April 23, 2014

Life Long Learner

Work can be overwhelming sometimes, but I must do it to pay the bills - I'm sure you all can relate!

In between projects, though, I like to keep my mind fresh with ideas and information about writing and illustrating. And I have found some great places to do just that.

In my last post, I wrote about The School of Visual Storytelling (SVS). It's run by Wil Terry and Jake Parker, two of the industry's finest artists who are willing to share a lot of information about illustrating. I'm currently enrolled in an Environmental Design course to learn about drawing different kinds of backgrounds in illustrations. They're also promoting a composition class. Check out the link here!

Currently, I'm also enrolled in a Chapter Book course with Mira Reisberg, agent and owner of Hummingbird Literary. She is FABULOUS! She's so sweet and has been offering up more information about chapter books (and illustrating them!) than I could have possibly imagined. The 5-week course is almost over, but she is now promoting a course on rhyming and poetry in children's books. The class price may seem a bit high, but you get far beyond what you pay for with the wealth of information, access to Mira on facebook and in webinars, contests and critiques, and much more.

I wish I could take all of Mira's classes, but I'm going to save up because I plan on taking an illustrator course with Mira in the fall when it becomes available. I can't wait!

Well, I'm off to work on some sketches for an SCBWI art spot as well as the Illustrator Intensive homework assignment for the NJ SCBWI conference coming up in June. I'm way behind because of work but I'm hoping to squeeze in some time to get them done today.

Stay tuned for more posts as soon as I'm done!

April 6, 2014

Planning My Portfolio

Even though the New Jersey SCBWI conference is about 10 weeks away, I need all that time to start redoing and reorganizing my physical and online portfolios.

And now I think I have a plan!

Here is a great link about developing characters in children's books. It talks about keeping characters consistent throughout illustrations as well as showing different views/angles of the characters.

Wil Terry is quickly becoming one of my favorite illustrators. Here's a link to his suggestions on what to add to a portfolio.

He and Jake Parker also run the School of Visual Storytelling. Lots of great illustration courses online, including some free monthly webinars that they offer.

This is by far one of the best links on developing and organizing your illustration portfolio. There's even a video showing examples of different types of art to include and what type of portfolio case to use. Don't forget to click on the article by Cheryl Klein, editor at Scholastic, about what she likes to see in a portfolio.

So I'm excited about getting a fresh start with portfolio very soon - I'll be redoing my website and look of my blog. I'll be reducing the size of my physical portfolio and reducing the number of pieces in it. I'll be redoing my postcards and promo material. I hope this renewal of my work will lead to lots of new work in the near future!

April 4, 2014

Once a Jersey Girl, Always a Jersey Girl

Thanks to Tara Lazar who posted the information on facebook, I am headed to the New Jersey SCBWI conference in June! Of course, no one will be able to top the awesome conferences we have here in Florida but the lineup in New Jersey is one I could not pass up.

Check out this list:


FACULTY
EDITORS/AGENTS/ART DIRECTORS
Armstrong, Anne (Agent, The Bright Agency)
Baptiste, Tracey (Editor, Rosen Publishing)
Bignell, Katie (Associate Editor, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen)
Bolinao, Mela (President, MB Artists)
Bremekamp, Samantha (Junior Agent, Corvisiero Literary Agency)
Cardenas, Joanna (Assistant Editor, Viking Children’s Books / Penguin)
Cloud, Amy (Editor, Alladdin/S&S)
Corcoran, Jill (Founding Agent, Jill Corcoran Literary Agency)
Dobinick, Susan (Assistant Editor, FSG)
Feinberg, Emily (Assistant Editor, Roaring Brook Press)
Fleissig, Liza (Agent, Liza Royce Agency)
Hasegawa, Carter (Assistant. Editor, Candlewick)
Hawk, Susan (Literary Agent, The Bent Agency)
Hokanson, Sarah (Associate Art Director, Random House Children’s Books)
Kochan, Susan (Associate Editorial Director, G. P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
Lamba, Marie (Associate Literary Agent, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency)
LaPolla, Sarah (Literary Agent, Bradford Literary)
Lee, Quinlan (Agent, Adams Literary)
Matysik, Julie (Senior Editor, Sky Pony Press)
McCarthy, Sean (Literary Agent, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency)
Moore, Allison (Assistant Editor, Little, Brown & Co.)
Mundy, Meredith (Executive Editor, Sterling Publishing)
Orr, Rachel (Literary Agent, Prospect Agency)
Pocius, Jenna (Assistant Editor, Bloomsbury)
Sadler, Paula (Assistant Editor, Random House)

So I have signed up for:
* the juried art show
* the portfolio display
* 4-minute agent pitch
* 2 critiques with agents
* 2 first page critique sessions with editors
* an editor's panel
* an illustrator intensive
* some amazing character building and picture book workshops.

WHAT A SCORE!!! 

