Monday, November 9, 2015

November inspirations!

It has been too long since I've blogged about my journey as a writer/illustrator, or anything for that matter. I signed up to participate in Picture Book Idea Month this year and also National Novel Writing Month this year! Reading the posts on the website and talking with people who are on the same journey as I is a source of inspiration!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

PiBoIdMo is only a month away

There are a few things that I look forward to every autumn. The sweltering heat of summer has been replaced with brisk mornings and comfortable afternoons. Trees are putting on their yearly celebration of color. Fresh, crisp apples and cider are available everywhere lending their comforting perfume to the air. Sculpting pumpkins for our Halloween porch display is a favorite October endeavor. By the end of October I'm excited for the November start of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which makes November a very busy month indeed! Thanks to my friend, Melanie Linden Chan, posting about PiBoIdMo on her blog and Facebook, I'm already feeling the anticipation! If you are interested in joining the PiBoIdMo fun, you can find out more about it at http://taralazar.files.wordpress.com.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tomie dePaola Contest

Once again I entered SCBWI's Tomie dePaola Contest. This year there were several changes from previous years. Because of the success of The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, and other black and white illustrated books, Tomie set the criteria that the illustrations must be in black and white instead of color, and the text must be included on one side of the spread. Also, instead of giving us a specific text to illustrate, Tomie let us choose the text from one of three books, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I chose to illustrate a scene from Tom Sawyer.  The text is part of a scene where Tom and Becky are exploring a cave and got separated from the rest of the group. Tom realizes that they are in serious trouble and must conserve their candles. When Tom blows out the candle, Becky loses hope.
Don't miss seeing the other entries on the Unofficial Gallery of the Tomie dePaola Award page! You'll be amazed at all of the talented illustrators!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) is now over. Some days felt like I was in the middle of a desert with ideas as hard to come by as water. Other days felt like the heavens opened up and ideas rained down on me. The month of cycling between the drought and flood of ideas evened out and I ended up with 32 ideas, which successfully completed the challenge! Thirty-two ideas to work on until next November when I'll take the challenge again. I haven't gone through my list yet to see which ones have enough merit to work on but I have a year to work through the list along with any other ideas that come my way.

Congratulations to everyone who took the challenge whether you were able to come up with 30 ideas or not. To those who couldn't come up with the 30 ideas in the month, don't worry, there is always next year. The point is to open yourself up to the creative process. To put yourself in the position and develop habits to assist you in the process. Try again next year and it certainly will be easier!

Now down to my next challenge, completing the Tomie dePaola Contest illustration. Only 11 days left to finish the illustration. I'm almost there!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Every November comes with many challenges. The best ones are the challenges that help us learn, grow and exercise our grey matter. Some of my very favorite challenges for this time of year are the PiBoIdMo and the NaNoWriMo challenges along with the SCBWI Tomie dePaola contest.

PiBoIdMo is the Picture Book Idea Month that is hosted by Tara Lazar on her blog,  Writing for Children (While Raising Them). Registration ends November 4th. The month is a lot of fun and a great way for picture book writers to gather (online), talk and generate ideas for future picture books! The discussions are fun and you can almost feel the creative energy flowing through the computers!

NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month: November 1st - 30th  - Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon! The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That breaks down to an average of 1,666.66 words per day! Writing that many words in 30 days might not sound very hard to some people, but for me it is quite a challenge! To paraphrase author Jane Yolen, it requires us to sit in our chairs and write! That does not mean sit in our chairs and check our emails, or go on facebook, or do any of the other time wasters that are calling us through our computer screens. It requires us to focus and write! So I'll grab my large coffee mug filled to the brim with strong, dark coffee, put on music appropriate for what I want to write to get me in the mood and get down to work.

This year, the Tomie dePaola contest has a twist. Instead of Tomie choosing a particular text or story to illustrate, the participants will choose their own text from a choice of three books, The Yearling, Little Women, and The Adventures of Tom Saywer.  Last year it was great seeing the variety of entries that were posted by Diandra Mae on the Unofficial Gallery of the Tomie dePaola Award. This years entries can be seen at 2013 SCBWI Tomie dePaola contest gallery. I can't wait to see what has been submitted! Fortunately, I have already been working on this one and hopefully will have it done before the end of October!

