Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 13, 2019


If your book was published in 2018 and it is a PAL title, we want to make sure that it is included for consideration in the next Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards!

The deadline for submitting your book is March 21, 2019. 

How do I make sure my book is a contender for the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards?

1. Click here to familiarize yourself with the guidelines for the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards, including information about PAL.

2. Make sure that your SCBWI membership is current! Only current members of SCBWI are eligible for the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards. Not sure when your membership expires? Log in at and click on “MY HOME” at the top-right corner to go to your Member Profile page. Your membership expiration date will be shown in the “About Me” box on that page.

3. Log in at and update your publication information on your Member Profile! Be sure to enter the name and publication year of your most recent book(s). Then, choose your publisher from one of the drop-down menus. For more detailed information, go to If you have any trouble updating, feel free to call our offices at 323-782-1010 during business hours (9 AM – 5:00 PM, Pacific daylight time Monday – Friday) and someone will be happy to assist you.

4. Already entered your book? The preview period will close on March 31 during which you can verify your book has been entered properly. If it is not, it may be that your membership is not current, it does not have a 2018 publication date, or you did not list a PAL publisher. Again, you can always contact our office if you are having issues. Remember, you can lodge your title for the awards anytime through the year.

5. We want you to promote and publicize the Crystal Kite Awards and remind people to vote! We just can’t allow promotion or publicizing of individual titles. For example, you can tweet, Facebook and otherwise state: “Don’t forget to vote for your favorite in the Crystal Kite Awards!” … or words to that effect. However, publicizing a specific title will lead to disqualification of that title. For social media posts we use #SCBWI19CK, and #scbwicrystalkites.

Don’t forget to read through the Crystal Kites Member Choice Awards page where you will find further information, all the relevant dates, and the link to the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Christopher Cheng is the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards Coordinator.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 12, 2019

Agent Shannon Hassan – Marsal Lyon Literary

Shannon Hassan is an agent at Marsal Lyon Literary representing authors of accessible literary and commercial fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction, and narrative nonfiction.  In general I look for fresh voices, compelling characters, and crisp prose.

Currently on my wish list:

For kids:

On the kid-lit side, I represent MG and YA and am open to a range of stories as long as they have authentic, memorable characters:

  • Contemporary stories with humor and heart.
  • Graphic novels in the vein of El Deafo or This One Summer.
  • Diverse and #ownvoices stories.
  • Adventures, thrillers and mysteries.
  • STEM/STEAM tie-ins.
  • Magical realism or “light” fantasy (with one foot grounded in reality).
  • Page-turning historicals.

For adults:

  • “Book Club” reads that hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial and stimulate discussion.
  • Upmarket women’s fiction with a big hook, especially suspense, issue-driven, or humorous.
  • Multicultural stories. Immigrant stories.
  • Historical fiction of all stripes, especially if offering a new perspective, or even a genre twist.
  • Literary and upmarket thrillers that are not espionage-based.
  • Exceptional non-fiction narratives from authors with strong platforms.
  • Stories of the American West.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to

Query letter + up to 10 pages, by email only please.

More about Shannon:

Shannon Hassan brings a depth of business and editorial experience to her role as agent, having worked in publishing and law for more than a decade.  She represents authors of literary and commercial fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction, and select nonfiction.  With respect to fiction, she is drawn to fresh voices, compelling characters, and crisp prose, and enjoys both contemporary and historical settings.  For nonfiction, she is interested in exceptional narratives from authors with strong platforms. Based in Boulder, Colorado, she is also eager to hear from authors with a unique perspective on the West.

A sample of books Shannon has represented: THE MASK COLLECTORS, a literary thriller by Iowa Short Fiction Award-winner Ruvanee Vilhauer (Little A), INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS, an award-winning middle grade series by Dusti Bowling (Sterling), DIE YOUNG WITH ME, an ALA award-winning memoir by Rob Rufus (Simon & Schuster), THE MOON IN THE PALACE, a RITA-award winning historical series by Weina Dai Randel (Sourcebooks), THE WORLD’S GREATEST ADVENTURE MACHINE, a middle grade adventure by Frank L. Cole (Penguin Random House), GIRLS ON THE LINE, a multicultural young adult novel by Jennie Liu (Lerner), THE SILENCE BETWEEN US, a young adult contemporary by Alison Gervais (HarperCollins), and FRÄULEIN M., a historical novel by Caroline Woods (Simon & Schuster).

Before becoming an agent, she was the Acquisitions Editor at Fulcrum Publishing, and prior to that, a corporate attorney at Arnold & Porter in New York. She received her JD from Harvard and her BA from George Washington University, and she serves on the board of The Dairy Arts Center.

Follow Shannon on Twitter: @ShannonHassan.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 11, 2019


Illustrator and Author Yevgenia Nayberg debut picture book titled, ANYA’S SECRET SOCIETY, hits bookstores on March 12th. Yevgenia has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

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


Left-handed Anya draws with great passion . . . but only when she’s alone.

In Russia, right-handedness is demanded–it is the right way. This cultural expectation stifles young Anya’s creativity and artistic spirit as she draws the world around her in secret.

Hiding away from family, teachers, and neighbors, Anya imagines a secret society of famous left-handed artists drawing alongside her. But once her family emigrates from Russia to America, her life becomes less clandestine, and she no longer feels she needs to conceal a piece of her identity.


