Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 28, 2015

Illustrator Saturday – France Brassard


I was born in a small town in Quebec on the 4th of July 1963. At the age of six, I received, in a Christmas stocking, a tiny picture book. This surprise so enchanted me that, since that day, I have cherished the dream of creating wonderful children’s book. After studying both Interior and Graphic Design, I worked, among other things, at the Association of Illustrators of Quebec as a secretary. This job showed me the wheels of the profession. Later, I worked as an assistant illustrator with an Internationally known illustrator for two years before I became a freelance illustrator myself. Twenty years later, I have numerous children’s book to my credit for both Canadian, American and European markets, and still have the passion for children’s book! I live in the cozy village of St-Armand in Quebec with my young son Luke.

Here’s France sharing her process:

Surprise sketch1

This is a first sketch for the cover of the book: Une Grosse Surprise pour Petit Pingouin.  I realized that the angle of the bear’s snout wasn’t ok according to the penguin.

Surprise sketch2

Second sketch. I adjusted the angle of the snout.

Surprise sketch3

I am satisfied by this sketch, then I shall go to the next step: the final drawing on watercolor paper.


I like to have severals research pictures to do an illustrations. Inspired by my way of working with the realistic style, I sometimes takes photos of objects appearing on my illustration, in order to have a realistic reference to work from. On this one, my young son, whom has been my assistant quite often, is holding a big balloon.


Here is the photo of a teddy, wearing a tiny scarf. With this reference, I can paint a scarf which has a real “wolly aspect”.


This is the color illustration for the cover of the book : Une Grosse Surprise pour Petit Pingouin (Dominique & Co. Publishing) This book is the first of a series of three.


How long have you been illustrating?

I began to illustrate professionally in the nearly 90s.


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

My first contract was to illustrate a Dictionary of the dreams. The illustrations were in black in white, but the project left a large place to the imagination.


Where did you study art?

When I was young, where I lived, there was no Art school, so I studied in Advertising drawing. After that, I worked as a secretary at the Association of Illustrators of Quebec. This job allowed me to know the best illustrators of the Quebec and especially, to become assistant of an internationally known illustrator.


What did you study there?

As an assistant illustrator, I had to work on the same illustration of my “boss”. She has a very realistic style, so I learned a lot to illustrate the “realistic way”.


Do you feel College helped develop your style?

Not really. I studied Advertising drawing, because if was the career choice which seemed rather creative and with a place for the drawing.


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

After I graduate from Advertising drawing school, I showed my portfolio to several Advertising Agency. I had kept in my portfolio, the less technical work and choose rather the more creative ones. An Art director suggested me to get in touch with the Association of Illustrators of Quebec.


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

The College where I went had to help the graduates to find a job, but it didn’t happen. So I found a job in the basement of a shopping center, working as an assistant with the graphic designer of the place, in a dark, smelly, tiny studio. Not the greatest job!


Have you seen your work change since you left school?

My work changes a lot since I graduate. I had a style rather realistic, too much detailed and “busy.” I try more and more to simplify my illustrations, to do uncluttered images.


When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

The choice of illustrating for children came naturally, because I liked very much to illustrate funny stories with a lot of imaginations!


What was your first book you had published?

The first book for children which was published, is a story that I wrote and illustrate at the age of 15, entitled: Les Petits Poux Vaga’bonds.


How did that contract come about?

This particular project was a youth dream. I did not want to wait until I was an adult to get published, so I proposed my project to several publishers and one of them accepted it. Otherwise, the first contract I had for a children’s book project, was a series of three small cardboard books for toddler with a Publisher from Quebec.


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

I Illustrated a lot for schoolbooks and youth novels.


How many picture books have you illustrated?

Approximately 15 children’s books.


Have you ever written and illustrated your own picture book?

I wrote and illustrated only one picture book, at the age of fifteen: Les Petits Poux Vaga’Bonds


Have most of your picture book been written in French?

No, most of the picture book that I illustrated were written in English.


What book do you think was your biggest success?

In Quebec, it is a book of a series of three entitled: Une Grosse Surprise pour Petit Ours (Dominique & Co. Publishing). In the U.S., the book “Sometimes We Were Brave” (Boyds Mills Press Publishing) received the 2010 First price Book Awards for the best Picture book, from The Society of School Librarians International.


Have you ever thought about doing a wordless picture book?

Yes, absolutely. Since my childhood, I dream to illustrate an Alphabet primer.


Do you have an artist rep? If so, who and how did you connect?

Yes, my artist rep is Wendy Lynn & Co. A few years before, I had approached several artist rep, unsuccessfully. I decided “to let go”, when Wendy proposed me her services!


Do you illustrate full time?

I use to illustrated full-time, but the market changed a lot since the advent of internet and vectorial images. Now a publisher can choose an illustrator from all around the World, often at very low rates. Also the vectorial images, the computer drawings became more and more popular.


