Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 28, 2016

Free Fall Friday – First Page Results

kurestinarmada-wpcf_240x240Kurestin Armada is our featured agent for the month of October. I met her at the NJSCBWI conference in June and invited her to the Avalon Writer’s Retreat, so I am happy to introduce her to everyone.

Kurestin began her publishing career as an intern with Workman Publishing, and spent time as an assistant at The Lotts Agency before joining P.S. Literary. She holds a B.A. in English from Kenyon College, as well as a publishing certificate from Columbia University. Kurestin is based in New York City, and spends most of her time in the city’s thriving indie bookstores. She reads widely across genres, and has a particular affection for science fiction and fantasy, especially books that recognize and subvert typical tropes of genre fiction.

Genre Wish List: Picture-Book, Middle-Grade, Young-Adult, Graphic-Novel, Nonfiction, High-Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Edgy, Upmarket and Commercial Fiction, Magic Realism, Alternative History, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ (any genre), Graphic Novels, Mystery and Romance.


LOST AND FOUND By Sharon Giltrow – PB

“Quick, Grace we’re under attack!” Sterling shouted storming into the living room, pinning himself against the wall. “Did you see that?” He asked pointing towards the window.

“What is it this time Sterling, a dragon?” asked Grace rolling her eyes.

“Nah! Grace, dragons aren’t real. I think it was a beast.”

“Beasts aren’t real either,” said Grace.

Sterling’s shoulders slumped and his lip quivered.

“Don’t worry, Sterling I’ll help you fight the beast,” said Mum. “Grace has lost her imagination. What do we need?”

Sterling looked at his mum and then at his sister. Grace is no fun anymore; I wish she hadn’t lost her imagination.

“String and some long sticks, we’ll make a trap,” said Sterling.

For the next hour, Sterling and his Mum built a beast trap. Sterling saw Grace looking out the window.

Crash Bang!! Later that day Sterling was in the kitchen.

“Sterling what are you doing?” asked Grace.

“I’m making a magical potion,” Sterling said handing Grace a bottle of vinegar and some baking soda.

Grace put them on the kitchen bench and walked out the room calling over her shoulder, “Magic isn’t real.”

Here’s Kurestin’s Review:

LOST AND FOUND, Sharon Giltrow

I love the concept here, I think sibling stories are a perennial favorite and encouraging children to free their imagination is always admirable. That said, the popularity of the topic does put an extra burden on you to make the execution flawlessly charming and to have it feel fresh even if the topic has been tackled before.

Right now, I think you’ve made a mistake in your approach that is very common when people first imagine their picture book manuscript. That is, you’ve described certain actions that will be better told in the illustrations, which takes up your precious word count that could be better used to further develop your story and characters. Also, right now the word choice itself is a bit dry, without a very nice rhythm when read aloud. Don’t be afraid to use more unusual words or sentence structures that will sound particularly charming aloud. You have a good start here, just keep refining and rewriting until every word on the page is perfect!


THE STARLIGHT WITHIN, a YA high fantasy novel, by Athena Greyson.

In the name of the stars, please tell me I wasn’t walking to my death.
I had been roaming for hours, but with my level of fatigue, it felt like countless days and nights. I had awakened in a coffin inside a cave, blown up a mountain, fallen into a waterfall, and swam toward freedom. I was famished, soaked, and weak.
I couldn’t withstand much more. I needed this nightmare to end. I scoffed. My predicament was the epitome of irony. I had been sleeping for ten silver years, frozen in nothingness, and I woke up in a reality that could be more terrifying than the intangible blackness.
My heart and my body were exhausted from the constant efforts to stay alive. I sat on one of the many large cold rocks that accompanied the river, for even silver-eyed people needed to rest. I took in the scenery before me. It was tranquil and empty. The only sound echoed was my heart beating and my lungs breathing. No animals were talking to each other. No birds were flying.
Nothing existed, except utter silence.
Tears were forming. They were about to flow, and unlike the calm river, they would be violent. But my stubbornness had awakened, along with my silver life-source. I refused to be beaten down by the terror of not knowing what had happened to me, by my loneliness, and my exhaustion. And I wouldn’t bow to the merciless weather that was trying to glaciate me, either.
The past and the present were fighting against me, but I refused to lose. A silver-eyed never lost. At least, during my era.
If it was my time to leave the realm of the living, I could have died in that cave where it was ethereal and ceremonious.

Here’s Kurestin’s Review:


The first thing I noticed was your word choice. The language immediately builds a level of distance between your story and your reader. Word choice like “my level of fatigue,” “awakened,” and “glaciate”—something about them just feels a little stilted and awkward. I’m looking for that immediate connection with your main character, that window into their mind and personality, and right now it feels more like they’re trying to sound particularly intellectual for an audience.

Additionally, I don’t know what’s going on here in the first page, which is dangerous because I’m likely to get bored or distracted easily. There’s some recap, and then our main character sits and stares at a river thoughtfully, which doesn’t make for very engaging reading. I also don’t yet know the importance of things being silver, which makes the repeated stress on the quality a bit distracting.

You do have the threads of what could be a very interesting setting here, and I’d love to see more of a sense of purpose in this scene to draw that out. Make sure your reader has something to latch on to and that your word choice is enhancing your story, not distracting from it.


UNDER THE EARTH by Alex Hans Martin – Science-Fiction

They plastered the posters everywhere. “Send Them Home.” Cracked, creased, and worn, they swept in and out and between the kids running on the pavement. They littered the streets, the profiles of mothers and fathers, farmers and entrepreneurs. On walls, new, younger faces covered those who had disappeared. The city’s eyes stayed open through the nights and Lady Liberty stood firm at America’s border, no longer a beacon to a better future but a torch chasing you home. My father encouraged it, yelling from the comfort of his recliner. He sat on the edge, shoes removed, undershirt untucked, pointing his finger at the television.

“Look at her. She stands for freedom. I did not raise you, work for your food and your education, to live in a world where I can’t order a burger in English. It’s treason, to take out from under us the values and traditions that built this country. Lady Liberty will stand firm, turning those away that don’t share our morals.”

I used to argue with him. Long, spitting, tirades over and through our frozen dinners. My mother, elbows on her knees, cried for us to stop. She would reach for my hand and squeeze, begging me not to rile my father any further. As I grew older, I understood. She was the one that had to share a room with him when we went to bed, not me. I moved soon after, ceasing the arguments. I chose New York City via New Orleans, Tallahassee, and Philadelphia. My father refused to send any money and I slipped out to find a new home when rent was due.

It was in the city that I met Pots. He introduced himself, scrubber in one hand and the other outstretched.

“Put ‘er there.” He grabbed my hand and let go only after he introduced me to three regulars, two cooks, and the special of the day. “Olive You Anchovies.”

