Thursday, April 20, 2017

NESCBWI Conference this weekend!

This weekend is the annual NESCBWI conference held once again in Springfield, Massachusetts. I always look forward to conference weekend because of all the wonderful workshops and valuable things I learn each year. But most of all I look forward to the weekend because I am excited to be around so many talented, warm and supportive people, all passionate about the world of children's literature.

This weekend I am looking forward to taking workshops from the talented writer/illustrators Kelly Light and Brian Lies and art director Giuseppe Castellano. I'm also taking a couple of writing workshops from Jess Keating and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. I know I'll learn a lot for all of them.

For the Illustrator's Intensive workshop, Giuseppe Castellano gave us some homework. First we needed to submit sketches re-imagining a Beatrix Potter character. He reviewed the sketches and gave us feedback. Then we submitted finished illustrations and he will be giving us feedback during the day-long workshop on Sunday. Several things changed between the sketch and the illustration.

Badger sketch

Badger Sketch finished illustration

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Goal Setting

Goals are something I set frequently. I set goals for what I want to get done today, what I want to get done this week, next week, this month and so on. I usually set impossible goals and berate myself when I fall short of my goals. Having said that, I have to admit that there are a couple goals that I have not achieved and have been carrying forward for a while. One of those goals is posting to this blog on a consistent basis.  I am going to change that.

Although I have not been blogging, that doesn't mean that I haven't been working hard. I have six new picture book manuscripts in various stages and have written several poems. Some are in first draft stage. Others have been revised multiple times. One manuscript will be critiqued during the NESCBWI conference in April. One of my goals is to have a book dummy completed for that manuscript in time for the conference and also to revise an existing book dummy.

I am working on the illustration intensive piece for the Sunday workshop taught by Giuseppe Castellano. I submitted my final sketch last week and after getting some feedback and will work on the finished illustration.

The prompt for the illustrator's challenge at the conference is "Can I keep it?" I am busy finalizing my sketch for the challenge and will soon start the finished illustration.

My website has just been revised. Prior to conference I will need to update it again to include new illustrations.

Now back to work completing those goals!

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

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!