Do you have a favorite medium you use?

Yes, watercolor for its transparency. It is an excellent medium to work the light effects.


Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Yes, as I illustrated realistic images, I used many or research pictures. But even if my style is now less realistic, I choose, mainly on the web, many research pictures before beginning an illustration.


Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

I use Photoshop little, either to clean-up a scanned image, or to adjust the light, the colors.


Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

I have a graphic tablet, but I do not use it. I prefer by far the contact with my brushes and the watercolor on the paper.


Do you do exhibits to show off your art?

Yes. I am actually preparing one in the local library of my town, showing all my major children’s book illustrations.


Would you be willing to work with a self-publisher picture book writer on a project?

Yes, and I have already did it. Twice in fact with two authors; the first story was from the writer Shari Cohen and her story: In my Zayde’s Eyes. The other one is from the writer Karen Pektau with her story: If Heaven is so Great, Why can’t I go Now?


Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

Yes, a few times, with Canadian magazines.


Do you have a studio in your house?

Yes, I love it to have my studio in my home; it is very practical; especially in winter!


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

Yes, my drawing table of course and my computer. Even so I do not use it to do my illustrations, it is an essential tool for my research pictures. And also, a very large window to let the natural light comes in!


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

I used to work 7/7 in my studio. When it wasn’t for a contract, it was for looking at Publishers which might be interested by my illustrations style. I always thought about new ideas to promote my work, but nevertheless I had less and less contracts. I realized that the market changed a lot and one of these changes was that the illustrations made by computer became more and more popular. So now, I am still in my studio every week day and more, but to work on different projects, not only illustrations contracts.


Any exciting projects on the horizon?

I have a portrait to do, which is something I like to do. But I would love to do another picture book!


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

Yes, but unfortunately, mostly No.  My work is accessible to more people, however there are so many excellent illustrators worldwide, whom the publishers can also choose.


What are your career goals?

I dreamed of living from my illustrations work. I achieved this dream, even so it didn’t last for a life long! But it allowed me to explore other paths. Ultimately, I would like to create a second book for children written and illustrated by me.


What are you working on now?

I just completed to paint a winter scenery in the windows of the local library. I also teach a class of puppetry making and give private drawing lessons. I am also working on my solo exhibit, featuring all my major picture book illustrations, which is coming in January 2016. Finally, I also work on a portrait in watercolor. Even if I do not illustrate full-time anymore, I developed others center of interests which allows me to continue to work with my creativity.


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

As my style of illustration was rather realistic, I did not work enough my drawing skills, by copying out as it stands my research pictures. Now, I still use research pictures, but I am inspired by them rather than copy out them entirely. The more I wish to realize uncluttered illustrations, the more I realize the importance to know how to draw and the capacity to see in 3D in my head and to transpose that on paper. Also, very important, the capacity to paint well the shade and the light, but especially to understand it!


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

Keep improving your drawing, your own style. Even in the field of illustration, there are fashions, trendy styles that for some reasons, are more attractive to Publishers in the present time. Never change your illustration style to fit any trend!


Thank you France for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of France’s work, you can visit her at website at:

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

Talk tomorrow,



Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 27, 2015

Free Fall Friday – SCBWI Winter Conference


December 11 is the last day to take advantage of savings on registration fees for the SCBWI Winter conference February 12-14, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Central in New York City. Drop a hint to your family and friends when you’re making out your holiday wish list that a space in the conference is the perfect gift for you!

Check out the amazing lineup of speakers and panels at twenty breakout sessions give you a chance to hear top editors and art directors. This conference will sell out so don’t miss out on this rare opportunity.

Whether you’re published or pre-published, an illustrator or an author, this prestigious conference puts you on the inside of what’s happening in the exploding world of children’s publishing. If you have questions, please email Sara Rutenberg at  Grab your coat and hat and join Lin and Steve in New York.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

blog Dow Thanksgiving 2015

Dow Phumiruk, she is a pediatrician who has found her passion in art.  Over the past few years, she has been able to focus on her love of illustrating for children.

Giving Thanks

by Carol Murray

I’m happy to see you.

I’m sad when you go.

I’m wishing you sunshine

and want you to know

that I like being with you

on Thanksgiving day,

and I’ll always love you

although you’re away.


Melissa Iwai has illustrated over twenty picture books. Her first book that she wrote and illustrated was Soup Day. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to view.

by Eileen Spinelli

Thank you for the world–still sweet.

Thank you for the food we eat.

Thank you for the honeyed sun

that spoons its light on everyone.

Thank you for the leaves that fall

in glowing piles near the wall,

for kindness in a stranger’s face

and every unexpected grace.

