Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 9, 2018

Agent Looking for Clients – Jodell Sadler

Jodell Sadler,  Agent

Jodell is looking to add picture book, graphic novel, and middle grade author/illustrators to her list. She’s looking for fiction and nonfiction with humor and heart. She enjoys books that emotionally connect, provide reader interaction. Fresh voice and concept is best in board books, picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade projects (illustrated and graphic), especially those that incorporate nature, wildlife, cultural experiences, contemporary challenges or mystery, as well as biographies that celebrate the difference one person has made in the world.

If you are submitting as an author-illustrator, you must include a link to your online portfolio and/or dummy.

Jodell Sadler has served as an art director, marketing consultant, senior designer before earning her MFA at Hamline University, where she focused on sharing her critical thesis project, PACING PICTURE BOOKS & BEYOND. Her critical thesis project hits the printed page with Writer’s Digest Books this fall, PACE YOUR PLOT: Techniques & Advice for Pacing Your Fiction, 2019. She has worked as a professor, secondary Freshman & Senior English AP/Dual Credit teacher, and founded KidLit College, a webinar, classes & critique community for writers and illustrators in 2015.

Jodell teaches online and presents at conferences and events on pacing, and writes and presents with Writer’s Digest University. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and passionate about helping writers and illustrators advance their careers.
Recent titles range from board books to teen titles:
Ann Whitford Paul’s WRITING PICTURE BOOKS, Updated Version, to Writer’s Digest Books, for publication 2018.

Russ Busse at Little, Brown has acquired the first book in the middle grade graphic novel series MISTER’S MISADVENTURES IN MIDDLE SCHOOL by debut author-illustrator and National Cartoonists Society member Jason Platt. In the first book, a boy attempts to avoid summer school by participating in a talent show—despite having no idea what his talent is. Publication is planned for spring 2019, followed by an untitled graphic novel in spring 2020. Jodell Sadler and Jill Corcoran at Jill Corcoran Literary Agency negotiated the deal for world English rights.

Author of IF ANIMALS KISSED GOODNIGHT, Ann Whitford Paul’s IF ANIMALS SAID I LOVE YOU, IF ANIMALS SAID MERRY CHRISTMAS and IF ANIMALS WENT TO SCHOOL, illustrated by David Walker, to Janine O’Malley at Farrar, Straus Children’s, for publication in Fall 2017, 2018 and Spring 2019, by Jodell Sadler and Jodell Sadler and Jill Corcoran respectively.

SNOW BEAST, YOU’RE IN TROUBLE, and DOG ADOPTION DAY by author-illustrator Phil Gosier to Emily Feinberg at Roaring Brook Press, for publication November 2017, 2018, 2019, by Jodell Sadler, Sadler Children’s Literary.
MR. McGINTY’S MONARCHS by author, Linda Vander Heyden, illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen, to Sarah Rockett, Sleeping Bear Press for publication in Fall, 2016.

BRUNHILDA’S BACKWARDS Day by Shawna J.C. Tenney; FARAWAY FRIENDS by Russ Cox, to Julie Matysik, Sky Pony Press, for publication 2014.

4-Book Deal, Illustrations. PUPPY PIRATES #1, STOWAWAY; PUPPY PIRATES #2, XMARKS THE SPOT; PUPPY PIRATES #3, CATNAPPED; PUPPY PIRATES # 4, SEA SICK, illustrated by Russ Cox, and middle grade nonfiction titles to Random House 2015-16.
BOLD WOMEN OF MEDICINE: 21 Stories of Astounding Discoveries, Daring Surgeries, and Healing Breakthroughs by Susan M. Latta, to Lisa Reardon, Chicago Review Press for publication September, 2017.



Contact Jodell Sadler at
Queries sent to the above email will be deleted. 

2150 Park Place, Suite 100, El Segundo, CA 90245          310-773-3699

Talk tomorrow,


All US Military Veterans are invited to submit original poetry to the 2018 Heroes’ Voices National Veterans Poetry Contest
In cooperation with George Mason University

First Prize $1,000  ♦  Second Prize $500  ♦  Third Prize $250  ♦  Fourth Prize $100

The jury members and project advisors include:


Theme: The Soldiers’ Journey: Poems about the experience of being in the armed services and/or being a veteran. Poems may be inspired by personal triumphs or tragedies, relationships, health, spiritual insights, community, family and social issues, affected by your service in the military.

Winning submissions and other selected poetry will be featured in public readings in San Francisco, California and at George Mason University in Virginia in the spring of 2018.

Heroes’ Voices will publish Winning poems and other poetry in a chap book (a limited-edition booklet).Who May Enter
This contest is open to all veterans who have served in any branch of the armed forces of the United States of America.

How to Enter

  • Entrants need not provide proof of service in the US Armed Forces at the time of submission. Heroes’ Voices will contact winners to confirm eligibility.
  • There is no fee to enter.
  • Entries accepted only through April 20, 2018.

See how to enter online.
See how to enter by US Mail.
See contest rules.

Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 7, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Nicole Allin

Born and raised in the exotic, majestic wilderness that is suburban Ontario, Nicole Allin now lives in Washington State. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master’s degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design, both degrees being in Illustration. Known for her illustrated greeting cards, she has put her talents to use doing children’s illustration, portraits, packaging design and most recently tattoo design. Yes, folks like her artwork enough to wear it.

Nicole Allin is an award-winning freelance illustrator. From fun, creative designs to complex illustrations, she has an extensive portfolio of work displaying her creativity and talent. With years of experience in the arts, Nicole knows how to deliver great illustrations to satisfy a client’s highest expectations. Her work has delighted children and parents alike with its unique charm.


Usually I start out with a very rough doodle to see if the idea I have in mind will work- just a minute or two to sketch, nothing too involved.


I then take the time to develop the sketch a bit more and work on the layout of the art- how the characters are interacting and so on.


At this point I work out the final sketch and put in all the details of the background.

I redraw the sketch with the final linework and crop the edges in, keeping it nice and tidy!

