000 attendees, I think, and it was quite hard to get face-time with faculty. I happened to sign up for Kristen Nobles’ workshop on the “artist-led picture book,” where she talked about her vision as a publisher.  After the session, I handed her my promo card and mentioned my SVA association (because she’s worked as a mentor for our program).  Because there were at least a few dozen of us who handed her promo cards, I never thought I would hear from her, but soon after the conference I did. She told me which images she liked from my website, and asked if I had stories to go along with any of them.  I had already created the dummy for The Most Beautiful Song during a Continuing Ed class at Pratt called “Creating the Picture Book” in 2016, so I was able to send it right away. After going back and forth for a week or so about the story, and revising it a couple times, she was ready to send me a contract. It was a definite dream come true, and that conference was worth every penny.

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

The most helpful thing I’ve done so far is attending conferences.  I attend at least two SCBWI conferences each year, usually the National one in NYC and the New Jersey regional conference.  At the 2017 conference in NYC, I was able to hand a promo card to Kristen Nobles and that set off the chain of events that led to my first book contract.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Right now, gouache and watercolor.  Pencil and colored pencil for line work.

Has that changed over time?
Definitely. I was on an acrylics kick for a couple years before this.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes, I prefer working in my pjs all day. Here’s a pic of my studio, in all its mid-project glory.  I do clean it between projects, but I’m one of those Virgos who *appears* disorganized but actually just has a very sophisticated organization system.  At least that’s what I tell my husband.

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

All day, every day!  I don’t remember the last time I took a day off. Luckily, I join the world of the living to go to my teaching job most evenings.

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

I look mostly online at google images and Instagram for photo reference. And I take pictures of myself or my husband for poses.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I’m sure it has, but it’s hard to note anything specific. Certainly, that’s the main way I get pet portrait clients. Also, it allows me to get to know publishing professionals and the type of work they like.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Yes, I use Photoshop, but mostly just for editing. Sometimes for coloring.

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

Yes, a Wacom Intros tablet.

 

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

I want to always be a busy children’s book illustrator.

What are you working on now?

I’ve cleared my schedule for The Most Beautiful Song, because the deadline is pretty tight. As soon as I come up for air, I’ll be putting my next book idea into dummy form.

 

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 Holbein Acrylics because the texture is soft and buttery and very reliable. I’m always using graphite sticks to transfer sketch onto final art.  My favorite discovery this year is Artsnacks, a monthly subscription box of art supplies.  Trying new supplies gets the gears turning.

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

Going to school for illustration can definitely fast track your success, and get you into the habit of working daily.  I committed to illustration on the later side, so I knew I didn’t have time to waste, and aimed straight for a reputable illustration program.  If you’re not ready to make that financial commitment, though, there are so many free and/or cheap resources online: underdown.org, SCBWI.org, AllTheWonders.com,  blogs like Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast and Illustration Age, podcasts like All The Wonders and Picturebooking.  There’s even a site I heard about recently called DIYMFA.com which looks promising for polishing your writing skills.  Going to SCBWI conferences can put you face-to-face with people in publishing who might hire you.

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 15, 2017

September Featured Agent – Thao Le – Part Two Interview

THAO LE has agreed to be September Featured agent and critique four first pages submitted. She is a literary agent at the Dijkstra Agency where she also handles the agency’s financials and select contracts.

She is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego with a double major in Econ-Management Science and Chinese Studies. While interning at the agency during college, she realized where her true love lies — books — and joined the agency full-time in the spring of 2011.

Thao is looking for: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Books by author/illustrators, Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is selectively open to Romance.

In the Adult and YA Sci-fi/Fantasy realms, she enjoys stories rooted in mythology, fairytales, and legends with atmospheric settings and strong world building. Particularly stories that are inclusive and multicultural. She’s also a fan of magic realism.

In contemporary YA, she’s seeking witty, heartfelt writing with an authentic teen voice. Especially stories about family and friendships. Think Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, or Sarah Dessen.

In Middle Grade, she’s looking for fantastic adventures and clever protagonists the likes of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Soman Chainani’s School of Good and Evil.

In the picture book arena, she is only currently taking on author/illustrators, however she’s a fan of Jon Klassen, Kate Beaton, Cale Atkinson, and Liz Climo and would like to add projects in the same vein to her list.

