Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 14, 2016

Take a Look Sunday – Lisa Anderson

Ronnie started the Herman Agency in 1999 and represents many of the leading illustrators and author/illustrators in today’s children’s book market. As a former Art Director at Random House and Art Director, Associate Publisher and V.P. at Penguin Books’ Grosset & Dunlap, Ronnie art directed thousands of children’s books during her more than 20 years in working for major publishing hosues. Ronnie is also the author of 12 children’s books and one of her books has been on the NY Times best-seller list. Ronnie and the Agency are affiliated with the following organizations: SCBWI, Authors’ Guild, Graphic Artists’ Guild, U.S. Association of Accredited Business.

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Here is Ronnie discussing Lisa work:

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Lisa Anderson is the artist of these two beautiful pieces. I don’t know the medium but I imagine in is gauche, or maybe watercolor. I do know that he colors sing and make me feel happy. Such beautiful rich fall colors. I this top image I am not sure what the 3 radiant circular points are here for but they feel magical and must be pointing to some wonderful thing that is transpiring. The little one on the lower right of the image almost looks like a yellow moth. I wish I had some text to help me decipher what I am seeing but I do know that I really love this image and the touch of the one red berry is perfect. Are we looking at leaves and a stick floating in water near a forest?

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​These little acorn babies are marvelous! I want to read a whole book about them. Here we are, now on the forest’s floor with our whitiesthree sleeping acorn babies. Hush, don’t wake them, whatever you do! Beautiful details and, once gain, delicious fall colors. I am wondering if perhaps this is a wordless book. I would so very much like to see more. Please send the dummy to me, Lisa. I am not sure what the two whitish things are ​above the acorn children. Are they mushroom stems?  The painting in these pieces is beautifully rendered and rich and warm. Looking forward to seeing more!

Have a great week, everyone! Until next Sunday ~ Ronnie


Lisa Anderson is a graduate of Indiana University and now lives in Chesapeake Virginia with her husband, three children and a collection of random pets. She has painted and sculpted for as long as she can remember and was selling works of art even during her middle school years. She has a love for children’s media and all things relating to children.


Thank you Ronnie for taking the time to share your expertise with us. It helps so many illustrators and is very much appreciated. Here is the Heman Agency website link: http://www.hermanagencyinc.com

HERE IS HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

If you do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what is working or how it could be tweaked to help you sell your work, then please send Two SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:

Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com. Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide. Please put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and include a blurb about yourself that I can use to introduce you to everyone.

Each Sunday one illustrator will be chosen.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Remember I’m always looking for illustrations I can use with articles I post. Send to: Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com. Put ILLUSTRATION FOR BLOG in the subject area. Remember all illustration need to be 500 pixels wide. Include a blurb about yourself, too.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 13, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – Lauren Gallegos

lauren_gallegos_portraitLauren Gallegos, illustrator of sixteen Children’s Books, earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Illustration from Cal State Fullerton in 2009 and has been illustrating ever since. Several of her books have won awards, including the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the International Book Awards, and the Independent Publishers Book Award. Also a proud member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Lauren has always loved books that warm the heart and touch the soul; timeless narratives that take you to mysterious places and let your imagination run wild with possibilities. She continues to look for opportunities to illustrate great stories with the desire to see how her work will impact the young minds of our future.

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been illustrating professionally since I graduated college in 2009.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I have been illustrating professionally since I graduated college in 2009.

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How many picture books have you done, since you were featured on Illustrator Saturday in 2012?

I have illustrated 12 books since 2012. Some were small easy-reader e-books, some were just cover illustrations, 3 of them are not out yet.

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Is Ernie’s Wish Trail a self-published book?

The author is self-publishing the book as a boardbook and will be paired with an augmented reality app. I’ve never used an app like this, nor did I make it for this book, but I am SO excited to see how it turns out!

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How did the author or publisher of Ernie’s Wish Trail discover you and sign you for the job?

I haven’t asked the author specifically how he found me, but I am pretty sure he saw a sketch of a pig that I posted on Instagram and contacted me through my website about doing his “pig story”. Sometimes it really pays off to be on social media.

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Can you give us the story behind getting the contract to illustrate, The Littlest Angel Of All.

The Littlest Angel of All is also a self-published book by the author. It was a very short run. The author had originally contacted me several years ago after seeing my work on the SCBWI Illustrator Gallery but it never went anywhere, then a few years later he contacted me again and asked if I was still available to illustrate his book. He had kept my email all that time!

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It looks like you have another series going with Alane Adams with the thief books. Do you think the series will continue?

I know it will continue. I am working on the 3rd book right now and a 4th and 5th book are already scheduled. The author is great to work with and I love her stories.

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Could you share the how you connected with Alane Adams to illustrate those books?

Alane found me on the SCBWI Illustrator Gallery and sent me a quick email to see if I was interested in her story (The Coal Thief). I don’t always respond to emails if I am too busy with other projects, but I gave this one a chance because I connected with the manuscript. I am so glad I did!

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Do you know anything about the publisher, SparkPress?

Only a little. It is an independent boutique publisher in Arizona that Alane Adams connected with to help publish her books.

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How did you hook up with the author Robert Scott Thayer of Kobee Manatee books?

Thayer contacted me many years ago. I don’t remember how he found me now that I think about it. It’s been so long! He was so enthusiastic and pumped about this book idea that he had that I just couldn’t resist. It’s been so much fun working on the Kobee books with him.

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It looks like you have done a number of books for self published authors. How have you found that experience? Do you feel they give you the freedom you want? Can you make enough money illustrating books for self-published writers? Did you have a contract written up to use?

Great question. I realize that in most cases illustrating for self-publishing authors is not an ideal situation for an illustrator. In fact, many illustrators will not do it at all. I am not so financially free to make that choice. Just about all of my income comes from illustrating self-published books. I have my list of set prices per illustration which I have raised every year to keep up with inflation. It provides enough for my living situation at the moment but I don’t think that will last forever. I have been blessed to have had a pretty consistent flow of projects, which has really helped. For me it has been a great experience overall. Not every client has been the best  work with, only because some people are so mew to the industry that they don’t know what to expect. But for the most part the authors give me a lot of freedom to express myself, which I really appreciate. I wrote up my own contract years ago to use for each book that I work on and most contracts I have include royalties and I always make sure I keep the rights to my work. I am so grateful for the projects I have worked on and the authors I have connected with. I started doing this right out of college so I have grown enormously since I started and I have a pretty firm understanding of what it takes to create a full picture book. I will continue to work with self-published authors as long as it seems like a good opportunity. Plus, I am still trying to get my foot in the doors of the big publishers…until then I will take what I can get.