Here’s Kurestin’s Review:

UNDER THE EARTH, Alex Hans Martin 

There’s way too much summary in your first page, and it feels more like a synopsis than the real story. This makes me suspect that you haven’t begun things in the right place. This synopsis-like jumping around in time and place also gives your character an extremely distant voice, and I don’t feel like I’m building a connection with them.

As for the writing itself, much of this could be made sharper. The bit of dialogue present is stilted and feels like a plot convenient bit rather than something that enhances the character and establishes voice. The sentence structure could use more variation and attention to rhythm, as many of the sentences feel choppy when read together.

The very first paragraph hints at a cool world and concept, like something that sounds relevant today but with an extra twist, but I’ve lost that with the paragraphs afterward. I’d love to see this tackled again with an entirely different opening moment.


ONE THOUSAND STARS THAT BIND by Ashley Ruggirello – YA Fairytale Retelling

Sometimes I have to catch myself, as if I haven’t been breathing for who knows how long. Now’s one of those moments. I fill my lungs as if they’ve been deprived of oxygen all day. Of course they haven’t. Air is a necessity to life, after all.
It’s between each breath that it’s easy to do the things I’m least proud of. Or most proud of. I guess it depends on your perspective, and your perspective is molded by how many years you’ve spent on the streets.
And I’ve lost count.
I look down. It’s in my hands, swaddled in muslin and still warm, like a baby. I’m holding onto it as if it were one, too. Precious. Delicate. The cozonac loaf, sweet and filled with poppy seeds, should keep me alive and full for the remainder of the day, but that’s just today. That’s if I don’t share, which I always do.
But that’s all if I don’t get caught.
The loud and harsh tongues screaming from behind tell me it’s not my lucky day. I suck in as much air as my lungs can manage, and then a little more after that. With my wild mane of dark brown, tightly-wound ringlets corralled to one side, I pull the large cowl hood up and over my head, cloaking my figure, until I become a silhouette. A shadow. The cowl wraps around my neck and shoulders, but leaves my arms, and the space above my corset, exposed. I’m not concerned; my skin is dark enough to disguise me. I melt into the growing darkness as the day’s eve approaches.
Unfortunately, this time I’m not sure if it’ll be enough. They’re still on my tail. And gaining.

Here’s Kurestin’s Review:


I don’t love the hedging that appears in the beginning (ex. “of course they haven’t” and “I guess it depends on your perspective”). It takes away from the power of your sharp lines, and in general builds a feeling of an indecisive character who’s not great at getting to the point (which works if that’s your intention!). On that topic, I LOVE the line “It’s between each breath that it’s easy to do the things I’m least proud of.” Make that your opening line, lead with your best stuff!

There was also something that struck me as off about her hair/dress/skin description. It was a bit all at once, and sometimes very dramatic word choice can be a turn off when I’m not yet lulled into the story. The bit about the “loud, harsh tongues screaming” plus the description of her (including the corset) all lent itself toward a costume-y feeling. Keeping your description more spread out and restricting some of the more dramatic word choice in the very beginning will prevent me from being thrown out of the story before I’ve built up my connection with the main character. With a little bit of finessing and a slightly more subtle touch, this will be a very strong first page.


Thank you Kurestin for sharing your time and expertise with us. Please keep in touch.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 27, 2016

Reminder: Writing and Illustrating Opportunities

My followers have increased since the beginning of the year, so I thought I would repeat the opportunities writers and illustrators can take advantage of on this blog.


This colorful, happy illustration was created by the fabulous illustrator Rafael Lopez. He was featured on illustrator Saturday. Click here to see his feature.


AUTHORS AND ILLUSTRATORS FEATURED BOOK: Do you have a book that you would like to promote? Each month I will feature two books to help authors and illustrators get their name out there and promote their books. You must be willing to do a book giveaway.

It can be a self-published book, but remember you will be competing for the same open spots as a book published by the big publishers. Do not submit a book that has already been featured on this blog. Submit another book. You must agree to doing a book-giveaway.

If you are interested, please send me the following things using Kathy.temean (at) Please put BOOK PROMOTION in the subject area:
1.A .jpg of the cover at least 500 pixels wide.
2.A picture of you.
3.Your bio
4.The story of your books journey to publication.
5.Description of your book and the story.


If you are an illustrator and would like to be featured in 2016 on Illustrator Saturday, then send me a note with some samples and a link to your work. Please use the gmail address above and put “Illustrator Saturday Consideration” in the subject area.

If you were featured before 2013 on Illustrator Saturday and have at least 20 illustrations that weren’t shown previously, then email me about your desire to show your new work. Please put “Previous Featured Illustrator” in the subject area.


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

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

Each Sunday one illustrator will be chosen.


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


This is where you get to tell everyone about your success stories. Have you won a contest, gotten an agent, sold a book or an article? If so everyone wants to hear about it. Send to: Kathy.temean (at) Put “SUCCESS STORY” in the subject area.


I am always looking for articles about writing and illustrating that I can share with my followers to help them improve their skills, etc. It is a good way to get your name out there and promote your books, too. Send me an email with your ideas to: Kathy.temean (at)


Each month an industry professional will critique four first pages from the pages submitted.

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

Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hope to hear from you.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 26, 2016

Agent Looking for Clients

jessicasinsheimercroppedJessica Sinsheimer, Agent at Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency.

Jessica has been reading and campaigning for her favorite queries since 2004. Now an Associate Agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, she’s known for #MSWL,, #PubTalkTV— and for drinking far too much tea.

She is always on the lookout for new writers, she is most excited about finding picture books, YA, upmarket genre fiction (especially women’s/romance/erotica, thrillers, mysteries) and—on the nonfiction side—psychology, parenting, self-help, cookbooks, memoirs, and works with highbrow sentences with lowbrow content, smart/nerdy protagonists, vivid descriptions of food, picture books with non-human characters, and justified acts of bravery.

You can follow her on Twitter at @JSinsheim.

Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 25, 2016

ICL Announces Quarterly Contest

icl-logo_1000x1000-maxInstitute of Children’s Literature Announces Quarterly Contest 

Awarding $1,300 in cash prizes and accepting entries through October 31, 2016.

Madison, CT October 5, 2016 This could be one way of finding a little extra cash for gifts come holiday time. All you have to do is pull out your shamrocks, jack-o-lanterns, or maybe a couple of heart shaped candies, and start writing. Then enter the Institute of Children’s Literature holiday-themed writing contest!

“For me, the most fun is announcing the winners of the $1,300 in cash prizes,” says ICL Director Katie Davis. “And I get to have that fun every quarter, since we have these contests four times a year.” The Institute awards five cash prizes divided into varying levels including $650 for the first place winner, $350 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth and fifth place.