Thank you for the starry dark,

for children laughing in the park,

for cozy towns and sleepy farms,

for dreamers, dancers, babes in arms.

Than you for all hearts that sing

of hope in spite of everything.


Mary Reaves Uhles has created illustrations for numerous books and magazines. Mary has twice been awarded the Grand Prize for Illustration from the SCBWI Midsouth Conference and her piece, EAT was a finalist in the 2014 SCBWI Bologna Book Fair Gallery. Mary was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click to view.

Next Year’s Forecast

by David L Harrison

Please forgive my greasy grin

With gravy dripping off my chin

As I admire my loving kin

Amid Thanksgiving burbling din.


I love to watch my family munch,

Although with so much eager crunch

I have a sudden sinking hunch

I’ll have no lovely leftovers lunch!


They’re gobbling all the turkey breast,

Dressing, pies, and all the rest.

Tomorrow I won’t feel so blessed.

Next year there’ll be fewer guests.


blog Marla JonesThanksgiving_Prayer 8x10 (1)

Marla F. Jones is a writer and illustrator of several picture books. She also runs a small publishing company called Doodle and Peck Publishing.

blog doris ettthanksgiving

This turkey received a pardon by Abe Lincoln in  “The First Turkey Pardon” from Abe Lincoln Loved Animals by Ellen Jackson (Albert Whitman). Doris has illustrated picture books for Albert Whitman & Co. Simon & Schuster and especially Sleeping Bear Press. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to view.

blog giving thanks Kristin Thanksgiving

Kristin Varner is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. She has been operating as KBoom, an illustration and design studio since 1998. Some of her picture books for children include ‘Big Feelings’ and ‘Aladdin – A Tale from the Middle East’. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to view.


Tracy Campbell is a published artist, author, and a retired design professional who aims to perfect the creative abilities God has blessed her with. When Tracy’s not writing, she creating whimsical works of art that inspires and encourages others. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to view.

blog thsnksgivingCheezusLovesUsC

Sue Clancy has a serious paper habit; she creates handmade paper, marbles it or uses other techniques to create patterns and texture on the paper. Using the finished paper she cuts out shapes and collages them into bold, carefully designed, visual stories.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 25, 2015

ibooks – November Picks

blog reading michaelDooling

The above illustration was painted by Michael Dooling. He is the illustrator of over sixty books-many on historic subjects. He has illustrated picture books, chapter books and many Middle Grade Novels. Michael graduated in 1988 with a Master’s Degree in Illustration from Syracuse University and is a member of the Society of Illustrators in New York. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to view.

iBooks announced its November picks in five categories:

Dangerous Lies, by Becca Fitzpatrick
How To Be Brave, by Katherine E, Kottaras
Manners & Mutiny, by Gail Carriger
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, by Jenn Bennett
Winter, by Melissa Meyer

Hotels of North America, by Rick Moody
The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende
Beatlebone, by Kevin Barry
The Mare, by Mary Gaitskill
The Gold Eaters, by Ronald Wright

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King
Corrupted, by Lisa Scottoline
Home by Nightfall, by Charles Finch
Promise, by Robert Crais
The Crossing, by Michael Connelly

Thing Explainer, by Randall Munroe
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein
The Death of Cancer, by Vincent DeVita
Ardennes 1944, by Antony Beevor
438 Days, by Jonathan Franklin

Sweetest Scoundrel, by Elizabeth Hoyt
Heartsong Cottage, by Emily March
Tough Enough, by M. Leighton
Untamed, by S.C. Stephens
It’s Only Love, by Marie Force

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 24, 2015

Building a Research Database for Your Novel Part 3

Charlotte2010_Bennardo (39)Here is Part 3 of Charlotte Bennardo’s Article on Building a Research database. Click the following links if you missed Part One and/or Part Two.

Social connections like Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook are also places to find information. You can ask questions like, “Does anyone work with juvenile offenders and can tell me how the system works?” and someone may answer your query. Some, like Linked In, have forums for discussion where people ask and answer questions on a specific topic. These social connections reach across religious, ethnic, cultural, and geographical limits so there are a lot of people you can connect with.

There is practically a museum for everything: Rock and Roll, cars, football, dead bodies (Morgue Museum in NYC), circus oddities, art, history, farming, you name it. The biggest museum in the world is the Smithsonian which compromises twelve museums. It has the Hope Diamond, Lindbergh’s plane, the flag that flew over Fort Sumter and was the inspiration for the Star Spangled Banner, dinosaur bones, inaugural gowns of the First Ladies, etc. And museums will have websites with more information. Don’t overlook traveling exhibits, like the King Tut display that circled around the world. It’s a way to get close to wonders that might have cost a plane ticket.

Some corporations keep records of their history, like Coca-Cola or Boeing. And generally they employ a media relations or PR person who answers questions about the company. If you’re really lucky, they may send you copies of press releases or booklets about the company. They usually have not only the written history, but photos and other artifacts.