I tint the linework a bit and then put in the underpainting.  Gouache, even digital gouache, tends to let whatever color is underneath it bleed through a little!

Here I’ve put in the flat colors and started texturing the background a little bit, adding depth and making it visually interesting.

And now the light sources are painted in- I made sure to dim the lights further down the road to help with having a sense of distance.

I thought that the color was a little too cool, so I readjusted the colors to be a bit warmer and added a bit of texture around the edges.  And that’s it!


How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been drawing since I was tiny but I didn’t quite figure out that I wanted to do professional illustration until high school.

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

I think it was back in high school- I had one of the drawings I was sending into RISD for my application up in the art room.  One of my classmate’s parents saw it and offered to buy it from me- I wound up having to make a second copy to send in to RISD.

What made you choose Rhode Island School of Design when you lived in Canada?

My family and I were actually living near Chicago at the time- though wow, did we ever move around when I was a kid, gosh.  I was pretty much exclusively applying to American art schools so I’d at least be in the same country as my family and RISD was one of the top places to go.

Was it hard to get into RISD?

Goodness, yes- it wasn’t the largest school out there so there weren’t many slots open for students.  Not only were there the usual application problems of essays and SAT’s, there was also creating three drawings as part of the admission and sending in your portfolio.  I was stunned when I actually managed to get in!

What made you decide to follow up with your master’s degree from Savannah College of art?

Honestly, it was because I wasn’t all that happy with my portfolio.  I felt I definitely needed to put in more work at being an artist and going back to school felt like the smartest way to make some real progress.

How would you describe the differences between the two art school experiences?

RISD was all about building up the basics, I think- plus I was still figuring out how to be a functioning adult.  So a bit nerve-wracking, really.  In Savannah, I had a much better idea of how to move forward on working on my portfolio, and it was a bit more relaxed.

Did the schools help you find work?

Honestly, I’ve gotten more work from self-promotion than from the schools.

Do you attribute your illustrating style to one school more than the other?

Not really, it’s been such a long time since I was in school and my style has changed so much over the years.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

I went into doing graphic design, since I thought it would be the best compromise between having a steady paycheck and creating artwork.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

Once I realized that I really loved telling stories with my illustrations.  That and my tendency to base a lot of my illustrations off of ridiculous puns!

Have you done any illustrations for books?

Yes, I’ve illustrated Anansi’s Narrow Waist, which came out just last year.

Do you have an artist rep.? If not, are you open to getting one? If yes, how long have they represented you?

I don’t have an artist rep at the moment, but I would like to have one!  Contracts and self promotion can get a little tricky at times, so it’s be fantastic to have a pro to work with on that.

What type of thing do you do to promote your work and get new jobs?

I send out art postcards several times a year to art directors and such- places where I think my art style would work.  I also attend illustration conventions to network and show off my portfolio, have my artwork up on several illustration advertising sites and post on several social media platforms.


Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

Yes indeed!  That’s actually something that you’ll be able to see the results of in a year or two.

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Sure, if the timing and pricing worked out.  That can be a little difficult to manage though- books are very time consuming projects and I often have several projects running at the same time.

Have you done any book covers?

Mainly just the cover for Anansi’s Narrow Waist.

How did you get the contract to illustrate Anansi’s Narrow Waist?

I had sent an art postcard to Pelican Publishing a year or so earlier and one day they gave me a call to let me know that I was one of the artists they were considering for the book.  Then they asked if I happened to have an illustration of a spider they could take a look at to help with the decision- luckily I had painted an illustration of a tarantula the month before!

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

Nothing that’s currently in print, but I’ve worked with the early learning website abcmouse in the past.

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

Curiously enough, children’s magazines are one of the few types of magazines I haven’t illustrated for!

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

On occasion- it’d definitely be a challenging project.  Making sure that the pictures are telling the entire story without any words to fall back on is tough.

What do you think is your biggest success?

Deciding to switch from traditional media to digital and scrapping my entire portfolio in the process is the big one.  My old method was all hand painting and a mix of acrylic, gouache and colored pencil.  A pretty laborious process honestly and painting took up a lot of time.  After about ten years or so of working that way, I started to get fairly discouraged with the results so I started to tinker with painting digitally.  Several months of experimentation later, I decided to junk my entire portfolio and start over- this time with about 95% of each piece done digitally.  That was about four years ago and I’m so much happier with the newer artwork!


What is your favorite medium to use?

Photoshop and the Kyle T. Webster digital gouache brushes- I love those things!


Has that changed over time?

I used to be really fond of colored pencils and charcoal, but that gets everywhere.  Pretty sure I’m still finding loose pencil shavings even years later.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

I used to, but I’ve just finished a move across the country- wish me luck in carving out a studio in the new place!

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

I try to spend at least a little time on artwork every day; but it varies how exactly I do that.  Some days it’s marathon drawing sessions, some days it’s reading through art books and sometimes it’s going hiking and taking a ton of photos.  Every little bit of inspiration or effort helps me be a better artist.

Do you take pictures or do any type of research before you start a project?

All the time- I realized quite a while back that while I may think I know how something looks, double checking is a very good idea!  Also, it’s pretty necessary when you’re doing a piece that’s supposed to be time or place specific.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely.  I get quite a few queries from advertising on Internet art sites and having a good, easy to navigate portfolio site has definitely gotten me a fair bit of work over the years.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I personally prefer Photoshop, but admittedly a large part of it is knowing how to use the program really well.  All those years of working on graphic design and photo editing!

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

Before switching over to painting digitally I used a tablet for touching up photos or cleaning up scanned artwork, mostly because it was a bit easier on my wrist than using a mouse.  Nowadays, I use a Wacom Cintiq for all of my illustrations- drawing directly on the screen is a lot of fun!


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

I’d really like to illustrate and write my own children’s book – I’m part of the way there, but there’s still a lot of work left to do!


What are you working on now?

Finishing the move and unpacking, (so, so much unpacking) then working on a few long term projects.

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.

