The Caldecott Award This Year Goes to Dan Santat!

ZFor his book BEEKLE!!

This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle.

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one’s place in the world.

Congratulations Dan, I love this book!

Getting very close to finish line.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 2.15.07 PMI can’t believe it, I am finally getting very, very close to finishing a picture book I have been illustrating for a self-publishing author off and on for over two 1/2 years. It’s a darling book about a cute little “round” girl who wants to be the ballerina butterfly in her school play. You might call Olivia chubby, but she is beautiful inside and just needs to learn to bring out her joy and dance with all her heart.

It usually takes me between 3 to 6 months to finish all the illustrations for a picture book. It’s a long detailed process to make sure I illustrate just what the story needs. I have written on this blog about this particular book in the past, I thought it would be finished last year, but it just wasn’t ready. This self-publishing author wanted everything just right and took her time deciding on each step. I think this book will be worth the long wait.

I worked on and finished several other picture books during this long process, so I wasn’t sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I will be starting to illustrate a new e-book right after this book is completed that I am very excited about. The e-book should hopefully take me only 3 months.

If you have any question about the process of having your self-published picture book illustrated, contact me below.

Does Social Media bring in business?

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I’m an illustrator, but I spend a huge amount of time on social media. In fact sometimes, I think I spend more time online, than I do illustrating. It’s important for me to keep in touch with what’s going on in the children’s publishing business. I like to keep up with my illustrator friends and heroes. I also like to keep my name out there so self-publishing authors and traditional publishers know what I am doing and that I am available to take on projects.

LinkedIn has been the best social media choice for me. I have gotten two jobs illustrating children’s books from my contacts on that site in the last year. I also receive about 10 inquiries a month from authors asking me to read their manuscripts and asking about my pricing. I like LinkedIn because it is more professional than other social media sites. I like to answer questions and help first time children’s book authors to navigate the experience of bringing their book to market.

I also have a personal FaceBook account and a fan page for my Illustration. Facebook just doesn’t seem as professional to me, maybe I don’t use it correctly. I don’t many followers on my Illustrator page and my personal page are mostly friends. Twitter is another avenue I like. I use it to keep up with what’s happening in the publishing business. I can get very up to date information very quickly. Also, people in the children’s book publishing business seem to use it a lot. I do find it very impersonal, since everyone can read everything you post. I often get replies from people I don’t know. I also don’t understand –retweeting, when something mundane can be retweeted and these tweets retweeted for ever and ever amen.

Another favorite is Behance.com, this is where I have a portfolio of my work. I like Behance a lot, it’s perfect for illustrators. Everytime I post a new images I get a lot of feedback from all over the world. I have never gotten a job directly from Behance, but authors who have contacted me have looked at my Behance page. Pinterest is another site that is perfect for an illustrator. What could be better than trading pictures of your work, when pictures are what you do? I post new work there when I remember. Then there is Google+ which I use sometimes and can’t really figure out yet.

Of course What kind of illustrator would I be without a website to show my work. Every illustrator has to have a website. I am lucky, that I am web savvy and can build and upkeep my own webpage.  And last of all my WordPress blog which you are reading right now. Can you see where all my times goes?

And … then there are the emails to keep up with.

New Year’s Resolution for 2015

Why do we all do this to ourselves every year? Do we set ourselves up for failure? I have been fairly successful in past years, keeping up all year to my high expectations in the beginning of a fresh year. On FaceBook, a friend of mine has set her new year’s resolution as: “remembering to write 2015 instead of 2014.” I admire her for setting her goals at the realistic level.

My resolution for 2015 is to:  Sketch more, create more, have more fun, make more friends AND not to let social media take over my creative working time. I love what I do as a professional children’s book illustrator and hopefully some day also a children’s book writer, so I want to do more of everything I love.

Below is a rough sketch for a picture book I am writing about an unlikely pair. An obsessive compulsive cat and a clueless puppy. I draw the pictures first, then I write the words.PEN_31B

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I just sent in my Kid Lit Creature for 2015

Meet Whiff, the curious: my new Kid Lit creature.

