Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 28, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – Susan Swan

I love paper and I love making, painting, decorating, cutting, bending, tearing, and otherwise manipulating it whether by hand or mostly these days, digitally. I enjoy combining hand painted details with areas of cut paper and sometimes real materials. I love exploring the possibilities. Picturebooks and reviews can be seen at She show work in progress, experiments with paint, paper, and collage on her blog: Susan Swan has won awards from The Society of Illustrators, The 3-Dimensional Art Directors and Illustrators Show, Graphic Design:USA, Art Direction Magazine/Creativity Show, Children’s Book Council Joint Committee, New York Book Show; and The Educational Press Association of America, among others. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Graphic Artists Guild, and


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 28, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – Susan Swan


Susan Swan was born and grew up in Lake Worth, FL. She attended and graduated with a BA and MFA, with Honors, from Florida State University.

She  illustrates books using paper, color, and paint. She also, makes jewelry in very tiny Ovilla, TX with artist/woodworker/computer geek/husband Terry Rasberry.

She is a member of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, the Artist Guild, and

Here is Susan Explaining her process:

I scan in the painted papers I love to make, and cut and paste on the computer and combine it all with painting done digitally and sometimes with real objects scanned in too like this wagon and wood textures. It’s a fascinating procedure and such fun.

paper swatches

Swatches of some of my painted papers and a wagon shot locally and used in this next spread.


I roughly sketch in objects and paint and cut and paste papers until I’ve got something close to what’s in my head. Each element is on a layer so that I can move things around, change colors and patterns, add shadows. whatever …


Some illustrations are not so obviously 3 dimensional. I paint on layers, add scanned papers, and play with the opacity to blend things together just as if I were layering translucent papers and paint on a surface by hand.


A few covers



How long have you been illustrating?

I have been drawing or doing various ‘crafty’ things since childhood but ‘officially’ started illustrating while working my way through college. I got some great experience in illustration and design working for the state of Florida Dept. of Tourism design department or what ever it was called then (that was a long time ago!), FSU university publications and TV station, and later an advertising firm off campus.

What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?

I don’t really remember but I’m guessing it was probably spots for a brochure for FSU.

Did you go to school for art? If so where and why did you pick that school?

I applied only to Fla. State Univ. because their art department seemed better than the University of Florida’s. I had to stay in state where it was much less expensive and I knew I could get a scholarship.


What did you study there?

I wanted a good liberal arts background along with the art studies so I took both and graduated with a BA, with Honors, in advertising design. At that point I had discovered that I preferred illustration over design so I decided to continue for my Master’s of Fine Art degree in order to study illustration. Normally the school wouldn’t let you go directly from a BA to studying for a MFA as they wanted the student to have life experience before continuing on. Since I had worked my way through I already had plenty of life experience!

Do you feel College helped develop your style?

Not really, but it was where I learned all the basics and got the groundwork needed to grow further.

bird nest
What type of work did you do after you got out of school?

I continued at the advertising agency for a short while and then moved to CT where I had a relative I could stay with while I job hunted. My plan was to find a job in NYC, but instead I got offered a wonderful job in Westport, CT for a small design firm doing mostly work for school book publishers. They also had a stable of artists they represented and they took me on. After a few years I was getting too much free lance work to be able to also do my day job so I became a full time free lance illustrator. I was very lucky being offered that job and that it was in Westport. It was a very artsy town with many famous magazine illustrators living there (the old Famous Artist’s School was there too). Lots of advertising agency people and artists lived there and worked in New York. I got to meet and get to know so many fabulous artists.

Did art school help you get work when you graduated?

No, but I never thought to ask.

Have you seen your work change since you left school?


When did you start using cut paper and paint for you illustrations?

I have always liked experimenting and it was useful when I worked for the design firm in CT as we were always looking for different ways to handle a subject. I worked in line, scratch board, watercolor, gouache, cut paper, everything; I even designed and sewed hand puppets for a math book.

hen scratch
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I can’t say I really decided, the studio I worked for dealt mainly in children’s art and those were the kind of assignments I was offered – later on I did many different kinds of things but gravitated mostly to the children’s market.

collecting seashells
What was your first book you illustrated?

THE MOUSE’S WEDDING. In 1972! for Scholastic. It stayed in print until the last several years, but I haven’t gotten any royalties for a while. It did well and even sold out the first printing right away.


How did you get that contract?

Through my agent.

flea market
Have you done other types of illustrating outside the Children’s book industry?

Sure. Magazines, greeting cards, craft books, billboards, various college language books, I’m sure I’m forgetting things.

garden market
How many picture books have you illustrated?

Around 50+ and lots of school readers (mini picture books)

road stand
Was When Autumn Falls your first book with Albert Whitman & Company?


hen house
How did you get that contract?

I don’t remember – Either I sent them postcards or they saw my portfolio site (
or my blog (

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

Many years ago I tried to come up with some stories but couldn’t get any interest. My stories were too much like what was already out there.

What book do you think was your biggest success?

