Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 29, 2019

November Agent of the Month First Page Results

Kat Enright is an Associate Agent with the Seymour Agency and she is actively seeking MG and YA of all genres, Adult SFF, Romance, and select nonfiction.

Prior to joining the Seymour Agency, they worked in a variety of departments in publishing, including Sales and Editorial, and they have a keen understanding of the many stages that a book must go through in order to reach bookshelves. As someone who lives on the corner of many intersections, they are most especially interested in elevating voices of marginalized authors.

MG: In Middle Grade, She’s most especially drawn to voice—the perfect blend of whimsy and magic. Though I tend to lean more SFF, she will not turn down a good contemporary that explores the world through an authentic, diverse lens.

Contemporary YA: She is looking for twisty, dark tales with compelling protagonists—give me your mysteries and your thrillers! I’m especially drawn to found-family stories and stories that emphasize and explore female friendship. Additionally, I am seeking stories that explore what it is like to grow up outside of the typical white, straight, affluent experience.

Historical YA: She loves a good historical YA but is particularly interested in stories that explore what queer people and people of color were doing in that time (She says, “even more shockingly, queer people of color! Yes, we do exist”).

YA and Adult SFF: In both YA and Adult SFF, she’s looking for vibrant worlds that draw from traditionally underrepresented cultures. Though she is not best fit for hard sci-fi, she’d love to see an expansive, high-stakes space opera that has the feel and heart of Mass Effect. She is particularly excited to see fresh takes on common tropes and would love to see epic fantasy that explores the variety of roles and power that women seize. (Give her your Sansas and your Aryas and your Cerseis and your Margerys)

Romance: In romance, she’s open to all categories. Her favorite romance tropes include: hate-to-love/enemies-to-lovers, STEM heroines, religious angst, and soft male leads. In paranormal, she is less interested in alpha/beta dynamics and more interested in the exploration of the human and the monstrous.

Cookbooks, Coffee table and Gift books: For cookbooks, she is particularly interested finding books of traditional recipes with a modern flair and would love to connect with bloggers who have a strong platform. In coffee table and gift books, she’d love to see something that’s fun and geeky or that explores unique and odd topics.

In all areas, she is looking for new, fresh voices from traditionally underrepresented communities. Kat seeks stories that represent the diversity of the world we live in (including, but not limited to, all ethnicities, sexual orientations, mental and physical health, and socio-economic statuses).

BELOW ARE THREE FIRST PAGES THAT KAT CRITIQUED.

I sent Kat one page in lyrical pose she did not feel qualified to critique, since she doesn’t not represent them. I have sent another first page to Kat and will add it when I receive it back from Kat.

Note: Kat’s comments are in bold black with parentheses around the comment.

*******

THE BARN by Jane Resides – MG Novel

What could I tell about what I had seen before the first flames began to lick the sides of the barn. (For an opening sentence, this has too many clauses. I had to read it a couple of times to parse out the meaning. I’d recommend something simpler.) Would anyone believe? I had just come up the hill, through the fenced pasture, where Gram’s cows grazed peacefully, when I saw… (Honestly, I’d rework this to be less contemplative. Make it so that it’s action. She sees the fire and responds to it.) 

I raced up to the barn bridge, hoping to do something, (whatWhat,)  I didn’t know. But it was too late. There was what sounded like an explosion, and the huge double doors flew open. The gust from it blew me back onto the ground. There was nothing I could do but watch the flames fill the sky. Something flew off the barn and hit my head. (Great place to add a bit of physicality and emotion. What does she feel here?) 

Everything went black. I don’t know how long I was out, but when I awoke, there wasn’t much left of the old gray barn that had risen into the sky, blocking sight of the fields beyond. I stared, mesmerized by this dramatic change.

…and when the solid bank of smoke became pierced and (A: Passive voice. B: Pierced by what?) then was just angry wisps, I could see what had always been on the other side of the barn. It was strange this new view (This new view was strange)— punctuated by chard timbers poking randomly toward the sky, as if pointing to where every other bit of it had disappeared.

I don’t know how long I’d been sitting there on the ground, covered with flakes of soot. I touched a wet streak on my face and didn’t flinch. I knew the blood was there all along, just as I knew now what lay on the other side of the barn. Why, as a child growing up, visiting here every summer, had I never been to that side of the barn?

I heard a screeching noise. Then the tallest of the blackened timbers fell slowly – as if someone or something had pushed it.

This opening could use more immediacy and emotion. It’s a bit too reflective, and there is a tendency to use the passive voice. Great content, but you can really use this pivotal moment to draw the reader in.

*******

Oskar Moone by B.Doherty – MG

Oskar Moone was incredulously (Word choice?) normal, as far as ten-year old boys go. His ratty-brown hair was never brushed, his school shoes were scuffed, and he despised the ocean so much that Poseidon often haunted his dreams. Sometimes he finished his homework in time for class, other times he preferred to draw electric-blue dragons in the margins.

It was one particular morning(,) as the mist rose from the river their house looked over(,) that Oskar noticed his mother’s hand was vanishing. She had just handed him his usual bowl of flaked cereal when Oskar realised he could no longer see her apricot-coloured nails, and soon her entire freckled forearm had dissolved in front of them.

‘Um, Mum,’ he uttered (said), pointing to her transparency.

‘Oh bother,’ replied his mum. ‘I forgot it was Tuesday.’

Then with a sudden BANG!

And a fizzling POP!

