Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 18, 2017

Illustrator Saturday: Emily Emerson

Emily Emerson is am an illustrator and surface pattern designer. She creates whimsical illustrations for children’s publishing and lively patterns for fabric, apparel, stationery, home décor and much more. Hope you enjoy the magical creatures you will meet here on Writing and Illustrating. Maybe even become friends with cute animals and go on fairy tale adventures. Emily lives in

Here is Emily explaining her process:

I usually start with a simple sketch done on paper or in Photoshop (in this case, Photoshop). Sometimes I will sketch the background out as well, but I just let the background of this piece develop as I went along. After the sketch is done, I will start loosely adding color to the image. For color, I’ll mix a simple palette on its own layer and use that throughout the piece (top left).

Most of the background is now complete and I’ll continue to add detail to the entire piece. I usually work on very few layers (often only one or two) similar to how I would paint on a canvas.

I start adding leaves to give dimension to the background and continue to develop the characters.

Finished Illustration

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating professionally for a few years now, but I’ve loved to draw since I was a young child.

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

My career began when I started a small greeting card and wall art business. I printed everything in my own studio, and sold my work in boutique art shops as well as Etsy. A few years ago, I received my first commission to create seasonal street light banners for nearby city’s downtown area. It was really exciting to see those hung up around town!

Did you go to college to study art? Where?

I have taken drawing classes throughout my time at school, though I did not get a degree in art. My digital work is primarily self-taught.

What do you think influenced your style? 

I enjoy reading children’s books now as much as I did when I was a child. All of these books over the years have influenced my style.

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

After school, my first illustration-related work was my greeting card business.

What is a surface pattern designer?

My surface patterns are images (usually plants and animals) placed in a repeating pattern. The designs are then printed on clothing, bedding, room decor, stationery etc.  Designing little characters to repeat seamlessly in a pattern is so much fun!

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I’ve always loved children’s books, and knew from a young age that I wanted to be a professional illustrator. It wasn’t until I finished high school that I realized I wanted to focus on creating children’s illustrations.

Do you illustrate full time? If not, what type of job do you have while advancing your illustrating career?

I don’t currently illustrate full time, and spend part of my days working at the natural foods co-op in my hometown. This job doesn’t call for any art skills, but has helped me grow in other aspects of my life (such as learning about health and caring for the environment).

Do you do art exhibits? 

Yes, I’ve done a few over the years at local galleries.

What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

I focus on my artwork, and rely on my agent to promote my work.

How did you start doing stationery and cards?

I started making cards out of my home and selling them around town and online. I printed and packaged everything myself! It was fun having that freedom – when I thought of a new idea; I just drew it and started printing! I learned a lot about what designs people wanted to see from that period of my career.

Do you have an illustrator who you admire?

One of my favorite artists is the brilliant Mary Blair. Her work is so lively and joyful! I have a large collection of vintage books that I’ve sought out over the years. Some other favorites are Gyo Fujikawa, the Provensens, and Adrienne Adams to name a few!

Have you illustrated anything for magazines? If so, which ones and how did you get the illustration job?

While I have yet to work on a commission with a magazine, I am honored to say my patterns were recently featured in an issue of UPPERCASE Magazine.

You mention doing apparel. Is that fabric for apparel or do you make clothing using your art?

I create fun patterns to be printed on children’s clothing.

Have you design wallpaper?

Not yet, though I would love to someday!

Would you like to write and illustrate a children’s book?

Yes, this is a dream of mine!

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Possibly! I think it would really depend on the project.

Have you worked with educational publishers?

No, but I would love to work on educational projects! Books that taught me about nature and science were some of my absolute favorites growing up.

How did you connect with the The Organisation and get representation? 

While I was looking for representation, I discovered the Organisation’s website. I was very impressed and reached out to them with my portfolio. Lorraine was interested in my work, and I’m happy to say that we are now working together!

What is your favorite medium to use?

I use Photoshop for my paintings and Illustrator for my patterns.

Has that changed over time?

I’ve been using both for many years!

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes, a computer table and bookshelf full of my sketchbooks – as well as my favorite children’s books to keep me inspired!

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

I try and use any spare moment I have to illustrate! I love to draw so it is not difficult for me to sit down and work each day!

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

I often use the internet to find reference photos. Books are great for animal photographs as well.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I live in a small city in Kansas, yet the internet has allowed me to connect with people all over the world.

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

Yes, I use a Wacom Intuos tablet and Photoshop.

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

I am an animal lover and I would be so happy to use my art to help the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) or any organization that helps animals around the world.

What are you working on now?

I’ve been creating some fun personal work involving animals – my favorite subject to draw!

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 best tip for anyone interested in digital art is to find some great brushes that work for you because they can make a huge difference. Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop brushes are so amazing! They are designed to act more like real paint – they changed the way I work!

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

Keep a sketchbook with you and draw as often as you can. Draw what you love and it will show!

Thank you Emily for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Emily’s work, you can visit her at her website: http://www.emilyemerson.com

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

This cute St. Patty’s Day illustration was sent in from Carolyn Le. Carolyn has twice received a first-place Illustration Award for her portfolio from SCBWI Editor’s Day, has received a Merit Award from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles She writes and illustrates picture books.

TracyMarchini – Literary Agent – Featured Agent for March and critiquing four first pages at the end of the month. 