A couple of my favorite books haven’t sold all that much for some reason but I loved working on them and like the results so much that they are successful to me; and they led to other projects.
Guess Who’s In the Desert? by Charline Profiri, put out by the small publisher Rico Chico and
Out On the Prairie by Donna Bateman, published by Charlesbridge.

Maybe the Season series for Albert Whitman. AW are terrific as they tend to keep books in print so that the artist has a chance to make royalties. I have high hopes for my latest series for them too. Very nice reviews and lovely letters from parent’s of kid fans. I just had a father write and ask me to sign a birthday card for his 4 yr. old daughter. SUN ABOVE AND BLOOMS BELOW is one of her favorite bed time stories.

happy new year
Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who and how did the two of you connect? If not, would you like to try one?

No, but used to. I have had 3 over the years but much prefer being on my own now.


Do you illustrate full time?

Yes, although … I have not been promoting my work much in the last year and work has slowed down. Since I finished SUN ABOVE, BLOOMS BELOW I thought I needed a rest after doing so many books in a row along with other illustrations projects. I was exhausted. I have been concentrating on my jewelry making business lately ( and have become a little obsessed with it. All the things I love about illustration are involved, designing and experimenting and putting together beautiful colors and textures, making things that make people happy … and doing it all by hand, which I miss a little in my illustration since I now do my book art primarily on the computer.

polly pirate
Do you have a favorite medium you use?

Photoshop. These days I do digital collage and I can scan in the painted papers I love to make, and cut and paste on the computer and combine it all with painting done digitally. It’s a fascinating procedure and such fun.

watermelon and corn

Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Sometimes, depends on the assignment.

Have you worked with any educational publishers?

Many. I’ve done tons of school readers, and textbooks from kindergarten through college level.

Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

Yes. I switched from totally working by hand to computer about 10-15 years ago. Trying to meet deadlines when I had to factor in time to get my work photographed and the film processed was becoming a struggle; and back then I saw a trend for clients preferring digital files starting.

Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

Yes. Love my Wacom! But I would love a Cintiq.

Do you do exhibits to show off your art?

Not lately. A few years ago I even tore up stacks of old 3-d cut paper illustrations I had been holding on to. I kept thinking I would try to sell originals but having shadow boxes made would have been so expensive and finally I decided there wouldn’t be enough of a demand. I did save a few small boxes of elements (bugs, animals, flowers, Roman soldiers) from some of the art just in case I had a brilliant idea one day of a way to use them.

Would you be willing to work with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?

I’d rather work directly with a publisher and so far have turned down all requests. There are just so many things that can go wrong. I have heard however, that many people have worked successfully with self-publishers.

Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

Yes. It’s been a while – trying to remember names … a spot in Time mag a long time ago, medical mags., specialty mags, Good Housekeeping, inflight airline mag …. can’t remember names. In the last several years it has only been children’s magazines: Highlights, Ladybug, Babybug, Storyworks, etc.

Do you studio a studio in your house?

The studio is a separate building behind our house.

Is there anything in your studio you couldn’t live without?

Mac, paint, inks, paper, clay, beads, jewelry tools, ipad, camera, all the folk art I’ve collected over the years.

Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?

I get up and work everyday.

Any exciting projects on the horizon?

I was asked by Belle Armoire Jewelry to showcase my polymer clay/mixed media jewelry. I’m not sure when the article will appear, in the Fall I think. Nothing for books at the moment.

bird feeders
Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?

Absolutely! I remember the old days, when I lived in Westport, dragging my very heavy portfolio around NYC in the scorching summer. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that anymore.
It is so much easier to have someone see your portfolio on your website or blog, email to see if you are available for a project, email signed contracts, send sketches and final art, and sometimes even get payments direct deposited into your checking account.
On the downside it is easier for the other millions of artists all over the world to get found and compete.

rain and umbrellas
What are your career goals?

I would like to continue to create more picture books in my digital collage style (and grow my jewelry business too).

What are you working on now?

I have just finished a couple of illustrations for Scholastic’s ‘Storyworks Magazine’ and Cricket Media’s ‘Ladybug Magazine’. Now I need to spend time updating my portfolio site which hasn’t been changed for far too long. (My portfolio is fairly up to date)

volcano erupting

Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?

Just keep on keeping on. Persevere. Keep growing, trying new things, experimenting – find the style and methods that work for you. Keep developing your portfolio. Have an online presence, send out postcards showing your work to art buyers. Don’t give up. Join the Graphic Artist’s Guild; they have a ton of information and advise that you need.



Thank you Susan 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 Susan’s work, you can visit her at website at:

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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 27, 2016

Free Fall Friday – Results

jaida New Leaf LiteraryHere are the four first pages chosen for May and reviewed by Jaida Temperly agent at New Leaf Literary.

Text in red represents Jaida’s comments. Bold text indicates the text that corresponds with Jaida’s comments.

Jaida is actively building her Children’s and Adult list. She loves all things Middle Grade, especially those that are a bit quirky, strange, and fantastical. She’s also open to YA submissions (all genres), and picture books by author-illustrators with completed dummies.

