Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 20, 2022

Book Giveaway: WHOSE TRACKS IN THE SNOW? by Alexandra Milton

Alexandra Milton has written and illustrated a new picture book, WHOSE TRACKS IN THE SNOW? and published by Boxer Books and coming out on November 22nd. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US and UK.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Alexandra.

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. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A great natural-history picture book that introduces children to animal tracks.

Look! Look!
Tracks in the Snow!
Who do they belong to?
Where do they go?

Whose Tracks in the Snow? is an informative and special picture book by the author/illustrator of Who Is in the Egg? It features hares, ducks, foxes, deer, and more.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Snow: crisp, white, translucent…
There are so many beautiful things in the natural world and snow is one of the most beautiful of all. For many years I’ve wanted to illustrate a book which had snow as its central feature. There were several big challenges. Would I be able to reproduce the texture of snow? To convey the feeling of wonder that one gets when stepping out into a world covered by a white blanket?

Reading a book with children can create the opportunity for precious bonding moments. Even more so, with books that encourage interaction between adults and children. That is why I liked the idea of creating a book that was also a game – a guessing-game – which would give children the chance to find out more about the natural world.

I had previously written and illustrated a book called “Who is in the Egg”: it shows a variety of different eggs, and children have to guess the creature that might be in each one. There are some big surprises…

For my new project, I wanted to create a book along similar lines, but this time with the addition of a treasure hunt. It would enable adults and children alike – without leaving the comfort of their armchair – feel like they’re going for a winter walk in the woods together.

The book is also a bit of a detective mission which revolves around identifying the different types of tracks. Do the tracks reveal clues about the animal that left them? Is that animal still hiding somewhere in the forest?

My publishing team were enthusiastic when I mentioned the idea: they asked me to produce a few sample pictures which they could show at the Bologna Book Fair for children’s books. I looked for some atmospheric photos of winter scenes, of animals, and their tracks. I also began gathering the various types of paper I’d need before getting started on this new project.

My artistic technique is quite different from most illustrators. I work exclusively in collage and – over the years – have assembled a huge collection of largely handmade paper. To make my images, I tear the paper into the required shapes and then stick the pieces together in overlapping layers until I achieve the desired effect. I create the animals separately (also in collage) before adding them to the scene, using coloured crayons for the final touches. It’s a very “hands on”, crafttechnique. All the work is original: I never use a computer for my illustrations.

Once I had produced my initial pictures, my publishers turned them into a mock-up book which they showed at the Bologna Book Fair. It was well-received and I got the green light to crack on with the project. I also asked my husband – a best selling author (who wrote the text for my first two books) to have another look at the rhythm and rhyme of the story.

One of the most exciting stages of the book-creating process is when I hand the illustrations to David Bennett and Leilani Sparrow who run Boxer Books – a small, exclusive and very hands-on publishing house. They spend many hours working on the layout, as well as the final version of the text. Each time, it’s joy to see how they turn my original art-work into a finished book that will hopefully fire the imaginations of both children and adults alike!

ALEXANDRA’S BIO:

Alexandra Milton is an artist and illustrator. Her chosen media is collage. She has developed a unique artistic style, collecting paper from around the world which she tears and weaves into a multitude of layers to represent animals, birds and plants.

Born in Paris, Alexandra grew up watching her father, the distinguished German-born watercolour artist Wolfram (Aichele), at work. His teaching, together with his personal style and subtle use of colour, have been crucial to her artistic development.

Visits to the studio of her artist grandfather Erwin Aichele have also influenced Alexandra’s work: among her most vivid childhood memories are the birds in their aviaries, the studio filled with stuffed animals and the smell of turpentine.

It is from Erwin that Alexandra inherited the urge to capture in colour and shape the beauty of the animal world.

The story of both artists is described in the book: Wolfram, the boy who went to war by Giles Milton (Hodder&Stoughton).

Alexandra’s work was first exhibited in 2009 in Germany when she participated in a major exhibition of the works of her grandfather, father, her brother, the jeweller Benedikt Aichele, and four of her cousins : artists, jewellers, photographers and illustrators.

She was then represented by the Rebecca Hossack gallery, London who has shown her work throughout the world and taken it to in major international fairs.

Alexandra now lives in London with her husband, the writer Giles Milton, and her daughters.

Alexandra thank you for sharing you book and journey with us. This is a gorgeous book. Your use of paper in the collages you have created is amazing. Each page leaves the reader feeling like they are walking through soft fluffy snow. I love how you added the fun of a guessing-game within your book that helps children learn more about nature and the world around them. This is a book, adults will want to show off to friends and children will treasure for the rest of their lives. Wishing you the best with the book.

Alexandra is being featured on Illustrator Saturday in January; so please check back. She will be talking more about her process.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 19, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Pearl Au-Yeung

Pearl Au-Yeung (“Ow-Yerng”), an author/illustrator  from Hong Kong but raised in Shanghai, now based in the USA. She graduated Magna cum laude from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI with  BFA in illustration.

Pearl is a passionate and conceptual thinker who aims to use illustration as a means to communicate meaningful narratives in an approachable way. With her international background living in parts of Asia and North America, Pearl strives to draw upon past experiences to combine aesthetics with conceptual thought.

While writing and illustrating children’s book, she is working for Mattel, Inc. as Associate Product Designer in Los Angeles
She will be featured on Illustrator Saturday later this month. So please check back to see all her creative work.

Pearl is represented by Kelly Sonnack at Andrea Brown Literacy. Please contact her at  kelly@andreabrownlit.com for book illustration enquiries. Click to open resume

The seal on the upper left of my website means “pearl” and was done by PeiLing Tsai

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HERE IS PEARL DISCUSSING HER PROCESS:

Character sketches.

 

I work in shapes rather than line. 

I like to block out large shapes of colour, focusing  on the tension between saturation and value then using line work as line quality and as  pops of texture. I think this allows me to free my own movements and convey more in the scene’s atmosphere. In the first draft below, I used colours I had previously used in another piece about Hong Kong.

However, I didn’t think those colours worked well for this story. So I pivoted and adjusted, roughly photoshopping the illustrations to test out a new palette. I didn’t want a dominating red colour in my 32 page book. I wanted something that conveyed “vintage” but wasn’t overdone or cliche. “Red” felt cliche for a story set in China.

I got the general feeling of the marketplace settle, but I wanted to pull out of the scene and let the motif of “smell” dance across the page more playfully. So I used my second round sketch as a benchmark and went in again with the large shapes, utilizing the new colour palette. I continued to adjust as I went. I knew I wanted the main character to stand out and for the crowd to feel like a chorus group in a theatre performance– important but complimenting the spotlight on the main character. 

I knew that I wanted to keep the colonial soldiers, the restaurants, the arguing hawkers in the foreground and mostly my grumpy main character. I was really happy with the colour scheme at this point and went ahead to clean it up and finish with line work. I created character turnarounds for the recurring characters and continued referencing their proportions and personalities as I went. I did all of these illustrations on Procreate on the iPad. Video process of the drawings are posted on my instagram!

INTERVIEW WITH PEARL AUYEUNG:

How long have you been illustrating?

For as long as I remember. I always enjoyed drawing and was given great encouragement from my family to practice. “The Best Kind of Mooncake” is my first published piece, so I made my official debut as a working illustrator this October, I guess.

What was the first thing you did where they paid you for your art?

I sold paintings when I was in high school where I donated all proceeds to charity. I sold this painting of the Shanghai skyline with lanterns going across the canvas… and this slightly creepy painting of my head and hands coming out of a pond of water lilies.

Your website says you are Hong Kong but raised in Shanghai what made you move to the US?

I moved to the US to go to college at RISD. I went to an American school growing up and it was just the thing to do to go to the US for higher education after.

What made you decide to choose Rhode Island School of Design to get a B.F.A, in Illustration?

