Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Katie Davis on Huffington Post

Katie Davis reads from her book,
 Mabel the Tooth Fairy and How She Got Her Job
during the Savannah Children's Book Festival.
Congratulations, Katie!  You've worked hard and you deserve it.  What exciting news for the kidlit world.
Katie Davis is slated to have a regular feature about kids' book in the Huffington Post.

If you aren't familiar with the unique and talented Katie Davis, head on over to her website.  Katie is a children's book author and illustrator, but she also has a talent for marketing.  Tune in to Brain Burps, her weekly podcast, buy her ebooks, or participate in one of her webinars.  Katie is dedicated to helping book creators integrate technology into their businesses, build effective platforms, market their own books, and most importantly, find what makes us unique.  She is a boon to the world of children's books, and now, I hope, the rest of the world will learn about her passion for all things related to children's publishing.

I had the privilege to attend a SCBWI conference where Katie was speaking.  I can honestly say her way of thinking has affected many areas of my life, not just my career path.

Have you applied advice from Katie Davis to your book marketing?  Share your success story!  We'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

PBDummy Step 2.1

Not yet a participant?  Here's more info.
How are the picture book manuscripts coming?  Still having trouble?  Stuck in the middle?  Finished but unsure?

Since we in the unofficial PBDummy Challenge have a virtual critique group, I thought this would be a good time to offer some advice I routinely give or receive in my real-life crit group.

If you are struggling to get a first draft written:
Just get it down on paper!  Don't self-edit as you go.  More often than not, it's just your loud-mouthed inner critic shooting you down.  As Anne Lamott says, give yourself permission to write junk.  Worry about editing in a later draft.

If you are stuck in the middle:
See Above.  Also try some stream of consciousness writing.  Don't worry if it's in the wrong voice or even if it's really part of the story.  Maybe you have to write "I'm stuck and I can't think of anything!"  Just get something down on paper and eventually your story will resurface.  You can throw away all the in-between junk later.  As Gail Carson Levine says,  letting your thoughts wander (on paper) can "prime the pump" so your ideas begin to flow.

If you are finished, but unsure:
Try some or all of the following.
1. Do a word count.  If you are like most writers, it's way over the 500 word average.  One of my critique partners always says, cut your word count to 1/3, no matter what.  That way it is stripped to the barest essentials.  Then for the third (or is this the fourth) draft, you can add the really sparkly bits back in.

2. Break your text into spreads.  This helps you get a feel for the rhythm, for where the text is wordy or where it needs something more.

3. My stories always get too grown-up, so I use this exercise.  I rewrite my story for a younger audience.  Then I rewrite it again for an even younger one.  This is like cutting your word count without the bruising.  And my writing is always better for it.

4. I sometimes wait a few days, then rewrite the story completely without looking at the previous drafts.  I have had the most marvelous "happy accidents" with this method.  It often uncovers flaws and solves problems unconsciously.

5. Look at the space between.  This relates to the way the story flows.  Think about page turns and breaths.  Read your work out loud.  Slowly.  Imagine you are reading to a child.  Imagine a specific child.  Better yet, find some children.  You will know immediately where the story drags, the language drones, or the rhyme flops.

Courtesy Greg Matusic
If all else fails:
Maybe you just aren't passionate about this idea.  It's okay to change.  Read back through your list of ideas. Does one make you smile?  Laugh out loud?  Is there one that makes you want to run for pen and paper?  Then go with it.  Try a first and second draft.  You still have at least two weeks to develop a decent manuscript.  There'll be plenty of time for additional revisions during your storyboarding.  If you are considering this option, read Greg Matusic's success story from a previous challenge.

How are you faring?  What are you struggling with?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Buying Books

"Wear the old coat and buy the new book."

-Austin Phelps

Bookplate of Georgia Hill Emery.
Thanks to Private Library

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Catherine Borodacheva

by Catherine Borodacheva

Today's talent is not an unpublished illustrator, but a successful artist.  Catherine Borodacheva is an artist living in Saint Petersburg, working in watercolor and mixed media.  That's about all I know, because my Russian is a bit rusty.  Feel free to email me with further information.  Until I have more to report, enjoy her stunning work here and through the links provided.  I hope we have the opportunity to purchase her books in the US soon.  Thanks to KS for sharing Catherine's work for Watercolor Wednesday.