I did not want to write a picture book. I have been illustrating picture books for years, but the idea of writing one did not sit well with me. I was worried about writing in English. I was worried about writing for children. I did not want to adopt a special “children’s voice”, overly cheerful and loud. But when my agent Anna Olswanger suggested that I wrote an autobiographical story, I finally took the plunge.

My character Anya, a left-handed artist, is based on me as a child. Anya is told to use her right hand. She tries and succeeds; however, she never learns to draw with her right hand. Her left hand becomes her special drawing hand. Although this is a true story- my story, I was using a left hand only as a metaphor. I was much more interested in Anya’s imaginary world.

I was surprised that it was the lefty story that resonated the most with editors and, eventually, the readers. Just like any other book, Anya’s Secret Society begins a life of its own, and I have no power over it.  I have always translated words into images, and now for the first time, I’m doing the opposite. I think I am slowly finding a voice of my own. I also feel so lucky that I got to draw all the things that I love: my hometown, Kiev, my adopted hometown, New York City, and many artists, big and small.


Yevgenia Nayberg is an illustrator, painter, and set and costume designer. Her illustrations have appeared in magazines and picture books, and on theatre posters, music albums, and book covers; her paintings, drawings, and illustrations are held in private collections worldwide. As a set and costume designer, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts/TCG Fellowship for Theatre Designers, the Independent Theatre Award and the Arlin Meyer Award.

In 2018 she received a Sydney Taylor Silver Medal for her illustrations for Drop by Drop by Jaqueline Jules.

Her next book, Typewriter,will be published in 2020. She lives in New York City.

Thank you Yevgenia for sharing your book and journey with us. I love your artwork. This book looks gorgeous. Just found out that you are illustrating Laurie Wallmark’s next book. Can’t wait to see what you do with it. And I look forward to featuring you on Illustrator Saturday. 

Talk tomorrow,


Dawn Frederick: Owner of Red Sofa Literary

Red Sofa Literary

Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner/literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. She brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table, bringing multiple years of experience as a bookseller in independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, and book development experience; previously a literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. She has a B.S. in Human Ecology, and a M.S. in Information Sciences. Dawn co-founded the MN Publishing Tweet Up, is the current President of the Twin Cities Advisory Council for MPR, and a teaching artist at Loft Literary. You can find her on Twitter at @redsofaliterary.

Dawn’s comments are in bold black and start with (DF:)


RED MOUNTAIN by Angela D’Ambrosio – YA

In a town where everyone wears wore camouflage, it was impossible to blend in. Grandfather Kemmai said us Kemmai’s we were meant to be outsiders, but. even Even for me, he took it too far. (DF: Is this in past or present tense? Choose a side and stay with it.)

A hot summer wind blew through my open window, and the sound of a murder of crows cut through the night. The air smelled like a storm–dry and charged with ozone. Even the rain didn’t want to be here—. (DF: delete period.) I missed Seattle. (DF: Text needs to be tightened up, no need to break down every detail, let the readers figure out things on their own too. “dry and charged ith ozone” def. hints at a storm.)

Two more days. , I reminded myself. Leaving Salubria couldn’t happen fast enough.

I leaned out the window just as a hawk dove into brambles, snatching at the ground. The distant horizon blazed orange, and I lost sight of the predator. Seconds later, the silhouette of wings floated on a thermal with a dangle of reptile (DF: Maybe say a small reptile) grasped in its talons.

“Score one for the good guys,” I said, smoothing the band-aid curling away from my palms. A dark stain bled through the taupe material. The popped blisters burned and stung with an exclamation point on the day.

Grandfather chuckled when I showed him the welts. (DF: Wow. This hints at something brty bad happening, but it also throws me off, as I’m not sure what year/genre you’re writing in for Red Mountain, yet.) He said, “Better your hands than your backside.”

I didn’t laugh.

Careful to avoid touching my wounds, I raked my hair out of my eyes, avoiding the ignoring the reflection in the mirror over the dresser. I didn’t know the girl in the mirror. She didn’t belong here surrounded by blue-flowered wallpaper and beyond these brittle ranch house walls, (DF: delete the comma after walls) in the wild terrain of rural Idaho.

I shoved my feet into plain black canvas sneakers and smoothed my vintage t-shirtee (DF: Hence why I’m not sure where and when this book is set. Not something you’d see in a historical novel where slavery, i.e. those welts, my have happened.) over my jeans. Not giving myself time to over-think, I swung open my bedroom door.

(DF: For this first page we’re not moving forward, it’s a little bumpy. She is literally looking at her wounds, avoiding her reflection and leaving her bedroom. This is a ver quiet opening. The story I assume starts moving a few pages later… of whicch that may be the best place to start. Also, I;m not sure where and when this book is set. Is it historical? Is it contemporary? Is it fantasy? I’m not sure here.)


SECOND CHANCES – A YA novel by Shelly Nosbisch 

It was only two days until they had to leave, and Rory was running out of options.

Fragments of Rory’s life were thrown out across her bed in an unenthusiastic attempt to pack. Several pairs of shorts, some sarcastic t-shirts, a dog-eared copy of Eleanor & Park, a red University of Nebraska duffel bag, plus half a package of Tootsie Rolls and her charm bracelet. Surely there was more to her than these bits and pieces.

