GIVEAWAYS: DIANA DELOSH – MIKE CICCOTELLO – DIANNE ETTLINGER

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 to discover the winner.

2018 Animal Fair Calendar

2018 Animal Fair Calendar features a parade of 12 whimsical ink and watercolor animal illustrations created over the years. Some of the animals are fully dressed while others are not. All illustrations are © Diana Ting Delosh.

DIANA’S BIO:

Diana contracted the art bug at the age of 2 when she nibbled her way through her first box of crayons. She has been doodling away ever since. Currently she’s having fun with hand lettering and inking with a brush instead of her trusty double zero radiograph pen. In between commissions, she likes to work on her personal illustration projects or Twitter art challenges which may end up in her calendars or on her greeting cards and other products. Diana was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Web: http://dianadelosh.com
twitter: http://twitter.com/dtdelosh
Gift Store: http://www.zazzle.com/deloshdesigns*


 

8.5×11” print of my Patient Panda illustration by MIKE CICCOTELLO

MIKE’S BIO:

Mike received a BFA with a concentration in painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He has fourteen years experience in broadcast motion graphics, working at CNN and Fox Business Network. Currently, he is the Art and Design Director at Telos Corporation. His art has been featured on Liquitex.com, CNN, ClothPaperScisors.com, Artists & Makers Magazine, and Industry Magazine. He has exhibited at Johnson & Johnson Headquarters and the NY Design Center. He is an active member of SCBWICBIG, Drawn to Picture Books, and a contributing member of AllTheWonders.com

Mike was featured on Illustrator Saturday

Website: Ciccotello.com
Instagram: @ciccotello
Twitter: @ciccotello
Facebook: The Art of Mike Ciccotello


 

Doris Ettlinger is offering a gift box of 8 assorted dogs with a bonus card of a 9th dog.

Dutch, a Whippety-Poo, is wearing his Executive Order Ear Protectors. His primary interest is FOOD, not politics. “Why can’t we all just get along. And eat.”

Lily is the mascot at Cornell & Co., my agent. She is very expressive and a good listener. I imagined her wearing a fascinator, because she is fascinated by everything Merial has to say. Lily likes to dress up.

Luna, a Bernese Mountain dog, who was recently featured on The Dogist instagram feed. Luna is unusual for having one brown eye and one blue. As well as for wearing a stylish hat. 

Pepper lives with Lisa Falkenstern and 4 German Shepherds, so sometimes he has to compensate for his short stature. He’s wearing a Steampunk bowler as a reference to Lisa’s book, Professor Whiskerton Presents Steampunk ABC.

This is my childhood Bassett Hound Angus MacDuff. One summer my brother brought a squirrel monkey home from college. Samson would ride Angus like an elephant. Angus was remarkably tolerant.

Our 12 year old Lab mix, Bruce Wayne, sporting my rabbit-lined Mad Bomber Hat. The image is completely made up, because I don’t let him near this hat. He’d like to add it to his basket of stuffed woodland critters. Bruce is a rescue dog born to a Basset Hound mother, and found under a handicap ramp somewhere near Atlanta. 

Racy is mostly German Shepherd. She enjoys a dip in the pool, especially in hot weather.

If you mix dachshund and Pekingese with a pinch of Chihuahua, you might end up with Toby. Toby may be small but he has the heart of a lion.

 

As a bonus I will include a ninth card.

Mona did not join the march today, but she’s wearing a pussy hat to show her solidarity with the females made of sterner stuff who did. Mona is a 5 lb. Chihuahua who prefers to sit in front of the electric faux fireplace or bury herself in a blanket.

Why dogs in hats? In 2002 I painted this illustration of my Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Margaret (RIP). My mother-in-law was living with us at the time. She couldn’t remember what the dog was called, so everyday she used a different name. I imagined a different hat for each name.

This led to a children’s book idea involving an elderly milliner & a community of people who no longer wore hats. My manuscript and dummy made the rounds at several NJSCBWI and CBIG events with no happy ending. But one art director loved the drawings of Margaret. She said, “Lose the people. Just do dogs in hats!”

So between illustration jobs this year I decided to follow her advice. No story. No people. Just dogs in hats.

Sketches from Miss Millie’s Many Hats.

 

 


Notecards and matted prints are available in my Etsy shop (link below).

www.dorisettlinger.com
facebook/dorisettlingerstudio
etsy/DorisEttlingerStudio
instagram.com/dorisettlingerstudio

DORIS’ BIO:

Doris Ettlinger graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  She has been illustrating ever since. Doris has illustrated over 25 picture books. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Thank you Diana, Mike, and Doris for give us this opportunity.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Rachael Stein  is an acquiring Assistant Editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She works on books for kids of all ages, including picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult and both fiction and nonfiction.