For all other fiction (both Adult and Children’s) she has an affinity for magical realism, historical fiction, and literary fiction, as well as stories with a strong mystery and/or religious undertones (The Westing Game, A Discovery of Witches, The DaVinci Code, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Outlander, The Rule of Four, etc.).

On the non-fiction side, she’s actively seeking topics that are offbeat and a bit strange (Stiff:The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, etc.), as well as photography projects that offer unique insight into the human experience (Humans of New York, The Scar Project, etc.).

Below are the four first pages with Jaida’s comments:

Plus  –   Julie Phend   –   Middle Grade

Chapter One: Bella

Bella peered out the passenger window as Mom slid their old blue Toyota into an open handicapped parking spot at Madison Middle School and hung the permit. Slow this down a bit. There’s a lot of action going on, which makes this a bit of a jarring first sentence.

Hordes of kids crowded the schoolyard. Boys tossed balls and raced across the grass. Skinny girls in tight leggings whispered behind cupped fingers and couples stood nearby, hands laced together.

Bella glanced at her mother. “I-I didn’t realize a thousand kids would be so many.” The words caught in her throat.

Mom smiled, taking Bella’s chin and looking into her eyes. “Plus it,” she saidThis is a cool phrase but we don’t know what it means. I recommend inserting a single sentence putting this into context for readers.

Bella pursed her lips, thinking. “Okay. New faces means new friends, right?”

“That’s my girl.” Mom kissed Bella’s forehead and brushed a lock of hair from her eyes.

Bella glanced into the visor mirror and winced, yanking it back to cover her scars. Ohhh this is intriguing. But you pass over it too quickly. Again, give us a bit more context – where are the scars? How deep are they? Just a single line should do it.

“Stop it, Bella. You don’t need to hide. You’re beautiful just as you are.”

Bella made a face. “You always say that.”

“Because you are. Now, come on. I’ll walk you in.”

“Mother!” Bella slammed the visor up. “I’m in eighth grade.”

“You’re sure?” Mom’s voice rose, which meant she was getting nervous. “Do you have everything? Are your hearing aids on?” This is a bit wordy – I recommend picking an active verb to describe her voice. For example, “Mom’s voice pinched in her throat.” Or something similar to imply nervousness

“Yes, yes, and yes.” Bella leaned over to give her mom a quick peck on the cheek, and then opened the door. “See you after school.” She jumped out before Mom could say another word.

Jaida’s Notes: You do a really great job at setting the scene – I can absolutely see Bella and Mom peering out at the Middle School crowd! With that said, I recommend slowing the pacing down just a touch, so as to give us more context – the scars, the phrases, etc. Additionally, I recommend fleshing out Bella’s emotional arc. How does she feel about all of this? We know that Mom is nervous – but how is Bella reacting?

Amelia and the Viking Pirates  –  Susan E. Harris  –  MG Fantasy

“Listen to this!” Amelia read from the western thriller—John and the Pony Express: “ ‘Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages $25 per week. ” She looked over at her sister. “That would’ve been the perfect job. I’d have traveled and been paid for it!”

Muriel laughed. “You are young and wiry. But you are certainly not a fellow.”

“Nor an orphan.” Amelia nodded her agreement. “And now the pony express no longer exists.”

I love this sisterly banter. Nice job. Really sets the tone and scene.

She turned her gaze to the rain streaked windows of the library. Then to the table covered with books and maps. A self-propelled, mechanized globe clicked away on a stand of delicate gears. Amelia loved using the attached magnifying glass, with its many colored lenses, to study the continents. A thrill ran through her as she thought about all the mysterious places she’d like to see—Egypt, India, China. Ancient ruins deep in a dark jungle. Crumbling Irish castles. Stonehenge. “But just think…I could’ve explored. I’d have had a real horse. I’d—”

“But who needs a real horse? Not with Edison’s Mechanical Marvels.” Love this detail! Muriel grinned from the armchair by the fireplace. “I heard he’s adding pug dogs to his pet line.”

“An elephant would be better,” said Amelia. She moved some yellowed maps and held up another book—Aladdin. “Or a flying carpet. Or…how about a flying elephant?!”

As she spoke she heard a low grumble reverberated across the room and the windows rattled.  Was that thunder? Amelia wondered as the windows began rattleding. Don’t lead readers too much. Give us just enough to draw their own conclusions. This is just some suggested wording but feel free to tweak as you see fit. All the beautiful treasures that Grandpapa had collected vibrated on the shelves. Several antique vases and figurines fell and shattered. The large ormolu clock jumped but stayed in place on the mantel.

These sentences say similar things. Condense them into a single paragraph and then jump back to Amelia, so you don’t lose the pacing.

The rumble grew louder causing the house to hake. Then large shards of glass from the windows crashed in followed by leather boots attached to men swinging in on ropes.