Rory flopped into her butterfly chair. If only her mom would relax and let her stay with her best friend, Amalia, instead of making her go Phoenix for the next two months. (DF: No need to state how long just yet. You’re getting the book set and moving right now.) But all her mom could see was the humongous office and inflated paycheck she’d get with this promotion after she finished the Phoenix project. So what if Rory would miss two months of her senior year.  But Rory and Amalia had plans, and they didn’t include being thirteen hundred miles apart.

Her mom walked into her room without knocking, looked over the contents on the bed, and tightened her lips. “You’ve got to get serious about packing.”

Rory reluctantly got up and moved some of the items around on the bed and then tried one more time. “Studies show that it’s difficult for a high school student to make up lost classroom instruction with lousy home school videos. I don’t make this stuff up, Mom. Going to Phoenix could be dooming me to a dire future, like going to cosmetology school or something.”

Nothing wrong with being a cosmetologist, but her mom had law school in her sights for Rory. Nothing else would do.

Summary: (DF: This is a great first page, I’d def. read the 2nd page. There still needs to be some movement here, but at least we’re getting an idea that

1) Rory is leaving her comfort zone for two months.

2) She is not happy about it.

3) That it’s her senior year (which is clear she was looking forward to spending with Amalia).


Katie Engen        graphic novel for young readers

The Tooth Fairy Conference-Where brains + brawn extract a rot-minded foe & save the fairy economy. (DF: This is super cute, but atlas my big question is who the intended audience is. MG? Younger? Needs to be clear.)

SECTION ONE (4 panels/pages) Panel 1. Harried tooth fairy Gwyneth rushes into keynote.

GWYNETH (burst):  Plaque Man is back!

Panel 2. Packed room. Globally & physically diverse tooth fairies – 99% ignoring Gwyneth.

Panel 3. Gwyneth proffers from tooth pouch notes. In Plaque Man’s scrawl: For sweet dreams…EAT CANDY IN BED / Need more sleep? SKIP FLOSSING! (and many more). (DF: This is where it immediately get didactic.)

GWYNETH: He left these gross notes on every pillow of my tooth collection route last night. (DF: This feels awfully creepy. Not sure if that’s intended, but as a child who did believe in the tooth fairy, I would never sleep again (just being honest here.)

Panel 3’s inset. Flashback to Gwyneth on her tooth route discovering the notes last night.

Panel 4. Close-ups on Tooth Fairy 1 and Tooth Fairy 2; & young chanting group’s in marginalia

TOOTH FAIRY 1 (nervous):  Did she say Plaque Man?

TOOTH FAIRY 2:  That rotter’s been gone since before our great-grandfairies were wee sprites.

CHANT (small):  You better floss. You better brush. Or Plaque Man rots your teeth to mush. (DF: Once again this is leaning too heavily into the side of being didactic.)

SECTION TWO (4 panels/pages)

Panel 1. Crowd & Gwyneth unaware:  Plq Man in Grandma TF disguise. Readers may spot him.

Panel 2. Fairies grab, share, study the notes spilling from Gwyneth’s pouch.  But…

TOOTH FAIRY 3 (big/loud):  Hey, it’s just some gunky smear! (OP):  (DF: This is just an odd transition. It almost feels like you’re trying too hard to show the severity of Plaque Man.) This one, too! Same here!

Panel 3. All scowl at Gwyneth. (DF: Why would they scowl at her? It’s not her fault… I’d change that reaction ever so slightly.) She covers her badge (Tooth Fairy, 2nd Class), but glares back.

GWYNETH (loud):  Plaque Man must be gunking (DF: Just awarkward verbage to use.) up the notes, so you can’t read them.

OTHER TOOTH FAIRIES (mutter):  She’s crying wolf. Just a lying liar who lies…

Panel 4:  Mad + determined, Gwyneth flees down hallway. Signs show array of Sessions. Ex:

Tooth Health = Fairy Wealth w/Mr. Buck Touffe, Chief Enamalist, Floss Institute. (DF: The important thing to remember, which audience are you writing for? The parents or the kids? This is still leaning too didactic.)

GWYNETH (thought): Doubters doubt, but I’ve got options to probe for the truth!

[Up next:  Buck Touffe says, “Let me drill right to the point. Bad teeth rot our economy. —]


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 9, 2019

Illustrator Saturday – Amberin Huq

Amberian Huq is a freelance illustrator living and working in London. She specializes in narrative storytelling, concept art and character designs. She is a graduate from University College Falmouth with a degree in Illustration in 2008 and has since been living and working just outside of London creating and painting under an organized heap of paper in my studio.

Her work plays with perspective, colour and light to create environments that tell a story through their composition. She also loves to create characters with personality and energy whether that be through what they are wearing, expression or gesture.

Here is Amberin Discussiing Her Process:

I usually start with sketching out a really rough idea of what the image is going to look like. I also add some values to get an idea of lighting and depth.

This is a second sketch where i’ve looked at the shape of the trees in order to make the image more interesting and also flow a little better. I wanted the whole finished look to have a soft dreamy quality and straight trees don’t really lend themselves to that feel.

Next I add some rough colour down. This can often take a bit of time as it’s the part of the process you really nail down the feel of the piece.

When i’m happy with the rough colour I start adding some shadows and texture so bring the illustration out a bit. I use a range of brushes but I like to keep the strokes quite loose.

Once i’ve added the shadows I got ahead and add the highlights. I’ve put some yellow into the highlights to make it feel a bit warmer.