Having a good looking physical portfolio matters! I personally recommend using a portfolio case that you can add or remove pages from easily and printing your out your own artwork.  I use 60 lb Polar Matte paper from Red River paper and an Epson inkjet printer- the colors come out looking really nice!


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

Take the time every now and then to step back and look at your work as a whole.  Just because you already know the entire story doesn’t mean that your audience will figure out all the details!

How did you get the contract to illustrate Anansi’s Narrow Waist?

I had sent an art postcard to Pelican Publishing a year or so earlier and one day they gave me a call to let me know that I was one of the artists they were considering for the book.  Then they asked if I happened to have an illustration of a spider they could take a look at to help with the decision- luckily I had painted an illustration of a tarantula the month before!

Thank you Nicole for sharing your talent, process, and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Nicole’s work, you can visit her at her website:

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

Talk tomorrow,







Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 6, 2018

Agent of the Month: Carie Lamba

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Cari Lamba at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency – our AGENT OF THE MONTH. If the last name sounds  familiar, it’s probably because you have met her agent mother, Marie Lamba from the same agency. See the submission guidelines the first Page Critiques. April’s a short month, so the deadline is a little earlier than usual. Good luck!

Prior to officially joining the team of agents, Cari Lamba interned for The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency for eight years. It wasn’t long into her internship before she knew she wanted to join the publishing world and help writers bring their books to life. Cari graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. She also studied literature at The Advanced Studies in England Program. She has experience as a bookseller and in publicity and content writing for online publications. Cari has been published in Writer’s Digest Magazine and has taught webinars for Writer’s Digest as well.

What Cari is looking for:

She is interested in middle grade fiction with wacky plots (Roald Dahl is a favorite of mine) and characters that drive the story. She would also like contemporary stories that are both humorous and heartfelt. While she is not interested in stories with high fantasy, she would welcome elements of the fantastic and otherworldly. She wants novels that will resonate with children without being didactic.

Both fiction and non-fiction picture books are welcome. She is looking for unique ideas with fun and quirky elements as well as sweet, endearing picture books. In non-fiction I’m especially looking for strong female role-models.

I’m looking for commercial fiction with original plots and clever characters. While I’m not interested in romance novels, elements of romance are welcome. She also has a particular interest in mystery/detective fiction, and novels with culinary ties. 

She NOT interested in science fiction, horror, high fantasy, Christian fiction, political novels, or books with extremely violent elements.


In the subject line, please write “April 2018 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” and 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).

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: April 19th.
RESULTS: April 27th.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


The American Booksellers Association announced the finalists for the 2018 Indies Choice Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards, with the winners to be announced May 2. The nominees include:

Young Adult
All the Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press)
Dear Martin, by Nic Stone (Crown Books for Young Readers)
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)
Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon (Simon Pulse)

Middle Grade
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, by Pablo Cartaya (Viking Books for Young Readers)
The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C. Perez (Viking Books for Young Readers)
One Last Word, by Nikki Grimes (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books)
Refugee, by Alan Gratz (Scholastic)
The Stars Beneath Our Feet, by David Barclay Moore (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate (Feiwel & Friends)

Picture Book
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again), by Dan Santat (Roaring Brook Press)
Alfie (The Turtle That Disappeared), by Thyra Heder (Harry N. Abrams)
Come With Me, by Holly M. McGhee and Pascal Lemaitre (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel, by Adam Rubin, Daniel Salmieri (Illus.) (Dial Books)
Escargot, by Dashka Slater, Sydney Hanson (Illus.) (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers)
The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, by Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illus.) (Candlewick)

The awards have also added a new category this year, “because of the growing popularity of audiobooks.”

Audiobook of the Year
American War, by Omar El Akkad, read by Dion Graham (Penguin Random House Audio)
The Fact of a Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, read by the author (Macmillan Audio)
Hunger, by Roxane Gay, read by the author (HarperAudio)
Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann, read by Will Patton, Ann Marie Lee, and Danny Campbell (Penguin Random House Audio)
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, read by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, and a full cast (Penguin Random House Audio)
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott, read by Euan Morton (Macmillan Audio)

Adult Fiction
Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead)
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (Random House)
Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press)
Mrs. Caliban, by Rachel Ingalls (New Directions)
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central)
Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)

Adult Nonfiction
Hallelujah Anyway, by Anne Lamott (Riverhead)
Hunger, by Roxane Gay (Harper)
Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann (Doubleday)
Silence, by Erling Kagge (Pantheon)
Spineless, by Juli Berwald (Riverhead)
The Stranger in the Woods, by Michael Finkel (Knopf)

Adult Debut
Fen, by Daisy Johnson (Graywolf Press)
Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
History of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund (Atlantic Monthly Press)
The Leavers, by Lisa Ko (Algonquin Books)
The Long Haul, by Finn Murphy (W.W. Norton & Company)
Stephen Florida, by Gabe Habash (Coffee House Press)

Talk tomorrow,


Rupa Limulge is the winner of The Enchanted Snow Globe: Return to Coney Island by Melissa Stoller

Last week Charlotte Bennardo wrote an article about me on SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE and I had to share it. Thank you Charlotte for all the kind words. Here is the link to SDinTM. Writer’s should check it out to see how a group blog is done.

One Person, Many Acts of Kindness


Through the many (gulp!) years I’ve been a part of the writing community, there are always people who surprise you with their kindness. Yes, there are a lot of good people, but some go beyond being nice and do something special. One such person is Kathy Temean. She runs the Writing and Illustrating blog where she reports daily on personnel and submission changes in the industry, lists contests, and hosts not only debuting authors, but one page agent/editor critiques, book giveaways, and advice articles from established authors.