She is a voracious reader and children’s books fanatic. Some of the amazing authors she works with are Linda Sue Park, Gary D. Schmidt, Kate Milford, Ronald L. Smith, and Sarah Beth Durst. Before joining the Clarion team in 2016, Rachael worked at Scholastic, Lee & Low Books, Macmillan, and the Fox Literary Agency. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachaeljstein.

I discovered Rachael while writing up Monday’s post sharing Mira Reisberg’s new online course for writers and illustrator interested in improving their skills writing and illustrating chapter books and middle grade novels. So I asked if she would like to be our featured editor for December and critique four first pages for us and she said, “Yes.” Rachael will be critiquing  in December.

If you have submitted a first page this year and didn’t score a critique, you should try again this month, since the amount of first page submissions are always lower in December. In other words, your odds increase in December.

HERE IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH RACHAEL:

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in your editorial associate position?

As an Editorial Associate at Clarion Books, I do a little bit of everything! I read a lot, including picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction for a range of ages. In addition to providing editorial support for the other editors at my imprint, I handle all paperback editions of our titles, deal with contract paperwork and payments, hire and manage our interns, and a lot more. I’m also looking for some special projects of my own to acquire.

What genres are you interested in receiving?

I read very broadly, but I’m most interested in middle grade and young adult mysteries, realistic fiction, and science fiction and fantasy.

Do you have a story or theme you like to receive?

I love stories that feature marginalized voices, strong girl characters succeeding against great odds, and themes of challenging the status quo and fighting injustice.

What do you like to see in a submission?

I look for strong writing, a compelling voice, and something unique or very special that distinguishes the submission from what’s already out there.

How important is the query letter?

Query letters are very important and helpful—they should basically tell me what the submission is about and why I should be interested. At the end of the day, the submission will speak for itself, but a good query letter may make me want to read more.

Are you open to unagented submissions?

Yes! I’m passionate about working with writers from marginalized backgrounds, so I think it’s important to cast as wide a net as possible to find those talented writers and great stories.

Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

If I like the writing and voice, I will probably ask to see more from an author if the project is otherwise not right for me.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

It really depends. For novels, sometimes I can tell a submission is not for me after 10-15 pages, but other times I read all or most of the manuscript before deciding to reject it.

Do you let writers know if you are not interested in what they submitted?

I respond to all agented and solicited submissions, even if the project is not right for me. Due to the volume of unsolicited submissions that Clarion Books receives, I usually only respond if I see promise.

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES DECEMBER:

In the subject line, please write “DECEMBER 2017  CRITIQUE” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

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 passed 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: DECEMBER 20th.
RESULTS: DECEMBER 29th.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH RACHAEL.

REMEMBER: Rachel will be working with Chapter Book and Middle Grade Authors at the Children’s Book Academy’s on-line course on January 15th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 14, 2017

Book Giveaway: Josh Funk

Josh Funk has a new picture book, THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH and he has offered to do a book giveaway. Here are two accolades already earned for this book: 2017 Indie Next List Selection & 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards Best Picture Book of the Year Semifinalist.

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 to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“Uncle,” Croissant said, “the fridge is in trouble!
A mystery stench turned a whole shelf to rubble!
I’m the last hope or the fridge will be lost!
Help me or else we’ll be cooked, served, and sauced.”

There’s a stinky stench in the fridge–and our favorite foodie friends must solve a smelly mystery! Sir French Toast’s nephew, Inspector Croissant, begs him and Lady Pancake for help in finding the source of the foul odor. Could it be the devious Baron von Waffle? A fetid fish lurking in the bottom of Corn Chowder Lake? Featuring the same delectable wordplay and delicious art that won critical raves for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast–this fun follow-up is an absolutely tasty treat for kids and adults alike!

BOOK’S JOURNEY:

The Case of the Stinky Stench was conceived as soon as I saw illustrator Brendan Kearney’s sketches for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, the first book in the series. I immediately knew there was more to explore within the vast culinary landscapes he’d created based on a handful of silly words I’d written about two leftover breakfast foods.

But a sequel? Nobody likes sequels. I’d been let down by many a picture book sequel (The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, Pickles to Pittsburgh, I could go on). Sequels rarely live up to expectations. We’ve all seen the film class discussion in Scream 2 where Randy Meeks says “by definition alone, they’re inferior ….” So how could I return to the fridge without disappointment? How could I avoid the sequel slide?

