Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 26, 2015

Diverse Books Contest


If you write MG and have a diverse background, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities, you may be interested in submitting a short story to We Need Diverse Books. They are putting together an anthology of children’s literature to be published in January 2107.

Phoebe Yeh, VP/Publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House, has acquired publication rights to this Middle Grade WNDB Anthology, working title “Stories For All Of Us.”

The anthology will be in memory of Walter Dean Myers and it will be inspired by his quote: “Once I began to read, I began to exist.” Every new story contribution to this anthology will be by a diverse author.

WNDB is proud to announce that the anthology will have one story reserved for a previously unpublished diverse author. WNDB will fill that slot via a short story contest. The winner will be included in the anthology and will receive a payment of $1000 US.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The submission window is narrow, so if you want to submit you should start writing and polishing, but you can not send it in until April 27th 2015 when they start accepting submissions. The window for submissions is only open for 12 days (until 5:00PM EST on May 8th, 2015).

Short Story Rules

  • All submissions (short story or illustrated story) must be in English and never before published in any medium, print or digital.
  • Submissions must be no longer than 5000 words.
  • All submissions must be electronic and sent to the following email address:
  • All submissions must also be appropriate for a middle grade audience, ages 8 to 12.
  • If your submission is illustrated, it must be in a graphic novel format, but no longer than 10 pages.
  • Illustrations must be submitted electronically. Do NOT mail hard copy submissions to WNDB. They will not be reviewed, nor will they be returned.


  • First prize winner will receive an award of $1000 plus their entry will be published as part of the WNDB Anthology to be released by Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s Books in January 2017.
  • Two runner-up winners will receive honorable mentions and awards of $250 each.


Any submissions sent in before the entry period will be deleted, the email address flagged, and the author automatically disqualified.

Click this link to read FAQ’s:

You can email questions to While we can’t answer every email personally, we will post any new and relevant questions directly to this FAQ.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 25, 2015

Illustrator Saturday – Karen Perrins

Me in studio (1)

Karen Perrins studied art at Wolverhampton University where she did a Foundation course followed by a BA (Hons) in Visual Communication. I then studied for a MA Visual Communication at UCE, Birmingham.

Karen says, “I always drew as a child and only ever wanted art materials for Christmas presents. I have always worked at another job whilst illustrating and have been an art technician for many years – previously in a college and now in a school. I did some teaching in Adult Education and have run printmaking workshops at local art galleries.
I live with my partner and two cats and have a fabulous studio at the bottom of the garden. I love holidays and discovering new places, eating out and old fashioned English pubs.”

Clients include:
Oxford University Press, Ragged Bears, Scholastic, Reed Books, Folens, A Child’s World, Parragon, Splimple, Minerva Press, TES, New Internationalist, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Macmillan, A & C Black, Lindt & Sprungli, Quarto Books, Harcourt International, Benchmark Education, NFER, Choice, Kevin Mayhew Ltd, Book Guild, Bender Richardson White, Kinver Brewery, Cambium Learning.

Here is Karen discussing her process:

Demonstration of ‘Boy on an elephant’. This was not a commission – just a sample piece to show my usual working method. I will probably use this as a greeting card.


After drawing the image out on tracing paper I am ready to transfer this to a piece of stretched Fabriano Ingres paper on a drawing board. I always use tracing paper for roughs so that I can see from both sides – it’s easier to make changes.


The image is on the drawing board and I get together my equipment – my box of watercolour paints, brushes and the essential hairdryer which speeds up drying time. I prefer using half pan watercolours rather than tubes as there is no waste – this magic paint box has lasted for years.


Initially I paint in the colours quite pale so that I can see how the overall picture looks.


A small area at a time I start building up layers of watercolour to make the colours more vibrant.


On to the watercolour base I start brushing over some oil pastel that gives another layer of colour and texture. The paper that I use is a textured pastel paper so has a fine ‘tooth’ on it that catches the pastel. I use Caran D;Ache oil pastels because they are just the right softness which I keep in a wooden tray to keep the colours from muddying together.


I continue adding the oil pastel – this gives texture and another layer of colour. I have to be careful because the oil pastel can smudge so I use a piece of kitchen paper to rest my hand on.


After the oil pastel is added I then work on some areas of the image with more watercolour to make some areas stronger. As the oil pastels and watercolours don’t mix it creates pools of texture.


The finished image – I then spray a fixative on this to help to ‘set’ the artwork.