What makes Kathy special is that she is the biggest cheerleader for authors and illustrators. She talks up their work, features them, and later, supports them by buying their books. She has such enthusiasm it’s like the favorite aunt who loves anything you do and not only brags about it, but shares pictures with anyone who’ll listen. Kathy was one of the first people to buy Sirenz and gushed how she’d been waiting for it to come out. She might even have seen an early draft and critiqued it. And she’s been enthusiastic about every book since that came out. A former regional advisor the New Jersey Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she championed a lot of us through the years, and put aside her own work to promote the organization and its members. In a highly competitive industry, she’s one of those you can trust. And it’s time I gave a huge, heartfelt, humble, and happy Thank You!

This cheer’s for you, kid.

Based on the book by Joyce Moyer Hostetter

“Blue” is an extraordinary story that is both heart-warming and historical. The show is actually set in Hickory, NC in 1944.  It’s a tale that involves the NC Polio Epidemic, WWII,  & a sweet, naive family whose father has gone off to war and leaves them to carry on in a harsh and unprotected environment for which they are ill-equipped. They are a little band made up of a young mother, a 13 yr. old, twin elementary school aged little girls and a pre-school aged boy. The eldest daughter, Ann Fay, is given a set of overalls and instructions by her dad to be the “man of the house” while he’s away…a daunting task for any child.

So much of the simple values and morality of a common way of living in the South are portrayed in “Blue.” The faith that uplifts all of her friends and relatives in Ann Fay’s community are deeply moving. These values and the quiet, simple ways of living still linger in this region of NC, today.

For more information:


Here is the cover of Melissa Stoller’s picture book SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINT BRUSH coming out in August. Dr. Mira Reisberg, editor and art director at Clear Fork Publishing offered her a contract after working with her during the online course – Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books at the Children’s Book Academy. 

Don’t miss Dr. Mira Reisberg’s Free Online Writing Training tomorrow. Melissa Stoller will be assisting in the training. Just click on the image below to sign up for the fun!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 3, 2018

Book Giveaway: SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK by Patricia Keeler

Author/illustrator Patricia Keeler has a new picture book, SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK. Patricia has offered to do a book giveaway, along with a framed signed original sketch and a pin. SCOOP hits bookshelves on April 3. 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 did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.


Even ice cream trucks have dreams, and SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK’S dream is to go to the mountains. But his route takes him along the same city streets summer after summer. The neighborhood has changed though, with flashy ice cream trucks bringing new flavors of ice cream like rum raisin and bubblegum, and types of ice cream like dots and flash frozen. No one wants a small vanilla cone anymore. Scoop goes down a lonely street and falls asleep. BOING! BOING! BOING! Scoop’s life and heart is about to be turned upside down by a little girl with a big red ball.


I hadn’t yet written SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK when I pitched it to Julie Matysik from Sky Pony at the November 2015 Portfolio Review put on by CBIG (Children’s Book Illustrators’ Group). I was feeling grumpy, because I was the last person Julie would see, and I thought that she would be tired after reviewing book dummies all day. But because I was the last person, we lingered and I talked about a book idea about a retro ice cream truck that couldn’t compete with modern fancy ice cream trucks. Julie seemed to like the idea.

I took dummy pages of SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK to Pat Cummings’ Super Children’s Book Boot Camp at Highlights Foundation. (More about the boot camp at

Pat Cummings helped me arrange the pages to improve the flow of the story. Peter Brown disentangled my randomly placed word bubbles, illustrated word sounds and text boxes.

I’m in an author/illustrator group, Drawn To Picture Books. Critiques were offered from group members Barbara DiLorenzo, Deborah Cuneo, Diana Ting Delosh, Mike Ciccotello and Jason Kirshner. The graphic designs in SCOOP were strongly influenced by Jason’s picture book work.


As SCOOP came together, I put the color pages before Karen Romagna, Doris Ettlinger, Lori Keehner and Lisa Falkenstern.

The largest ice cream truck in SCOOP is Giant. He is shaped like a trash collection truck to show how fierce he is, but it wasn’t until Lisa Falkenstern suggested putting an exhaust pipe on top that the illustration gained gravitas.

At a NJSCBWI Conference I connected with Liza Fleissig from the Liza Royce Agency. Soon after, I met with Liza and Ginger Harris in an Upper Eastside restaurant, where we had time to get to know each other and discuss book concepts. I signed with the Liza Royce Agency, and they acquired a two book deal with Sky Pony Press for LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL and SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK.

I love an addition Julie Matysik at Sky Pony Press suggested for SCOOP. It was to add a little heart over Scoop when he becomes enchanted by Spunky. This is the moment when Scoop’s new life begins.

In the journey to develop SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK, what bumped me to the next level was to seek out and listen to the array of talented voices accessible to me. It was a conscious, expensive, and difficult decision to make. I worked to meet new artists, visit new venues, and tried, tried, tried to do what was suggested. It’s harder than it sounds. But by opening up to the possibilities, instead of staying within my comfort zone, I surprised myself with new approaches to my work, and rekindled joy in creating picture books!


Patricia has illustrated and/or written several books, including LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL (Sky Pony Press, 2017), DRUMBEAT IN OUR FEET (Lee & Low Books, 2006), CAR WASH (Bebop/Lee & Low Books, 2004), and the eBook RANITA’S STORY (Children’s Book Council, 2013). She was awarded the Christopher Medal for WOULD YOU STILL LOVE ME IF, which won the The New York Book Festival and Best Book Overall Dragonfly Awards. Patricia Keeler creates picture books in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Follow Patricia on Instagram @patriciakeelerbooks, and on Twitter @patriciakeeler. Here is the link for Patricia’s website:

Patricia, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I can’t wait to read it. If it is anywhere close to your wonderful illustrations and you, I know I will love it and I’m sure the winner will love to read it, too.

Talk tomorrow,


2018 Competition Guidelines

The William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition is sponsored annually by The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, Inc, a non-profit literary and educational organization. The 2018 deadline is May 1. Winners will be formally presented at the 2018 annual meeting of the Society, date and venue to be announced soon.A list of manuscripts which have been designated, short list,  finalists and semi-finalists will be posted on the website on or about August 30, 2018.  Winners will be announced publicly on September 25th, William Faulkner’s birthday but notified privately as soon as the selections are made.