Jaida’s Notes: This is such a great opening page. You immediately set the whimsical tone with the mentions of libraries, jungles, travel, etc. My only suggestion is to tighten up your writing when describing outside details – such as the grumbling in the room. At times you tend to repeat yourself, so condense the wording and use active verbs, so that your narrative packs just as great of a punch as your dialogue. Nice job!

Into Enemy Arms  –  Bebe Willoughby  –  Young Adult

Chapter 1,  December 23, 1776 ,

I was running, moving fast. The cold air hit my face, and the snowflakes danced off my cloak. I couldn’t stop running.

I’d been out sketching an old farmhouse, and on the way home I’d seen a British soldier staring at me, and it seemed he was going to follow me.  Give us more context here to set the scee. Where was she? In the woods – outside the city?

We were at war, the Loyalists against the Rebels. My family were Loyalists, and the British were supposed to protect us, but they had seized homes and churches for barracks and horses.

This afternoon it started to snow. We already know this – you’ve mentioned snowflakes. Condense this information so it’s not repetitive.  There were farms in this part of New Jersey, and I’d walked too far. When I reached the town, seeing the taverns and shops, I walked home. We lived right in town. After I opened the front door, I called out. Mother came towards me and then stood still.  This text is a bit jarring, as it’s purely character actions. Can you smooth it out into a single sentence or so? “Where have you been? I’ve been worried.”  She pulled me to her, and I hugged her. “You must be careful,” she said.

Father came towards us. “There is little danger, but there have been a few incidents. Don’t stay out so late. Besides you missed dinner.”  This dialogue feels a bit stiff. How does it make the narrator feel? What is their reaction?

Dinner was at 3’clock, and supper was when the sun went down. At today’s supper, our small meal of the day, we ate bread and cheese. Father was a doctor, and he seldom talked about his work. My-six year- old brother John rolled his eyes and jumped off his chair.

“You’re excused,” Mother said with annoyance.

Despite the snow, Doctor Edgar Stuart, a friend of father’s, came to visit us that night. He seemed so serious, as if he had something on his mind.  I took his cloak and hat to hang up, and when he handed me his gloves, his hands were shaking.  Give us more emotional insight into Sarah’s reaction. How does she feel about the doctor visiting? What does this mean to her?  

“Good evening, Miss Sarah,” he said.

“Good evening, Sir.” I performed a courtesy.

“I have something important to talk about tonight, and I hope you’re pleased,” he said.

Jaida’s Notes: I really love the setting of your story – but the dialogue and narrative is a bit stiff. Part of this is because you’re not giving Sarah time to react to the new setting, or give readers insight into her emotional arc. For example, what does it mean (in the big picture of things) that a doctor is visiting their home? Is it a good thing – or does it hint to sickness? As a protagonist, Sarah needs to be giving context, even if it’s just a line or two, to show readers what the implications are.

STEEL MILLS TO SALVATION  –  Roz Silva  –  Middle Grade Historical

July 3, 1911–I should have been overjoyed. I had finally done it! But instead, I was tired, hungry, scared and in desperate need of a bath. Looking down at the tattered, baggy clothes covering my sweaty, thin body, I wondered what to do next. I had no money and nowhere to go. Then I remembered Pittsburgh. That’s where Vlade was supposed to be. I’d go there.   Slow this pacing down. There’s a lot of information going on! What is the setting? What did the protagonist do that they should be overjoyed about? Who is Vlade?    

“What’s the matter, kid? You lost?” a voice behind me said.

I spun around. It was Stevo—from the ship.  We need more context here. Who is Stevo? What ship?

I had met him after the first storm but before the second one. The waters had turned rough that day and the ship began to rock up and down and from side to side, like a bobbing cork. Below deck, I quickly felt the change. I tried to steady myself on my bunk, but I was no match for the forces of nature. When a huge wave tilted the ship, I was dumped on the floor. Soon, my stomach was rumbling and I was gasping for air. I had to get out of there—fast. Bumping into others and shoving them out of my way, I climbed up to the main deck, yelling “Move!” in Serbian. And they did. 

On deck, along with about fifty other people already there, I grabbed the rail and spilled the contents of my upset stomach into the churning ocean. “Whew,” I said to no one in particular, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I felt somewhat relieved, but could hardly stand. With wobbly legs, I returned to my room, staggering the whole way. Day turned into night more than once, but I could not tell the difference. Drifting in an out of consciousness, I had nothing to eat or drink and no one to take care of me. Finally, when I felt better, I sat up. My clothes were soaked with sweat and I was dying for a drink.  I needed food too. Slowly, I let myself down off the bunk and climbed the steps leading to the main deck. This is good information but it needs to be organically woven into the narration – not as an aside. Otherwise, it pulls readers out of the story and also causes these opening pages to come across as jarring. Because within the first few paragraphs, you’re already jumping to a different scene and timeline.

Jaida’s Notes: Really great writing style. And I love the energy of the opening sentence. But everything happens to quickly. Slow the pacing down so as to establish character, tone, setting, etc. Otherwise, it’s confusing who the protagonist is, who Vlade is, etc. We need to know these details before we dive into more action with a flashback scene.