Overseas, I had only heard of RISD in the US and Central Saint Martins in the UK. But I didn’t want to study fashion design so I turned my attention towards RISD. I was always interested in drawing people, conveying humor and forms of art that are accessible—so illustration made sense to pursue. RISD has a great Illustration program and I applied with Early Decision. So I like to say that RISD chose me.

You graduated Magna Cum Laude at RISD, what were their requirements to attain that honor?

Just a certain GPA.

How were you chosen for a teaching Assistant position at RISD?

I had good relationships with professors at RISD and I simply signed up to be a teaching assistant—since Professors were always open to having one. I was a teaching assistant for mostly sophomore Drawing and Painting classes.

What type of things did you do as a Teaching Assistant?

I wasn’t much older than the kids I TAed for and didn’t have that much more experience than them—I was more of a peer. I was really just someone who provided feedback consistently throughout the day. I really enjoyed crit as the student and having even more time to look and learn from other people’s work was a real treat.

It looks like you did some freelance work while attending RISD with Dark Horse in Shanghai, China. What type of work did you do for them?

Dark Horse was where I got my first taste of working in licensing. I made style guides for characters that Dark Horse owned the intellectual property of. This mostly consisted work of illustrating standardized poses and environments of such characters and organizing them into a guide for licensees to use! It was fun to work with known characters such as The Mask and Hellboy.

Did you take any classes other than Illustrating at RISD?

I really enjoyed history classes and took courses at both Brown University and RISD including The History of Food and Art, Chinese History, Russian Art and History… These classes gave me the opportunity to do deep dive type of research which inevitably influenced my creative work.

What type of things do you do to promote yourself as an illustrator?

I try to be active on social media. In the physical world, when my book came out, I knocked on my neighbor’s doors and asked them to check out my work. It was so weird…

Did RISD help you find the job with Mattel?

Yes! RISD’s career portal included an application to Mattel. I didn’t even know that toy design was an option for me to pursue with my degree.

Is Mattel the reason you moved to Los Angeles?

Yes. It was really exciting for me to leave the winters in the East Coast for sunny California. I was really looking forward to something new.

What type of work are you doing at Mattel?

I’m a dolls designer and get to design the entire doll or playset from head to toe! I work with sculptors, engineers, cost engineers, marketers, packing designers etc. to make a child (or adult) happy. So far, I’ve worked with licensed brands, so I’ve had the opportunity to work with Disney, Dreamworks etc.

When did you decide you wanted to write and illustrate children’s Books?

I always wanted to make a kid’s book when I was a kid. I knew going into RISD that there was a children’s book class and that it was only for seniors. So I patiently waited for that time to come for me and the rest is history!

How did you come up with the idea to write THE BEST KIND OF MOONCAKE?

It was based on a true story told to me by my dad’s side of the family. Every time we retold this story to friends or family, people always laughed and enjoyed it. I thought it only made sense to bring this story to more people.

 

Did anyone give you feedback on this while at RISD?

Yes! This story became a manuscript and a book dummy with illustrated final spreads in a class at RISD. Without the feedback from my peers, this wouldn’t be possible. My classmates and professors critiqued both the writing and illustrations and gave me incredibly helpful advice to polish the work.

How long did it take you to write and create a book dummy?

It took 2 weeks first to write the first manuscript and sketch a sample spread. Then it took about a month to create a complete book dummy.

I see that you are represented by Kelly Sonnackat Andrea Brown Literacy. How did you connect with her and long has she represented you?

I joined SCBWI towards the middle of 2021 as I wanted to connect with more people in the Kid Lit industry. At the time, I was desperately looking for an agent because my Page Street contract was difficult for me to get through and fully understand—I was new to legal jargon and industry norms. I won a BIPOC scholarship award for the summer conference and saw that Kelly Sonnack was hosting a seminar wherein she gives feedback to writers! I looked her up and found out that she had lived in Singapore for a little while… So did I! This connection was really exciting to me because as a Chinese person and an expat, I wanted an agent who could understand me. I signed up for her seminar and read the unpublished manuscript for “The Trouble in Flour Town” and showed my accompanying illustrations. We had really good chemistry and I followed up on her feedback for my manuscript and asked her to take 15% of my future book paychecks.

Is Kelly responsible for getting you the contract for THE BEST KIND OF MOONCAKE with Page Street Kids?

Unfortunately not. I negotiated that contract myself as a student.

Is THE BEST KIND OF MOONCAKE your debut picture book?

Yes! I’m very excited to see how people receive it. It’s already been so wonderful to receive pictures from friends holding their copy.

 

Do you plan to write and illustrate another picture book?

I am currently in the works of illustrating another picture book.

Would you be open to illustrating a self-published book?

I am not. I really prefer the support of publishers and the editor, art editor and publicist and legal team that comes with it.

What do you think helped develop your develop your style?

Individual style is inevitable the same way that we all walk with our own style. I think that the rigorous amount of drawings I had to do at RISD along with looking at other people’s work on Instagram and in books and animations shaped my hand.

Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Research is my absolute favourite part. I can’t rely solely on my mind to create—that would limit me far too greatly.

Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

I use Procreate on the iPad because it’s much more affordable and has similar capabilities as Photoshop. It even records your process which I always find great to share on social media.

Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

I use a Wacom Cintiq for my 9-5 and an iPad for my personal work.

Do you have a studio in your house?

As a fresh grad, I work in my bedroom and have housemates. I certainly hope to have a studio in my home later down the road.

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

I try to keep my life balanced. I make sure to exercise regularly, I enjoy my meals, I have hobbies outside of the art world and shut off my brain with watching TV to give myself the recharge needed to continue in my creative career.

Any exciting projects on the horizon?

My first toys will be out in stores in Fall 2023 and I’m currently working on a more picture books. Hopefully I can share more information soon!

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

100%. I applied for my job at Mattel on the internet. I correspond with my publishers and potential employers through email and virtual conferences. The Internet has created the oppurtunity for more voices to be heard and create demand!

What are your career goals?

I would love for “The Best Kind of Mooncake” to be translated into many more languages! I hope to create or contribute to many more uplifting, funny and goofy stories that make people laugh!

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

See my blog, illustration fixation.

If you can afford it, I really recommend the iPad. It’s a great investment, is portable and apps such as Procreate are cheap, reliable and powerful. I also recommend looking at more artists! Study their work as try making master copies to understand their technique. I personally really love Jennifer Packer’s paintings… Her line quality and use of colours have greatly influenced my work.

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

Seek and accept feedback!  Your self-worth is not determined by how “good” people think your work is. Allow yourself to feel the full spectrum of emotions and accept that you will be challenged in order to grow.

Pearl, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and sharing your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

You can visit Pearl using the following links:

WEBSITE: https://pearlauyeung.myportfolio.com/childrens-books

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/pearlwiththepearlearrings/

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pearlauyeung/

BEHANCE: https://www.behance.net/pearlauyeung

AGENCY: https://www.andreabrownlit.com/illustrator/Pearl-AuYeung

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 18, 2022

November Agent of the Month – Ellen Goff – Interview Part Two

NOVEMBER AGENT OF THE MONTH

ELLEN GOFF – HG LITERARY

Ellen graduated from The University of Chicago with a BA in English, a minor in Cinema and Media Studies, and a focus in Creative Writing. Ellen has worked everywhere from The White House under the Obama administration to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. At HG Literary, she assists partner and agent Carrie Hannigan on all children’s titles from picture books to middle grade to young adult. Ellen’s own list consists of YA writers and illustrators, as well as middle grade and picture book writers. She is also a member of HG Literary’s foreign rights team.

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Children’s, Commercial, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Historical, Horror, Literary, Middle Grade, New Adult, Picture Books, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

For picture books: Ellen is looking for author-illustrators, and projects that highlight the sparse and simple.

For MG: Ellen is looking contemporary realistic MG, also MG with hints of magical realism. Humor is a must!

For YA: She is interested in all genres and formats of any kind of YA. She especially likes anything spooky, historical fiction, martial arts, graphic novels, and novels-in-verse.