Write a holiday themed story–for any holiday.

 Submissions can be no more than 500 words.
Your story arc should have a beginning, middle and end.
The audience for this contest is considered 3-8 years old.
TIPS for a great submission:

Read the rules here and see an example of format for this contest.

Submissions will be judged on clarity, liveliness, potential in the market, and your ability to match normal manuscript format (double spacing, clear contact information, no games with fonts).

The winning entries in this Holiday Story Contest will be announced at the live webinar after the deadline (all entrants will receive emails about that), in our free newsletter, and our Facebook group.

Win one of five cash prizes!

The contest offers five cash prizes: $650 for the winner, $350 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth, and fifth places. Make sure to follow directions!

Entries must be received by October 31, 2016

Entrants pay a reading fee of $19, which includes free entrance to the educational (and fun!) webinar following the deadline. Non-entrants may join us, but will pay for a $7 ticket to attend.

You may send multiple entries, but you must enter each separately with the $19 reading fee for each entry. 

The contest’s rules are important. Please read them very carefully.

Good luck, have fun!

Now warm up your computer and write a $650-winning holiday story about any holiday you wish!

The holiday-themed contest is for any holiday, so we’ve gotten some really fun submissions, says judge Nancy Coffelt, an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. “Every submission is judged on clarity, liveliness, potential in the market, since one of the things we do to help writers is get their work sold.” Nancy is the award-winning author of numerous picture books, including Big, Bigger Biggest, and Dogs in Space.

As part of the $19 reading fee, contestants are invited to join a free online lesson taught by the judge, and hosted by Katie Davis. (Non-entrants may join for a small fee of $7.) This contest’s lesson will be held on December 1, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.ET. That’s when the five winning entrants will be announced and then critiqued, so attendees can see how even a winning submission can be improved upon. Invaluable writing tips and tricks are shared. One attendee, Cynthia, said, “It was exciting to enter my first contest and to learn what is gleaned from the winner’s techniques. Great tips and suggestions!” The webinars also offer participants a sneak peak at the next contest and have a random drawing of a free critique, worth $99.

For more information or to sign up please visit:


About the Institute 

Since 1969 the Institute has taught over 470,000 students with a one-on-one customized method of instruction. Our faculty is made up of published authors and committed educators. Our school offers college level courses (and college credits) where students can learn to write. Our graduates include a poet laureate and a Newbery medalists and often our students get published before they even finish their course. And all of this is attainable right from the comfort of your home.

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 24, 2016

Book Giveaway – Evolution Revolution

Congratulations to Charlotte Bennardo for her new book, Evolution Revolution. Charlotte has agreed to give do a book giveaway. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back on November 7th to discover the winner.



In a quiet wood, a gray squirrel declares war on the machines that invade his wood, threatening his nest and tree. Taught words and how to use simple machines like the wheel by a young boy who names him Jack, the squirrel shares what he’s learned with the other animals.

Jack thinks he can stop the bulldozers, if he can convince the other woodland animals to join him in the fight. But as they take on the humans and their machines, people are noticing that Jack and his friends are smarter than ordinary forest animals. All of them are in more danger than they realize. Even if Jack and the animals win the battle, will they lose the war?

Evolution Revolution is a smart and charming book for younger readers that will have them wondering just what the animals in the yard are up to! Watch for the next book in this series coming soon.



The long and winding road…

Finally my middle grade science-adventure story debuted on September 30th. It has been a journey akin to traveling through the Himalayans; super ups, super downs. And the path led me toward Indie publishing.

The idea started when my middle son brought home his third grade science homework about simple machines (lever, wheel and axle, inclined plane, etc.). Then I saw a BBC documentary on how smart squirrels are; they will spend over a month to solve a puzzle if it involves food. They teach other squirrels what they have learned, or the others learn from watching them. One day a squirrel visited our yard and stayed. Our squirrel was smart enough to know that even if he could see us behind the window, he was safe because we weren’t outside. I wondered what else they could learn…Bingo! Book idea! I started writing a story about a squirrel who learns how to use simple machines.

Having written the first three books (I planned on a series of 5, 6, maybe more), I shopped it around to agents. And editors. And critique groups. From the rejections I honed the story. No takers. Years passed…

Eventually, I put the story aside, knowing I’d come back to it. Other books were written and discarded until Sirenz, of which I am a co-author, got picked up by Flux. Next came Sirenz Back in Fashion and an agent. I sent her the first book, Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines, which she loved. After making a few revisions, she shopped it around. To everyone. No takers. Sadly, she advised me to put it aside. As in forever.

I did, but I couldn’t forget it. This was a story that resonated with me.

But then came Blonde OPS and the anthology Beware the Little White Rabbit.

All through this, I’d been hearing so much about Indie publishing. The success of Amanda Hocking and other authors. It took a while, but I decided I would Indie publish Evolution Revolution. It was going to be a difficult process, and expensive if I wanted to do it right, but I needed this book to be pubbed. After telling my agent, she agreed to help me with the process and treat it as though it were traditionally pubbed; she would format and publicize, and receive a standard commission.

I shopped around for illustrators. This book was going to be professional looking; no cheesy covers, no clip art. After looking at several portfolios, I chose Cathy Daniels because her style was closest to my vision for the book. She made some sketches and I decided to move forward. We went through two cover drafts. While I liked the first rough, Cathy got feedback from her critique group and decided it had to be more original so she sent me a second cover. The only change I requested was more color, as I thought it looked a bit too green and dark. After a few small tweaks, it became the cover you see now. I asked her to do interior pics, one for every other chapter. Because I trusted her work, I let her chose the scenes to be illustrated—and she did not disappoint me.

Unfortunately, halfway through the literary agency decided not to stay involved in Indie publishing anymore—and I was in over my head. Formatting, dpi’s, bleeds, Adobe Pro subscriptions, etc. It gave me migraines and there were some serious crying bouts as I thought I’d never get the book together. The process is only easy if you are tech savvy or have/pay someone every step of the way-bear that warning in mind.

But between my agent, the people at CreateSpace and $$, it’s done. Is it perfect? No, but hopefully people won’t notice the minor mistakes (I think there are only 2). And no, I’m not going to tell you what they are.

That wasn’t the end; the path had a few last detours. Because I ordered a large number of copies to sell at book events, and use for promotional purposes, that triggered an additional review which I wasn’t informed about until a week later. That meant that I wouldn’t have any books for two events. I cried to the CreateSpace technician. The book passed review and they overnighted 30 copies for the two events. I was so relieved.