Thank you Jaida for sharing your expertise with everyone. It is really appreciated.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 26, 2016

Agent Molly Ker Hawn


Molly Ker Hawn represents authors who write for the young adult and middle grade market.

My time in the children’s publishing industry has included editorial roles at Chronicle Books and Dial Books for Young Readers, early social media development for a major teen magazine, and serving as National Programs Director at the Children’s Book Council, the trade association of American children’s book publishers. I’ve also been a bookseller, and I’m a past board member of the United States Board on Books for Young People.

She lives in London and works with authors and publishers both in the U.K. and the U.S. She has bounced back and forth from America to England since she was a teenager: She grew up in Northern California, lived for a time in the West Country, read English at Cambridge University, spent many years in New York City, and now lives a stone’s throw from the River Thames.

To query Molly, please review The Bent Agency  submissions guidelines
Then email

I’m looking for middle grade and young adult fiction that’s inventive, well-crafted, and rich with emotion. I’m also interested in non-fiction for readers ages 8-18. I like wit, but not snark; I prefer books that lean more toward literary than commercial, but of course, my perfect book neatly bridges the two. The books on my list all share a strong sense of authentic place, whether real or imaginary. Some of my favorite (non-client) authors are Ellen Raskin, Edward Ormondroyd, Margo Lanagan, Maureen Johnson, Jack Gantos, Jacqueline Woodson, Catherynne Valente, Chris Crutcher, Francesca Lia Block, Noel Streatfeild, Gene Luen Yang, and Susan Cooper. And in the non-children’s/YA pantheon, my favorites include Maeve Binchy, AS Byatt, Mollie Panter-Downes, Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury, Laurie Colwin, and Judith Krantz.

If you’ve got a terrific story, well-told, I want to read it.

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 25, 2016

No Fee Poetry Card Contest – $300


Blue Mountain Arts

Announces Its Twenty-eighth Biannual Poetry Card Contest
Deadline: June 30, 2016

1st prize: $300 * 2nd prize: $150 * 3rd prize: $50

In addition, the winning poems will be displayed on our website

Poetry Contest Guidelines:

  1. Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better.
  2. We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.
  3. Poems are judged on the basis of originality and uniqueness.
  4. English-language entries only, please.
  5. Enter as often as you like!

Poetry Contest Rules

All entries must be the original creation of the submitting author. All rights to the entries must be owned by the author and shall remain the property of the author. The author gives permission to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. to publish and display the entry on the Web (in electronic form only) if the entry is selected as a winner or finalist. Winners will be contacted within 45 days of the deadline date. Contest is open to everyone except employees of Blue Mountain Arts and their families. Void where prohibited.

How to Submit

Simply complete the Poetry Contest Submission Form, or if you prefer, you may send your submission via snail mail* to:

Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest,
P.O. Box 1007, Dept. E,
Boulder, CO 80306.

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 24, 2016

Agent Building Client List

Laura Hartman (WriteKnit) is the lucky winner of Sylvia Liu’s new book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA – Congratulations! Please contact me with your address.

jain inklinglitAmanda Jain has loved books for as long as she can remember. When she was a kid, Amanda always had her head in a book. In her room, in the car, in the bathtub, wherever. She probably would have brought a book to the dinner table every evening if that was allowed.

After earning a BA in English, she worked in the trade department at W. W. Norton for seven years before leaving to pursue graduate studies. She graduated in 2011 with a MA in the history of decorative arts. Amanda then joined Inklings in 2014, first as an intern and then as Michelle’s assistant.

Amanda is primarily interested in adult fiction in the following categories: historical fiction (in all genres), women’s / book club / upmarket fiction, romance (particularly historical, suspenseful, or with a comedic bent), mysteries (particularly historical or cozy, or historical cozies), and narrative nonfiction in the areas of social history, archaeology, art history, material culture, etc. She is also interested in select YA and MG projects with unique hooks and a strong voice.

In all cases, what Amanda is most looking for is a story that completely immerses the reader in the world of the book. She wants to feel the sun on her shoulders, smell the smoke of the battlefield, and hear the horses galloping in the distance.

Amanda is NOT the agent to query with picture books, memoirs, self-help, poetry, erotica, science fiction and fantasy, horror, or inspirational fiction.

How to submit: To e-query, type “Query (Agent Name): (Book Title)” in the subject line to query(at)inklingsliterary(dot)com. No attachments. In the body of the email, send a query letter that includes :the title, genre, and word count of your project, a brief blurb about the story, a brief bio including any publishing credits, the first 10 pages of your manuscript, and a brief synopsis (1-2 pages). “Our response time varies for queries, but the general response time is within 3 months for queries, and 4 months for manuscripts. If you have not received an answer for your query after 3 months,” the agency is not interested in the project.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 23, 2016

Children’s YA and Ebook Sales Reported


Valeria Wicker sent in the above illustration. She is an aspiring children’s book illustrator who graduated from Italian Art and Design Institute in Rome, Italy. She’s loves every type of art.  Her favorite technique is watercolor and pencils, and uses Illustrator and Photoshop. 