Below is a brief bio with her likes and dislikes:

After four years as a Literary Agents Assistant at Curtis Brown, Tracy Marchini left to pursue her own editorial business and to earn her MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. Her editorial clients have gone on to secure representation, sell books to traditional publishers, win awards and become bestsellers. She’s looking forward to being able to work with her BookEnds clients throughout their careers and to (hopefully!) see them grow as authors in the same way.

Tracy is looking for picture book, middle grade and young adult manuscripts across most genres, including contemporary, mysteries, thrillers, magical realism, historical fiction, and non-fiction. She is also looking for picture book illustrators and author-illustrators.

For picture book fiction, she loves books that are laugh out loud funny or deliciously dark.

For middle grade and young adult, she’s interested in underdogs, strong female characters and/or unreliable narrators. She feels it’s important for readers of all backgrounds to see themselves reflected in the media they consume, and she is looking to bring that diversity to my list.

She is not a good fit for YA horror, true crime, hard sci-fi, or high fantasy. At this time, she is not looking for board books or early chapter books.

 

This dancing lass was sent in by Priscilla Dunn.

HERE’S PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH TRACY:

Are there any genres that are less interesting to you?

I’m not a great fit for high fantasy or hard science fiction. I’m also not a good fit for young adult horror.

I also tend not to gravitate towards sweeter, “guess how much I love you” type picture books. (I’m not saying never on this, but there just hasn’t been anything yet that has grabbed me.)

I am looking for middle grade horror and/or middle grade with an element of magical realism!

Do you have any story or theme that you wished someone would submit?

My #mswl is full of things I’d love to see, like more girls in science or a YA set during the time of the fight for the ERA (1920’s or 1970’s – open to either).

I’d also love to see more non-fiction for middle grade and young adults for the trade market. I haven’t seen much of that in my inbox yet.

I’m also looking for more author/illustrators that really use the juxtaposition of text and art to their advantage.

What do you like to see in a submission?

I ask for a query letter and the first five pages, and I’m looking for submissions that are polished, have a strong voice, a unique hook, and with a story that appeals to me on some emotional level (intrigue, surprise, etc.).

How important is the query letter? 

The query is very important to me for middle grade and young adult, because it’s how I get a sense of the narrative arc. Sometimes you can tell if there will be issues with the manuscript just from the query.

With picture book submissions, I tend to skip right to the sample. BUT, I still want to see a professional query letter. If I’m interested in the story but the query is just “Here is my book,” that’s going to make me think the writer isn’t serious about their career.

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

Write a strong pitch, make sure to include the five sample pages, and really focus on your first chapter. I should know just by reading the first five pages what kind of story I’m about to read. If I read five pages and still feel like I don’t know the genre/direction the story might be going, I’m likely to move on.

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

It really depends. I read until it’s clear that I’m not going to be a good fit. In a requested manuscript, sometimes that’s three chapters, sometimes it’s half-way. If I’m on the fence, I read the synopsis and see if it’s compelling enough to make me keep going.

Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?

A few typos I can understand in a manuscript, but I can be less forgiving in a query. A query is just one page, and if I notice, for example, that an author doesn’t use commas correctly, then I know that the entire manuscript is going to have grammatical issues.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they sent?

At BookEnds, we respond to every submission. So if you submitted through QueryManager, you will hear a response from me.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material?

It really depends on what’s on my plate and what’s in the requested box. Right now I think I have requested material from August or September, and I’m certainly trying to get a little more up-to-date! I will read and respond to everything sent through QueryManager though, so please don’t assume that if you haven’t heard from me that it’s a no.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

I think in picture book submissions, I see a lot of submissions that aren’t written in picture book language. I wrote a very short post on my blog about picture book language, but of course, getting picture book voice right is a little more complicated than that!

I also will sometimes receive several picture book manuscript submissions at once from the same author, or another submission the same day I’ve rejected the first. This makes me think that the author has a drawer full of backlist and that I’m not seeing their newest, most polished work. I’m always leery of this, because in all of my clients I want to be able to see growth in their craft.

For middle grade and young adult, I think the most common mistake I see is an opening where the character wakes up in bed. It’s so common in the submission pile, that I immediately lose interest.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “March 2017  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). LAST MONTH TWO SUBMISSIONS DID NOT ATTACH A WORD DOCUMENT AND WERE ELIMINATED. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN!

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 23rd

RESULTS: March 31st.

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!

You can contact Tracy at TMsubmissions@bookendsliterary.com or follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TracyMarchini.

You must use their form to submit to Tracy at Bookends. Click here for the form.

Congratulations! Tracey’s picture book debut Chicken Wants A Nap will be published in August by Creative Editions.

STOP BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF TRACY’S INTERVIEW.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 16, 2017

Scholastic Graphix Novel Contest

Reminder: Free Webinar this Saturday with Hillary Homzie and Dr. Mira Reisberg. Need to register.

http://www.scholastic.com/graphixcontest/submissions.htm

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 15, 2017

Book Giveaway – The Case Of the Poached Egg – Robin Newman

Congratulations to Robin Newman her new book THE CASE OF THE POACHED EGG. She has agreed to participate in our book giveaways. 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. Check back to discover the winner.

poached%20egg%20hirescover%2001

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When Penny goes missing from the nest, Wilcox and Griswold are called in to track her down. Was the egg stolen by a rival for The Most Round in the Spring Egg-stravaganza? Was she used in a carrot cake or scrambled by a hungry porker? Or was she held for a hefty corn ransom? Who took Penny and can the detectives find her before trouble hatches?

