Wednesday, August 5

What the what now?! I just won the SCBWI Los Angeles Portfolio Mentorship!!



Oh my goodness oh my goodness! I cannot believe that I am a mentee! For those of you who aren't sure exactly what this means (this includes you, Great Auntie Alma) I thought I'd share specifically how neat this is. (Pssst. It's pretty neat!)

So I went to the annual SCBWI LA conference. This is where over 1200 children's writers, illustrators, publishers, editors, agents, art directors meet. There were inspiring keynote speakers talking about the craft of writing/illustrating books, what goes on in the industry... but more on that in another post.


I submitted my portfolio to the annual portfolio showcase. I remember just before entering the showcase I saw the editors, agents, and art directors looking around at the portfolios on the patio. It was pretty intimidating. Somebody turned to me and told me they were nervous about the competition. I told them that I wasn't. I wasn't going to win. Last year there were two Disney concept artists at the showcase, whose work was salivatingly beautiful, and they didn't win. There were too many talented people this year to even think I would be in the running. So I was in complete shock when they called my name. To be honest, I'm still pretty shocked.




Lots and lots of portfolios - Photo taken by Laurent Linn

I believe there were around 175 brilliant portfolios submitted and I was one of the six hand selected as an "up and coming artist whose publishable work shows great promise and potential"  for the Mentorship program. Totally bonkers.



All the tiny people - Photo taken by Candace Camling



Here are my fellow Mentees and their websites. (Prepare to salivate.)


K-Fai Steel, Molly Ruttan, Nicholas Huong, Anne Berry, Me, & Kisoo Chai



(She also won an Honor Award for her Porfolio.)

















The the best part of the award is that we got to be mentored by these industry giants:



Brenda Bowen - Agent at Sanford J. Greenburger Inc. She represents a lot of movers and shakers in the publishing world including Rosemary Wells and Hilary Knight.




Peter Brown - Author & Illustrator of 7 books that are loaded with awards including the Caldecott Honor he got for his illustrations for Creepy Carrots, written by Aaron Reynolds.



Priscilla Burris - Author/Illustrator of some really sweet children's books she also is the National SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator.


Pat Cummings - Author/Illustrator of over 30 books that are smattered with a variety of awards. She is a professor at Parsons and Pratt and has so much insight in the craft and process of creating children's books.


Laurent Linn - Art Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. He started his career as a puppet designer/builder (pretty cool huh?!) and became the Creative Director for the Sesame Street Muppets winning an Emmy Award.

Paul O. Zelinsky - Author/Illustrator creating over 30 books, winning many awards including a Caldecott for his Rapunzel book, and has also received 3 Caldecott Honors.



So we had the privilege of being critiqued and to received personal career advice individually and as a group by our 6 mentors.  I basically wrote a novel of notes and have a big fat "To Do" list. I feel super blessed to have received such a wonderful opportunity. There have been several Mentees, from the past, that had careers launched from this award. So hopefully I can capitolize on the momentum of this. I feel like my compass is now pointing to true north, thanks to this lovely experience. 

Kisoo Chai, Nicholas Huong, Me, Molly Ruttan, Anne Berry, Priscilla Burris, Laurent Linn, K-Fai Steele, Pat Cummings, & Paul O. Zelinsky. (Peter Brown and Brenda Bowen were signing books.)

...and there was much rejoicing!


Yes that is Peter Brown right behind me (!!!!)

Tuesday, May 12

Moving Makes Me Crabby

...here's to being out of boxes in the near future. 

Sunday, February 1

28 Day LOVE FEST! Wooooo!

Hey friends. Welcome to the warmest, fuzziest, and of course chocolate filled, month of the year. In honer of this lovey dovey month, I'm going to take on KidlitArt's challenge to post a sketch of something I LOVE for all 28 days. Day #1 has got to be a pirates. Because pirates are so very lovable. Yes they arrrrrrrrrrrre. ;)

Sea Side Joe is especially lovable because he's been hit in the head too many times...
(I will more likely post the rest of the 27 days on my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr accounts so check me out there.) 

Sunday, January 25

New beginnings, fresh starts, and chocolate. Can't forget the chocolate.

Hi friends! So it's the beginning of the year and I'm ready to rock and roll with some new goals. I decided that I really needed to keep my goals attainable. I'm usually the "I'm going to swallow this whole elephant" kinda gal. This year I'm focusing on the small bites. I'm writing and painting around the same time of day. I'm cutting out most of my TV watching (boohoo ;) I'm only eating kale and wheat grass. (Just kidding.) Anyway, I thought I'd share with you a journal I created for Lilla Rogers' Bootcamp. If you like this design feel free to click here. Anyway, here's to you and your attainable goals.

Tuesday, August 12

“Run for your lives, she’s got rabies! No, she’s just inspired.”



Judy Shachner

No, that was not just a voice in my head. I was privileged enough to go to SCBWI’s LA conference last weekend. That was a direct quote from the talented Judy Shachner, author and illustrator of the Skippyjon Jones series. 

It was a wonderfully manic experience. Let’s just say I came home feeling like I got hit by a semi and my “To Do” list’s size has tripled.