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What was your first book?

The first book I ever illustrated professionally was The Mahogany Door. It was self-published by the author. I got to illustrate the cover and all the chapter headers in Black and White. It was a big project to start off with, but so valuable.

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How did you get that contract?

He contacted me by email. I don’t remember how he found me anymore.

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Have you given any thought to writing and illustrating your own book?

 

I have given it a lot of thought. I have written and illustrated 2 stories. The most recent I am still finishing up and will be sending it out to agents and publishers as soon as it’s ready. I don’t know how my writing measures up to my illustrating. I definitely feel more at home with illustration. But I know that author/illustrators are much more desirable so I want to improve on my writing.

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Have you ever thought about doing a wordless picture book?

I have. I have in idea for  a book that I might make wordless. That would DEFINITELY make the writing part easier! But I don’t take it lightly. I know that wordless picture books can be just as challenging, if not more, than one with words.

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Have your illustrating materials changed since 2012?

Yes. I started out working in colored pencil and around 2012 I started moving to acrylic paint. It gave me so much more freedom. Now that is my main medium. I also just tried out Graphite Watercolor just this week and I’m kind of liking it….a lot. That become my new Black and White medium of choice. We’ll see how it goes.

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Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

It depends. I absolutely do research online and find as much reference as I can that way. I don’t go out taking pictures as often. Only if there is sometime locally that I know will be the perfect  solution to what I am working on. I do a lot of at-home picture reference…usually of myself to get the right expression or gesture. Sometimes I also will use SketchUp to build a simple model to help me with consistency between scenes as well as perspective. SketchUp can take awhile to get used to, but can be very helpful once you get the basics down. I still struggle with it at times.

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Have you seen a growing interest in doing illustrations for ebooks, since you were featured  in 2012?

I have not had many people come to me wanting to do just an e-book. They usually want to do a traditional book and the e-book is made along with it as another option for readers. From where I sit traditional books are still going strong!

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What book do you think was your biggest success?  ?

My most recent book The Coal Thief, with Alane Adams, has been my most successful book, at least in my eyes. A lot of that is thanks to Ms. Adams. She has done an incredible job promoting the book and doing school visits and signings. It has also won several awards which is pretty cool!

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Have all the books you’ve done since 2012 been done using Photoshop?

I use Photoshop for every project. I use it to edit sketches, I use it to do value sketches and color sketches. When I finish a painting traditionally, I will take it to Photoshop to do a little color correcting, and clean up the blemishes and dust from the scanner.

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Have you learned any new Photoshop skills during the last 4 years?

Absolutely! I’ve started using more brushes. There are just so many I can’t try them all! I’ve gotten better at using the Mask. I also now use layers in a much more organized way. It used to be a mess and would make things harder. Now everything is nicely labeled! And just the other day I discovered you can “Auto Select” layers. WHAAAT?!

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Do you have an artist rep. or agent?

I do not, but I am actively looking.

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Do you work full time doing freelance illustrating?

Yes! And I am so thankful to be able to say that! It can be really difficult, but It IS possible! I get to tell people that I work from home and that I love my job. How much better can it get?

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Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

I have not gone into the realm of magazines, but I am certainly interested. I think it would be a great opportunity.

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Are there any painting tips (materials, etc) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?

Don’t get really expensive painting brushes. I can’t even tell the difference and I am not very nice to my brushes so I need new ones often. Might as well get the cheap ones. Also get a good scanner if you work traditionally. And get a good printer too!

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What kinds of things do you do to promote yourself?

I keep my website up to date. I try to blog regularly (I haven’t been very good at this lately). I try to post regularly on social media and get engaged with the conversations. I’m not very good at this either. But I try. I am pretty good at getting postcards out 2-3 times a year. I also try to set aside time for personally projects so I always have something new to show.

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What are you working on now?

I am getting the print files for Ernie’s Wish Trail ready to send to the printer. I am working on illustrating the 3rd Kobee Manatee book. I am starting to work on the 3rd “Thief” book. And I am finishing working on my picture book dummy called “Hickory Dickory Doc and the Cuckoo Bandit”. PHEW!

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Do you have any career dreams still to fulfill?

I would love to get an agent and a book contract with a major publisher. I want to get better at writing. And I always want to get better at drawing. Always, always.

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Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other illustrators?

Always do your very very best, and don’t ever give up. Ever. You WILL have days when you think everything you have done is garbage. That you will never be good enough. That you’re just kidding yourself and someday you will have to get a “real” job. But you work through those days and usually something really great happens that gives you hope again. And then you realize that every artist goes through these feels from time to time, and yet you can still be successful.

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Thank you Lauren 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 Lauren’s work, you can visit her at website at: http://www.laurengallegos.com/

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 12, 2016

Free Fall Friday – Interview Questions for Adrienne Szpyrka

blogAdrienne

Adrienne Szpyrka is an assistant editor at Sky Pony Press, searching for new middle grade and young adult voices. She acquires mostly contemporary and historical fiction, but reads all genres in her spare time and has a weakness for a good princess story. She loves books that move her (bonus points if they make her laugh), and she’s always looking for stories that bring more diversity to the kids’ book world. She attended the University of Michigan as an undergrad and has a master’s in publishing from Emerson College.