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MY LASTEST BOOK…

The book is filled with foul play and fowl at play. There are two new characters: Gabby Goose, as the name suggests, is a gabber and a gossip. Colonel Peck is a crabby old rooster constantly losing his kernels of corn.

“Wait one chicken pickin’ second!” honked Gabby. “Who are you calling a gabber and a gossip?”

Robin Newman: “My apologies, Gabby! Do you want to tell the readers a little bit about yourself?”

Gabby Goose: “Well, I suppose some might think this book is about a chicken and her egg who’s gone A.W.O.L., but the heart of the story is really about a goose.”

Robin Newman: “You mean you’re the star of the show?”

Gabby Goose: “Well isn’t it obvious? I was talking to the ducks, who heard it from the cows, who discussed it with the goats, who naturally overheard it from the chickens, and everyone knows chickens don’t lie, that I, Gabby Goose, was the main beloved character of the story.

Colonel Peck: “Hold it one cockamamie minute! You’re going to listen to that crazy, gabbing goose?”

Gabby Goose: “Much better than listening to a cranky old Colonel who can’t keep track of his kernels?”

Robin Newman: “I didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers. Now will the two of you calm down before Kathy Temean kicks us off her blog? I can easily write you both out of the third book. So, watch it!”

Gabby Goose: “You’ll be hearing from my agent! Honk!”

Colonel Peck: “Mine too! I wonder if J.K. Rowling could use a suave and debonair rooster in her next book.”

As I was saying, there’s lots of fun word play and chicken, egg, and goose humor on steroids in Wilcox & Griswold’s latest caper.

**No chickens, roosters, geese, or eggs were harmed during the writing of The Case of the Poached Egg, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen afterwards.

ROBIN’S JOURNEY:

How I came to write for children is a very long story. You may want to grab a seat and a snack. Do you like carrot cake?

Once upon a time, I was a miserable attorney. That’s miserable with a capital M. One dark, stormy, scary day, I quit. And while trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, aside from eating my way through the chocolate éclair section of my favorite bakery (it wasn’t pretty), I ended up doing research and writing projects for a family law attorney/law school professor before becoming a legal editor. As an editor, I loved the creative work, writing the blurbs and marketing materials, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant that I truly got the writing bug.

For the holidays, I wrote stories for my nieces and nephew. I didn’t realize it at the time, but some of those stories became picture books, and one in particular, became my early chapter book, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. After my son was born, my husband encouraged me to take a writing class—my first writing class. I signed up for a children’s fiction writing workshop and as soon as I walked in, I knew I had found my people.

It took me just about eight years to hold my first book.

Eight Years*

or 96 months

or 417 weeks 3 days

or 2,922 days

or 70,128 hours

or 4,207,680 minutes

or 252,460,800 seconds

But who’s counting?

*Anyone who knows me is very much aware that I lack a gene for patience.

I was introduced to my agents, the amazing and incredible dynamic duo, Liza Fleissig and Ginger Harris-Dontzin, at the Liza Royce Agency, by a fellow writer and illustrator. I had emailed Liza a number of my manuscripts, but it wasn’t until we actually met at the 2012 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference that she agreed to represent me. In 2013, I signed a contract with Creston Books for The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep. And the rest is pretty much writing history.

I truly feel like the luckiest writer in the world. I am beyond grateful to Liza Fleissig, Ginger Harris-Dontzin, and to my amazing, incredible, you-take-my-breath-away editor and publisher at Creston Books, Marissa Moss, for taking a chance on me and my mouse detectives. A number of publishers said there wasn’t enough room on the market for another mouse detective story. I am so glad that Marissa thought otherwise.

ROBIN’S BIO:

Raised in New York and Paris, Robin was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs and peacocks. She’s the author of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery (Creston Books) and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (Creston Books). The second book in the Wilcox & Griswold mystery series, The Case of the Poached Egg (Creston Books), releases April 2017 (but is already available for pre-order at your favorite independent bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and No Peacocks! (Sky Pony Press), flies onto bookshelves fall 2017. Robin lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels.

Website: www.robinnewmanbooks.com

Twitter: @robinnewmanbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RobinNewmanBooks/339179099505049

Thank you Robin for sharing your journey with us and offering one lucky winner a copy of your new book, THE CASE OF THE POACHED EGG.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 14, 2017

ASK Dianne: Creative Momentum

The Winner of HOLD YOUR TEMPER, TIGER is Tina Marie Cho – Congratulations! Please send address – Thanks!

ochiltreeDiannew 5602

Q:  Last month you talked about getting past writer’s block.  Once I’ve gotten past it, how do I keep my creative momentum going so it doesn’t happen again?

A:  Excellent Question!  Each writer will find his or her own methods for keeping the words flowing.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Make your writing a real priority, every day.  Remember Jane Yolen’s ‘B.I.C.’ (Butt in Chair) mantra?  Take it to heart and put it in action.  Make your writing the first thing you do each day, if possible.  If this isn’t possible, get out your calendar and see where else you can fit a block of writing time in your day.  You don’t have to write the same number of minutes at the same time of the day to make writing a daily routine.  Maybe it’s four hours on Monday, forty-five minutes on Tuesday, and so on…the point is that you are indeed writing for a portion of each day.  Not worrying that you’re not writing, or making excuses for not writing.  Scheduling daily writing time is making a lifestyle change that enables your creative projects to grow day by day.  It means you’re taking your literary dreams seriously. And if you don’t take your writing seriously, how can you expect the people around you to take it seriously, too?