I started (as one always should) at the public library. I asked my friendly neighborhood librarians for their favorite picture book sequels. They shared some, but few came close to rivaling their predecessors (Big Anthony and the Magic Ring is certainly fun, but it’s Strega Nona) and most were from decades past (A Pocket for Corduroy). While some were brilliant winners (Knuffle Bunny Too), I hadn’t yet discovered a discernible pattern as to what made a sequel good.

So I headed to my local independent bookshop (if you don’t have one of these, you should totally get one – or start your own). I needed to see what was selling today in the sequel market. There were some solid new ones (like Ninja Red Riding Hood) – but what was the secret to making them great?*

Then it hit me. I’d make it a holiday book. Everybody likes the holidays** (or at least no one hates them). And I could use holiday foods from all over the place: gingerbread villages, eggnog disasters, potato latkes swimming in applesauce rivers, red herrings in peanut soup! I’d create a hodgepodge of holiday home cooked delights!

When I submitted the manuscript to Sterling, you can guess what they said: [I’m paraphrasing] “We love it! But … we’d prefer if people could read it year round … can you get rid of the holidays?”

So I did.

Except for the villain, the most devious and despicable of all holiday foods, the – well, I won’t spoil it for you. This villain does enough spoiling for everyone.

* I also changed genres (from a race to a mystery) and added a new character (Inspector Croissant).

** I’ve since learned that many people do not like holiday books.

JOSH’S BIO:

Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as books – such as the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series (including The Case of the Stinky Stench and the upcoming Mission: Defrostable), ​It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, and the forthcoming Albie Newton, How to Code a Sandcastle (in conjunction with Girls Who Code), Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude (in conjunction with the New York Public Library), It’s Not Hansel and Gretel, and more coming soon!​

Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and was the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.

JOSH IS A MENTOR AT WRITING WITH THE STARS

Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes manuscripts.

Josh says he is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.

For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at http://www.joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter at @joshfunkbooks.

Thank you Josh for sharing your book and journey with us and offering to send a copy to one lucky winner. It look like a very funny book. Please let us know all your future successes.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 13, 2017

Two Book Giveaway: How to Survive As A … by Kristen Foote

Kristen Foote is a lucky lady. She has two new picture books How to Survive As A FIREFLY and How to Survive As A Shark. Lucky us, she has agreed to do the book giveaway for both books.

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 to discover the winner.

HOW TO SURVIVE AS A FIREFLY BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Listen up, larvae! I’ve been in the trenches for the last year and a half, and let me tell you, there is danger lurking behind every tree and headlight. With my expertise, you’ll learn how to hunt your first meal (snail soup anyone?), what makes your abdomen glow (put down the fire extinguisher!), and how to react when your mate wants to eat you for dinner (who knew fireflies could be cannibals?). Buck up, buttercup – you’re in for the flight of your life! If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stop goofing around and pay attention to How to Survive as a Firefly, or you might never make it to adulthood!

How to Survive as a Firefly, a Junior Library Guild Selection, provides a unique take on insect science that will entertain and educate in and out of the classroom. Full of opportunities for extended learning, this book includes fun facts hidden throughout the hilarious illustrated story – and after, a glossary of important terms and some real photos of fireflies. If you’ve ever wondered how these fascinating beetles grow and glow, and you like to laugh while you learn, this book is for you!

HOW TO SURVIVE AS A SHARK BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Ahoy, me mateys! Upset your Mom swam away after you were born? Cry me an ocean. You’ve got ME to show you the ropes! Well, at least until I get a craving for baby shark. Swim along and I’ll teach you how to hunt using all six senses (a whole sense more than a human), why you can NEVER stop moving (blimey, no – not even to sleep!), and what your most dangerous threat is (here’s a hint: those sneaky landlubbers don’t even live in our waters!). Aye, me hearties, learning How to Survive as a Shark is not as easy as it sounds!

How to Survive as a Shark provides a unique take on fish science that will entertain and educate in and out of the classroom. Full of opportunities for extended learning, this book includes fun facts hidden throughout the hilarious illustrated story – and after, a glossary of important terms and some real photos of great white sharks. If you’ve ever wondered how to think and swim like a shark, and you like to laugh while you learn, this book is for you!

THE BOOKS JOURNEYS:

I first wrote HOW TO SURVIVE AS A FIREFLY because I wanted to find a creative way to teach insect science. I have a daughter who loves fiction, but dislikes non-fiction, and a son who is completely opposite. This helped me to realize the value in writing a story that combined both to get reluctant fiction readers interested a book with a storyline, while teaching reluctant science-lovers that non-fiction can be just as interesting to read as fiction.