Karen’s Books covers


Karen’s Awards include: HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council of England) card design – first prize Stamp design – runner up prize – Barclays Bank award for ‘Excellence in Design for Communication’ – Imperial Cancer Research Fund ‘Image for Christmas’ winner


How long have you been illustrating?

I studied illustration as a mature student after years of drifting between various unsatisfying jobs and I started illustrating as soon as I graduated. I had already done a few commissions before that so in all I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now. I have been drawing for most of my life and was always in trouble for ‘doodling’ on anything.


What was the first art related work where someone paid you for your work?

I won several competitions when I was in my teens so I suppose I got paid in prizes then I won a Christmas card design competition and I got money as a prize but they also wanted the original art work so they bought that off me as well. I also did a few commissions whilst working in Local Government – things like leaflet and poster designs.


Did you study art in college?

Yes – I did a Foundation course, then a BA (Hons) in Visual Communication at University of Wolverhampton, followed by MA in Visual Communication at UCE, Birmingham.


What type of classes did you enjoy the most?

I always enjoyed print making classes and anything that allowed me to experiment with different materials and techniques.


What do you think helped develop your style?

Playing around in the studio – experimenting with textures and materials that work together (or not) as in the mixture of oil based and water based materials. I used to work on a much larger scale but the practicalities of producing illustration work to a brief has meant that I work much smaller now and my style has changed accordingly.


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

Like many art graduates in England I started out doing a lot of editorial work – I found this really interesting as I was asked to do so many diverse subjects. I illustrated food and recipes for health magazines, financial pages, short stories, articles on health and safety and also children’s magazines. It was a really good grounding because the editorial deadlines were quite tight which made me think and work quickly, It was also nice to get printed samples of my work really quickly which helped me to build up my portfolio.


What made you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

Lots of people commented that my work was very decorative and I loved illustrating animals and ‘characters’ so it seemed a natural progression as I’ve always loved working with stories.


Was The Clever Rat and Other African Tales the first picture book you illustrated?

It was the first picture book that was all my work. Previously I had illustrated lots of books with other illustrators – poetry anthologies or collections of nursery rhymes etc. The Clever rat was my first solo project.


How did that contract come about?

To promote myself I have always sent samples to publishers in the way of small postcards of my images. I send them out regularly and this is where most of my work came from. I would often get lots of rejection letters saying “we’ll keep your samples on file”…However the samples sometimes landed on the Art Director’s desk at the right time. Henrietta Stickland of Ragged Bears Publishing had the manuscript for The Clever Rat and was considering who to illustrate it when my sample turned up showing African type images so she invited me to take in my portfolio and the job was mine. I had a fabulous few weeks of illustrating lovely stories!


It looks like your latest picture book is THE FROG KING. How did you get to illustrate that book? Is it a self-published book?

It’s not a self published book – it was published by the Child’s World in USA. Another way I promote myself now is through my own website and space on I have had quite a few commissions from this website – particularly from publishers in the USA. I was contacted by Mary Berendes from A Child’s World after she had seen my work on that website. I loved working on this and I also think it turned out to be a beautiful book.


Have you illustrated any other books?

I have worked on approximately 30 books now as well as book covers. I have produced over 2000 commissioned pieces of work so far for greetings cards, book jackets, editorial pieces and packaging work.


Would you like to write and illustrate your own picture book?

Yes – I’m not very good at writing though so although I have several ideas in my head, I’ve not actually done anything about it yet!


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

I still send out printed samples – an A4 sheet folded in half with around 6 examples on. I send out different samples depending on the clients. I have one with children’s illustrations on and one with food etc. I also have my own website and advertise on the childrensillustrators site.


Do you have an agent that represents you? If so, how long you have been with them? If not would you like to find representation?

I have never had an agent. Since leaving college I have always found my own work and handled all contracts/payments/promotion etc which has been good experience. I would always be open to working with an agent as it would be another way of finding work that I would welcome.


What materials do you use to paint your illustrations?

I am a total traditionalist as I never use computers except for scanning. My studio is full of watercolours, oil pastels, chalk pastels, etching inks, charcoal and pencils. Most of my work is done using printmaking methods or watercolours and oil pastels.


Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Yes, I have done articles for TES Primary and Scholastic magazines – stories of Native American legends and fables etc


Have you worked with educational publishers? If so, which one’s?

I have done quite a few educational books – in the UK I have worked for Bender Richardson White, Chalksoft, NFER and Folens. In the USA I have done work for Quarasan and Cambium Learning.


