Thursday, November 30, 2017

Stuck on your Work In Progress? Janet Fox wrote a treatment

Janet Fox, a pantser, explains how she tried something new with her latest revision:

"I had to take drastic, desperate action. Which meant…making a plan.

But here’s the catch. I couldn’t bring myself to make a detailed outline, even with this mess. I needed direction and focus, not constraints that would make me hate the work. I needed to understand deeper motivation and theme, I had to expand my character analysis, and I wanted to be certain that the plot was not only clear but also included the twists and turns that I love to incorporate in my stories.

So I wrote a 'treatment.' It’s the kind of thing that filmmakers write as they are about to begin storyboarding."
Go here to read the full post.

Illustrate and Write On (and maybe try writing a treatment!)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Creative Life - The example of Fred Gwynne

Andy Wright over at Atlas Obscura wrote this article on Fred Gwynne. Gwynne is the actor who played Herman Munster, and also the author/illustrator of punny children's picture books including "The King Who Rained."

Is it another example of a celebrity publishing a children's book because they can (and there's an audience for more from them) or is it an example of a full creative life, well-lived? As the article's author puts it, "Gwynne’s books are the real deal."

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect is the challenge it puts forth to all of us who create -- are we putting up boundaries and barriers to our own creative expression? And yet, if we are too spread out and lack focus, will we be able to achieve anything in any of the realms we work in?

Good issues to contemplate. Where is our focus? What else might we achieve if we allowed ourselves to envision our fullest creative life?

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Craft Exercise

If Santa Claus is in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, what's your character up to? (Photo by By tweber (Santa Claus arrives.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, it's not building a turkey out of construction paper and feathers (not that there's anything wrong with that!) but consider taking a few minutes over this holiday weekend, and imagine what your character in your current work-in-progress would be doing on Thanksgiving. Who are they spending it with? What are they dreading? What are they excited about?

Are they going to a sports game? To a protest? Will they eat turkey? Are they going to get the wishbone? What's their wish?

Whether you're an illustrator or an author (or both) this can be a fun way to better understand your main character, and get those creative juices flowing on a day that doesn't always allow for lots of sit-down-and-be-creative time.

So when you're passing the mashed potatoes, or watching your kids squirm under Aunt so-and-so's kisses, invite your character to join you... and see how your creativity is yet another thing to be grateful for!

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Listen to SCBWI's Newest Podcast: A Conversation with Stephanie Garber

Stephanie's debut YA fantasy Caraval was a New York Times Bestselling breakout success. In this interview with Theo Baker, Stephanie opens up about her writing process, her publishing journey, and all things Caraval!

Listen to the episode trailer here.

And SCBWI members can listen to the full podcast here (log in first!)

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Elisha Cooper's meditation on the Life Cycle of a Book

Author/Illustrator Elisha Cooper's essay in Publisher's Weekly, "The Life Cycle of a Book" is thoughtful and poignant, and inspires all of us who create content for children to consider what's the life cycle of our creative projects...

Here are a few quotes from the piece:

"And though no writer, especially one describing the writing process in a Publishers Weekly essay, should be trusted entirely, the idea for my book Big Cat, Little Cat was conceived in minutes, and those minutes remain a mystery to me, and I was there."

"If a book’s conception is a mystery, I find its making to be the opposite. At least, the painting of a book. There’s a straightforward physicality to it. Paint, brush, paper. Using one’s hands. Taking an idea and nurturing it, teaching it to walk and talk. The happiness of raising a child, without the confusion."

"My idea, my meditation on my daughters’ grief, the paintings that had covered the walls around my desk, now belonged to someone else. My book was no longer my book, not quite, and knowing this was both sad and right. Humbling. It had become another person’s story, or room, a space in which they could dream or draw comfort. Their mystery." 

Elisha's essay is well-worth reading.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Working on a series idea? Janice Hardy has 6 Questions for You to Consider

Will your protagonist grow and change or stay the same?


 Can the series be read out of order?

 are two of the points to consider.

The whole piece is well-worth reading.

Thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith for spotting Janice's blog post, and to Janice for pulling the questions together! Good stuff.

Illustrate and Write On, 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The New York Times Book Review and the New York Public LIbrary's Top 10 "Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2017"

For the first time, the New York Times Book Review has teamed up with the New York Public Library to present this list.

The Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2017 announcement in Publishers Weekly

The winning titles are:

Feather by RĂ©mi Courgeon (Enchanted Lion)

Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown, illus. by John Parra (NorthSouth)

King of the Sky by Nicola Davies, illus. by Laura Carlin (Candlewick)

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin, illus. by Evan Turk (S&S/Atheneum)

On a Magical, Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna (Harper)

Plume by Isabelle Simler (Eerdmans)

A River by Marc Martin (Chronicle)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, illus. by Stacy Innerst (Abrams)

Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, illus. by Sydney Smith (Groundwood)

The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi (Kids Can)

Congrats to the winners - It's a wonderful reading list for us all! You can click here to see large images from each of the ten titles.

Illustrate and Write On,

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tips for NaNoWriMo - Are you planning to write an entire novel this November?

NaNoWriMo =

National Novel Writing Month

Check out author Kim Ventrella's post over at Middle Grade Minded, "Three Tips for NaNoWriMo"

The tips are solid, including "Turn off your inner critic." And though Kim brings it up, one more reminder from me: Have fun with it!

click here to read the full piece

Having the privilege to write and/or illustrate, the luxury of the time and space to create (even if it's just a few minutes a day), is awesome. And should be something we do with appreciation and yeah, even a sense of wondrous fun.

Illustrate and Write On,

Thursday, November 2, 2017

#NY18SCBWI has a new "Master Class" format, and is selling out fast!

This is exciting!

The 2018 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City offers an array of masterclasses with agents, editors, and luminaries in the children's book field, featuring keynotes by Caldecott-winner Dan Santat and best-selling author Angie Thomas, an agent panel, and an editor panel.

There's a Golden Kite Gala, a portfolio showcase, socials, peer roundtable critiques, a networking dinner, an autography party...

And with all that, the real star is you – and how much you can advance your career, both in craft and in the business of our industry know-how.

The masterclass format promises attendees a chance to delve deeply into their work with hands-on, smaller group sessions. As a result, space is extremely limited, but there are still a few spots left in these exclusive masterclasses.

Check out what's still available and register here.

Hope to see you there!

Illustrate and Write On,