Oskar’s mother, Lydia Moone, vanished.

For a moment, Oskar simply sat at the dining table staring where his mother had just been standing. She’d already slid on her work shoes – black and shiny with a wedged heel. And she’d ironed her shirt the night before in preparation for work at her accounting firm like any other normal day.

Oskar racked his brain for any clues his mother might have mentioned. Had she told him she was leaving while he’d been reading a book? If so, that information had definitely not sunk in.

It was then(,) that he noticed his dad’s newspaper folded in half on the end of the kitchen bench.

What a fun opening! You really got the reader’s attention with this – it immediately sets of the tone and the mystery! Well, done!

Only real piece of advice – watch your commas!

*******

BROOKLYN MAGIC AND MISCHIEF By Emily Damron-Cox (Middle Grade Fantasy)

Mac felt woozy. It was getting near dusk and he’d been traveling all the way from Arizona, first on the plane and now this long cab ride. Through the window, a block of three-story row houses whizzed by in a blur of spiky fences and trees.

A strange news report on the taxi’s radio caught his attention.

“This morning, twelve dead squirrels were found covered in green slime after Celebrate Culture Day in Prospect Park. The gooey substance is being analyzed by NYPD forensics. No motive has yet been assigned, but Ms. Greenaway from the Parks Department disputes claims that local immigrants (Okay, I really don’t follow the logic here. I’m sure that you’re going for a point, but why would people blame immigrants for this? It doesn’t track.) were to blame. ‘Everyone was out enjoying a day in the park with their families,’ she said. ‘I don’t believe they had anything to do with it.’”

The taxi driver clicked off the radio and frowned at Mac in the rearview mirror. “Always blaming the immigrants.”

Chills spread down Mac’s arms. Squirrels killed by green goop? His friend Billy would probably say it was aliens. (This is more logical than the immigrants, honestly.) He wondered what Dad would think. Mac leaned forward until the seatbelt nearly cut off his breathing. Noting the driver’s ID on the dashboard, he asked, “What about that green slime, Mr. Mason? Who would do that?”

The walnut-complexioned driver(?) stopped for a light and pushed back the brim of his fedora. From the rearview mirror, his warm hazel eyes seemed to take Mac’s measure. “I have my suspicions, son. But it has nothing to do with immigrants…or aliens.”

Mac stared open-mouthed at the driver’s reflection. How did Mr. Mason know he was thinking about aliens? He tested it out silently. Are you a mind reader?

The man nodded modestly. “We all have our talents—you, too, I’ll warrant.”

This is an interesting opening – I like the mind reader! – but I am concerned that it is a bit passive. Is there a way for the opening to be more active than simply hearing a news report?

*******

Thank you Kat for sharing your time an expertise with us. It helps a lot of writers and is much appreciated.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

MAY YOUR THANKSGIVING BE FILLED WITH LOVE, GOOD CHEER, AND A FULL TUMMY!

TIMOTHY BANKS: Featured on Illustrator Saturday.

APRIL HARTMANN: Featured on illustrator Saturday.

NOEL ILL: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

DANIELA VOLPARI: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

OLGA SKOMOROKHOVA: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

PATRICIA ARCHILLES: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

OLGA SKOMOROKHOVA: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

VALERIA ABATZOGLU: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

BARBARA JOHANSEN NEWMAN: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY. 

LISA FIELDS: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

OLIVIA CHEN MUELLER: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

SANDY BARTHLOMEW: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

JEREMY TUGEAU: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

DOW PHUMIRUK: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

ROBERTA BAIRD: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS – IT’S A DAY TO REMEMBER All THE THINGS WE HAVE TO BE THANKFUL FOR IN OUR LIVES. 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 27, 2019

Opportunity and Book Winners

Sunday, I let you know about the Children’s Book Academy’s Illustrating Children’s Books online course. The $100 discount ended on Monday night. I was talking to Mira and I suggested she extend the $100 discount until Black Friday. She agreed to honor the $100 discount until midnight Pacific Standard Time on Friday.

Here is a HINT Certification you can leave around the house to plant the idea with your friends and relatives to let them know how this would make a perfect gift for you. Worth a shot.

BOOK WINNERS:

Carol Baldwin won SOCCER TIME! by Terry Pierce

Darlene Beck-Jacobson won CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 

Stephaine V.W. Lucianovic has written a picture book titled, THE END OF SOMETHING WONDERFUL, published by Sterling. They have 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 Stephanie!

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:

With gentle humor and quirkiness, this sympathetic book demonstrates how to say goodbye to a beloved pet and give it a proper sendoff.

“[The End of Something Wonderful is] really good. It’s funny and sardonic and it gets to be touching at the end.” —Betsy Bird, School Library Journal

Children love their pets very much—and when the animals die, that loss can be hard to process. The End of Something Wonderful helps kids handle their feelings when they’re hurting and can’t find all the right words. In a warm, understanding, sometimes funny way, it guides children as they plan a backyard funeral to say goodbye, from choosing a box and a burial spot to giving a eulogy and wiping away tears. Most of all, it reassures them that it’s not the end of everything . . . and that Something Wonderful can always happen again.

BOOK JOURNEY:

The journey of this book started in the slush pile at Sterling. Or maybe that’s where it ended? Or did it end when it was placed on a book shelf? Or when it made it to a child’s hands?

I guess the end of a book’s journey depends on what we define as the start of the journey. Is the start when a manuscript is accepted by a publisher to then be definitively published in book form for others (outside of the author’s family) to read? Or does the start of a book happen earlier? Does the start of the book begin with my birth in 1973?