How much time do you spend illustrating?

Not enough! I work part time as an Art technician so the illustration makes up around half of my average week. I have always been employed in another job as well as illustrating. It helps with stability when the commissions aren’t flowing and it’s also a break from working alone talking to the cat.


Do you have a studio set up in your house?

I have a lovely brick built studio at the bottom of my garden which was made with mostly reclaimed materials. It is surrounded by trees so I can have my music on very loud without disturbing anyone. I have a large plans chest, etching press, shelves full of reference books and loads of materials in here. These have been accumulating for several years so I’ve built up quite a collection.


Do you still do artwork other than for children?

Yes – I do quite a lot of packaging work. I have illustrated chocolate boxes for Lindt & Sprungli and design the beer labels for Kinver Brewery.


Nightjar2010Do you ever exhibit your work?

I do take part in some exhibitions and also enter competitions as this is also a way to get commissions. I won a few design competitions early in my career – particularly for greetings card designs. This has led to greetings card commissions – I have produced over 100 designs for Splimple as well as charity cards. I recently took part in an exhibition called ‘Telling Tales’ at Bilston Craft Gallery.


What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

I have a radio/CD player that is essential. When working on a book I’m often in my studio for around 10 hours a day so I like to listen to lots of music – I also listen to audio books as I’m working. I also couldn’t do without a hairdryer as working with watercolour it saves a lot of time.


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

I always like to keep working – even when I don’t have a specific commission I still keep churning out work. Sometimes pieces that I’ve produced for no reason can be sold later as a greeting card or for another use. Several pieces that were never published have been used years later as book illustrations that they were not intended for. Pharoah’s Dream is an example of a college project (the Bible story of Joseph) that was never finished but was used in a book about religion years later.


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

I always like to do research before I start a commission – I have built up quite an extensive library of reference books in my studio and I also visit museums and galleries to get information about specific objects. I travel quite a lot so take many of my own photographs that prove to be useful at some point.


Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I have received many commissions from websites so it obviously helps me to reach many more potential clients.


Would you be open to working with an author who want to self-publish a picture book?

I have worked on several self-published books so yes I would do more.


Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

No – I only use Photoshop for scanning artwork as most clients want the artwork supplied as a jpeg these days – when I first started illustrating it was more common practice for me to send the original artwork to the publisher. I wouldn’t know where to start using a computer to draw with!


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

No – I have no idea how to use these and I love working with traditional materials.


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

I would love to do more commissions for diverse projects. I enjoyed doing the children’s chocolate packaging and often dream of having similar commissions – dream jobs would include a children’s cookery book, more food packaging work, wine bottle labels, animal stories, posters for theatre etc.


What are you working on now?

I’m producing some new samples of work using traditional print making methods – linocut, monoprint, collograph and drypoints. I used to do more printmaking in my early career and they are techniques that require more time to produce but I think worth the effort. I hope to have an exhibition of print works at some point in the future.


Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I have always loved working with good paper – I like strong papers that can stand up to watercolours, pastels, being scraped etc. I love Fabriano papers and I mostly use Fabriano 5 which is a very white strong paper and I use Fabriano Ingres pastel paper as it has a lovely texture to it that ‘grabs’ the pastel and oil pastel.


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

I think that you need to be quite tenacious to do this – receiving lots of rejection letters and having periods when you have no commissions is quite soul destroying so being stubborn and persistent is good. Keep sending out samples and promoting yourself as you never know when it will lead to a fantastic job.


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


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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 24, 2015

Free Fall Friday – Kudos

The second round of voting is now open for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards. Congratulations to Yvonne Ventresca. Her book PANDEMIC is one of the six books on the “Atlantic” short list. If you are an SCBWI Member login and vote for you favorite book in your region.



Congratulations to Laurie Wallmark. Laurie’s book ADA BYRAN LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE will launch on October 13th this year, but it is available to pre-order on Amazon. Notice that April Chu illustrated the book. April was featured on Illustrator Saturday March 2, 2013 Great job, April. LOVE THE COVER!

REVIEW: What a fascinating story! This vividly-written, gorgeously illustrated picture book biography brings to life the personality and amazing accomplishments of the astonishing 19th century female mathematician who conceived of the idea of computer programming long before there were even computers and is literally the “mother of computer science.” I can’t wait to share it with my students!
— Carol Simon Levin, Youth Services Librarian and Historical Impersonator of “Fascinating Women History Forgot”


michelle bird2

April 24, 25, and 26 – Summer 2015: Color and Nature by Michelle Kogan opens the 11th season for Studio b. Gallery. Here is the address:

Studio b. Gallery
114 N. Elm Street
Three Oaks, MI 49128
Friday noon to 8:00 pm – Saturday 10:00 to 8:00 pm – Sunday non to 6:00 pm.