Once I’m happy with the background I draw in the characters. I have usually mapped out where I want the characters to sit in the initial rough stage. In this case I have framed them between two trees so make them stand out and laid them on a bit of highlighted grass so that the eye is drawn to them.

The I add colour and tone.

Next I draw over the black lines in order to soften their edges.

By the time I had finished I wasn’t that happy that there wasn’t as much warmth as I wanted in the image. So I played around with the levels in photoshop to add a bit more yellow to the midtones until I was happy. I have learnt less is more with this tool but I was pretty happy with how it finished up.

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating on an off for the last 10 years doing small jobs here and there. I was mostly focusing on earning and saving money in those ten years. I only recently taking the idea of trying to make it a career in the last four years. I’ve really focused on becoming a better artist in those four years.

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

My first commission was a bit of a curve ball. I was hired by Half Moon Theatre for Young People in East London to create a show for teenagers. It was a great experience as they brought together lots of different types of artists to create a 30 minute work in progress show. I worked with a dancer and a beat boxer to create a show about mental health and the pressures on the young people. I have worked with them on and off for the last 10 years so it was a great first commission.

Have you always lived in the UK?

I have lived most of my life in the UK after a brief one year where I lived in Bangladesh. But I’m firmly fixed in Surrey for now.

Why did you choose to attend University College Falmouth for a degree in illustration?

I chose to go the Falmouth because the illustration course had a great reputation and it really was a great course. And the allure of living by the sea may have had something to do with it as well.

Did the school help you find illustration work?

They didn’t directly help me find work however they did give us the tools on how the industry works and how to go about looking for work. In our third year we had a professional practise module which made sure we had a portfolio when we graduated and that we had had real life practise contacting publishers and agents so we vaguely knew what we were doing when we left.

Do you think College influenced your illustrating style?

It laid down the foundations for my style. I’ve always loved playing with scale and depth and creating images with atmosphere. However, my work has changed a lot in the last 10 years to the point that my portfolio from when I graduated to now is completely different. Changing to completely working digitally definitely made a difference to my style.

I see that you are represented by The Organisation. How did you connect with them and how long have they represented you?

I just sent them my portfolio last summer via email. I’ve only been with them for about 5 months. Sadly they have closed now due to personal circumstances so i’m between agents currently but they were so helpful in giving me a direction for my work in the short time I was with them.

Was the Angelo Tito Ship painting your first commissioned work?

It wasn’t my first commissioned work but it was the first commission of this type for a child’s birthday. I’ve done a couple more since then, they’re a lot of fun as they are inspired by the families memories themselves so they can throw in a lot of weird concepts. But it’s great fun to weave them altogether into a piece.

How did you get to exhibit your art at Half Moon Theatre?

I have worked with them a couple of times and when they had a refurbishment allowing for an exhibition space they asked me to exhibit. It was my first solo show and I was very excited to be the first artist to exhibit there.

Pickled Pepper Books looks like a cute bookstore. Do you still exhibit your illustrations there?

Yes, I love that bookstore, it’s such a lovely place and they put on a lot of events for kids there. I only exhibited there once but it was a great experience. I recommend people going to visit it.

Was the Book of Dragons your first illustrated book?

It was definitely my first published comic.

I see that you have illustrations for a graphic novel on your website. Have you published a graphic novel for children?

I haven’t but I would love to. It’s something on my illustration bucket list. I would love to write and illustrate a graphic novel for children. Maybe I should start writing!

uld you like to write and illustrate a book?

I have written and illustrated a children’s book. It was published by Five Mile Press in Australia and it was called ‘A Bump in the Night’. It was a long time ago and I’m not sure it’s in stores anymore. My style has changed a lot since then but it was definitely a great experience.

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

I have. I would love to. There’s something about letting images tell a story without words which I find really interesting.

How many books have you illustrated?

I’m not sure, i’m not counting. I’ve created work for children and for older people but a large chunk of my most recent work has been for Little Angel Theatre illustrating promotional illustrations for their productions for children.

Are you doing freelance illustrating full time or do you have a day job?

I have a day job working in a school and I work on my commissions in the evenings and at the weekends. I would love to be illustrating freelance though and that is the goal. So i’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good year to push me forward.

How did your illustration get in AOI Images 36 – Best of British Illustration?

I admitted my work for consideration. It was a surprise to find out that I had been shortlisted which was great. It was my first taste of moving forward since I graduated which was fun.

Has exhibiting your art ended up in any illustrating jobs?

I didn’t necessarily gain any commissions but selling work to people who appreciate your work is a bit of a buzz. The exhibitions led to other exhibitions though and meeting some wonderful and interesting people as well.

Have you done any book covers for novels?

Only for self published authors.

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

I would, but it would depend on what the project was and if it was something i was passionate about.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

I haven’t but wouldn’t say no in the future.

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

I have illustrated for children’s magazines. I did a lot of work for Stew Magazine and recently for Highlights magazine in the US.

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

I have. As I said before there’s something really interesting about telling a story through just pictures. One of my favourite books is The Arrival by Shaun Tan, it really inspired me. I have one idea which I am developing so hopefully that will see some light soon.

I went to The Hungry Ghost Corporation and enjoyed seeing your Robot in their video. Other than providing your illustration for them to use, did you have a hand in the making of the video?

