Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 29, 2015

Free Fall Friday – Results with Bethany Strout


Bethany Strout

Bethany Strout is an Associate Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. You can follow her on Twitter at @BethanyStrout

Bethany will be attending the NJSCBWI Conference in June.

She is always looking for novels where the setting is its own character, romances that feel messy and real, fully realized fantasy worlds, and a middle grade puzzle novel in the vein of The Westing Game! She is drawn to picture books that tell true or imagined stories with emotional resonance. Prior to joining LBYR in 2010, Bethany worked her way through the book business with stops at her local library, The University of Chicago Press, and the literary agency Writers House.

What she likes: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Picture Books, and Young Adult Books, also Rhyme/Edgy/Mystery/Books in verse/Science Fiction and High-Fantasy.

Follow her on Twitter at @BethanyStrout


Debra Getts – THE ODD PRETTY – Middle Grade

Ariel was helpless and waiting for Brynn to die. She stroked him from nose to forehead with a light touch. He shifted to his side and extended his four white cat paws toward her.
Silky black fur rose and fell in short bursts. A sucking sound marked each breath.
“It’s normal,” the veterinarian had said earlier this morning.

There was nothing normal about Brynn’s breathing, or doctors not noticing a baseball sized lump in a cat’s belly.

She looked into his large eyes. Despite his worsening condition, they were still as green and pure as the meadow at her grandparents’ house. Impressions of his feelings and thoughts seeped into her mind—sadness and slight relief from the pain because of the slow rhythm of her touch.

She removed her black thick-framed glasses and pressed her forehead gently to his. Her bobbed hair swept forward to create a hideaway for their faces. Her black hair would match his fur if not for the purple streak she’d added by her ear. “It’ll be okay. You’ll be okay soon.”

At least that’s what her mom kept saying. Hopefully, she was right. Hopefully, her boy would soon be healthy again… somewhere… with lots of fields to play in and butterflies to watch while easing into a nap.

Her mom cracked open her bedroom door and peeked in. “How’s it going in here?”
How’s it going? She pulled her head away from Brynn’s to glare at her mother. Now—when it was too late… on the worst day of her life—her mother wants to listen? She turned back to Brynn and pressed her forehead to his again.

The door clicked shut.

“You’re my family, Brynn. This is your home. I love you.”

Silky black fur rose and fell in four more short bursts then stopped.


The Odd Pretty

While the grief was palpable—well done!—this scene felt too intense to open a middle grade book. I actually thought it was YA until I saw it had been qualified as middle grade. The description of death, the way Ariel articulates things, the potency of her connection to the cat, and her relationship with her mother all came across as older than MG.


Carol MacAllister – EVENING STAR – YA

“Hey. Whatcha doin’ down there?” James’ confident stance matched his cocky voice. It’d taken on deeper tones now that he was nearly fifteen. He stood atop the rag shop’s stoop. A young scallywag gaped up at him. James glared back. “Whatcha problem?”

“I’m hungry.”

“Yeah? You don’t say.” James glanced out to the dirt street. Carriages and drays bumped through muddy ruts. Humph. Modern 1850s? He tipped back the peak of his Apple Cap. I thought things was lookin’ up. He pursed his lips. Suppose not. Living homeless on New York City’s streets had hardened him. His clothes look new. Face half-clean. He smirked at the waif. Suppose he’s like me, back then.

Once, James had lived inside – until that particular morning. Pa had walked him down their tenement hallway. Just seven-years-old, his spindly arms clutched his pitiful bundle of clothes. Pa knocked at the Doyle’s door. When it groaned opened, Mother Doyle motioned James into her kitchen. Liam MacAvoy gave his son’s thin shoulder a soft squeeze. As James tottered into the Doyles’ flat, his father eased back and staggered out of James’ life. Eight months passed. Everyone had expected Liam’s return. But no one had inquired of James’ well-being.

Now, his soured thoughts snickered. The city’s swallowed another grunt. James shrugged. Well, he ain’t the first and he sure ain’t the last.

He sauntered down the wooden steps. “By yourself?”

The boy nodded then whisked away tears with his grimy fingertips.

“You need a coin to buy sumpin’ to eat.” He fingered the five he’d just collected for selling off his rags to old man Stanky.

The boy held up one open palm.


Evening Star

I love historical fiction, so was immediately invested in the subject matter, but this is a classic example of frontloading exposition. Readers are told the year, setting, the main character’s age, and pretty much his entire backstory all in the first page—and it doesn’t feel natural. Instead, let us discover these things organically as the story unfolds.


Saving Scrooge by Susan E. Harris Middle Grade/Fantasy

You know what would be an awesome holiday tradition? Watching Thor. I’m just saying this ‘cause at my house we watch A Christmas Carol. Every year. All 6500 versions, in three nights, starting on the Winter Solstice. Okay, Dad doesn’t really have 6500 copies. But he does own every one ever made in the ‘nine realms’. But now a gift—the DVD player was spitting out the discs! It must’ve been sick of the movie too.
I caught another DVD right before my terrier did. “Sorry Fannie,” I said and stroked her head.

“This is so odd, Nicholas. All our other movies work except for A Christmas Carol,” said Dad. Then he jumped up. “I know, why don’t we read it? Like when you were little.”

