Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 25, 2020

Illustrator Saturday: Gillian Flint

Gillian Flint has had a passion for drawing and creating characters for as long as she can remember. A career in illustration was a natural path for her to take. She has worked as a professional illustrator since graduating from an animation and illustration degree in 2003. Her work has since been published in the UK, USA and Australia. She enjoys creating a variety of styles to work in using watercolours, crayons, ink and digital illustration.

In her spare time Gillian enjoys reading, spending time with her family and pottering about in the garden on sunny days.
Gillian Flint is represented by James Burns

HERE IS GILLIAN DISCUSSING HER PROCESS:

My process for Button and Bundle was a little painted in layers and put together on the computer. That way I could change and repaint colours if I wanted to.

First thing I do is start thinking about each character in the book. What they will look like and wear and I draw a character sheet exploring those ideas.  Here are the character sheets for Button and Bundle and their dolls, petal and rose.

I usually draw thumbnails and pencil roughs for each spread in the book. Below is the first spread in Button and Bundle.

For Button and Bundle I drew and painted all the shadows in first. These were done with watercolours, red col-erase pencil and B5 and B3 pencils.

I then used watercolour, ink and pastels to create the colour and texture of the illustration.

I put these together on the computer to create the final art. Button and Bundle is the first book I have had published with this style so it was a fairly new style to me at the time. I worked this way minimise mistakes and make it easier to change if I need to and stay on track with the deadline.

Finished illustration.

Interview with Gillian Flint:

How long have you been illustrating?
I have been illustrating about 5 years in Childrens books and before that I worked in Greeting cards where I designed and illustrated for about 10 years.

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

It’s hard to remember my first paid work but my first job as a junior designer in a greeting card company. The first freelance work I had was a greeting card which I got through my agent at the time.

Where did you study art?

I first studied art at secondary school and then at Manchest Met University where I did a degree in illustration with animation. It was a time where I really explored and I learnt a lot about the process behind Childrens books.

What types of classes did you enjoy the most?

I love learning and I love art so I really enjoyed my time at Uni. If I had to pick one I think I loved drawing from life the most.

Do you feel school helped you develop you style?

I think I was always exploring and trying to figure out which direction I wanted to go in at school. I wanted to try everything and learn everything. It’s taken me a really long time to figure out my styles. It’s something I think has evolved over time and I feel I finally got to grips with in more recent years.

Did the school help you find work when you graduated?

In the third year of my uni course we learnt a lot about the business side of freelancing. The AOI came and did portfolio reviews and a lecture. And althought the school didn’t help me personally get work the course gave a lot of good advice on what to do next in terms of getting an agent and sending out work.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

I think I was about 9 when I first wanted to be an illustrator and I remember wanting to be just like Quentin Blake! I loved painting and I made my own illustrated newsletters for class. It has always been a dream of mine and after I had children I decided to really focus my efforts into trying to make it happen.

Was the board book GOOD NIGHT published by Highlight Hello, the first book you illustrated?

Yes it was. Along with a couple of board books for the Australian publisher Five Mile Press. I worked on the three books back to back. It was a very exciting time for me.

How did you get that first contract?

I emailed Vicki Wilden-lebrecht, Brights founder, and asked for her advice. I had mostly worked in cards up to this point and I wanted to pursue the dream of working in Childrens books. Vicki gave me direction. She phoned me up and told me about these book she had put me forward to illustrate. She guided me through the procerss from start to finish and was very supportive.

How many board book have you illustrated?

I think I have illustrated 9 board books in total.

You Illustrated Eileen Spinelli’s board book LOVE YOU ALWAYS. How did the contract come your way?

Love you Always was such a joy to work on. I got a phone call from my agent at Bright, James who asked if I was interested in doing this book. I immediatly said yes and everything went from there.

Was Button and Bundle Knoft your first illustrated picture book?

I had been developing a new style and I showed my agent at the time who was Alli Brydon. She was really excited and supportive and asked me to created more pieces for my porfolio. Alli showed my work to Knopf and Button and Bundle became the first picture book that I did in this style. It was such a great experience working on Button and Bundle. I adored the story written by Gretchen McLellan and I got to illustrate in this wonderful new way.

Balletball is coming out from Charlesbridge in February. Were you working on Button and Bundle at the same time?

I started work on Button and Bundle in 2017 and then the publication got pushed to the 2019 publication so I had a generous deadline but all the work was completed a while before starting work on Balletball.

Lady Miss Penny Goes To Lunch, published by Random House is coming out in July. Is all the artwork finished for this book?

Yes I am very excited for you all to meet Lady Miss Penny! It is such a fun book about a group of animals learning what to do and not to do at a restaurant. I finished the work for Lady Miss Penny in the summer last year. The work has come in gently one after the other the last couple of years.

It looks like James Burn at Bright Children’s is doing a great job for you with three contracts from three different publishing houses. How long have you been represented by James? 

I have been represented by James and the agents at Bright for 7 years now. They have a fantastic team of agents.

Have you ever tried illustrating a wordless picture book?

I have not, but I have had a few ideas for a wordless picture book and it is something I would love to illustrate. I am a big fan of Sydney Smith and I loved the wordless book Footpath Flowers he did with Jon Arn Lawson.I think it is called Sidewalk Flowers in the America.

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

I love to write. It is something I am working towards with the support of my agents. It is a dream to have my own author illustrated picture books in the shops one day.

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you would consider?

I would consider any work that comes through the agency I am with. I do consider small commissions and but a picture book is a big commitment and I would definitely want my agent to be involved with any collaboration like that.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I am not sure but I am proud of the work I have done so far and working on Button and Bundle was a special project to me. I think we all have people who move in and out of our lives and can affect us greatly and then be gone. It’s good to remember them and cherish our time together like Button does in the book.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love working traditonally in watercolours and coloured pencils. For the black line style of work I use a Japanese Pentel Brush pen.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, I started out working completley digitally and I still do use the computer for some work. But over time I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I did when I painted in watercolours so I decided to concentrate on developing that. I still love to experiment with media so if I find something I enjoy that might change my style or add to it I will explore it further.

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

I use a wacom with my computer which I use to edit and put together the work I’ve painted. Especially when I’ve painted items separatley. I also use it to illustrate magazine work.


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

I do try my best to work during the week and not at weekends if I can help it. I try to keep a balance between work and family time. Sometimes I work at night but I try not to go past 9.00 anymore.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

I have illustrated for Highlights Magazine and Highlights High Five. I mostly worked with a digital style for these which they had seen in my portfolio and I had a lot of fun illustrating them.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

I usually do try to gather as much information on the project before I start to draw. Sometimes a character comes to mind as soon as I have read the manuscript but there is always research and reference I need to do for every project. When I was working on Balletball I did loads of research on baseball. I love baseball and I learned as much about it as I could before and during the process the illustrating Balletball. Research is something I enjoy doing, it is usually really interesting and for me it’s essential to understand a project fully.

Have you found the time to do school visits?

I have yet to start doing school visits, but I am looking into it. It is something I would like to do in the future. It would be so great to share and talk to the children I illustrate books for. To get their reactions and thoughts would be wonderful.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I think the internet definitely opens doors and is a vital tool for todays illustrators. Not only for showcasing your work, but also for connecting with people in the industry and becoming part of the childrens book community.