The AAP released sales statistics for December and full-year 2015 from close to 1,200 publishers. Adult sales fell $11 million, while children’s and YA sales grew by the same amount.

The most dramatic part of the new December report is the continuing decline in ebook sales. Children’s ebook sales of $8.6 million left the month’s total down $43.6 million compared to 2014, for a 33 percent decline.

Children’s ebook sales of $129 million were down $98.5 million. Children’s/YA sales of $1.708 million for the year were down $56.5 million (or 3 percent). This time last year we thought the children’s/YA numbers were higher ($1.887 billion, rather than $1.708 billion) Children’s paperbacks gained $51 million, while hardcovers fell $65 million; the miscellaneous other category recorded an unusually large increase of $45 million, with the big ebook decline holding the children’s category back.

Sales of print coloring books grew by 23 million units in 2015 (up from just 2 million units in 2014).

The numbers below were adapted from a presentation Publisher Marketplace made last month at Digital Book World.

eBook sales declines received a lot of attention over the past year, but there, too, the historical data shows a steadier narrative. eBook sales for the AAP-reporting publishers stopped their dramatic growth at the beginning of 2013 and have been roughly even since then, until a significant decline over the last 3 months of 2015:

Up until the last quarter, adult ebook sales were close to flat:


The largest driver of change in ebook sales from year to year over the past four years has been hit crossover young adult franchises (or the decline or absence thereof):


2015’s closest thing to a “hit,” on the other hand, was coloring books — which grew by 21 million units — and have no significant ebook equivalent. There are many other factors to consider when evaluating what happened to AAP ebook sales in 2015. The return to agency pricing was likely one element, but was probably not the only change of consequence. Meanwhile, Nook continued to shed customers and ebook dollars; that alone could account for a significant portion of the AAP ebook shortfall. There’s also a potential marketplace effect from the rise of Kindle Unlimited in 2015. Amazon paid independent authors approximately $100 million for US “subscription reads” during the year, and their bestseller lists emphasized KU titles over those only available by direct sale, which could have further shifted where ebook dollars were spent.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 22, 2016

Take A Look Sunday – Phyllis Mignard

Anna Guillotte was featured last Sunday without Chris’s review. It is up now, so please click this link to read: Thanks!



Wilkinson Studios, Inc. is an international agency representing artists from around the world. We specialize in illustration for Publishing, Advertising, Editorial, and Corporate industries, creating artwork for Children’s and Adult Trade Books, Mass Market and Board Books, Graphic Novels, Educational Programs, Magazines, Print Ads, Packaging, Websites, and Apps. We also do Games, Puzzles, Toys, and Character Development, and have hundreds of images available for Licensing. Wilkinson Studios also represents their illustrator’s own authored works to the Publishing industry, and will be launching Wilkinson Studios Press through Ingram, a POD publishing venue designed to market and distribute their illustrator’s books both nationally and internationally.

Christine Wilkinson has been representing artists since 1985, and founded Wilkinson Studios, Inc. in 1998. Her business partner, Lisa O’Hara, has been with the company since the beginning, and is an integral part of their success. Both Chris and Lisa have graphic design and illustration backgrounds, bringing a broad understanding of the needs specific to publishers, editors, design, and art professionals. Wilkinson Studios also provides art management services, with a skilled staff of project management specialists involved in the important details of procurement, creation, quality control, and delivery of art for clients in almost every country.


Phyliss’ little short and sweet garden gnome sequence seems like an enjoyable way to start off the summer season.  If I peek under my flowers, will I find a little mouse sleeping there too, with a gnome stealing his mushroom umbrella?  I would love to think so!  Phyliss’ illustrations are nicely drawn, and not overly fussy.  She maintains her focus on the main subjects and the actions between them, so that we can easily follow along with her simple tale of thievery.


My question here would be: Are these vignettes stand-alone illustrations, or part of a storybook?  As artwork for a short magazine article, they would be perfect – easily fit within a poem or a prose piece.  However, if they are meant to be for a children’s picture book, they could use a bit more fleshing out, unless of course, if the book is so text-heavy that it won’t allow for larger illustrations.

If Phyliss is illustrating a tale about the gnomes and animals in a garden or woods, let’s say, having more of a setting for the images would give us a better sense of where her story is taking place.  It would also provide much more for the reader to look at – children enjoy searching for things in larger, detailed illustrations.  She could still keep her focus on this small sequence of action, even within the broader setting of a larger piece of art.


That said, there are other things that Phyliss could do to improve her illustrations.  While the images are well drawn, there is little differentiation in the TONE of the art.  Everything is rendered pretty much to the same level of lightness and darkness.  There are two things that would help here:  the colors could be brighter and more varied, and she could add in shadows and highlights to create depth.