“How about we skip it?” I said. “Mom’s not even—“

“No, no! This story is very important,” said Dad. “You know how I feel about it.”

“Yeah. That everyone should watch A Christmas Carol, at least once a year,” I recited, “and then the world would be a better place.”

“That’s right, Nicholas!” Dad fumbled through the presents under the tree. “I was saving this for Christmas, but here.” With a huge grin, he handed me what was obviously a book.

Yes! It had to be the one I’d asked for: By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers & Samurai. I ripped off the paper and held a crumbling copy of…A Christmas Carol.

“Oh, thanks Dad.” I ducked my head. That’s when my fingers started to tingle. Bizarre. I held the book up. I knew it was ancient. Was there mold on it? Would that make my fingers itch?

Dad kept talking. “My father gave me this very book when I was your age!”

“Yeah, it’s um, really great.” Just what every twelve-year-old wants. My hands continued to tingle, then grew warm. Heat traveled up my arms. Then the book pulsed. I couldn’t let go fast enough. It landed, open, on my lap. The smell of smoke drifted up. Fannie growled at the book.


Saving Scrooge

I like the way this page opens. It immediately sets up the character’s voice and the attitude of the book. I would love to see that reinforced more even this early on. That deadpan humor is fun, and even though you’re setting up the plot here, there’s room to push the voice and humor to feel really sharp and contemporary.


Wendy Greenley LITA’S LEMURS 324-word Picture Book 

[Art Note: show wide variety of diurnal and nocturnal lemurs. Lita’s bedroom filled with wild animal posters/stuffed toys etc.]

Lita never missed an episode of The Wild Update.

TV reporter: “Lemurs have no place to live. People are crowding them out.”

Lita’s top bunk was empty.

She sent an invitation.             [Art: a line of taxis stretched down the road]

The next day, Lita’s bunks overflowed.

Lita celebrated!

Perhaps she should have warned her parents . . .

but . . .

it was time for soccer practice.

Sleepy lemurs piled into Lita’s wagon.

The others leaped, shuffled and danced alongside.

Luckily, no one else wanted to sit on the side with the sun in their eyes.

[Art: lemurs sunbathing-one or two sneak over to peek in purses etc.]

People gawked and took photos.

“Giant rats!”

“Dangerous monkeys!”

Soccer had to wait. Lita herded her group home.

“Time for dinner!” Mom called.

Lasagne was Lita’s favorite.

But not the lemurs’.


Lita’s Lemurs

Lemurs are adorable, and I like that this isn’t overwritten. There aren’t excess details or transitions. That said, there was almost a little too much missing—particularly with regards to Lita as a character. I want to know more about her. What is her motivation for trying to save lemurs? Simply that she likes animals, per the art? How can that relate to other aspects of her personality? (Is she adventurous? Does she frequently get in over her head?) Right now she feels a little general—I know that she likes soccer, lasagna, and lemurs, but that doesn’t add up to a larger picture.


Thank you Bethany for taking your valuable time to help the writers out their to hone their writing skills.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 28, 2015

New Agent Looking for Writers

Eve Porinchak, Associate Agent, JCLA (Jill Corcoran Literary Agency)

eve-porinchak-literary-agentEve interned at the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency where she was recently promoted to Associate Agent.

Eve has eclectic literary tastes and is open to everything from picture books to adult novels. Specifically looking for edgy, psychological thrillers, gang-lit, realistic contemporary. Some of Eve’s favorite books are: True Notebooks by Mark Salzman, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers, The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, Inside The MS-13 by Samuel Logan.

Eve is not a fan of high fantasy; however, she loves the Hunger Games and Science Fiction. Also a huge fan of true crime, and loved NPR’s SERIAL. If your story reads like a Tuesday night episode of “Dateline,” send Eve your pages!

•    Favorite Books: Monster by Walter Dean Myers, You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers, and The Stupids (That’s right, you heard me) by Harry Allard & James Marshall
•    Favorite Movies: The Breakfast Club (Most brilliant movie in the history of movies), The Blue Lagoon (Hey, at least I can admit it), Kings of Summer (BTW, if you haven’t seen this indie gem, go – run, don’t walk – to see it now. GO!)
•    Dream Job: A Quality Control Tester at Cinnabon (For real, that’s a thing!)
•    Death Row Meal: Lindsey Leavitt’s grilled cheese, vanilla cupcakes, gummy bears, white wine, Cinnabon

Eve Porinchak graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in PsychoBiology. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Colby-Sawyer College and attended medical school at the University of New England.

Eve has always worked with children in some capacity. She taught Pre-K through First Grade, with a specialty in reading, she worked as a state foster care case manager, teaches creative writing to incarcerated teens, and serves as an aid worker in Tijuana orphanages.

An active member of SCBWI for 15 years.

Contact Eve at

HOW TO SUBMIT: Please send a query letter with a synopsis and the first ten pages of your work (or entire picture book manuscript) to eve [at] Please include your submission text within your e-mail. Attachments will not be opened.

You will receive an auto-responder to let you know your submission has been received. Jill or Eve will contact you (pretty darn quickly!) if we are interested in reading your full manuscript via email. If you do not hear from us in six weeks, please know we have looked at your work and have determined it is not the right fit for our agency.