Please note: Review the guidelines below before entering.

The competition is for previously unpublished work only. Self-published and print-on-demand books are considered published unless authors can present current, precise documentation that less than 500 copies have sold. Also considered as published and not eligible are books, stories, essays, and poetry previously published in their entirety on the Internet.

Please pay special attention to labeling your entries.  We do not read entries in any category without proper labeling.

Any entries submitted which show mark-ups of revisions in red or blue from previous drafts will be rejected automatically.  No judge wants to review your corrections!

Entries are accepted now in eight categories (see below): Novel, Novella, book-length Narrative Non-Fiction, Novel-in-Progress, Short Story, Essay, Poetry, and Short Story by a High School Student. Overall goals of the competition are to seek out new, talented writers and assist them in finding literary agents and, ultimately, publishers for their work.

Click on the image at right for the 2018 entry form pdf. If you’d prefer an MS Word doc entry form, CLICK HERE.

For All Categories:
  • Manuscripts must be submitted electronically in word.doc or docx  format to Entries submitted in other formats will be rejected.
  • Each entry should consist of two Word documents. The first document is a contact page with author’s name, address, e-mail address and phone number, category, title of manuscript, and number of words. Important: please title this document with name of author and designation of “contact info”, e.g. “Jane_Doe_Contact_Info.” Do not title it generically such as “author info,” or “faulkner info.” The second document is the actual entry, which consists of a title page with title and category, followed by a one or two-page synopsis (except for the Poetry, Essay, and Short Story by a High School Student categories, which will not include a synopsis) and the manuscript. This second attachment must haveno author identifying information on it, as entries are read blindImportant: Please title this document with abbreviated form of title and category, e. g., “Senselessness__Novel.” Do not include author’s name in label. Do not title this document generically, e. g., “Faulkner entry_novel” or “Novel Entry_2015 Faulkner Competition” etc. Pages of the entry attachment should be numbered.
  • No hard copies of manuscripts are required.
  • A hard copy of the entry form and the appropriate fee must be submitted by ground mail to Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, 624 Pirate’s Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116.
  • Each entry form must be accompanied by cash, a check drawn on a U. S. bank, or a U.S. money order made out to The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, Inc. For entries from abroad send cash, a cashier’s check, or American Express Traveler’s Checks signed over to The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, for the appropriate administrative fee. Please do not send us foreign money orders or checks drawn on foreign banks. We will accept Visa, Mastercard, or American Express credit cards with a $5 per entry processing fee.
  • Each entry also must be accompanied by a completed, signed entry blank, which can be obtained by printing the entry form from the Society’s web site. If you are unable to download the entry form, simply type one out yourself and send it.
  • All questions regarding the competition must be submitted to
Divisions of the Competition
Category One – Novel/Book Length Fiction – Prize: $7,500

Funded annually by private donors. Requirements: an original novel, previously unpublished. The Society places a word limit of 125,000 words on books within the single entry fee of $45. Writers who wish to submit books of up to 125,000 to 200,000 words must pay a $100 fee. Novels of 200,000 words or more require a $200 fee.

Category Two – Non-Fiction Book-Prize: $2,000.00

The prize will be funded annually by private donors. Requirements: limited to 75,000 words within the limit of a $45 entry fee. Entries over 75,000 words require an entry fee of $75. Entries of more than 100,000 carry a fee of $100; more than 150,000 require a $125 fee; entries of 225,000 words or more carry a fee of $200. Requirements: an original work of creative non-fiction, including non-fiction novels, histories, memoirs, and biographies.

Category Three – Novella – Prize: $1,500.00

The Novella Prize is funded annually by private donors. Requirements: a short work of original fiction, previously unpublished. $40 entry fee. Works of fiction limited to 25,000 words will be accepted in the novella category.

Category Four – Short Story – Prize: $1,500

The Short Story Prize is funded by private foundations and individuals. Requirements: a short work of fiction of less than 10,000 words. $35 entry fee.

Category Five – Novel-in-Progress – Prize: $1,500

This award, created and originally funded by Edgar winner Julie Smith in memory of the late Evans Harrington Grant, a creative writing professor at the University of Mississippi, is now funded by other private individuals. Requirements: highly polished one-page synopsis, and first few chapters or first 25 pages. Entry must not exceed 7,500 words, including the one-page synopsis. Entries may be any form of novel, including literary, mainstream, or genre. $40 entry fee. Entries exceeding 7,500 words will not be accepted.

Category Six – Essay – Prize:  $1,000

The Shelby Foote Essay Prize is funded annually by private donors. Entry fee is $35. Requirements: original work of creative non-fiction. Essay must not exceed 2,500 words.

Category Seven – Poetry – Prize:  $1,000

The Marble Faun Prize for Poetry, created by Adelaide Wisdom Benjamin, is now funded annually by New Orleanian David Speights in memory of his late wife, Marti Speights, who was a member of the Faulkner Society’s Advisory Council. Requirements: single poem of not more than 750 words. $25 entry fee.

Category Eight – Short Story by a High School Student
Prize, $750; Sponsoring Teacher, $250

A prize of $750 is awarded to the winning student; $250 is awarded to the sponsoring teacher. The Hartwig Moss Prize is funded annually by the children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Hartwig Moss, IV in their memory.  Requirements: original work of fiction of less than 2,500 words. Entries must have sponsoring teacher or school, preferably both. $10 entry fee to be paid by school or, in case of home-schooled students, by teacher.

Important! General Guidelines for All Categories

The overall general guideline is “ready for publication” with minor editing. The Society reserves the right to withhold award of a prize in any category in which there are no entries deemed “ready for publication” by the judges.

Who Can Enter?

The William Faulkner – William Wisdom Competition is open to all writers anywhere working in the English language. Although foreign residents are welcome to enter the competition, transportation to and from areas outside the continental United States is not paid the Society. For foreign residents selected as winners, the Society will pay transportation from one of these U. S. airports of entry: New York, NY, Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Houston, TX, Chicago, IL or Dallas, TX.