All hours are EST.


Ruta Rimas has been promoted to senior editor at Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Siena Koncsol has joined Harlequin Teen as publicity manager. Previously she was a publicist at S&S Children’s.

Domenica Alioto is being promoted to senior editor for Crown.

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock has joined Liza Dawson Associates as an associate literary agent. She was previously an assistant at Trident Media Group.

Congratulations everyone!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 23, 2015

Literary Agency Looking for Clients

lydiablyfieldagentLydia Blyfield joined the Carol Mann Agency in 2013. She is originally from England where she studied PR and Communications, before gaining a B.A. in English and American Literature at New York University. Lydia is looking for edgy, modern fiction and timely nonfiction in the areas of business, self-improvement, relationship and gift books. She is particularly interested in female voices and experiences.

She is open to Adult, YA and MG and looking for edgy and enchanting page-turners written with a light hand. She always enjoys complex female characters, and has a thing for unreliable narrators.

Lydia loves fiction that explores social issues or is inspired by the headlines, like ROOM by Emma Donahue and THE HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown, but I also like to escape the real world with magical realism such as NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro, THE NIGHT GUEST by Fiona McFarlane and THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman (suspending disbelief must be effortless!) She also is looking for psychological thrillers/mysteries set in small communities or dysfunctional family units like THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins or GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn (no CIA/FBI/MI5 style thrillers, please.)

In YA she likes stories with big hooks and modern themes such as WHY WE BROKE UP by Daniel Handler and THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher, and clever crossovers such as MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs.

In MG she is looking for diversity and smart takes on difficult issues such as R.J. Palacio’s WONDER, and THE THING ABOUT LUCK by Cynthia Kadohata, as well as spooky tales like GOTH GIRL by Chris Riddle.

She is not looking for straight sci-fi, high fantasy, military/political thrillers or commercial romance.

Fiction Query guidelines: An intriguing query letter with a short author bio and the first 25 pages.


I’m looking for books that inspire me to achieve something positive personally or professionally such as #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso and YOU ARE A BADASS by Jen Sincero. I’m interested in books that tackle social issues, particularly feminism and women’s issues such as FULL FRONTAL FEMINISM by Jessica Valenti and EVERYDAY SEXISM by Laura Bates. I’m also looking for modern sex and relationship books like THE NEW I DO by Susan Pease Gadoua and Vicki Larson. I enjoy most things on the Urban Outfitters book table and am always looking for blogs, Tumblrs and Instagram profiles with book potential.

Non-Fiction Query guidelines: A query letter and synopsis of your project. Please include your bio, target audience and competitive titles. Hook me with a strong concept and your platform. If you have an Urban Outfitters-worthy blog/Twitter/Instagram please include site stats.

Query me at

Follow me on Twitter @lydiablyf and take a look at my favorite books on Goodreads.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 22, 2015

Successes and Hurdles

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here with… 

A Personal Story of Successes and Hurdles

I have a story to tell this week. And while I debated about putting this up here, I have decided that there may be someone else who relates, or could learn from it, and that’s worth it!

First, I have extremely exciting news!

Remember this post from Kathy: The School and Library Market?

It really intrigued me. As a freelance writer, I’ve done a lot in the education sector from curriculum development and script writing to test passages and online self-education courses. So I started applying. I soon realized that it was much like reaching out to agents. You have a portfolio and resume instead of a manuscript, but otherwise, it’s pretty much the same. Queries. Rejection. And waiting.

But it paid off!

I have been asked to write a book on bees in an upcoming series with a small educational publisher!!!

Whoo hoo! I took the author guidelines and materials I received and devoured them. I spent many whole days in the library doing research. Asked questions to try to clarify the instructions. Wrote. Rewrote. Spoke to teachers, librarians, and read piles of similarly structured materials.

I proudly sent in my first deliverable last week. Excited to hear back from the editor, I checked my email about… oh I don’t know… every 75 seconds or so.

I’m going to be COMPLETELY honest: I had visions of praise and comments like “first draft??? This is perfect just as it is now!!!!” And it’s not that I’m that arrogant. They were visions, daydreams. I KNEW it wouldn’t happen like that. But ya know, most of us think we’re pretty good, or else we wouldn’t be trying to be published. So in my imagination, I was quite looking forward to his response.