Virtual and physical bookstores and sellers can not only tell you when a book will be released, but some allow you to pre-order, and you may even get the book ahead of release. If you buy one book, ask if they can recommend others like it. Via computer, they can tell you about new releases coming up, what’s in stock, or can order copies they don’t have in the store. Plus, Indie bookstores host authors. Maybe one will be near enough for you to talk to them firsthand.

Another primary source is people. Anyone who was directly involved in an event, at a scene, etc. are the bet sources, but not always available. If you can get access to a person who will share what they know, grab it. If you can’t get the actual person, like a prosecutor on a case, try for a secondary source, like the legal secretary who typed up the Death Row appeal. Colleagues, friends, family, group or club members can help shed light on your subject.

Conventions and conferences are a great place to attend workshops, meet experts in the field, talk with people who are well known, and pick up information that the average person won’t be privy to. At the Romantic Times convention, there were workshops in firearms and bomb detection dogs. At the Hackers On Planet Earth convention, famous hackers mingled with the crowds and shared their expertise. There are conventions/conferences for just about every subject so look around.

Blonde OpsFinally, other authors are a great research tool. Read a book about your subject, then check the index for references and the Acknowledgments for a listing of sources the author used. They have opened the door for you on where else to look for information. (Just remember to check that the information is still current and accepted; situations and facts may change over time.)

With all the places open to you for gathering information, your novel, even if set in an alternate universe on a distant planet a millennia from now will ring true because you’ve collected the facts. One last caveat; be generous and acknowledge those who helped you either in person or by their own work. Give credit where credit is due. Happy researching!

Here is a little bit about Charlotte:

Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. She is the co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series (Sirenz, Sirenz Back In Fashion, Flux). She’s written for magazines and newspapers. Currently she’s working on solo sci fi, ghost, and time travel novels and loves to hear from fans on Twitter  (charbennardo) or through her blog,

Her books:

Beware the Little White Rabbit (anthology- Alice Through the Wormhole, Leap Books)

Blonde OPS (St Martin’s/Dunne)

Publisher’s Weekly calls Blonde OPS “…a light mystery with entertaining dialogue, an energized pace, ever shifting suspects and a glimpse into the benefits and drawbacks of art and fame…”

The SIRENZ Series (Flux)
Sirenz: Back in Fashion

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 23, 2015

Opportunity: Young Adult First 15

inkedVoicesLogo  is putting on a small group PROFESSIONALLY-FACILITATED WRITING WORKSHOP. Thought you might like to check it out.

Young Adult First 15 with Tamra Tuller

Tamra_Tuller_OBpRo6sDecember 1st, 2015 – December 16th, 2015

with Tamra Tuller

Get feedback on your first 15 pages with Tamra Tuller, an editor with editorial experience at three of the big publishing houses. How it works: Submit your first pages to the group on December 1st, when the group officially kicks off. Writers have the next 12 days to exchange feedback with their group. Tamra will post her feedback on December 12th and 13th. After critiquing your work, Tamra will hold a webinar for debrief and discussion on Tuesday, December 15th. Get individual feedback from an editor who knows the publishing market, plus learn from her comments on other participants’ submissions.

The group will be capped at 8 writers plus Tamra to keep the workload manageable and allow members to make connections within the group.


Who this workshop is for: Young Adult

Focus: Young Adult Fiction

Group size: 8 writers

Submissions: First 15 pages (3,750 words)

Fee: Members: $80; Non-members: $90

Key dates and schedule information:

December 1st – Submit your first 15 pages
December 13th – Critiques due
December 15th – Debrief and Q&A webinar

About Tamra Tuller

Tamra Tuller first got her publishing feet wet in the Scholastic Book Clubs. She then moved on to Scholastic’s trade division at Blue Sky Press, followed by Philomel Books, an imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group, and most recently Chronicle Books. Tamra is now a freelance editor focusing mainly on middle-grade and young adult novels. She has a strong interest in reality-based contemporary and historical fiction, but she has fallen in love with books of all genres and will gladly work on a wide variety of titles, including picture books. In addition to speaking at conferences and facilitating writers’ workshops, she has worked with such authors as Ruta Sepetys, Beth Kephart, Kathryn Erskine, Leila Sales, Hannah Moskowitz, and K.A. Holt.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 22, 2015

Take A Look Sunday – Jill Iversen

Please email your poems and Illustrations to Kathy.temean (at) and put Thanksgiving Special or Christmas Special in the subject area. JPG’s must be at least 500 pixels wide.