Please note: DO NOT CALL or email to ask if you should resend if you did not receive an auto-response email. YES, resend.

DO NOT CALL or email to see if either of us are interested in a particular genre we did not mention above…just send it.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 27, 2015

Buzz Books 2015: Young Adult Fall/Winter

BuzzBooks2015yf_300x450_jpg_pagespeed_ic_fyKppHaWbCThis is a great way to see if your are interested in any of the hot books that are coming out in the fall and it is free.

Now available for download, this edition of Buzz Books: Young Adult provides substantial pre-publication excerpts from 20 forthcoming young adult and middle grade books. Now everyone can share the same access to the newest YA voices the publishing industry is broadcasting for the fall/winter season.

Excerpts include new work from established leaders in the field (James Dashner, Jennifer Donnelly, Patrick Ness, and Lauren Oliver), authors best-known for their adult books (Eleanor Herman and Cammie McGovern), and newsmaking titles such as the highly graphic History of Glitter and Blood, Illuminae, and The Thing About Jellyfish.

You will find a full range of YA titles previewed here —dystopian, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, humor, literary and more — and you will find some works for tweens and middle-grade readers. As always, many are sure to make bestseller and “best of” lists.

Four of our titles will be featured at this year’s Book Expo America convention on their own YA or Middle Grade Editors Buzz panels: Everything Everything, Nightfall, This Raging Light, and The Thing About Jellyfish. Plus, half of our 20 Buzz Books: Young Adult authors will be in attendance at BEA.

And for even more great reads, be sure to look for Buzz Books 2015: Fall/Winter, also available now, for the best in adult fiction and nonfiction.

To download this trade edition of Books 2015: Young Adult Fall/Winter—complete with trade-only info on each title, and easy click-throughs to request full digital galleys—complete and submit the form to download an ePub file for any ereading platform, directly from our fulfillment partner, Ingram. (Before downloading the ePub, please see the important tips below.)

Use this link to fill out form and download:

Should you have any questions or difficulty in downloading the book, please contact

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 26, 2015

OwlKids Books



Owlkids publishes entertaining, unique, high-quality books and magazines that nurture the potential of children and instill in them a love of reading and learning — about themselves and the world around them.

With numerous books and three magazines covering various age groups, Owlkids’ publications reach more than one million youngsters and their parents every year.

Owlkids Books

With engaging writing, bold graphics, and the best children’s authors, books from Owlkids are loved by parents, teachers, librarians, and — most importantly — kids! In 2008, Owlkids acquired the children’s book publisher Maple Tree Press, adding over one hundred award-winning titles to our library.

For a full list of Owlkids Books titles, click here.

Books Sample 2

Owlkids Magazines


Chirp’s innovative package of stories, puzzles, and activities is designed for 3- to 6-year-old children. The pages of Chirp are filled with lively illustrations and colorful photographs that encourage readers to laugh and learn.


chickaDEE is a fun, hands-on magazine for 6- to 9-year-old kids whose thirst for knowledge and appetite for humor are insatiable. Interactive stories, puzzles, comics, animal features, and science experiments educate and entertain readers.


OWL, for 9- to 13- year olds, provides readers with timely, reliable, and relevant information on the topics and issues that concern them — everything from sports and the environment to pop culture and peer relationships.

For more information, visit

Submission Guidelines:

Please have a look through our website and/or catalog to familiarize yourself with our list in order to better direct your submission. We welcome book ideas for children ages 2 to 13.

Owlkids Books is currently looking for graphic novels, activity, non-fiction, and picture book manuscripts.

For submissions of works longer than just a few pages, please only send a query letter and a few sample pages, not the entire work. Please describe your writing background and credentials in an accompanying cover letter. We are unable to comment editorially on the manuscript unless we are considering it for publication.

If you wish to have your manuscript considered for publication, please mail it to our office (address below) along with a self-addressed, stamped return envelope. (Note that U.S. postage is not valid in Canada. International Postage Coupons, available from the post office, should be used for international mailing.) The package should be marked to the attention of Submissions Editor. Please do not include any original art or irreplaceable material.

Should we find that your manuscript or proposal does not suit our publishing requirements, a response and your material will be returned to you if you have included a SASE. We receive a number of manuscripts each day and so we ask for your patience in awaiting our response. The review period is usually 12 to 16 weeks.

All submissions may be mailed to:

Owlkids Books
c/o Submissions Editor
10 Lower Spadina Ave., Suite 400
Toronto, ON M5V 2Z2

All inquiries in regard to submissions may be sent to

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day! Contest Info


Thought this illustration done by Michelle Henninger was the perfect illustration to help us celebrate Memorial Day. Michelle uses watercolor and ink and is represented by Christina Tugeau. Here is the link to her feature on Illustrator Saturday:

May no soldier go unloved

May no soldier walk alone

May no soldier be forgotten

May no soldier by left behind

when they return home!

Remember our soldiers, while enjoying the day!


Deadline May 31, 2015.

Theme: “Crime.” From infractions to misdemeanors to felonies. Three winners selected from among all entries—poems, short stories, creative nonfiction. 3,000-word limit for fiction and creative nonfiction. (5,000-word limit for non-contest, non-theme submissions.) One to three poems in an entry. All entries considered for publication. Prizes are $500, $200, and $100.

