Friday, November 9, 2012

Seagull and Pigeon go leaf surfing with the squirrels from the big tree

Seagull and Pigeon are going leaf surfing with the squirrels from the big tree!

I’ve had the idea of them leaf surfing for a while, so when I found out the topic for Illustration Friday this week was tree, it seemed like a good fit. I decided to add the squirrels, because like the pigeon and the seagull, squirrels are abundant in my neighborhood. We also have black squirrels, which I’d never seen before I moved here, so I included a couple of them in this drawing, along with a grey squirrel. I’m still drawing every day for DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month)! If you want to join me, there’s still time. Click here for more info.
A quick follow up to Monday’s post: as you might have seen on the news, we got hit again this week with a nor’easter. Some people that just got their power back lost it again, and there are many that still don’t have power or places to live due to Hurricane Sandy. If you’re looking for ways to help, there’s a list below.

How you can help people affected by Hurricane Sandy:
American Red Cross (They list several ways to help on their site, and also how you can get help if you need it.)
The Humane Society (To help our furry friends, many who were left homeless after the storm.)
A more extensive list of how you can help, from NBC / Rock Center with Brian Williams
A list for how to help if you live in the NY area, from The Gothamist
Kidlit Cares (An auction from the children’s book community. Round two will be starting soon at this link.)
NYC Food and Water Distribution Locations (If you live in NYC and need help.)

For Occupy Sandy, there are two sets of listings below. One for New York. One for New Jersey. Both need help.

Occupy Sandy *New York* (They have a wedding registry where you can order items they need now, like cleaning supplies, blankets, and diapers, and have them shipped directly to Occupy Sandy in New York, who will distribute to the people who need them.)
Twitter: @OccupySandy
Occupy Sandy *New Jersey* (They have a wedding registry where you can order items they need now, like cleaning supplies, blankets, and diapers, and have them shipped directly to Occupy Sandy in New Jersey, who will distribute to the people who need them.)
Twitter: @OccupySandyNJ

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Seagull and Pigeon think voting is cool – for DaDraMo

I wasn’t going to post a DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month) sketch today, but then I remembered it’s election day, and Seagull and Pigeon love to vote!* Seagull even put on a tie and combed his feathers.

* Seagull and Pigeon voted in the Bird Election, but they got their stickers when a couple of people dropped them (birds don’t get stickers when they vote because it’s hard to get them off of their feathers … Seagull and Pigeon like stickers anyway).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Doodle for DaDraMo, Shy for IF, and Seagull and Pigeon in NYC

I did three quick sketches the last three days because I didn’t have a lot of time, but I also felt it was important to keep drawing every day during DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month). Note: you can still join DaDraMo if you want! Click here for details. All of these sketches are small. The largest one is about four and a half inches wide.
A Doodle For Saturday:

Shy Pigeon and Outgoing Seagull:

Seagull and Pigeon Take Manhattan By Storm:

I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since Hurricane Sandy raged through our area. When I decided to draw every day this month, it was to get back to drawing every day, and because I was stuck at home with a lot of nervous energy and no way to physically help the people who got the worst of the storm. We were very fortunate, but many in my area were not. Things are starting to get better, but we’re not back to normal yet and won’t be for a while. The hardest hit areas will probably take years to recover. The pigeon and seagull are birds I see in my neighborhood every day. In a time where things aren’t the way they used to be, the birds are the one constant, and so they seemed like a good way for me to channel some of my frustration with the storm.

Other things I can do are donate, and help spread the word about how to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy. If you want to help and are able to help, here are some places to start:
American Red Cross (They list several ways to help on their site, and also how you can get help if you need it.)
The Humane Society (To help our furry friends, many who were left homeless after the storm.)
A more extensive list of how you can help, from NBC / Rock Center with Brian Williams
A list for how to help if you live in the NY area, from The Gothamist
Auctions from the children’s book community, with items for writers and illustrators:
Kidlit Cares
Kidlit Community Giving Back To Benefit Red Cross (Look on the sidebar for a list of auction posts in Oct. and Nov. or scroll through the blog – all posts are auction posts)
If you live in NYC and need help:
NYC Food and Water Distribution Locations

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seagull and Pigeon: Have Forks, Will Travel – for DaDraMo

The seagull and the pigeon are back in my DaDraMo drawing today, to help me celebrate my birthday. Looks like I’d better grab a fork before they eat all the cake!