Make a creative sanctuary somewhere, somehow.  Most writers (whether full time or part time) don’t work in a big office building downtown like most people who have a job to do. No, we work at home.  Which means it’s shared space and we are not spared the possibility of distractions.  Therefore, it’s vital to establish some sort of ‘sacred space’ for our creative work.  For example, you may not have the luxury of a spare room in your house, complete with a door to lock when you’re working.  But you can still make a creative sanctuary within the space you do have available.  Maybe it’s a corner of the bedroom with a folding screen that can be put up to make a sort of ‘work cubicle’ that separates it from everyday life.  Maybe it’s the dining room table, which most households rarely use anymore for formal dinners; or the ‘family office’ counter area in your kitchen.  With the use of a laptop, any quiet space can become your office on the spur of the moment:  your back porch, the local coffee shop, or your car, when you are waiting to pick up your kids from band practice. Some writers stay in bed all day, scribbling on a yellow note pad, because the reclined position and comfort under the comforter help them channel their creativity in a way unlike any other.  I’ve read that Stephen King wrote his first novel late at night, in the hall closet, with a typewriter balanced on his lap.  Where there is creative will, writers will find a way!

Make it personal to set yourself up for success.  If you are romancing words, don’t forget to set the mood.  Notice what helps your creative juices flow, then make sure those elements are in your environment whenever possible. Being interrupted, for example, is a common complaint.  You may not be able to lock a door, but you can send signals to those around you that you are officially ‘in the zone’ and not to be disturbed (except for tornado warnings).  These include a burning candle, a hanging ‘do not disturb’ sign, a red flag outside the workspace, a special hat or even head-phones.  Head-phones have the advantage of turning an noisy space into a quiet space….or even providing mood music to create by.  Classical music?  New Age?  Heavy Metal?  Nature sounds?  You choose the soundtracks that fuel your creativity best.  If you find a scent in the air helps you concentrate, try incense or fragranced candle.  Surround yourself with talismans that help you connect to your creativity if you have a physical space that enables this:  a daily affirmation on a sticky note by your keyboard?  A stone or statue of special meaning to your creative spirit?  All writers are creative but not in identical ways.  We are unique. Knowing what inspires us personally, and then making sure our muses have what they like surrounding them, increases our chances of success.

This our just a few ideas of how you can simply, and affordably, create conditions that help you keep your creative momentum going.  While going on a writers retreat is certainly a treat…please remember that you have it in your power to create a mini-retreat mindset and environment for yourself each day.

Happy Writing! Dianne

DIANNE’S BIO:

Dianne Ochiltree is a nationally recognized author of books for the very young. Her books have appeared on numerous recommended reading lists, classroom desks and library shelves.  Her bedtime book, LULL-A-BYE, LITTLE ONE, was a selected for the Dollywood Foundation’s childhood literacy initiative, Imagination Library in 2007. Her picture book, MOLLY BY GOLLY! THE LEGEND OF MOLLY WILLIAMS AMERICA’S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER, received the Florida Book Awards (FBA) Bronze Medal in the Children’s Literature category in 2012 and was chosen for the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer list of feminist literature for girls. Her picture book, IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT, won the FBA Silver Medal in 2013. Her 2015 title, IT’S A SEASHELL DAY, was given the FBA Gold Medal/Gwen Reichert Award as well as the Gold Medal for Florida picture book from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. For more information about Dianne’s books, go to http://www.dianneochiltree.com.

Dianne, thanks for sharing your expertise with us. Another great answer.

REMEMBER: To send in your questions for Dianne.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 13, 2017

Book Giveaway: Rabbit Stew – Wendy Wahman

Congratulations to Wendy Wahman on her new book RABBIT STEW. She has agreed to participate in our book giveaways. 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. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Fox brothers Rusty and Rojo toil and till in their vegetable garden all summer long until they’re finally ready to make their splendid, scrumptious, marvelous rabbit stew. Then they begin to pick colorful ingredients one by one, from lean, green runner beans and crunchy orange carrots to fresh sprigs of parsley and roly-poly blueberries. Meanwhile, their pet rabbit watches with his bunny family, all of them getting more and more worried about what’s coming next. Finally the brothers have almost everything they need. All that’s missing is one… big… round… white… bowl! And in a deliciously sweet surprise ending, they use the bowl to serve the concoction to their favorite rabbit, Stew! And his family, too. The whimsical and vibrant artwork is filled with clever details, and every scene includes Stew, his three baby bunnies, and their mother, all trying to stay out of sight, creating a search-and-find element for every spread.

BOOKS JOURNEY:

Making a book is a lot like making a stew. Inspiration lights a burner. Then you add ideas, suggestions, and, dare I say, sweat to the pot.

You stir and stir and stir some more. You let it simmer. You walk away. You come back and taste, add a little of this, a little of that, and stir some more. But the difference between writing and cooking is all the cutting, moving, and deleting from the pot you do while writing.

In 2009, I was riding in a taxi with my Don’t Lick the Dog and A Cat Like That editor,* Laura Godwin. We had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: “I have an idea for a story where some kids make their pet rabbit his dinner.** You know, like a stew for their rabbit.”

Laura: “Maybe it’s a color book. Each ingredient a different color.”

Yum!