CHRISTY: The chickens in these illustrations are very well drawn. I especially like the detail and expression on the black chicken in the second image. It’s clear what’s going on there, and they are mad! Lifelike, yet their emotions are coming through loud and clear. I am a little confused about the perspective in the 2nd illo, as I see the cloud next to the angry birds, and read that as dust they are kicking up in their anger. They look much closer to the viewer than the hen with the eggs, but they are kicking up dust right next to her. It’s playing tricks on my eyes a bit, and I can’t tell – are they flying above her, or causing a stir next to her?

The little vignettes in the first illustration are telling a good story – she is stealing other chickens’ eggs?! When she’s revealed with so many under her in the next image (and is surrounded by angry hens!), you know that that’s exactly what she was doing. I like the vignettes! It’s a nice way to show story and focus on important details. 2 things to think about, however: can chickens “grab” eggs like that with their claws? And do they lay blue eggs? If there was ONE blue egg, I’d assume that it was special (and a main character of the story!) but there are several in there with the brown and white eggs that we normally see in chicken coops. It’s a nice pop of color, but the scenes have a “realistic” feel to them, and I’m not sure that blue chicken eggs exist. Perhaps she stole a Robin’s eggs?! In any case, children will notice that – and question it!!


CHRIS: This is a good example of a ‘market educational’ style of illustration.  The line work, color and more realistic style are often quite popular in the school markets.  These are well done…showing a comfort with drawing and watercolor (assumingly).  There is little anthropomorphizing of the chickens but we do feel the emotion of the ‘attack’ from other chickens and the ‘mother’s’ pleasure at doing her job in the resting images. 

These 4 images do tell a story and would illustrate the text of the little semi instructive book the artist is perhaps illustrating. It’s lacking the ‘push’ of the more trade book possibilities of illustration that might also accompany the text of such a story:  telling more than reality; adding humor maybe; showing it in thought provocative colors and perspectives, etc.   But these are well drawn and clear for a child’s eye, and helpful in the learning process of the visual young learner.


Jill Iversen writes and draws from memories made raising her family and animals while living in the Sierra Nevadas.   She has worked in preschool and elementary school classrooms for over 20 years.  Jill is now enjoying making new memories as she resides in Western Washington with her husband and ponies. She is an Art Center College of Design graduate and member of SCBWI.   Ever thankful for the natural creation around us, Jill loves animals, books, teaching, and art. Website:

Thank you Chris & Christy for taking the time to share their expertise with us. It helps so many illustrators and is very much appreciated. Here is the CATugeau Agency website link:


For the next few months illustrators can submit two consecutive story illustrations for critique by CATugeau Agency.

If you do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what you should do or how it could be tweaked to help you sell your work, then please send Two SEQUENTIAL illustrations – not just 2 pages of illustrations, but two with the SAME “story/characters‎” to:

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

Each Sunday one illustrator will be chosen.

If everyone likes this, we will continue until the end of the year.

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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 21, 2015

Illustrator Saturday – Fabrice Boulanger

Fabricec93771_c65490bca0206fc8d678eb88cb073e95Fabrice Boulanger was born in Belgium. After some Art Studies, he pursues with Cinema Studies. But soon he decides to give up this long and expensive medium and turns towards illustration and comics instead. He choses to specialize in youth illustration, because it allows more freedom than comics.

In 2000, he moves to Quebec (Canada), where his career as a youth illustrator soon takes off. Passionate about writing as much as illustration, he goes into storybook writing in 2005, with the collection entitled «Archimède Tirelou» (éditions Michel Quintin), which he also illustrates. Since then, Fabrice Boulanger works as much as an illustrator than as an writer, and now has more than 70 books under his belt. He writes storybooks as much as teen novels, and illustrates storybooks, novels, posters and board games.

In 2013, he has been awarded the Libraires du Québec Literary Award for his controversial book «Ma soeur veut un zizi» published by Éditions de la Bagnole. For now, he’s working on a collection of picture books adapting some Fantastic classical masterpieces (also published by Éditions de la Bagnole).

– In most cases, I tend to start by deciding on the look of each character. It is much more easier to imagine them in movement afterwards. Here are the characters for L’étrange cas du Dr. Jekyll et de M. Hyde.


Next, if I am working on a picture book, I draw a sketch showing all the pages of the book. Usually, I am the only one who can decipher these tiny drawings. Here is the sketch of the pages for Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers.


The following step involves drawing each illustration with more details. The result of this step is what I generally submit to the publisher and writer. Here is the first draft of the cover for a novel written by Martine Latulippe (« Mystère chez Marie-P »)


For the coloring, I go on quite roughly at first. I just place different colours on the drawing to define the general ambiance of the illustration.


Still rather roughly, I put the colours on the characters. Since I’m working on the computer, it is easy enough to adjust the colours to the background. Working on the computer does not require previous colour tests anymore, because I can easily modify the hues on the final illustration.


Now I can work on the details. Here, the character in the foreground.


The character in the background.