Manuscript Requirements
  • All manuscripts entered must be unpublished works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry as of postmarked date of entry. Should a manuscript be published in any form after it is entered or should a contract or plans for publication be negotiated or announced during the competition period, the entry will not be disqualified. As a major goal of the Society and the competition is publication, however, the cash prize will be decreased by 33 per cent. A work will be considered previously published if more than 25 percent has been published in any form. Self published or on-demand works will be considered published, unless the author presents an official statement that less than 500 copies have been sold. Such manuscripts are not accepted in book form. Works from which brief sections have been excerpted for quotation in literary journals, news journals, broadsides will not be disqualified. Manuscripts published in their entirety on the Internet are considered published, regardless of where on the Internet a manuscript appears.
  • Any suspected plagiarism discovered and confirmed will immediately disqualify a manuscript, regardless of when discovered, even if the plagiarism is discovered after a manuscript’s author has been notified that he or she is the winner. The work of finalists is examined carefully for lack of originality.
  • Please do not send us your collections and expect us to select one piece as the entry.
  • Poets! Do not send us multiple poems and expect us to select one. Each entry is a single poem accompanied by a separate entry form and check for entry fee.
  • Electronic entries will consist of attached material. Do not embed entry material in the body of the e-mail message.
  • Only one cash and gold medal prize is offered in any category. For a winning work by co-authors, the prize is divided, not multiplied. We do not select ties. As of 2018, the Society’s Board has voted and confirmed that there will be one winner, one runner-up for each category.
  •  Barring extraordinary circumstances, winners must be present in New Orleans at the Society’s annual meeting to receive their awards. Exceptions to this rule are solely in the discretion of the Executive Board of Directors of The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society.
  •  The prize in each category is a published cash prize and a gold medal. Any enhancement of the prizes, such as travel and accommodations for out of town winners, is solely in the discretion of the Society and such enhancements depend solely on availability of revenues.  In the event that revenues are available the Society will pay up to $500 for transportation (either airfare or mileage) and two nights in a hotel. The Society may award complimentary tuition packages for Words & Music, 2018, including critiques by an agent and editor, depending on our ability to negotiate terms with the new management of Words & Music.
  •  The Society reserves the right to reject all finalists if the manuscripts are deemed to be deficient, not meeting the Society’s basic overall guideline for pre-round readers, “ready for publication with minor editing.” Preliminary judges rank a manuscript from one to ten. Any manuscript receiving a ranking of five or less will be  eliminated from subsequent rounds. Only manuscripts receiving rankings of eight, nine, or ten will be considered for the ranking of finalist, with the possibility of being selected for Short List, winner, or runner-up.
  •  The Society reserves the right to use any presentations made by authors at awards ceremonies for future promotion of the Society and for the benefit of its projects.
  •  Transportation within the continental United States and hotel accommodations for the awards event for out of town winners may be paid by the Society. Travel and hotel accommodations are not provided for winners who live in metropolitan New Orleans.
  • The Society does not make cash or gold medal awards to runners-up, short lists, other finalists, or semi-finalists. Free tuition packages forWords & Music2018, which include manuscript critiques by leading editors and agents, may be awarded to Runners-up, depending on our ability to negotiate terms with the new management of Words & Music.
  • We reserve one-time rights to publish the work of Winners and Runners-up in our on-line literary journal, The Double Dealer.  Short List Finalists may request publication and we will consider their work.
  • Traditionally, the awards gala, Faulkner for All, was held during the annual festival, Words & Music, a Literary Feast in New Orleans, which was operated with the Faulkner Society as fiscal agent for 20 years. On January 4, 2018, Words & Music was transferred to another non-profit, One Book, One New Orleans, which will be presenting the festival November 15-18, 2018. The Faulkner Society may arrange with One Book, One New Orleans to continue presenting its competition winners during the festival or, alternatively, present winners at a stand-alone event on William Faulkner’s birthday, September 25 or another date. If, for any reason, an awards gala is not possible, cash awards and gold medals will be presented to winners by express delivery service.
Publication Rights

Although the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society does not guarantee publication, the Society reserves the right to publish in its on-line journal, The Double Dealer, in news releases and in limited-edition booklets or broadsides, material selected as finalists in the competition. With regard to publishing, we reserve the right to publish excerpts of 1,500 to 2,500 words from winning novels, book-length narrative non-fiction, novellas, and novels-in-progress. Authors are allowed to select a stand-alone excerpt for these categories. We reserve the right to publish in their entirety short stories, essays, or poems. Authors are offered the opportunity to make changes, improvements, prior to publication in our journal. We have one-time rights for publication in the Society’s journal and a planned anthology: 25 Years of Winners (working title) The anthology would be a repeat of excerpts already published in our journal, along with short stories, essays, poems that are already published. The Society also publishes from time to time short excerpts of winning manuscripts of 250 to 500 words in features formatted specifically to use as an education resources for creative writing teachers. These features promote the author of such short excerpts and are accompanied by a photo and bio of the author. Reprints of such features are underwritten by Rosemary James and provided free to creative writing teachers. Estimated circulation of each of these lesson plans is not more than 500. The Society also has published limited-edition broadsides for gifts to sponsors and limited sales to offset the costs of printing. Estimated circulation of each such broadside is not more than 250 for our purposes with an extra 50 for each author. These are signed by the author and or visual artist and numbered. The Society’s earnings from such materials will be used for future literary prizes and for the Society’s educational projects. No honoraria are paid to authors, other than the cash prizes designated for winners of each category.

Submission of entry and required competition entry form constitutes the author’s contractual obligation for publication rights of finalist material as outlined above.

Entry Fees

Fees offset some of the administrative costs of the competition, including copying and deliveries to preliminary readers and judges; travel and housing expenses for out-of-town winners and judges; and gold medals awarded to winners.

