Being one of those socially inept introverts who give a bad name to introverts in general is often hard – the psychological ricochet after social events is discombobulating, the fear of social judgment is tiresome to do battle with, and the suspicion that the rest of the world is speaking a language you lack fluency in is discouraging. And yet, I seem to be developing positive relationships with people in the children’s publishing industry anyway. I still feel out of place and out of sorts on a regular basis, and I’m certain I’ll have to contend with those feelings for the rest of my life, but the feeling of belonging that I have in this community is the strongest such feeling I’ve ever had in any community. It’s not entirely substantial – the overwhelming majority of my interactions with people are virtual, and those interactions are limited by nature – but there’s more substance to this multiplicity of new relationships than I originally would have dared hope for. And the number of people who I feel a genuine, real-world, non-internet bond with is shockingly large, at least by my standards. It’s a somewhat theatrical question to ask, but have I found my place in the world? I wonder if I have. It’s a startling thought.
- Some of the realest kid characters I've ever read in a novel, with dialogue that exactly captures the way kids can switch from snarkiness to sensitivity in a turn.
- With that, a terrific sense of humor and jokes that made me laugh out loud more than once.
- A 12-year-old heroine -- Dahlia Sherman -- who loves performance magic and math more than popularity and fashion, and who holds herself a little apart from her peers in part because of that lack of shared interests, and in part because she fears their rejection. (This was probably my real point of identification with the book, I do confess it.)
- A totally original combination of elements: A contemporary Jewish summer camp story set in Pennsylvania and starring Dahlia, crossed with a story about a yeshiva student named David in the Lower East Side of New York City in the 1930s, both shot through with fantasy and mystery.
- This completely lives up to the definition of "new" I offered a couple weeks ago.
- A terrific title.
- A kind of magic I had never seen before in a fantasy novel -- and when you've read as many fantasy novels as I have, that's saying something.
I'm delighted to welcome Ari Goelman to my blog for a Q&A.
What novels were the biggest influence on you when you were a young reader (ages 8-18)? As a middle-grade reader I loved the Susan Cooper ‘The Dark is Rising’ series, especially the novel The Dark Os Rising. I also loved the book The Silver Crown, and (as I got older) pretty much any high fantasy I could get my hands on, starting with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and ending with ... whatever the latest high fantasy was. As a slightly older teen reader I discovered Steven Brust and Roger Zelazny – especially loving Brust’s To Reign In Hell and Zelazny’s Lord of Light. Which, now that I think about it, were both pretty centrally concerned with magic and religion, albeit in a totally different way than The Path of Names.
There are so many interesting ideas packed into this book -- summer camp, Kabbala, magic (real-world and fantasy), mazes, Lower East Side history. . . . Where did it start for you? How did these other elements develop in it? I think it started with a summer camp story, and evolved from there. Once I decided to set the story in a Jewish summer camp, I thought, “Hmm. Jewish summer camp – Jewish magic. That seems to make sense.”
Then, once I started thinking about Jewish magic, that naturally led to Kabbala and the rest. I’ve always been interested in the somewhat forgotten elements of Jewish folklore. I was raised as a conservative Jew where the party line was, ‘We don’t believe in magic. Or the afterlife. Or demons. Or witches...’ I was a young adult before I started to come across references to all the Jewish superstitions that saturated the Jewish world for centuries before the Enlightenment.
Described in that way, it might make me seem a little smarter than I am. Here is the way it actually worked: I’d be in synagogue for a cousin’s bar mitzvah or such, and there’d be a mention of an anecdote in the Talmud about a rabbi hurling lightning at another rabbi. The lesson would supposedly be something about tolerance or arrogance. But I would sit there thinking, ‘A rabbi hurling lightning? That is so cool! I would love to read a fantasy story about that.’
As far as the parts set in the Lower East Side, my grandfather grew up in the 1930s Lower East Side, and I always loved the stories that he and my great uncles would tell about their boyhoods in the tenements. When I was older I discovered that he had visited the spot in rural Pennsylvania which ultimately became my summer camp some fifty years before I was a camper there. I loved the thought of somehow combining those two milieus.
The fantasy magic in the book is based in what I understand to be a very esoteric Jewish religious practice – the Kabbala – but the book isn’t religious at all. Dahlia and the other kids spend very little time contemplating God. You also have a provocative epigraph where you quote Bernie Cloud: “Religion is just magic, but with more words.” How do your own relationships with religion and magic emerge in The Path of Names?I think I very much share the ambivalence towards Judaism (and organized religion in general) that is evidenced in The Path of Names. It was fun to write a story where all the Jewish magic works. The world would be so much simpler if you could verify religious belief systems with some sort of physical manifestation ... say, calling down lightning on your enemies. Religion aside, I find magic and the supernatural creeps into most everything I write. I’m not totally sure why this is. Like I mentioned before, I’ve always been an avid reader of fantasy literature. Maybe it comes from my general interest in ideas of power and resistance, especially when they’re operating in ways that are secret, or at least hard to see. I have this sense (which I think is pretty broadly shared in contemporary society) that power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few in ways that are hard for the rest of us to see, let alone to resist. Also -- let’s face it -- magic is fun. It would be fun to be a thirteen-year-old with the power to change things, even if the odds seemed stacked against you.