Growing up in Chicago, fireflies were the highlight of my summers, and upon researching them I found out that they are just as fascinating as they are fun! Usually in schools, complete metamorphosis is taught using butterflies – but fireflies ALSO go through complete metamorphosis and have so many interesting facts to go along with them!

After running the course through my critique groups, I sent my story out to agents. After many rejections, I decided to participate in the #PBPitch Twitter event, as a last-ditch effort to get my story out there. It was “hearted” by The Innovation Press, and after submitting, we signed a contract a week later! They asked me to come up with a second title to write so they could be released together, which is when I came up with HOW TO SURVIVE AS A SHARK (because, who doesn’t love sharks??). They were both released this Fall!

KRISTIN’S BIO:

Kristen Foote is the author of HOW TO SURVIVE AS A SHARK and HOW TO SURVIVE AS A FIREFLY, a creative non-fiction series. With a degree in Biology, she is a firm believer that learning about science can be fun (and funny!). She loves sharing her passion for writing and nature with kids and her community.  A Colorado transplant, when not writing, she is enjoying everything the Rocky Mountains have to offer with her husband and two kids.

Thank you Kristin for sharing your books and their journey with us. I know two people will be happy to receive a copy of your book to share with a young child or maybe just to enjoy on their own book shelf.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 12, 2017

Ask Dianne – Keeping the Momentum


Q: I participated in my first-ever NaNoWriMo last month. It was a blast! But how do I keep the momentum going now that it’s over?

A: Great question! First, for those who aren’t familiar with the program, here’s an overview of what it’s all about, from Wikipedia:

“National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of Noveowmber. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. Well-known authors write “pep-talks” to keep them motivated throughout the process. The website provides participants with tips for writer’s block, information on where local participants are meeting, and an online community of support. NaNoWriMo focuses on the length of a work rather than the quality, encouraging writers to finish their first draft so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion. The project started in July 1999 with 21 participants, but by the 2010 event, over 200,000 people took part and wrote a total of over 2.8 billion words.”

Whether you made your word count goal, or not, you HAVE gotten yourself into a creative groove. You have created some sort of first draft blueprint to work from. So why not keep that ‘appointment time’ with your muse (however you’d carved it out from your daily schedule in November) for the task of revision? If you need some no-nonsense guidance on the process, you might consider looking at Fix Your Damn Book!: How to Painlessly Edit Your Novels & Stories by author and editor James Osiris Baldwin.

But what if the novel you created in NaNoWriMo is something you’d prefer to set aside to ‘settle’ but you still want to stay in the novel-writing energy of novel-writing? Perhaps working on an idea in the back of your head, or one found on the seat of your pants is your next step. I can’t think of a better resource for this exercise than No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty, founder and guiding light of National Novel-Writing Month.

Did you go to any of the in-person writing sessions offered in your community via NaNoWriMo? Did you meet kindred spirits? You might want to contact each other to meet again weekly, monthly, or quarterly, to help continue that writerly support year-round. Or you might want to offer each other the simple support of a daily, ‘check-in’ email as a way to give accountability reports? Knowing you will be keeping a promise to others as well as yourself helps you find BIC (“butt in chair”) time.

Miss the NaNoWriMo pep talks from well-known authors? You can stay motivated on your own by reading Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights by Jon Winokur, which gathers the counsel of more than four hundred celebrated authors in a treasury on writing well.

Finally, go to the official website of NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo.org) or a year-round stream of advice and motivation. It’s really much more than a one-month makeover of your creative life. It’s a creative lifestyle change. I wish you good luck in your resolve to keep the momentum going!

DIANNE’S BIO:

Dianne Ochiltree is a nationally recognized author of books for the very young. Her books have appeared on numerous recommended reading lists, classroom desks and library shelves.  Her bedtime book, LULL-A-BYE, LITTLE ONE, was a selected for the Dollywood Foundation’s childhood literacy initiative, Imagination Library in 2007. Her picture book, MOLLY BY GOLLY! THE LEGEND OF MOLLY WILLIAMS AMERICA’S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER, received the Florida Book Awards (FBA) Bronze Medal in the Children’s Literature category in 2012 and was chosen for the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer list of feminist literature for girls. Her picture book, IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT, won the FBA Silver Medal in 2013. Her 2015 title, IT’S A SEASHELL DAY, was given the FBA Gold Medal/Gwen Reichert Award as well as the Gold Medal for Florida picture book from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. For more information about Dianne’s books, go to http://www.dianneochiltree.com.