But the next detour was getting events booked. I was ‘uninvited’ from having a launch/debut party because most bookstores don’t permit Indie published books. Although there is a method for the author and bookstore to order/sell/buy back unsold books, most don’t want to be bothered. It’s tough; even at some book festivals Indie published titles are not welcome. We’ve all seen some traditionally published books that were awful. And we’ve seen some Indie published ones that were fantastic. It’s a crazy world in the publishing industry, but that’s what we’re dealing with. If you’re thinking about Indie publishing, here are a few things to know beforehand (there are many more but you’ll have to learn them as you go):

  • It’s a complicated process to format. Reading CreateSpace or other publisher’s ‘Helpful Guide’ is going to be loaded down with lots of computer terms. Either prepare to spend days learning it all, team up with a computer savvy person, or pay the publisher to set it up.
  • Hire a professional illustrator. Nothing says amateur more than a cover you made with clip art or a friend’s doodles (or worse, your own unless you’re a pro). It’s not cheap, but it will be worth it.
  • Don’t set a launch date until you have the books in hand. So many things can come up and if you’ve lined up any events, you’ll be sitting there with nothing or have to cancel and that doesn’t look professional.
  • Unless you’re going entirely ebook, there are going to be expenses. I hired an illustrator, a publicist, paid for formatting to ebook (that’s a whole other nightmare), and then bought physical copies. This is not for the faint hearted or those with only $100 to spend.
  • Glean as much information from other Indie published authors, from organizations like The Independent Book Publishers Association, etc., and from resources listed all over the web. It’s going to be overwhelming but that’s the way it is.

I plan on publishing the rest of the series, but I’m not going total Indie. I still have my agent, am still submitting novels for traditional publishers. I don’t know where the path from the mountains will finally lead me, but it sure is an interesting adventure.


After looking at several portfolios, I chose Cathy’s because her pictures were closest to my vision for this book (written over 10 years ago…). We went through 2 cover drafts. While I liked the first rough, Cathy got feedback and decided it had to be more original and then sent me a second cover. They only changes I requested was more color, as I thought it looked a bit green and dark. After some small tweaks, it became the cover you see now. The interior pics, there is an illustration for every other chapter, were taken right from action in the chapter.



Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines is her first solo novel. She is also the co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series (Sirenz,Sirenz Back In Fashion, Flux), and one of 13 authors in the anthology,Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap). She’s written for magazines and newspapers, and has given presentations and workshops at NJ SCBWI conferences. Currently she’s working on sci fi, historical, fantasy, and time travel novels and loves to hear from fans on Twitter (charbennardo) or through her blog.



Cathleen Daniels has been a published illustrator since 1990. Her clients include Simon & Schuster, Barnes & Noble, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Legend Entertainment, Fleer Trading Card Co, Topps Trading Card Co. Her professional awards include Best Logo Design NJ-SCBWI 2009, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Visual Artist Fellowship Award 2008, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Illustrators & Writers Of The Future Contest, Honorable Mention 1992. Cathleen was also a N.J. State certified Commercial Art educator from 2002-2014. Her educator awards include N.J. Governor’s Award in Arts Education 2006, Outstanding Educator in the Arts Award, VSA Arts of New Jersey 2006. VSA is an affiliate of the JFK Center for Performing Arts. Cathleen now spends her time illustrating for kids, playing with her cats and bugging her husband, daughter and neighborhood squirrels to pose for photo reference! You can find her work at

Thank you Charlotte for sharing your journey with us and offering Evolution Revolution to one lucky winner.
Also, Congratulations to Cathleen Daniels for providing the wonderful illustrations for Charlotte’s book.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 23, 2016

Take A Look Sunday – Tihomir Celanovic



T2 Children’s Illustrators is a diverse group of dedicated, timely, and enthusiastic illustrators and writers from across the United States and several countries abroad. Our focus is on children’s picture book and juvenile educational publishing. But our expertise does not stop there. T2 Illustrators have collaborated on advertising campaigns, editorial features, toys, games, gifts, children’s apps, and e-books. We’re a well-versed group ready to meet your needs.

Nicole and Jeremy Tugeau are the agent/owners behind the T2 Team. They are ecstatic about their ever-growing agency, and they are committed to working hard for the network of illustrators who surround them. Nicole heads up the agency on a day-to-day basis.

What she enjoys most about being an Agent is the partnership-making, the relationships and of course the success stories. Jeremy is a long-time children’s illustrator, and he continues to work as an artist in this field while maintaining some involvement with T2 Illustrators as a creative resource and promotional guru.


Artist, Tihomir Celanovic, has put forth two illustration tearsheets for review and directed me to his current online portfolio where he shows a variety of styles in 4/color and 1/color and mixed media (art and photo).  Tihomir’s work is of high quality, very expressive and quite narrative. I think the number of styles displayed in a series of collections in Behance (the website) is a little overwhelming for an art buyer, however. A website that can better group the illustrations by style and really showcase Tihomir’s best pieces in a large format will be to his advantage.


A ‘tearsheet’ to me is a single page of artwork meant for promotional purposes. It typically includes a variety/multiple illustrations from the same artist. It includes the artist name and quite often his or her contact information.  Tearsheets are a useful ‘snapshot’ of the artist’s work. They tell what genre the artist is working in, what medium, and to what age range the artist is focused. More, they tell about the artist’s sensibilities and strengths. Tearsheets ALWAYS show the artist’s best work. Different tearsheets may be created to capture different styles or different desired age range. Maybe an artist has a vector look geared toward very young children and a digital line style she uses to illustrate picture books.  A good tearsheet would represent work from one style or the other.

Tihomir is a fully digital artist, and he offers a few different styles as I already noted. His two tearsheets are comprised of vignettes – many small illustration scenes.  Some in color, some in grayscale. Overall, I find the tearsheets very attractive and effective. They show consistency and a good mix of human and animal characters and a whole lot of personality. What makes them really unique is what I’ll call the ‘art in action’ moments captured on each page.  In the first teasheet the piece of paper is yet being drawn and the kids are creating art on top.  In the second tearsheet, some lines and color are dissolving into what look like simplified underpaintings.  That poor donkey!


So I think these tearsheets are good representations of Tihomir’s work. I would include contact information on each to cover all bases as well as a redirect to your personal website.

My footing is firm in children’s picture book, so I think that simplified and more focused tearsheets are needed to meet that market. I would start with a much larger central image (or two or three) that are linked by character and show the same style.  Loose the grayscale spot art (you can always follow up with that later if the client wants you to do interiors on a chapter book or novel).  And let the big pictures pack the punch.  Here’s a piece form Tihomir’s website that I felt would make an excellent central image for a future tearsheet (crop to loose some the extra bottom bleed).  The addition of secondary characters from this narrative and/or spot art in the same style directly related to the narrative may also work.

My very best to your continued success and promotion of your work, Tihomir.


Thank you Nicole for sharing your thoughts and expertise with us. I look forward to next Sunday.