(…it’s possible I’ve been watching too many episodes of The Good Place which have put me in an overly philosophical and questioning state of mind.)

I can say that the initial seedlings of THE END OF SOMETHING WONDERFUL were planted at my childhood home in Minneapolis where I grew up surrounded by several generations of cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and a few plucky fish. Back then, when one of our beloved Something Wonderfuls died, my older sister and I sought solace by putting on church clothes, hauling out our bibles, picking flowers, and attempting headstones.

But that all happened several decades ago.

Speed up time and I could take you on a comb through of every one of my formative years: when I started writing as a kid, when I got a job in publishing, when I first got paid to write about cheese, TV, vampires, and manga, and when I decided to write picture books … but I won’t.

It is true that every one of those tiny steps could definitely be considered part of the journey of THE END OF SOMETHING WONDERFUL, but as writers we learn to edit ourselves.

We learn to pare down and keep only the juiciest and most relevant chunks.

In 2016, sitting crosslegged on our living room couch, I wrote the first draft of THE END OF SOMETHING WONDERFUL all in one exhale. I had parted ways with my first children’s book agent and while dealing with that grief, I had also been trying to capture the loss my family had recently gone through with one of our cats. I wanted to honor what Hunca Munca had given our family and I specifically wanted to illuminate what he had taught my oldest son about kindness and being gentle and patient.

But pet death books are a difficult sell. And I was told this so many different ways from so many different agents and editors. Rejection after rejection filled my inbox. But then I put myself back in my own childhood and I remembered what my sister and I did to mourn Nutsy and Feisty and Pyewacket and Ivan and Bert and Gus and Spinky and Pooter and so many others.

We had funerals. We had backyard funerals.

That’s when it hit me: there are lots of picture books about death. And there are lot of picture books about the death of a pet. But where was the book that begins with the pet being dead and explores how to process what comes next? Where was the how-to for a child-centric backyard funeral that could help a child’s heart heal just a little bit? Where was the book that could mix a little bit of laughter in with the tears because laughter can also be a healing approach?

If I wrote such a book, I knew I was going to honor the child reading it by being honest about the subject and practical in its application.  So I wrote the first line, “First you need something dead.” And from the time I wrote that to the time my Sterling editor pulled it from the slush pile to the time it hit the bookshelves in September of this year, that line never changed.

That first line could also be considered one of the many first steps of this book journey, but to some degree, it could also be considered the end, don’t you think? One might even say it could be considered the end of something wonderful.

 

STEPHANIE’S BIO:

Stephanie has done a few things in life. She has sold women shoes and frozen yogurt as well as smelly, expensive body lotion and smellier, even more expensive cheese. She has worked on a Jacques Pepin cooking show and been a cookbook editor.

She has written about books, food, parenting, TV, vampire dating habits, cocktail trivia, and picky eating. She has attended a swank ball at University of Cambridge with Prince Charles (not that he was her date or anything just that he was also invited) and rebuilt trails with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

She has lived in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, England, Boston, and San Francisco.

Now she writes children’s books surrounded by a few kids, a few cats, and one husband. She loves reading books and watching television shows in equal number, hates running but does it anyway, and she believes everyone over twenty-one should try pairing Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with bourbon.

Stephanie, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. The death of a pet is hard for anyone, especially children. Nice to see a book that helps children process their loss and help them move past the pain. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 25, 2019

SCBWI MAGAZINE MERIT AWARD

The SCBWI Magazine Merit Awards are presented by the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators annually for original magazine work for young people. Each year, the SCBWI presents four plaques, one in each category of fiction, nonfiction, illustration, and poetry, each year to honor members’ outstanding original magazine work published during that year. The works chosen are those that exhibit excellence in writing and illustration, and genuinely appeal to the interests and concerns of young people. Honor Certificates in each category are also awarded. SCBWI reserves the right not to confer this award in any given year.

Deadline: Entries must be postmarked ON or BEFORE December 15th of the year of publication (entry year).

Eligibility:

1. Entrants must be current SCBWI members.

2. Every magazine work for young people by an SCBWI member -– writer, artist, or photographer -– is eligible during the year of original publication. In the case of co-authored work, both authors must be SCBWI members.

Guidelines:

1. Members must submit their own work. Required are four copies of each of the following:

(a) The work in published form — illustrators must send color photocopies or tearsheets.

(b) Proof of publication showing the name of the magazine and date of issue (contents page or verification from editor).

(c) Cover sheets must contain: the member’s name as listed by the SCBWI, mailing address and phone number, title of entry, category (fiction, nonfiction, illustration or poetry), name of publication, and date of issue.

(d) When submitting both article text and illustrations for consideration, send eight copies: four that stipulate author entry (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) and four that stipulate illustrator entry.

5. All entries are judged by a panel of three published SCBWI members.

6. Submissions will not be returned.

7. Work to be entered, as well as further enquiries, should be submitted by mail to:

6363 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 425
Los Angeles, CA 90048

VIEW PAST WINNERS

Questions? grants@scbwi.org

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 24, 2019

Opportunity is Knocking From the Children’s Book Academy

Writers and Illustrators!

Join Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Senior Designer and Art Director Andrea Miller, and the Picture Book Whisperer Herself, Dr. Mira Reisberg (AKA the Fairy Godmother, and Clear Fork Publishing/Spork Art Director and Editor) for our highly interactive Illustration Course complete with fab fresh Submission Opportunities!