Older YA: The stuff you’re not sure is YA but not sure it’s adult either (anything you might label “New Adult” like Red, White, & Royal Blue)

Non-Fiction: Ellen might be convinced on a nonfiction project if it involves food. Cookbooks, History, Humor, Illustrated, Travel.

She has a soft spot for Shakespeare as well as southern stories that remind her of her home state of Kentucky.

Favorite sub-genres: Gothic, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction YA, Southern Gothic, Speculative Fiction, horror

Here are some of Ellen’s favorite things:

YA (of any kind)

Novels in Verse

Middle Grade Humor

Graphic novels

Spooky stuff (ghosts, vampires, lore)

Gothic/Southern Gothic

Southern settings

Shakespeare-inspired & retellings

Historical Fiction (only YA)

Inventive Cookbooks

Illustrators

Ellen runs a YA writing group and workshop in NYC.

To Query: Please send your query and the first five pages of your manuscript to ellen@hgliterary.com.

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BELOW IS PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN:

What do you like to see in a submission?

A smidge of personalization goes a long way. No “Dear Agent.” If I only have a few minutes to review queries and respond, I’ll start with the ones that reference my wish list items or my clients’ existing books.

How important is the query letter?

It’s very important. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and typos happen, but we often don’t have time to read your pages in depth. So we look to the letter to guide us on whether we’ll take time to dive into the sample pages. How engaging a query letter is and the narrative flow of it tells me A LOT about how well the manuscript is written and how well a grasp an author has on their own story and plot arcs and character profiles.

Would you have a sample of a good query letter or a link to one you saw on the Internet that would help writers?

This is a pretty good quick and dirty reference sheet, just based on a brief glance:

https://www.queryletter.com/post/161-examples-of-successful-query-letters-from-famous-authors

Do you have any tips on how to find comps to use in a submission query letter?

Read widely in your area! We can’t stress it enough. If you’re querying a YA novel, you should be reading tons of YA currently out on the shelves before you even started writing. Reading in your genre and age range will help make you a better writer, and give you comps. Walk into bookstores, look at their displays, too.

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

The first five pages will have to grab me – voice, the problem, the risks, a unique set up or environment or atmosphere can do the trick, too. I always read pages before I request; a good query letter won’t do all the heavy lifting.

After you request more, how long do you think it will take to respond?

Agents’ reading time is slow and getting slower; we all wear a lot of different hats and have to prioritize existing clients. If I have a slow week or am on vacation, I might be able to read in a week. Other times, reading a full manuscript can take months.

Do you have any pet peeves?

Gratuitous murder or violence toward girls and women. It’s almost 2023! We can have narratives without.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

I see a lot of folks trying to fit SO much into their queries. We don’t need queries that are paragraphs and paragraphs long – save extra background info or deep plot info for a follow up conversation with an agent if they’re interested in your work. My eyes only have so much stamina.

What are your feelings about prologues?

My question is always, why can’t it just be a first chapter? Does it need to be labeled a prologue? If it’s a prologue because it flashes back in time, why are we spending time where our main protagonist isn’t? Is the prologue really so crucial we must delay getting to see the here and now of our main character? Often delicious backstory and context are best revealed in snippets scattered throughout the story. That layering will add nuance; at the beginning of the novel, we don’t yet have context for the info you’re giving us.

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

Manuscript Wishlist is a great website and resource for this kind of thing. Also, our agency’s website! I occasionally post MSWL items on Twitter, too.

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BELOW ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR NOVEMBER 2022 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “NOVEMBER 2022 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you put your name, the title of the piece, and genre: a picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, Non-fiction, contemporary, historical, Sci-fi, fantasy, 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 2022 NOVERMBER FIRST PAGE  – 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.

DEADLINE:November 22nd. – noon EST

RESULTS: December 2nd

PLEASE NOTE: THERE WON’T BE A DECEMBER AGENT OF THE MONTH. ELLEN IS THE LAST AGENT FOR THIS YEAR, so make sure you submit your first page before the holidays.

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 17, 2022

Book Giveaway: HANUKKAH IN LITTLE HAVANA by Julie Anna Blank

Julie Anna Blank’s debut picture book, HANUKKAH IN LITTLE HAVANA, illustrated by Carlos Velez Aguilera and published by Kar-Ben Publishing is available in bookstores. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Julie Anna and Carlos.

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. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Every December, a little girl in Virginia looks forward to receiving a crate of oranges from her grandparents in Miami, but this year is even better. The family is taking a driving trip to visit Nonna and Nonno in Florida! At Nonna and Nonno’s house, they pick grapefruit and oranges under the sun. They dance the salsa and play in the waves at the beach. Best of all, they celebrate Hanukkah together. The girls help Nonna make latkes, and buñuelos stuffed with almonds and guava jelly. It’s eight days of light and love.

BOOK JOURNEY:

How Midnight to Miami became Hanukkah in Little Havana

Back in late fall of 2019 my local, independent bookstore, Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, sponsored a “Tales of the Season” writing contest. The public was invited to share sweet memories of Decembers gone by. Winners would present at public readings and have stories posted in shop fronts for holiday shoppers to enjoy. I immediately pictured stories filled with sleigh rides, carolers, hot cocoa, Christmas trees, etc. Beautiful images, but none that represented tales or memories of my favorite Decembers.

Feeling compelled to represent, I sat down to write what I originally titled Road Trip Kidnap which later became Midnight to Miami, describing the road trips to Florida my family made from the Washington, D.C. area to visit my grandparents. I intentionally did not use the words Hanukkah or Little Havana until the very last lines of my story because I wanted the audience waiting for the Christmas payoff at the end. If selected, I knew I’d be reading to adults. The original story was a little darker and somewhat melancholy with themes of escape and revolution.

I wanted my audience in  a state of mild confusion, unease, and suspense. In the end, my “tale of the season” was selected. I gave two public readings and got the results I had hoped for—the last line, “Hanukkah in Little Havana” was met with sounds of surprise and loud applause. Very satisfying!

Winter gave way to March of 2020, and you know what happened… COVID lockdown. Being a school librarian, I was working from home full time, very long hours, but Midnight to Miami kept calling to me. I reworked it with children in mind and lightened it. I reimagined it as a picture book full of warm and sunny Hanukkahs in modern day, representing Jewish kids who speak Spanish like me.

As a school librarian working hard to make sure all my students have windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors (thank you Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop), I was hard pressed to find many books with Spanish speaking Jewish kids enjoying Ladino or Sephardic traditions. That’s when Midnight to Miami became Hanukkah in Little Havana. Turns out I had buried the headline!

Picking oranges under the sun, dancing salsa, and making guava-filled buñuelos! Spending Hanukkah with Nonna and Nonno in Florida is like a dream come true.

Many drafts later, I submitted my manuscript to an agency with hopes of professional representation and got a lovely rejection full of encouragement to keep trying. I looked through Jewish themed books in my library and decided Kar-ben (an imprint of Lerner) would be a good bet. I sent my manuscript off and promptly forgot about it.

In October of 2020 Kar-ben contacted me with an offer. Even luckier, Kar-ben chose Carlos Velez Aguilera to illustrate. Now, two years later, a beautiful book full of my fondest, family memories is a reality. No one is more surprised or thrilled than me!

JULIE ANNA’S BIO:

After a childhood of moving every few years, Julie Anna Blank has enjoyed staying put in her Pacific Northwest home of 30 years, where she is a school librarian. She and her husband hit the road for van life adventures in their Sprinter, most often to visit their two grown sons.

Having been a storyteller all her life, Julie is thrilled to see her words in print finally. Hanukkah in Little Havana is her first children’s book.

CARLOS’ BIO:

Carlos Vélez Aguilera was born in Mexico City in 1980. For 12 years he has been a professional illustrator and dedicated full time to editorial illustration. He is a graduate of the National School of Plastic Arts of the National University Autonomous of Mexico.