Right now, all the leaves are basically the same color – when you look at a garden, even a small part up close, there are SO MANY different greens – the hues, tints, shades, and saturation of the colors are incredible in their variation.  Bring some of this color magic into your work, Phyliss!  Make it gleam in the drops of rain, have the leaves be lush and alive, make the mouse a rich brown rather than the same grey as the mushroom.  You have the skills to do this, now bring your knowledge of color theory and rendering into full play!


A few more notes:  The mushroom stalk left after the gnome steals the cap looks odd, more like a candle actually.  Show a few additional mushrooms in the scene, it will help to keep the bare stalk in context.  The foreshortening of the gnome’s legs and feet in the second illustration is off, and you can’t really tell what they are.  Check your anatomy, and perhaps have him wearing shoes or boots to help with this too.

Thank you for your delightful peek into the hidden lives in this little garden!  I hope the gnomes and mice have many other adventures as well!

Thank you Chris for taking the time to share your expertise with us. It helps so many illustrators and is very much appreciated. Here is the Wilkinson Studios website link:

Here is a little bit about Phyllis:

Phyllis Mignard childhood revolved around drawing, reading and writing my own stories. A trait she’s happy to say she continued to follow into adulthood. As an empty nester and retired from working as a print designer in public relations, she has returned to her first love, writing and illustrating stories. A self-taught watercolorist and writer, some days are easier than others, but she loves the path she’s traveling.


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 or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:

Kathy.temean (at) Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide and your name should be in the .jpg title. 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 featured.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Remember I’m always looking for illustrations I can use with articles I post. Send to: Kathy.temean (at) 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,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 21, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – 10 Things… About Painting in Oils

This week is not our traditional Illustrator Saturday. The featured illustrator fell through, so I am bringing you this "How To" by master painter, Greg Manchess. Here is a little bit about him.

After two years as a studio illustrator with Hellman Design Associated, Greg Manchess began a freelance Illustrations career in 1979. His illustrations have appeared on the covers of Time, The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, Omni, Newsweek, Smithsonian, and other magazines, plus he illustrated two Major league Baseball World Series Programs.

His illustrated children’s books include To Capture the Wind, Nanuk: Lord of Ice, and recently released Giving Thanks.

10 Things… About Painting in Oils

Manchess_Gina Prt 3

Here is Greg Manchess explaining his process:

The New Yorker Magazine ran a portrait I did for art director, Chris Curry, of an Australian billionaire and one of the richest people on the planet, Gina Rinehart. Chris supplied the reference shots and asked that I paint it like the portrait of Neil Young I did for The Rolling Stone last year. It was my first time working with both her and the magazine and I was very excited.

Along the way, Chris changed course, and asked that I follow along. I did, a bit confused, but as a professional, I had to be able to accommodate. I felt that the sequence of working on this assignment would help illuminate many of the items here for this “10 Things…” post. Rock bottom basics to keep in mind for painting in oil.

Do whatever it takes to get the image to the surface. 

Draw it freehand, copy images, project, trace, draw from life, or scan and paste it down…doesn’t really matter. Keeping the life in the painting is the hard part. Seal the drawing so you don’t lose it. As you paint, you’ll slop over lines. Since it’s sealed, you can wipe pigment off to get back to your sketch. The basic drawing is a guide, not a floor plan.

pencil sketch, Gina Rinehart

Value first. Color next. 

Spend some time mixing color. Practice copying color from life, then copy color from photos. You’ll quickly learn what colors make up the color you’re trying to mimic. All color is value. Learn to discern a 10% value from a 50%. Value first, color next.

Keep colors clean. 

Don’t dive into deep colors like ultramarine or Alizarin crimson without using copious amounts of white to lighten them. Use these rich colors in small amounts, adding slowly until you get the color you need. Too much too fast will get you mud. Even so, the idea is to work your way up through the muddy colors, using them as underpainting, until you lay on fresher, cleaner colors on the top layers.

Still mixing dull, mud colors? Then go buy a bunch of premixed subtle colors and only mix them with other similar valued colors. Remember though that mixing any color with just white will generally give you a pasty flat color. Most rich colors are mixed from several pigments.

Yes. Use black. 

Black exists in Nature, much to the chagrin of quite a few instructors. You just don’t want to use it to grey colors for skin tones, shadows, etc. Then you really will get muddy. If you want to make black exciting, mix other transparent colors into it. You’ll get a fabulous range of blacks. But you have to learn to use black. You learn through patience and practice. Look for places to use it judiciously.

And yes, it’s ok to use flesh color. Did you think that was cheating? I bet you did. What goofball, besides that little voice in your head, told you that? VALUE first. Flesh color is just another value to use for painting skin, and clouds, and sky, and snow, and a bunch of other stuff. What…don’t look at me like that.

Manchess_Gina Prt 1

First painting, classic style. But Chris was now interested in a different, more loose approach.

I let it sit overnight, then painted on top of this, treating it as an underpainting.

Know your brush.

Always notice how much pigment is clinging to your brush. If it’s gobbed on there, you’ll need to shift your stroke to use it appropriately, without leaving awful trails of thick pigment in the beginning layers. That only leads to more ugly. You’ll feel it after a while…second nature. As for the amount on the canvas, the old adage, “Thick over lean” is still pertinent.