That was for HitRecord which is an open source production company run by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s great as projects get put up and people then put up work that fulfil the brief which other people can take and turn into something more than what it was to begin with. So I didn’t add anymore to the piece other than the character design but it was pretty cool to see what the other artists at HitRecord did with it.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I’m not sure, I don’t necessarily feel successful, I feel like i’ve got more to do and hopefully I will have the opportunity to do so.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I work digitally now. I know that might seem like cheating but the depth of what you can do now is incredible. Working with textures and brushes has really pushed my work forward not to mention the fact that working digitally is much more flexible in terms of playing around with ideas and compositions.

Has that changed over time?

It has, I used to work in ink and acrylic paint. I used to love mixing paints and dry-brushing the paint onto the canvas but I moved away from that after I discovered working digitally.

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

I do. I try it draw a little every day even if I haven’t got any commissions on. Usually in the evenings because of the day job. I’m always looking o develop and keep getting better and trying new things and you can only do that if you keep drawing. If there’s anything I can say to people who want to illustrate it is to draw everyday.

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

It depends what the project is. If the subject is something I’m not very confident about then I will do some research. I almost always use photo reference for my work especially when it comes to lighting and creating a certain tone. Photography is a bit reference point for me.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. Social media like twitter and instagram has made such a difference. It has made quite an isolating career choice feel more open. I have met a lot of illustrators and artists through social media and it’s a great way of discovering new work to inspire my own. It has such a great reach and means people who wouldn’t normally see my work get to see it which then leads to opportunities.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop.

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

I do. I got a Wacom Cintiq a couple of years ago and it changed everything.

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

My dream at the moment is to work consistently and to give up my day job. Anything on top of that is a bonus.

What are you working on now?

I’m actually working on pushing my character and black and white work as I would like to move into illustrating fiction work for an older audience.

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

Work hard, draw everyday, expect to fail but keep going anyway. Give yourself a day to mope if you’ve received rejection but then wake up the next day and move forward. Always look to develop and listen to what people who have been working in the industry for a long time say, they know what they’re talking about. Work on your relationships with the people who commission you as it makes a difference when it comes to repeat work. Don’t turn in work late, that also makes a difference. The biggest thing I would say is that you are resilient. It’s not always easy but it’s worth it when it works.

Additional Process:

Planet Bee Bookcover

I did a bookcover for a local author. It’s finally up on amazon so can share it with you now but I thought i’d take this opportunity to go through my process. It’s not very detailed or very scientific but I’ve got half an hour to kill.

This is the final image but it started off as just a scribble.

I don’t usually block in the tonal values at this point in time for personal projects but because I was working with a client and wanted them to have a good idea of what I was pitching I thought it was necessary.

Next comes rough text placement and some added shading.

A couple of design tweeks and some more shading to help the client envisage what the cover will look like. It also helps for me to roughly layout lighting and tonal values so I have to spend less time figuring it out when it comes to the final thing.

Next comes the issue of colour palette. Working digitally means that this is quite a fast process.

After a colour palette has been agreed I can do another really rough colour pass over the initial pencil drawing to sort out highlights and tones. Once this is ok’d by the client it’s time to trace the drawing, clean it up, scan and then get to work on the final render.

You can find the book at this link.

Thank you Amberin for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Amberin’s work, you can visit her at: Website: @amberinhuq –

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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 8, 2019

Agent of the Month – Susan Hawk – Upstart Crow


Susan Hawk has worked in children’s books for over twenty-five years. She comes to Upstart Crow from the Bent Agency, and her clients include Alison Oliver, illustrator of the bestselling Baby Lit board books and the forthcoming picture book Moon; Ruth Spiro, author of the Baby Loves Science board book series; Marcie Colleen, author of the Super Happy Party Bears chapter book series and the forthcoming picture books Love, Triangle and Penguinaut!; Lisa Tyre, whose debut middle-grade novel, Last in a Long Line of Rebels, was a BEA Buzz Book title; Sarah Lariviere, whose middle-grade novel The Bad Kid is an 2017 Edgar Award Nominee; and Rachael Allen, author of the YA novels 17 First KissesThe Revenge Playbook and the forthcoming A Taxonomy of Love.

Before agenting, Susan worked in the Children’s Marketing departments of Penguin Books for Young Readers, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and North-South Books, where she managed campaigns for many books and authors including Eric Carle, Mary E Pearson, Richard Peck and Joan Bauer. She’s also been a children’s librarian and bookseller, and spent some time in Dutton Editorial, acquiring select picture book and YA projects for that list.

Middle-grade and YA: I’m looking for something that makes me laugh out loud, I’m a sucker for bittersweet, and I can’t resist a character that comes to understand how perfectly imperfect the world is. I want a book to stay with me long after I finish reading, and I’m looking for powerful, original writing. I’m open to mystery, scifi, humor, boy books, historical, contemporary (really any genre). My favorite projects live at the intersection of literary and commercial.

In non-fiction: I’m looking for books that relate to kid’s daily lives and their concerns with the world.

In picture books: I’m looking particularly for author-illustrators, succinct but expressive texts, and characters as indelible as my childhood favorites Ferdinand, Madeline, George and Martha.

Here’s more!