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Just sent in my Creature for Kid Lit Creature Week 2015. I really like this little guy, I think I might be thinking up a book story to go with him. Go to Kid Lit Creature Week 2015 to read more about this event.

10670023_352891511544231_1053382273318523695_nIt’s fun to create new characters. When I am working on a book for a client I am not able to share most of the illustrations until the book is published. So when I make up a character for myself, I like to let everyone see it.

Create a creature, and share it online during KidLit Creature Week. You’ll see many familiar names submitting theirs! Complete instructions can be found there.

 

I was just nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award

aimie_playing_420Thank you Andy Mulberry for nominating my blog for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

Andy Mulberry is an author of Middle grade Fiction. Her book: Skycastle, The Demon and Me is fantastic. The second in the series, The Demonic Incident in Chinatown is now available (haven’t read this one yet).

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The Award rules are:

• Display the award on your blog
• Link back to the person who nominated you
• State 7 things about yourself
• Nominate 15 bloggers, link to them, and notify them about their nominations

And… here’s 7 facts about me:

1.  I love Picture Books.
2. I read picture books out loud in all the character voices (even when I am alone).
3.  I love deep dark rich chocolate…mmm…
4.  I have a Scottish Terrier named Ghillis. (no, I don’t use his name for my password)
5.  As a toddler, I used to draw on walls and furniture.
6.  I met my dear sweet husband on a blind date.
7.  I have a slight case of claustrophobia. Elevators are OK, nailed caskets are not.

Now I am supposed to nominate 15 blogs that I think are very inspiring:

Here are my 15 nominations!
Please visit all their sites, they are all have a lot to offer.

Mark Mitchell – How to be a Children’s Book Illustrator
howtobeachildrensbookillustrator.com/

Lynne Chapman – An Illustrator’s Life for Me
lynnechapman.blogspot.com/

Zack Rock – Children’s Book Illustrator
zackrock.com/blog/

Don Tate- Children’s Book Illustrator
dontate.com/weblog/ 

Lynn Alpert – Children’s book illustrator and storyteller
redheadedstepchildblog.blogspot.com/

Wendy Martin – Blogging the artist’s life
wendymartinillustration.com/wordpress/

Susanna Hill – Something for everyone in the world of children’s books
http://susannahill.blogspot.com/

MaryAnn Scheuer – Great kid books
http://greatkidbooks.blogspot.com/

Nerdy Book Club nerdybookclubblog@gmail.com
http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/

Natalia Ortega-brown – Picture Book A Day nortegalia@gmail.com
http://www.picturebooklog.blogspot.com/

Val Webb – The Illustrated Garden    
valwebb.wordpress.com/

Kerry Aradhya
http://kerryaradhya.blogspot.com

Picture Book Junkies – A collective group of Professional illustrators absolutely addicted to children’s publishing 
http://pbjunkies.blogspot.com/

Kristen Schwartz
http://www.ajourneyillustrated.com

Jo Hart
http://thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com

 

Working on new Picture Book ideas I came up with during PiBoIdMo


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November was Picture Book Month. It was also PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) for me. I came up with more than 30 new ideas for picture books. It’s great to have such a file of ideas to work from. Now I need to go through them and decide which ones are worth working on right now, which ones need a little more time and which ones just need to disappear.

Since I am first an illustrator and a writer second, I always start with visual ideas. So my idea of expanding these ideas is a little more complicated than just jotting down a few lines. My best work comes from developing the characters visually, their personalities and all their quirks before I start with the story. I also sketch out each scene of the book before I start writing. So this process takes a bit more time than I would like it to.

 

Yay! I have finished PiBoIdMo with ideas to spare!!