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

Mostly I would love to have my own author illustrated picture book out one day and to be able to keep working in this industry I love.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a project that I can’t discuss at the moment, but it is very exciting and it is not something I have done before so it is another new experience for me as an artist.

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

I love to work with hot pressed watercolour paper and I use it for both my styles. I use a thick 300gms. For me the paper seems to make a big difference in how I work and it has to be a good quailty.

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

Oh I would say that for me I wanted to have a style that was recogniseable as my work and to be different to what’s out there. Don’t try to do a style that you think people will want. Celebrate your own way of drawing and painting and try to use the materials that bring you the most joy. And don’t give up!

Thank you Gillian for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure to let us know your future successes. To see more of Gillian’s work, you can visit her at: 

Agent Website: https://thebrightagency.com/uk/childrens/artists/gillian-flint?collection=young-children-s#filters

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gillianflint_illustration/?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gillianflint?lang=en

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 24, 2020

Agent of the Month: Chelsea Eberly – Interview Part Three

I am very happy to announce that Chelsea Eberly is kicking off 2020 by being our Agent of the Month. Scroll to bottom for how to submit a first page and maybe win a critique with Chelsea.

Chelsea Eberly began her publishing career as an editor of Kindergarten and Pre-K reading textbooks at McGraw-Hill, which gave her a solid respect for everything the School/Library market does, but she always knew that children’s book publishing was her true passion. After attending the Columbia Publishing Course, she joined Random House Books for Young Readers, where she rose to become a Senior Editor. she’s had the pleasure of publishing multiple award-winning and New York Times bestselling books, editing authors such as Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Matt de la Peña, Mark Siegel, Julia Walton, and Jessica Cluess to name only a few.

Now as an agent with Greenhouse, she brings her deep understanding of how publishers think and vast editorial experience to my role as an expert advocate for my clients. She loves to help her clients think Big Picture about their career goals, and then work with them to develop the strategy that will allow them to achieve their dreams. Basically, she loves books and the people who make them. Chelsea says, “There’s nothing better than falling in love with a story and then telling everyone you know that they HAVE to read this book! If I love something, you will hear about it, and I bring that energy and enthusiasm to my clients’ work on a daily basis.”

“My taste is upmarket and decidedly commercial. Bring on multiple hooks and best-in-class storytelling!”

Chelsea represents authors of middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, and women’s fiction, as well as writer-illustrators of picture books. As a former Senior Editor at Penguin Random House, she edited award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors such as Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Matt de la Peña, Mark Siegel, Julia Walton, and Jessica Cluess to name only a few. She has a deep understanding of how publishers think and is an expert advocate for her clients. Chelsea is also a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree, which recognizes “the rising stars of the US publishing industry.”

A Midwesterner turned New Yorker, Chelsea regularly presents at writing conferences across the country and enjoys teaching craft. Follow her on Twitter at @chelseberly and discover more about her taste on her Publishers Marketplace page.

What Chelsea is seeking: High-concept, commercial reads that will stand out in the crowded US market with depth and heart. She is actively building her list and is primarily interested in fantasy, magical realism, contemporary fiction (particularly romance, thrillers, and humor), and graphic novels—though please surprise her with an excellent read that she didn’t know she needed. She has a soft spot for literary when there’s a strong plot propelling the reader forward. Chelsea would love to see projects from underrepresented voices. She is also interested in reads that thoughtfully address mental health and learning disabilities as part of the story but not necessarily the main focus. She is open to non-fiction with a unique point of view and/or a platform-driven project.

In MG, she is eager to represent: An unforgettable voice and an uplifting take on the problems that middle-school readers face, especially if the story is told from a specific point of view that can act as a mirror, window, or sliding glass door into diverse experiences. She loves when authors tackle Big Truths in a heartfelt way. She is also on the lookout for memorable characters in action-packed fantasy adventures and humorous voices that can grow to become series juggernauts.

In YA, she would love to find: A great love story, a unique fantasy world, and a heart-pounding mystery/thriller. She loves when authors are thoughtful about structure and voice; e.g. a ticking-clock timeline, a closed setting, a journal-entry format, Death as a unique narrator, and so forth. Ambitious projects with multiple commercial hooks and an empowering sensibility with feminist and social justice angles are a plus. She falls head over heels for any story that can surprise her.

In the Graphic Novel medium, she looks for: Middle Grade and YA contemporary, fantasy, fractured fairy tales, unique retellings, and select historical/non-fiction projects if they have clear hooks. She loves when authors are mining their own experiences in an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical way. Hit her with side-busting humor or box-of-tissues feels. She has a soft spot for cats.

In Picture Books, she is highly selective, looking for writer-illustrators who can create a strong character, a clear conflict, and write with a humorous voice and/or a surprising twist at the end. Chelsea loves creators who understand the sense of community that being read a book aloud delivers. She is open to non-fiction if the story has multiple hooks and an evergreen, contemporary delivery.

In adult women’s fiction, Chelsea is extremely picky. She loves upmarket contemporary fiction with a feminist angle, a strong romantic thread, and/or a domestic thriller/mystery. Think QUEENIE, ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE, AYESHA AT LAST, BIG LITTLE LIES, and WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING as examples of her taste.

HERE IS PART THREE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH CHELSEA:

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

I like to respond within 48 hours. It’s always a good rule of thumb to over-communicate than to be silent. Even if the message within the first 24 hours is “I got your email and need to think on this before coming back to you.”

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

I like email, but sometimes a phone call is what’s needed for the situation, and often there’s nothing better than hopping on the phone to hash something out.

What happens if you don’t sell a book? Would you drop the writer if he or she wanted to self-publish that one book?

I would have a conversation with the author about next steps. Self-publishing is right for certain projects and genres, but not all, and my job is to advise my client to the best of my ability.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

There’s no set number, every project is different. The feedback from editors may be very telling that a revision is needed or that a project is unlikely to land at this time. That’s a conversation that would need to be had and we’d decide together to put something in the drawer or not.

Do you ever send a manuscript to the UK office for them to consider?

I work very closely with Sarah Davies, the founder and president of Greenhouse Literary, and I definitely send her manuscripts if I want her opinion or if I think she might be the better fit, and vice versa. I’ve been lucky to work in supportive environments throughout my career, and Sarah and the entire team at the UK office are incredibly supportive.

What do you think of digital books? Are they part of every sale these days?

Digital is a part of every sale these days. Gone are the days where we worried that print was dead because of the rise of the ebook, but digital is still a robust piece of the pie and a format that reaches many readers, and price-sensitive readers in particular.

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

Our sister company, Rights People, is the pre-eminent foreign rights agency. So we’re uniquely positioned to capitalize on foreign rights. We also have film agents that we work with to exercise those rights to great success.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

I love that graphic novels are booming right now. I’m a big fan of the medium and love to see the outstanding storytelling coming from those creators. I’d love to see more graphic novel proposals in my submissions inbox.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

Read voraciously. Read in your genre, but be sure to read outside of your genre as well. Find critique partners and be open to revising. You should never be querying your first or second draft.

Starting in September, I challenged myself to tweet one writing and/or publishing tip a day for a full year, so follow me at @chelseberly and the hashtag #EberlyAdvice for more words of wisdom!

Would you like to attend other conferences, workshops writer’s retreats?