Interview Questions for Adrienne Szpyrka

  1. You say you are interested in middle grade and young adult novels and mention contemporary and historical. Do they have to have a school tie-in to find a home at Sky Pony Press?We’ve published middle grade and young adult books in a mix of genres, and there certainly is no need for a school tie-in for us to consider a story. The first young adult book I acquired, Divah by Susannah Appelbaum, is purely fun—there are angels and demons, Marilyn Monroe is a demon hunter and Marie Antoinette is the queen of the damned. We consider all kinds of stories!
  1. Are you open to reading work from unagented authors?
    Yes. We do have a few unagented works on most of our lists. To submit to Sky Pony, you can follow our guidelines here: http://www.skyponypress.com/guidelines.
  1. If so, how would they submit to you? A query and a few pages?A query email with the manuscript attached. I prefer to have the full manuscript with the initial pitch. I may not read the entire thing, but if I am liking it, I won’t have to go back to the author (or agent) and request more pages—I can just keep reading!
  1. How important is the query letter?A good query letter will hook me and get me to open up the attached manuscript right away, rather than letting it sit in my inbox waiting for me to find the time to review it. A brief description and some comp titles are helpful, as well as any important author information. I appreciate when an author makes a query letter easy to read, relatively short and broken up into paragraphs.
  1. Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?As I said before, I’m happy to have the full manuscript from the start, but whether or not I keep reading really depends on the quality of the storytelling and whether or not I see potential for a good book. Voice is always important, and I think that’s what usually draws me in the most at the beginning.
  1. How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?It really depends. Within the first five to ten pages I can tell if something is a definite pass for me. But if I see potential I’ll keep reading. There’s nothing more disappointing than a story that doesn’t hold up at the end, but if I really liked the beginning I’ll often write back with some suggestions and say that I’d be happy to reconsider if the author does revisions.
  1. Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?No. I think sloppy query emails are a pet peeve for a lot of editors, but most people are forgiving of mistakes in a manuscript—we know the book will have to go through many stages of editing before it’s polished!
  1. Do you let people know if you are not interested in what was sent?I try to reply to everyone who submits to me. We do receive quite a few submissions, so if something hasn’t grabbed me right away, it can take two or three months (sometimes even longer) for me to review a manuscript. But we do try to reply to all submissions eventually!
  1. Any pet peeves?I’m not sure this really counts as a pet peeve, but if I’m reading a submission and I keep coming across gender stereotypes, I’m less likely to keep reading. I want characters who feel fresh, complicated and real.
  1. Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?The most common mistake is probably the classic “telling” instead of “showing.” Even the best writers often fall into the trap of overexplaining instead of letting the action and dialogue speak for themselves. The best writing does a lot less of that.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “February First Page 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).

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 skipped 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: February 18th.

RESULTS: February 25th.

Please only submit one first page a month. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 11, 2016

Book Giveaway – Salad Pie

Wendy BooydeGraaff has agreed to offer her new book, Salad Pie, to one lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment to get in the running. Reblog, or 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 did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you before drawing the winners on February 22nd.

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Journey to publication:  One day at the playground, my daughter said “Salad Pie” and I thought the words were so witty and creative that I wrote them down. That sparked the story of Maggie and Herbert. When I found out about Ripple Grove Press through SCBWI’s The Bulletin, I submitted the story and waited. I checked in with them after about four months and they asked for more time to consider the story. Another four months later, I checked in again and they were “still thinking.” I  didn’t think that was a good sign, but a month later (June 2014), they called! I revised the ending and we changed a few words. After Bryan Langdo finished sketches, we revised a bit more. And now, SALAD PIE is available for preorder and will be available in stores March 1, 2016.

blog WendyBook Description: There is nothing sweeter than arriving at the playground, seeing it empty, and knowing you have it all to yourself–the silent comfort of playing alone.

Maggie is overjoyed to have that solitude to make her Salad Pie. But then Herbert saunters over and wants to play too.

“I’m making salad. Salad Pie. And don’t you touch it!”

Herbert just wants to help, even though Maggie makes it clear she won’t let him. Then her imaginary pie takes a spill, and she realizes Herbert’s intentions are not so bad after all.

You can visit her at: http://www.wendybooydegraaff.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 10, 2016

Creating an Elevator Pitch – Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall the Jersey Farm Scribe here on

Creating an Elevator Pitch

Whether you’re getting ready for a conference, prepping ideas for a Twitter party, or just want to put your best foot forward to anyone who asks about your book, having a quick, engaging and powerful elevator pitch is important.

First of all… what IS an elevator pitch anyway?
________
El-e-va-tor pitch

noun — informal

* A succinct and persuasive sales pitch
* A short summary used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organization, or event and its value
________

The idea here is that in the 20-30 seconds of an elevator ride, you could present your idea. Us humans are fickle creatures with VERY short attention spans. We make snap judgments, and unless we’re already intrigued, we’re likely to have already mentally moved on.

Job interviews. “Objectives” at the top of resumes. Sales positions. Convincing a spouse of what restaurant to go eat at. Convincing a boss about your new idea. Impressions are made quickly. Not that minds can never be changed later. But the fact remains…

The first 20 seconds is your BEST opportunity to make a good impression.

All right. So that’s the basic CONCEPT.

Uh, that’s it??? Hello? E-Z!!! I know my book. I know what makes my story special. Of COURSE I can describe it in 3-4 sentences!!! I wouldn’t even need to practice.

……here we go……

A young girl is caught in between…

Wait. No! It’s so much more than that. Let me start again.

When insomnia brings Tris to the brink of desperation…

Ugh, that sounds so cliché!

Conception is reality. Tris must prove her sanity and win the right to live out her dreams in more ways than one.

Yuck. That says ab-so-lutely NOTHING. Okay. So this is harder than it sounds.

Elevator Pitch Tips:

Don’t Over Pack the Pitch:
For me, the biggest tip I ever got for an elevator pitch is not to try to shove my entire story in there. This was a HUGE relief. If the plot line is too complex to explain in a few lines (or the tiny 140 characters we Twits get), don’t even try. Concentrate instead on the unique voice. Have the pitch portray the main character’s biggest flaw or most powerful victory. Highlight a powerful scene or even quote a climatic moment.

Feel Free to Ruin:
If pitching to an agent, there’s nothing wrong with giving away the end. They’re professionals. Trust the story, and be confident that the writing and development along the way will keep them engaged even if they know the twist end. (Obviously keep in mind different agents may feel differently about this. Always research agents for preferences)

OBSESS over Nouns:
Obsess over every word really, but look extra closely at those nouns. Could they be more powerful? More emotional? More visual? Even in our limited word count, can we do more showing and less telling?

Show Uniqueness in Specifics:
Agents hear a LOT of pitches. Being conceptual isn’t enough. We must express specific aspects of THIS book that make it different from the other 400 they may have received, over the past 48 hours. The idea may be excellent, creative and powerful. But from their perspective, they’ve likely heard it before. As humans, they’re naturally assessing it, lumping it in with other things similar. Specifics are your weapon here. Use details, voice, character, setting, etc, to make THIS particular story stand out from that crowd.

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE:
Say it out loud. A lot. Then say it some more. The manner in which it rolls off the tongue is important, as is confidence in delivery. Bonus: Once you have it down, you may be surprised at how frequently the opportunity is presented for you to use it.

Our manuscripts are complex. They cannot be put in a box. No 20 second opportunity can fully grasp the extent of their awesome. Don’t let that goal overpower you. Instead create intrigue, and answer the question of why they should want to hear or read more.

Your manuscripts are worth it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Look for Erika’s articles every other Wednesday on Writing and Illustrating. Thank you Erika for another great post.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 9, 2016

Mistakes and Missed Opportunities

Julie Rowan-Zoch is the winner of January’s Book Giveaway – Little Butterfly

Elizabeth Frog office

The above illustration was done by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday in 2012. Click here to view.