Dianne, thanks for sharing your expertise with us. Another great answer.

REMEMBER: To send in your questions for Dianne. Use Kathy(dot)Temean(at)gmail.com. Please put ASK DIANNE in the subject box.

Amalia Hoffman sent in this Hanukkah Illustration to inspire everyone to enjoy the Jewish holidays. You can see more of Amalia’s work at http://www.amaliahoffman.com

Happy Hanukkah!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 11, 2017

Agent Looking for Clients – Rachel Horowitz

This contemporary holiday season illustration was created by Kendra Shedenhelm, an artist living in Croton-on-Hudson, NY with her husband, their 9 year old son, Archer, and two cats. To find out more, please visit: http://kendrashedenhelm.com/

RACHEL HOROWITZ from the Bent Agency:

Rachel represents commercial and accessible literary children’s fiction as well as select commercial women’s fiction.

I’ve spent nearly two decades in publishing, most recently as a children’s literary scout at Maria Campbell Associates, and before that, as the Director of Rights & Co-Editions at Scholastic. While at Scholastic I helped build many successful author franchises, including Maggie Steifvater, Blue Balliet, Brian Selznick and Walter Wick. I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and was a two-time writing fellow at the Breadloaf Writing Conference at Middlebury College in Vermont.

I’m a cultural omnivore and love to binge-watch a new show, devour magazines, see a new artist; I love literature that reflects what’s happening today in an entertaining way. My taste is literary and eclectic–my bookshelves are filled with books by Nora Ephron, Carrie Fisher, Caitlin Moran, Louise Penny, Miranda July, Amy Sedaris and Alice Munro, along with poetry by Mary Karr and Elizabeth Bishop. Yet my first love is children’s books–I believe that children’s literature, more than any other genre, has the potential to influence and change lives for the better. I particularly admire the way Suzanne Collins, Philip Pullman and JK Rowling celebrate the underdog and show children and adults that appearances can often be deceiving. For YA, I appreciate authors like Rainbow Rowell, Elizabeth Lockhart, and Teresa Toten, for the way they touch on class and social dynamics in a smart, compelling way that’s also authentically teen.

I’m looking for well-crafted middle-grade stories that have heart, humor and adventure, and for YA, romance with an authentic voice.

I’ll be representing authors who write thoughtful and entertaining commercial fiction—they may reference weighty issues like female empowerment, body image, family dynamics and race relations, but my authors will make you laugh out loud. If there’s one identifying feature for my nascent list, it’s authentic, universal voices that mix pathos with humor—to borrow from Robert Harding’s Steel Magnolias, “laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

She is Seeking: I’m looking for humorous middle grade, and contemporary YA. I plan to represent some commercial adult fiction, most likely an adult story with a teen protagonist; I’d love to find an Age of Miracles or Glass Castle, stories that are captivating to teens but can also engage an adult reader.

Please send me:
Young adult fiction
Middle grade’s fiction
YA/Crossover fiction
Adult trade fiction with a teen protagonist
Memoir with a teen protagonist

I’m not currently considering queries in the following genres:
Adult Non-fiction
Adult Literary
New Adult (18-25)
Picture books

TO QUERY: SEND TO HOROWITZQUERIES@THEBENTAGENCY.COM

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 10, 2017

Book Giveaway – The Mystery of the Missing Chocolate Chips

Congratulations to Marie Pfeifer on her first picture book – THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING CHOCOLATE CHIPS launched November 156th. Marie has agreed to give one book away. 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 to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Four friends who love hot fudge sundaes topped with chocolate chips at their favorite ice cream store, The Creamery, discover that the chocolate chips have gone missing. Despite warnings not to do any detective work, they plot and plan to find out who has been taking them. What a surprise when they discover who the culprit is!

BOOK’S JOURNEY:

The Mystery of the Missing Chocolate Chips and I have had a very lengthy, sometimes erratic journey to self-publication. When I felt that I had a workable script I began searching the Internet for self-publishers to move my project forward. The cost of some publishers was staggering, while others didn’t offer enough of what I needed, so I chose Mascot Publishers. It was still an expensive project. Mascot is a publishing house in between print-on-demand and traditional publishing, offering all the services of a traditional publisher except that you pay for them. I signed a contract on April 12, 2015 with a book release date of October 31, 2015.

We got off to a really good start. Max Higgins was the project manager/editor who suggested very few but pertinent changes. We adhered strictly to the project deadlines. Then she moved on to another job as we entered the illustration phase of the book.