I threw that in the pot.

Me: “It could also be a counting book – from 10 to 1 where the last ingredient is the bowl for the stew.”

I threw it all in the pot and let it simmer. For years.

And years.

And years.

At an SCBWI sketch meet-up one day, I got to talking books and recipes with my friend and children’s book author-illustrator, Nina Laden.

Nina: “You could make the kids be foxes!”

I loved that and threw it right in the pot.

Suddenly the broth turned dark and exciting. Maybe a little too dark? So to lighten things up, I gave the foxes a little surprise of their own, and the rabbit a little backup support. I gave the rabbit a family that would stay hidden from the foxes until the last page. Rabbit Stew remains a bit of a thriller, not knowing if the foxes are going to add their ‘marvelous rabbit’ to the pot. But come on, guys, you know I would never do that!

My final ingredient list:

  • Veggies and fruit that’s safe for real rabbits to eat and that humans could stomach as well. I left out dandelions and alfalfa.
  • Each ingredient had to be a different color
  • Count down ingredients from 10 to 1.
  • The rabbit family: Strudel, Dumpling, Biscuit, Ragu.
  • Two semi-vegetarian fox brothers, Rusty & Rojo
  • A butterfly just because.
  • A worm named, Lou. Lou is one of the search-and-find elements. He and one of the baby bunnies make friends on the first spread.
  • The final ingredient? Readers!

What’s in the pot now? “Pony in the City,” published by Sterling Publishing, will be ready, Sept. 5th, 2017 and “Nanny Paws,” publishing with Two Lions, sometime Spring 2018.

*My editor for Rabbit Stew is Mary Colgan at Boyds Mills Press. Mary and art director Anahid Hamparian added plenty of spices to the pot, let me tell you. Thanks again, Team ‘Stew!’

**I make my dogs home-made food, and I like to encourage children and adults to eat healthily and take good care of animals.

THE END

WENDY’S BIO:

I worked at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper until it’s closure in 2009. Now I mostly do children’s books and illustration. My first book, “Don’t Lick the Dog” was selected as a 2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, starred for Outstanding Merit and accepted to the Society of Illustrators Original Art show. Other books include “A Cat Like That,” “Snowboy 1,2,3,” “Rabbit Stew,” “Pony in the City,” and illustrations for middle grade non-fiction, “Your Body, Yourself: Q&A,” and “The Teen Body Book, a Guide to your Changing Body.”

Some awards: American Illustration Annual, Best of the West, Society of News Design International, Bank Street Books, Society of Publication Designers, Society of Professional Journalists, Society of Illustrators.

I hang out with my husband Joe Wahman, (he’s a writer) and our kids (who look and act like Standard Poodles). We live in a house in Tacoma with a magnificent Monkey Puzzle Tree.

I love yoga, and getting plenty of ‘rigorous exercise’ (as my Dad used to say). I occasionally meditate, I always draw and I always read. I love being with my friends and family, but I also like just thinking about them (I need a lot of alone time). But you can pry me out of the house for plays and museums. My favorite places in my old home town are the La Brea Tar Pits, the Temporary Contemporary and the Watts Towers. I prefer my coffee with chocolate almond milk and my favorite food is popcorn.

Thank you Wendy for sharing your journey with us and offering one lucky winner a copy of your new book, RABBIT STEW.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 12, 2017

Free Webinar and Special E-Course Discount

On Saturday March 18th at 11AM Pacific / 2PM Eastern

Join Hillary Homzie (award-winning author of 15 contracted books), and Dr. Mira Reisberg, Director of the Children’s Book Academy, and former literary agent, co-teachers of the extraordinary upcoming
interactive e-course, Middle Grade Mastery for a fun, FREE, and super informative webinar with lots of insider information on…

7 Things Every KidLit Writer Must Do To Succeed (No Matter What Your Genre)”

In this webinar you’ll learn:

CLICK HERE FOR SIGN-UP FORM

THE DISCOUNT FOR THE MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL E-COURSE ENDED, BUT AFTER TALKING TO MIRA, SHE IS OFFERING WRITING AND ILLUSTRATING FOLLOWERS AN $80 COURSE DISCOUNT UNTIL MARCH 22nd, USING THIS CODE: MGM17A80 – http://bit.ly/1RiHEqz


FEEL FREE TO ASK MIRA A QUESTION:

Mira@thechildrensbookacademy.com

or

916-368-9466

(Please note Mira is located on the West Coast, so please use California time).

Talk tomorrow,
Kathy
Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 11, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Sam Rennocks

Sam Rennocks is an Illustrator currently based in Loughborough and I’ve always loved being creative. I used to annoy my dad as a child by making sound effects of the things I was drawing. He wanted me to be a Footballer.

Sam graduated from The University of Plymouth with a degree in BA Hons: Illustration in September 2010.

Some of his clients are: URBAN GRAPHIC – OKIDO Magazine –  The NHS – Bubblemoon Personal Hygiene – Plymouth Press – The University of Plymouth – Spider Magazine –  Ladybug Magazine.

HERE IS SAM DISCUSSING HIS PROCESS:

This image was for a personal project of mine called ‘ABC Under the Sea.’ My process is quite quick, so I’ll run through it as in depth as I can. I hate to say it, but there isn’t actually that much to it!  First I’ll start off with a sketch of the scene. Sometimes it changes a lot from the sketch to the final image, but for this one it was quite simple and straightforward.