Yes, definitely! Please reach out if you are a conference or workshop coordinator. I’m always looking to meet more authors and illustrators.

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR THE FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES.

Company Website: http://greenhouseliterary.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/chelseberly

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR JANUARY 2020 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “JANUARY 2020 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: 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).

PLEASE name the Word document file by putting 2020 January – Your Name – Title of first page. Thank you.

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: January 23rd.

RESULTS: January 31st.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 23, 2020

First Pages Prize For Emerging Writers

I noticed a previous winner won for a middle grade novel.

Guidelines

  1. The First Pages Prize is an annual prize awarded to three emerging writers. The competition is for writers who are NOT currently represented by a literary agent, whether for previously published or unpublished work.

  2. The three winners receive:

    a. a cash award (1st – $1,000, 2nd – $750, 3rd – $500 in US dollars)

    b. partial developmental editing to support the completion of their full manuscript

    c. invitation to a public reading of their work and prize presentation events in Paris on June 9-10, 2020 for the 1st and 2nd place winners

    d. travel stipend (based on geographic location) to Paris, France and two nights’ lodging for the 1st and 2nd place winners.

  3. Cash prizes are not transferable.

  4. The developmental edit is not transferable or redeemable.

  5. Travel to Paris must be reserved by the winners and any visas or entry requirements to visit France must be organized by the winners.

  6. Prizes are supported by The First Pages Prize, Inc. and The de Groot Foundation.

Eligibility

  1. The entrant’s name MUST NOT appear anywhere on the manuscript of the entry to ensure judging anonymity. The entrant’s name MUST NOT be part of the story title. Any entry failing to comply with this rule is immediately disqualified without refund of entry fee.

  2. Writers from anywhere in the world may enter, if eligible.

  3. Entrants must be individuals, not a company or organization.

  4. Entrants must submit the work using their name, not a pen name. A pen name may be used when announcing their win, if requested.

  5. Entrants must be over 18 years of age at the time of entering their work.

  6. Entries must be an unpublished, original work.

  7. Entries must be written in English.

  8. Entrants must be currently unagented. If you are working with an agent, you are NOT eligible to enter.

  9. Previously published entries (including on a website, Wattpad or any other online or offline platform) are NOT eligible to enter.

  10. If your entry wins another writing competition after you entered the FIRST PAGES PRIZE you must withdraw from the FIRST PAGES PRIZE by emailing us at firstpagesprize@gmail.com. Your entry fee will be refunded (minus processing + transaction fees), unless you submit a different entry (by the final date of the entry period).

  11. Entries (or drafts of entries) that have won 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in any other competition are not eligible.

  12. Entries (or drafts of entries) that previously entered the FIRST PAGES PRIZE and did not place 1st, 2nd or 3rd ARE eligible to enter.

  13. Translated works are not eligible.

  14. This competition is NOT open to members of the board or employees of the First Page Prize, The de Groot Foundation, the reviewers or juror. Family members of the aforementioned are also NOT eligible.

Entry Terms & Conditions

  1. Entries must be your original work.

  2. Entries must be written in English.

  3. Entries must not infringe upon the copyright of any person or entity.

  4. Copyright remains with the author.

  5. No entry will be returned or kept after the winners have been announced.

  6. Entries will be acknowledged upon submission.

  7. Cash awards will be paid within 15 days of prize presentation by bank transfer or TransferWise.

  8. By entering, entrants accept that their email address is added to the mailing list of the First Pages Prize.

  9. Travel stipends are awarded by geographical location in bands of: within Europe, from the US/Canada, from the Middle East, and from elsewhere worldwide.

  10. Entrants may submit more than one entry. Each entry needs to be submitted as a separate entry and you need to pay the fee for each entry.

  11. Specifics for entering:

    a. All entries must be made through the SUBMITTABLE platform https://firstpagesprize.submittable.com/submit

    b. Please submit the first 1,250 words (maximum) of a fiction or creative non-fiction manuscript (such as a novella, novel, memoir, etc.)

    c. Kindly double space your pages, using Times New Roman 12-point font

    c. No alteration may be made to the entry once it is submitted

  12. Entry timeline:

    a. Entries for the 2020 competition will open on January 1, 2020 and close at 23:59 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) February 2, 2020, with an extended deadline until 23:59 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) February 16, 2020

    Please check a time zone converter to avoid disappointment and inability to enter http://www.timebie.com/std/pst.php or https://www.thetimezoneconverter.com

    b. Only entries received and paid for by the entry deadline will be considered.

    c. Entries that are not paid for, are incomplete, corrupted or submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

    d. The entry fee for each entry is $25.00 and for extended deadline entries it is $35.00 in US dollars.

  13. By entering this competition, each entrant agrees to be bound by the competition guidelines, terms and conditions.

Review & Juror Process

  1. The FIRST PAGES PRIZE entries are submitted to a blinded review process. The identity of the author is unknown to reviewers.

  2. Each entry is reviewed by multiple reviewers.

  3. Our judging criteria is: quality of writing, character development, originality, a sense of a story or bigger narrative emerging, and how much the writing hooked the reviewer.

  4. Our review and juror process adheres to the CLMP Contest Code of Ethics (see below).

  5. Only winners will be contacted.

  6. A “general feedback” email will be sent to all entrants in May, 2020. No individual feedback will be provided.

  7. The decisions of the reviewers and the juror are final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the judging process.

Talk Tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 22, 2020

Opportunity: ICL Bedtime Picture Book Contest

This contest is your chance to write a picture book for bedtime or inspired by bedtime. We’re looking for your most original stories. (Remember, Goodnight Moon has already been written. Think beyond your first idea.) We want to see manuscripts that will make a child say, “Again! Again!”

Use your imagination to craft a picture book manuscript aimed at children ages four to eight. Manuscripts must be previously unpublished and 500 words or less.

Deadline: March 31, 2020

Reading Fee: $19.00

$1,300 Cash Prizes 

  • 1st prize = $1,000
  • 2nd prize = $200
  • 3rd prize = $100

Online Workshop

All entrants are invited to a FREE instructional online workshop with our esteemed judge and the Director of the Institute of Children’s Literature and Institute for Writers.

Free Critique

Winning entries will be workshopped by our judge to help writers understand what worked and what could be improved to make it submission-ready.

Here’s what you need to know…

  • Entries should be no more 500 words. (It can be a lot less than 500 words.)
  • Entries should be a complete picture book story with a beginning, middle, and end, as suitable for submission to an agent or publisher.
  • No illustrations should be submitted with your entry.
  • For this contest, picture book manuscripts should be appropriate for bedtime reading.
  • Entries should be aimed at readers between four- and eight-years-old.
  • Entries must follow manuscript submission guidelines as stated on our Contest Rules page HERE.
  • Entries must be submitted via our online form by midnight Pacific Time on March 31, 2020.
  • There is a $19 reading fee per manuscript to enter the contest.
  • You may enter more than one manuscript but each entry requires a $19 reading fee.
  • Every writer who enters will be invited to the online workshop for free where the winning entries are critiqued. (Non-entrants pay $7.)
  • Minimum age to enter the contest is 18 years of age.

Submissions will be judged on clarity, originality, completeness of the story, potential in the market, appropriateness for the age range, and your ability to match standard manuscript format (double spacing, clear contact information, no creative use of fonts).