When I signed the contract Mascot sent fifty wonderful illustration samples to me. Somehow, all of these illustrators became unavailable. So, I was left to choose an illustrator from a less impressive pool. The new project manager functioned mainly as a clerk who forwarded sketches to me and referred my comments back to the illustrator, without ever looking at them to see if the changes were actually made or whether the illustrations were synced up to the text.

Often, the illustrations and the text did not line up. Also, the consistency of the size and appearance of the characters was lacking and the characters size was not in perspective to each other. As the illustrator would fix one problem she would either create another problem or revert back to a previous problem. This went on forever frustrating every effort to correct the issues. Eventually, that project manager “moved on” I was told, slowing progress again. The salesman that I initially worked with “moved on” as well. Eight months wasted!

The problems persisted. At one point Mascot told me I would have to start paying an additional $50 and hour for any further changes. When I angrily pointed out to the project manager and salesman that no one seems to be reviewing the changes to insure that before they are sent to me the detailed comments that I made had actually happened, and the problem was with the illustrator’s work, the additional cost threat went away. But it still was a very frustrating process. It took an additional six months to straighten it all out.

Finally, after the graphics department put their touch on the book it turned into a lovely children’s picture book! It presents very nicely now and went to print in hard cover just before Labor Day, but I know I won’t go this route again. The official release date was November 15th. The book is available on amazon.com, mascotbooks.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million.

I am now in the marketing phase and have had success at getting reading and signing engagements. The book has been very well received by five to nine year olds. I am available for school readings and library and bookstore story time.

MARIE’S BIO:

Marie Pfeifer writes feature stories, covers community and civic events for regional newspapers and news media websites, including the Morris County Daily Record and the MorristownGreen.com website.

She is the co-writer, and one of the narrators in a documentary, “The White Man on a Bicycle.” A story of a handyman who was successful in raising funds and seeking the help of medical professionals in Western Africa, to provide medical care to the devastated people of Sierra Leone, after the ten-year “Blood Diamond” civil war ended.

Thank you Marie for sharing your book, it’s journey, and the chance for one lucky person to win a copy of THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Here to the link to Marie’s website: http://www.mariepfeifer.com/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 9, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Leila Nabih

Leila’s illustrations combine hand drawn lines and digital elements. She loves drawing bunnies and cats, as well as little boys and girls. At the moment she is working on a few self initiated educational projects to benefit her two year old toddler and submitting picture book dummies to a variety of publishing houses. She has self published a couple of books and is currently working on another two. She has also been commissioned to design and create picture books as gifts for little children from their parents, aunts or friends.

Leila has a French baccalauréat in sciences, a Bachelors degree in chemistry with a thesis in organic chemistry, a Masters degree in international business and a certificate of achievement in illustrating children’s books from a London based school. She speaks several languages and have grown up and lived in around 10 countries across the world (so far).

Here is Leila discussing her process:

Most of my work usually starts by putting pencil to paper and randomly creating a composition of objects or elements. When this is done, I start refining the sketch , one element at a time, until I am done with the nitty gritty details. I use reference materials that I own or that i find on the web to adjust poses and expressions if there are characters in the illustrations. I find random images of backgrounds that have elements that i like and that fit the story and add them to the sketch. I usually end up with something like this.

I render the sketch digitally by taking a picture of it with my phone and sending it to myself by email. I add that picture as the base layer of my illustration, change the opacity and draw on top of it. I start putting in shadows on the next layer. I then choose my colour palette. I also find my inspiration for colours around me. Something that caught my eye, the mood i wish to convey, everything is determined with the colours.


Once I am settled on the colours, i colour in everything, usually one colour per layer. I then rework the layers accordingly adding shadows or light where i see appropriate. The final step is to add texture, either by adding a watercolour layered texture or by making it myself using a different tool.

 

Finished piece

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I used to watch my mum paint silk scarves and pastel landscapes when i was a child, and wanted to be just like her. But in terms of making it a career, I’ve been hard at work to make that happen for the last four years.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

It was a whole picture book actually, and it was back in 2014. It was a private commission to illustrate and produce a picture book for someone’s niece who had a birthday coming up. It was a challenging project in the sense that there was a very tight deadline and that neither the author nor myself had ever done this before.

What made you choose to study with London Art College?

Back in 2013 I got made redundant from my day job. It didn’t go very well. It was a bit of a traumatic experience for me, so I decided to take a year off to ponder on things. I travelled for a while and whilst away, I found myself writing and illustrating everyday without actually thinking about making it my career. I searched for a course that I could do whilst travelling and found the “Illustrating Children’s books” course from London Art College. So I enrolled.

