Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Entry for the 2013 SCBWI Tomie dePaola Award

This year’s Tomie dePaola Award task was to Illustrate this poem in full color for a book of poems that will be “pitched” to parents to read to their babies, toddlers, etc.
A sneeze
Is a breeze

I'm really excited to see everyone's entry on the gallery Diandra Mae set up 3 years ago. My favorite part of entering this is to see all the many interpretations on the same theme. Before Diandra set up the gallery, we could only see the winners on the SCBWI site - thanks Diandra! But we have to wait for the winner announcement in January before it goes live.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Work for the NCCS (National Children's Cancer Society)

I just finished up working on these pieces for an activity book for the NCCS. They plan on distributing the books to kids that are in the hospital getting treated with cancer. I'm very proud to have been chosen to be the illustrator for this project!

The final product is a fun, colorful, book with lots of activities

Friday, October 04, 2013

I'm a Picture Book Academy Graduate!

Today was the last day of an amazing online course called "The Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books," taught by the marvelous Mira Reisberg of The Picture Book Academy.

I actually wrote my first picture book manuscript! I've had the idea incubating in my noggin for years, and this class pushed me to actually write it! This will be my 3rd year to participate in PiBoIdMo, but I've never had the confidence to flush any of my ideas into an actual story until now.

If you're into kidlit in any way, I highly recommend her classes. She is an artist, writer, picture book scholar (she even has a PhD!) and has recently started her own literary agency where she works as an agent. She teaches all that stuff. . she knows a lot! And she is loads of fun. I'm going to miss the class, but I have met a great group of writers with which I plan to stay in touch.

Thank you Mira for this wonderful experience! In the words of Bruno Mars: "You're amazing..."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Experience at the SCBWI LA Conference – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Whew! What a whirlwind! It's really hard to describe how I feel after a conference like the one I just attended. I feel like a different person somehow. It seems like I felt everything at one time or another – inspired, at home with my tribe, like an outcast, like a pro, like an imposter, like one of the cool kids and like a dork.

I'm think this photo from the Black & White Gala sums up my experience perfectly:

I don't know these women, but I had to snap this pic when I saw their wonderful costumes. I have since learned that they are (right to left) Claudia Pearson, Jo Kittinger and Heather Montgomery.

The Good

Laura Zarrin, Tracy Bishop, Me and Debbie Meyer
OMG! I have never been so inspired in my life. It seems I learned something from every speech and breakout session I attended. I got to meet so many of my cyber friends and be surrounded by people who love children's books as much as I do.

I got to meet some of my heroes in the biz and hear some really moving speeches. Laurie Halse Anderson, Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, David Wiesner, Jarrett Krosoczka and Richard Peck where just some of the few who blew my socks off!
Rebecca Evans and I are ready to party!

I stayed with 2 of my friends I met online and had a blast. It was like we were at an 8th grade slumber party, and giggled a lot!

And the party was a blast. The only other national SCBWI conference I had attended before was in New York, and they don't have a party. It seems like the socializing aspect is a higher priority in LA.

The Bad

There were too many good breakouts that it was hard to pick which one to attend at any certain time. I'm glad I teamed up with my buddies and traded notes because I didn't want to miss anything.

Having so much crammed into 3 days is exhausting!  My brain and body ache . . . but is that such a bad thing?

The portfolio showcase was disappointing in that I didn't get to see very many. I just couldn't stand all the people crammed into such small aisles. I got a chance to look at maybe 10 portfolios before I started to get a little freaked out, then just grabbed some cards and left! Maybe the short time period allotted for the show can be extended a little next time, so all 1200 attendees aren't there at the same time!!

The only other bad thing I have to say is that at the Golden Kite Luncheon, where we where supposed to have been fed a sit-down meal, I feel I was gypped. 

As a vegetarian, I made sure that I checked that option when I signed up. When I told the waiter that, he sounded unsure as to whether there were any available. Then, when he did bring it out, I felt like the meal portion had been left out. It was a delicious "sandwich" of vegetables with portabella mushrooms substituting as the bread. Vegetables does not a meal make, people! I asked, along with the other hungry vegetarian at my table, if I could maybe have another roll, he said there weren't any more, but he could steal one from someone's table! REALLY?!? No protein + no grain = no meal!

And to add insult to injury, the chicken that was part of the regular meal was served on top of non-meat (I can't remember if they said they were filled with mushrooms or cheese) ravioli. HELLO - can us non-carnivores get some of that?!? We are humans who still like to eat meals - I thought that if anyone in the world got that, it was Californians! With the day being so filled up with lots of stuff to learn, my stomach went empty while my head was being filled with inspiration and knowledge.

The Ugly

I told myself that I wasn't going in with any unrealistic expectations, but I was still disappointed that I felt pretty much invisible. I had the imposter syndrome thing swirling in my head, since there were so many talented artists there that blew me away. As I mentioned above, I really wished I could see more portfolios, but maybe it's good that I didn't. I have been a graphic artist for more than 30 years and it still happens. Maybe that never stops. At least I got my stuff out there, right?

I think the first-look panel at the illustrator's intensive really added to my self-doubt. It wasn't what I was expecting at all. Our optional assignment was to enter 4 pieces, individually and anonymously, with labels of what genre you thought each piece fit into (books for toddlers, picture books middle grade, graphic novels, etc.).