Every now and then, opportunity knocks on your door. And from now until tomorrow midnight November 25th, the Children’s Book Academy’s ground-breaking Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books highly interactive e-course is knocking with a massive $100 discount. This is to enable beginning to award-winning illustrators and writers to deepen their knowledge of making excellent children’s books, learn awesome and doable new skills, and open new doors to publication. Below are the amazing 11 bonuses, many of which will disappear after the 25th.

THE FIRST LIVE TRAINING STARTS JANUARY 13th 2020 FOR FIVE FAB INTERACTIVE WEEKS PLUS A BONUS CONFERENCE WEEK!
And Guess What? REGISTRATION IS OPEN RIGHT NOW – Scroll on to find out more!

FYI when we say 5 weeks, that’s not a lesson a week – but five jam-packed, time-flexible mentored weeks followed by an instant access week of awesome instruction!

  • Are you a writer wanting to illustrate your own books or would you like to become a better writer by fully understanding how the illustration process works?
  • Or maybe you are a beginning or professional illustrator wanting to update your skills to move into new markets?
  • Whether you’re at the stick figure stage or have won awards – you will wildly increase your chances of publication with this course!!!

 

This discount is available for both the Big Bonus level, which includes the full course, the optional critique groups, the interactive learning community, and all the bonuses and submission opportunities we offer; or the extra special Success level, which includes the Big Bonus Plus a one-hour one-on-one critique with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and their new Graphic Novel imprint, Etch, Designer and Art Director Andrea Miller.

Click here for the Big Bonus and don’t forget the case sensitive 2019ArLove code for that discount as it’s not refundable if you forget it. http://bit.ly/2019CBICBBB

 

And here for the Big Bonus Plus the fantastic critique with Andrea Miller:  http://bit.ly/2019CBICBwAndrea

Or, … there are still a few critiques at the non-deeply discounted cost with Clearfork/Spork Editor and Art Director Dr. Mira Reisberg, who has helped launch, or reinvigorate, many, many former student’s careers (Mira’s former students have so far published over 370 books and won every major North American award).  http://bit.ly/2019CBICBwMira

Andrea and Mira will be joined each week by these fantastic weekly live guests critiquing and nurturing student’s work in really helpful ways (these are also recorded). And below that are the industry decision makers who will be looking at your work at the end of the course with an eye towards acquisition (although of course there are no guarantees) in what we call the Golden Tickets.

In CBA‘s recent picture book writing course, editors and agents requested 54 submissions from students (with more requests still to come), which is truly remarkable. We are hoping for something similar with this upcoming course.

This fabulous invitation to all sorts of new opportunities is knocking on your door right now. Are you going to open to it? Register now, or click the We Can Do It button below to find out more! http://bit.ly/KidLitArt

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 23, 2019

Illustrator Saturday – Timothy Banks

I work with great clients like TOWN magazine, Paste, Nike, Egmont, Faber & Faber, and Nickelodeon – and my work is proudly represented by Shannon Associates, NYC.

I’ve been recognized by Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, Spectrum 21, 3×3 Magazine, Creative Quarterly, PLAY! Illustration and Showcase 100 to name a few. Plus! I’ve illustrated dozens of children’s books, like the Wizard of Oz story for younger readers, A Valentine For Frankenstein for Lerner, and most recently NIAN, THE CHINESE NEW YEAR DRAGON for Sleeping Bear Press.

You can find me and my studio in Charleston, SC, USA. Locally, I’ve created the poster for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival here in Charleston, one of the largest, comprehensive arts festivals in the US. And in 2017, I illustrated and designed the poster for YALLFest, the world’s largest Young Adult literary festival. Last, but not least, I created the official poster for the Charleston Farmers Market last year.

When I’m not creating something, you can find me and my beautiful wife, also an amazing artist, three wonderful daughters, and one crazy pug, playing in our backyard, and watching alligators swim by our house.

HERE IS TIMOTHY DISCUSSING HIS PROCESS:

Below is a look at a few thumbnails I created for “Nian”. Honestly, these are the most challenging part of the process for me. The ones I have here are very close to the final images in the book. Not much has changed.

This was my initial concept for “Nian’s” cover image. I wanted to create something where we see the immense size of Nian contrasted with Mei’s size and determination. I passed this along to the publisher, who loved the concept.

the refinement to final sketch


Final version of the image.

Here’s another pic from the book’s interior where Mei is visited by the Magical Warrior again. This was a challenging piece, and I wanted to create a scene where that felt a little more unexpected. Also, since it was a dream sequence there was more room to play with the size and scope of the characters. So I created a pic where we see this larger than life Warrior character’s head next to Mei sleeping in her bed. For drama and emphasis, these are the only two elements included in the pic.

I discovered you when Sleeping Bear Press sent me a copy of NIAN, THE CHINESE NEW YEAR DRAGON; your newest book. It is a beautiful. I immediately visited your website and Wow! I was impressed, thus the reason for all these questions.

I featured this book this week on Writing and Illustrating. Here is the link. Click and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy.

How long did it take you to create the illustrations this book?

Thank you, Kathy! I enjoyed illustrating this book so much, and it’s great to hear the images are resonating. I think from start to finish, the art took about 6 months to complete.

How long have you been illustrating?

I started illustrating professionally when I was a freshman in college in 1997, so about 22 years.