The cat


For the floor, I added some tiles from a photograph


Then I improved the floor by adding the character’s reflection. I also put on some textures. It is funny how when working with watercolours on paper, for example, a great amount of the textures, smears, and drops come by accidentally, giving some dynamism to the image. Working on the computer, these «accidents» must be deliberately added, though, in order to end up with the same dynamism.


Finally, the coloured background and the upper border for the title are added. The illustration is cropped to fit the cover’s final format.


The final cover.


How long have you been illustrating?

For over twenty years.


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

Plants and roots for a fertilizers label contract. Not the most exciting contract!


Where did you study art?

At St. Luke Institute, in Liege (Belgium). This is where I did my studies in illustration and comics.


What did you study there?

I had the choice between illustration and comics. Soon enough, I chose children illustration, which suited me better.


Do you feel College helped develop your style?

Yes, it did help a lot. Not so much for style, but for technique. Actually, before my studies at St. Luc, I had mostly learned to decal images. But there I really learned to draw with live models and to mobilize my creativity for the benefit of a script.


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

I didn’t immediately begin to work as an illustrator. I did several little jobs, like working in a grocery store, or even on production lines in big companies. There is a lot of illustrators in Europe and the market is really saturated, so it’s not easy to enter it. I did meet some rare publishers, but it did not lead to anything.


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

No, absolutely not. After graduation, it is every man for himself. In the end, I think it’s better this way. In our milieu, we are freelance workers, so it is necessary to know how to manage to find your own place. You must not wait for the others to open the doors for you.


Have you seen your work change since you left school?

Yes, absolutely. If after twenty years my work hadn’t evolved, I would have stopped long ago. I’m working mostly to improve myself. My drawing is more self-assured, I went from watercolour to computer illustration, and my color job is more elaborate. Everything has changed and is still changing!


What made you move to Canada?

I met my wife, who is Canadian, after a writing contest of which we were both prizewinners. After a few years of dating and travelling from a country to the other, we have decided to move in together in Quebec / Canada.


Did you speak French in Belgium, or did you have to learn French when you moved to Canada?

Yes, French is my mother tongue and also the only one I am able to speak:-)


When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

Starting from my studies in St. Luc. At first, I was going to that college with the intention of learning comic strip, but I found that the strip was too visually restrictive, and also medium restrictive. Moreover, I liked the world of childhood, and I wanted to draw for this public!


What was your first book you had published?

La Princesse Pommeline, which is the only book I have ever made with my wife (she wrote the story). It narrates the story of a girl who is looking for her prince charming. When I look at the drawings today… Hou…la…la…


How did that contract come about?

My wife had written an interesting story. I did a storyboard and a few colour pictures in order to define the style. We sent the result to several publishers, and one of them answered positively. As simple as that.


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

No, I always worked in the field of children books.


Have you ever illustrated a picture book in English?

No, I did not have this opportunity yet.


Have you ever written and illustrated you own picture book?

Yes, I write and illustrate a lot of my books. I also have a scriptwriter’s schooling, which gave me of good basis in writing. Having begun my illustrator’s career, I soon wanted to write my own projects. So I started with the series “Archimède Tirelou” and since then, I created many others.


What book do you think was your biggest success?

Commercially speaking, it is difficult to say. Many of my books have been on the market for years and will be for a while. Personally speaking, I would say the series on which I’m working: the adaptation in picture books of fantastic classical masterpieces. It is an interesting challenge as for the text and a real pleasure to illustrate. The series includes six titles for now, but it is meant to keep growing.


Have you ever won an award for your writing and illustrating? Can you tell us about it?

Yes, in 2013, I received the Booksellers of Quebec Award (Prix des Libraires) for the book Ma soeur veut un zizi (My sister wants a willy). This book caused a small scandal. It tells the story of a little girl who enjoys discovering the anatomy of his older brother. The book handles the subject with humour and simplicity. Kids like it. But, let’s say, everything is shown in the images: penis, vulva, buttocks, breasts, everything. My intent, by making this book, was to put myself at the level of the children. The body is not a taboo for them, because in their world, the sexual aspect does not exist. Thus, we can show and speak about the body without any constraint.

When the book was released, some parents (anchored as they were in their adult’s life) found the book was shocking (they saw a small willy drawn in the book of their toddler, how awful!), to the extent that a negative TV report about the book passed on an important television channel of Quebec. That being said, the arguments of the critics against the book were so badly constructed that nobody took them seriously. Quite the opposite: this report was a huge publicity for the book. Moreover, as if to prove it was not that bad, it was awarded a prize.

Since then, many parents in book fairs have come and thank me for having dared to make a book like this. They simply say: « At last! »


Have you ever thought about doing a wordless picture book?