Find your surface. 

Don’t worry so much about what the right surface is for permanence. Worry about what feels right under your brush. Paint for you, not the world. What feels good to you will advance your skills. You can change it all up later.

Delay gratification. 

Avoid straight white, pretty much whenever you can. Sure, mix it a lot with other colors, but when working up to those highlights everyone loves so much (because they make the surface of the painting seem almost 3D, which is awesome…) resist the temptation to put down a highlight too soon. Wait until you get to those last layers of paint for that. When you do, always mix some pigment into the white. Always. Straight white is hardly ever applied except in the brightest sun-bouncing-off-glass affect. Don’t do it.

Not kiddin’. Talking to you. That’s right. You know who you are.

Manchess_Gina Prt 2

First revised painting, which actually took longer than the first piece.

Not so fast, pal. 

I paint fast. I’ve painted fast for years. I didn’t get fast by painting fast. That’s like saying you get good at the violin by making your fingers move really quickly. Think musicians practice fast? The brain records and then insulates the nerve fibers that get used sloooooooowly. Speed comes after much, much slow practice.

Place your strokes. Design your strokes. Lay them down slow and deliberate. Record how that feels. Memorize. Do it again. Plan the next stroke. Mix the right color. Lay it down slow, deliberate. Do that 60,000 times and you’ll know what you’re doing when you speed up.

Just paint. 

We are not chemists. We are artists. We paint. We don’t ponder molecular structures. Keep it simple. Just put the doggone pigment down. It’ll still be there in your lifetime. Don’t waste time worried whether or not it’ll be there for all future generations to admire and adore. Spend time painting and making sure they even care to preserve your work in the first place.

Besides, they’ll have fantastic methods for preserving things in the future. Don’t sweat it. Unless you’re painting on grocery bag paper like I used to do. Don’t ask.

Manchess_Gina Prt FIN

The final painting of Gina Rinehart, with some slight revisions.

Hope you enjoyed reading Greg’s process. You can visit his website at:

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 20, 2016

Free Fall Friday – Opportunity!

2016 marks the 30th Anniversary of The Organisation!

Cue the popping of champagne corks and hurrahs! 

They have agreed to host Take A Look Sunday for June through August!




The Organisation is run by Lorraine Owen with the fabulous assistance of Richard Merritt, Pauline Mason, Jane Gelosa and Steph Vickery. They are an international agency with offices in London and New York and their client base covers every genre and age group within Book Publishing. In addition they supply artwork for use in Advertising, Magazines, Design, Packaging, Apps, Games, Greetings Cards and Art for Interiors.

The company is built on the ethos that every artist should have a distinct style. They would be able to stand out and would never feel that their unique style was being duplicated within the agency. Currently the maximum amount of artists they represent is 60 and they operate a policy of adding new talent only when someone leaves.

“Lorraine and her agency are pretty much publishing royalty; The Organisation work with some of the very, very best illustration talents, and it’s always a thrill to be working with one of their stable They are on our ‘go-to’ list for all new commissions.

Organisation agents without fail are a joy to deal with, and contribute so much more than simple deal-making.”


A Little Bit about LORRAINE OWEN:

Prior to the birth of The Organisation I had been Art Director/designer for a number of major publishers designing book jackets. I loved working with illustrators and I can proudly say that I gave a number of successful illustrators their very first job. After 10 enjoyable years I followed my passion for illustration and became a founder of The Organisation.

My main job within the company is now finding new talent and helping existing artists develop their portfolio by critiquing and supplying ideas for new samples.

Someone once said that if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life and that’s exactly how I feel.


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 or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:

Kathy.temean (at) Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide and your name should be in the .jpg title. 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 featured.

jaida New Leaf LiteraryCheck back next Friday for the four first page critiques that Jaida Temperly agent at New Leaf Literary is working on right now.

Jaida is actively building both her Children’s and Adult list. She has a particular love for all things Middle Grade, especially those that are a bit quirky, strange, and fantastical (a la The Mysterious Benedict Society, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Snicker of Magic, Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, etc.). She’s also open to YA submissions (all genres), and picture books by author-illustrators with completed dummies.

For all other fiction (both Adult and Children’s) she has an affinity for magical realism, historical fiction, and literary fiction, as well as stories with a strong mystery and/or religious undertones (The Westing Game, A Discovery of Witches, The DaVinci Code, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Outlander, The Rule of Four, etc.).

On the non-fiction side, she’s actively seeking topics that are offbeat and a bit strange (Stiff:The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, etc.), as well as photography projects that offer unique insight into the human experience (Humans of New York, The Scar Project, etc.).

Prior to joining New Leaf Literary, Jaida grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, studied classical ballet, and briefly attended medical school. She loves art history, traveling, logic puzzles, horticulture, and numerousother topics that come in handy for Trivia Night and crossword puzzles.

You can follow Jaida on Twitter and find her Pinterest #mswl here.

Talk tomorrow,


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