I really liked the exclamation mark accident above the pigeon’s head yesterday, so I added it to this sketch on purpose. BTW, I won’t be posting again until Monday, but I will be drawing! Have a great weekend everyone :)
It’s not too late to join in to DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month)! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Click here for the details.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Introducing DaDraMo – Daily Drawing Month

Every November there are monthly writing challenges, like NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo, which are great. I’ve participated in both before, and may do so again this year (haven’t quite made up my mind).

Every year, I wish there was an art challenge in November. This morning, I woke up with the idea that since I hadn’t found an art challenge to join, I should start one. So I did.

Introducing DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month)!

Goal: To draw, scribble, doodle, paint, or pixel one picture a day for the month of November. It doesn’t have to be a good drawing. The point is to do it daily. The more you draw, the better you’ll get and the more fun you’ll have!

Who: Anyone! You don’t have to be an artist to participate. You can draw stick figures or doodle circles, or splash paint. Whatever works for you.

Accountability: Nobody will be checking your work, it’s on the honor system. This is a fun project, so if you want to join, go for it!

Prizes: I don’t know, maybe? I thought up this idea this morning, so I’m not sure yet. Right now it’s just for fun, but I will announce prizes if they happen.

Badge: Here’s a badge for your site or blog if you want one. Please link back to this page if you use the badge, so that others will know what it is and can participate if they want.

Daily Drawing Month 2012 Logo

I know it’s last minute, but I hope some of you will join me for the first year of DaDraMo. Leave a comment if you plan to participate. This could be fun to do with PiBoIdMo if you’re an author/illustrator, or author who wants to sketch out their ideas. I’m thinking of doing both this year. Will decide later today.

Here’s my drawing for today. It’s a pencil sketch inspired by the pigeons and seagulls I see every day, and a Norman Rockwell picture that shows him painting a self portrait (it’s always been one of my favorites of his).

I left the accidental pencil mark above the pigeon because it looks like the pigeon has an exclamation point over its head. It’s funny (to me, anyway) because I can imagine so many things the pigeon could be thinking. I’m planning to share my art throughout the month, probably a couple of times a week, unless I get really ambitious and post every day. Let me know if you’re going to try DaDraMo. I’d love some company!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Good News! I’m illustrating my first picture book!

I’m going to be illustrating my firs picture book! Here are the details (from Publisher’s Lunch):
Candace Ryan’s EWE AND AYE, the story of a sheep and lemur who are empowered to great heights by their cooperation, with illustrations by Stephanie Ruble, to Kevin Lewis at Hyperion Children’s, for publication in Winter 2014, by Rubin Pfeffer of East-West Agency on behalf of author and Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary on behalf of illustrator (World).
How did I get to illustrate my first picture book? Well, this news has been a long time in coming. The first time I thought about illustrating a picture book, I was in grade school! We saw a film about a man who created the art for a picture book. I don’t remember the title of the book, though I wish I did. I do remember that it was a book about ocean life. After watching the film, we had to write a poem and create art to go with it. I still have both. Here’s the picture I did (even then my characters had personalities, and I loved the crayon resist art technique):

The next time I seriously thought about illustrating picture books was in college. One of my professors (Hope Cook – Thanks Hope!) gave us an assignment to think up an idea for a children’s book and then complete a few illustrations. The only problem at the time was that I couldn’t think of any ideas for children’s books! (Note: I don’t have that problem now. In fact it’s the opposite. I have tons of ideas for children’s books, probably because I’ve been brainstorming ideas since that assignment in college!) So what did I do for my assignment? I created a series of prints based on a concert. I used The Who as my models, and made them into cows! Unfortunately, those prints are either in storage or at my parent’s house, so I can’t show them. However, I can show you a test print that I made before doing The Who prints. The plates were all two inches square and were similar to this cow here:

I was still learning how to etch the metal plates and draw the image backwards, but I like how it turned out. Several years later, I got serious about illustrating picture books. I wrote an original story and retold a few classics, all with cow characters. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I made a couple of book dummies and sent them to a publisher. Here’s the scary thing. There was no finished art in my dummies. It was all rough sketches filled in with colored pencil. They’re cringe worthy! The publisher was very nice and said they liked my writing. They didn’t say anything about my art. Back then I was hurt. How could they not like my art and know I was an artist? Now I understand why: I didn’t show them that I was an artist. How were they supposed to know? You want to see some of the scary art, don’t you?

One of the books I submitted was called, JANET’S SECRET ADMIRER. Here’s a spread from the book dummy:

I clearly didn’t know about leaving room for the gutter, and because it will never see the light of day I will reveal the spoiler to the story: it was all a dream! Still, the publisher complimented my writing, which is probably why I kept writing, so that’s a big positive from that experience.

A few years after that, I happened to connect to a children’s book publisher, and after I told them about the story I was working on, they offered me the opportunity to submit it. The story featured a cow (of course), and a pig and a little girl. This time I didn’t make a dummy. Nope. I did something even worse. I typed out a cover letter and sent five stories with ideas for four more! Then I drew pictures on all the pages (including the cover letter), with a ballpoint pen and colored pencil. (I can’t believe I’m admitting this. Yikes!) Here’s a sample:

You can see that the text of the story cuts into the art, which is just so wrong! The publisher wrote a personal note and was complimentary, though I didn’t know it at the time, because I didn’t know anything about publishing (obviously). I just thought it was a rejection. A year or so after that, I read a few books on how to write, illustrate, and submit children’s books (the right way). I found out about and joined the SCBWI, started attending conferences and workshops, getting portfolio reviews, and building a real illustration portfolio.

The final part of this story happened last November (many years after the scary submissions shown above). I had a portfolio review with Kevin Lewis, a picture book author, and also my wonderful new editor at Disney-Hyperion. He liked my art and took my picture book dummy back to the office with him (it didn’t star a cow, but there were cows in it, along with chickens, sheep, and other farm animals). That dummy convinced my editor and the publisher to give me a chance to do samples for the picture book, EWE AND AYE by Candace Ryan. I really liked the story and was able to imagine the characters right away. They liked the results, my excellent agent, Barry Goldblatt, helped to make the deal, and the book will be out in Winter of 2014! Hooray! I’m really excited to be illustrating this book, and I can’t wait to share art when it’s ready. Until I can share art from the book, here’s a sheep image from my portfolio (just imagine this is EWE from the book, before she meets AYE):

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flamingo vs. Alligator – Heights for Illustration Friday

I’ve been working on a flamingo vs. alligator image for my portfolio, and a crop from that image seemed like a perfect fit for the Illustration Friday topic, “heights,” this week. The full image has more alligators, but still only one flamingo!

The flamingo has to jump great heights to avoid being eaten by the alligator.

The frog blends in with the grass, so if he jumps low, he’ll be safe too.

This image was done in CMYK mode, where surprisingly, the colors are much brighter. It prints with nice bright colors too. Usually colors dull when I switch from RGB to CMYK, not the other way around.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

a cow inspired by the Stenberg Brothers, and puzzled for IF

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is, puzzled. You might be puzzled about my image until you learn more about the inspiration behind it (unless you area Russian avant-garde movie poster buff). The cow in the picture is puzzled as to why her hooves are in a different part of the picture and why she has two tails! She’s also a bit scared about what that means. The image itself reminds me a bit of a puzzle, in that it looks like you need to rearrange the pieces for it to make sense. Here is my puzzled moo:

This picture is a new version of an old image I did in 2004. When I heard the prompt this week was puzzled, I immediately thought of this image because it’s always reminded me of a puzzle in the way it looks and how I pieced it together the first time. The original image was done February 26, 2004, as part of a year long project. For a whole year (366 days because it was leap year), I drew/painted a cow a day. This image came towards the end of the project, when I was trying to find more creative ways to draw my daily cows. Here’s my first image:

I’ve always liked this drawing … probably because I always liked the poster that inspired it. When I was trying to think of a cow to draw that day, I remembered a movie poster by the Stenberg Brothers and decided it would look cool with a cow instead of a person. Here’s the Stenberg Brothers poster for the 1929 movie A Fragment Of An Empire:

My first image is almost a direct representation of the original, although bovine themed and with English words. The one I did today still recalls the original, but when you look at them side by side, they’re very different. The new image is closer to my style both now and when I used to be an abstract painter.

My style was, and still is, influenced by graphic images in advertising and art. In 2008 I did another series of cows that played with the idea of using a single cow and a simple palette to create multiple graphic images. They aren’t directly related to any art or artist, but the style is influenced by graphic art images. Here’s the first cow:

And here’s a sample of the cows I created off of this one image and turned into my own poster. I actually like them better all together, rather than as separate images. Still need to get this poster framed …

BTW, I first fell in love with the Stenberg Brothers when MOMA held an exhibition of their art. I worked there at the time and would look at the posters every day. I think it might be the only catalog of a show that I purchased. I don’t work there anymore, but if they ever have a Franz Marc exhibition, that might be the second catalog I buy.

What art styles and artists are you inspired by?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Moose and Girl: Vocal for IF and Friends for CBIG

The Illustration Friday prompt this week, vocal, and the CBIG prompt for this month, friends, worked well with an old color sketch I did of a moose and girl. I made a few changes and polished up the art, and here it is.

The girl and her moose friend love to sing and dance!

Friday, March 30, 2012

No Green Eggs Or Ham: Dr. Seuss, Birthdays, and Return for IF

All March I’ve been creating art every week, in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and since I’ve been celebrating his birthday all month, I thought I’d make the final illustration birthday themed. I’ve also been incorporating the prompt for Illustration Friday into my art, and this week is no different. The prompt is, Return. I thought it would be fun to have the green eggs and ham returned to Sam, and exchanged for a birthday cake. This is a quick sketch so that I could get the image up while it’s still March (won’t have time to work on it tomorrow):

Needless to say, Sam is stunned at the turn of events. Here’s a close-up so you can see Sam:

I also did this image for my friend Jen, who has a  birthday today, and would probably rather have cake than green eggs and ham! It was fun to start the month with Dr. Seuss’s birthday and end the month with my friend’s birthday. Happy Birthday Jen! :D 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sue Sews Six Thousand Socks: Swamp for IF and Dr. Seuss

All this month I’ve been paying tribute to Dr. Seuss by creating a Seuss themed image combined with the Illustration Friday prompt. For the previous weeks, I tried to incorporate Seuss’s style into my art.
This week, however, I’ve moved away from his art to show my style.

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is Swamp. I combined that with Sue from Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss. (Sue is SWAMPED with sock orders and has to sew six thousand socks!) Fox in Socks is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, and I’ve always liked Sue, so it was fun to re-imagine this part of the book. In case you’re not familiar with the original, here’s what Mr. Fox says when Sue enters the book:
New socks.
Two socks.
Whose socks?
Sue’s socks.
Who sews whose socks?
Sue sews Sue’s socks.
My Sue has similar hair and clothes to the one in Fox in Socks, but she likes polka-dots and sewing lots of socks. They’re not all for her though, because really, who needs 3000 pairs of socks? Not Sue. You’d be swamped if you had to sew six thousand socks too! (Note: not all 6000 socks are pictured here, because that would have made me more than swamped. It would have made me crazy to draw that many in such a short time.)

Who is Sue sewing socks for? I’m glad you asked.