And then I got it!! I opened it!!!

But then…sigh…. I read it.

Wow. It was a blow. I blinked a few times. Then I probably blinked a few more times.

This was followed by quite the range of emotions that I won’t bother describing too much. Anger at myself. Anger at the editor. Frustration. Insanity.

You know, basically a grab-bag full of “AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!”

To put things in perspective, I hadn’t even OPENED the word document with his actual comments in it. I had just read the email. But it made it clear I had a LOT of work to do.

I waited a while for the crazy to calm down. I looked closer at what he said. Opened the document and checked out the edits.

Turns out, many of the comments were in regard to the direction I took. It wasn’t quite the angle they were looking for. This means a lot more research, more hours at the library and a pretty complete overhaul of the entire text.

I went to bed frustrated, irritated and really… the word that describes it best… disenchanted.

You know how people say things look different in the morning?

It didn’t.

But then my husband innocently said to me, “so what are you going to do?” And in my infinitely fantastic mood, I shot an annoyed look at him and chided back with, “I mean, I have to redo it.”   And rolled my eyes thinking to myself, Geez… duh. Super helpful input babe.

But a few minutes later, the interaction crystalized a bit in my mind. At its heart the question was implying “is it worth it?” Which in the moment, sounded so ridiculous to me that it irritated me. But it was a genuine question. The answer was just that obvious.

Which means something. Realizing that to someone else, it might not be “worth it,” reinforced how much it means to me.

I suddenly realized… I needed to put on my big-girl boots and get over it.

Such a simple thought. But so meaningful in this case. And SO true.

The fact is. I am a writer. This if FAR from the last time someone will tell me I need to redo something for one reason or another. I’ve spoken with many published authors who tell stories about disheartening rewrites that were requested or frustrating alterations before a piece was ready for publication. This is a business. And since I’m serious, I’d better get the hell over it.

And while no, in this case the idea for the manuscript is not mine, and I don’t maintain the rights to the finished product. The WORDS, the content, that’s still MINE. A book. Published. That I wrote.

This is something that I’ve dreamed of since I was about 11 years old.

Coming to this conclusion is probably the single thing that has made me FEEL the most like an author. Welcome to reality, self! This industry is full of ups and downs, and if I’m going to make it, (and I truly believe that I am), I better be ready to hold on for the ride.

So to anyone struggling with a hurdle of their own, whatever it be, remember that these hurdles are reminders of who we are, of how much what we do means to us, and of our real belief in ourselves.

Ultimately, while I know I say this every time, it has a powerful meaning…

…. 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 – Congratulations!

Talk tomorrow,



Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 21, 2015

Book Awards


This cute Spring Illustration was sent in from Lauren Gallegos. It is an illustration from a new series of illustrations with the theme of April Showers. Lauren was featured on Illustrator Saturday in November of 2012 and here is the link to her website:

If those April showers are keeping you under wraps, grab a cup of hot chocolate and take a peek at the L.A. Times and Minnesota Book Awards

Winners of the LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZES, which were announced Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, are:

Biography: Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (Viking)

Current interest: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs (Scribner)

Fiction: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (Simon & Schuster)

First fiction: Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press)

Graphic novel: The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics Books)

History: The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 by Adam Tooze (Viking)

Mystery/thriller: Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman (Norton)

Poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)

Science and technology: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Holt)

Young adult literature: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade/Random House Children’s)

Lifetime achievement: T.C. Boyle

Innovator’s award: LeVar Burton

Winners were honored Saturday for the MINNESOTA BOOK AWARDS, a project of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, in consortium with the Saint Paul Public Library and the City of Saint Paul. This year’s recipients are:

Children’s literature: Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)

General nonfiction: Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life by Nancy Koester (Wm. B. Eerdmans)

Genre fiction: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen (Bethany House)

Memoir/creative nonfiction: Tailings: A Memoir by Kaethe Schwehn (Cascade Books)

Minnesota: Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement by Lori Sturdevant (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

Novel and short story: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Riverhead Books)

Poetry: Dangerous Goods by Sean Hill (Milkweed)

Young people’s literature: West of the Moon by Margi Preus (Amulet Books)

Kay Sexton Award: Mary François Rockcastle

Book Artist Award: Harriet Bart, in collaboration with Philip Gallo and Jill Jevne

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 20, 2015

Nonfiction is the New Black

Publishers Lunch reported at the London Book Fair that nonfiction deals are up sharply, to their highest level in this 2015 period yet, as both fiction and children’s deals declined noticeably in volume. As Little Brown UK deputy ceo David Shelley aptly told The Bookseller, nonfiction is “the new black.”