In Romance, she’s drawn to heroes/heroines who turn stereotypes and tropes on their heads (such as heroines in typically male roles and sensitive heroes who aren’t necessarily alpha, but just as swoonworthy). She enjoys historical romance the likes of Julia Quinn, Courtney Milan, and Eloisa James, speculative romance similar to Gail Carrier’s Parasol Protectorate series, and contemporary romance that is as addictive as Sonali Dev’s Bollywood series.

In general, she loves beautiful literary writing with a commercial hook. She is most excited to add more writers of diversity (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to her client list.
Check out her tumblr for more publishing related posts: http://agentthao.tumblr.com/

Submissions should be emailed to thao@dijkstraagency.com

Please check http://www.dijkstraagency.com/ for full submission guidelines and policies.

Fiction: Please send a query letter, a 1-page synopsis, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), and the first 10-15 pages of your manuscript. Please send all items in the body of the email, not as an attachment.
Author/Illustrators with dummy: Please send a query letter, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), full manuscript text pasted below your query letter, full dummy (in pdf format as an attachment) that includes 1-2 color samples, and link to online portfolio.

Please note that Thao does NOT represent: non-fiction, adult literary fiction, adult general fiction, mystery/thriller/suspense, memoirs, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, or short stories.


 
HERE IS PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH THAO:

Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?

Not at all. A few misspelled words is a very fixable mistake. But if I find too many typos and grammar mistakes as I’m reading, enough that it throws me out of the story, then that can lead to a pass because I don’t think the writer is serious enough to polish their work before presenting it to an agent.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they sent?

Sometimes. It depends on the volume of submissions I get and how close the project was. Our agency’s policy is that if you don’t hear back after six weeks then you can consider it a pass. This is to help agents manage their lists because otherwise we’d be answering queries all day long and not actually get any work done!

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

Typically within 2 months or so, depending on my client workload and how many manuscripts are queued up. I always respond to requested material though. So if I ask for a full, regardless if it is an offer or a pass, you will hear from me.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

Great concept, but sloppy execution. I see a lot of people who have really creative ideas and that’s usually how they hook me in initially, but they haven’t quite honed their craft yet and the emotional element of the book sometimes falls flat. Emotion is a huge factor in a novel in my opinion. It’s what connects me with the characters, grounds me in the world.

Any pet peeves?

For queries: I hate it when the writer puts down the genre they are writing in. Like if you hate other fantasy books and do not read any fantasy books, why are you writing one and why are you insulting me, a fan of fantasy? That’s an immediate turn-off.
For manuscripts: I don’t like surprise pregnancy storylines and alien invasions, so stories with those elements are usually just not for me. It’s very subjective. I’m also not the best fit for adult epic fantasy the likes of Tolkien or GRRM, or any military science fiction.

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Yes! I’m a very hands on editorial agent. I may go 2-3 rounds of revisions with my client once we’ve signed, before going on sale. I have yet to offer representation to anyone who I didn’t think needed at least one more round of revisions to polish their work.

Do you have an editorial style?

I tend to ask for a lot of streamlining and tightening. For a revision, I would send an edit letter as well as comments on the manuscript itself.

How many clients do you have or want to build up to?

I currently have around 20 clients and it’s a good amount. I’m being selective about who I’m taking on because I want to have time to focus on each client and help them build their careers.

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART THREE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH THAO:


 
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “SEPTEMBER 2017  Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

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

DEADLINE: September 21st.
RESULTS: September 29th.

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 14, 2017

New Voices Award for Unpublished Picture Book by Author of Color

Submit Your Picture Book Manuscript to the New Voices Award!

New Voices Award Winner sealSummer is right around the corner! That means the eighteenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD is now open for submissions. Established in 2000, the New Voices Award recognizes a picture book manuscript by an unpublished author of color. It was one of the first (and remains one of the only) writing contests specifically designed to help authors of color break into publishing, an industry in which they are still dramatically underrepresented.

Change requires more than just goodwill; it requires concrete action. The New Voices Award is a concrete step towards evening the playing field by seeking out talented new authors of color who might otherwise remain under the radar of mainstream publishing.

Past NEW VOICES AWARD submissions we have published include The Blue Roses, winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, a Texas Bluebonnet Masterlist selection; It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor; and many more.

The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children’s picture book published.

The deadline for this award is September 30, 2017.

For more eligibility and submissions details, visit the New Voices Award page and read these FAQs. Spread the word to any authors you know who may be interested. Happy writing to you all and best of luck!

Further Reading:
Submitting to our New Voices Award: Tips from an Editor
Interview: 2013 New Voices Award Winner Sylvia Liu
New Voices Award Winners on Revising Your Story

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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