  • MG or YA with magical realism.
  • MG or YA where main character is first generation American.
  • I’d love a YA set in 1980s Moscow, against backdrop of Perestroika and Glasnost.
  • I’d love, LOVE to find a YA contemporary with female MC, who’s passionate about science, math, engineering, ie STEM.
  • For instance, I would very much like a lush, atmospheric, historical YA novel, with edge-of-your-seat tension.
  • Also really love conceptual picture books.
  • Also hungry for new PB writers and writer/illustrators. Want smart, funny, character driven stories.
  • Books that take a secondary figure from a classic/popular novel and tell their story.
  • Layered stories that are equally funny and heartbreaking.
  • MG or YA fantasy based on American folklore.
  • Always been a sucker for an epistolary novel, MG or YA.
  • I love books that wrap a story within a story, for MG or YA.
  • Literary, smart, intense YA that is about more than romance.
  • I’d love a MG caper novel, esp if it has a historical element. Maybe a la Ocean’s Eleven?
  • Always open to MG mystery/detective novels, again esp with a historical element. Fast-paced please!
  • Again for MG, send me contemporary with a magical/fantastical element that feels fresh. Always with a lot of heart.
  • I’m fascinated by selkies! Send me MG or YA about that.
  • Am always interested in books with LGBT protagonist or characters, in YA and MG.
  • Edgy, dark MG that pushes the boundaries of “upper MG.”
  • YA about the families we’re born with and the families we find.
  • YA about food, a character that’s into cooking.
  • A sharp, irresistible, crush-worthy but unreliable narrator in YA.
  • YA stories set in small communities with their own, peculiar culture. Think boarding school, or perhaps a cult.
  • Also, I really love musical theater. If you’ve got a story for kids that’s set in that world, send it to me!
  • Epic, sweeping YA fantasy with richly detailed world & killer characters. Esp that doesn’t pull from West European history/folklore.
  • YA or MG that uses an inventive storytelling device, plays with the structure of a novel.
  • Books that take a secondary figure from a classic/popular novel and tell their story.
  • Man, do I love a funny book! Works best, IMO, when it feels as though the humor is the expression of a very particular character’s POV.
  • Also love witty, smart humor that cuts to the bone.
  • I’d love MG or YA historical fiction that’s set in the 20th C.
  • A story that makes use of found documents: diaries, lettters, etc in YA or MG.

Most of all: beautiful, transporting, delicious writing. Literary projects, with a lot of heart. Characters so alive they jump off the page.

UPSTART CROW Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to

  • Submit a QUERY and TWENTY PAGES of your manuscript.
  • Please put your query and sample in the body of the email. We will not open emailed attachments.
  • Author/illustrators: NB—Please include a link to your online portfolio and/or to your downloadable dummy. (Thank you!)

If your submission is received by our system, an automated response will be emailed to you.  Website


In the subject line, please write “MARCH FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE”  Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

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: March 22nd.

RESULTS: March 29th.


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 7, 2019

Book Giveaway: THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST by Sophia Gholz

Author Sophia Gholz has a new picture book titled, THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST. It is is hitting bookstores on March 15th. Sophia has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

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


As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make.

On Majuli Island in northeastern India there is a mighty forest. The Molai Forest covers over 1,300 acres and contains thousands of different species of plants, trees and wildlife. But the Molai Forest was not always there. After experiencing devastating flooding, erosion and the poaching of wildlife, a young boy named Jadav began planting bamboo seedlings, making it his lifelong mission to rebuild the forest and its ecosystem.

This true story demonstrates the agency a young person can have to affect change.  As proved by Jadav, even a simple effort can have an impact beyond your wildest expectations. Young readers will learn about environmental efforts and see that even the mightiest results really do begin with a small seed of an idea. This book can be used as a tie-in for lessons on ecology and sustainability.


“The story provides young children with a real-life example of the connections between man and nature…with beautiful imagery of the islands and the forest.” —Kirkus


Ten years ago, I found myself at crossroad. For years I had been an artists’ agent and producer. But while I was helping other artists pursue their dreams, I was ignoring my own: to write books for children. At the time, I really had no idea how to go about making that dream a reality. Then, in early 2011, with the encouragement of a friend (thank you, Corina Vacco!) I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). However, it would be a long while before I found my footing.

Nonfiction with an environmental slant has always appealed to me. My father was a well-known scientist and forest ecologist and my mother was a science writer. I grew up in forests and our home was constantly filled with a diverse cast of scientists from around the globe. The belief that our earth was precious and that it’s our responsibility to care for it was ingrained in me from the start. Still, when I began to write books for children, I never thought about writing nonfiction. It wasn’t until I came across Jadav Payeng’s story that things shifted.

The moment I saw an image of Jadav standing in his forest, I knew I had to share this story. Jadav’s journey brimmed with familiar themes of reforestation, conservation, environmental impacts, biodiversity, and more. But this wasn’t just an interesting subject, it was something near to my heart and how I was raised. Beyond the environmental connection, Jadav also shows us that you can achieve your dreams with enough hard work; and that it only takes one person to make a difference. I felt incredibly inspired and immediately jumped into research.

I completed my first draft in early 2016, and it was a mess of a draft. I heartily dug into revisions, but things didn’t immediately click. To me, Jadav’s story felt like the stuff of fiction: full of magic and miracles. After rounds of rewrites, I began to doubt my ability to weave that magic into words. So, I placed my manuscript in a drawer and left it. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

A year later, I pulled my manuscript out and rewrote it once more. This time, however, I focused on pacing and left the reveal of Jadav’s name until the final spread. I wanted children to feel that same awe that I felt, when they turned the last page and realized this story is true. At the urging of friends, I then submitted my manuscript to the Florida SCBWI Rising Kite Awards. I was shocked when I learned I won third place in the nonfiction category. Shortly after, The Boy Who Grew a Forest went out on submission. Through all of this, my father cheered me on—the first ecologist and forest lover in my life.