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

Starting as a freshman, I worked as a staff illustrator at my university’s publishing house. So, my first payment was in the form of a weekly paycheck.

Did you study art in college? If so, where did you go and what did you study?

Yes, I have a BA in Painting from Bob Jones University. Also, I have an MFA in Illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD).

I see that you wife is an artist, too. Did you meet because of art – go to school together – run into each other at an exhibition, etc.?

We met as graduate students in the Illustration program at SCAD.

How long have you lived in Charleston?

Just over ten years.

Do you feel that the city has influenced your illustrations?

I do. It’s a beautiful town and there are some gorgeous views throughout the city and the region. I’ve found a rhythm in my work here which is totally because of Charleston. I’ve also created quite a bit of work for different events and publications around town, and it’s been natural to incorporate the city’s landmarks into my images.

Do you think exhibiting your illustrations helped your career?

I think so. It’s always good to see your art in a collection or shown in a gallery. And it’s a good way to market your work too.

I didn’t know that Savannah College of Art and Design’s had a campus in Hong Kong. How did you get your artwork in their Permanent Collection?

I was honored to have the college request paintings from a children’s book I illustrated, The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose. The paintings were initially exhibited in one of SCAD Atlanta’s gallery spaces, but were then moved to their collection in Hong Kong. My goal is to make it there and see them in person again.

How did you get to exhibit your work in the UK?

My work was accepted into both the Showcase 100 and Jules Verne Exhibitions. The shows were juried and hosted by Hire An Illustrator (HAI) in the UK.

Did you start doing editorial work for magazine before illustrating books?

No, I’ve worked with magazines off and on, but book illustration has always been my bread and butter. Most of my magazine work has been regional, so I’ve illustrated for several magazines over the years in the Carolinas and Georgia.

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

It was more or less the kismet of actually being offered a children’s book project. I was very young, 19 or 20, and I had never considered picture books as an option for my work. But, when I was asked to work on something, I couldn’t say no. I was fortunate to have art directors and editors who saw the potential in my work.

Was THE CAPTAINS HAT your first published book?

No, actually, No Pets Allowed was my first published book. I picked up the The Captain’s Hat book from the same imprint because of my work on No Pets Allowed.

How did that job come your way?

There was a children’s book imprint attached to the publishing house I worked for as a staff illustrator during college. This particular concept had been passed around for a while because they could not find a style which worked best for the story. They had me create a spec picture, and then from there I was given the manuscript to create the book’s illustrations.

How were you chosen to illustrate the official image for the Festival Napa Valley 2018?

The festival committee saw a cover image I created for a magazine’s annual Arts issue. The image for the cover incorporated some of the same elements which Festival Napa needed for their image, so they contacted me to find out if I would be interested in working with them.

Was MONSTERS IN CHARLESTON your idea to write, illustrate, and publish?

It was, and the concept itself happened organically. It all started with a couple of pics featuring monsters hanging out near Charleston landmarks which I posted on Instagram. Someone wrote and asked what my plans were for the series, and on a whim, I replied I was creating a book. So I basically set a goal for myself, and it was cool putting all of my knowledge of book making together to create something which was my very own.

Do the shops in Charleston sell this book?

They do, particularly in downtown, and the books sell well. They strike a good balance for locals and tourists, and the subject matter is pretty funny. Local shops of note who carry the book are Blue Bicycle Books, Gibbes Museum of Art Gift Store and the Preservation Society of Charleston.

Do you think you were chosen to illustrate A VALENTINE FOR FRANKENSTEIN because the publisher or author saw your Monster book?

Yes, totally. Monsters has opened quite a few doors locally and nationally. My agent has also done a great job getting this book in front of other publishers.

Now that I see THE FRANKSTEIN JOURNALS, perhaps this book influenced the publisher or author to chose you for the illustrations. What do you think?

They all play a part. My style has always been a draw for stories which might have a  “disgusting/ gross” element, and it’s cool to see my portfolio connect in ways I don’t even plan sometimes.

THE BRAVE LITTLE TAILOR: A GRIMM AND GROSS RETELLING looks like a middle grade book. Is this the first MG book like you illustrated?

In recent memory, yes. I’m sure I’ve had other projects over the years, but this series is the biggest in scope, and it gave me more room to create edgier images.

When I looked inside the book on Amazon, it looks like a mix of colored illustrations and Black spots. How did you decide on where to use the B&W illustrations?

That was courtesy of the editor and art director for the series. When I received the specs for the book, they had already decided on what would be color or b/w to help flesh out the story as well as costs for the art.

You have done four GRIMM AND GROSS RETELLINGS. Do you plan to do more?

Not at the moment. Currently, it depends on the publisher and their future plans for the series.

Why is THERE’S A NORSEMAN IN THE CLASSROOM! Only available on Amazon Canada?

I created this book for a little publishing house in Vancouver, and their distribution is limited to that side of the border at the moment. It’s a beautifully printed book, and I’m actually working on the sequel to it right now.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate more of your own picture books?

Yes, I would love to. I have several sketch/journal books filled with ideas in my studio. It’s really a matter of timing and picking the right story to devote my energy too.

How did you end up being represented by Shannon Associates, NYC? How long have you been with them?

I came aboard with Shannon in 2017 through the recommendation of my former agent who was retiring from the business at that time.

 

You have won more Awards than can be listed here. Which one are you most proud of winning?

It’s probably the awards I’ve received for Monsters In Charleston. They’re nice validation for where I can take my projects and style.

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you still do?