Here is Tihomir’s bio:

Tihomir Čelanović was born in 1977. in Belgrade, Serbia. He grew up in Kotor, Montenegro, graduated in 2001 at the Faculty of applied arts and design in Belgra.

Tihomir is an illustrator who loves doing fantasy stuff, children books and anything interesting. 


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.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 22, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – Jesse Graber


Jesse Graber is a freelance illustrator working in Kansas City, Kansas. When he’s not drawing I play a lot of music on the fiddle and banjo. He attended Bethel College in North Newton, KS and The American Academy of Art in Chicago. He illustrate books, magazines and educational materials for clients such as McGraw-Hill, Scholastic, Oxford University Press, and Highlights for Children, and he is represented in the children’s market by Cornell & Company.


The image I’m working towards is an image of three kids looking at a passed-out bigfoot in a passenger train with passengers freaking out.


Character sketches usually happen in my sketchbook. For whatever reason, it’s still easier for me to write in my sketchbook than on a tablet. Nothing got really nailed down here, but I have a basic idea of what I want the kids to look like.


I have a file called NEW in my current projects folder. It is a large PS document that opens to this page of 9 small thumbnails. The rule is that I can’t zoom in to work on detail, which defeats the purpose of thumbnails, which is to design your overall image and see what works without falling in love with anything you draw. It’s really really hard not to zoom in.


I usually have an idea for an image before I start, and generally it turns out to be the least interesting one. For me, thumbnails let me play around in the space of the picture quickly to get acquainted with the shapes and the environment. I drew an arrow at the one I went with. It seemed to be both dynamic (lots of vertical lines) and best at showing everything I need to show.


First pass= super boring. The actual perspective really seems to kill the vibe, but I didn’t realize that yet. I do have things kinda spaced out where I want them and I can see how this is going for the first time.


Another pass. A real problem through this entire piece is that there’s a lot going on around the main subjects, so I really need to make them stand out. Here they’re too big. Bigfoot is too small.


I finally wise up and give the perspective some flair. It looks weird, but it’ll get better. I remember a breakthrough moment in school was learning to draw the whole background first, and fitting my characters within the space, rather than drawing the background around my characters. It makes everything easier.


At each new pass of a drawing I lower a layer’s opacity and draw on a new layer over it.  I might do that 20 times to get everything right. PS is particularly great at this part of the process. I can resize and move things on the fly. I also looked at a bunch of pictures of passenger train interiors, to figure out what a convincing chair might look like. I always figured illustrating was just drawing people, but it turns out there’s a lot of drawing couches and shoes and refrigerators and clothes and doors and windows and cars and everything else you can imagine. My style is pretty loose, but I still try to make sure things are reasonably structural. Good enough to not distract by how poorly it’s drawn, but not too realistic where the viewer thinks “Hey! That’s a really good dishwasher back there!”


Here’s my first legit pencil. I’m part of a great critique group online. The comments I got about this were: the big kid grabs everyone’s attention first, BF’s feet are too small, the hand in the lower left is distracting, and the space seems too tall. Critique has taught me more about illustration than anything, and accepting critique of my own work is the only way I can make a piece better. “The first thing I notice is…” is a good way to start a critique. It’s honest, and it usually leads to figuring out some big problems.

Final Pencil.

I start by “inking” everything in a neutral color. As I’m painting I’ll place an opacity lock on the line layer and color or erase the lines as I go.


As with the pencils I paint the entire background so I can tell how my character’s colors will interact with it. The only colors I know for sure at this point is that bigfoot is brown, and The main character’s jacket clothes are blue, so I base all the other colors around that, hoping the cool will pop against a warm background.


Here’s  a closeup of everything. My brushes are a combination of my own and Kyle Webster’s sets. I totally recommend checking his brushes out. Probably the best deal ever. This is a watercolor style piece, and you can see how I build colors. You can also see the white mask I’ve got on the layer above the background. I have all my character’s paints on a locked layer, paint on a new layer, click the visibility on and off to see if I like what I did, and if I do like it, I’ll collapse it down and start a new layer. When I first started I had a new layer for practically every stroke. I was pretty organized but it was still too much for me to deal with. This way I’ve only ever got 4 or 5 layers at a time for a project, though I go through dozens and dozens.


Final paint. Here’s how it looks just with painting

11-finish-4And here’s the final final. I added a Color Dodge layer on top of everything to add spot colors to just add a bit of sweetness to specific areas.


How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating for about 10(!) years now. It doesn’t seem like that’s possible, and I feel like a newbie. There’s a lot of things I want to do.


Where do you live?

Three years ago my wife and I moved to Kansas City, Kansas. We both grew up in central Kansas, went to school in and lived in Chicago for awhile, and find KC to be a happy medium between Newton, KS and Chicago, IL. There’s a lot of great kid lit authors and illustrators in the city and some neat projects like


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

When I was in high school the owner of a local hardware store wanted someone to draw portraits of him and four other executives. I was a pretty good artist for a 17 year old, but I’d never done anything like this where likeness, a professional look, and finishing in a timely matter was expected. I can’t imagine they looked great, and I had a heck of a time trying to figure out how much to charge, but I loved it, and the owner was kind.


What  made you chose The American Academy of Art in Chicago to study art?

I’d earned BA in Art and Education at Bethel College, in North Newton, KS, and while I received a great education there, I was not very receptive to it. In fact, throughout high school and college, I felt that one didn’t learn art, there was just natural talent and practice made you better. It’s a poor outlook to have as an Art and Education major. During my student teaching, a high school student came up to me and asked how to draw a nose. “What do you mean? You just draw it” was my first thought, and I realized I didn’t know how I did what I did.

After a few years of various uninspiring jobs, I realized I wanted to learn art, and learn how I do what I do, and how I could do it better. We were living in Elkhart, Indiana at the time, so Chicago was right there. I visited the school and I remember walking down a hall with Alex Ross art up and down both sides and just being speechless. I’m sure my admissions guide thought I was having some sort of episode or something, but seeing Jill Thompson, Gil Elvgren and Joyce Ballantyne work up on the walls, I knew I was right were I needed to be.


What did you study there?

At the American Academy of Art in Chicago I studied illustration. To me, putting a box around ART and giving it some objectives and boundaries really gave me a focus that I didn’t have just studying art. I’d always worked on the technical side of art, the how, but at AAA I learned a lot about the conceptual side, the why, and using both to tell stories and being able to asses how successful I was by showing it to strangers to see if they could tell what was going on really delighted me.


Did getting your MFA helped develop your style?

I didn’t enter the masters program at AAA. I went back and got a BFA in illustration. It was pretty clear to me that I wanted to start from the beginning rather than building on what I could already do in an MFA program. I’m the guy who likes to read the instructions before I do things, and this made a lot of sense to my brain. I’m happy I did what I did.