I could barely contain my excitement when we received the offer from Sleeping Bear Press. Not only does Sleeping Bear produce beautiful books, but they’re also based in Michigan—not far from where my parents grew up! It felt as though it was meant to be. Five days later, I got another call: my dad had been fatally injured in a climbing accident in Rocky Mountain National Park. In the span of one week, I’d experienced the best and worst moments of my life.

The following months were a blur. Things progressed with my publisher and I am incredibly grateful for their support and vision for this book. Initially, I was unfamiliar with the illustrator, Kayla Harren, but fell instantly in love with her ability to breathe life into characters and her beautiful attention to details. Working with her has been another dream come true. It’s also been a great example of a “small-world moment”. After months of collaborating on this project, I learned we’d actually met several years prior. Turns out, when we were both living in New York City and working in different industries, we’d actually spent a whole day together. I could not believe it!

More than anything, however, I am grateful that I was able to share the publication of this book with my father before he died. My admiration and respect for our planet and how ecological processes are interwoven, were formed early in life because of him.

My dream now is that Jadav’s story inspires and ignites a green spark in all who read it. I hope children see themselves in this book and realize that they too can make a difference.


Sophia Gholz‘s BIO:

Sophia is a children’s book author,a lifelong writer, tree-hugger, music lover, magic seeker, and avid reader. As a kid, Sophia spent most of her time riding horses, causing mischief with her brothers, or exploring the globe with her parents. The latter often included tents and forests, while accompanying her father on various scientific adventures.

Sophia grew up in Florida, went to art school in California, and met her husband in Manhattan. She now enjoys life by the beach with her family.

Her father was a prominent forest ecologist, and some of her earliest memories are of camping in research forests. She lives in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Visit her website at

Author links:


Twitter: @sophiagholz  or

Instagram:  @sophiagholz  or

Upcoming event:

Book launch party and book signing: March 16th , from 2:00-4:00pm, at Barnes & Noble Town Center, Jacksonville Florida. 10280 Midtown Parkway, Jacksonville, FL 32246

Kayla Harren’s books include Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich and Mary Had a Little Lizard. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about her at Kayla was recently featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Thank you Sophia for sharing your book and Journey with us. This is a great picture book with a great message to share with children. Kayla did a fantastic job with the illustrations. Kayla was featured on Illustrator Saturday last month. Here is the link.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 6, 2019

Book Winners – Book Reveals – Industry Changes



Nancy Riley won CAVEKID BIRTHDAY by Cathy Breisacher

Suzy Leopold won
OLIVER: The Second-Largest Living Thing on Earth by Josh Crute

Winners please send your names and addresses to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com


This week I received four book covers. I had to show them off. All are gorgeous. Plus this will give you a little tease on future book giveaways.

Lynn Marie just received the cover art for her new book illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo. (Front Above) (Back below).

This latest picture book is coming out from Sterling Publishing on August 6th. It is a fun, shivery take on a favorite fairy tale! Forget Goldilocks and the three bears—MOLDILOCKS and the THREE SCARES here is a delightfully zombie-tastic new version of the popular story.

Carole Gerber has IF YOU’RE SCARY AND YOU KNOW IT coming out early in September for Halloween. It is illustrated by Noel Ill.

Amalia Hoffman has two cover reveals – Lucky Lady!

THE BRAVE CYCLIST is coming out in August, 2019 by Capstone Publishing.

ALL COLORS Board Book is coming out in Fall 2019 by Schiffer Publishing.



At Algonquin Children’s, Sarah Alpert has been promoted to associate editor, now acquiring middle-grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction and graphic novels.

At Little, Brown: Alexandra Hoopes has been promoted to assistant editor; Lucy Kim is now art director and Tim Harrington is senior art director.


Talk tomorrow,


Sorry for the delay with the results for the first Page critiques. Dawn Frederick needs a few additional days, so please stop back on Sunday. Thank you!

ILLUSTARTORS: Please send any of your illustrations I can show off for St. Patty’s Day. Thanks!

Cricket Media produces literary magazines for children of various ages – Babybug (for ages 6 months to 3 years), Ladybug (ages 3 to 6), Spider (ages 6 to 9), and Cricket (ages 9 to 14). The magazines have several themes coming up.

These magazines also accept nonfiction, poetry, and craft submissions.

For Cricket: Open for Business. “seeks contemporary and historical fiction, biographies, and nonfiction about earning money or starting an enterprise. Fictional stories might be set against the background of a child’s summer job or working in a family business; saving money for an important event; or family struggles with money. Nonfiction might focus on inventors and entrepreneurs, the Industrial Revolution and labor strife, or people with unusual jobs.”

For Cricket, Spider, and Ladybug:Indigenous Stories. For Cricket, Spider, and Ladybug: “heartfelt stories by and about indigenous peoples of North America, whether you identify as indigenous, Native American, First Nation, or another name. Tell us about special family moments, traditions continued or lost, life on or off a reservation, learning and growing up in the present or past, or an important moment in history.”