Once I’ve got the image scanned and set up in photoshop, I’ll start by dropping the opacity of the image to about 20-30% so that I can draw on top of it without it the sketch being too distracting.

Next, I’ll block in all of the base colours that exist in the foreground. Usually this is characters or objects. As you can see in this image, sometimes I’ll move around the sketch image beneath the base colours to get a better crop of the image and how I want it to sit in the frame.

When that’s finished up, I’ll start to add in the background and the first layer of shading. I do this by putting this layer of colour on multiply. Usually at about 75% .

Next, I’ll add another multiply later for the finer details. This is usually creases in clothes, facial features and textures.

Again, this layer is about 75% .

At this stage, I’m nearly finished with the image. So I’ll add in any finer points that I may have missed. In this case, it’s texture and detail to the shark itself, since it looked too smooth in the previous stage. Also, I’ve added in the sea background. I didn’t do this before, so that I could concentrate on getting the colours and shading right on the foreground characters without getting too distracted by the colours around them.

Almost there! I’ll add in any text that needs to be in the image.

Finally, once the text is in place, I’ll add anything else that needs to sit in the background. In this case, it’s the clouds. Since I know where the text is going to sit, I can place the clouds as such that they don’t interfere with the text. That’s all there is to it! I hope I haven’t destroyed all of the mystique! As you can see, I’ll experiment a little bit with objects and features that don’t appear in the sketches. That’s the beauty of working digitally. You can experiment with trial and error much more freely.

How long have you been illustrating?

Professionally I have been Illustrating for about 7 years. Work only started picking up a couple of years ago though, so it doesn’t feel that long!

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

My first paid commission came to me right after I graduated from University in 2010. I was asked to illustrate a brochure for children with diabetes for the NHS (The UK’s National Health service) It paid very well and was a lot of fun!

Why did you decide to attend The University of Plymouth for illustration?

Honestly, I just wanted to move far away from home. I looked at a few Universities that offered an Illustration courses on the south coast and luckily I was accepted at Plymouth. They were moving the faculty to a brand new building and I really enjoyed my interview with Ashley Potter, who was the head of the course. So It was a no brainer.

What were your favorite classes?

I really enjoyed screen printing and book making. Book making was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Stitching the spines of books was horrific for me, since I’d always end up stabbing myself with the needle, but the end product was so satisfying to look at!

Do you think art school influenced your style?

Without a doubt. We had some fantastic tutors at Plymouth and their knowledge helped steer me in a direction that was right for me. Before I went to Plymouth I didn’t really know what Illustration was or could be, so learning from people with such diverse backgrounds really helped me figure out which direction I wanted to steer myself towards. One of my tutors, Tom Barwick, opened me up to the world of comic books/graphic literature which really influenced my style at the time.

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

As I mentioned before, it was a project with the NHS. It dropped into my lap, really. I hadn’t even graduated and I was approached by a big company! I was so lucky! After that, I found it hard to get Illustration work, so I took a job at Waterstones, which is the UK’s leading book store, whilst trying to drum up freelance work.

Have you always lived in England? Can you tell us a little bit about Loughborough? Is it an artistic community?

I’ve always lived in the UK, yes. Loughborough is quite a small town, so there isn’t much of an artistic community. The university of Loughborough has a fantastic Illustration course though, so there are a lot of successful Illustrators that emerge from here. All in all, it’s a quiet little town, but a close knit one. The council is always putting on events in the market square, so there’s always a lot going on.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I always wanted to pursue a career in the arts, but I never really knew where I wanted to be. It wasn’t until my Foundation course at Leicester DMU that I became attracted to the idea of illustrating for the children’s market. Before that I wanted to work in games design, perhaps as a concept artist or character designer.

Do you illustrate full time? If not, what type of job do you have while advancing your illustrating career?

I would love to Illustrate full time, but unfortunately I haven’t built up a large enough client base to do that just yet. I work full time at a children’s publishing house at the moment. I’ve been getting a lot of commissions recently, which is fantastic. So I may have to scale back my hours or look for a part time job, because juggling the two is very time consuming.

Do you do art exhibits? Do you think they help your career?

I haven’t taken part in an art exhibition for a long time now. The last time I did I was still studying at university, so I wouldn’t be able to say if it helps your career or not. I’m sure it does though.

What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

Well, I have my illustration agency, Lemonade, who get me a fair amount of work without much effort on my part. Otherwise I’ll send out emails to book publishers and magazines with samples attached to see if they’ll give me any work. I try to keep my social media up to date as well. This includes Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. It’s key to make sure that people are always aware that you’re constantly creating things and moving forward.

What did you do to win the Earl Richards Narrative award in 2010?

During my time at Plymouth, I really pushed myself towards narrative driven work. For every project we were given there, I would be illustrating stories. A lot of my work was to do with history and myths, so I would self published little comic books or children’s books for those projects. I think this is why I won the award. A lot of passion and hard work, I think.

Do you have an illustrator that you admire?

There are quite a few, but one of my favourite Illustrators is Jordan Crane. He publishes graphic novels, mini comics and illustrates book covers. His style is fantastic! It was his work that got me into self publishing comics and zines. My favourite children’s book Illustrator is Jon Klassen. I don’t see a lot of influence in the way I create my images, but his work is so beautiful and humorous. He’s brilliant.

What did you do for Spider Magazine and Ladybug Magazine?

