Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 3, 2012

Free Fall February – Writers and Illustrators

WRITERS here’s Betsy:  Thank you, Kathy, for asking me to write something for this week’s Free Fall Friday. I love the picture you chose, illustrated by Courtney Autumn Martin ( or Illustrator Saturday

The image is quite evocative, starting with the focal point of the girl’s face. The florescent green reflected on her cheeks and eyelids creates an ominous feeling. It makes me want to know more of her story. Where is she headed and why? Whose arm does she cling to? Is she saving the person or taking them against their will? It seems she is at least protecting them.

I ask myself these questions as I study the dark-haired girl wearing the contemporary headband and dress. Is she a mermaid or just a girl? Either way, I love her bare feet! Her body reflects confidence, yet her taut mouth and eyes suggest something else. Worry, perhaps, or maybe, uncertainty.  And it could just be how the light reflects off her eyelids.

Courtney has chosen colors that work well together and create an illusion of two different worlds. For me, I am most curious about the underneath; what lies at the depths of the sea. Courtney hints at this through the florescent green swirls. I also love the moon, and the sense that it is growing further and further away.

What draws you to this image? Study it for a few minutes and then close your eyes. Try to visualize a movie. Can you see the girl before she jumps into the water? Can you see her after she has reached the ocean floor, or to where she is headed? Choose a point of view before you start your first page. Write from the girl’s point of view, the other person’s point of view, or someone beneath the image, who is watching the girl descend. For fun, you could also focus on the girl simply moving through the water. Describe the scene without actually saying she is swimming. Can you show rather than tell us?

As for me, I will probably dream about this picture, and then wake up in the morning with mermaids on my brain, which will lead to a story or an idea or . . .

I hope you have signed up for the 2012 New Jersey SCWI Annual Conference! I’ll be there!

Happy writing! Betsy

Thanks Betsy!  Deadline to submit is February 20th.  I will announce who our guest critiquer will be next Friday.  Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “February 20th First Page Prompt” in the subject line.

ILLUSTRATORS:  Here is your chance to show off a little.  Last month only one of you submitted a piece of art.  The prompt for February is something that will convey the flavor of the month.  This leave you quite a broad range to be creative.  I will post on Feb 29th, so I need to receive your illustrations by February 27th. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about you and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “February Illustration” in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This is quite an image, thought I don’t see it exactly as Betsy does in every way. That’s probably a good thing, I would think 🙂 I don’t know if I can find the time, but the picture is so inspiring, I may not have a choice! lol

    And by February “flavor of the month,” are you hinting at chocolate for Valentine’s Day? lol


    • OK, well, I hadn’t intended to, but the illustration GRIPPED my imagination and I wrote a first page as soon as I got offline that night lol Anyway, I’ve been having a blast tweaking and tweaking 🙂 I rarely take the time out to write, and first pages (being only a page) have really become a fun thing for me. Thanks, Courtney and Kathy!


  2. I’m an illustrator and am a little confused by the prompt:”flavor of the month” is this what we’re to go by for our visual? or will there be more descriptions offered? thanks. I’d be happy to let illustrator-colleagues know about this.

    Suzanne Urban


    • Suzanne,

      I was trying to keep it vague, so you could go in any direction. So what things remind you of February? Three things come quickly to mind – Groundhog’s Day, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. It is still winter. Maybe you could have a child watching an animal in her yard to see if that animal can see it’s shadow. Or children’s making Valentine goodies, while you can see snow or icy rain through the kitchen window. Or a little boy facing a little girl, holding a Valentine’s card behind his back. Or kids playing outside, but there is something in the illustration that lets us know it is Presidents Day. Or a class visiting the Lincoln Memorial. February can provide many sparks for your imagination.

      Didn’t want to put too many obstacles in your path.



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