Do you think art school influenced your style?
Yes, It definitely did. My style was different before I started the course. It was different whilst I did the course, and it has greatly changed since I finished it. I cringe at what it was today.

Was LITT’’L RED your first illustrated picture book?

Officially, Yes. But in truth, it wasn’t. I have published two other books before , but I have removed them from the shelves because of my change in style.

How did the story idea come your way?

I wanted to illustrate a classic fairytale that I loved. So I decided to make my own interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood. What also influenced my choice was the fact that not many had heard of the Charles Perrault version, the one with the dark and sad ending. Everyone seems to know the version where the little girl is saved but not this one. Despite the fact that it didn’t really fit with my target audience in mind, I altered my style a little and adapted it to older children.

How did your latest picture CHRISTMAS EVE come about?

I believe I was recommended to the author by someone on one of the social networks. The author then contacted me last October saying her current illustrator was ill and couldn’t do the work for her and she wanted to publish the book beginning December. We negotiated fees and talked about how we could make this happen, and when everything was agreed, I started to work as fast as I could. My toddler cooperated and my husband helped a lot as well. We successfully met our deadline and published the book.

How many interior illustrations did you need to do for this book?

All the illustrations are actually full colour. It is a 24 page picture book, 8.5×8.5” with a variety of double spreads, single spreads and spot illustrations. In total , there were 14 inside the book. I created the front cover and the back cover as well.

Have you illustrated any book covers?

I have made the book covers for LITT’L RED, for CHRISTMAS EVE , and for my next upcoming book, JOY’S SNEAKERS.

Do you illustrate greeting cards?

I do the odd seasonal Christmas Cards. I have a few on the shop I have recently opened on Etsy. I have also done a few privately commissioned birthday cards and invitations for children’s birthday parties.

 

Do you think you will write and illustrate more of your own books?

Yes I will. I have another book to be published December 2017. It’s called JOY’S SNEAKERS. If you love sneakers (the shoes, not the candy), and cats, that’s the book for you. It’s aimed at children 0-5. You can find out more about it on my website.

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Yes I am. “CHRISTMAS EVE” is a self published book.

Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

No I haven’t yet. But I do have such a project in the pipeline.

Have you worked with any educational publishers?

I hope to in the future.

 

Have you ever illustrated something for a children’s magazine?

No I haven’t yet.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love pencil and paper. Nothing can ever beat that for me.

Has that changed over time?

Yes and no. Sometimes I try to challenge myself into sketching and drawing directly on my tablet, to get into that habit and try to get used to it. I cringe at the amount of paper I have used in the past to produce work. I can’t help but think of all the trees that went down for it. I’ve also had to throw away a lot of my work because I have no room for it and because we have moved house quite often in the last four years.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

I used to have a very large room up in the attic, but that was before I moved back to London and before I had my baby. Now the toddler is a menace. Anything he gets his hands on is at risk of being destroyed so most of my work things are up on the kitchen counter where he can’t grab or see. I work where I can, which means anywhere in the house.

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

My bullet journal. I sketch and write and plan everything in it. Drop any illustration ideas or project ideas and even write my first story drafts in it.

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

Yes. I must draw daily. I don’t like everything I draw every day so a lot of my work is just for me to practice and warm up. But what I am most pleased with, I do share with my followers on the various social media channels.

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

Yes I do. One very famous artist agent recommended pinterest for inspiration and reference photos. I do sometimes take pictures of my toddler for poses and expressions, but I also browse the web for more references.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes. No doubt there. I wouldn’t be anywhere without it since I studied online and I network online.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

No I don’t use Photoshop or Painter.

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

I do most of my work on my ipad pro. I sketch in my sketchbook with a technical pencil then render the illustration on the ipad. I use a variety of applications, one is called Procreate, the other is called ArtRage, and another is iGraphic.

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

Like many, I want to be traditionally published with one of the big publishing houses. Either as an illustrator or as an author illustrator.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a short 24 page picture book about bedtime routines for infants and toddlers. I have two other projects that I will start working on in January. Can’t say anything about them yet besides the fact that I am the chosen illustrator for those new books.

I am currently being exhibited at the Half Moon Gallery in London along with several other SCBWI fellow illustrators. It’s the first event of this type in the region and I am honoured and flattered to have been selected and featured as a children’s book illustrator. The piece currently on display is “Peekaboo”. The gallery is open until January for anyone interested in seeing some beautiful work.