He takes different workshops and illustration seminars with teachers such as Javier Sáez, Kveta Pakovska, Adellci Galloni, Noemí Villamuza, Santiago Caruso, Andres Neves, Roberto Inoccenti, among others. He has illustrated books for various publishers in Mexico such as: Santillana, Ediciones Castillo, Norma, SM, Trillas, Richmond, Alfaguara, Porrua, among others. As well as a large number of magazines and animation projects.

He has illustrated more than 20 books for children’s literature as well as a book of author “Salón Destino”. He has been recognized with two illustration awards in the catalogue for the International Children’s and Youth Book Fair in Mexico.

Julie, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I took one look at your book and knew I had to share it with everyone. This is such a fun, sweet book. I have cherised memories of the daysvisiting my grandparents farm. They didn’t live in Flordia, but I loved following the characters in this book to Nonna and Nonno’s house in Flordia. Your love for this time in your life really came through on the pages of the book. Carlos is a very talented artist and his illustrations captured the joy of this story. The whole book is perfect. I am sure Hanukkah in Little Havana will sells for many years. Best wishes for the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 16, 2022

Book Winners – Kudos – Opportunity – Industry Changes

BOOK WINNERS:

Angie Quantrell won THE TRESAURE HUNT by Stephanie Wildman

Ilona Bray won CHRISTMAS FAIRIES FOR OUMA by Lindsay McDivitt

Linda Trott Dickman won PARTNER POEMS & WORD LADDERS for Building Foundational Literacy Skills by David Harrison

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TAKE ANOTHER LOOK at: CLOAKED IN COURAGE: UNCOVERING DEBORAH SAMPSON, PATRIOT SOLDIER by Beth Anderson It posted without being finished. Click the link: Still time to get in the running for this book.

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KUDOS:

Geisel honoree Nina Mata’s NEW, about a Filipina girl on her first days of school in America as she navigates her particular encounter with newness through a universal lens, to Luana Kay Horry at Harper Children’s, in a pre-empt, for publication in summer 2025, by Christy Ewers at The CAT Agency (world).

Author of BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS and IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA Ana Siqueira’s LA MALA SUERTE IS FOLLOWING ME, following a boy through a series of misadventures once Mrs. Mala Suerte (Mrs. Bad Luck) starts thwarting his every move, illustrated by Carlos Velez Aguilera, to Karen Boss at Charlesbridge, for publication in spring 2024, simultaneously in Spanish, by Tricia Lawrence at Erin Murphy Literary Agency for the author, and by Kate Kendrick Powell at Astound US for the illustrator (world).

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OPPORTUNITY:

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Shannon Hitchcock has a teachers guide for her new book STORY QUILTS featured last week on Writing and Illustrating. Contact Shannon and she will send you the pdf. Here is the link: https://www.shannonhitchcock.com/contact/

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OPPORTUNITY:

The Spark Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.

The Spark winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize. The winner and honor recipients (if applicable) will receive: Spark seals to display on their book, the opportunity to teach a digital workshop about their publishing journey, the chance to be featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and publicized through SCBWI social networking sites. The winners will also get the opportunity to attend any conference of their choice tuition-free (other than for extras such as critiques and intensives).

SCBWI reserves the right not to award a SPARK AWARD in any given year.

SUBMISSIONS OPEN. Apply HERE.

Open from November 1– November 30, 2022, at midnight.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES 

  • You must be a current SCBWI member with membership current through April of the following year to apply. If you are a member now but your membership is scheduled to expire before that time, you will need to renew your membership in order to be eligible for the award.
  • You may only submit one title for each award period.
  • Both the author and illustrator (if the illustrator’s name appears on the book) must be members to apply.
  • You must have published a book intended for the children’s or YA market in one of the following categories:
    • Board Book
    • Picture Book
    • Chapter Book
    • Middle Grade
    • Graphic Novel
    • Young Adult
  • The book may be fiction or nonfiction.
  • The book should have been self-published either from an established self-publishing enterprise or individually self-published. The book cannot have been previously. published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form.
  • SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unbusinesslike manner.
  • The book must exist in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and copyright date of the current year.
  • All applicants must include a cover letter with your name, the name of your book, the genre of your. book, the publishing method for your book (including the name of any editor/copyeditor/designer who was retained in the creation of the book), your book’s ISBN, and a synopsis of your book.
  • As of November 2020, submission to the Spark Award is DIGITAL ONLY. Please submit through the award portal HERE.
  • One winner and up to two. Honor Book. recipients. will be chosen in two categories:
    • Books for Older Readers: This includes middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.
    • Illustrated Books: This includes board books, picture books, readers, chapter books, and novelty books.
  • Books entered in the Spark Award are not eligible for the Golden Kite Award. or Sid Fleischman Award. Self-published authors may only enter their books in one of these awards.
  • Judging will be based on a number of criteria, including. but not limited to: quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, editing and design, appropriateness of content for the targeted age group of the book.
  • Books are evaluated by a panel of English-speaking judges. All books entered must be written in English or be submitted with an English translation.

Questions? Please email Sarah Diamond at sarahdiamond@scbwi.org.

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INDUSTRY CHANGES:

Jill Corcoran has been promoted to senior director of Smithsonian Licensed Publishing.

Greg Stadnyk has been promoted to art director for Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Leslie Mechanic has been promoted to art director for Little Simon and Simon Spotlight.

Jennifer Browne has joined Holiday House full-time as creative director of Neal Porter Books and senior art director for Margaret Ferguson Books and Peachtree.

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Talk tomorrow,

Kath

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 15, 2022

Book Giveaway: BEST KIND OF MOON CAKE by Pearl AuYeung

Pearl AuYeung has written and illutrated her first picture book, BEST KIND OF MOON CAKE. It is published by Page Street Kids and they have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Pearl.

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. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Once upon a morning in Hong Kong, in the alley of Tai Yuen Street, a girl is promised a mooncake with a double-yolk center―the best kind!

The special mooncake seems like the only excitement on an otherwise boring day in the market where nothing changes… until an exhausted stranger falls to his knees right in the street! He ran through forests, swam through rivers, and even stowed away on a ship, all to get to Hong Kong. Now at the end of his journey, all he needs is a bite to eat, but no one seems willing to help―not even the girl, if it means giving up her prized treat.

The girl’s ultimate decision has surprising, far-reaching consequences in this mostly true story that reminds us that even the smallest acts of kindness hold the power to change lives, for the giver as much as the receiver.

BOOK JOURNEY:

There’s this older man who sells snake soup behind my grandma’s pajama stall. He always makes fun of my weight and teases me about all sorts of things whenever I visit her in Tai Yuen street– My grandmother always scolds him mercilessly for the things he says to me. One time at the age of 15 or so, when I felt like I was at my wit’s end with his relentless teasing, my grandma told me a new story. Not the bitter story of Japanese soldiers attacking her… a story that she had repeated over and over for as long as I’ve known her… But she told the story of when this mean little man first came to Hong Kong, came to her pajama stall hungry and desperate and how she gave him a mooncake. Whenever we retold this story to my friends and cousins, the part where he swallows the mooncake in one bite was always the point where people would laugh out loud. You see, a mooncake is extremely dense, carb heavy, and rather dry. Nobody ever eats a mooncake in one bite.

In my final year at RISD, I took a course called Picture and Word, taught by Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges and April Prince. These lovely professors gave me the tools and guidance to bring my little family story into reality as a children’s book. I started avidly consuming and collecting picture books, learning from others and testing out writing styles and drawing techniques. We pushed out a new manuscript and sample final spread bi-weekly. During one of those weeks, I created “The Best Kind of Mooncake”. It was titled “Once Upon a Time in Lee Tung Street” then. Publishers were invited to our final crit session and I pitched my story that day. Page Street Kids reached out with a fabulous offer and the rest is… written in the paragraphs below. 

Reality set in that my story was going to be more than just a college project. This was going to be a real book! As a person labeled as a minority in America, I was hyper aware of the stereotypes and challenges I would face in a white-dominated publishing industry. I was telling a story set in colonial Hong Kong in the language of a country which seems to pray for the downfall of my country and therefore my people. I felt like there was a lot riding on my shoulders and felt immense pressure to represent my family’s story and culture as accurately as I could  without falling into normalized racist cliches.