The Spider and Ladybug magazines are put out by the same publisher, Cricket media. They’re a client that keeps coming back to me whenever they have a slot to fill, which is fantastic for me because they’re so fun to work with and it pays the bills! For Spider magazine, which is for older children, I create comic strips which try to be funny. You’d have to tell me whether the jokes are good or not though! For Ladybug magazine, which is aimed at younger children, I made a ‘match them up’ activity page.

How did you get those jobs?

I got both of these jobs through my Agency.

Which one did you do first?

I think Spider magazine was the first one I was approached to do.

Have you done any book covers?

I haven’t made any book covers professionally. I’ve only ever created covers for my own work. It’s something that I would love to do in the future though.

Would you like to write and illustrate a children’s book?

Writing and Illustrating a children’s book would be a dream come true. I recently finished an ABC book called ‘ABC Under the Sea.’ It’s a personal project though, not a paid one. Since it doesn’t have a story, it wasn’t that challenging to make. Creating a children’s story book would be a big task, but something I’d love to do in the future.

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Yes, of course! I would love to do that. As long as I made sure that everything was above board on the financial side of things.

Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

I keep pre-answering questions! haha! Yes, I made an ABC book in my free time. It was a lot of fun, actually. Since you don’t really have to worry about pacing in an Alphabet book, it really lets you run wild with your Illustrations. I drew a lot of fish for that book!

Have you worked with educational publishers?

I haven’t yet, no. I would love to though. I love history, so I’d love to work on something to do with that. Usborne Books put out a lot of history books for children. I’d be a happy man if I got paid to illustrate one of their books about the Ancient Egyptians or the Native Americans.

How did you connect with the Lemonade Illustration Agency?

I had been working full time at Waterstones for a couple of years and Illustrating took a back seat during that time. I was talking to my best friend from University (James Loram. He’s a fantastic illustrator.) and he suggesting approaching agencies. I did a bit of research and sent off some samples to Lemonade, since I felt as though my style would be attractive to them. The rest is history!

What is your favorite medium to use?

I still love to work with pen and paper when I can. When I was at university I was creating a lot of comics, so almost 90% of the time I would be using pen and ink to create my work.

Has that changed over time?

My methods have changed a bit now in regards to the work I do for the children’s market. I’ll still sketch everything out in pencil, but it ends up getting scanned into the computer and coloured entirely in digital. I go back to brush and ink if the job requires that style.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

I have a little desk with my MacBook, tablet, drawing tools, printer and scanner. It isn’t very spacious though, but it’s just enough room to comfortably work in.

What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

My MacBook. 100% Since I create most of my work digitally now, it’s like an extra limb!

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

I’ll draw as much as my body will let me without shutting down! It’s hard to balance this with rest and my day job though. I’m always thinking of new ideas and techniques I’d like to try, it’s just finding the time to do them and how to incorporate them into my professional work.

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

Once I get a brief, I’ll get some reference images to work from if I really don’t know how to convey something into an image I’m making. I find that I’ll do this more thoroughly if it’s something I’m drawing that’s historical or uses a certain setting. It’s important to do your research then figure out how to convert that reference into your own style, rather than having the research take away the individuality of your style.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Definitely. I don’t really take much notice to the amount of hits or likes my images get, but when they do get a lot of buzz, you certainly feel it.

James Loram and I made a tumblr a while back where we created images of video games that we grew up playing. After a few weeks, we noticed that some of our images were getting liked and reblogged thousands of times. They were being featured on various video game blogs and websites too. It was wild! Other than that, it’s a double edged sword, I think. In one respect, it’s so easy to get your work out there, but it’s also a lot harder to get noticed. In my experience it has helped me a lot and I don’t know if I could have made such a go of it without the internet.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use photoshop for almost everything that I create now. I’ll use InDesign for books or comics that I’m making too.

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

Up until maybe 6 months ago, I didn’t use a tablet at all. So it has been a bit of a learning curve. It made sense for me to start using one, since it makes corrections so much quicker! I only have a basic tablet at the moment, but I’d love to buy a Cintiq once I can afford one.

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

I are a lot of things I’d love to do in my career. I would love to work on a picture book. Whether that’s one that I make entirely by myself or working with a writer. Also, I’d love to illustrate a history book for children! Other than that, I’m just happy to keep creating! I just want to make this into a full time career that I can make a living on.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I’m working on a few projects. I’ve just finished up another job with Spider magazine for an upcoming issue that should be out this summer. I’ve got a lovely project with a Korean publisher and another with a children’s publisher who creates fun activity books. I’m pretty busy at the moment, it’s great!

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.

As far as materials go, I’ll draw on anything I can get my hands on. I find mechanical pencils are brilliant for sketching with if you’re going to be inking over the top of them, because they’re so light you can easily rub out the pencil without damaging the ink you put over the top. I use Windsor and Newton brushes for inking. They seem to get such smooth line work out of the ink. I love Kyle’s Brushes for my photoshop work. His dry media brushes are fantastic. I’ve only just started using those, so I’m still experimenting with them. If you’re using a tablet on a mac, you should 100% check out Hej Stylus. It’s a godsend. Basically, it helps you create smooth and precise strokes with your tablet. It has adjustable settings, so you can go from sketching to very precise and controlled. I don’t know how I coped without it!

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

Keep creating. Every time you make something new, you develop your style and skill. Absorb as much knowledge as you can, try new things and for me, I’m always looking for new places to get inspiration.