Talk tomorrow,



The above illustration was sent in from Craig Orback. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to see more of his work.

This is DreamQuest One’s 10th year of inspiring, motivating and encouraging anyone having the desire or love of poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success. We are now accepting entries in our Summer 2015 competition at Dream Quest One. We hope you are still writing and artistically creating with passion and enthusiastically driven from your heart & mind to pen and paper. Enter your best poems and/or short stories for a chance to win cash prizes totaling $1275.00!

How to Enter Your Poems & Stories!
Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, style, or form, typed or neatly hand printed.

And/or write a story, five pages maximum length, on any subject or theme, fiction or non-fiction (including essay compositions, diary, journal entries and screenwriting). Also, all entries must be either typed or legibly hand printed.

Multiple and simultaneous poetry and short story entries are accepted.

Postmark deadline: July 31, 2015

All contest winners will be published online in the Dare to Dream pages, on September 26, 2015.


Writing First Prize is $500.

Second: $250.

Third: $100.


Poetry First Prize is $250.

Second: $125.

Third: $50.

Entry fees: $10 per story, $5 per poem

To send entries: Include title(s) with your story (ies) or poem(s), along with your name, address, phone#, email, brief biographical info. (Tell us a little about yourself), on the coversheet. Add a self-addressed stamped envelope for entry confirmation. Fees payable to: “DREAMQUESTONE.COM”

Mail to:

Dream Quest One

Poetry & Writing Contest

P.O. Box 3141

Chicago, IL 60654

Visit for details on how to enter!

No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude. “And remember, in whatever you do, it’s okay to dream, for dreams do come true.” –Dream Quest One

Attention! You may submit previously published poems and stories or even those pieces you’ve written and put away in a drawer or somewhere just gathering dust. You’ll never know if you have the winning verse or spent yarn, if you don’t enter.
~Andre L. West, Editor

Enter Now! for a chance to win cash prizes totaling $1275, and have your poem or short story published in the Dare to Dream pages! Please visit our “Poetry Place” and “Write This Way” pages to read the contest winners archives of excellent poems and prose written by people like you, who really enjoy writing and daring to make their dreams a reality. Until then, I will be looking forward to seeing your entries in the contest soon. Have a fantastic day!

How to enter, visit:

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 23, 2015

Illustrator Saturday – Cathy Gendron

Gendron headshot, 1-19-12

After completing a serious degree in fine arts, Cathy Gendron beg an making pictures as an illustrator and graphic designer for the Ann Arbor News somewhere late in the last century. Just a few years as Art Director of the Detroit Free Press convinced her that what she really wanted to do was paint, and since then she has pursued it with a passion. Somewhere within that fuzzy time frame, she also began teaching and has proudly remained on the faculty of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit for over 25 years. As an illustrator, she has primarily worked for the editorial, book and corporate markets. A confessed bookworm, she spent many hours reading aloud to her son, Ian, and developed a life-long love of children’s books, amassing a rather large and wonderful collection. Her bright, color-intensive oil paintings have appeared in many publications throughout the country and have won her awards from, among others, Communication Arts, Print and the Society for Publication Design. Her publishing clients include: Great Source Education Group, Holiday House, Kensington Publishing, Llewellyn Worldwide, McGraw Hill, Peaceable Kingdom Press, Penguin and Scholastic. She works from her studio in the culturally rich and bookish college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Here is Cathy Explaining her process:

This promotional piece was inspired by a story my sister told me. She and her family live southwest of New Orleans in the bayou (seriously). She was sunning herself on the dock at her husband’s fishing camp and had gotten used to a friendly alligator that liked to sunbathe with her – nose to nose. One afternoon “Allie” got into a tussle with a giant snake. It was frightening. The snake and Allie were tangling at the edge of the shore, roiling the water and flipping around this way and that. Lisa was blocked from returning to dry land and could only watch in horror. Allie won, the snake swam away, but the next weekend the family had Alligator Sauce Piquant for dinner!


1-BB character sketches
Preliminary rough character sketches.

2-BB prelim sketch

Rough sketch of the composition

3-BB value scan1

I work with oil glazes on gessoed illustration board. The texture comes from distressing the gesso with coarse sandpaper. For this piece, I’ve tinted the gesso with Cobalt blue and painted a value under-layer in acrylics.

4-BB First color scan

Here is my first layer of oils. I will build up the colors slowly, adding hues that create light and shade. The intense color is a result of this layering process.

5-BB final

And then the final painted image.

cathygendronNutcracker cover for Kathy

Above is the cover artwork for Cathy’s debut picture book, The Nutcracker, Opera House, which is coming out later this year.


Above and Below: Interior Art from The Nutcracker, Opera House.

Nutcracker, Opera House for Kathy

How long have you been illustrating?

40 years. Yikes. I spent 6 years as an art director for, first the Ann Arbor News, then the Detroit Free Press, but I was freelancing all the while.


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

They were charcoal drawings. My psychology professor was writing a textbook and asked me to do all the interior portraits. McGraw Hill liked my work and hired me to do the cover (very low budget of course), but I was so green that I rolled up the finished art for the cover and sent it in a triangular mailing tube (Fed Ex doesn’t use them anymore.). You can probably guess at the result. They didn’t call me again.


Where did you study art?