Yes, occasionally. It can be a challenging decision though. I’ve had excellent experiences and honestly as many similarly disappointing experiences too. With that, I’m always open to hearing ideas and being pitched concepts from self-publishers who think I’m right for their story. It’s flattering to be considered, and I take it seriously when someone reaches out.

What do you think is your biggest success?

Meeting and marrying my wife. (Timothy – Great answer!)

Timothy and his wife Erin

The illustration below was for College of Charleston Magazine. The article is focused on a professor’s research trip to Florence to study the Medici family archives. I surrounded the main character in this dream like sequence of all things “Florence”. The Florence Cathedral is in the background. The character also appears to be floating from a clam shell at the bottom left corner, which is a shout out to Botticelli’s Birth of Venus – The Medici family was major patrons of the arts, and especially Botticelli’s work. The archive papers are also flying around the picture.

What is your favorite medium to use?

For traditional media it’s acrylic. And for digital, Photoshop.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, all of my commercial work is created digitally using Photoshop. With that. I love traditional media, and I’ve used different methods over time for my work. My first book was created using watercolor and ink, and then I started using acrylics in 2000. When I moved to Charleston in 2009, I completely transitioned to digital for ease and to help keep up with deadlines.

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

Yes and yes. I have a well-worn Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet.

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

I keep plenty of sketchbooks handy to help with fleshing out early concepts. When I work traditionally, I’ll use illustration board and a variety of acrylic paints and mediums. Currently though, all of my commercial stuff is digital.

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

I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of projects over the years to keep me busy, and that helps with stretching the boundaries of my artwork. It’s more of a challenge to devote extra time to personal projects, but I like being on this side of that balance.

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

Yes, research is a must, and I think it’s a classic part of being an illustrator.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

It definitely has, particularly the social media part of the web. There’s still a lot of worth being in a cultural hub (NYC, LA, etc.) to gain attention, but the web helps establish your portfolio as a destination.

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

I would love to see my work used in a big budget film or animation. Either as the springboard for the film’s story, or as development art.

What are you working on now?

I just finished a book cover for Holiday House, and I’m currently finishing up a mega text book project for Bob Jones University Press. I have an illustration project with TOWN magazine in process for January. And as I mentioned earlier, I’m also working on the sequel to There’s a Norseman in My Classroom.

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 swear by gel (matte or gloss) medium to help build up my acrylics. Strathmore for illustration board. Bienfang tracing paper, and most importantly, black prismacolor for sketching. If you’re in Charleston, Artist & Craftsman is the best place to pick up quality supplies.

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

Be persistent, and trust in yourself and your work. An art career is filled with highs and lows, but having a love for your work and what you’re pursuing is a great thing to have in your corner.

Thank you Timothy for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us.

To see more of Timothy’s work, you can visit him at:

Website: http://www.timothybanks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/timothy.banks.illustration/

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 22, 2019

Agent of the Month – Kat Enright – Interview Part Two

It is my pleasure to announce Kat Enright at the Seymour Agency is November’s Agent of the Month and will read and critique four first pages at the end of the month. See Guidelines at the bottom of this post to start submitting. Check back next week for Part one of my interview with Kat.

Kat Enright is an Associate Agent with the Seymour Agency and she is actively seeking MG and YA of all genres, Adult SFF, Romance, and select nonfiction.

Prior to joining the Seymour Agency, they worked in a variety of departments in publishing, including Sales and Editorial, and they have a keen understanding of the many stages that a book must go through in order to reach bookshelves. As someone who lives on the corner of many intersections, they are most especially interested in elevating voices of marginalized authors.

MG: In Middle Grade, She’s most especially drawn to voice—the perfect blend of whimsy and magic. Though I tend to lean more SFF, she will not turn down a good contemporary that explores the world through an authentic, diverse lens.

Contemporary YA: She is looking for twisty, dark tales with compelling protagonists—give me your mysteries and your thrillers! I’m especially drawn to found-family stories and stories that emphasize and explore female friendship. Additionally, I am seeking stories that explore what it is like to grow up outside of the typical white, straight, affluent experience.

Historical YA: She loves a good historical YA but is particularly interested in stories that explore what queer people and people of color were doing in that time (She says, “even more shockingly, queer people of color! Yes, we do exist”).

YA and Adult SFF: In both YA and Adult SFF, she’s looking for vibrant worlds that draw from traditionally underrepresented cultures. Though she is not best fit for hard sci-fi, she’d love to see an expansive, high-stakes space opera that has the feel and heart of Mass Effect. She is particularly excited to see fresh takes on common tropes and would love to see epic fantasy that explores the variety of roles and power that women seize. (Give her your Sansas and your Aryas and your Cerseis and your Margerys)

Romance: In romance, she’s open to all categories. Her favorite romance tropes include: hate-to-love/enemies-to-lovers, STEM heroines, religious angst, and soft male leads. In paranormal, she is less interested in alpha/beta dynamics and more interested in the exploration of the human and the monstrous.

Cookbooks, Coffee table and Gift books: For cookbooks, she is particularly interested finding books of traditional recipes with a modern flair and would love to connect with bloggers who have a strong platform. In coffee table and gift books, she’d love to see something that’s fun and geeky or that explores unique and odd topics.

In all areas, she is looking for new, fresh voices from traditionally underrepresented communities. Kat seeks stories that represent the diversity of the world we live in (including, but not limited to, all ethnicities, sexual orientations, mental and physical health, and socio-economic statuses).