Sue sews Sue’s socks, because with that many, at least some of them have to be for her!
Sue sews Moo’s socks, because Moo helps keep the thread from tangling.
Sew sews Lou’s socks. (Lou is the dove on Moo’s back, the one saying, “coo coo.”)
Sue sews Who’s socks, right away, because Who has owl things to do.
Sue sews Foo’s socks (a.k.a. Bunny Foo-Foo).
Sue sews Boo’s socks … not really, ghosts don’t wear socks (or at least Boo doesn’t).

The original sketch had a few more characters, but it got too crowded. Here’s a close up of the bunny:

Bunny Foo-Foo was fun to draw and I love how his socks turned out. Another character that was fun to draw was Moo:

You can tell by the expression on her face that she thinks Sue is crazy for trying to sew six thousand socks, or maybe she is getting sick of having thread wrapped around her horns. Moo has striped socks because I thought they’d be a nice contrast to her spots and I liked how the blue and white stripes looked on her. It’s hard to see, but Lou also has striped socks. They’re blue and yellow.

If someone asked you to sew six thousand socks, would you do it?

I wouldn’t. I leave the sock sewing to Sue!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Horton Hears A Who, and a What, Where, Why, When and How! Dr. Seuss, In Plain Sight, and IF

I’m still playing with pen and ink, except this week I decided to use a brush instead of a pen. All month I’ve been paying tribute to Dr. Seuss (his 108th birthday was March second). This week I drew Horton hearing a Who … and a What, Where, Why, When, and How! He’s holding all those worlds in his trunk. I drew him with a classic pair of sunglasses because the prompt for Illustration Friday this week is shades. Horton with sunglasses made him look like a cop or a government agent, which was a perfect way to introduce the idea that Horton was a U.S Marshall. He put the other worlds under witness protection (from the monkeys). That’s why you didn’t know he heard anyone other than a Who. He’s got a U.S. Marshall badge around his neck, just like Mary wears hers on In Plain Sight (final season starts this weekend).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oh, The Places You’ll Fish! Dr. Seuss and Yield for IF

I’m drawing a Dr. Seuss inspired image each week in March. I’m trying to tie them in to the Illustration Friday prompt if possible too. Last week was The Cat in the Hat (and his brother). This week is a picture that combines two Dr. Seuss books, Oh, The Places You’ll Go, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and it includes a Yield sign for the IF prompt. I’ve always liked the cover image of Oh, The Places You’ll Go, with the stripes of color, and also the inside picture of the boy at the crossroads. I combined those two for the main image. I added a Yield sign so that the boy would stop to let the fish (from One Fish, Two Fish …) drive by. Here’s the whole image, with a close up/crop below so you can see the characters. I’ve re-named it: Oh, The Places You’ll Fish!

Close up of fish in car, boy, and Yield Sign:

I love to combine ideas and prompts to create pictures. It’s a fun illustration exercise. For me, it’s similar to the writing exercise where you get a list of words and you have to find a way to fit them into a paragraph, or a scene. I think I like it because it forces my mind to make connections between things that I never would have thought of otherwise. Those connections sometimes spin off into more ideas, which create even more ideas, if you’re lucky.

Have you ever combined ideas/prompts for an illustration exercise or a writing exercise?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Read Across America, The Cat In The Hat, and his brother, and IF

I’ve been playing around with pen and ink lately. I used to use it quite a bit, but haven’t for years. This week, in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday* (he would have been 108 today), I decided to do an ink drawing of The Cat In The Hat. What you might not know is that The Cat In The Hat has a brother.** I decided to draw him too. Unfortunately for the fish, the brother is more trouble than The Cat In The Hat! It also works for Illustration Friday this week. The prompt is, “intention,” as in, The Cat In The Hat had good intentions, but his brother had other ideas. Poor fish!

This is more of a sketch than finished art. If you look closely, you can probably see the pencil lines I forgot to erase. Also, I used a new ink that for some reason faded to grey in places (won’t be using that ink again). I added the color digitally. Overall, I like the image, even with the ink weirdness.
Are you doing anything to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday? Today is also Read Across America. Go ahead, celebrate both of them!