The winning entries in this Bedtime Picture Book Contest will be announced at a live online workshop within 90 days after the contest closes. All contest entrants will be notified of the event details by email and be invited free of charge. (Non-entrants may attend for a nominal fee of $7.)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 21, 2020

Book Giveaway: BREAD FOR WORDS by Shana Keller

Shana Keller has written a new picture book titled, BREAD FOR WORDS, Illustrated by Kayla Stark and published by Sleeping Bear Press. Sleeping Bear Press has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. 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 do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Shana & Kayla!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Frederick Douglass knew where he was born but not when. He knew his grandmother but not his father. And as a young child, there were other questions, such as Why am I a slave? Answers to those questions might have eluded him but Douglass did know for certain that learning to read and to write would be the first step in his quest for freedom and his fight for equality. Told from first-person perspective, this picture-book biography draws from the real-life experiences of a young Frederick Douglass and his attempts to learn how to read and write. Author Shana Keller (Ticktock Banneker’s Clock) personalizes the text for young readers, using some of Douglass’s own words. The lyrical title comes from how Douglass “paid” other children to teach him.

WRITING JOURNEY:

Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story (Sleeping Bear Press, illustrated by Kayla Stark) made its debut January 15th and I couldn’t be more excited to share this picture book about Frederick Douglass and how he learned to read and write.

A couple years ago, I came across Frederick Douglass via an old biography I had picked up from my local library. It was the arresting photograph of him on the cover that drew me back into his life. Frederick’s ability to mimic animals and the complicated relationship he had with one of the plantation owner’s sons struck me early on. This led to me requesting and reading more and more books about Frederick Douglass. And soon, this person who I mostly knew of as a great orator and author of three biographies was reintroduced to me as a child. A child who had struggled for years in a hostile environment while he painstakingly learned to read and write.

Sadly, illiteracy is still an issue today. So when the idea hit me to focus on how a great author like Frederick Douglass taught himself to read and write—I jumped on it. The more I delved into his autobiographies, the more I realized how significant this period of his life was.

As I continued my research, I was able to take a trip to Baltimore and meet with Urban Ranger and docent, Bradley Alston. His insight and knowledge not just of Frederick Douglass but of the Baltimore Douglass grew up in was incredible. Touring the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and museum (a place I highly recommend) rounded out my research.

When I first drafted the manuscript, the tricky part for me was to stay true to Frederick’s voice and his experience while putting this difficult subject in a context that children today can hopefully understand. So how exactly did Frederick achieve his goal and help the children who helped him? Hint: the secret is in the title!

PUBLICATION JOURNEY:

No matter how seamless it is, I think for every manuscript a writer submits the path to publication is a nail-biting experience in slow-motion. In this case (as with my third picture book, Fly, Firefly!), I was very lucky and happy to submit my manuscript to Barb McNally from Sleeping Bear Press. She is the same editor and publisher I worked with on Ticktock Banneker’s Clock (my first nonfiction picture book which received a Best STEM award). Well, I was thrilled when she informed me that it made it through the first round. Then, the second. And, the third! After a few months it went under contract and I was ecstatic!

While Sleeping Bear secured the very talented illustrator, Kayla Stark, Barb and I worked on many, many revisions in which she kindly gave me the freedom and flexibility to get it just right. Writing about such a well-known, profound figure in our history proved harder than I ever expected. I’m very lucky that Barb believed in me and the vision, and that the collaborative efforts with the illustrator and art director helped get this book to where it needed to be.

My journey to share this empowering story and celebrate the launch of Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story begins this February at the Barnes & Noble Mayfaire Town Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.

 

SHANA BIO:

The day I got my library card was far more exciting than the day I got my driver’s license. Okay, maybe not. But, it was just as liberating!  

I have traveled and moved too many times to count with my husband and children all over the country and some parts of Europe. I now live in North Carolina, a state I can’t wait to explore! I graduated from the University of Miami, Florida with a degree in Communications. 

Despite all the moves, traveling is one of my favorite things to do. Below is a gallery of pictures I took on my trip to visit the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum

“Ticktock Banneker’s Clock” was rated a BEST STEM book by the Children’s Book Council. It is also featured on Booklistonline for Classroom Connections – STEM in the real world.

Shana Keller grew up a middle child in Middle America wondering exactly how clouds stayed in the air. She’s traveled all over the country and some parts of Europe with her family and moved too many times to count. She’s settled in Pittsburgh for now, a city built just for kids and one she finds inspiring.

One of her favorite quotes is from Benjamin Banneker: “Every day is an adventure in learning.” She graduated from the University of Miami, Florida, with a degree in Communications, and from UCLA’s screenwriting program, and she took a course in songwriting from Berklee College of Music. Her goal is to never stop learning. Learn more about Shana at http://www.shanakeller.com.

You can view her guest blog on STEM education here: https://mimshouse.com/blog/

ILLUSTRATOR KAYLA STARK’S BIO:

Kayla Stark is a freelance illustrator currently living in Nashville, TN, staying up late, and working on numerous fun projects. Most of my work is illustrated using a combination of traditional and digital media. I most often use gouache and colored pencil, but I love experimenting with different media and adding to my toolkit.

I typically incorporate animals and nature into my work one way or another. I enjoy finding humor in the small nuances of life and in human interactions with nature. I love spending my time planning fun trips and game nights, bird watching, camping, hiking, and relaxing by a fire.

If you would like to work together, or just want to say “hi”, please email me at kayla.l.stark@gmail.com

Represented by T2 Illustrators and Authors
For children’s work inquiries please contact Nicole Tugeau | nicole@tugeau2.com, +1 (216) 513-4047

KAYLA’S ILLUSTRATION JOURNEY:

When my agent, Nicole Tugeau, told me that Sleeping Bear Press wanted me to illustrate this manuscript I was excited but nervous. (They had seen and liked an illustration of Bessie Coleman I had recently done for Bravery Magazine.) I really didn’t want to mess it up and I wanted to make sure the illustrations were accurate/sensitive to the time and story. I had to find a way to do all of that and still remain true to the marks and “style” my hand naturally wants to create.

The first thing that needed to be done were character roughs and in this story character sketches were a little trickier than normal. Not only did I need to make sure I was capturing Frederick Douglass and the time period, I had to capture him at 3 different distinct ages in his life. age 5-6, age 7-8, and age 13-15. After a few rounds we had all three ages and looks nailed down—it was time to move on to the interior sketches.

To help with the mood and visuals of this story we constantly referred back to Frederick Douglass’ autobiography “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”. And my editor sent along great reference photos from the time (showing clothing, hairstyles, homes, etc.).

The sketches were done in Procreate on the iPad Pro. Once they were approved I printed the sketches out slightly smaller than finished size, traced them onto watercolor paper, and did about 3/4 of each illustration with traditional materials. I’d start by using watercolor (and some pan pastels) to lay out larger shapes. Then I would use colored pencil (and some acryla gouache) from there. Once each piece was ready for the finer details, I would scan the piece, bring it up to actual size to increase my textures, and add in the last bits using Procreate on the iPad.

The most challenging part of illustrating this story was coming up with compositions that would show Frederick’s internal challenges/plot in an interesting way. And I needed to ensure I wasn’t repeating myself too much visually when he is practicing his writing and interacting with the neighborhood boys in Baltimore.