She is not looking for:

  • Picture books, non-fiction, adult literary fiction, adult general fiction, adult mystery/thriller/suspense, memoirs, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, or short stories.
  • Books about sports. Sorry, but I’m just not a good fit for them and you’d be better off with literally anyone else.
  • Dystopias
  • Westerns
  • Sweet, fluffy, contemporary YA.
  • Portal Fantasies

How to Submit to Kat:

Please query me at http://QueryMe.Online/KatEnright. You will be asked for a query letter, synopsis, and first 10 pages.

BELOW IS PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH KAT:

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

As long as it takes for me to make a decision. Sometimes it’s fast because there are stories that I do not connect with and, thus, won’t be able to do justices as an advocate. But agenting is business that is filled with subjective opinions and, even if a story is not the right fit for me, that doesn’t mean that it won’t find a home elsewhere!

Are you open to representing a writer who writes MG and YA, but also write picture books?

I wouldn’t outright reject an author who wanted to write picture books but I would want to have a talk with them first. Ideally, I’d like to be the kind of agent who can help an author with the entire breadth of their career but picture books are not my specialty.

Any pet peeves?

I don’t really have any pet peeves, so to speak, but I do have a list of stories and tropes that I am not a good fit for on my website. https://www.katenright.com/mswl

Do you let people know if you are not interested?

Yes, I respond to all queries that are submitted to me through Query Manager.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material? And query letters?

I aim to respond to query letters within a month, partials within 3 months, and fulls with an additional 2. If something happens to affect that schedule – conventions, illness, etc. etc., I will post updates on my twitter and website.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

The two most common mistakes that I notice are not establishing stakes clearly—what the character has to lose or gain—and starting in the wrong place. The second issue is harder to test for but I recommend starting close to the inciting incident. It will be unlikely that you’ll need more than one chapter of set up.

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Yes! I am very editorial. I generally do at least two passes on a manuscript before we take it out on sub: one handling big picture issues and one for smaller line edits. But I am committed to giving a project the time it needs and getting it in the best possible shape before we take it out.

How many editors do you submit to before giving up on a manuscript?

I don’t have a concrete answer for that because it depends on what the manuscript is. There are less editors looking for YA space opera than for YA contemporary, for example. But I do generally take them out in rounds of 7-10 editors and we go from there.

Now-a-days, when a publisher decides to buy a book for print, do they automatically buy the ebook rights, too?

It’s very rare that we see a print deal without ebook rights—though sometimes we do see e-only deals with specific houses and genres.

It seems to me that readers are listening to more books. Is that something the publisher decides to pursue after the sale of the book?

If you mean audio rights, often those rights are negotiated as part of the sale. Sometimes the publisher will get those rights, sometimes your agent will retain them, and it depends on who has the stronger connections to audio producers. But from there, either the house or the agency will then try to sell audio rights.

Have you noticed any new trends building in the industry?

I personally don’t like looking to trends because the market is ever-shifting. And this is especially true from a writer’s perspective. When you’re starting a book, it’s going to be at least two years before that book hits shelves, if not longer, so any attempt to chase a trend is futile. The market will shift, so write what you love and want you need to see out in the world.

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

Find yourself some critique partners! Share your work with others and learn to give and take constructive feedback. A good writing group is worth their weight in gold and should help you level up your craft.

How should someone contact you if they would like invite you to a writer’s event, workshop, and/or conference?

I can be contacted at kat@theseymouragency.com

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR NOVEMBER 2019 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “NOVEMBER 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 2019 November – 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: November 22nd.

RESULTS: November 29th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Virginia Loh-Hagan has written a new picture book titled, NIAN, THE CHINESE NEW YEAR DRAGON, Illustrated by Timothy Banks 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 Virginia and Timothy!

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:

Mei hates springtime. Why? Because it’s only in the spring that Nian, a fierce dragon, is able to leave his mountain prison under the sea to terrorize the local village. When the villagers hear the rumblings of Nian’s hungry stomach, they know that winter has ended and spring is coming. But this year on the night before the first day of spring, a magical warrior visits Mei in her dreams. He tells Mei that it is her destiny to face and defeat Nian. But she must do it within 15 days or the dragon will be free forever. Author Virginia Loh-Hagan (PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year) gives this retelling of the Nian legend an original twist, while explaining the origins of Chinese New Year traditions.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Nian: The Chinese New Year Dragon is my newest book (to be released in December 2019). But, it has been kicking around in my life for several years. I think I wrote the first draft around 2010. I wrote it around the same time as  PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year. In fact, I came across the Chinese New Year Monster folktale when I was doing research for PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year. I saved it in my notes as something to explore further…which I did!

After the publication of Paper Son: Lee’s Journey to America in 2013, I had established a great partnership with the Sleeping Bear family. This is also about the time I started writing for 45th Parallel Press. (Cherry Lake Publishing owns Sleeping Bear Press and 45th Parallel Press.)

I submitted PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year and Nian: The Chinese New Year Dragon to Sleeping Bear Press soon after the success of Paper Son. The funny bit is that Sleeping Bear initially turned down both of these stories. I submitted PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year to some other publishers where the manuscript would get through the first levels of review only to be rejected at the final levels (which is also what had happened at Sleeping Bear Press). But, I took this as good news. This let me know that my story had potential. There was interest. Plus, I fixed the manuscript each time. It got better.