I tortured myself with all of the what-ifs, tinkered with the colour palette, character design and details in the drawings of the marketplace. I started
with a red and yellow dominated palette, but then felt it was overused in both the resurgence of the Wong Kar Wai film style and Yellow Peril propaganda art. So I chose all new colours, avoiding cadmium red and bright yellow entirely.

But then a professor assigned the connection of chopsticks to the curly typeface I had chosen and I broke down with the realization that it didn’t matter how hard I tried to battle the stereotypes– they were going to be placed upon me and my work anyway because of the location my story took place in and my last name. I realized from there that it’s not all on me, all on this one book, to change the way people viewed Chinese stories and Chinese people. I would just do my best.

I worked on “The Best Kind of Mooncake” while I finished my final semester of school, applied for jobs, moved across the country, started my job as a toy designer at Mattel and transitioned into adulthood. It was really difficult to balance my work with… my work. And enjoy life while doing so!
In the end, I really just wanted to tell a fun story and share Chinese history with whoever could get their hands on my book. It was a large team effort with going back and forth to clean up my manuscript, tighten the illustrations and fact check all the little details in my story.

I was flagged for the goose restaurant in the marketplace for its inaccurate location on Tai Yuen Street since it’s the name of a real restaurant in Hong Kong. Luckily for me, it’s my maternal grandpa’s restaurant and I was legally allowed to include its likeness. I’m incredibly grateful to my professors at RISD for their support and to Page Street for giving me the opportunity to share this story with the world. Mostly, I’m thankful to my family for sharing this story with me, for giving me the life I have and for their incredible love which I hope is reflected in my book.

PEARL’S BIO:

Pearl Au-Yeung (“Ow-Yerng”), an author/illustrator  from Hong Kong but raised in Shanghai, now based in the USA. She graduated Magna cum laude from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI with  BFA in illustration.

Pearl is a passionate and conceptual thinker who aims to use illustration as a means to communicate meaningful narratives in an approachable way. With her international background living in parts of Asia and North America, Pearl strives to draw upon past experiences to combine aesthetics with conceptual thought.

While writing and illustrating children’s book, she is working for Mattel, Inc. as Associate Product Designer in Los Angeles
She will be featured on Illustrator Saturday later this month. So please check back to see all her creative work.

Pearl is represented by Kelly Sonnack at Andrea Brown Literacy. Please contact her at  kelly@andreabrownlit.com for book illustration enquiries. Click to open resume

The seal on the upper left of my website means “pearl” and was done by PeiLing Tsai

Pearl, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. Your illustrations are eye popping. I loved reading your journey with the book and how you wanted to share this family story with the world. Most of all thank you for being so honest with your hopes and fears while working on the book and the heavy burden of making sure you depicted your Chinese heritage honestly, without racist cliches and sterotypes. I’m thankful you had the opportunity to meet Page Street Kids while at RISD which lead to this book. I look forward to reading and enjoying many more wonderful stories and books from you in the future. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 14, 2022

Book Giveaway: Good Morning Sunshine by Lorna Schultz Nicholson

Lorna Schultz Nicholson has a new picture book, Good Morning Sunshine, illustrated by Alice Carter and published by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to share a copy of the book to one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is 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 Lorna and Alice!

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:

Joey Moss first became known to many Canadians because of his work with the NHL Edmonton Oilers hockey team. Joey loved connecting with people. Whether he was singing “Oh Canada” on a jumbotron screen at a hockey game, welcoming a new friend with a playful wrestling match, or dancing on a runway for a charity fashion show, Joey loved making people feel good. But his impact and influence started long before he joined the Oilers. Joey was born with Down syndrome at a time when many children like him were institutionalized. Instead, Joey lived at home, surrounded by his supportive family who was determined that he should receive the same opportunities as others. From this loving environment grew a caring, energetic man who went on to show the world that people like him could do many things and contribute greatly to society. The inspiring true story of Joey Moss, a champion for all to have an opportunity to live a full, purposeful life, comes alive in this heartwarming picture book for young readers.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Thank you, Kathy! I’m so honoured to be on your blog with GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE: The Joey Moss Story. It is a joy to share my journey about this book, and the wonderful Joey Moss.

Eight years ago, my husband took a job with the Edmonton Oilers, a hockey team in the NHL. I’d heard about Joey Moss, as he was a bit of a legend in Alberta. Everyone knew about Joey Moss. Joey was born with Down syndrome and worked for the Oilers as their assistant equipment manager. His smiling face was always on the Jumbotron at games, signing Oh Canada. He was always around the arena, giving people hi-fives. At the first Oilers staff Christmas party, I was talking to Joey and the song La Bamba came on. We immediately hit the dance floor and I had a hard time keeping up to him, as he moved to the rhythm of the song. I had such fun dancing with him.

At the time, I was also writing a young adult novel (BORN WITH: Erika and Gianni) featuring the Best Buddies Club and a female protagonist who was born with Down syndrome. I had become friends with many people from the Edmonton Down syndrome Society as they were helping me with research. When it came time for their biggest fundraiser, a fashion show at one of the major hotels in Edmonton, I was asked to be a model. When I got backstage, there was Joey. He too was a model. But, let me tell you, he was a way better model than I was. When it was his turn, he strutted and danced and blew kisses to the crowd. I had to follow him on high heels and a long dress and all I could do was walk in a straight line so I wouldn’t trip. He was the life of the party.

When Joey passed away on October 26, 2020, the out- pouring of love for him from all over the world was remarkable and so heart-warming. He had become such a legend, in such a positive way. As a writer, who values a good story, and believes in the power of books, I knew this was one that needed to be told. This was going to be my job to do this for Joey and his family, to make sure his legacy was preserved in book form.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to write the story. Did I fictionalize a character and make a middle grade or young adult novel? Did I write a biography for adults? I sat down at my computer to write out my thoughts and… what kept coming to me was how he made people smile. I wrote a little bit, and it came out as a children’s picture book. I think Joey’s dance moves gave me that picture book rhythm. This story needed to be told for young kids, to help them respect people born with Down syndrome. I talked to my agent about what I’d written, and we agreed the only way I could write it was with the support of the family. Joey comes from a huge family, and I contacted his older sister, Pattie. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you to Pattie. She told me so many stories, many of which didn’t get into the book because of space, but they all made me laugh and smile. That was the toughest part of the writing process; figuring out what to put in the story. I also talked to people who had worked with Joey from the Oilers and the Edmonton Football team. The first draft was titled: MAKING PEOPLE SMILE. My agent sent the finally finished manuscript out and within a week two publishers responded. My intuition clanged bells that Sleeping Bear Press was the right home. Heather Hughes is the publisher and her husband, Pat Hughes, had played for the Edmonton Oilers. He knew Joey’s legend.

My editor for the book was Barb McNally, and I feel blessed and grateful and so much gushy stuff for the opportunity to work with her. One thing she really helped me with was the ending. In the initial draft, I had tied the book up with Joey’s passing. But Barb chatted with me about leaving it on a high note. Amazing. That was most definitely the right suggestion. I loved working with Barb.           

Sleeping Bear Press also was incredibly clever to pick Alice Carter as the illustrator. Alice did an outstanding job capturing Joey’s personality and making him sunny and bright. Alice didn’t know Joey, as she lives in Ottawa, so I got photos from the family, and they were sent to her. She came up with the idea to make the book like a scrapbook. I just love the page of his siblings and how she made them like school photos on a fridge. Her choice of using yellow as the cover colour, just makes the book pop. (Yes, I’m in awe of her work.)

The book came out in September 2022, the exact same time the Joey Moss Elementary school opened. Yeah! I attended the opening and got to read the book to every student in the school. And…they unveiled an oil painting of the cover of the book which will hang in the school! Yes, I cried.