It may seem like these three challenges are conflicting and work against each other. It does feel at times like I have so many balls in the air that I risk being knocked unconscious as balls threaten to drop and clunk me on the head! It is hard to keep them all airborne and moving. After all these three challenges do not include the rest of what is going on in life. But the point of a challenge is to try. Challenges move us forward, spurring us towards a goal. Who knows, I just may succeed!

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Illustration Friday: Refresh

What could be more refreshing than a day at the beach sipping an ice cold lemonade? 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Three days after the conference and I am still "decompressing" after what for me was the best of the three NESCBWI conferences I have attended. That is saying a lot since last year I won second place "People's Choice" in the poster conference, and this year I didn't win anything. Last year I had taken to heart Jane Yolen's keynote about getting and understanding rejection letters in which she mentioned that even though she has over 300 books published she still gets rejection letters. To hear her talk about that was important to me since I arrived home to find my first rejection letter. This year Jane gave the ending keynote, most of which I missed for reasons I will talk about later.

At the Carle "Mix and Mingle" which kicked off the conference, Cindy, Brook, Marcella and I were standing talking to each other and up walks Jane Yolen, who started talking to us. I just realized that we talked for about five minutes and I didn't think to take the camera out of my purse and get a photo of all of us with her. She was very generous with her advise, wisdom and encouragement. It was magic!

Since I was a volunteer, I missed the first part of Sara Zarr keynote as I was wrapping up my volunteer duties for that morning. As Jeanette, I think, already posted she read from Frog and Toad and then relate it to our journey as Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. As in Frog and Toad in the Garden, we all want our careers as writers and illustrators to growRIGHT NOW and not give the stories or our abilities time to develop, nurture and grow. We are impatient. There were many other lessons from her keynote that makes me want to keep a copy of Frog and Toad next to my work area.

What made this year better for me personally is that things started falling into place, barriers falling. I was very happy with my crit on the YA novel that I am writing, in which many positive things were said, but just as many, if not more suggestions for improvement were given. One needs to hear what one is doing wrong, or not quite right to make the changes needed for success. I came into the critique with that mindset. The man who was my critiquer said that I had done some of the very hardest things very successfully and that I needed to tap into the "bad" place and use that emotion to create more dialog. He also gave me a typed page of strengths and areas to improve. After the crit I ran into Tina, one of my RISD friends, who knows me well enough to see that there was something behind my eyes that wasn't quite right and asked me if I was OK. I had no idea what she was talking about and surprising myself, I burst into tears. The crit was so perfect, made me so happy and yet there I was crying.  Finally I realized that I was already tapping into the "bad" place thinking about the process that lay ahead. I had the emotions ready for the work that lay ahead of me.

I attended workshops both for writers and illustrators that were perfect for for the work ahead of me. One was for creating authentic, believable dialog. One was writing for picture books and one was on illustrating picture books. The person who gave the workshop on illustrating picture books was very generous with her time. She started the workshop an hour early, for those who wanted to come early, missing the morning panel discussion. She worked through lunch, through the autograph signing hour, and finally through the second session of the day ending just after the start of Jane Yolen's ending keynote. I learned so much from listening to her critiques of everyone's portfolios and the book dummies that they brought to the workshop. She told everyone at the start that she was not their mother so she was going to be brutally honest with her critiques. She said that if she wasn't that she would be doing us a disservice and wasting our time and money. Her critique of my portfolio told me exactly what I needed to change. She told me that I should send my postcards out to educational publications and that my digital work is perfect for that right now. She loved how I could create emotions and interaction between characters. She told me that even if I continue to work digitally, that I need to get back to hand work, sketching, painting and sculpting. Her favorite pieces in my portfolio were the clay sculptures. She made some suggestions as to how to get my digital work up to the next level to be ready for "trade publications". All in all a great session. Throughout the day, since my portfolio was the second one she looked at, whenever she said something that might be upsetting to the person getting the critique, she would say, "Just ask Lin", or "remember what I said to Lin about her portfolio." It was tough, but what I needed to hear.

Spending time with all of my RISD friends that attended is part of the magic of the conference as is meeting new people and networking. We were all excited for Marcella and Milanka for their success at the conference! What makes the group so special is that everyone is genuinely excited for the success of anyone from the group, or the people that they have met. Jealousy does not the rule in this group! As I heard in some of my workshops in other groups it does. We are blessed!

Finally, here is my "post-apocalyptic" New World poster I made for the poster contest. I imagined who would be the next to rule the world after people had gone the way of the dinosaurs.