Also, it just needed a champion. And, its champion was Barb McNally, my wonderful Sleeping Bear Press editor (whom I love very dearly). Barb has been championing both of these stories since 2013. I had put the manuscripts aside for several years and then Barb asked about PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year in 2015 when we were promoting Paper Son at the International Literacy Association in St. Louis, Missouri. I pulled it out of consideration from another publisher and sent it back to Barb. After that, magic happened! Fast forward – With the success of PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year, it seemed like the perfect time to publish Nian: The Chinese New Year Dragon!

I took some liberties with the Chinese New Year folktale. First, I made the protagonist a young female. Second, I added elements of a pourquoi story in that I wanted to explain why we practice some Chinese New Year traditions (i.e. making loud noises like firecrackers, wearing red, and putting out food for ancestors). In addition, I chose to feature a dragon because I have an intense love for dragons (like I might need some therapy!). I wanted to explain how the dragon was tamed into becoming a lucky symbol. The best part of the book, however, is Timothy Banks’ illustrations! He brought my little story to life! This story is a little edgy, a little dark, with a lot of spunk – Timothy captured this magnificently. Again, I credit Barb for choosing Timothy as the illustrator. (She had respectfully rejected my ideas for illustrators and I’m glad she did! Timothy is perfect! Note: My advice for future writers is to listen to your editors and trust that they love your stories as much as you do! They know best!)

I have been so incredibly lucky to have Sleeping Bear Press in my life. My stories have thrived under their direction. The book journey for Nian: The Chinese New Year Dragon consists of good luck, perfect timing, hard work, and Barb. 🙂

VIRGINIA’S BIO:

Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan is an author, university faculty member, and former K-8 teacher. She’s currently directing the Liberal Studies program at San Diego State University. She has over 300 books in the world. She writes about things that geek her and about geeky things. She especially likes to write about her Chinese-American heritage. After all, she was born on Flag Day in the Year of the Dragon. She feels very lucky to have several Asian-American themed books with Sleeping Bear Press (Paper Son, PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year, Nian: The Chinese New Year Dragon).

She’s also interested in writing fun facts about monsters, weird bodily noises, urban legends, hot dogs, and anything on the odd side. As such, she writes many titles for 45th Parallel Press (an imprint of Cherry Lake Publishing); these are hi-lo books aimed to serve the needs of older struggling readers. She’s also written some academic books about literacy instruction. She lives in southern San Diego with two non-trained naughty dogs and one semi-well-trained husband. Learn more about her at http://www.virginialoh.com.

ILLUSTRATOR TIMOTHY BANKS’ BIO:

Timothy Banks is an American illustrator recognized by Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, Spectrum, 3×3 MagazineCreative Quarterly, PLAY! Illustration and Showcase. His clients include Nike, Paste Magazine, Egmont, Faber & Faber, and Nickelodeon. He has illustrated dozens of children’s books, including a reimagining of the Wizard of Oz for young readers, There’s A Norseman in the Classroom and the classic Enid Blyton series, The Five Finder Outer, for Egmont UK. He has done extensive work for Paste Magazine, including “The Failure Issue” named one of 2015’s best covers[5] by min. Also, Banks’ work was selected to be the official image for Piccolo Spoleto 2014. And In 2017, Banks published an illustrated anthology, Monsters In Charleston, depicting whimsical monsters taking over his hometown of Charleston, SC.

Virginia, thank you for sharing your book and it’s journey. I think people will be able to see the beauty of this book, though this feature hold a candle to actually holding the book in your hands. It is a real treasure for anyone’s library collection. Best of luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Hi, everyone. Couple of things. If you have a first page that you would like to have critiqued by November’s Agent of the Month. Your chances of winning a spot is high this month, since the amount of submissions are low. I will be picking the four winners on Thursday. Don’t miss this opportunity. Here is the link to the guidelines.

Also, so many of you have already contacted me to hold a date for a book in 2020, but there are a good number of spots available in December. If you would like to have your book featured in December, let me know. It doesn’t have to be a recent published book, just send me a note letting me know the titled and a little bit about the book or just send me a link to the book on Amazon. The one thing I need is your journey with the book. Usually I can find the other things I need for the feature. Of course, it is always great to get your picture (at least 500 pixels wide)your bio, the cover, book description, and four or five .jpgs of interior art. For those not familiar with the book features, they are done with a book giveaway. If you don’t have a book, your publisher might be willing to send out the book from their marketing department. Please send me an email at: kathy.temean (at) gmail.com and put BOOK PROMOTION in the subject area, before the spot are filled. Note: You do not have to have a picture book to be featured. You can be an author of a Middle Grade book or Young Adult book 

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BOOK WINNERS

Pamela Harrison won BACK ROADS, COUNTRY TOADS by Devin Scillian

DEBRA DAUGHERTY won PORCUPETTE AND MOPPET by Nadine Poper

Kim Pfennigwerth won SANTA’S SECRET by Denise Brennan-Nelson

Christopher S won WITCH WASHDAY by C.A. Nobens

Donna Weidner won SNOW DAY by Cheryl Nobens

Judy Sobanski won The Night Baafore Christmas by Dawn Young

Angie Quantrell won ALL COLORS by Amalia Hoffman

Carol Gwin Nelson won EXPERIMENT #256 by Marty Kelley

Jan Milusich won If You’re Scary and You Know It! by Carole Gerber

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KUDOS to Katia Raina! Last week, she was recognized for her writing efforts and received a silver medal for her YA historical novel CASTLE OF CONCRETE.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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