"Arno" from Animal Heroes,
illustrated by Catherine Borodacheva,

Friday, January 25, 2013

PBDummy Step 2

Not yet a participant?  Here's more info.
I hope you've been following the PBDummy challenge.  If you have, then your story should be underway.  If you're behind, then it's time to get started on your manuscript.  There's still plenty of time to write and polish.
As always, you can stop by KidLitArt or Dog-eared Sketchbook for ideas on how to get started.  If you're in need of a bit more tinder, maybe these thoughts from Pat Mora will spark something.

  1. Remember your child-self, your feelings, childhood memories, worries and pleasures. (Most picture books are for 3-10 year olds.)
  2. Create your writing time and mull--about what to write, about how to write it, about how to be daring. Among your key resources are your love of stories and language, your spirit, imagination and persistence.
  3. Be welcoming of your writing. Welcome your ideas as you would welcome a guest. Resist thinking negatively about
  4. Read picture books both old and new.

I won't be posting my work online, as I'm hoping to see it published, but I will say I'm tackling a rhyming text.  WHAT AM I THINKING?!?  I do not recommend poetic text unless you're really good at it.  I am not, but no matter how many times I write this story, it inevitably comes out in rhyme.  Who am I to argue with my muse?

If you need some poetic inspiration, try these classics:
Piping Down the Valleys Wild
Ed. Nancy Lamb

Side By Side
Poems to Read Together
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Sheep In A Jeep
Written by Nancy Shaw
Bear Snores On
Written by Karma Wilson

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In Memory of Jan Ormerod

I just read the sad news about the passing of Jan Ormerod yesterday.  Jan was an artistic hero of mine from the moment I saw her book, The Frog Prince.  I can think of no greater tribute than to showcase a bit of her work here.  I hope if you are unfamiliar with Jan's illustrations, you will take the time to savor her books. That you can find her listings at Simon& Schuster, Puffin, HarperCollins, Walker Books, and Random House to name a few, is a testimony to her appeal and endurance.  Her rich legacy of art and stories is such a blessing to all of us who love books for children.

Where Did Josie Go?
by Helen E. Buckley and Jan Ormerod
The Frog Prince
Jan Ormerod and David Lloyd

 "I find the challenge of communicating with both child and adult-working on two levels in one book--a demanding, intriguing and rewarding task." - Jan Ormerod 

Jan Ormerod

Monday, January 21, 2013

Reading as Refuge

"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life."

-W. Somerset Maugham

The Fantastic Bicycle Voyage
Thanks to Tricia Scott
of The Oddest Owl

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Erin Kelso

Unfair Advantage
By Bluefooted on Deviant art

Today we are featuring the mysterious Erin Kelso, AKA Bluefooted.  Erin is not a fantasy or children's illustrator by profession.

From what I can learn, Erin works in pencil or ink, and then adds digital color.  Her style does vary, but as she seems to create just to please herself, that can hardly be counted against her.  Unfair Advantage caught my eye because it is reminiscent of Charles Mikolaycak's style, while Huntress is more typical of her fantasy pieces.

I consider Erin's work an inspiration because she is largely self-taught and because her paintings express passion.  Her art reminds us, who illustrate for profit as well as pleasure, to enjoy the process.  To bless God that we can do what we love.

by Bluefooted on Deviant Art

I recommend you look up pieces like Cat-Skin or The Deep on Deviant Art.  I found her on Pinterest.  Thanks to Lines and Colors and Daily Picks and Flicks, who both share my interest in Bluefooted's illustrations.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Ultimate Sanctuary

"A recurrent dream of homecoming.  It was of coming home to a little room, quietly tucked away somewhere and reached, if I remember correctly, up a lot of stairs - a room that was absolutely and totally his, holding his favorite books, his favorite chair, his favorite belongings, a room that welcomed him home and that for him was the ultimate safe place, the ultimate sanctuary."

-John Rowe Townsend, regarding Kenneth Grahame

Charles and Linda Ames
Courtesy University of Minnesota

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Official Unofficial PBDummy Badge

2013 badge design by Lisa Thompson
Grab your Unofficial badge at Lisa Thompson's blog.  While you're there, read through the list of resources she's compiled.  Whether you are starting from scratch or taking this opportunity to flesh out an idea from PiBoIdMo, it all starts with a little light bulb.  Who knows where your ideas will take you!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Between Books

"For a long time now, I find I cannot bear to be without books.  The surest way to put me out of sorts is to be 'between books,' that affliction which affects those of us who have just finished an engaging book and have yet to sink into another one that is as good."