  • We no longer accept hard copies of manuscripts, so please do not send original hard copy manuscripts as they will not be returned. The Society is an all-volunteer operation and we cannot correspond individually with each person entering the competition. If you wish to have confirmation of receipt of your manuscript, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard with entry form and check. The return of the postcard will be your confirmation.
  • Please do not attempt to send us entries by fax. We do not accept such entries. We no longer even have a fax!
  • Winners in one competition year will not be eligible to win again in the same category. Work for different categories, however, will be accepted from previous winners. Entries rejected in one competition year will be eligible for re-entry in subsequent years with significant revisions if accompanied by a letter explaining briefly how the manuscript has been revised.
  • All winners will be posted on our web site by January 31st of the year after winning.
Honor System

The competition is operated on the honor system. Should it become necessary to revoke a prize because rules are broken, all necessary costs will be borne by the offender. Should plagiarism be discovered after award of the prize, for instance, the offending winner will return cash prize and medal to the Society.

  • Manuscripts are submitted blind for judging by professionals in the fields of editing, publishing, writing, and literary academics from major university English Departments.
  • We strongly suggest that authors have their work read by disinterested third parties for purposes of correcting spelling, grammar, and typographical mistakes, prior to finalizing entries. We also strongly suggest that authors give major attention to beginnings and endings, sense of place, character development, dialogue, transitions, and most especially narrative voice, as our experience has been that these are the areas which preliminary judges focus on when selecting work to progress to final rounds.
  • After processing, entries are forwarded to preliminary judges for the first round review. The judging process is as follows:
  1. First Round Review. Preliminary judges review all manuscripts. If your manuscript is not eliminated in this round, it is re-read by different judges in a second round.
  2. Second Round Review. If your manuscript is not eliminated in the second round of judging, you are designated a semi-finalist and your manuscript is read again.
  3. Third Round Review. If your manuscript is not eliminated in the third round of judging, you are designated a finalist and your manuscript is sent to to a new judge, who selects the Short List from the finalists.
  4. Fourth Round. If your manuscript it selected for the Short List, it will be sent to the person designated as the final judge, who will select the winner and runner-up.
  • Preliminary judges are anonymous. Final round judges are well known writers, editors, or agents.

Finalists are announced as each category’s judging is completed. They will be posted by name of manuscript only on our web site, as judging is blind. At the same time, we will post semi-finalists by name of manuscript and name of author. We announce winners publicly at Word & Music. Winners will be alerted as soon as we know their names, however, and we will send out an e-mail to announce winners to all who entered and who provided an e-mail address. The information also will be posted on this web site not later than January 31, 2018.


We prefer that you do not call us. Use the phone only as a last resort. We are an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff. We, therefore, urge you to e-mail your questions. We do not accept material of any sort or queries by fax for the competition.


Mail: The Faulkner – Wisdom Competition, 624 Pirate’s Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116.

Phone: (504) 586-1609 


Don’t forget to send your check and entry form together. Drop Dead Deadline for postmarking your entries this year is May 1, 2018. Early entries to competition are encouraged and earlier entries are most likely to be better matched with the most appropriate pre-round readers.

Previous Winners

Lists of previous winners may be found by visiting this web page.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 1, 2018

Happy Easter

H a a a a p y  E E E E A S T E R!


R o g er  R O T H – This rascally little rabbit was painted by Roger Roth.  Roger Roth was featured on Illustrator Saturday. 


by Eileen Spinelli

We dyed our eggs – green and blue,

sunny yellow, purple too.

And then we brought them one by one

to neighbors. It was so much fun

to see the sparkle in the their eyes

because of such a small surprise.

We learned that day, in early spring,

that kindness is a simple thing –

that smiles and eggs can

make hearts sing.

M a r t h a  A V I L E S – Martha was featured on Illustrator Saturday.


G i l l i a n  R E I D – Gillian was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

S a r a h  B E I S E – Sarah’s website


A m a l i a  H O F F M A N Amalia Hoffman was featured on Illustrator Saturday. 


K i r s t i e  E D M U N D S – Kirstie was featured on Illustrator Saturday. 


 A n a  O C H O A  – Anna was featured on Illustrator Saturday.


Enjoy the Day!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 31, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Gillian Reid

Gillian is an illustrator/character designer from Belfast, UK currently living in Canada. She studied animation production at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, England and have been working as a character designer since graduating in 2008. Her work has taken me across the globe working with cients including: Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman, Passion Pictures, Nexus Productions, Tiger Aspect.

Now, she is trying to break into children’s book illustration! So she says, “Any advice and tips would be more than welcomed!” When she is not drawing, you will find her parked in front of Netlix with knitting in my hands, oreos stuffed in her mouth and a cat or two on her lap!

Here is Gillian sharing her process:

Thought I’d show you how I take my sketchbook doodles through to a final digital illustration.

First I begin in my sketchbook, drawing random things, hoping something interesting will come out. It’s quickly turned to winter where I live and everyone is flooding the coffee shops in their winter wear for the holiday drinks!

Next, I take it into photoshop and work out some more details and plan the layout a little more.

After my rough, I go over it once more with more detail and make some tweaks.

I then do a very loose colour key to work out my palette (but I deleted that layer by accident!

Based on the colourkey, I colour up the whole image, beginning with the characters and then the props and then the background. I am continuatlly making small changes as I go along to make sure the composition is at its best and the colour and tonal balance is right.

Final steps, I add some layer filters to capture the warmth of the scene. Et voilà! C’est fini!

Interview with Gillian Reid

 How long have you been illustrating? 

The first real steps into illustration I took were probably about 2 years ago. I have been working as character designer in the animation industry for almost a decade, so in a way I’ve been illustrating characters. However, when I relocated to Canada and suddenly had more time and space to take on illustration, that’s when I really started.

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

Last year, I submitted a piece to SCBWI for an Art Spot in their bulletin and it was chosen. I didn’t even realise until I got a cheque through the post for $25! I should have framed it, but I needed to buy cake.

What made you move from England to Canada? 

I had been living in London, UK for 4 years when my partner got a job offer in Canada. We felt we had been in England for a while and it was a good time for a change. We are coming up to our 2 year anniversary as Canadian residents!