I do have a project of a book without text. I have already proposed it to some publishers, but precisely because there is no text, that does not interest them very much. Besides, the subject being mourning, and the story taking place during the World War I, I must admit that it is not very funny.


Do you have an artist rep? If so, who and how did you connect? If not, would you like to find an agent?

No. But since I also write, and thus do not illustrate for part of the year, I would not be very profitable for an agent.


Do you illustrate full time?

60 % illustration, 25 % writing, 15 % educational activities in schools.


Do you have a favourite medium you use?

Working with computer makes my life so much easier. I couldn’t live without it.


Do you take research pictures before you start a project?
Google is the key. It is magical. And yes, for some images, I do need documentation.


Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

Yes, for everything. From the first sketch to the final image.


Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

Yes, the Wacom Cintiq. Another tool without which I could not live anymore.


Do you do exhibits to show off your art?

No, exhibitions are not my cup of tea! It requires a great amount of energy, for not so much visibility at the bottom of the line. I make images meant to be in books, to go with a story, to be seen by children before going to bed. I feel that my drawings do not belong on a gallery wall, that this is not their place.


Would you be willing to work with a self-publisher picture book writer on a project?

This kind of self-publishing projects, or even projects coming from beginning publishers, are, for me, risky projects. I am kind of wary. I am afraid the distribution will be bad, or non-existent; same thing for the advertising. Contracts are badly written, the publisher or the author do not know their job properly, etc. In brief: big loss of energy and time, and remuneration is really not appealing.


Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

I made two covers for a fantastic literary magazine a few years ago, but it is not my niche, really.


Do you have a studio in your house?



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

Yes, an old sweater from my grandmother. It is my work cloth! Wintertime is very cold in our part of the world! :-) I am sentimentally attached to it, it is really like my second skin. As soon as I sit to work, I need to wear it… Well, not when it is 85 F outside… Yes, in summer, it can be this hot! Surprising, isn’t it? :-)


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

I hate routine, I think it is harmful! I’d rather follow my desires when they come up and make whatever I want whenever I want it. We only have 75 years to live on this little planet, at the best, and I do not want to lose time with things that do not interest me. This is one of my goals! Besides, I already make a living from my work. According to me, this is already a great success.


Any exciting projects on the horizon?

Yeah… but I do not want to say too much about it. I am working on a personal project: a series of illustrated youth novels about a famous historic figure who revolutionized the art of cooking at one time. I am also carrying on with my series of fantastic classical masterpieces, and I am launching a new series for very young readers with the author Martine Latulippe, with whom I work very often.


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

Well, one thing is certain: the Internet allows more visibility, and this cannot be ignored. That being said, I do not engage very much in publicity, just because I do not feel the need of it. I work a lot on my own projects. I admit that I do not use the Internet to its full potential.


What are your career goals?

Quite simple: I wish to continue devoting myself to what really interests me.


What are you working on now?

The adaptation of a short story, « La main » (« The hand ») by Guy de Maupassant. It is a picture book intended for kids, which the main character is a hand… a cut hand! That’s a big challenge! But I think the result will be quite interesting…


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

For those who want to get accustomed to draw on computer, I really recommend working with a Cintiq. I know it is a lot of money, but it is so comfortable and natural. If Cintiq did not exist, I doubt I would have made the move towards computer.


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

Before anything else, don’t get discouraged and be patient. One doesn’t enter this milieu in a blink of an eye. It takes time. Don’t hesitate to send portfolios regularly to some publishers, and then call them and try to find what they think about it. Contemplate sending your work directly to authors, because they have their say when it comes to choose an illustrator. Join some online communities of illustrators, like SCBWI, Mundo Illustration, Deviant art, etc. You must make yourself visible and, above all, you must believe in you.


Thank you Fabrice for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Fabrice’s work, you can visit her at website at:

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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 20, 2015

Free Fall Friday

Please email your poems and Illustrations to Kathy.temean (at) and put Thanksgiving Special or Christmas Special in the subject area.

Jennifer Stokes is returning to Kids Can Press as editor. (She had been there for 6 years before leaving to work freelance.)

Wendy Levinson (formerly Silbert) is re-joining Harvey Klinger on November 30 in the newly created position of director of development. In her new role, Levinson will seek new clients for the agency focusing on adult fiction and non-fiction with the occasional YA or middle grade. The clients will then be distributed among the agency’s agents. She will also work in an editorial capacity on existing agency projects.

Martha Rago has been appointed to the newly created position of executive creative director, Random House Children’s Books,reporting to Judith Haut, as the children’s art departments are united. Isabel Warren-Lynch, executive art director for the Knopf, Delacorte, Crown, and Wendy Lamb Books imprints, and her team, will report to Rago, as will Tracy Tyler, executive art director, licensed publishing; associate art director Nicole de las Heras; and Jason Zamajtuk, art director, Random House/Golden Books for Young Readers.