-Glenn Robert Gray

Bookplate of Roger Mougneau.
Thanks to Anne E.G. Nydam

Sunday, January 6, 2013

KidLitArt: Back From the Brink

Fans of Kidlitart and picture book creators, arise!  All is not lost.
Bonnie Adamson and Wendy Martin are taking a well-deserved working break.  But KidLitChats will continue on Twitter on Thursday nights, thanks to Lisa Thompson, a fellow SkADaMoer, who has accepted the temporary, unofficial mantle of keeper of the KidLitArt.
Thanks to Bonnie, Wendy,
Lisa, and Greg Matusic
for your dedication.

Illustrators/writers everywhere will be encouraging each other through a 6-month schedule from idea to submission.  Join the fun . . .work.  Did I say "fun"? Keep updated at Lisa's blog, my dog-eared sketchbook.  And don't forget to review all the valuable material on the original KidlitArt site.

If you're unofficially signed up, your first goal is to pick your project idea by January 13th.

Tweet Lisa by January 7 or check-in on her blog!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Neiko Ng

Fresh Talent Saturday is back for 2013.

Mary at the Zoo, by Neiko Ng

Today's artist is Neiko Ng.  Neiko is a talented illustrator working in a variety of media and industries.
I first discovered her goache painting on Pinterest, but who could fail to fall in love with her paper sculpture illustrations.  For more fun, be sure to read The Milkmaid and Her Pail.

C is for Cake, by Neiko Ng

Friday, January 4, 2013

300-Picture Book Challenge

Shar Mohr's 2013 Challenge

During PiBoIdMo, I was introduced to an inspiring fellow writer.  Her name is Shar Mohr, and she blogs at My Picture Book Writing Journey

Shar has decided to challenge herself (and any of us who'd like to journey with her) by reading 300 picture books this year.  I hope you will join us as we immerse ourselves in this endearing art form.

Her idea dovetails with my annual reading list.  I don't usually keep track of the picture books I read, so this challenge appeals to the list-maker as well as the book-lover in me.

Here are the picture books I've read since January first.  I'll post an update at least once a week, including any particular recommendations.

The House Gobbaleen
author, Lloyd Alexander
illustrator, Diane Goode
Waiting For Noel
author, Ann Dixon
illustrator, Mark Graham
Elsie's Bird
author, Jane Yolen
illustrator, David Small

The Christmas Cat
author, Efner Tudor Holmes
illustrator, Tasha Tudor
A Christmas Stocking Story,
by Hilary Knight
The First Christmas
author, Robbie Trent
illustrator, Marc Simont 
Olive, the Other Reindeer
author, J. Otto Seibold
illustrator, Vivian Walsh

Goldilocks and
the Three Bears

by Jan Brett

Into the A, B, Sea
author, Deborah Lee Rose
illustrator, Steve Jenkins 
How the Cat
Swallowed Thunder
author, Lloyd Alexander
Judith Byron Schachner

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, 2013!

Trina Schart Hyman from The Everything Book
Today is the first day of January, 2013.

One year ago I was making career plans and heading into uncharted territory. This year, it's full-steam ahead.  We may have had a year of ups and downs, but through it all, God has been good.
I'm not much for resolutions, but I'm a list-making fool.  Accordingly, this year I've got improved plans for reading, study, painting, work, play, travel, diet, exercise, remodeling, and general improvement.
"I press toward the mark . . ."

Last night, a friend shared these funny resolutions he found online, (Shown here, slightly tweaked):

2007: I will read at least 20 good books a year.
2008: I will read at least 10 books a year.
2009: I will read 5 books a year.
2010: I will finish The Light Between Oceans
2011: I will read some articles in the newspaper this year.
2012: I will read at least one article this year.
2013: I will try and finish the comics section this year.
2007: I will get my weight down below 180.
2008: I will watch my calories until I get below 190.
2009: I will follow my new diet religiously until I get below 200.
2010: I will try to develop a realistic attitude about my weight.
2011: I will work out 5 days a week.
2012: I will work out 3 days a week.
2013: I will try to drive past a gym at least once a week.

Thanks to Alex and Nick.

I hope you fared better with your goals than this guy.  But don't worry if you didn't complete as much as you'd hoped.  Focus on moving forward from where you are right now!

What will you accomplish this year?

Hilary Knight from Side By Side