 I hope you will read this post or save it to read later. Every once in a while I feel compelled to share my observations with everyone, hoping that it helps someone out there. Below is a list of those things that I feel are mistakes, missed opportunities, and a pet peeve of mine. They are for both writers and illustrators.

  1. No website or blog – facebook is not enough, unless you are not an illustrator or you haven’t wrote a book.
    For Illustrators: Show off your artwork make a page on facebook that people can click to see all your illustrations in one place and not have to scroll through family pictures to see them. Get a blog and make sure you do the same thing. Both a blog and facebook are free, so there is no excuse to not have both of these. In addition, consider a online directory to show off you work. The more places have your work the more chances of your work being seen. Remember Instagram and Pintrest.
  2. No contact information on blog, website, and facebook. Why have a blog if you don’t let people know who you are? I don’t get it. Isn’t that why you are taking the time to blog? Some of you come to my blog and leave a comment and I love you for that, but sometimes I have a few minutes to go over to your blog to leave a comment and I can’t find anything about you. Who are you I really want to know.Also make sure you go over to your profile page on facebook and put in your contact information including you website(s), blog, etc.
  3. No signature information set up on your email to let people know about your website, book, or blog. You have no idea how many people email me and they don’t sign the email. I might be really interested in what they sent and may want to check them out on their website or blog, but there isn’t anything for me to click to see more about them. So, unless I have the time to do a Google search, it gets put aside.
  4. Take the time to get an email that is your name. This would help with number three, but it is very frustrating for someone who receives hundreds of emails everyday to try to remember the person who goes by jersey777@comcast.net (made up). If you get a website with your name, then make up an website email. example: yvonne@yvonneventresca.com and use it. I know you have used your other email forever, but you need to try to break that habit.
  5. Always title your work. This is something that both writers and Illustrators do. Before you send anything out always check to make sure you have your information on the document and/or the illustration. Not just in the email. I save the attachments to use later and then when I go to use it, there is nothing in the file name that lets me know who’s work I’m opening. Then I spend a half hour trying to remember when it may have been sent and try to find the email. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes I’m not. When I am successful finding the email, half of those emails do not tell me who the person is and I have to email to find out. I hope you haven’t been doing the same thing with a submission with an editor or agent.
  6. When another blogger wants to feature you on their blog and use one of your post that they like. Let them. Don’t say, “I want people to come to my site and read my post there. Why would I help you out?” This is very short sighted. That other blogger is opening you up to getting your name in front of a whole new audience. Just make sure you ask them to use your name, bio, and something of your work. You should act friendly and even ask if they would be interested in doing an interview with them down the road (especially if you have a book).
  7. If you have a presence on Amazon, make sure you create your author or illustrator page and include all the information about you.
  8. If you have a book consider book pricing. If you are a debut author or you have a new series coming out, you should consider giving a reduced price on your book. Free is good, but I would keep it under $2.00. Most authors hate that idea, because they want to make money, but what that does is open you up to finding new readers. This only works if you have a well-written book. If it is, then the reader will starting buying your other books at full price.  In most cases your publisher will decide on the price, but even so it is worth discussing the pricing of your book with them. If you are self-published, you will need to think about this, too. The trick with making money with a self-published book is to self-publish more books, so you can get new readers and feed your older readers with more of your work.  Amazon has an excellent pricing program you can use to feature your book at a lower price for a specific amount of time. I have lost rack of how many authors I have discovered by them featuring their book for free or $.99 or $1.99. I became big fans and ended up buying all their books – something that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
  9. Think out of the box. I also like those ebook samplers with three or four chapter excerpts. Most of the publishers put them together, but why should it be just the publishers. Why not get together with other authors that write YA , MG, New Adult, Fantasy, etc. These books are free, but they can open doors for you. The first one I downloaded ended up causing me to buy every single book from the excerpts. I download all of them now. Great way to find good books. So why not put together something like that and let it work for you?

Hope you think about some of the things listed and consider if you agree with what I have pointed out. 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 8, 2016

Books: Emerging Voices & Debut

blogelizabeth martin

Author/illustrator Elizabeth Martin sent in this illustration for todays post. She went to St Martin’s College of Art and then to The Royal College of Art in London. She lives in San Francisco. elizabethbmartin.com

Look out for Booker-shortlisted emerging voices and Debut fiction.

Emerging Voices

Alison Amend, Enchanted Islands (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, May)
Ramona Ausubel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty (Riverhead, June)
Mischa Berlinski, Peacekeeping (Sarah Crichton Books, March)
Mark Binelli, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits (Metropolitan, May)
– fictionalized account of famous musician
Liz Moore, The Unseen World (Norton, June)
– the new novel from the author of Heft
Bonnie Nazdam, Lions (Grove, July)
– from Flaherty-Dunnan Award-winning author of Lamb
Marie Ndaiye, Ladivine (Knopf, April)
Hannah Pittard, Listen to Me (HMH, July)
Elizabeth Poliner, As Close to Us As Breathing (Lee Boudreaux Books, March)
Alexis Smith, Marrow Island (HMH, June)
– author of Glaciers
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Sarong Party Girls (William Morrow, July)
Rufi Thorpe, Dear Fang, With Love (Knopf, May)
– separated parents, a teenage daughter, a Lithuania trip, and more
Ayelet Tsabari, The Best Place on Earth (Random House, March)
– reissue of Sami Rohr Prize winner
*Shawn Vestal, Daredevils (Penguin Press, April)

Finally
David Duchovny, Bucky F*cking Dent (FSG, April)
– another strange novel from the noted actor and author of Holy Cow

DEBUT FICTION

Spring and summer are prime time for new authors. We expect great things from new novels by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Alison Anderson, and Susie Steiner, and look for similar plaudits about works by Sara Baume, Flynn Berry, Emma Cline, Yaa Gyasi, and many more listed below. Look out for debut fare from notable journalists and magazine writers, too, like Slate’s Jessica Winter and Cosmopolitan books editor Camille Perri. And in addition to the books highlighted here, our sample includes excerpts from even more debut works by Paul Krueger, Joe Okonkwo, Alice Adams, H.P. Wood, Danny Johnson, Shawn Vestal, and Phaedra Patrick.