I have a BFA from Eastern Michigan University but am mostly self-taught. My college years were in the 1970s when abstract art was the rage and I was definitely an outcast with my love of representational art. I learned to put paint on canvas by slashing here and there, but not the way illustration students learn it now.


What did you study there?

Drawing mostly – ironically, not much painting. I was overly sensitive to turpentine and could only tolerate the painting classroom for short periods of time. I loved figure drawing and still do.


Do you feel College helped develop your style?

It helped me with attitude. I kept thinking my illustrations needed to be “fine art”. Even if I never got there, the goal kept me working harder and my standards impossibly high.


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

I continued waiting on tables for over a year, and then stumbled into my first job as an advertising artist at the Ann Arbor News – took a sizeable pay cut to do it too!


Did the college you attended help you get work when you graduated?

No, but I do remember talking to Career Counseling once but I don’t think they knew what to do with a Fine Arts Major!

Izzy's breakfast for Kathy

Have you seen your work change since you left school?

Constantly. The possibility of change is what makes it all interesting.


When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

From the day I started reading aloud to my son, almost 25 years ago.


It looks like you have a picture book coming out in September titled: The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition. Is this your first picture book? Are the illustrations finished?

Yes, my very first. The author is the wonderful Chris Barton. The paintings are finished and the galleys are being circulated.


How did that contract come your way?

A mailer! One of the art directors at Milbrook Press liked my image and recommended me to the editor Carol Hinz. She called, I did a sample and got the contract. It was an all-around wonderful experience.


Do you illustrate full time?

Yes. As many freelancers will attest to, it’s not an easy career and it’s hard on the family too. But I pinch myself when I think about my daily routine. People actually PAY ME to paint! Feast or famine means I have to try and take everything that comes in the door. Balancing several projects at once with tight deadlines is challenging. I rarely do all-nighters these days, but quite often make it into my studio by 6:30 a.m. and home just in time to put dinner on the table.

For better or worsted for Kathy

Did you do other types of illustrating before you got the book contract?

Yes, mostly editorial and book covers. Some of the publications I’ve worked for include The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Newsweek, Seventeen, Bicycling Magazine, Gof Magazine, Eating Well, Bloomberg Markets, Forbes, Harvard Business Review and Johns-Hopkins.

I’ve also illustrated covers for quite a few mystery novels, including all the Coffeehouse Mystery Series for Penguin, and additional series for Penguin, Kensington Publishing and Llewellyn.

Advertising and Corporate assignments occasionally come my way too. Having such a wide variety of commissions keeps things fresh and interesting.


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

Yes, I have lots of ideas, one in particular that involves an alligator and a snake and is set in the bayou, southwest of New Orleans. It’s based on a true, but crazy story involving my sister and the aforementioned critters.

Mingling for Kathy

Have you ever thought about doing a wordless picture book?

Yes, and have some sketches for one or two.


I see you are represented by Chris Tugeau? How and when did you connect?

About 5 years ago, I decided that if I didn’t pursue children’s picture books, it was never going to happen. I researched the field, contacted my good friend Ellie at Serbin Communications for advise on an agent and she set us up. Chris has so much wisdom and experience. She has been incredibly supportive and helpful.


What types of things did you do before Chris represented you to get work?

Getting work is not easy. The best way for me is word of mouth, but I also advertise a lot. My work is up on several online illustration sites. I also buy a list service and send occasional emails and snail mails to art directors.


Have you ever worked with a self-published author? Would you be open to that?

I’ve had quite a few offers over the years. I used to say no automatically, but publishing has changed. I’d be more open now, but it has to be the right project in order for me to take the risk.


Do you have a favorite medium you use?

I work in oil glazes for my illustration but have been teaching myself to paint in acrylics. I’m a huge fan of the new “open” acrylics that stay wet longer.

Chicken every way for Kathy

Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

I do. My husband gave me an amazing digital SLR several years ago and I use it all the time. But the Internet has totally changed the game for illustrators. I spent hours and hours researching ballet for the Nutcracker book. I actually love that part of any job.

Wiemer for Kathy

Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

I’m a traditional painter but use Photoshop to adjust my sketches and composition, to create color sketches and make adjustments and color corrections.


Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

Yes, I use it every day, but I don’t really draw with it.


Do you do exhibits to market your art?

Not necessarily to market my work, but I’ve always exhibited, although not regularly. I’ve begun to pursue that area more lately, maybe coming around full circle to my original passion.

cathy gendronStudio, upstairs looking south

Do you have a studio in your house?

I worked from a lower, walkout level in my house for many years. I now have the most incredible studio space. Working there has changed my life.


Is there anything in your studio, other than paint and brushes that you couldn’t live without?

Sharp Dixon Ticonderoga pencils and my glasses.


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

I work as hard as is humanly possible. It doesn’t always pay off financially, but I’m happy at the end of the day.

Nightowl for Kathy

Any exciting projects on the horizon?

Yes. This past March I won a commission to paint two very large murals here in Ann Arbor. I’ve never worked in a large scale before and have been learning all I can about murals. Three of my former students at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit will paint with me. The imagery is based on some drawings I did for a potential children’s book.