It’s such a good feeling to finish a challenge and to go beyond what is expected. PiBoIdMo stands for Picture Book Idea Month, participants pledged to come up with a new idea for a picture book every day for the month of November. This challenge was good for me, it forced me to make a conscious effort everyday to do something I love. Now I can’t wait to narrow down the ideas to the very best and most workable for a childrens’ picture book. Tara Lazar is the best for providing this opportunity.

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Half-way point for PiBoIdMo 2014

ScottieDog_portfolio_coverFBI’ve made it halfway through the month for Picture Book Idea Month. It has been a wonderful way to keep the creative juices flowing. Everyday, Tara Lazar has an inspirational blogger give us encouraging hints and ideas. I am way ahead of myself on picture book ideas, but I may weed out a few as I keep coming up with more and more new ones. Now the real work comes with fleshing out the stories and making outlines, so I don’t lose the ideas when I have a future “idea drought”.

You know we all have these times of drought, when you most need an idea and they just won’t come. I always have a lot of ideas when I’m working on a project and can’t stop to write them down. It’s when all the desktops in my studio and my computer are cleared, that I come-up with a blank wall (screen).

I want all the other children’s book writers and illustrators who are doing this PiBoIdMo challenge to hang in there. We may find we want to do this all year.

I just signed up for PiBoIdMo

piboidmo2014wordpressbannerNovember is Picture Book Month. So Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) was also created to gently nudge (force) picture book illustrators and writers to come up with lots of ideas. In fact we pledge to come up with one picture book idea a DAY! Luckily we don’t also have to write the book. Today is the 5th of the month and I am happy to say I am right on schedule, in fact I have written down a few extras for hectic days ahead. Read Tara Lazar’s blog for more information.

Sign up for PiBoIdMo yourself, you might be surprised by your own creativity.

2014 SCBWI Missouri Regional Conference

SCBWI_banner_SM copyLast weekend was the SCBWI MO (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Fall Conference on the beautiful campus of Lindenwood University in St. Charles Missouri. I love attending these conferences.

Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of people who love children’s picture books and children’s picture book illustrations as much as you do. Two glorious days of attending talks and workshops geared to exactly what you are interested in. Experts from all over the U.S. are there to educate, critique and guide you in pursuing your dreams. I had a critique of my Illustration portfolio by Giuseppe Castellano, art director at Penguin Books and a critique of my children’s picture book dummy by Jodell Sadler, a literary agent at Sadler Literary. There was a peer critique of my picture book dummy, directed by Jeannie Ransom, late saturday night that was also very helpful. I also listened to talks by Jodell Sadler, Dan Yaccarino and Giuseppe Castellano.

I learned a lot from the workshop, talks and the critiques. I now need to digest all the great information and put it to good use. Above is the artwork I entered in the Conference Banner Design competition. Wendy Martin was the winner see her banner and all the other banner entries on the SCBWI website. Congratulations Wendy.

 

Illustration I am working on for a self-publishing author

Round_page17I have been working on this picture book on and off for two years. It’s a darling story about a “round” little girl who wants to be a ballerina butterfly in the school play. The story by Shervonne Taylor tells about the dreams of a chubby young girl, bullying by classmates, family support and learning to believe in herself.

I want to finish illustrating this book very much, I hope the author moves ahead with the project. It’s holding me up to start new projects for other authors.

Please leave comments, critiques  or your contact information below.

 

Illustrating a new book I am writing

Penelope_cover_WPThis is the working rough cover for Penelope’s Purrfect House Rules.

Like I don’t have enough to do, illustrating for other authors. I decided to write and illustrate a book myself. I have the manuscript in fair form, awaiting a professional critique and a rough dummy with all the illustrations in place. It’s been an interesting journey working for myself.

The picture book is written in the first person. I had a lot of fun with this direction. The main character is a self-centered, obsessive-compulsive cat. The cat gives her viewpoint in words, the pictures show a far different reality.

It’s not as easy as it looks cutting your words under 500 and still tell a story with action, a story arc and character development. I’m down to 380 words and it probably can be cut more. The illustrations do a lot of the heavy lifting.