What made you choose to study animation production at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, England? 

I knew I wanted to draw cartoons for a living but it took me a while to realise that was called ‘animation’ and you could actually study it! There were only a handful of schools in the UK that taught traditional 2D animation at the time and this one was on the sunny coast of southern England – a big contrast to the northern, rainy, gray city I grew up in. Easy decision!

Did the school present any opportunity to delve into children’s illustrating? 

Yes, the school also has a BA Illustration course, which a couple of my friends studied. I didn’t really know what illustration was at the time but looking back, it would be great to have the 2 courses overlap somehow. There are a lot of principles in both which would help animation and illustration artists alike.

Did the school help you find work? 

My first job in animation was actually in China, at a studio which had an exchange program with my animation course. They take a few students in their second year but when I graduated they were looking for artists to come over and work for 6 months. This is where I found my love for character design!

Do you feel studying animation has influenced your illustrating style? 

Oh yes, definitely! I tend to think of everything as scenes from a film rather than page turns and am always trying to show a sense of motion in my designs. It’s a bit of a battle sometimes, trying to bring a more illustrative quality to my work.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated? 

Initially, I worked for a British coffee chain called Caffe Nero. I actually really loved it. I got to study all the different characters that came into the shop and draw them during my lunch break. I worked there until I heard the news I was going to China, where I worked on a feature film called Back To The Sea. When I started there, I was a background designer. This is what I had specialised in at school but due to language barriers, all the British people were put onto character design. Suddenly, I realised I enjoyed characters much more than background design and haven’t looked back since!

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children? 

Having worked in the animation industry for a long time, I was beginning to get a little tired of the more technical aspects of character design, like turnaround, expressions sheets, prop design. Illustration appealed to me because it seems to be all the fun bits! Posing the characters and telling the story. I don’t need to know what each character looks like for 8 different angles and 25 different facial expressions.

Have you done any illustrations for books? 

It is still very early in my illustration career, so I have not illustrated any books yet, but fingers crossed something will come my way soon!

How did you find representation with the CAT Agency? 

Christy Ewers from the CAT Agency saw my work on the SCBWI website, for a competition I won and kindly reached out to me to share some thoughts and pointers on my portfolio. We corresponded back and forth for a few months as I tried to improve my illustration based on her notes, until she finally gave in invited me to join her agency!

How long have they represented you? 

Just over one month now, so still brand new!

Have you done any book covers? 

Not so far, but I’m looking forward to my first cover opportunity!


Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

Yes! I’ve been working on my own children’s book idea for over a year now. I’m currently taking a storytelling course to help make the story stronger.


Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish? 

Self-publishing is not something I’m very familiar with. I would have to take the advice of my agent on how this works and if it would be a good fit for me.

Were you surprised to see you were a SCBWI Draw This winner last October? 

Yes! That was a very cool moment for me! It’s strange to suddenly just see your work on the homepage of such a huge site! It was the contributing factor to me finding representation, so I’m very grateful to have been chosen as one of the winners.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones? 

Not yet!

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

Also, not yet!


Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book? 

This is something I am definitely interested in. My own children’s book I a developing often goes through revisions being wordless. I feel I can tell stories more clearly with pictures than words.

What do you think is your biggest success? 

My biggest success was in 2013 when I did character designs for a major Nike commercial that was advertised during all of the World Cup 2014. It had a worldwide audience and it brought me lots of jobs as a result.

What is your favorite medium to use? 

Pencil and paper is probably my favourite to use. I mostly use it when I’m out sketching from life in my sketchbook or in life drawing classes. I can work very quickly and naturally with a pencil but when I want to refine a drawing, I like to photograph it and take it into Photoshop to work it up digitally.

Has that changed over time? 

No, I think I’ve always kept a sketchbook. I feel it is the best place get out your ideas. It may not be where I do my best drawings but it’s where I get my best ideas.


Do you have a studio set up in your home? 

Yes. When I lived in London, I lived in a small 1 bed flat with my partner and my cat, so my studio was the desk crammed into the corner of the living room/dining room. Now, here in Canada, my place is a bit bigger, so I have a dedicated studio. One half has a desk with my Cintiq set up surrounded by prints by some of my favourite artists and toys. The other half has a craft table set up for sewing.

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

I don’t have a set requirement that I try to meet. I usually just do it when I feel inspired to do it. Between professional jobs, my book development and my personal work, I probably draw something everyday. Even if I’m out and about, I will have my sketchbook with me incase there’s an interesting character I spot to draw!

Do you take pictures or do any type of research before you start a project? 

When I begin a project I try to let my own mind do all the thinking and when it is exhausted, then I will turn to google, youtube or pinterest for inspiration.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you? 

Definitely! I grew up in the age of the internet and by the time I graduated, most networking is done online. From having an online portfolio, to meeting and sharing work with other artists on social media, the internet is probably my one source of work.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations? 

Yes. I use Photoshop for everything! It took a lot of practise to get comfortable with it and I only use a tiny percentage of its actual ability but it works well for what I need it for.

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

Yes, I use a Cintiq 21UX. I got it about 6 years ago, I would be lost without it! It’s a pricey piece of equipment but it is an essential investment, along with a good computer.

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

As I get older, I really put less time into ‘dreams’. Over the years I’ve learned that all I need to be happy is to work on jobs that are enjoyable with people who are great to work with, preferably with a cat nearby and cup of tea in my hand. Although, I would love to spend some time living in LA, working for one of the big guys, like Disney or Dreamworks.


What are you working on now? 

Currently, I am working on a character design job for the UK, as well as teaching character design and life drawing at a local college.

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. 

My favourite pencil to use is Faber-Castell Polychromos in Schwarz Black. I love the pens from Muji and for my sketchbooks, I like to use the small 3 pack paperback Moleskines because they are light and easy to carry around.

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

Whatever you want to do, immerse yourself in it and try to do to everyday if you can. Make it for yourself and forget what other people say. You do you.

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

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

Talk tomorrow,


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