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

Right out of school I got a job illustrating a series of self published books written by someone who owned and ran a marketing agency where I interned. It was steady work for 3 or 4 years, and having that opportunity to earn a living working on my craft was the greatest gift I’ve ever had. The agency itself was in a Chicago suburb about 8 miles away, we didn’t have a car, and there wasn’t a great public transit option, so I biked. Everyday. Rain or shine. I’m not a biker, but it was such a great opportunity I became one. I also did some freelancing on the side.


Did the school help you get work after you graduated?

One of my instructors, whose husband worked at the marketing agency I ended up at, recommended me for the job.


Have you seen your work change since you left school?

Every year I look back at old work and wince. I guess that’s good, and it does seem to be slowing down, but I’m not sure what it means if I ever stop. Style wise, in school I developed a style using heavy outlines and  feathering to blend solid colors together. I was never completely satisfied with it, but I made it work.

After working on three books, I was sick of it. I initially started using photoshop because I’m partially colorblind, and the color wheel in PS lets me know exactly what color I’m working with. If I had to guess, I’d say I developed a style feathering colors together so that the viewer would blend the colors in their mind, and I wouldn’t have to. Painting, even with the aid of the color picker, scared me. I’d had enough weird experiences with traditional media. And yet. (cont.)


So I learned about color and I made it work. I think I made it a much bigger obstacle in my head than it turned out to be. On the other hand, I didn’t know anyone who was doing what I was doing colorblind. I don’t even know how much help that could have been. It all boiled down to showing pieces to my wife saying “this doesn’t look weird, does it?” and her smiling and helping me along. That’s how I learned my color system. (Cont.)


After I started painting in photoshop, and by that I mean mixing colors, using under coats and over coats and different opacity brushes, I started really eschewing lines, with the mindset that they were amateurish and something I should strive to overcome. And I did, and I don’t think it did my work any favors. Line work is one of my strengths, one of my loves, so they’re back.


When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

It was less a decision and more the natural progression of what I was doing and the opportunities that opened up to me. It wasn’t obvious to me right out of school, but in hindsight it seems staggeringly inevitable that I would end up doing ridiculous illustrations that make kids laugh.


What was your first book?

My first book was for a self published author. It was called Treasure Hunt, and told a story of kids playing the game and gave rules so you could play it yourself. I was pretty green. But the author was patient and I learned so much while working on that book. Like how to draw kids the don’t just look like weird short adults. How to work on more than one illo at a time. How to add to the story with the pictures. And, of course, how to draw characters that look the same from page to page. (Answer- draw them a lot!)


How did that contract come about?

One of my teachers realized I had some capacity to draw and (just as important) I could finish things on time and not flake out. Just the ability to meet deadlines really is a big up.


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

Yes. I keep coming up with ideas that I wish someone would write already. Pretty soon I’m going to realize  how unlikely that would be and just take care of it myself.


What do you think is your biggest success?

Funny enough, one that’s never been seen. I’ve never followed sports, but the last two years I’ve been swept up in the excitement around a local professional sports team. The whole town went crazy. The only way I know how to express appreciation of pop culture is to draw interpretations of it, so I drew a few images of popular players as animals. This is the weird nexus where my abilities and sports overlap. I shared these on social media and the right people saw them. The next year I was hired to draw their whole lineup as animals which would be animated and played during the games. At one point I was trying to figure out if the dolphin player should be wearing pants or not, and I realized this was the best job ever.  I got paid, but the animations were never used. Once we get the rights back to the animations we’ll see what can be done with them. I’m sad it didn’t get used, but it was still a great job.


I see you’re represented at Cornell and Company. How did you connect with them? How long have you been with them?

I’ve been with Cornell & Co for maybe 5 or 6 years now. I researched a bunch of agencies and picked several that seemed to have work similar to mine. I sent out tear sheets to several and got a few responses and narrowed it down from there. I’m not good at negotiating, asking for a fair price for my work, reading contracts, financial do dads and what nots, but I can draw an owl that will make you sad. It seemed like a beneficial thing for me, and I’m eternally grateful that Merial saw something in my work that made her think I had a future.


Do you illustrate full time?

Yes. I do an odd graphic design job from time to time, but I’m either working on work, or working on my portfolio.


Do you have a favorite medium you use?

I primarily use Photoshop in my professional work, but I love ink. I’m still amazed how black lines on white paper can trick the mind into seeing dimension and depth. Or Charles Shultz’s other side of the coin, a flat world that was totally believable.


Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

The best class I ever took was Life Drawing for Illustrators, which was all about drawing the human body from your mind. I still take pictures of hands, or the whole body if a character is in a strange pose or if the pose is so specific to the action that not getting it exactly would diminish the final image. And I always look at google images to see what the particularities of what I’m drawing are. Not to copy, but to see what the little things are that makes a thing look like itself. At Bethel, I painted kid’s faces at the Fall Fest, mostly hearts and flowers and stars, and one time two SUPER EXCITED little girls came up. They were twins and had just gotten a Dalmatian puppy. Could I paint a Dalmatian on their faces? Dalmatians had four legs and spots and a head and probably a tail. No problem, I thought. After I started I quickly realized my painting was missing certain subtleties to the form, and also that it looked like a cow. The second twin’s excitement and smile quickly faded and after I was done she politely told me maybe she didn’t want her face painted after all and she heard her mother calling. That’s when I realized the value of looking at references.


Have you worked with any educational publishers? If yes, is there any difference working with them?

I’ve done a lot of work for textbooks and workbooks. There is little room for interpretation of the assignment. It needs to be done effectively so the student knows exactly how it relates to the lesson. My first big job, finishing 60 images in a few weeks, really drove home the difference between an Artiste and a commercial artist.


Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

Almost everything I do, from pencils to finished piece, is in PS. I love it. And that’s coming from someone who really cringed at computer art in the 90’s. I never thought I would be drawn to it, but as I mentioned before, it seemed to be a way around colorblind issues, and in the early 2000’s I was starting to see digital work that didn’t look digital. It just looked good.

Nevertheless, I grew up drawing, and any success I have in PS is because of that. Like a typewriter won’t make you a better writer, PS won’t make you a better artist. Besides that, one of my teachers at AAA always said the idea is 90% of an illustration. Photoshop doesn’t have a button for that yet.

space-mechanicDo you have and use a graphic tablet?

I started on a tablet, but in 2006 or so I got a Wacom Cintiq. It’s my favorite thing ever. Drawing right on the screen is a game changer. Now when I go back to a tablet, I feel dumb and clumsy. The Cintiq is just like drawing on paper. In fact for the first year I had it, every time I would use the other end of the stylus to erase something, I’d brush away the eraser dust, because that’s what I’d been doing my entire life, and this didn’t feel any different.


Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

Soon after I graduated from AAA I did some work for Highlights. It was a big thrill to go to the dentist’s office and see that issue sitting there.


Do you studio a studio in your house?

Luckily two of the upstairs bedrooms had large closets, so I’m in one of them. I fantasize about having a little cabin studio in the woods or something, but I think I’d miss being close to my work. It did take awhile to get the hang of working from home, though. I learned that wearing shoes and clothes like a working adult (ie not sweats) put me in the right mindset to actually work. I learned to not get distracted by everything there is to do around the house. And I learned, reading a New Yorker article about the effects of solitary confinement on prisoners and feeling some of the symptoms seemed a little too familiar, that I need to have real life social interactions with real live humans now and then.


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

Every morning I start by taking a walk. At some point in the day I go on a little run (and I do mean little). I draw in my sketchbook everyday, and every week I try to spend a bit of time working in a different medium than I’m used to, or picking a tool in PS I’ve never used and seeing what it does. I don’t know that these habits focus specifically on career goals, but I think they put me in a good spot to accomplish them.


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

Oh yeah. I talked earlier about a job that led from the right people seeing my work on social media. Besides that, being exposed to current illustrators and editors and designers current thoughts and works is incredibly valuable. Though it can also be a time suck and ego destroyer if you let it get out of control.


What are your career goals?

I’d like a mini fridge up here at some point.


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

One of most amazing things I learned recently is that in PS you can set your brush’s mode to clear, which essentially acts as an eraser, but gives you the same texture your brush has. I’ve been working in PS for so long and I’m still surprised by things.


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

I just talked to a local middle school art club. Towards the end they showed me and everyone else their work. There were some good pieces, and while I heard a lot of compliments to the obvious talents in the room, I also heard a lot of kids say some variation of “If she can draw that good, I might as well give up.” Ben Franklin said “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and it’s so easy these days to see so much absolutely wonderful work that I almost call it quits myself every other day. I knew where they were coming from. And if it were just about being technically proficient we probably should give up. (Cont.)



I really do believe, however, that technical ability can make you a good drawer, but not necessarily a good illustrator. The biggest part of an illustration is the idea and the manner by which you present it to the viewer and how they connect with it, and that all comes from your experiences, your history, the books you read and the movies you’ve seen, your weird brain chemistry (is that a thing?) and your unique physiology. Your style (as John Hartford said) is based on your limitations, and not in a bad way. We all have a unique voice and making something that connects with people is more important than drawing realistically. I said something like that to everyone in the class, and even the really talented kids looked relieved. Pretty pictures don’t solve problems.


Thank you Jesse 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 Jesse’s work, you can visit him at website at:

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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 21, 2016

Free Fall Friday – Kurestin Armada Agent Interview – Part 2

kurestinarmada-wpcf_240x240Kurestin Armada is our featured agent for the month of October. I met her at the NJSCBWI conference in June and invited her to the Avalon Writer’s Retreat, so I am happy to introduce her to everyone.

Kurestin began her publishing career as an intern with Workman Publishing, and spent time as an assistant at The Lotts Agency before joining P.S. Literary. She holds a B.A. in English from Kenyon College, as well as a publishing certificate from Columbia University. Kurestin is based in New York City, and spends most of her time in the city’s thriving indie bookstores. She reads widely across genres, and has a particular affection for science fiction and fantasy, especially books that recognize and subvert typical tropes of genre fiction.

Genre Wish List: Picture-Book, Middle-Grade, Young-Adult, Graphic-Novel, Nonfiction, High-Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Edgy, Upmarket and Commercial Fiction, Magic Realism, Alternative History, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ (any genre), Graphic Novels, Mystery and Romance.

Here is part two of the interview I had with Kurestin:

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Absolutely! In fact, if I don’t have any ideas on how to make a manuscript better then I begin to suspect that I’m not a good match for it. I always take things through at least one round of revisions before we go on submission, and usually it’s a few rounds (with one round focusing on big picture items, one round focused on cutting down the word count, one round focused on more specific stylistic issues, etc., all depending on what’s necessary).

Do you have an editorial style?

I tend to lean away from line editing, and instead focus on big picture items or overall style changes. I like to be able to tell my authors that, for example, their transitions are awkward, highlight an example, and then trust them to find and smooth out the rest without me having to highlight every single one.

In the end, the author and I are working together because we share a vision for the manuscript. That shared vision directs all of my notes, as I try to highlight the particular strengths of each author and make the manuscript the best version of itself that it can be.

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

Right now I have nine clients, and I’m definitely open to signing more. I don’t have a set number that’s my limit, because I tend to bring on more clients in a cycle that’s dependent on my other work. If I’ve moved everything off of my plate editorially, and my current projects are either back with the authors for revision or ready to go out on submission, then I feel that need to sign more authors! I suppose I’ll know that I’ve hit my maximum comfortable number of clients when I don’t have that stage of a clear editing desk anymore and there’s always another project to tackle.

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

For emails I try to respond within 48 hours, and that can vary depending on if they just need a quick confirmation of receipt or if it’s an email full of questions that I want to sit down and really think about. All of my phone calls are prescheduled; while I’ve never said that my clients can’t call me out of the blue, with many in different time zones (or across the world!) it’s easier for all of us if random communications are handled over email.

In general, I prefer to give an estimated date on when they can expect an edit letter back from me (or when we’ll be going on submission). This way they’re (hopefully!) never in a place where they wonder if I’ve read something yet, or what exactly I’m doing with their manuscript at any given stage.

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

I do prefer email, but I’ve started moving toward phone calls for edit discussions. It really makes the process more of a conversation, and I’ve found that it’s more productive in a lot of cases to have that back and forth in the moment.

In the submission process, I usually send my authors regularly scheduled updates (often monthly) on where the manuscript has been sent, who has passed, etc. And then of course I’ll reach out immediately if we’re moving forward somewhere! That said, I have a couple of clients who prefer to know these things right away (even the rejections), and I’m happy to accommodate that.

What happens if you don’t sell this book?

This is a great question, and an important one to ask on The Call with an agent. At P.S. Literary we’re very focused on growing authors over the course of their career. That means that as soon as we’re out on submission with one book, I ask authors to begin working on their next book. This way we’ll be prepared with another manuscript already in the works if the first book doesn’t sell, and we can dive right into it with full force.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

It definitely varies depending on the project. For adult science fiction and fantasy, there are only so many places that publish those genres. That will naturally limit my pool of editors, compared to the wide pool of places that I could send a YA manuscript to.