Billionaire's Blend for Kathy

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

Has it ever! With the internet, getting your name out is harder (because you have to do it yourself) and easier (because it works!). Additionally, illustrators have always used photo reference. I still have a file cabinet filled with magazine pages of every imaginable subject. My archive was indispensible for many years but now I seldom touch it. With some smart search terms, illustrator can visualize everything from an obscure species of insect to an arabesque ballet position.


What are your career goals?

I would love to illustrate more children’s books, keep my publishing contacts for book covers and pursue more gallery work.

Mambo murders for Kathy

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing two commissions and working on sketches for another. One commission is an editorial piece for a story about the downturn in the oil and gas industry, the other is an acrylic painting of Pepe’s, a favorite haunt in downtown Key West. The sketches are for one of Penguin’s Prime Crime Mystery series covers.

Lucky dog for Kathy

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

As I mentioned above, I’m getting hooked on the new “open” acrylics. Both Liquitex and Golden have developed a line of them. When I finally quit trying to make them work like oils, I began to appreciate their flexibility. They stay wet long enough for some controlled blending and if I need them to dry fast, a hair-dryer does the trick.

Spreading the love for Kathy

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

The illustration field is so crowded, and the talent out there is mind-boggling. I am humbled almost every day but I try to stay focused on my own goals and passions.

I also think it’s so important to keep learning and sharpening your skills. At the College for Creative Studies, keeping a sketchbook is mandatory, but very few students take that requirement to heart and I often do not practice what I preach. I learned a lot from my first attempt at illustrating a children’s book. The project got a bit out of control and I wound up drawing and painting pretty much non-stop (9-12 hours every day) for the last two months before the deadline. Incredibly, I eventually found myself in a drawing “zone”, solving problems with much less effort. That was enlightening, and a lot of fun too.



Thank you Cathy for sharing your talent, process, and journey with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us.

To see more of Cathy’s work, visit her Web site,

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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 22, 2015

Free Fall Friday – Two No Fee Writing Contests


Illustrator Tracy Campbell creates hand-made cards and sent one of them in to post. This piece is also available as a digital download for customers. It’s up on her new shop over at

NO ENTRY FEE.  Deadline May 25, 2015.

Best words and definitions can be no longer than 160 characters, including the word being defined. No more than three best words per entry, though each word can have up to seven definitions. There is no fee, but we always appreciate donations! In the spirit of transparency, we can only guarantee a percentage of donations received.  At the very least winners can expect the following: First Place – $150, $100 Bling Bling dollars to spend at the launch party, Option to perform as headliner in Spoken Word party presentation, ?VIP entrance to party, Priority seating for up to 10 (paid) VIP groupies, A complimentary bottle of whatever the house is serving, Number one placement of word and definition in the online community dictionary with option to publish legal or anonymous pen name. Second Place – $75, $50 Bling Bling dollars to spend at the party, VIP entrance to party, Seating for 5 VIP groupies, Starring line up in Spoken Word performance, A complimentary glass of whatever you want to drink. Third Place – $50, $25 Bling Bling dollars to spend at the party, VIP entrance to party.

Deadline: Jun 1, 2015

Sonnets may be written in Shakespearean, Petrarchan, Spenserian or Non-traditional form. Only previously unpublished sonnets are eligible. There is no entry fee and each entrant may submit one to three sonnets, maximum. Cash prizes total $2,000.

Check back next Friday for first page results.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 21, 2015

A Self Publishing Journey & Book Giveaway

I wanted to do a post about the journey of Rupert’s Parachment, because it is an example of a perfect self-published book. So I asked Eileen Cameron who wrote the book and Doris Ettlinger who illustrated the book, if they wanted to be featured. Eileen said she would be willing to do a book giveaway and share Rupert with one lucky winner. Just leave a comment here and share the news on Twitter or Facebook for additional chances. 


One of the things that Eileen did right was find a subject that was having an anniversary and would interest schools and children with the celebrating of 800 years of liberties enshrined in Magna Carta.

RUPERT’S PARCHMENT, STORY OF MAGNA CARTA gives Rupert, son of a local parchment maker, a ring side seat at the historic sealing of the great document, Magna Carta, at Runnymede meadow in England in the year 1215. This historical fiction picture book tells the exciting story of the fight for the principles of freedom while readers live through this momentous time through the eyes of young Rupert. Included is a section explaining the history of Magna Carta, a glossary and comparison of Magna Carta and the U.S. Bill of Rights which will interest parents and teachers. 

She also, knew a great illustrator and had work with her before. Next she found someone who could provide a high quality book and distribute the book for her. Good story, good art, high quality paper and printing = Great book and great opportunity for success.

Below are the answers to some of the questions I had that I thought might help you if you were considering going the self-published route in the future.


What spurred the idea for Rupert? When did that idea hit you?

Eileen and DoriscroppedEILEEN: I have always been fascinated by Magna Carta since I was in college, majoring in government and studying the major documents of our country and the other great events and documents that helped shape our democracy. There are many books for children about the republics of Greece and Rome but not many on the influence of English law and the history of the rule of law that we Americans inherited from England as English colonies.

RUPERT’SPARCHMENT is about a young boy named Rupert who lives a long time ago in England when they had a terrible king and Magna Carta which is an old piece of paper. Why would kids want to read about this? Sometimes kids think history is just a dull subject, but if you make it a story – and an exciting and interesting story – where the child reader gets invested in the main character’s plight, then they will love the story, and also learn some important history of one of the reasons they live in a free country.