I hope as you read the book, and perhaps read the book to children, that the book opens up discussions about how we can all be a force for good in the world, no matter who we are. I hope the book makes you happy too, as you read about such a beautiful human being: Joey Moss.

LORNA’S BIO:

Lorna Schultz Nicholson is full-time writer who divides her time between Edmonton, Alberta and Penticton, British Columbia. She has published children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, YA fiction and non-fiction sports books. Lorna’s books are about family, friendships, and, well, the ups and downs of life. We all have those, right? They are also diverse, featuring many different characters. Many of her books are about sports, (yes, hockey), so she can answer a lot of questions about that too. Of course, she loves talking about writing and her process, and she loves giving tips to students on how they can make their writing better. Lorna is a lively presenter and has been in schools across Canada. She loves instilling her love of reading and writing to any grade. Please, visit her website for information.

Lorna was raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, Nicholson obtained a B.Sc. in Human Performance from the University of Victoria. With her degree, she worked as the Fitness and Recreation Co-ordinator at the University of Victoria where she also coached rowing. Nicholson now resides in Calgary, Alberta with her husband, former Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson. She has been an active presence in Canadian media, on television, radio and in print.

www.lornaschultznicholson.com

ALICE’S BIO:

Alice Carter is an illustrator, writer and chaser of dreams. She has a passion for sharing her whimsical imagination and believes in the magic of a great story. She is inspired by people watching, music and nature.

Alice is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and CANSCAIP. She lives in Ottawa in Canada, with her family of silly humans, a quirky puppy and a wise old cat.

Alice is the illustrator of many picture books including; Angus All Aglow, written by Heather Smith (Orca Book Publishers), My Puppy Patch written by Theo Heras (Pajama Press),and the Pierre & Paul Series by Caroline Adderson (Owlkids Books).

My Puppy Patch was chosen for the 2020 IODE Jean Throop Book Award shortlist! Angus All Aglow was chosen as an OLA Best Bet of 2018!

Lorna, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I did not know Joey’s story. I love that you are introducing him to all of people in the world who never heard his story. It is such a heartwarming book. How he rose above being born with Down syndrome and accomplished so much while winning the hearts of some many people. What a great message for children and adults – so uplifting. I love Alice’s illustrations and her idea to present the story as a scrape book was a brilliant idea. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 13, 2022

Book Giveaway: SOME BODIES by Sophie Kennen

Sophie Kennen’s debut picture book, SOME BODIES, illustrated by Airin O’Callaghan and published by Sleeping Bear Press is available in bookstores. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Sophie and Airin.

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. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Our bodies! Our amazing, astounding, and all-around awesome bodies! Bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and can do extraordinary things. Our bodies are uniquely our own yet they connect us to the world around us in so many ways. Through playful rhymes and colorful engaging artwork, all the things that make our bodies special–from the texture of our hair to the color of our eyes–are celebrated. This sweet and inclusive book encourages young readers to acknowledge and accept differences, and offers the perfect opportunity to open up conversations about body acceptance. Every body is different and all bodies are good. Back matter includes tips and conversation starters for parents and educators to use with children.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Some Bodies came from my work with children as a teacher. Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of working with students from ages 3-12, and I noticed that across the board, they all had questions about their bodies: how they are similar, how they are different, and what makes them that way. I wanted to write something for young children that addressed these issues in a developmentally appropriate way. Often, these are topics that even adults question, but often, we adults feel uncomfortable addressing these challenging subjects.

My goal was to teach children that their curiosities are normal, and that with open minds, we can learn a lot about each other and ourselves. I’m so grateful to the Sleeping Bear Press team for partnering with me on this project. Our illustrator, Airin O’Callaghan, is incredibly talented, and I so appreciate all the time that she put into making Some Bodies come to life.

It took me a few months to put together my first draft of the book, but after that came the long process of editing, initially by myself, then with my friends and family. After Sleeping Bear Press accepted the manuscript, we continued that process for a few more years. A huge thanks to my editors there, without whom this book wouldn’t be possible!

I didn’t use an agent, and I remember contacting Sleeping Bear Press directly. Right now, I’m not sure what the future holds for me as a writer. I have a few ideas, but I haven’t put anything on paper yet — I’ll have to see!

SOPHIA’S BIO:

Sophie Kennen is an elementary school teacher. Some Bodies is her first book and is based on conversations that she’s had with her own curious students. When she’s not teaching or writing, she stays busy knitting and making collages. Sophie lives in Connecticut with her cat, Creampuff, and her many plants.

AIRIN’S BIO:

Airin O’Callaghan completed her bachelor’s degree in Fine Art Photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and completed her first MFA degree in fine art specializing in cyanotypes, an old photographic printing process. Her work was nominated for The Netherlands’ prestigious illustration award, the Fiep Westendorp Stimuleringsprijs.

She worked for the national newspaper De Volkskrant, as a photographer, photo editor and art director, producing imagery of all kinds. She developed cyanotype workshops to children at the museum for contemporary art in Amsterdam (Stedelijk Museum).

Airin enrolled in the online MFA Illustration program at the Academy of Art University, to strengthen her illustration skills. She traveled to Macau Chins and  she taught at The School of The Nations children ranging from age 4 to 18 years old: History of Photography, Photography as a Visual Language, and Photography as a Medium of Expression.

She continued her MFA in Illustration on campus in San Francisco. After a great first semester as a student at The Academy of Art University, she taught three different photography classes and worked as a part-time professor while studying illustration at AAU.

Two years agot Airin decided to focus 100% on developing as a professional artist. Years of combining photography and drawing development of her  cyanotype technique has resulted in the continuing and finding my own unique illustration style.

She I lives in Berkeley now specializes in creating playful and engaging illustrations for children’s books. Her work is a mix of traditional and digital media with contemporary color palettes. Whe is represented by Astound Publishing.

Sophie, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love that you have written a book that helps children accept the fact that all our bodies are different and clebrate all the things that make us special. Teacher will love the back matter they can use to delve deeper and spark discussion. Airin’s illustrations are fun and perfect. The rhyme and the pictures will keep children coming back for more. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 12, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Sam Caldwell

 

Sam Caldwell is a children’s illustrator and designer based in Glasgow, UK. He grew up in the north of England and studied painting at the Edinburgh College of Art. Sam has a particular talent for illustrating the world’s strangest and most fascinating creatures. He grew up in the north of England and now lives in Glasgow, Scotland, where he works as an illustrator and designer. Sam studied painting at the Edinburgh College of Art and is passionate about using texture and colour to tell stories with his art. His illustrations are regularly featured in magazines and newspapers, including The GuardianThe Independent and The Sydney Morning Herald, and his books for children include Sneaky Shadows by SC Manchild, and Tim Flannery’s Explore Your World series, including Weird Wild, Amazing! and Deep Dive into Deep Sea.

Here are more of his Published Books:

His Clients Include:

Sam is represented by Good Illustration

Here are two videos Sam created to show his process:

Interview with Sam Caldwell:

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been illustrating full time for around 3 years now but before that, I was doing the occasional professional job whilst working part time for over 10 years.

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

I was commissioned in 2011, alongside a bunch of other artists to design a series of posters for a Las Vegas hotel, advertising some of the shops they had on their site. It was a really fun job and I was so excited to get the opportunity. That was probably the first time I realised that you could make some kind of living through drawing. A very exciting moment!

Were you born and raised Northern England?

I grew up in Bolton, a town just north of Manchester. I then went off to live in Edinburgh for 4 years whilst studying, followed by 5 years in London and am now based in Glasgow.

What made you choose to study Painting at Edinburgh College of Art?

I initially went to study illustration at ECA but switched over to the Painting course in my first couple of weeks there. I’m glad I did because I definitely got the full ‘Art School’ experience which I don’t think I’d have had as much of if I’d stuck with the illustration course.

Did you take any illustrating classes at Edinburgh College of Art?

I didn’t do any specific illustration classes during my time at ECA but my work was always pretty narrative based. I did lots of world building projects where I would create characters and give them back stories.