More notable still is the percentage of reported deals for six figures or better. Despite breathless reports of a few big deals in the last few days from agents who regularly play the book fair market this way, the market trends in the data are unmistakable: Last year we recorded 33 reported six-figure or better fiction deals in the pre-LBF window, including 17 major deals, whereas this year there were 18 overall, including 11 major deals. Even with the big growth in nonfiction deals by volume, this year there were 16 six-figure deals, versus 13 a year ago (the gain was all in “good” deals), and children’s deals were down by 2 transactions — leaving all six-figure domestic deals down 25 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 19, 2015

E-book Prices Raise

dollarsignPublishers Lunch reported the following:

Harper told a wide swath of ebook accounts that they would return to full agency for ebooks as of Tuesday morning Pacific time. In September 2012, when HarperCollins was the first settling publisher to comply with the consent decrees through “agency lite” pricing, they also raised many of their consumer list ebook prices, often by many dollars above the original iBooks pricing “brackets” that pegged ebook prices to print book prices. As it turned out, Harper was the only of the settling publishers to substantially adjust ebook prices during the agency lite era — netting themselves considerable additional revenue at retailers’ expense when those books were discounted.

Now that Harper is once again fixing their ebook prices in the marketplace, it appears that the house’s thinking on pricing strategy also remains fixed: Most new release hardcover titles have their ebook editions priced at $14.99 (among them T.C.Boyle’s The Harder They Come, Kimberly McCreight’s Where They Found Her, Jacqueline Winspear’s A Dangerous Place, Dennis Lehane’s World Gone By, Kim Gordon’s Girl In a Band, and Bernard Cornwell’s The Empty Throne), usually correlating to hardcovers priced at $26.99 and $27.99. A few select titles are priced higher still, from the Go Set A Watchman pre-order ($16.99) to Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, also $16.99 in ebook (and $35 in print). Harlequin’s transition to agency pricing is less clear so far. Some titles still reflect discounted non-agency pricing, while some Mira mass market and trade paperback titles are agency-priced at $7.99 or $8.99.

Whether the new release agency pricing will leave Harper as an outlier or is part of a broader return to higher ebook prices is an open question, particularly since the best current measure is informal surveying of the market. Macmillan imprints have a number of current ebook releases at $14.99 (along with the Jonathan Franzen pre-order), though many of their recently-published ebooks are priced lower. Most of Hachette Book Group’s popular titles in current release appear to be priced in the $12.99 to $9.99 range, but the pre-orders for a number of their big commercial fiction authors at $14.99, with some nonfiction pre-orders at $16.99. Meanwhile, some retailers have already told us that the higher agency pricing correlates directly to fewer unit sales of those titles.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 18, 2015

Illustrator Saturday – Susan Batori

SusanBatoriSusan Batori is a Hungarian illustrator, graphic designer and a character design addict. She studied graphic design at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary. As an art director at DDB Advertising Agency, Susan designed many print ads, websites, posters, packages etc. She has worked for a variety of clients including: Volkswagen, Signal, Vodafone, Zwack, Jófogá, Astra Zeneca, Pick, HVG, Nők Lapja, Kaiser, Libero etc.
Than she noticed that drawing hilarious characters was much more fun. She likes to laugh with her boyfriend Robert – the Great Cat-Fondler, and her cat Kamilla, who inspire her funny characters. Humour is the most important element in her work. She also loves creating new digital textures. Susan is enthusiastic about the color turquoise, nature, animals, and the works of Lisbeth Zwerger, Carter Goodrich, Sven Nordqvist and Anna Laura Cantone.
At present she works in her small studio in Budapest, focusing on children’s book illustrations and her own projects.


As a first step I searching the Internet. In this case, for example, I check to see how dog like itching.


Then I do a sketch paying attention to the composition.


I clear the contours a bit and fill the forms with colors. It is here, that I determine how the colors dominate the picture and how the atmospheres will be.


After I put down the lights and shadows.


This step is the most important in my process. Here the patterns go to their place. Usually I design the patterns by myself. It is a long process. Here, on the attached picture the wall, the carpet and the armchair have got their own patterns.