In general, I like to have at least two rounds planned for a submission (although this might not be possible for some manuscripts). That way we have the opportunity to pivot depending on feedback from the first round. And of course, I never think of it as giving up! Instead, it’s just changing what project we’re putting our main focus on.

How long is your average client relationship?

As long as I’ve been building a list! So anywhere from a bit over a year to a few months.

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

All of our foreign rights are handled by Taryn Fagerness, who is tireless and amazing and full of knowledge and excitement for everything we send to her. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Taryn!

Are you open to authors who write multiple genres?

Absolutely, I love authors who are full of ideas and ready to try new things. Of course once a book is sold it’s best to focus on building the author in that genre for a few books, but that doesn’t mean we can’t branch out through the course of their career.

Are you interested in being invited to writer’s conferences?

Definitely, I love meeting authors and getting the chance to chat about the industry and their work!

Check back next Friday for Kurestin’s first page critiques.
Talk tomorrow,
Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 20, 2016

SCBWI Sid Fleischman Humor Award


Given with the Golden Kite Awards, the Sid Fleischman Humor Award is an award for authors whose work exemplifies the excellence of writing in the genre of humor. The SCBWI established the award to honor humorous work, so often overlooked in children’s literature by other award committees. SCBWI reserves the right not to confer this award in any given year.

The inaugural recipient of the SCBWI Humor Award, Fleischman was honored for his extensive body of work at the 32nd Annual SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles, in August 2003. SCBWI President Stephen Mooser joined Executive Director Lin Oliver in presenting the award. “Sid the Magician may not be as famous as Sid the Writer. It’s one thing to make someone laugh. But his ability to do that in so many stories with such poignancy is nothing short of magic,” said Mooser. “I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of this prestigious award and honor.”

Fleischman has written over 35 books for children, including the classic McBroom series, Jim Ugly, Humbug Mountain, The Midnight Horse, By the Great Horn Spoon!, and his autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid, about his early career as a young magician. He was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1987 for The Whipping Boy. In addition to this illustrious turn in children’s literature, Fleischman has also written motion pictures that featured such talents as John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Lauren Bacall.


1. Entrants must be members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

2. Every book written by an SCBWI member (fiction, nonfiction, picture book) is eligible for consideration during the year of original publication. This award is for writers only.

3. Books submitted to the Golden Kite Award competition will NOT automatically be considered for the Sid Fleischman Humor Award. All Sid Fleischman Humor Award books should be sent as separate submissions.  Please send 2 copies of your book to the address below:

Golden Kite Coordinator
Sid Fleischman Humor Award

4727 WIlshire Blvd. Suite 301

Los Angeles, CA 90010

All submissions for the award must be RECEIVED no later than December 1, 2016.

The Sid Fleischman Humor Award nominees will be given to separate panel of judges for further consideration. The winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award will be selected, and the author and his/her publishing house notified, in April, 2017.

The Sid Fleischman Humor Award is an award for authors whose work exemplifies superlative writing in the genre of humor. The SCBWI established the award to honor humorous work, so often overlooked in children’s literature by other award committees. This award is open to writers only.

Please note: books nominated for the Sid Fleischman Humor Award are still eligible to receive the Golden Kite Award but must additionally be submitted for that award as per the guidelines.

4. The nominated books will then be considered by a new, specially designated panel of judges, consisting of author SCBWI members who work in the humor genre.

5. The winner will be notified by April 30, 2017.

Submission Guidelines for PUBLISHERS

Submission Guidelines for INDIVIDUALS

Questions? Golden Kite Coordinator:


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 19, 2016

Book Giveaway: Liza Gardner Walsh – Ghost Hunter’s Handbook

Congratulations to Liza Gardner Walsh for her new book, GHOST HUNTER’S HANDBOOK. Liza has agreed to give do a book for the perfect Halloween giveaway. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back on November 1st to discover the winner.


Book Description:

Kids love ghosts, and this handy guide will help them explore the world of the supernatural. The fascinating range of ghostly lore will keep kids enthralled for hours and includes:
What is a ghost, and how do you know if you’ve seen one?
Famous ghosts and haunted houses
On the hunt with real-life ghost trackers
Ghost-hunting equipment
Where to look for ghosts
How to tell a good ghost story


The book’s journey and mine:

I have always had an interest in ghosts. I lived in a haunted house growing up and constantly felt eyes on me. Now that I know more about ghost hunting, I know my childhood house would’ve been the perfect site for a hunt. It was a doctor’s office and when people, um, perished, they would be kept in our basement until they were buried. Yikes. Rather than trying to pretend this wasn’t happening, I eagerly embraced the spooky world that surrounded me. I spent hours in the graveyard, read local history, and took notes on the bumps in the night. I also developed a real love for reading and telling a good ghost story.

Fast forward many years and my editor at Downeast Books asked if I would be interested in writing a book about the ghosts at Fort Knox, a colonial fort on the coast of Maine that had recently been featured on the television show, Ghost Hunters. I agreed and ended up spending time with some real ghost hunters and learning a lot about the hobby. I also had some bonafide supernatural experiences that were hard to explain.

But the greatest impetus for writing this book happened during my school visits. In the beginning of my presentation, I always talk a little bit about me and what I have written. I show the covers of my books along with a few key images, and at the end of the session almost every question was about my Fort Knox ghost book. Kids wanted to know if I had seen a ghost, if ghosts were real, and they wanted to tell me their own scary stories. After a particularly excited group of third graders shared this same response, I called my editor and said I thought I needed to write a book about ghosts for kids.

My own kids were overjoyed. We live three houses down from a graveyard and for years they had been leading their own informal ghost hunts. Their enthusiasm was a tremendous help as I wrote. And so was a group of local kids who gathered at the Rockport Library to practice telling ghost stories. Many of my books have photos from the field but it is harder to capture images of ghosts due to their allusive nature! But the book’s designer, Lynda Chilton and my editor, Michael Steere, did an amazing job at researching photos and creating a spooky yet kid-friendly design.

As I wrote this book, I wrote the book I wanted to read when I was first discovering an interest in ghosts as well as the book my kids would want. I loved doing the research for this book and although I am still not 100% sure ghosts exists, because a good ghost hunter always keeps a healthy amount of skepticism, I encountered some pretty strange things. So here’s to many spooky adventures!



Liza Gardner Walsh has written numerous books for children , including Muddy Boots, Treasure Hunter’s Handbook, Fairy Houses All Year, and Where Do Fairies Go When it Snows? illustrated by Hazel Mitchell. Liza has been a children’s librarian, high school English teacher, a Museum Educator and she holds an MFA from Vermont College. She lives with her family in Camden, Maine.

Thank you Lisa for sharing your journey with us and offering GHOST’S HUNTERS HANDBOOK to one lucky winner.

Talk tomorrow,


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