For Cricket and Spider: — Home for the Holidays. “contemporary and historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry, crafts, and recipes about the celebration or history of holidays around the world. We welcome well-told seasonal stories set against the background of major U.S. holidays, but we also have special interest in holidays and festivals celebrated in other parts of the world that may be less familiar to our young readers.”

For Spider: — Enchanted Forest. “stories, poems, short plays, and activities for the theme “Enchanted Forest.” Show us worlds of magic and wonder, full of unicorns, witches in the woods, mythical beasts, and fairytale castles. Give us a new version of the traditional fairytale cast—what if a princess, prince, knight, or villain did not want to follow the roles assigned to them? Fractured and contemporary fairytales welcome.”

For Ladybug: — A Part of it All. “short stories, retellings of folk tales, rebus stories, poems, action rhymes, nonfiction, and songs about young children participating in their communities. Welcoming new neighbors, harvesting a shared garden, celebrating a holiday—show us how small children can affect their neighborhoods. We’re interested in explorations of communities across the US and abroad.”

For Babybug: — Whatever the Weather. “stories, poems, action rhymes, and fingerplays about year-round outdoor play and exploration. What might a baby or toddler appreciate about the natural world in different seasons? Are there memorable games that can only be played at certain times of year?”

Deadline: 1 April 2019
Length: Various
Pay: Up to $0.25/word for prose, $3/line for poetry
Details here.


The Ann Whitford Paul—

Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award

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

Are you an SCBWI member? Do you have a picture book not under contract and or haven’t sold a picture book in the last three years? If so, this maybe the opportunity for you.

Deadline: Submissions are open February 1, 2019 through April 1, 2019. Here is the link to read more:

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 4, 2019

Book Giveaway: THE BROKEN BEE’S NEST by Lydia Lukidis


Arun and Keya find the perfect tree for a tree house. Too bad it comes with a battered bees’ nest! These bees need a new home—right away! Tying into the popular Makers Movement, Makers Make It Work is a series of fun easy-to-read stories that focus on problem-solving and hands-on action. This charming story explores the Makers theme of Beekeeping and includes explanatory sidebars and an insect-related activity for young makers to try themselves!


Once upon a time, I studied Pure and Applied Science. While I had an aptitude for science, I soon came to the realization that I didn’t want career in it. I felt like I was an artist inside, trying to find the right channels in which to express that bustling creativity. As I was re-assessing what career path to take, I remembered a passion of mine: writing. Since I was 6 years old, I was obsessed with both reading and writing. I was particularly fond of poetry. So I decided to leave the world of science behind and study what I loved: English literature. People asked, what will you do with that degree? What kind of job will you get? But I chose not to listen, and followed my heart instead.

After many years of study, research and practice, I finally saw my destiny: writing for children. I was writing mostly fiction early on, and had published a few books. Then I discovered the educational market and decided to give it a try. I landed a few contracts and then had a magical realization: that all the knowledge I had gathered during the years I studied science was coming into use. Not only that, I realized, with much surprise, that I *loved* writing about STEM topics and breaking them down in ways that children can easily grasp.

A few years later, I corresponded with Juliana Lauletta who was an editor at Kane Press (and is now the publisher), and she invited me to write a few books for the Science Solves it! series. This resulted in two educational picture books, A Real Live Pet! and The Space Rock Mystery. I became passionate about writing nonfiction, especially creative nonfiction. From there, I met Jennifer Arena, an editor at Kane Press, and she invited me to write a book for the Makers Make it Work series. I chose the topic of beekeeping and ended up falling in love with these furry little creatures after writing the book The Broken Bee’s Nest.

Thanks to this chain of events, I now understand that no knowledge is lost, and you never know when it will trickle out and express itself in new ways. Inspiration for books is all around us, and also inside us, based on our experiences. I’m grateful to be able to fuse together the worlds of art and science, which are, as I’ve discovered, not quite as different and mutually exclusive as I had once believed.


Lydia Lukidis is an author, creator and conceptual artist. Her passion for reading and writing began at a very young age when she composed poem after poem in her journals. She later acquired her Bachelor degree in English Literature from McGill University and her love for the written word continued to grow.

Lydia fuses her creativity and skills to educate, inspire and entertain children. Her mandate as an artist is to provoke thought and feeling while having a positive impact on children. She has published over 40 children’s books including picture books, educational books and eBooks. She has experience with both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to her creative work, she also composes lesson plans, activities and curriculum based texts for children.

Lydia’s background is multi-disciplinary and spans the fields of literature, theater and puppetry. She has co-written and co-produced five plays for Panadream Theater, a company she co-founded in 2007. These plays for young audiences were told through the eyes of string marionettes. Her award winning play Yorgo & the World was selected to be part of the prestigious 2012 World Puppetry Festival in China. Her plays were presented at many international festivals and she collaborated with companies like Cirque du Soleil for several special events.

Lydia also does school visits and gives writing workshops for children aged 5-12. Her aim is to help children cultivate their imagination, sharpen their writing skills and develop self-confidence while improving their literacy. She is currently part of the Culture in the Schools Program organized by the Ministre de Culture et Communications Québec. These workshops are subsidized by the Quebec Government.

In addition to her work with children, Lydia writes articles and blogs for magazines and websites that target adults. She also does conceptual work for creative companies such as Moment Factory, where her latest project was to collaborate on a family show for Royal Caribbean International.


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