Finally I do a few color corrections and fix some details. Tadah! It’s done.


Have you ever visited the US?

Unfortunately, not yet. Since my first favorite American cartoon, “The Flinstones”, I’ve had a dream to live in the USA. As a child, I often found myself dreaming, that I’m walking on a beach in Florida, or on a busy New York avenue among the skyscrapers.

spread 2_col copy

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been drawing since the age of 3. Even though I made some illustrations while I was a graphic designer, my main illustrator career started 3 years ago, when I started to focus mainly on children’s illustrations. My path wasn’t a common one, to get where I am now.

spread 19_col

What was the first art related work where someone paid you for your work?

At the age of 14, I made a price-table for an ice-cream shop, with ice cream illustrations on it. I found it terrible, but the client liked it.


What inspired you to attend the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts to study graphic design?

Elena, my drawing teacher, and Salvador Dali. I was so impressed by the works of Dali that I decided to be an artist myself. And why graphic design? I thought this could be the best choice to be an artist, and make a living out of it.


What type of classes did you enjoy the most?

Artistic anatomy. Those classes were really interesting. I remember, that my drawing skills developed greatly here, and I also learnt to pay attention to the details more. I also loved typography classes as well, but my favorite class was graphic design.


Do you think college helped to develop your style?

I would say, that during my early years it was not the Academy, but my classmates who inspired me, and drove me slowly towards new styles and techniques. But the truth is, that during many years I worked a lot on my own development in which the internet was of great influence too.


Did HAFA help you find work when you graduated?

If HAFA means Humorous Art Facility Academy then yes. :) Otherwise, I’m sorry but I don’t know what HAFA means. I found my first job without the help of anyone.


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

First I was graphic designer at smaller company. Later I became an art director at DDB Budapest. I designed posters, print ads, brochures, and so on.


Do you feel the years you spent being an art director for an advertising agency helped prepare you for a career in illustrating children’s books?

Absolutely yes. It taught me how to work together with the clients. I also learnt many technical things in printing and publishing, so I can now better understand and oversee the book publishing process. It also helped me to have an insight in branding, which comes along useful now, to help me in self-branding.


What made you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

Some years ago I realized that my job as a graphic designer didn’t bring much fun to my life any more. I always had specific instructions on how to do a piece of work, so that it pleased the client. I couldn’t put myself in, or use my creativity in these ads or posters. I wanted to have a little more freedom, to express myself, and to show the humour inside me, that always makes children smile.


Have illustrated a picture book, yet?

Yes, although I am a beginner in this area, but I’m working on it.


Would you like to write and illustrate your own picture book?

Writing is not my strength, but I do have a few ideas that I would like to achieve. Yes, I would love an own picture book.


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

I am present on the Behance site, and on my own website ( where I try to improve my portfolio and make it more colorful . Besides that, the Good Illustration Agency represents me, which is a huge help.


I see you are represented by Good Illustration; can you tell us how you made that contact for representation? How long you have been with them?

They actually found me through my works on the Behance site, and asked me, if I wanted them to represent me. I said yes 2 year ago, and since then we have a good cooperation.


What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

Initially, I used the classic techniques and painted aquarelle on paper. Nowdays, I work on computer only.


Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

Yes, I have worked for an e-magazine for children, but I had too many expectations to meet which made it less enjoyable.


Have you worked with educational publishers? If so, which one’s?

I haven’t worked for any yet.


How much time do you spend illustrating?

I illustrate almost all day long. If not in front of the computer, then in my head. I often wake up and start to work on a new technique or a specific drawing that came to my mind. I spend a lot of time with drawing, but as I enjoy doing it, it doesn’t feel like work.


Do you have a studio set up in your house?

I am living in a tiny apartment in the middle of Budapest. I don’t have a working-room, but I have a desk and a computer in the corner of the living-room which is more than enough for me.


Do you still do artwork other than for children?

Yes. My best friend has an online stationery page where she sells postcards, greeting cards, notebooks etc. I often do the designs for her products. I also get a lot of similar requests from new clients.


Do you ever exhibit your work?

My graphical works have been exhibited a few years ago, but my illustrations not yet.


What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?



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

Yes, I pay attention almost every day to other illustrators’, painters’, graphic designers’ or photographers’ works. If I discover a style, technique or composition that I like I test it immediately and build it into my style.


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

I don’t take pictures but I start looking at the internet for inspirations, as soon as I get a new assignment.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Sure enough! Only the internet opened really doors for me. I’ve got all the support I have, from there.