*Alison Anderson, The Summer Guest (Harper, May)
– in part about Chekhov
Sara Baume, Spill Simmer Falter Wither (HMH, March)
– debut Irish writer
*Laura Barnett, The Versions of Us (HMH, May)
– parallel universes, rights sold in 23 countries
*Flynn Berry, Under the Harrow (Penguin, June)
– literary suspense from Michener Center and Yaddo fellow
Emma Cline, The Girls (Random House, June)
– high-advance debut set in underbelly of a Charles Manson-esque enclave
Stephanie Danler, Sweetbitter (Knopf, May)
*Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, The Nest (Ecco, March)
– dysfunctional family saga
*Kemper Donovan, The Decent Proposal (Harper, April)
Chad Dundas, Champion of the World (Putnam, July)
– 1920s historical boxing saga
Hannah Gersen, Home Field (William Morrow, July)
– Friday Night Lights meets My So-Called Life
Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (Knopf, June)
– highly anticipated debut set across Ghana and America over 300-year span
Lynne Kutsukake, The Translation of Love (Doubleday, April)
Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer that Melted Everything (St. Martin’s, July)
Miroslav Penkov, Stork Mountain (FSG, March)
Camille Perri, The Assistants (Putnam, May)
– debut commercial fiction from Cosmopolitan books editor
Shobha Rao, An Unrestored Woman (Flatiron Books, March)
– short story collection debut
Steven Rowley, Lily and the Octopus (S&S, July)
Nina Sadowsky, Just Fall (Ballantine, March)
– debut from seasoned screenwriter/producer
Paul Vidich, An Honorable Man (Emily Bestler/Atria, April)
Jessica Winter, Break in Case of Emergency (Knopf, July)
– debut novel from Slate senior editor
Jung Yun, Shelter (Picador, March)

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 7, 2016

Take A Look Sunday – Elizabeth Martin

Ronnie started the Herman Agency in 1999 and represents many of the leading illustrators and author/illustrators in today’s children’s book market. As a former Art Director at Random House and Art Director, Associate Publisher and V.P. at Penguin Books’ Grosset & Dunlap, Ronnie art directed thousands of children’s books during her more than 20 years in working for major publishing hosues. Ronnie is also the author of 12 children’s books and one of her books has been on the NY Times best-seller list. Ronnie and the Agency are affiliated with the following organizations: SCBWI, Authors’ Guild, Graphic Artists’ Guild, U.S. Association of Accredited Business.

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Here is Ronnie talking about Elizabeth Martin:

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What a fun piece of art! I really like the palette and energy in this piece. I like these characters and want to see more of them and their antics. The characters and style look very contemporary yet classic enough not to become outdated. This piece certainly makes me want to see more of these friends and their antics.

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While the palette remains excellent and consistent, I am afraid I do not care for the profiles of these characters. They look stiff and the characters look too much alike. I suggest reworking the faces here and giving the girls different features and hairstyles and work on their chins and mouths. hairstyles In the first piece, I didn’t even notice that they both have the same hairstyles because so many good things were going on. Also, the blond girl doesn’t look like she is sitting on the tub–she is going to land on floor. I know from the first piece that you can make this as great as that one. If you have problems with profiles, as many artists do, put them in the tub and show a frontal view.

Have a great week, everyone! Until next Sunday ~ Ronnie


Elizabeth Martin is an author/illustrator. She went to St Martin’s College of Art and then to The Royal College of Art in London. She presently lives in San Francisco. elizabethbmartin.com


Thank you Ronnie for taking the time to share your expertise with us. It helps so many illustrators and is very much appreciated. Here is the Heman Agency website link: http://www.hermanagencyinc.com

HERE IS HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

If you do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what is working or how it could be tweaked to help you sell your work, then please send Two SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:

Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com. Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide. Please put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and include a blurb about yourself that I can use to introduce you to everyone.

Each Sunday one illustrator will be chosen.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Remember I’m always looking for illustrations I can use with articles I post. Send to: Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com. Put ILLUSTRATION FOR BLOG in the subject area. Remember all illustration need to be 500 pixels wide. Include a blurb about yourself, too.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 6, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – Lauren Mills

laurenmillsLLauren A. Mills has won national acclaim as a book author and illustrator and as a sculptor and painter. She was greatly influenced by the 19th century artists, especially the symbolists and the Pre-Raphaelites for their focus of the natural world, sense of wonder and mythical subject matter.

Lauren Mills received her Bachelors degree in Drawing and Painting from UC Santa Barbara and her Masters degrees in Book Illustration at San Jose State University in California. She is a visiting associate professor of Children’s Book Illustration at the Hollins University MFA Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books summer program in Roanoke, Virginia. Mills has also taught at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts and at Paier College of Art, and at the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford in Connecticut.

Mills began writing novels in 2010. Minna’s Patchwork Coat is her first novel that she also illustrated with fifty pencil drawings (Publication date: November, 2015 by Little, Brown). She won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Best Picture book for her story, Fairy Wings, which she co-illustrated with her husband, Dennis Nolan. The Rag Coat, a story both written and illustrated by Mills won New York State’s Charlotte Award for best picture book and Tatterhood and the Hobgoblins won the New England Design Award. Mills’ work has exhibited in galleries and museums across the country including at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Here is Lauren explaining her process:

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I sketched very small at first (thumbnails sketches which are about 1″ by 2″)  so I could think and draw ideas quickly. My process is to sketch out the thumbnails, then gather the reference to look at, and then I draw from my original thumbnail sketches and the photos, a combination of both. At times I didn’t have the reference for a certain scene and went only from my sketch.

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The best designs turn out this way. I then enlarged them on a printer machine and sent those into Little, Brown for their comments and approval. The two editors, Deirdre Jones and Andrea Spooner along with the art directors gave me much feedback. Then I gathered all the reference… I took over one hundred photos and did many thumbnails sketches… but only 50 final drawings ended up in the book.

Other reference, besides photographs, included actual things, such as the antique crazy quilt that hangs in our home, dolls, and the vintage looking clothes from Magnolia Pearl.  The photographs were taken in Massachusetts, where I live and in Virginia where I teach in the summer, and at the West Virginia Coal Mine Exhibition.  The dolls were my daughter’s dolls, who was in college and it was difficult to wrangle, Belini Bear away from her, but he behaved very well during the model session.

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This is the last scene in Minna’s Patchwork Coat.

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Transferring a line drawing with HB or softer pencil onto the final paper

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Loosely roughing in the darks and smudging with tissue…

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Going back and forth putting down darks, smoothing with tissue, lifting out with a kneaded eraser, going back in with pencil )the same method I use when I’m figure drawing from life. Refining it​.