Now it's time to plan what stories and art to submit, what art to revamp and redo, get those promo postcards ready, and redo my website. This might be the busiest and exciting two months of my career!

Oh, and of course the best part of the trip is that I'll get to go to my hometown and visit my parents and family. A visit with the family AND an awesome conference all in one trip? Can't get better than that!

March 25, 2014

"The Hero in You" cover is here!

I'm happy to report that the cover I designed for a picture book called "The Hero in You" is out on Amazon!


The book was written by Ellis Paul and is published by Albert Whitman & Co. It's due to be released on September 1, 2014. Some versions will come with a CD of all the songs that Ellis Paul wrote.

Here's a description of the book:

"Everybody's got a tale

Of how they chased a great white whale

some succeeded and some just failed

but trying is what you've got to do.

Cause in the trying you feel you're flying

the whole wide world is beneath you lying

It's you! It's true! There's no denying

There's a hero in you"

Acclaimed songwriter Ellis Paul brings the inspirational words from his songs to the pages of a new picture book! Based on his award-winning family album of the same name, The Hero in You introduces kids to thirteen real-life American heroes. From Chief Joseph to Rosa Parks, their remarkable, heroic lives motivate and encourage us to aim high and try our best.



I can't to show more of the book including many of the inside spreads. Can't wait to see what the whole book looks like in print!



February 18, 2014

2014 - Will You Be My Year?

Each year I think to myself ... will this be the year I get published? And each year I keep getting closer. In 2012, I got my first freelance illustration assignment with Macmillan. However, I won't be able to see my work in print because the pieces were part of a textbook series and they said they couldn't distribute an individual sample.

In 2013, I got two book deals - one with Free Spirit Publishing and another with Albert Whitman & Co. The first comes out this May and the second in September. I can't show any of the interior spreads just yet but here are the covers for now (note: the Albert Whitman book does not have an official title yet so that's why it's blank - this is the open cover showing the back and front)


At the January SCBWI conference in Miami, I received some good response on a few picture books and the first chapter of my middle grade novel. I even came up with a new picture book idea and manuscript as a result of the conference. Now it's just a matter of getting them as polished as can be and having my agent submit the stories before the momentum dies down.

So will this be the year I get one of my OWN books published? The ultimate goal is to have one of my books published that I write and illustrate, but I'll take just the written text to start.

Every day my fingers and toes will be crossed, fairy dust will be thrown, and four leaf clovers will be sought hoping that some day I'll get the email offering me a book deal. Until then, I'll just keep moving forward with my writing, my sketches and illustrations, my determination, and of course my dreams.

January 19, 2014

And the winner is ...

Every year I attend the Florida SCBWI conference in Miami. I've been doing so for the last 10 years, actually. When I saw Paula Danziger speak at the first conference I attended, I knew I had found the right organization to belong to.

This year's conference was amazing! We had an amazing lineup of speakers, editors and agents, including Andrea Pinkney from Scholastic, Laura Whitaker from Bloomsbury, Deborah Warren from East West Literary Agency, Aubrey Poole from Sourcebooks, Chris Crutcher, Peter Brown, and Lois Duncan - and more!!!

Each time I attend the conference, I get inspired to write new stories, correct other stories and revamp my portfolio. This year I had a little luck, too! My first page was read out loud during a critique and an editor is interested in hearing more!!

I had a critique about my middle grade novel, and the editor who read it likes it and wants to see more.

And finally ... SCBWI Florida held their first annual writing contest and (drum roll ...) I won first place in the picture book category for my story "Marcus and the Brobot"!!!


So it was a great time - not just because of these events but just being around my writer and illustrator friends, especially at the costume party we have. This year's theme was Steampunk:



I love to mingle with my friends, hear about what they're working on and what's going on in their lives. The last year went by so fast - I hope it goes by fast again so I can get back to the conference!

December 31, 2013

Ringing in the New Year

One of my New Year's resolution HAS to be to post more often on my blog. There's just too much going on not to post about.

I'll have more to post about the books I'm illustrating in a later post once I get the go ahead that I can post more pictures. PLUS I'll have some images to show from some educational material that will come out in a few months.

And since the editor who had my story for 18+ months finally decided not to publish the book, I'm back to the drawing board to come up with something that can sell to an editor.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of some artwork that I did for an art show at my studio, a show that will feature 13 pieces of my work and work from five other talented artists. The opening for the show is this Friday, January 3 from 7-9 pm at Studio 18 in the Pines, on display until February 7.

These are some of my batiks:



 And some of my drawings:


So some of my professional goals for the new year include:

1) Getting a book contract for one of my stories as well as another illustration job

2) Create and sell some personal artwork

3) Continue to land freelance jobs so I don't have to go back to teaching

4) Continue working at the Art Institute

5) Continue building my portfolio

Sixty minutes left of 2013 ... happy new year everyone!! May all your dreams and wishes come true.