I’m happy with how the illustrations and writing work together to tell this story and I hope others enjoy and learn from it as I did!

Shana and Kayla, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us and thank you Sleeping Bear Press with continuing to publish such wonderful books. School and children will love reading and learning more about Federick Douglas and how he navigated his world and over came the obstacles and broke his chains.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 20, 2020

Agent Lisa Rogers – JABberwocky

Lisa Rogers grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and received her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento. In 2012, she moved to New York City to attend NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute and joined the JABberwocky team soon after. She’s previously worked at San Francisco Book Review and Barnes & Noble, interned at Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency, and was a submissions reader for Lightspeed Magazine.

I represent science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance for YA and adults.

Fantasy / Science Fiction

  • moral challenges for the protagonist, or morally ambiguous main characters
  • a plot that’s more than just “the quest”
  • cohesive and strong worldbuilding
  • strong voice and strong* characters (*vulnerability can be strong, too!)
  • space and spaceships! Think Battlestar Galactica or Firefly
  • exploring what it means to be  “human”

Romance

  • tropes I love include: friends to lovers, marriages of (in)convenience, arranged marriages
  • relationships with equal power dynamics and respect are very important to me
  • I love awkward heroes and heroines
  • hot and steamy is OK! 😉

More generally

  • something dark and twisty like Peaky Blinders
  • near-death experiences, survival stories, or extreme environment settings
  • non-Western settings and/or non-white characters
  • I would love to see more works from authors who identify as nonbinary, genderfluid, queer, or trans,  and/or who write characters with those identities.
  • Ditto for ace/aro authors or characters.

Non-fiction: I’d love to hear from knitters, crochets, spinners (wool, not bicycles), quilters, etc. Pattern collections, craft reflections (like YARN HARLOT), or things tangentially related to handcrafts.

It should go without saying, but: I am happy to consider queries by persons, or featuring protagonists, of any race, color, creed, religion, national citizenship/origin, gender or sexual orientation, disability, age, or physical appearance, in any and all of the above genres.

Submission Guidelines

Queries should be sent to querylisa [at] awfulagent [dot] com. Please include your query letter, a 1-3 page synopsis, and the first five (5) pages of your manuscript. Please paste all of these into the body of your email. Queries with unsolicited attachments will be deleted. If you would like to make my life a little easier, you may use this formula for the subject line: “Query: Title (Genre)”.

HERE’S A LITTLE MORE DETAIL OF WHAT LISA IS LOOKING FOR:

Fantasy and Science Fiction: Complex magical/technological/political/social systems and cohesive worldbuilding are all good things in my book, as are moral quandaries and ambiguity. I’m also very interested in seeing female protagonists, non-Western settings, and protagonists from marginalized groups. I’m particularly drawn to characters whose struggles include not just “the quest”, but also choices that challenge their beliefs or values, or how technology/magic can affect what it means to be human. I love SFF of all stripes, from epic fantasy to grimdark to space opera and military SF. Large-scale stories are fantastic, but I’m also very interested in smaller-scale stories, where the focus is on a particular group of characters and not necessarily the fate of the galaxy.

Horror: You know that scene from Friends where Rachel is reading The Shining and nearly brains Joey with a potato masher when he startles her? I’m looking for horror submissions that evoke that feeling. I love horror that goes a little left of center, whether it’s mostly contemporary with a hint of supernatural or more firmly speculative. Birdbox (the book), Get OutA Quiet Place, and The Haunting of Hill House are all great examples of what I’m looking for. I want to read these under the covers with a flashlight and be terrified!

Romance: The heroine and hero’s developing relationship and how they overcome obstacles in order to achieve their happily-ever-after really drive these stories for me. I like to see heroines and heroes with equal power and respect for one another. While I prefer historical settings, I’m looking for that special contemporary romance.

I’m also interested in YA fantasy, horror, science fiction, thriller, and romance.

I’m particularly fond of non-traditional narrative structures: epistolary, non-linear, found-footage, mixed media, etc.+

Non-fiction: I would love to see non-fiction proposals for craft-related subjects! Knitting, crochet, quilting, sewing, or other sorts of handicrafts are very much in my wheelhouse. I’m interested in both pattern collections and reflections on crafting (a la YARN HARLOT). I’m also looking for select gift book projects.

It should go without saying, but: I am happy to consider queries by persons, or featuring protagonists, of any race, color, creed, religion, national citizenship/origin, gender or sexual orientation, disability, age, or physical appearance, in any and all of the above genres.

A few of my favorite (non-client) books, in no particular order:

BLACK SUN RISING (C.S. Friedman), SPIN STATE (Chris Moriarty), THE COMPANY (K.J. Parker), MAGIC’S PAWN (Mercedes Lackey), THE BLACK PRISM (Brent Weeks), THE WHITE DRAGON (Anne McCaffrey), THE DUKE AND I (Julia Quinn), THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS (Rae Carson), THE MARTIAN (Andy Weir), ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE (Robin Hobb), HAMMERED (Elizabeth Bear), WINTERGIRLS (Laurie Halse Anderson), THE GIVER (Lois Lowry), PERSUASION (Jane Austen), FOREIGNER (C.J. Cherryh), DRAGON PRINCE (Melanie Rawn), A WOMAN ENTANGLED (Cecilia Grant), WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE (Shirley Jackson), THE FIFTH SEASON (N.K. Jemisin), ANCILLARY JUSTICE (Ann Leckie), ABSOLUTELY ALMOST (Lisa Graff), THE HATE U GIVE (Angie Thomas), BIRDBOX (Josh Malerman).

lisa@awfulagent.com
@_LisaRodgers
Website

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 19, 2020

Into the Void Poetry Prize – Short Deadline

Into the Void Poetry Prize

Prizes

1st Place: $500 + publication in print and online in Issue 16 of Into the Void
2nd Place: $100 + publication in print and online in Issue 16 of Into the Void
3rd Place: $50 + publication in print and online in Issue 16 of Into the Void

Timeline

November 1: Submissions open
January 31: Submissions close
February 1: Shortlist announced
February 14: Winners announced

Rules

  • Poems must be a maximum of 60 lines, including line breaks. The line count will be strongly enforced: poems of more than 60 lines will be rejected without refund.
  • Poems must be unpublished in all formats including personal websites and blogs.
  • Poems must contain no identifying information in the document or in the title of the document or in the “Title” section within Submittable as submissions are read blind in keeping with Into the Void’s ethos of fairness and equality. The blindness policy will be strongly enforced: a submission that includes identifying information will be rejected without refund.
  • Simultaneous submissions are allowed but submissions must be withdrawn immediately when accepted elsewhere and will not be refunded.
  • This contest is open to writers based anywhere in the world.

Judge

Adam Levon Brown is an award-winning poet, mental health advocate/sufferer, and cat lover. He is the author of six poetry books and over 350 published poems. Adam’s work has been translated into Spanish, Albanian, Arabic, and Afrikaans. He won the 2019 Blue Nib Chapbook Award, and was twice shortlisted for the Erbacce Prize for Poetry. Adam is editor-in-chief of Madness Muse Press, a literary publishing press dedicated to enacting social change through the power of writing. He also volunteers as part of the social media team for the Oregon Poetry Association.