I thought since you all love children’s literature like I do, that there was a good possibility that you were a writer or illustrator yourself and that you might be interested in what was said. But since I typed like 20 pages of notes I think I would be better to share a few quotes and ideas that inspired me.
Meg Rosoff




"The imagination can be dangerous. It can change the world. And that is why we write." - Meg Rosoff

“Embrace your flaws.” - Meg Rosoff




Stephen Chbosky


“Do you recognize what’s beautiful and transcendent in you?” - Stephen Chbosky

“There's no such thing as an aspiring writer. If you write, you are a writer.”  - Stephen Chbosky

Justin Chanda




“Your individual voice is the biggest capitol you have in this industry.” - Justin Chanda 







Bruce Coville





“You can use coincidence to start a story, but the farther in the story it occurs, the less believable it becomes. Coincidences to get a character into trouble are great. If you use them the get out of trouble you are cheating.” 
- Bruce Coville


Maggie Stiefvater





         “I don’t write for a living. I observe for a living. I steal for a living.
          I stylize for a living.” - Maggie Stiefvater 






Megan McDonald




“If you want to write, find your splinter. Find the thing that pierces you and won’t let you go.” - Megan McDonald


“If you listen to your own voice, unknown friends will come and seek you.” 
- Megan McDonald


Linda Sue Park






   “I try to make everything I write worth reading 62 times.” - Linda Sue Park






Eugine Yelchin




“Sometimes the goal we want the most is the hardest to pursue because we are afraid of failure.” - Eugene Yelchin





Yes, THE Judy Blume spoke at the conference!




“Do not let anyone discourage you. If they try, get angry, not depressed.” - Judy Blume


“Determination is more important than talent.” 
- Judy Blume


Nick Clark


  




“Creativity is rarely a virgin birth.” - Nick Clark




Some friends and the former Knights who say "Ni!"
I’m sad it’s over. I miss my community. Hugs and warm fuzzy appreciation to the brilliant publishers, editors, art directors, agents, writers and illustrators that inspire the next generation. And many hugs to my old and new friends that I've found from the SCBWI community. I LOVE how warm our clan is. Till next time chums 

Friday, July 11

Getting Ready for LA...


So I'm delighted that I get to go to SCBWI's Summer conference in LA this year. Yippee! Yahoo! Excited because I get to see some of my dear dear writer and illustrator friends, and because I get to drink from the firehose of inspiration, motivation, reorginazation. Hopefully I will make some new friends and connections. So I'm super busy polishing up my manuscripts and trying to illustrate as much as possible, while taking care of my dizzyingly active toddlers. (I don't need to sleep for a few weeks right?)

Tuesday, May 13

Marching Band


I always wanted to be part of band. But let's face it, I'm not sure if I'm not coordinated enough to paint and talk on the phone at the same time. So I don't think I'd be able to play an instrument and walk in step with everyone else without seriously maiming somebody. It's possible that I could do a good kazoo though. Anyway, here's to all you super coordinated band people.  :)

Friday, May 9

Blog Hop: My Writing Process

I got tagged by my good friend Mary Uhles to write about my writing process. (Check out her post here.)

So for the curious, here we go:


What am I working on now?

This is always the big battle for me. I have a notebook of at least 50 picture book and middle grade ideas right now. I feel very passionate about maybe 30 of them. But I'm trying to resist the temptation to start 30 projects, so right now I'm focusing on two picture book manuscripts with their dummies. Interestingly both these picture books have a historical context. I'm a sucker for history and anthropology, and I love odd-looking clothing from different eras. I super enjoy research, but I get caught up in the details and it makes the process a little slow. Fun, but slow. I think it's also very telling that these books are about children and adults behaving very badly. What can I say? I'm the mommy of two barbaric toddlers.


How does my work differ from others in it's genre?

I like to embrace absurdity and I love subversive humor. (Monsters with toupees and penguins in space? Yes, please.) I think that kids are much more clever and much more strange than we give them credit. I think we should write to them as our peers, which they are. Just smaller.



Why do I write what I do?

Me and books were always chums. Thick as thieves. When I was a kid I loved visiting those faraway places and reading about awkward kids like me triumphing over bullies, thugs, and know-it-alls. I love giggling and sniffling with books. I still get addicted to a good book or series and ignore all sorts of importing things like eating, sleeping, and the less necessary customs of hygiene in order to see what happens next. (No deodorant for me thanks, we're wasting valuable time here!!)

Basically I write because I want to share all the stories that are crammed in my skull. And because if I don't it will explode, which would be messy. But also I hope that my stories and pictures can be something that children can connect to and identify with.


How does my writing process work?



 Usually what happens is I hear or see something wacky, strange, or interesting and I jot it down. My kids are a great source for the absurd. (Hooray for posterity!) So in a specific notebook I like to list all my story ideas or potential titles. I can also get ideas from the sketches I do. Maybe I sketch a person or animal that I would like to know more about. Let's just say I have a lot of notebooks.


So after I've chosen the manuscript I want to write, I research. Yay! I try to understand the themes of my story, the historical period, the tone that I'm trying to achieve, and I try to find any book or movie that's related to that. (Did I mention that I love research? :)

After I feel like I understand the context well enough, I go through many drafts of the story. I try to allow myself to write the garbage along with the good stuff. I'm always editing, and I have a fantastic group of friends and talented peers that critique my work and I feel like as long as I have a good thick skin for articulate critiques and a healthy sense of where I want my story to go, that my manuscript can reach it's full potential.

Wash, rinse, repeat.


I'd like to introduce you to a talented friend that I'm tagging for the next blog hop. Check out Debbie Emory's post to see her writing process:


Debbie Emory writes middle grade fantasy, and funny women's fiction. In her spare time, she ventures into the wild (okay, parks or recreational areas) to photograph landscapes (more often, her dog). As a certified dog trainer, she trains young people how to work with dogs using positive reinforcement (treats!). She also serves on the Executive Council of Elephant Aid International (www.elephantaid.org) which is currently changing the culture of elephant care in Asia from chains to chain-free corrals. Visit her blog at www.debbieemory.com