What type of research did you do for the book? How long did that take?

EILEEN: I have worked on this manuscript on and off for probably twenty years, of course changing ideas, main characters, and presentations as time went by and as I picked up the manuscript again. I read many of the interesting books on the subject of Magna Cart and the evil King John and also of the times and way of life during the early 1300’s. In the past few years I had researched the idea again and queried the curators at the British Library which holds two of the original 1215 copies for advice. They were most helpful.

Your book G is for Garden State was illustrated by Doris Ettlinger and published by Running Bear Press. What made you decide to self-publish this book?

EILEEN: Doris is an outstanding and award winning illustrator. She did a wonderful job portraying New Jersey and our many assets, beautiful natural sites and history in G IS FOR THE GARDEN STATE. I naturally thought of her when deciding to self publish RUPERT.

I very much wanted to have RUPERT’S PARCHMENT released in spring of 2015 in time for the celebration of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta, and by self publishing an author can move the book on their schedule and also control the layout and design, of course along with the advice of the illustrator and the editors at the publisher.


When did you talk to Doris about illustrating the book? Was she immediately interested?

EILEEN: I was thrilled when Doris said that she was interested in doing Rupert. Illustrators are very busy people and are scheduled far in advance so I was glad Doris fit me into her schedule. Doris just happened to have a trip planned to England last year and was able to include Runnymede Meadow on the Thames River in her itinerary. So, she was lucky to have time to photo and sketch the actual site of this historic event. She was a great team member.

doris ettlinger4e97138ef2b29_preview-300smallDORIS: I have always turned down self-publishing authors in the past. But because I’d illustrated Eileen’s work before (G is for Garden State, Sleeping Bear Press), because she was determined to produce a quality product, and because Eileen wrote a great story,  I was willing to illustrate Rupert’s Parchment.

My artist rep – Merial Cornell of Cornell & Co. – was a big part of why this partnership worked so well.  Eileen spoke with Merial first. Merial looked over the manuscript and Eileen pitched all the research she did on Mascot, etc. Then Merial discussed the project with me. With a careful contract that delineates what is expected of all parties, a self-published book can be a good experience. I worked for a fee, based on the work produced, not an advance against royalties. The contract assured me of fair compensation and I also retain the copyright to my artwork. Once I signed the contract I was totally committed to the project and enjoyed every minute of it, from research to final art. I love to illustrate moments in history from a child’s point of view.

How much research did do to find a publisher who prints self-published book?

EILEEN: When I researched self publishers, I spoke with SCBWI ( Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators). SCBWI now gives a major award, SPARK, for the best self published children’s book of the year. They suggested looking at the books that won the award. Mascot Books, my publisher, had published AL AND TEDDY which had won SPARK last year. A friend, a former navy pilot, had also published a book on aircraft carriers titled SO BIG, YET SO SMALL with Mascot. Mascot does a quality job so now I had a terrific illustrator and a terrific publisher.

Can you tell us a little bit about Mascot Books and why you chose them?

EILEEN: The quality of the book is excellent and I had put in many hours researching that too. I reviewed the children’s books that I have in my collection, and books in libraries and chain and independent stores for type of paper, color, binding and jackets. I even asked the publisher of G GARDEN STATE what weight of paper they used and they were great to tell me.

Did Mascot Books let you decide on the price of the book? How long did it take them to publish the book?

EILEEN: Mascot Books and I discussed the pricing of the book based on comparative analysis, checking books with the same value of illustrator, paper, cover, etc. The time it takes to publish a book begins with the review of the manuscript, through planning the layout, reviewing the artist’s initial sketches, final sketches, color illustrations, first and second print galleys with text and illustrations. The process usually takes at least six months.

How did Mascot Books charge to print and distribute your book?

EILEEN: In most instances, the author pays the self publishing company up front based on their individual contract for such specifics as quality of paper and cover and a specified number of books. The contract covers editorial and design direction, submission for book awards, distribution through major book distributors, and warehousing the books. The purchaser through the distributors pays for shipping for their order. Mascot editors were capable and very helpful.


Doris, did Eileen give you free reign to illustrate the book?  

DORIS: Eileen offered just a few illustration notes. We had a very good working relationship. She left it to me to visualize the scenes. After I submitted my sketches to her, she had the opportunity to discuss them with Mascot. Most of the changes involved allowing more room for text.

Doris, how long did it take you to do the 16 single and double page spread, plus the spot illustrations? 

DORIS: I began rough sketches in August 2014 and finished Rupert on deadline (WhooHoo!) December 5. That’s a short period of time for a picture book. Coincidentally, I vacationed in England in July. I took the opportunity to visit Runnymeade, the site of the signing of Magna Carta.

Doris, where you happy with the process and results from Mascot Books? 

DORIS: I was very happy with the look of the book, especially the cover. Eileen liked my idea to use a jpg of the original document as a background for the cover. The texture was a nice foil for the colorful image of Rupert. Eileen went the extra mile to acquire the reproduction rights from the British Library. We also used it for the end papers.

Doris: What are you doing to help promote the sales of the book? I’m promoting Rupert’s Parchment on , Instagram, and Mailchimp. Also, I will accompany Eileen to the National Archives in DC on June 6 for a 3 hour children’s event, celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of MC.