* If I have time, I’m going to do Dr. Seuss inspired art once and week in March and post it on Friday. Hope I have time; this was fun!

** Dr. Seuss never mentioned a brother for The Cat In The Hat, but since most cats have more than one kitten, I decided he had a brother, or maybe it’s his sister.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Owl and the Pussycat (Fluid for IF)

I’ve been sketching lots of owls lately. I’ve also been thinking about playing around pen and ink again (I used to use it all the time. I combined the two for the Illustration Friday prompt this week.

The Owl and the Pussycat

I did a pencil sketch before the pen and ink version. Not sure which one I like better, so I’ll post the sketch too.

They’re pretty similar, except the sketch has more stars and more fish.

What have you been drawing lately?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Notes from the SCBWI NY conference

Friday: Illustrators Marketing Intensive

There was lots of great advice about marketing your work and the workshop was geared towards people that had books out or would have them out soon. I think there was a lot of info that’s useful to pre-published illustrators as well. Here’s a smattering of my notes and the points I thought were particularly useful. Some people talked faster than I could write, so the quotes are paraphrased.

John Rocco:
*Put your website URL in your trailer so people can find you after watching it.
*Expect nothing from your publisher (for promotion) and think of things that you can do to help the book (trailer, bookmarks, coloring pages, local contacts, etc.).
*Book trailers don’t have to be snazzy. You’re an illustrator; tell the story.
*Be kind. Be generous with your time and work, with bookstores and at signings. Be sincere.

Dan Santat:
*Build a network of peers: sincere relationships are very important.
*Blog consistently, at least once a week, so people will keep coming back. Talk about your work, but talk about other stuff too.
*Uses or has used different sites to promote his work (Flickr, Tumblr, Blog, Facebook, Illustration Friday), but says: You can do as much social networking as you want, but your work is what’s going to get you jobs.
*Handmade feel makes trailers more appealing.

Sophie Blackall:
*If you like doing something, find a way to call it work (like her blog to book: Missed Connections).
*If your stuff isn’t out there, it won’t be seen.

 Dan Yaccarino (on giving presentations):
*Know your topic (research even if you think you know it).
*Know your audience (kids, adults, kidlit people) and tailor the presentation accordingly. Sometimes the ideas/content for audiences overlaps.
*Don’t sign a cast or anything else or you will have to do it for everyone. Kids have a keen sense of fairness.
*Don’t shake hands with the kids. Fist bump and then Purell so you don’t get the flu.
*Be flexible (what if your computer goes out?).
*Drawing during a school visit is like a magic trick to a kid. If you can do it, do it.

 Michelle Fadlalla:
*Make the package you send stand out so that people will be interested and will review it. It’s also good to know who the right person is to send it to, instead of blanketing everyone in the industry.
*Anything that the publisher offers, take advantage of it.

Deb Shapiro:
*Have patience. It takes a long time to build and develop your presence. It’s about the long run, not the sprint. Patience and hard work will get you there eventually.

Jed Bennett:
*Let your publisher know what you can do for them. You have to be the biggest champion for your book.

Saturday and Sunday: General Conference Notes

Jean Feiwel:
*This is a bestseller business. You have to make money for the company (most of the time). Your work needs to have a commercial appeal.

Barbara Marcus:
*There is some balance. If you’re going to publish Jaws/Twilight/Harry Potter, you’ll have room for a quiet book or a first novel, but there’s only so much room for those.

Rubin Pfeffer:
*Your content should touch the heart and soul and/or the funny bone, no matter how you write it.

Cathy Goldsmith:
*The best books happen when there’s dialog and the author, illustrator, art director, and editor all give and take a little.
*Don’t waste the publisher’s time by doing art in a different style than what is in your portfolio (unless you talk with them first and they okay it).
*Do character studies and development before sketching scenes/spreads from the book.
*Pacing is always important in a PB. (My Note: Pacing is important in MG & YA too.)
*You need to think about continuity (how details are presented throughout the book) so the publisher doesn’t catch it later and you have to change it, or they catch it too late.