Thank you Leila for sharing your talent, process, and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Leila’s work, you can visit her at her website: https://leilanabih.com

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 8, 2017

December’s Feature Editor: Rachael Stein

Rachael Stein  is an acquiring Assistant Editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She works on books for kids of all ages, including picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult and both fiction and nonfiction.

She is a voracious reader and children’s books fanatic. Some of the amazing authors she works with are Linda Sue Park, Gary D. Schmidt, Kate Milford, Ronald L. Smith, and Sarah Beth Durst. Before joining the Clarion team in 2016, Rachael worked at Scholastic, Lee & Low Books, Macmillan, and the Fox Literary Agency. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachaeljstein.

I discovered Rachael while writing up Monday’s post sharing Mira Reisberg’s new online course for writers and illustrator interested in improving their skills writing and illustrating chapter books and middle grade novels. So I asked if she would like to be our featured editor for December and critique four first pages for us and she said, “Yes.” Rachael will be critiquing  in December.

If you have submitted a first page this year and didn’t score a critique, you should try again this month, since the amount of first page submissions are always lower in December. In other words, your odds increase in December.

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES DECEMBER:

In the subject line, please write “DECEMBER 2017  CRITIQUE” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

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 passed 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: DECEMBER 20th.
RESULTS: DECEMBER 29th.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH RACHAEL.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 7, 2017

Book Giveaway: PEEP AND EGG: I’M NOT TAKING A BATH

 NANCY RILEY won LITTLE MOUSE FINDS A FRIEND by Jessica Linn Evans

Congratulations Nancy! Please send me your address – Thanks!

Laura Gehl has a new Peep and Egg picture book titled, PEEP AND EGG: I’M NOT TAKING A BATH and lucky us, she has agreed to do the 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 to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In this lively addition to the funny Peep and Egg picture book series for toddlers, a reluctant chick named Egg overcomes her aversion to taking a bath.

Peep thinks Egg needs to take a bath after playing in the mud. But Egg is not taking a bath. Not in the river, not in the duck pond, and definitely not in the dog’s water bowl—too slobbery! Does Peep have any tricks up her feathers to help a chick change her mind? Laura Gehl and Joyce Wan are back with another fun, colorful story that takes the “not” out of “I’m not taking a bath!”

THE BOOK’S JOURNEY:

PEEP AND EGG: I’M NOT TAKING A BATH is the third book in my series with Joyce Wan. The series features two adorable chicken siblings: Egg, the fearful, stubborn younger sister; and Peep, the wise, encouraging, and (when needed) sneaky older sister.

Writing a series is such a delight, because you have already created and bonded with your characters after the first book, and now you get to put them in new situations and help them figure out how to solve new problems. But…writing a series is tricky, too. I had to keep the basic story structure and repetition of phrases that toddlers find comforting (this also allows little ones to participate in the read-aloud process by shouting along with Egg). Meanwhile, I had to keep the story feeling fresh and new.

In the end, I made two significant changes for this third book in the series, as well as for the fourth book, PEEP AND EGG: I’M NOT USING THE POTTY. The first change is that Peep has to get more creative in her solutions—she enlists the other farm animals to help, and she also uses fun props including bath toys and toilet paper tutus. The second change in these third and fourth books comes in the last pages, with Egg gently turning the tables on Peep.

Of course, Joyce also adds her own special and wonderful touches to each book that help the sequels feel fresh and satisfying. You can find my favorite in PEEP AND EGG: I’M NOT TAKING A BATH near the end, when Egg finally (spoiler alert) takes a bath. Joyce put the pigs in a boat so that they can stay muddy while still joining in the big bath party with the rest of the farm animals.

I am so grateful that my wonderful editor Janine O’Malley at FSG/Macmillan gave Joyce and me the opportunity to create Peep and Egg’s universe. When little readers tell me they can’t wait for the next Peep and Egg book, and suggest possible future titles, it makes me feel like Queen of the World. Or at least Queen of the Farm.

LAURA’S BIO:

Laura Gehl is the award-winning author of popular picture books, including One Big Pair of Underwear, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Upcoming books include My Pillow Keeps Moving, illustrated by Christopher Weyant (January 2018); Peep and Egg: I’m Not Using the Potty, illustrated by Joyce Wan (February 2018); and I Got a Chicken For My Birthday, illustrated by Sarah Horne (March 2018).

Thank you Laura for sharing your book and your journey with us. This will make an excellent gift to give someone for the holidays, if the winner can give it up.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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