Doris, do you have any other ideas for book where you can work together again? 

DORIS: I’m not involved in a book’s conception.  We’ll have to see what Eileen comes up with next.

Check back on May 28th to see who the won Rupert’s Parchment.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 20, 2015

Writing for a Diverse World

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scriber here with my personal thoughts on

Writing for a Diverse World: Diversity in Children’s Books


Big topic folks. Very trending in the writing world. (look at me, using words like “trending”. Um, did I use it right? I’m getting less social-media-incapable every day! Shameless plug here: I’m not the best at that sort of thing. But please come follow me on Twitter @NJFarmScribe. I’m trying to get better! And hearing from you guys always helps!)

So anyway… the big D-word.

We’ve all heard the term thrown around. Agents are looking for it. Writers and parents are lobbying for its importance. But what does it mean to us as writers? In my opinion, that’s a very personal question. And I certainly don’t think there is a right or wrong answer.

I would like to start this post by highlighting that these are nothing more than the thoughts of this single individual. By no means do I think that my opinion is any more “right” than yours. In fact, I’d really love to hear your own thoughts in the comments!

I have talked to various agents and seen panels where they discuss what this concept means to them. And in my experience, everyone’s answer is different.

Great! That’s real helpful. So what the heck does that mean?

It means I have to find my OWN answer.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s temping to be caught up in the world of… well, agents are LOOKING for diverse books. So if I can figure out what it means to THEM, I can get published!

But in reality, I don’t think that works very well. First of all agents are smart. They don’t want you using their MSWL notes to design your next project. They want you to use them to see where you’re already created masterpiece will best fit.

Now, do I mold certain aspects of my writing around the industry standards and what may “sell” better? You bet I do! Knowledge is power, and knowing what works and what fits is important for any professional.

But (and remember, this is my personal opinion) there really is no actual standard of what diverse books are. And I think this goes double in the world of a child.

Every kid craves to feel a part of something. They want to be acknowledged for being special and unique, while at the same time, feel the comfort and acceptance of being a part of a blended whole.

In my experience, EVERY kid feels like a minority in one way or another. The last kid picked for kickball, the one made fun of for the poofy hair, and the one with the unusual allergy, they all feel left out and “different”. Even the popular girls with the longest hair and all the coolest pencil toppers, when no one is looking, they feel left out too.

And at the same time, NOTHING is more diverse than a child’s life. Often, an adult’s definition of “different” doesn’t line up with what is seen through kid-vision.

My friend’s son’s birthday was a few weeks ago and we were getting ready for the party. One of the boys coming over has autism. Steve, a very sweet boy, conscious of other’s feelings, was obviously concerned about how others would react that this particular friend was going to be at his party.

His mother and I, assuming he meant because of his developmental differences, tried to comfort him, saying everyone would be fine and that his mother would be there too.

Steve looked at us like we were from another planet. “How is she gonna help?”

It was obvious we had mis-read the situation. Not wanting to dig ourselves any deeper into what we were pretty certain was going to be an embarrassing hole, I asked him, “Well, what is it you’re worried about?”

“He’s SO much faster than everyone, whatever team he’s on is going to win for SURE.”


Sigh. If only we all accepted diversity as well as the children we are writing for.

Diversity in books IS important. Everyone likes to relate to a main character. They long to feel that they see the world through their eyes, like the author was speaking just to them. And in order to do that, we need diverse books.

Portraying a realistic world, one where everyone doesn’t look, talk, think or live in the same manner is part of what makes ANY book special.

Books with families of all different shapes, sizes and backgrounds, books with people who come from all over the world, believe, look and eat different things, go to different events and think different ways are unbelievably important.

But it’s not because we need to teach children about diversity. Children could certainly teach a thing or two to the majority of us about diversity and acceptance.

Keeping diversity in our children’s literature is important because it’s an accurate depiction of our children’s lives.

For this reason, when it comes to diversity, I try to learn from the experts. Children don’t pick a diverse set of friends because they think they’re supposed to. They just let nature take its course. And it turns out, kids are ALL so different that it becomes something they all have in common!

So when I’m writing, instead of PUTTING diversity into my manuscripts, I simply make it a part of my reality check. When I’m going through a WIP, one of the key things I’m always focusing on is how to develop the characters further, make them more real.

And REAL people, are simply diverse.

The best writing comes from a personal place, and the topic of diversity is no different. I try to focus on my own experiences, what I’ve seen, felt, or even longed to feel. I love the push toward diversity in our literature for children. But I try not to worry about what diversity means to agents, publishers or really anyone in the literary world.

I try to focus on what it means to me. Diversity might be a different way of thinking, a different type of family or culture. It might be something obvious you can see from the outside.

Or it might be something that only comes out when they put the sparkly pencil toppers away and sit quietly.

To me, that’s real. And kids are so darn smart, they see right through you when you’re not real. The same goes for the voice behind the books they read. And agents, they’re pretty smart like that too!

So be diverse! Write diverse! And support diversity! But let’s do it because it’s who we are and it’s an accurate portrayal of the world that kids are growing up in. Not because it was on an agent’s wish list.

What kids want is the truth. And while it’s not always easy to do…

… our 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 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!

Thank you Erika for another great post!

Talk tomorrow,



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