 Cassandra Clare:
*Forbidden love is usually forbidden by family, society, or because it’s dangerous.
*The almost, but not quite, forbidden love isn’t that interesting.
*Your audience will like it, the more tension there is, and the more forbidden it is.
*The Buffy Problem = teen in love with a supernatural being hundreds of years older.
*Solution = put teen in a position of power to balance age/power issue.
*Note: characters many years older (hundreds) better than say a 55 yr. old and a teenager because 55 yr. olds are adults. Nobody knows a 700 yr. old, which makes them timeless.
*Love triangle: what you want is an actual love triangle, where the two love interests have a relationship with each other as well (friends, brothers, etc.). It makes it more complicated and interesting.
*Make sure each arm of the triangle has equal weight and is just as interesting as the other.
*People want tension and high stakes, and to not know what’s going to happen.
*The kind of love story that’s fun to live is not fun to read about.

Lin Oliver:
*If writing for a younger audience (PB, CB, MG), take the word, “love,” out of it and replace it with, “friendship,” to create tension.

Martha Rago:
*Strong characters that feel real and will be likeable in a universal way and relatable way will endear them to the reader. Readers respond to a well defined character whether it’s in a series or a one-off.

Samantha McFerrin:
*Start the story right away. No need to set the scene.

Peter Brown:
*If you’re going to make it in this business, you have to be an idea factory.

Brett Helquist:
*There’s a danger of becoming cliché and doing the same thing if you always draw from your head (talking about how he does lots of photo research for sketches, to grow, learn, and to get different features and faces so his art keeps growing).

Dan Yaccarino:
*The story of the book is a character’s needs. How can they get what they need bu the end of the book?

David Gordon:
*Your success is directly proportionate to your ability to take rejection.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Good news: I have an agent!

Good news! I have an agent! I’m being represented by the wonderful Barry Goldblatt of bgliterary!!!
Some of you might be thinking to yourself, “I know that already, I saw it on Twitter!” That’s true, we did announce it on Twitter, in the middle of December, when everyone was busy with holiday travel, parties, and family visiting. Unfortunately, according to all the writer and illustrator friends I saw at the SCBWI NY Conference, they didn’t see that announcement. So I thought maybe I should say something about it on my blog.

You might be wondering why I didn’t announce it on my blog earlier. Here’s the deal. I didn’t want to say anything until I signed the contract,* which I did today! Maybe that’s old fashioned of me (or me being paranoid that it didn’t really happen). I just wanted to make sure before I announced it to the whole world (outside of Twitter, of course).

Now that I’m sure, I can officially announce that I have an agent! WooHoo! Yippee! You should have seen me dancing around the apartment when he offered!

If you were at the conference, you might have seen the announcement on my postcards. (The contract was at my house, so I knew it was real enough to put into print.) If you weren’t at the conference,** and want to see the postcards, here’s the written proof of my new agent!***

This is the front of the postcard. It’s an image I’ve been working on for a long time (I also have watercolor and acrylic paintings started for this image, but liked this version the best and decided to finish it for the conference postcard).

This is the back of the postcard. The cat came from a sketch I did on a dry erase board! The dog came from a regular sketch (using pen and paper).

So now that you know I have an agent, I can go back to posting on my blog again and not keeping secrets.****

2012 is off to a great start!!! Hope the year is off to a great start for you too!!!

*Why didn’t I sign the contract earlier? The day after I accepted Barry’s offer, I left town for three weeks. When I came back, Barry went out of town. Then he came back and I found out that I hadn’t given him my address so he could send me the contract! After he sent it to me last week, I couldn’t send it back because I was at the conference. So I sent it out today.

**I’ll be posting notes from the conference later this week.

***This post is a bit silly, but I am seriously happy about signing with Barry and excited to start working with him! I have a feeling that with Barry in my corner, 2012 is going to be a really good year. :D 

****I was crossing my fingers when I typed that, which makes it really hard to type, but also means that I can still keep secrets if I have to. Because sometimes you just can’t announce things (like agents) until you have a contract, you know?