February and March 2019 recap including lessons learned, kaizen, and some rainbow eats!Read More
How did I end up here? I’m still somewhat dizzy from this whirlwind few months! I have a minute to find my feet, take a breath, and catch you all up with the latest happenings…
Let’s begin with a tidy summary of last year.
2018 Biz Year in Review
Jan- opened my Etsy shop
Feb- ran a half marathon, completed @kristenbalouch illustration course, began Writing with the Stars mentorship with @briannehfarley
Mar- 1st dummy attempts, building portfolio with Brianne
Apr- Exhibited at the Green Circle Gallery
May- began querying agents, Blueprint Show with Finch & Foxglove in NYC (@blueprintshows)
June- SCBWI Orlando, Highlights: Getting to Know Your Picture Book (online portion)
July- painted Art bench (Cocoa Village, FL)
Aug- Mermaid painting workshop with Patti Ballard (@pbsartstudio) in Orlando
Sep- Highlights Course Retreat (@highlightsfound) Getting to Know Your Picture Book artists/authors retreat and in-person workshop with @inkygirl and @heidieys among other wonderfully talented folks I greatly admire.
Oct- Work was exhibited with Finch & Foxglove in San Francisco, Literacy event with SCBWI, won auction review with Stefanie von Borstel (Full Circle Literary), began exhibiting with Gallery Pizza (Viera, FL)
Nov- WNDB Walter Dean Myers Grant contacted, agent responded
Dec-WNDB Walter Dean Myers Grant winners announced
Etsy Sales: 33
Instagram followers: 1497
Time to look ahead of course! This year, I started off by being picked up by a literary agent which is a very good start! I have several manuscripts of my own that are in revision mode, and I’m signed on to do an indie kid’s book that’s in progress.
I hope to keep painting. Add to that maybe spring quilting? I have two quilt tops and a half-quilted quilt!
I have really, really big news, friends. The We Need Diverse Books organization chose me as a recipient of one of their five Walter Dean Myers Grants! The grant will allow me to take two illustration courses, help me pitch my work to publishers, and work on my kids books. I’m so excited for 2019!
Thank you, WNDB! And if you’ve never heard of Walter Dean Myers, check him out. He was a writer and a champion of literacy and African American representation in YA and children’s literature.
I am deeply honored to have been considered for the award, and even more so to have been chosen. I hope to do right by it.
It’s nearly Thanksgiving! Here’s one of my fave recipes that combines two of life’s most delicious things… pumpkins and cheese.
3 lb. Pumpkin - cap removed (but not tossed!), seeded and cleared of strings
1/4 lb. cheese - mix gruyere, emmenthaler, cheddar (or your fave melty cheeses)
1/4 lb. cubed stale/dry bread (cut into 0.5” chunks)
2-4 minced garlic cloves
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste (and any seasonings or herbs you love)
1/3 cup heavy cream
Whoah. Just whoah.
The Getting to Know Your Picture Book workshop and retreat led by Debbie Ridpath Ohi featuring Heidi Stemple was awesome. We spent weeks dissecting our manuscripts on an online forum, and then a month or two later, we met in real life and had 1:1 edition sessions and group round tables to discuss our stories. We were able to edit 2 of our manuscripts during this time, and the course was jam-packed with information and a wealth of knowledge.
So, the course itself was very much worth it. The interactions with other attendees and mentors was priceless.
How’s it work? Well, the first portion of the class was online (using a platform called Schoology). We had lessons online, reading, and exercises to follow. We commented on each other’s work and followed through with turning in manuscripts and portions of our stories.
Then we went back to the drawing/writing board and worked on edits and sent in our manuscripts a week or two before the in-person retreat.
The retreat itself…
The grounds of the Highlights Foundation are at the foothills of the Poconos in rural Pennsylvania. It was gorgeous. I had lived in the Catskills for a summer, and it was very similar. We had a foggy morning or two and it was gorgeous, mysterious, dazzling.
It drizzled and there were so many songbirds, butterflies, walking paths. Because it was in September, there were a few hot days and a few cool days. I added an ‘unworkshop’ or extra day to my stay. I’d definitely check the weather before going, but be prepared for rain.
Our mornings began with a nourishing breakfast, informative lectures, a session or tour. Then we’d lunch, have more sessions, and we’d break for the evening. We heard from the seasoned editor-turned-agent, Rubin Pfeffer and he gave us a great overview of the publishing world. Heidi Stemple worked with us on getting to the nuts and bolts of our stories. We had artsy session with Lisa Cinelli and Kelly Light, and writing sessions 1:1 and in small groups. We walked trails, ate well, and learned from one another.
Overall, I had a great experience, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The time spent in the course was very well worth it and the time alone with my story was too.