Thank you Sam for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Sam’s work, you can visit his website: http://www.samrennocks.com

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Sam. I am sure he’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 10, 2017

March Featured Agent: Tracy Marchini

TracyMarchini – Literary Agent – Featured Agent for March and critiquing four first pages at the end of the month. 

Below is a brief bio with her likes and dislikes:

After four years as a Literary Agents Assistant at Curtis Brown, Tracy Marchini left to pursue her own editorial business and to earn her MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. Her editorial clients have gone on to secure representation, sell books to traditional publishers, win awards and become bestsellers. She’s looking forward to being able to work with her BookEnds clients throughout their careers and to (hopefully!) see them grow as authors in the same way.

Growing up, Tracy made it a personal goal to read every Nancy Drew Case Files in her school’s library and still has a soft spot for a good girl detective story. As an adult, she loves the sense of possibility in children’s and young adult literature – and can still empathize with the soul-crushing feeling that is mandatory gym class.

As a children’s author, her picture book debut Chicken Wants A Nap will be published in August by Creative Editions.

Tracy is looking for picture book, middle grade and young adult manuscripts across most genres, including contemporary, mysteries, thrillers, magical realism, historical fiction, and non-fiction. She is also looking for picture book illustrators and author-illustrators.

For picture book fiction, she loves books that are laugh out loud funny or deliciously dark.

For middle grade and young adult, she’s interested in underdogs, strong female characters and/or unreliable narrators. She feels it’s important for readers of all backgrounds to see themselves reflected in the media they consume, and she is looking to bring that diversity to my list.

She is not a good fit for YA horror, true crime, hard sci-fi, or high fantasy. At this time, she is not looking for board books or early chapter books.

You can contact Tracy at TMsubmissions@bookendsliterary.com or follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TracyMarchini.

You must use their form to submit to Tracy at BookEnds. Click here for the form.

Check back next Friday to read part one of my interview with Tracy.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “March 2017  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). LAST MONTH TWO SUBMISSIONS DID NOT ATTACH A WORD DOCUMENT AND WERE ELIMINATED. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN!

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 23rd

RESULTS: March 31st.

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,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 9, 2017

Book Giveaway – ALL EARS, ALL EYES – Richard Jackson.

All EARS, ALL EYES is a beautiful book. I want to thank Caitlyn Dlouhy at Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books for arranging to provide us this book for one lucky winner. All EARS, ALL EYES came out this week, so it is available for purchase. If it looks familiar that’s probably because you visited Illustrator Saturday last week. Katherine Tillotson’s gorgeous art was featured. Don’t miss reading how she created the illustrations. Here is the link.

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. Check back to discover the winner.

all-ears-all-eyes

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Shh…look…listen…to the sounds of the dark say Goodnight!

What sails? What flies? Those…these, Down low, nearby, far off, up high.
Who listens? Who looks? Who hears? Who sees?

An homage to the melodies of nighttime, to each critter that sings, hoots, or glows, All Ears, All Eyes takes us on a moonlit journey where the landscape shimmers with Fantasia-like beauty. Where if you look and listen, you might spy an owl, a deer, a chipmunk—or—what else!—before falling asleep.

trees

BOOK’S JOURNEY:

ALL EARS, ALL EYES pays tribute to a family night in 1970, when our children were seven, four, and three.  We lived in the country, across a road from a working dairy farm.  Between our old houses stood a woods, less magical than Katherine Tillotson’s, but no less mysterious.  After midnight one evening, I woke to hear a fox chortling and yipping among the trees.  The sound was eerie, witty.  We thought the children must hear it, so we roused them from their beds and, in pj’s and robes (and bare feet), we went outside onto the grass between our porch steps and the woods itself.  The fox kept yodeling; the kids listened hard, transfixed.  We were heeders, we were watchers (though seeing was difficult); we belonged in this natural world, and yet we did not.

We didn’t enter our woods that night, except in our imaginations.  Instead the woods entered us.

When I was small, my mother took in a piece of advice which she followed and which has influenced my life ever since: “Develop the senses.”  Our young family’s woods night was sensory—and so a sensory book has emerged from it.  At one time there was a house shown, and a father and child.  But they intruded somehow, they became almost instructional (was any of the text “spoken?”—No).  They were eliminated.  The book required three years to make.  New ideas for illustrations led to new words.  New thoughts for rhymes led to new images, maybe even different lurkers in the green and blue shadows (“Vole hole” was the last bit of text to show up).  I have charts tracking rhymes in a rainbow of colored pencils.  I have, it seems, hundreds of questioning e-mails between Maryland (where I live) and California (where Katherine lives).  Verizon wants me to delete them, but I can’t bring myself to oblige—book talk, on this project particularly—was vital to the process.  A shared wonder from 1970 has become a wonder shared from 2014-2017.

RICHARD’S BIO:

Richard Jackson is a long-time editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers and the critically acclaimed author of Have A Look, Says Book, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. In starred reviews, School Library Journal touts it as a “…celebration of sharing a book together” and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it “a shoe-in for the bedtime rotation.” He is also the author of All Ears, All Eyes, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. Recognized for his distinctive taste in children’s literature, in 2005 he was named as the ALSC May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecturer. He lives with his wife and near his grandchildren in Towson, Maryland.

 

Thank you Richard, Katherine, and Caitlyn for helping me to show off your book. I can’t wait to add this to my collection of picture books. Amazon. B&N.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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