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Refining it​ until finished

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Final Sketch for book cover

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Published cover

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Interior Art from Minna’s Patchwork Coat

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Interior Art from Minna’s Patchwork Coat
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Lauren proudly showing off the published book.

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How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating since I could hold a crayon and remember walking the neighborhood with my fellow artist/playmates exhibiting and selling our work or happily taking cookies in exchange. I always knew I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books, and my desire was all the more grounded when, at fifteen, I saw Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s Snow White. The cover, especially, instilled such a magical feeling in me, and powerfully brought me out of a teen age depression. I thought then and still do, that painting and writing fairy tales was my bliss to follow. For years I have had the poster of Burkert’s Snow White hanging in my studio/home. (see attached).

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What made you decide to get your BFA in Drawing and Painting from UC Santa Barbara?  

I lived in Connecticut until I was sixteen, then we moved to Oregon for a year and then Minnesota for three years. I studied English, Psychology and Art for two years at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota thinking that I’d be a child psychologist and, on the side, a writer and illustrator of children’s books since I was forewarned that one doesn’t usually make a living doing children’s books or painting pictures.  While I was at school in Minnesota I was illustrating my stories in art classes and discovering mentors in the books store such as Carl Larsson and Sulamith Wulfing, and the contemporary illustrators of “Fairies”, Alan Lee and Brian Froud. But while at school there, I had a life changing encounter with a young visiting printmaking professor who critiqued everyone’s work but mine. After class I asked her why she had skipped over my work. She told me that my work was illustration and that illustration was not considered art and hasn’t been for a long time. I asked her what art was and she showed me her work of strips of ripped paper hanging from the ceiling. I went back to my dorm room and cried for the first time for something I believed in. I then decided to change my major to art and to go to a warmer place – UC Santa Barbara.  I waitressed in Colorado and Santa Barbara first, ran a craft center and studied and taught calligraphy and ceramics before returning to school full time. But, alas, the same prejudice was at UCSB. I didn’t realize there were schools that focused primarily in Illustration and that those classes often cover classical principles of drawing and painting. While in school and after I illustrated for the local newspapers and designed and pasted up advertisements and calligraphed signs for the bookstore (all before computers, of course).

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When did you decide you wanted to get a Masters Degree in Illustration from San Jose State University?

When I moved up to Santa Cruz and looked for any type of job… waitressing, etc… I found I was one in fifty applying for those jobs. I knew of the Ford’s Department store that had a few fashion illustrators illustrating the ads that went into the newspapers. I spoke to one of the illustrators and she showed me the paper and mediums they used, and so I put together a few pieces and was hired there. They soon saw that I liked drawing children, so I was usually given the children’s ads. But one day my boss pulled me into his office and complained that all my children looked like sad orphans. I confessed that I wanted to illustrate children’s books, (and I remembered that conversation when I illustrated Anne of Green Gables.)

At that time, I was also working on my portfolio of illustrations and had been to some writing workshops, including a couple with Jane Yolen, my favorite author. While working in Fashion Illustration I contacted the illustrator, James LaMarche from Santa Cruz and he was sweet enough to look at my portfolio and suggested I go over the mountain and take some illustration classes there to “polish up” my work. So, I traveled a treacherous backroad and met with Professor Bunny Carter, thinking that, with her name, she’d be the illustrator of children’s books. I explained to her that I already had a degree but just wanted to prepare myself for a career in children’s books. She told me to sign up for Dennis Nolan’s classes because he had illustrated some children’s books. When I heard his name, something again, magically happened, almost as if I’d known him in another life.  There are very good rules in place now about teachers and students, but luckily they weren’t in place in California then.  My own bias aside, I learned more from Dennis than all the art classes put together. His training from his teachers goes back to Eakins, the French academy, Botticelli, and beyond. I didn’t marry him for his fantastic art instruction, but it has certainly been a perk. :)  I decided to get my Master’s Degree in Illustration, and Bunny (Alice Carter, author of The Red Rose Girls) was my advisor. I was the first in the California State school system to do so. After that I talked Dennis into leaving California and moving to the east coast where most of the publishers were and where Jane Yolen ran the SCBWI writing groups in western Massachusetts. We still live in Massachusetts and Jane is a member of our Illustrators’ guild that meets monthly. Dennis and I are also still meet with an offshoot of that original SCBWI writing group.

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How soon did you teach after receiving your Masters degree? 

In 1986 when we came east, Dennis was hired to start the Illustration program at the Hartford Art School and I was hired to teach a couple of illustration classes at Paier College of Art. I actually brought my portfolio to Paier to show in order to take an oil painting class, since that wasn’t a medium I had studied at San Jose State and really wanted to know. The director saw that I had a Master’s degree and he needed someone to teach, and so I was hired. I’m still in touch with a couple of those students from that first year who are illustrators. I continued to work in watercolor and graphite and it was years later that I studied and painted in oil.

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What was your first book you illustrated and how did that come about? 

It was even hard in the 1980’s to get published, though I admit there was a children’s boom and no computers competing, so, in comparison it was easier than it is today. As shy as I was I am pretty shocked at the aggressive means I took back then. When I was still an undergrad I went to an SCBWI conference and slept in my car in LA because I couldn’t afford the hotel.  While I was getting my Masters degree, Dennis and I went to an ALA conference by getting name tags through his library friend he had worked with. I brought a few pieces of work with me. While editors were sitting at tables trying to sell books I showed them my work or offered to and said that I’d be coming to the east coast and asked if I could make an appointment.  So, before we moved out there we made our rounds to publishing houses, basically calling editors, reminding them that they said we could see them and that we were only there a short time (and couldn’t just drop off our portfolios for the day as was usual). Once I even walked up the back steps into an office. Unbelievable! Then when we moved east we continued making appointments. I didn’t have any luck in NY. Most of the people looking at my portfolio were female around twenty-nine like I was and therefor didn’t trust me. Some older editors said I was too classical and though suited for fairy tales (I was showing Thumbelina and my own stories) I wasn’t famous enough to be assigned one.

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By the time we went to Boston I was pretty discouraged.  From a phone booth across the street, I called up David Godine’s office and mentioned that David had sent me a letter saying he liked my work, which he had, and I asked if I could see him rather than the art director. This was denied. I told Dennis, who waited in the car, that if I didn’t get a contract I was going to cut my hair off and wear glasses in order to look like a studious man. Then I said, “O.B. One, Godine, you’re my only hope,” and walked in.