Adam is the author of poetry collection Break (Poetic Justice Books, 2019), a raw exploration of mental illness layered in self-reflection and introspection which simultaneously brings the reader to an awareness of their own vulnerability and humanity, awakening poet and reader to the reality of the world around us.

“A stirring exploration of trauma and healing…The collection’s greatest strength is the author’s wrenching honesty; it takes courage to reveal the realities of psychic pain, and these poems are braver than most in that regard.”
⁠—Kirkus Reviews

“Powerful and moving…Constructed in a vivid, free style verse, Brown’s poems bleed anguish and heartbreak and his feelings of desperation and powerlessness show the reality of mental illness.”
⁠—The Prairies Book Review

“Each piece speaks of the fragility of emotions, relationships, life influences, and states of mind. Each poem provides a piece to a puzzle, juxtaposed with each other to support a bigger picture. Break is recommended not only for poetry and literary collections, but as a reflective piece for mental patients and their families.”
Midwest Book Review

“Adam Levon Brown’s remarkable collection, Break, shaped as a connected series of poems of address, takes us with shaking hand and clear voice through the heart of family trauma, into the life that must cope with its consequences, and salvage from the nearly final wreckage the means not only of survival, but transcendence. It is a gift of light derived through confrontation, narrative inquiry, persistent yearning to say what is needed, and an arrival at voice that eclipses the narrative project. The poem-by-poem evolution of language matching with near perfection voice, leg by leg, to journey elevates this collection from remembrance to gift.”
⁠—Marc Zegans, author of La Commedia Sotterranea

Buy Break here

Fee

Each entry of a single poem costs CA$6 (US$4.50). There is no limit to entries per person. The money received from entries will go toward the prize money and judge’s payment, and anything extra will be used to cover the many costs of running Into the Void. None of the money received will go to any of the editors or staff of Into the Void. Each entry comes with a free PDF of the latest issue of Into the Void.

Submit

Submit one poem of up to 60 lines including line breaks per entry at the button below. In submitting to the competition you are giving Into the Void First World Publication Rights should your poem be a winner. All rights revert back to the author immediately following publication.

**N.B. All entries are read blind. Do not include any identifying information anywhere in the document or in the document name or in the “Title” section in Submittable.**
submit

Tslk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 18, 2020

Illustrator Saturday – Rob Biddulph


 Rob Biddulph with one of his young fans.

Rob is a bestselling and multi award-winning author/illustrator. His first picture book, Blown Away, was published in 2014 and was only the second illustrated book in history to win the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. It was read as a CBeebies Bedtime Story by Mark Bonnar in 2017. His second book, GRRRRR!, was nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and was read as a CBeebies Bedtime Story by Chris Kamara in 2019. His third, Odd Dog Out, was nominated for a total of eight literary prizes, winning the BSC Festival of Literature Picture Book Award and the UKLA Student Shadower’s Vote Book Award. It was read as a CBeebies Bedtime Story by Tom Hardy in 2017. His fourth, Sunk!, was nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and shortlisted for The People’s Book Award and Oscar’s Book Prize. His fifth, Kevin, was nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and shortlisted for the BSC Festival of Literature Picture Book Award and the IBW Book Award. His sixth (Happy Hatchday), seventh (Give Peas a Chance) and eighth (Wide Awake) books are the first three in the Dinosaur Juniors series. Happy Hatchday was awarded a GOLD Junior Design Award in 2018 and Give Peas a Chance was nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal in 2019. His ninth picture book, Show and Tell, was published by HarperCollins in August 2019.

As well as working on his own books he also illustrates for other authors including Jeff Brown (the Flat Stanley series), Piers Torday, Garth Jennings, Jess Butterworth, SE Durrant and Christian O’Connell. Before he became a full-time author/illustrator he was the art director of the Observer Magazine, NME, Uncut, SKY and Just Seventeen. He lives in London with his wife and three daughters and hasn’t given up hope that, maybe, one of them will go to an Arsenal match with him one day.

HERE IS ROB SHOWING HIS PROCESS:

   

Here is the link to watch its construction, layer by layer.

Interview with Rob Biddulp

How long have you been illustrating?

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved drawing. When the careers advisor at school asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would always say “an artist.”

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

I used to draw caricatures when I was about 12, and I remember one of my dad’s friends commissioning me to do one of his wife. Does that count?

What made you decide to get a degree in Visual Communication Design from Middlesex University?

In the UK we have a really interesting system for people who want to study art and design at university. The first year is called the ‘Foundation’ year and you get to try out all facets of the visual arts: fine art, graphic design, photography, illustration, ceramics etc. I started that year thinking that I wanted to be a fine artist, but somewhere along the way I fell in love with graphic design (it probably had something to do with the fact that I was told that it was very difficult to make money as a fine artist!). So, I then got a place on the VCD degree course at Middlesex, one of the best courses in the country at the time, and started studying things like typography, editorial layout. I loved it. Still do.

What types of classes did you enjoy the most?

I really loved screenprinting. In this age of predominantly digital artwork, it was fantastic to get down and dirty with some real ink and paper.

Do you feel school helped you develop your style?

It definitely helped me develop my typographic style and design sensibilities, but not my illustrative style. That came much later…

Did Middlesex help you find work when you graduated?

Actually, my graphics tutor was also a practising designer, and he gave me some work in his studio when I first left. It was my introduction to the professional world and I learned so much. I’ll always be grateful for that.

What type of jobs did you do with your design degree?

I managed to forge a successful and enjoyable career working in newspapers and magazines – I was the art director of Just SeventeenSky MagazineNME and The Observer Magazine – but I was still happiest with a pencil in my hand.

What inspired you to start illustrating and writing Children’s picture books?

When my daughter Kitty was about two we started buying lots of picture books to read to her at bedtime. New ones, old ones, favourites from our own childhoods, we bought the lot. And I had an epiphany. Maybe I should have a go at writing and illustrating one. Whether I could do it or not I wasn’t sure, but it suddenly seemed so obvious that I should at least try. Two in particular inspired me: The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers and How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss. Oliver’s book is a work of art. It’s absolutely beautiful and it really opened my eyes to how much potential the medium has. The Grinch is, quite simply, my favourite ever children’s text. The rhyme is just perfect and provided me with something to aspire to from a writing point of view.

So off I went and started to work on a couple of stories. The ideas for both came from Kitty. One was about a doll that she got for Christmas and had decided to name “Nothing”, and the other was about an imaginary friend that lived in the attic space above her bedroom. When I’d finished I sent them out to a literary agent who immediately (and enthusiastically) agreed to take me on.

Don’t stop there. Did your agent get a contract right away?

Ha, I thought my book would be on the shelves in a matter of months! I was wrong. Despite getting quite a lot of interest from most of the publishers we approached, we couldn’t quite get a deal in place. It was a case of so near yet so far. I think I had totally underestimated how competitive the market was. After a couple of years (yes, years!) of to-ing, fro-ing, tweaking and titivating I decided I needed to step back and take stock. I told my agent to stand down and that I wanted some time to think through my next move. I spent the next six months completely re-drawing the imaginary friend story and I approached a new agent, Jodie Hodges at United. She liked my work and agreed to take me on suggesting that I put together a portfolio of children’s staples to take to publishers alongside the book. So I drew a pirate scene, a dinosaur scene, a space scene, a selection of animal characters, boy characters, girl characters and lots more.

