February and March 2019 recap including lessons learned, kaizen, and some rainbow eats!Read More
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.
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.
It's only summer, but already this year I have a lot to be thankful for. Back in February, I was very fortunate to win a spot with a mentor in the Writing With the Stars program organized by Tara Luebbe of Becky Tara Books site and author of Shark Nate-O and I Am Famous.
The incredibly generous and fabulous mentor that decided to take me on was Brianne Farley (pronounced /BREE-ehn/ rhymes with 'Ian'). She'd never met me before, but took a chance on me and was my mentor earlier this year. Brianne's got a wry sense of humor and was the perfect match. If you're not familiar with her work, you can see her quirk-tastical illustrations in her author-illustrated books Secret Tree Fort, Ike's Incredible Ink and also in the Charlotte the Scientist series (by author Camille Andros).
The Goal: create a kidlit friendly portfolio to exhibit at my regional SCBWI conference in Orlando this past June. Brianne had an excellent plan which I set about executing.
This is something I know about myself - I need accountability by way of a deadline or art direction. It's hard for me to work on projects strictly for portfolio purposes. I'm very pragmatic so it feels too indulgent, so the WWTS program gave me the opportunity to have an accountability mentor.
I learned in a studio environment, and worked in studios, but these days I work from home. I miss having that rapport with other artists and designers. Getting that outside perspective is absolutely critical to getting out of my own head and so Brianne was a great guiding force to bounce ideas off of. She guided me with regularly scheduled critiques and I managed to make the most of the experience to create these portfolio pieces...