Did ECA have classes like animation, design, or comic art?

Yes, absolutely. In the first year you got to spend some time in all of the departments which was really fun. The Painting course I did there was really broad and it allowed me to experiment with all sorts of different ways of working. I had the chance to dabble with print making, book making, animation, comic art, making videos and even building installations.

Did you do any illustrating work while going to school.

I was often taking on the odd job here and there throughout that time. Usually things like designing posters for gigs or club nights, as well as the odd editorial illustration job for local magazines and newspapers.

When and what made you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

I have always absolutely loved children’s books and being involved in creating them has always been something which I’ve been really interested in. I think they’re such a fantastic medium for story telling and world building. Making images for children really allows you to have a lot of fun and encourages play which is what has always drawn me to make art.

Did ECA help you find you artwork you could after graduation?

Because the work I was making during my time at ECA was so different to the stuff I do now, I can’t really say that there was much of a direct link to me finding illustration work afterwards but that’s much more because I changed tact rather by lack of effort from the college. The degree show at the end of the course was a really fantastic opportunity to sell work and make contacts.

What type of job did you do after you graduated?

I moved down to London immediately after graduating and spent a couple of years working in a cinema. I later got another job as bar tender at a local restaurant. I look back at those jobs really fondly now because I met some really great people – lots of artists, actors, performers and writers. During the last couple of years in London I worked as a Cartographer/Graphic Designer at Bellerby Globemakers, a small studio in Stoke Newington where a team of incredibly skilled painters, makers and carpenters build bespoke, handmade globes. This was a truly special place to work and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity!

What made you move to Glasgow?

My partner applied to do a Masters degree at the university there. We were getting a bit worn down by the pace of life in London and needed more nature in our lives. Glasgow seemed like the perfect place because we both love Scotland, had some pals here and in a very short drive, you can get out to some really stunning countryside.

Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

I wouldn’t say that art school influenced my visual style all that much but I would say that it had a huge impact on my approach to making work. It gave me the discipline to take it seriously as well as allowing me to experiment with all sorts of different methods and mediums.

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

I started to really focus on building a children’s book portfolio probably around 5 years ago. Before that I was kind of trying to cover my bases and do all sorts of illustration work.

How did you promote yourself as an illustrator?

Promotion is definitely not my strong suit but it is obviously an essential part of being a working artist. Aside from building an online portfolio and some sporadic Instagram posting, I would try to direct message or email art directors that I wanted to work with. The Children’s Writers & Artists Yearbook is a great resource as well as the AOI contact lists.

Was Weird, Wild, Amazing!: Exploring the Incredible World of Animals by Tim Flannery and published on Aug 4, 2020 with Norton Young Readers your first illustrated picture book?

Yes! This was my first properly published book. It was an absolutely enormous project but so much fun. I was also working full-time alongside making it so most of the work was done in the evenings and at weekends. It was originally published by Hardie Grant in Australia and came out a year earlier there.

In October of 2021 Weird, Wild, Amazing! Forest: Exploring the Incredible World in the Trees by Tim Flannery and published by Norton Young Readers. Did you know you were going to illustrate this book when you were doing the first book with Norton Young Readers?

The three smaller books are actually chapters from the larger book but published separately. I think the series of smaller books only came out in the U.S. It was really exciting to see ‘Weird, Wild, Amazing!’ get picked up by a few international publishers.

Since Weird, Wild, Amazing! Water: Exploring the Incredible World Beneath the Waves by Tim Flannery also came out on the same day in October 2021with Norton Young Readers: Had you signed a three-book contract in 2020?

Does Norton Young Reader consider Deep Dive into Deep Sea: Exploring the Most Mysterious Levels of the Ocean by Tim Flannery as part of the Weird, Wild, Amazing! Series or have they decided to start another series with you and Tim? 

So this book is the second in the Tim Flannery series. I made this one with the lovely team at Hardie Grant during the Covid lockdowns in 2020. It was great fun to draw all sorts of tentacled deep sea creatures!

You had two more books in this series come out in April – Weird, Wild, Amazing! Sky: Exploring the Incredible World in the Cloudsand Weird, Wild, Amazing! Desert: Exploring the World’s Incredible Drylands. How long did Norton Young Readers give you to do these books?

Are they planning to continue this series with you?

The series has two more titles – ‘Weirdest Creatures in Time’ and ‘Creepiest Crawly Critters’. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to illustrate them due to scheduling conflicts but they both look fabulous.

Why did Wodge and Friends: Take the Stage: Wodge and Friends #2 by Carol Ann Martin on Oct 27, 2021 Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing come out before The Mystery in the Garden: Wodge and Friends #1 Sep 1, 2022 Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing?

These two were made roughly at the same time, as it was always planned to be a two book series. The first one, ‘Mystery In The Garden’ came out in the Spring of 2021 and was followed in the Autumn by ‘Take The Stage’. I really love this series and had a lot of fun creating the characters.

Do you think Neon Squid saw your illustrations with the Wild, Weird, Amazing series and decided you were the one they wanted to illustrated Tales of Ancient Worlds: Adventures in Archaeology by Stefan Milosavljevich, Neon Squidon Apr 5, 2022?

The style of these two books were fairly different so I’m not sure that ‘Weird, Wild, Amazing!’ influenced the commission of ‘Tales of Ancient Worlds’ all that much. Perhaps it was more to do with a similarity in the scale of each project. Both were pretty huge undertakings! I loved having the opportunity to illustrate these vast landscapes and epic scenes which took up whole spreads in ‘Ancient Worlds’. The team at Neon Squid have been making some really beautiful books recently.

I just featured A Parliament of Owls by Devin Scillianthat was published on Jul 15, 2022 with Sleeping Bear Press. Loved your illustrations. Did you get to interact with Devin while working on the book?

I worked closely with the lovely team at Sleeping Bear Press to illustrate Devin’s wonderful manuscript. His comments guided us throughout the process but I actually only spoke directly to him after the book had gone to print.

Did Berbay Publishing tell you what they were looking for before you started illustrating Sneaky Shadows by SC Manchild?

Yes, I’d say they were pretty clear about what they were looking for with this project. Because the book relies so heavily on this fun play between set-up and reveal, a clear brief was a must.

How long did it take you to illustrate The Book Family Robinson by Jonathan Emmett, published by Templar on Mar 3, 2022?

This one was a fairly long running project. I did my first pass at some character samples way back in September 2020. I believe that Jonathan had actually written the story many years prior to that too. In my experience, picture books do tend to run along fairly long timelines. It is a lot of work for everyone involved!

Did you learn anything about History’s BIGGEST Show-offs: The boldest, bravest and brainiest people of all time by Andy Seed while doing the illustrations for Happy Yak that just came out on November 1, 2022?

I learnt all sorts of fun facts along the way, you’ll have to pick up a copy to find out what’s inside! This was another really fun project and a nice new challenge for me as it was the first people (rather than animal) focused non-fiction title I had worked.

Do Bears Poop in the Woods? by Huw Lewis Jones, published by Thames & Hudson came out on Nov 1, 2022, too. 2022 was a good year for you with nine books coming out, but were you able to find time to do anything else?

I have been very very fortunate to have been able to work on so many fantastic projects over the last few years, it has been a bit of a dream come true. I like to keep myself busy and although it looks like I must have been working on all of these books simultaneously, they’ve actually been fairly well spaced out. But yes, alongside making these books, I do make sure to make time to travel, visit friends and get out into the Scottish hills when I can.

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

I would absolutely love to one day, writing is hard though. I feel like I am still learning about the mechanics of picture book making but yes, one day I would love to write and illustrate something of my own.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love a good old HB Pencil. You can’t beat it for it’s immediate simplicity. I also really lovely to paint in gouache and watercolour.

Has that changed over time?

Most of my work is done digitally these days. I might start something off in a sketchbook in pencil but it will almost always end up then moving into Photoshop. I love the freedom and ability to edit which working digitally allows.