This time things were different. Two of the people I met said they really liked a drawing I’d done of a little penguin family and asked if I could come up with a narrative for them. I said I’d try. I had been working on a story about some children who, while flying a kite, get blown away across the sea by a strong gust of wind. It struck me that in fact this story might actually work better with penguins as the protagonists instead of children. It would certainly be fun to get the famously flightless birds airborne. So I tweaked it and finished it very quickly, sketching out some of the key moments. Within a day or two of sending it to publishers we had several offers on the table. I couldn’t believe it. We decided to sign with HarperCollins (home of Oliver Jeffers and Dr Seuss) and haven’t looked back.

So was Blown Away your first published book that you wrote and illustrated?

It was my first published story, yes, but not the first I wrote and illustrated. I think it was the third or fourth.

Didn’t you win the Waterstones Children’s Book Award in 2015? Can you tell us a little bit about this award?

It’s a very big and prestigious award in the uk for for newly published authors. I was lucky enough to win in the illustrated book category AND the overall category. It was super exciting and my book featured in fabulous window displays in every branch of Waterstones in the country for a month or so. It really got my career off to the best possible start.

In 2016 Harper published a book titled The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!that you wrote and illustrated. Did you know about that book when you signed Blown Away?

I keep a Google document with all my picture book ideas (I literally have thousands – some better than others!!) and that one was always fairly near the top. So yes, I had the idea when I wrote Blown Away, but didn’t necessarily know that it would be my next book. When I pitched four or five of my ideas to HarperCollins, they all thought that GRRRRR! was the best one to follow Blown Away.

It looks like you followed that up with your penguins in SUNK. Did you sign a three book deal with HarperCollins when you sold Blown away?

I did, but my third book in the UK was actually Odd Dog Out. I then signed another four book deal with HarperCollins, the first of which was Sunk! (another story set in the Blown Away universe).

In 2017 Harper took on ODD DOG OUT in paperback. Now in 2019 they decided to publish it in hardcover was this a surprise? Or did you know they planned on doing a hardcover later?

It came out in hardback in the UK in 2016, then the papaerback was released in 2017. The US hardback came out in 2019. Not sure why there was such a big gap before the US release.

Then in 2018 you published two Dinosaur Juniors, books with HarperCollins and then in 2019 you published book three WIDE AWAKE. Do you think they will have you continue the series?

I am going to start the fourth book in the series in the Spring. I’m excited to go back and visit those characters again.

What I couldn’t find is when you wrote and illustrated Kevin. It is still for sale, but they do not list the pub. Date. Can you tell us a little bit about when you did the book?

Kevin came out in the UK in 2017, but I actually wrote it a long time ago. It was one of my very first stories, in fact, and is all about my daughter Kitty’s imaginary friend. It hasn’t come out in the states yet. Fingers crossed that you’ll get that one soon. Actually, there are a few very exciting things happening around that story which, unfortunately, I’m not allowed to talk about just yet. Let’s just say that (hopefully) you’ll be seeing more of Kevin soon.

Do you have an exclusive contract with HarperCollins?

I do as far as my picture books are concerned, yes. In the UK at least.

How long does it take you to write and illustrate a book?

Quite a while, usually about a year from start to finish. Three quarters of that time is spent on the planning and writing, a quarter on the illustrating. People think that because picture books don’t contain many words they can’t take long to write. This is not the case, unfortunately, as every single line has to work really hard. They have to move the story on quickly while still being funny. Plus, in my case, they have to rhyme too. Add this to the fact that I am a total perfectionist (I can easily spend an entire week on one couplet) and it’s a wonder I ever get anything to the shelves!

Which do you prefer, writing or illustrating?

Illustrating is the really fun bit for me, but I think I find writing more rewarding. I write in rhyme, which is a bit like puzzle-solving, and so when you manage to get it to work it’s very satisfying.

How many picture books have you written and illustrated?

I am halfway through my tenth book.

It looks like you do a lot of school visits. Is this something you like to do?

I certainly do. You will regularly find me at festivals, bookshops, schools, libraries and theatres reading my stories and drawing pictures. You can keep up to date with my touring schedule at my events page. If you are a festival, a bookshop, a school, a library or a theatre and would like to request a visit, please get in touch with my publicity team at HarperCollins. Click here to send them an email.

Have you ever tried illustrating a wordless picture book?

Funnily enough, I have one that I wrote (can you ‘write’ a wordless picture book?) about ten years ago. I think it’s quite good actually. Maybe I’ll send HarperCollins an email in the morning…

 

Are you still represented by Jodie Hodges at United?

I am. She’s the best!

What do you think is your biggest success?

Probably Odd Dog Out. It’s my biggest seller in the UK. It was also read on the BBC’s Bedtime Stories TV show by the actor Tom Hardy. That seemed to go down very well with mums!

What is your favorite medium to use?

Pencil.

Has that changed over time?

No. It’s always been pencil.

What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work?

Everything begins life as a sketch in my sketchbook. I hone character and composition there before taking it over to the computer to produce the final artwork. I have a very cool giant tablet thing (called a Wacom Cintiq) which I draw on with a special stylus using lots of customised digital paint brushes. The application I use is Photoshop. It’s really fun – just like real drawing/painting but without the mess. And you can press ‘undo’ whenever you make a mistake.

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

Not really. It takes as long as it takes. That being said, these days my schedule is so packed that I have to allocate a certain amount of time to each part of the process.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

Depends on the book, but usually, yes.

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

Hard to tell. It certainly helps in terms of promotion. Oh, and research!

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

I’ve just written a novel for slightly older children. It’s being published in the UK in October 2021 and we are all very excited about it. I’m hoping that it will open up a whole new world of opportunity for me.

What are you working on now?

My tenth picture book for HarperCollins. I can’t reveal the title yet but it’s another book that features a few canine characters. Then I’ll move onto my next Dinosaur Juniors book, and then I’ll start writing the sequel to my novel. It’s all happening!!

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

I use Kuretake pens, Blackwing pencils and Schmincke watercolours.

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

1) Sketch, sketch and sketch some more. You only find a style of your own if you draw your way to it! An individual, immediately identifiable style is SO important. Try and keep a sketchbook with you at all times – you never know when inspiration will strike!

2) Tailor your portfolio to your target market. The first thing that my brilliant agent asked me to do was draw all of the children’s book staples – a pirate scene, a dinosaur scene, a space scene, animals, children etc etc. Not only do you end up with a portfolio that publishers can readily identify with, but it can also really help you to hone you style and test it’s adaptability too.

3) Don’t give up. There probably will be some rejections along the way but remember that most opinion regarding illustration is subjective. It’s not like maths where there’s a definite right or wrong answer. If you really believe in yourself and what you’re doing you’ll be fine. Also, in my experience publishing can be quite a slow-moving process, so having some patience will definitely stand you in good stead.

Thank you Rob for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure to let us know your future successes. To see more of Rob’s work, you can visit him at: 

Website: http://www.robbiddulph.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rbiddulph/?hl=en

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 17, 2020

Agent of the Month: Chelsea Eberly – Interview Part Two

I am very happy to announce that Chelsea Eberly is kicking off 2020 by being our Agent of the Month. Scroll to bottom for how to submit a first page and maybe win a critique with Chelsea.