Would you be open to working with an author who want to self-publish a picture book?

I have already worked with some. A year ago I’ve got an assignment from a very nice Mexican lady, Minerva, who wrote some funny poems about dogs. (¡Perro qué divertido!) She published it by herself and she offered all the income of the book for dog rescue foundations.
This is my favorite work so far.


Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop. I love it.


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

Yes. It’s my preciousssss. :) I remember when the computers and digital tables started to spread in Hungary in the 90’s, I was the biggest opponent of them, and insisted I would never use one. :)


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

Career dreams? I guess every illustrator has one. One of my dreams is to make more and more children to laugh through my illustrations. The other one is to have a book, illustrated by me, to be in the New York Times top 10 children’s book list.

What are you working on now?

At the moment I am working on 3 different children’s books projects: Crocs, fleas and crabs…. :)
I also plan to start my own business: would be great to see my characters imprinted on kid’s shirts…


Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

Yes, I have a tip. If you don’t have any inspiration, find a soul mate and keep a cat……


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

I don’t think I am successful yet, but it would be: Never stop developing yourself.


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


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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 17, 2015

Free Fall Friday – Kudos & First Page Critiques


Lynnor Bontigao sent in this illustration titled “Wish on a Fish.” It is done in gouache and will be part of an exhibit at Casano Gallery in Roselle Park from April to Mid-June. She has just finished a book cover for Peace Comes to Ajani 2 by Keith Kelly published by Victory Hall Press. Here is her website link:

Jennifer Reinharz was named a 2015 BlogHer Voice of the Year Honoree for my essay, “A Letter to my Palestinian-American Muslim Friend.” Jennifer along with 99 other people will be recognized at a reception in NYC this summer that kicks off BlogHer’s annual conference.

At Balzer + Bray, Kristin Rens has been promoted to executive editor.

At Running Press, Jordana Tusman has been promoted to senior editor.

At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, Candace Finn has been promoted to senior manager, subsidiary rights with responsibility for the children’s and YA lists.

Liz Stein has joined Mira Books as editor. Previously she was an associate editor at Putnam. Dina Davis is now at Harlequin as assistant editor/editorial assistant working on Harlequin Historical and Love Inspired Suspense.

Mark Gottlieb has been promoted to full-time agent at Trident Media Group.

At Simon & Schuster Children’s, Katherine Devendorf has been promoted to senior managing editor for Aladdin, Simon Pulse, Little Simon, and Simon Spotlight. In addition, Christina Solazzo moves up to associate managing editor of Little Simon.

Courtney Carbone is being promoted to associate editor at the Random House Children’s/Golden Books imprint.

Malin von Euler-Hogan has been promoted to associate editor at Little, Brown and Nikki Garcia moves up to assistant editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Alix Reid has been named executive editor, Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab, overseeing the newly acquired list of titles previously published by Egmont USA.

At Random House, Denise Cronin has been promoted to svp, senior director of subsidiary rights.

Eric Smith has joined P.S. Literary Agency as an associate agent.


lindaProspect Agency Profile PicLinda Camacho agent at the Prospect Agency has agreed to critique the winning four first pages this month. She also will be attending the NJSCBWI conference in June.

Linda Camacho joined Prospect Agency in 2015 after nearly a decade in publishing. After graduating from Cornell University, Linda interned at Simon & Schuster and Writers House literary agency, and worked at Penguin before happily settling into children’s marketing at Random House. She has an MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Linda is currently seeking: Adult, middle grade, and young adult fiction across all genres (romance, horror, fantasy, realistic, light sci-fi, and graphic novels). Select literary fiction (preferably with commercial bent) and picture books (both writers and illustrators welcome). Select narrative nonfiction and memoir. Diversity of all types (ethnicity, disability, sexuality, etc.). Linda is NOT seeking: Early readers/chapter books, screenplays, poetry, and short stories.

Unofficially, Linda loves chocolate, travel, and far too much TV. In terms of submissions, she’s pretty omnivorous. She enjoys a variety of categories and genres, ranging from picture book to adult, from clean and lighthearted contemporary to edgy and dark fantasy.

Follow Linda on Twitter: @LindaRandom

Here are the guideline for submitting a first page for critique:


In the subject line, please write “April 2015 First Page Critique” and paste the text in the email, then attached a Word document of your first page to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document.

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

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be skipped over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: April 23rd.

RESULTS: May 1st.

Please only submit one first page a month. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow


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