A young, female art director, my age, sat in the hall with me, flipping through my portfolio while my heart sank. Then, another magical thing happened. One of the salesmen walked behind me, glanced at the work, then came back with David Godine! From there David took over and told me I’d be perfect to illustrate George MacDonald’s “At the Back of the North Wind” and asked me if I’d read it.  I promised to read it as he loaded my arms with tons of their books. When I came out to the car, with my arms full and a smile on my face, Dennis said, “Does this mean you won’t be cutting your hair off?”

So, my first illustrated book was that novel and then David asked me to illustrate “Anne of Green Gables”. The next book was a Jane Yolen book. She had liked all my botanical paintings and little fairy like creatures and so she wrote, Elfabet, an ABC of Elves and presented it with a sample illustration I did, (something that is usually not done.) Maria Modugno of Little, Brown contracted the book and while I was illustrating it I got pregnant and by the end of the book I could hardly reach the art table. Curiously, my baby turned out looking quite a bit like the elves I painted. During this time I sent Maria a very long text for my version of Tatterhood which she deftly cut in half. I also told her about a song I’d heard on the radio years back about a little girl and a coat of scraps, written by Dolly Parton. I wanted to illustrate the song, but as I recounted what I remembered I added different parts, changing the theme. Maria told me to write the story I told her, which became my first written book, “The Rag Coat” which has been my biggest success and has been in print in hardback since 1991.

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How many books have you illustrated?  

I’ve illustrated fourteen children’s books, nine of which I also wrote, and I’ve illustrated a few gift books.  After the two novels, Elfabet, The Rag Coat and Tatterhood, I illustrated a Russian tale retold by Robert San Souci, The Tsars Promise , and the rest were all my own original stories such as The Dog Prince, Fairy Wings (winner of SCBWI Golden Kite Award) and Fia and the Imp that I co-illustrated with Dennis, The Goblin Baby, and retellings such as The Book of Little Folk ( a collection of stories and poems) and my last picture book, the fairy tale I finally got to do, Thumbelina. But by that time, 2005, the children’s boom was over, computers were here, 911 had shaken up NY and the whole book market and our society had changed. Nostalgic, longer fairy tales, classically illustrated were a thing of the past.

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Why did you start sculpting?

After our daughter was born in 1990, I got some clay and began sculpting her. Dennis noticed I really took to sculpting and since we needed to move to a bigger house anyway, he suggested we go to Lyme, CT to study sculpture at Lyme Academy where we also worked on our book projects for a year or so. When we returned to Massachusetts we sometimes went down for a class. I also began sculpting one of a kind dolls and selling them, but eventually had to give up sculpting to focus on the books and raising our daughter.

Years later, when the market crashed and it was harder to find work someone suggested I change my name and change my style, but instead I went back into sculpting. I also started a fine arts gallery with a friend who had a frame shop. I studied classical drawing, painting and sculpture at the Grand Central Academy and painted some portraits in oil and made portraits and figures in bronze.

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I thought I’d never return to children’s books, but when I joined a stream of conscience writing group I started writing The Rag Coat as a novel as well as the beginning of other fantasy novels.  I also saw read posts on Amazon about my books changing lives, especially one on Tatterhood and how it helped a girl who felt different get through childhood. I approached Andrea Spooner and Deirdre Jones at Little Brown to see if they’d like to see my novel version of “The Rag Coat”.  They both were wonderful and worked with me on the editing process, which I loved, and now it is finally a novel, my first novel, Minna’s Patchwork Coat, published November and 2015 illustrated with 50 pencil illustrations. And I didn’t have to change my name or style, although it’s fun to reinvent yourself, and now I am trying new approaches.

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How did the sculpting and other classes affect your style? 

I don’t know if I can say that the classical studies affected my style, but they definitely helped me understand and observe form better which improved my drawing skills and they helped me be a better teacher. I teach people how to observe and understand what they’re seeing in the natural world via anatomy, value, perspective, color theory, and using sculpture.  Style comes from your own personal preferences and from within.  Education will never hinder your style but will give you the tools to do what ever you want with it.

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How long have you taught at Hollins University’s MFA program in Writing and Illustrating Childrens Books? 

Ruth Sanderson, the co-director, hired me in 2012 to teach the Drawing Fundamentals. Then, only a certificate program in the Illustration component was offered. At some point I suggested that we combine the Illustration program with some of the MFA writing classes to make a one and only MFA in both Writing and Illustrating. Amanda Cockrell, director of the Children’s Literature program loved the idea and within a year it was installed.  It’s a wonderful program that is taught for six weeks in the summer for a few summers. Besides the regular great professors, we have wonderful guest authors, illustrators, agents and editors come down to speak and teach. I’ve also been teaching Watercolor in the Illustration Department at the University of Hartford for the last couple of years.

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Have you thought of doing a wordless picture book or other formats? 

As an illustrator, this may sound funny, but I really like words telling the story. I paint and draw for the beauty of it and to show emotion. I could see doing a novel with lots of pictures and words to tell the story, such as Wonderstruck. Dennis Nolan, my partner has illustrated a couple of wordless books very successfully. But for him, the images come to him first. Wordless books are a wonderful tool for children to find the language to make up their interpretation of what they observe.

For me, the words, the story and the emotions and conversations come first. In today’s market, I’m not really a picture book author/illustrator. Editors now want the word count to be no more than 300. For some reason, the majority of the picture book audience has changed to toddlers or perhaps to parents who don’t want to spend more than three minutes reading a book to them.  I could write a whole article on what I feel about this, but here’s the short version:  From my experience watching our own daughter as a toddler recite long passages from fairy tales or make up layered stories of her own, using beautiful adjectives she’d heard us read out loud, I believe strongly that young children need, more than ever, intricate and evocative stories and pictures, especially fantasy tales. You can ask any long time high school or college teacher today if students have the same ability to focus and create using their imagination as students had fifteen years ago, and they will tell you that they do not, and furthermore that most students now lack passion and motivation. Years ago, I wrote about all of this in my forward to The Book of Little Folk when research had been done on the importance of fairy tales on the imagination and the damage to a child’s development caused by our push-button society. Since then we have accelerated our push-button entertainment and communication even more and the effects are noticeable and frightening.