Agent Amy Stern has agreed to be November’s Guest Critiquer. Just a heads up, as like in previous years, there will be no December First Page Critique opportunity. I stopped doing it in December because everyone gets so busy that no one sends in a first page.

Here’s a little bit about Amy:

Amy Stern started at the Sheldon Fogelman Agency in 2010 as an agent assistant and has spent the past five years taking on additional responsibilities while not quite believing that she gets to work with children’s books as her job. After receiving degrees in English and creative writing at Bryn Mawr College and masters degrees in children’s literature and library science at Simmons College, she interned at a literary agency and fell in love with the industry.

She taught science fiction and fantasy at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, where she also got her MA in children’s literature and her MLS in library science.

In her copious spare time, she mentors writing students at Simmons’s Center for the Study of Children’s Literature. She is currently accepting picturebook, middle grade, and young adult submissions from authors and illustrators, particularly if the work explores underrepresented identities. She’s not your best bet for a heterosexual romance or historical fiction, but is open to pretty much anything else. You can find her on twitter: @yasubscription or on her blog: blog

We talk a lot about finding the “right book at the right time for the right reader” when we’re talking about getting things for other people to read. I don’t think that we give it nearly as much thought when we’re choosing what to read ourselves. We are people who crave good stories, and then talk about them on the internet. We are the opposite of the reluctant reader.

She reads a lot about superheroes, watches a lot of reality television, talks a lot about problems with gender normativity in popular culture, and spends entirely too much time on the internet.

Amy says, “One of the hardest things I’ve had to do- as an agent, as a scholar, and perhaps most importantly as a person who loves stories- was come to terms with the fact that I can’t actually separate myself from the books I read. I can recognize the artistry and skill that goes in to telling a story without loving it; conversely, I can recognize there are parts of a novel that are deeply flawed while still connecting with it on a deep visceral level. But I will always see the best stories as the ones that combine those two for me, and that’s inherently subjective.”


In the subject line, please write “November 2015 First Page Critique” and paste the text in the email, then attached it in a Word document 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 (Make sure your name is with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

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

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: November 25th.

RESULTS: December 4th.

Please only submit one first page a month. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow


Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 19, 2015

Agent Acquiring New Clients

agentjenchentran-215-x-240-215x240Jennifer Chen Tran is an Associate Agent at Fuse Literary acquiring both fiction and non-fiction. She is a lifelong reader, New York native, and experienced member of the publishing industry. Prior to joining Fuse Literary, Jennifer was principal and owner of Penumbra Literary LLC, and served as Of Counsel at The New Press. She has also interned at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth literary agency, was an editorial and publicity intern at Hunger House Publishers (since acquired by Turner Publishing), and editorial intern at Terrain Magazine.

Jennifer obtained her Juris Doctor from Northeastern School of Law in Boston, MA, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis, with a minor in Legal Studies. Originally a visual arts major turned English major, Jennifer appreciates creativity in all its incarnations. She was also Managing Editor of Student Life, Washington University’s Independent Student Paper and studied comparative literature with Emma Kafalenos while she was an undergraduate.

With a legal background, Jennifer understands the importance of negotiation when securing and retaining author rights. She counsels each client on building or expanding her platform, improving on craft, and works collaboratively with her clients to obtain the best deal for each writer’s creative investment. She believes in building fulfilling and life-long writing careers and is honored to work with her client-writers.

Submission Guidelines:

Jennifer acquires both fiction and non-fiction.

For fiction: Jennifer is seeking literary fiction, commercial fiction, women’s fiction, upmarket fiction, contemporary romance, mature Young Adult, New Adult, suspense/ thriller and select graphic novels (both adult, YA or MG). She is particularly interested in voices from underrepresented and marginalized communities, strong and conflicted female characters, war and post-war fiction, and writers who are adept at creating a developed sense of place. She admires writers who have an ear for dialogue and who are not afraid to take emotional risks.

For non-fiction: Jennifer acquires memoir, narrative non-fiction in the areas of adventure, biography, business, current affairs, medical, history, how-to, pop-culture, psychology, social entrepreneurism, social justice, travel, and lifestyle books (home, design, fashion, food). She believes in creating books that will have a positive impact on the world, and that inform and entertain.

Some of Jennifer’s favorite reads include: The Unwanted by Kien Nguyen, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, and Word Freak by Stefan Fastis.

Currently Jennifer does not acquire science fiction or fantasy.

For fiction, send the first twenty pages (copy and pasted into e-mail, no attachments) and a query letter. For non-fiction, submit your non-fiction proposal and query letter. Electronic submissions only to

Jennifer aims to respond to queries within a 6-8 week timeframe but due to the volume of queries she receives, regrets that she cannot reply individually to each query.

Talk tomorrow,


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