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

I am struggling to make time at the moment to for personal work and practicing the craft. I’m kind of doing it all on the job for now. That is definitely something I would like to get better at though. I often find going away on holiday is a really good place to do life drawing and illustrated journaling.

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

I definfietly do try to do a fair bit of research before starting a new project. I think it is a really important part of the process. I tend to use Pinterest to collect inspiring images and reference photos. Otherwise I do quite often use myself as a model to figure out poses, particularly for tricky things to draw like hands.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. I’ve been posting work up on the internet in some capacity since I was at high school. I used to use Deviant Art quite a lot, then I had a blogspot which I’d use pretty often. Tumblr was a pretty big deal for a while and now Instagram is probably to go to platform for sharing work. For me, it has been essential.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I’m super proud of all of my books but I would have to say ‘A Parliament of Owls’ is a bit of a stand out for me this year.

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

My focus at the moment is just to keep the momentum going really. My dream has been to go full time with illustration and have some kind of career in the industry. That said, a picturebook of my own would be a pretty big achievement.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working on the third book in the ‘Do Bears Poop In the Woods?’ series, this one is going to be all about wolves – very cool. As well as another non-fiction title about Endangered Animals. There are a couple of picturebooks lined up on the horizon too so I’m certainly keeping busy!

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.

A tip I came across recently which has totally transformed my work flow is that in Photoshop when you have the brush tool selected, if you hold down the ~ key, next to the left shift, it will turn your brush into an eraser. It’s dead handy for quickly adding and subtracting textures.

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

It seems that everyone’s path to figuring out a career is pretty unique unfortunately but I would say that the best thing anyone can do is to just make the work that you want to end up doing professionally. Set yourself briefs and do your own dream jobs for yourself first. I think that’s a really good way to build a portfolio.

Sam, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and sharing your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

You can visit Sam using the following links:

WEBSITE: https://www.samcaldwell.co.uk/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/samcaldwelldraws/

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-caldwell-290693a8/?originalSubdomain=uk

AGENCY: https://www.goodillustration.com/children-portfolio/Sam-Caldwell-248/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 11, 2022

November Agent of the Month – Ellen Goff – Interview Part One

NOVEMBER AGENT OF THE MONTH

ELLEN GOFF – HG LITERARY

Ellen graduated from The University of Chicago with a BA in English, a minor in Cinema and Media Studies, and a focus in Creative Writing. Ellen has worked everywhere from The White House under the Obama administration to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. At HG Literary, she assists partner and agent Carrie Hannigan on all children’s titles from picture books to middle grade to young adult. Ellen’s own list consists of YA writers and illustrators, as well as middle grade and picture book writers. She is also a member of HG Literary’s foreign rights team.

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Children’s, Commercial, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Historical, Horror, Literary, Middle Grade, New Adult, Picture Books, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

For picture books: Ellen is looking for author-illustrators, and projects that highlight the sparse and simple.

For MG: Ellen is looking contemporary realistic MG, also MG with hints of magical realism. Humor is a must!

For YA: She is interested in all genres and formats of any kind of YA. She especially likes anything spooky, historical fiction, martial arts, graphic novels, and novels-in-verse.

Older YA: The stuff you’re not sure is YA but not sure it’s adult either (anything you might label “New Adult” like Red, White, & Royal Blue)

Non-Fiction: Ellen might be convinced on a nonfiction project if it involves food. Cookbooks, History, Humor, Illustrated, Travel.

She has a soft spot for Shakespeare as well as southern stories that remind her of her home state of Kentucky.

Favorite sub-genres: Gothic, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction YA, Southern Gothic, Speculative Fiction, horror

Here are some of Ellen’s favorite things:

YA (of any kind)

Novels in Verse

Middle Grade Humor

Graphic novels

Spooky stuff (ghosts, vampires, lore)

Gothic/Southern Gothic

Southern settings

Shakespeare-inspired & retellings

Historical Fiction (only YA)

Inventive Cookbooks

Illustrators

Ellen runs a YA writing group and workshop in NYC.

To Query: Please send your query and the first five pages of your manuscript to ellen@hgliterary.com.

*******

BELOW IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN:

When did you decide you wanted to become an agent?

Near the end of college, I knew I was interested in going to New York to work in publishing. During my last year, and then directly after college, I interned with two different literary agencies, one of which was a scouting agency as well. I knew then that I was more invested in the agency side rather than the publishing house/editorial track.

How did you get the job with HG Literary?

Funnily enough, one of the internships I mentioned above was with HG Literary! I loved my time with the team and two of their senior agents needed an assistant—so they hired me at the end of the internship to split my time between them. One was in children’s literature and the other adult fiction, so I got glimpses into both worlds.

Do you work from home or go into the office?

Our office has an open policy, but we all like each other and get along so you’ll always find someone there to bounce ideas off of. Right now, I probably work 3-4 days in the office wearing my different hats and depending on if the folks I need to touch base with are in or out of the office that day. I devote one day a week exclusively to my own client work, and I work that day from home so I can give my clients deep focus.

How did you get the opportunity to work at The White House under the Obama administration and what did you do while there?

Before publishing, I was very interested in government and political science. On a whim, I applied to their associate program, thinking I wouldn’t get in because I was still an undergrad. But I was fortunate to get to work there for a short time in the Office of Correspondence, responding to letters and questions and notes from the public. I also worked in the Gifts office, handling the official gifts to the Obamas. I ended up being the youngest associate there! While I loved my time engaging directly with the American public, that experience helped me confirm and English major was my true passion.

What type of things do you do at the YA writing group and workshop that you run in NYC?

We’re a YA-focused (although not limited to) writing critique group and workshop in Manhattan. We started before the pandemic and kept going since virtually in 2020, and have just started back in person. We’ll have been together 4 years in early 2023. We mainly critique each other’s work, but we have a lot of fun, too, with query workshop nights, publishing industry chats, writing retreats, and I even bring in an author once and a while to chat to the aspiring authors. We’re keeping each other accountable and being beta readers during this NaNoWriMo period.

Do you feel that attending The University of Chicago for a BA in English, a minor in Cinema and Media Studies, with a focus in Creative Writing helps you with being an agent?

Oh, definitely. An English major is such a natural fit for being an agent, although agents come from all backgrounds. Some experience in or knowledge of the film/tv/screenwriting world helps, too, since we work so closely with film co-agents to help our authors bring their stellar titles to the screen. But agents come from all majors. You just have to have an interest in stories and storytellers. Our agency has agents who went to business school, majored in dance, worked in bookstores, studied culinary arts. Writing yourself does also help you become a better editor for your own clients.

How long have you been assisting agent Carrie Hannigan on all children’s titles from picture books to middle grade to young adult at HG Literary?

I began as her assistant in 2017! She’s been my invaluable mentor. Always try to find a mentor in publishing and in writing. Now she and I mostly work together as our agency’s finance/bookkeeping team, and on clients that we share together.

Do you have a limit on number of clients you want represent?

There is no limit exactly; my bandwidth fluctuates and so sometimes I’m actively looking for clients and sometimes I maybe take on only one new person a year. It depends!

Any story or themes you wish someone would submit?

I’m always on the lookout for a good ghost story. Can’t get enough. Books on food, as well, or with food as a focus.

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?

I have to say both. The sweet spot is a manuscript that can be commercially and universally appealing to lot of different kinds of readers, but the stellar writing hooks you and keeps you invested after you’ve picked it up. I read widely in both areas and at the intersection.

*******

BELOW ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR NOVEMBER 2022 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “NOVEMBER 2022 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you put your name, the title of the piece, and genre: a picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, Non-fiction, contemporary, historical, Sci-fi, fantasy, 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 2022 NOVERMBER FIRST PAGE  – 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.

DEADLINE:November 22nd. – noon EST

RESULTS: December 2nd

PLEASE NOTE: THERE WON’T BE A DECEMBER AGENT OF THE MONTH. ELLEN IS THE LAST AGENT FOR THIS YEAR, so make sure you submit your first page before the holidays.

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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