I think publishers, educators, and marketers of children’s books and toys have the responsibility to save our culture by the products they push in front of fragile minds and souls. The art and writing you are exposed to at an early age forms you. It’s a little like: You are what you eat. I happen to think beautifully, well-crafted pictures and stories with heart, soul, and ethics of kindness are what children deserve to be fed on. I’ve been told by an agent and an editor that my illustrations are “ too precious” and not “edgy” enough and my writing “too quiet”.   I’ve also been told by a top executive at Random House that her children would love my fairy poems. She took my poems to read to them, but she said that she couldn’t publish poems in today’s market. And I’ve sat at a table selling books and have seen mothers with young children ask me if there’s anything scary in the book. I don’t shy away from scary, because I think it’s important as long as the child in the story is given the agency to overcome adversity. But I don’t believe that so called “humorous” books with endings where one larger, scarier character gets back at another smaller character by destroying them is a comforting or guiding message to give a small child, especially in today’s world of shootings, etc… These books may sell well, but is it the adults who are buying them that think they’re funny?  Our moral obligation to children should come before anything else. Perhaps we should have children guide our content in books the way Bank Street worked with children to figure out what to publish.

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Do you do research for your books? 

For my writing I usually start writing stream-of-conscience. It’s almost as if dreaming on paper, and that part is very magical and exciting just like pretending as a child. Then the hard part comes when I need to figure out where the story is going. I then have to go back and work on the beginning and rewrite as well as research where needed.

For my illustrations I start with small “thumbnail” sketches to get the idea and composition and feeling. Then I often pose models for the reference shots. It’s always fun to work with little kids, especially those who like to pretend. I also take reference shots outdoors and set up objects to draw directly from.

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Do you work in a studio inside your home or outside?

I’ve done both, but prefer having my studio in my home which can make the place messy. We used to live in a 30’ by 60’ converted post and beam barn on fifteen acres of woods and gardens. It was a perfect place to raise a child and create children’s books. We had two whippets and a host of wild animal friends, some of whom ate from our hands and some, (mice and toads) modeled for us for awhile before returning to the wild. We didn’t and still don’t have a TV and we sent our daughter to a Waldorf school where they discouraged television watching.

Now we live along side a bike path and lake in an old brick factory building with many other artists on the fourth floor. Businesses are on the other floors, including a restaurant, gym, hair salon, printer, photographer, knick knack shop, gallery space and a figure sketching club… all of which make life very convenient. Our studio apartment is also 30 x 60 and with windows 20’ high. Our living area is between Dennis’s side and my side of the studio and is where we hold our writers’ and illustrators’ meetings, so basically, we have our home in our art studio.

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What is your working routine? 

We wake up and do yoga stretches, still half asleep, then go downstairs to the gym or outside for a walk. Then we have a smoothie, shower and eat the rest of the breakfast. We then start our work day of either writing or painting, but so many times there are other things and people that need tending to. I help my parents who live five minutes away and with teaching there is always something to tend to, besides other chores or emails. So, to remedy the days getting broken up with chores that hinder the concentration and ability to go into “fairy land” we schedule “retreats” where we turn off the phone and computer and do nothing but work (and eat). We started by scheduling writing retreats with our writer’s group… going to one of our homes and pot-lucking the meals. We’d spend concentrated hours writing, then critique and eat, then write, then critique and eat. It’s heaven! So, we thought we should try to schedule it at home more often in order to focus and get work done.  Otherwise, it’s too easy to first tend to all the things you’re “supposed to” get done and your creative work time ends up getting cut up into pieces or disappearing altogether.

We also have been figure drawing from life two to three times a week which is like exercise for artists. And even if our day was filled with errands, if we go figure drawing at night we still feel like artists and have accomplished something. We try to meet with our writers’ group, usually at our place, at least a couple of times a month, which also keeps us disciplined.

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Is your daughter an artist? 

Yes, she graduated from the Hartford Art School of the University of Hartford where she had her dad as a teacher. She also studied music at the Hartt School. She has painted on the “Raft of the Medusa” and other old master copies for Jeff Koons who sold them for millions. But now she is a part time nanny, paints figures and abstract paintings, belly dances with snakes and has just finished her first album, Voice of a Siren and music videos that you can see on you tube under Genevieve May.

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Do you use photoshop or a graphic tablet and has the internet opened doors for you?

If I could wave a magic wand I would live in a Medieval village where everything is handmade and people walk to all the shops and homes. I work with my hands and use photoshop when I’m sending work via the internet. I have a website and facebook and pinterest that I keep up with. I do like gathering favorite images and quotes and sharing them and seeing what other people share. I actually shared my idea of an artist/eco village and a childhood friend’s daughter responded asking me to help her design a village on her land in Costa Rica!  So, in that way the internet has been wonderful. I also love this blog and have my students subscribe to it for the valuable information, and I sell some giclees on Etsy, but other than that the internet has not, that I know of, helped my career, unless people are buying my books because they’ve seen me or others posts about my books. My work has appeared on blogs and in actual magazines and perhaps that has helped sales, but I can’t tell.

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What are you working on now and what are your goals? 

I am working on a faerie novel loosely based on Tatterhood and have other novels at various stages.  I also am working on a series of oil paintings which may turn out to become illustrations to a story. Sometimes it’s fun to have the image inspire the story. I also want to combine the sculpting and the painting in my work.

On a large scale, I really would like to see this Utopian village I imagine come to life. I will put it into a story, but I also would love to see these villages spring up all over the United States. I think we would be happier people living in hand-made storybook villages where people make and are taught the old arts.

Thumbelina1

Are there any painting tips or materials you can share with others? 

We are now liking Fabriano, hot press, extra white paper which is very smooth and allows for detail. The brushes we still like are Raphael Kolinski sable brushes.

 TheRagCoat

What advice can you give to aspiring artists? 

I always tell students to “follow their bliss” as Joseph Campbell said, and take their art and themselves seriously by practicing and listening to their own voice… be their own best friend, and keep looking at favorite artists of the past and present as well as observing nature. I also tell students to love what they do and do what they love… One of my favorite quotes is by John Burton: “It is the love of the process that pulls one through the discipline necessary to master the demands of that craft.”

MockingbirdW.C.

Thank you Lauren 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 Lauren’s work, you can visit her at website at: http://laurenmillsart.com/illustration.html

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 5, 2016

Free Fall Friday – Adrienne Szpyrka

blogAdrienne

I am please to announce that Adrienne Szpyrka has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for February. 

Adrienne Szpyrka is an assistant editor at Sky Pony Press, searching for new middle grade and young adult voices. She acquires mostly contemporary and historical fiction, but reads all genres in her spare time and has a weakness for a good princess story. She loves books that move her (bonus points if they make her laugh), and she’s always looking for stories that bring more diversity to the kids’ book world. She attended the University of Michigan as an undergrad and has a master’s in publishing from Emerson College.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “February First Page 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).

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 skipped 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: February 18th.

RESULTS: February 25th.

Please only submit one first page a month. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow

Kathy

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