I thought the panel was going to look at individual pieces of art with no knowledge of the artist, and give up their first impressions of the piece. I thought I could learn a lot from that! But they showed the panel the art beforehand, and as a grouping with the artist's name on them. And after they announced that the art they were about to show wasn't just what they liked, but something that fit into the discussion, they launched into a love-fest of a very small number of artists. Not much critique on what to improve, just that they loved each artist and why. More self doubt crept in.

I have loved this experience, even if it does bring some ugly thoughts and feelings to the surface. I am still reeling after a week – but from the inspiration, knowledge, fun and comraderie I experienced, and not from those ugly thoughts.  If you ever get a chance to attend one of these conferences, DO IT! You will be changed forever.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Next Big Thing!

The Next Big Thing! is a blog tour that gives authors and illustrators a chance to share their work, then tag others to share theirs. Each blogger answers the same ten questions. The tour started in Australia, and has spread worldwide.

I've was asked to participate by illustrator Debbie Meyer, my roomie for the upcoming SCBWI LA Conference. Debbie and I have been online friends for years, and we met and hung out at the 2010 SCBWI conference in NYC. I'm looking forward to hanging with her again in August!

Debbie blogged about her dummy book she wrote and illustrated called "The Three Little Pigs Go To Preschool." For a dose of cuteness, visit her blog here.

1) What is the working title of your next book?

I am currently working on illustrating a book called "Annie the Scientist" by Daniel Johnson. It's the first book I've ever illustrated – Yay!

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Since I'm not the author, I'll talk about what inspired the illustrations. The character came from the text. She comes off as sort of a know-it-all, so I had to make her cute to be likeable.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Chapter Book

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

If we could turn back time, I think Abigail Breslin at the age she was when she did Little Miss Sunshine would be a great Annie.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Annie tells her skeptical friends that she is a “scientist,” and we watch as she slowly gains their confidence by performing one amazing scientific feat after another.

6) Who is publishing your book?

Character Publishing.

7) How long did it take you to create the illustrations?

I'm still working on them! At the end of the project, I will have had 14 weeks to design the whole book and complete the illustrations from the time I got the text.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I really don't know.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Once again, since I'm not the author, I'll talk about what inspired the illustrations. The age of the character is the same as 2 of my nieces, so I made her look kind of like one of them and gave her freckles like the other.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

This book is packed scientific facts. It includes a glossary in the back explaining some fun scientific facts. As for the illustrations, I have given Annie a little sidekick who appears in every illustration.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I'm working on. The blog tour continues next week with:

Wendy Martin

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Illustration Friday – Farewell

The word this week is farewell, and the first thing I thought of was the movie "The Sound of Music" and the brilliant way the von Trapps escaped Austria after performing the song "So Long, Farewell."

If you haven't heard, the founder of Illustration Friday, Penelope Dullaghan, is stepping down after 10 years of running IF. I am so grateful to her for starting IF – it was one of the catalysts for getting me to illustrate after not doing so in about 12 years. Good luck Penelope and THANK YOU for sharing this great site with the world!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Great Resource About
Commissioning Illustrations

There are a lot little intricacies about copyright law pertaining to illustration that are commonly misunderstood – mainly that the producer of the book needs to buy all rights to the art in order for it to be included in a book. I talk more about that in my post titled "Authors Who Plan to Self Publish – You Don't Need All Illustration Rights!"

I've found a great resource that I think anyone who works in the publishing business should read. If you are an illustrator, please read this, too. The more knowledgeable all of us are, the easier it will be to maybe get what our work is worth! It's a booklet written by illustrator Randy Gallegos and can be downloaded for free on Randy's blog.

Thanks Randy for this great resource!

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Postcard

Just sent this off to the printer last week. A goal of my whole critique group this year is to send out 4 promo mailings - Hopefully, they'll keep me accountable! One down, three to go!
I'll probably have extras, so if you would like one in the mail, email me your snail mail address.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Authors Who Plan to Self Publish – You Don't Need All Illustration Rights!

Since I started my journey as a children's illustrator, I've been approached by many authors who want me to illustrate books they intend to self-publish. And most of them think they need all rights to the illustrations - probably because there is so much misinformation out there.

Understandingly, most authors are unable (or unwilling) to pay a fair fee to an artist to illustrate a picture book ($5,000 and up for a typical 32-page book). On top of that, they expect to get all rights to the artwork for the less-than-fair fee. Traditional publishers that pay fair fees don't even do that. The industry standard to buy all rights is 100%-150% of the fair fee ($10,000 and up for a typical 32-page book).

Typically, the contract will give all BOOK rights to you, the author. Which means that the illustrator can't sell the art to anyone else to be used in another book, and you (the author) are free to use the art to promote the book. That's all you need!

Are you thinking: "What if my book gets so popular that I want to license my characters to make plush animals or action figures out of them to sell?"

I'm really glad you have so much confidence in your book - that will take you far! But, in reality, this probably won't happen, and if that highly unlikely scenario does play out, there can always be re-negotiation talks for more rights.

I think it's sad that so many first-time authors won't hire an artist who won't give them full rights. Most professional illustrators won't agree to do that, so the talent pool for the authors to choose from is shrunk to the inexperienced and unschooled in the industry. I feel like a lot of authors are really shortchanging themselves from having great art for their stories because of this mostly irrelevant issue.

If you are thinking about self-publishing, and put all the time and effort into writing and marketing your story, please consider how important the visuals are! The better the art, the bigger chance for your book to get read! And who is going to want to buy a plush of a mediocre character anyway?

Something to think about.