Chelsea Eberly began her publishing career as an editor of Kindergarten and Pre-K reading textbooks at McGraw-Hill, which gave her a solid respect for everything the School/Library market does, but she always knew that children’s book publishing was her true passion. After attending the Columbia Publishing Course, she joined Random House Books for Young Readers, where she rose to become a Senior Editor. she’s had the pleasure of publishing multiple award-winning and New York Times bestselling books, editing authors such as Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Matt de la Peña, Mark Siegel, Julia Walton, and Jessica Cluess to name only a few.

Now as an agent with Greenhouse, she brings her deep understanding of how publishers think and vast editorial experience to my role as an expert advocate for my clients. She loves to help her clients think Big Picture about their career goals, and then work with them to develop the strategy that will allow them to achieve their dreams. Basically, she loves books and the people who make them. Chelsea says, “There’s nothing better than falling in love with a story and then telling everyone you know that they HAVE to read this book! If I love something, you will hear about it, and I bring that energy and enthusiasm to my clients’ work on a daily basis.”

“My taste is upmarket and decidedly commercial. Bring on multiple hooks and best-in-class storytelling!”

Chelsea represents authors of middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, and women’s fiction, as well as writer-illustrators of picture books. As a former Senior Editor at Penguin Random House, she edited award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors such as Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Matt de la Peña, Mark Siegel, Julia Walton, and Jessica Cluess to name only a few. She has a deep understanding of how publishers think and is an expert advocate for her clients. Chelsea is also a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree, which recognizes “the rising stars of the US publishing industry.”

A Midwesterner turned New Yorker, Chelsea regularly presents at writing conferences across the country and enjoys teaching craft. Follow her on Twitter at @chelseberly and discover more about her taste on her Publishers Marketplace page.

What Chelsea is seeking: High-concept, commercial reads that will stand out in the crowded US market with depth and heart. She is actively building her list and is primarily interested in fantasy, magical realism, contemporary fiction (particularly romance, thrillers, and humor), and graphic novels—though please surprise her with an excellent read that she didn’t know she needed. She has a soft spot for literary when there’s a strong plot propelling the reader forward. Chelsea would love to see projects from underrepresented voices. She is also interested in reads that thoughtfully address mental health and learning disabilities as part of the story but not necessarily the main focus. She is open to non-fiction with a unique point of view and/or a platform-driven project.

In MG, she is eager to represent: An unforgettable voice and an uplifting take on the problems that middle-school readers face, especially if the story is told from a specific point of view that can act as a mirror, window, or sliding glass door into diverse experiences. She loves when authors tackle Big Truths in a heartfelt way. She is also on the lookout for memorable characters in action-packed fantasy adventures and humorous voices that can grow to become series juggernauts.

In YA, she would love to find: A great love story, a unique fantasy world, and a heart-pounding mystery/thriller. She loves when authors are thoughtful about structure and voice; e.g. a ticking-clock timeline, a closed setting, a journal-entry format, Death as a unique narrator, and so forth. Ambitious projects with multiple commercial hooks and an empowering sensibility with feminist and social justice angles are a plus. She falls head over heels for any story that can surprise her.

In the Graphic Novel medium, she looks for: Middle Grade and YA contemporary, fantasy, fractured fairy tales, unique retellings, and select historical/non-fiction projects if they have clear hooks. She loves when authors are mining their own experiences in an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical way. Hit her with side-busting humor or box-of-tissues feels. She has a soft spot for cats.

In Picture Books, she is highly selective, looking for writer-illustrators who can create a strong character, a clear conflict, and write with a humorous voice and/or a surprising twist at the end. Chelsea loves creators who understand the sense of community that being read a book aloud delivers. She is open to non-fiction if the story has multiple hooks and an evergreen, contemporary delivery.

In adult women’s fiction, Chelsea is extremely picky. She loves upmarket contemporary fiction with a feminist angle, a strong romantic thread, and/or a domestic thriller/mystery. Think QUEENIE, ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE, AYESHA AT LAST, BIG LITTLE LIES, and WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING as examples of her taste.

HERE IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH CHELSEA:

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

This depends, I try to give everything a fair shake, but the market is extremely competitive. If something isn’t resonating with me, then I know that reading further isn’t going to change my mind.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they sent?

If I’ve requested a full manuscript, then I will respond to the author one way or another, no matter what. It might take me longer, but I will always respond.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material?

I strive for no more than eight weeks.

Any pet peeves?

I don’t like when people feel they need to tear others down to build themselves up. Also, authors who show that they have not done basic research on how to query—they’re clearly just throwing queries at the wall like spaghetti, hoping something will stick. It’s a waste of my time and theirs.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

A common mistake is waiting too long to get to the conflict. Most people hate to be bored. Whether you’re trying to right an action-adventure like Rick Riordan or a literary contemporary like Jason Reynolds, you’ll notice that heart-pounding moments occur in Chapter 1 in each of their works.

What are your feelings about a writer including a prologue with their manuscript?

Including a prologue is not the best strategy when querying, since so often agents only read the first 5–10 pages to get a sense of your book. Some final manuscripts are better with them, but I always like to be sure that Chapter 1 can stand on its own with or without a prologue.

Do you have a place where you keep writers up-to-date on what you would like to see? Blog?

Yes, I update my profile on Greenhouse’s website, Publisher’s Marketplace, and on the Manuscript Wish List website (coming soon!).

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Definitely. One of my competitive advantages is my background as a senior editor at Random House, and I can bring over a decades’ worth of experience to my clients’ work.

Have you ever represented a children’s book illustrator? Does an illustrator have to write before you would represent them?

Yes, I represent graphic novel creators. I’m interested in representing more children’s book illustrators, though I prefer when they also write.

How long is your average client relationship?

I started agenting this past fall, so right now it’s months! lol

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART THREE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH CHELSEA.

Company Website: http://greenhouseliterary.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/chelseberly

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR JANUARY 2020 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “JANUARY 2020 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: 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).

PLEASE name the Word document file by putting 2020 January – Your Name – Title of first page. Thank you.

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: January 23rd.

RESULTS: January 31st.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 16, 2020

The Ann Whitford Paul—Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award

The Ann Whitford Paul—Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award

The Ann Whitford Paul-Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award is an annual award given to a Most Promising Picture Book manuscript.

This award is open to any SCBWI members with picture books who are not under contract and/or have not sold a picture book manuscript in the last three years.

Deadline: Submissions are open February 1, 2020 through April 1, 2020.

The winner of the grant will be announced mid-May.

Award: The winner will receive a $1000 grant to encourage the development of an excellent picture book manuscript

Guidelines:

This award is open to any SCBWI members with picture books who are not under contract and/or have not sold a picture book manuscript in the last three years.

Please include a cover sheet that has the title of the manuscripts and all of your contact information. On the manuscript itself there should only be a title, no name of the writer so the judges can be completely impartial. Please submit text-only manuscripts, no dummies or published works.

You may only submit one manuscript. Hard copy submissions only (not more than 1000 words) should be mailed and postmarked no later than April 1. Send to:

Kim Turrisi at SCBWI. Address TBA.

 

Questions? sarahdiamond@scbwi.org

 

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