In the past, I've done straight giveaways, fundraisers, and other fun things, and once again I'm switching up how you enter.
In my edits over the past year, I've noticed that the queries are getting a little flat. Seems like most of you have the basics down, the three to four paragraphs of plot/about the book, one of bio, and a polite sign off. What I usually see is something like this: (And yes, this is my current WIP)
Dear [Agent name],Now, that's all well and good. It follows all the "rules" and gets the job done, but can it be improved a bit to make it more exciting? I think so.
Beautiful, brown-haired, seventeen-year-old Coral must leave her home space hub, Wiltshire, to go to the most important sky hub, Bath, to compete for the apprenticeship. There she meets over-the-top, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Siren. Siren really wants to date Coral's older brother Kelp, and Siren’s brother Reef, who is in no way hot, wants to date Coral.
Because Coral has been raised on textbooks, she, like Siren does, begins to read fiction novels and her imagination runs wild. When it docks nearby, frightening rumors spread about the ship Northanger and its intense and intimidating Commander Barnacle. Coral also begins to fall in love with Commander Barnacle’s smoking hot son, Tidal.
Coral ends up winning a place on Northanger and soon finds out that all of the scary rumors about it are true. Something fishy is going on in the bowels of the ship and it's up to Coral to get to the bottom of it before it’s too late. Coral can’t stop her investigation until she finds out what's haunting the poor, terrified crew and what's keeping Tidal's timid sister Shore so frightened.
THE GREAT SHIP NORTHANGER is my futuristic retelling of Jane Austen's classic novel NORTHANGER ABBEY in space. It is complete at 110,000 words.
In 2008, I completed an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. I have been a freelance book editor for four years with clients publishing at Sourcebooks Fire and HarperCollins, among others. I am also on staff at [redacted] Agency for rights reversions.
Per your guidelines, please find the first [#] pages following. Thank you for your consideration.
That first paragraph is a bit confusing. Too many names, too many details, and too quickly, leaves me wondering who all these people are, and whose story it really is. Listing characters and their qualities is not a great thing to do because the reader won't remember all these details when given all at once. The sentence structure is a bit cliche too. The second plot paragraph gets into the actual plot more and introduces a bit of conflict as well as a love interest. Good. The last plot paragraph ups the stakes even more, but it's riddled with cliches and it's a bit vague on plot. I think we can take this sort of run-of-the-mill query and really ratchet it up.
We're all told that voice is so important in our MSs and the same can be true for queries as well. Great voice needs natural language, sensory details, action verbs, sentence variety, and varying sentence lengths to help bring your words to life. Queries get read so quickly and it's vital to make a great first impression in a clear way. So, let's see what this query can do if all those things are added in, eh?
Dear [Agent name],
At the age of seventeen, all the kids in the galaxy travel across aethics of space to compete for work placement. For Coral, this means leaving the orderly and protected Wiltshire hub and traveling to the apprenticeship battleground: Bath sky hub. Her competition and roommate is feisty Siren, who has designs on Coral's older brother Kelp. Worse, Coral becomes the unwanted recipient of affection from Siren’s repellant brother Reef. Just knowing he’s in the same skyhub activates her introvert tendencies and makes her itchy.
Coral begins to read fiction books--an unpopular pastime back home--and her imagination releases like an anti-gravity chamber. When The Great Ship Northanger docks nearby, unsettling rumors spread about it and the intense Commander Barnacle. What's even more frightening are Coral's new feelings for Barnacle's son Tidal. Her lips go numb even just thinking about kissing him.
Coral wins a coveted place on Northanger but to her horror discovers that something as black as dark matter is going on in the bowels of the ship. Only Coral can figure out what's haunting Northanger and scaring her crew--and what's keeping Tidal's sister Shore so close to home when there's a great wide universe waiting to be explored just outside the ship’s thick hull.
THE GREAT SHIP NORTHANGER is my futuristic retelling of Jane Austen's NORTHANGER ABBEY in space. It is complete at 70,000 words.
In 2008, I completed an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. I have been a freelance book editor for four years with clients publishing at Sourcebooks Fire and HarperCollins, among others. I am also on staff at [redacted] Agency for rights reversions. I live in the boonies of Michigan with my dog Mollie.
Per your guidelines, please find the first [#] pages following. Thank you for your consideration.
That’s more dynamic, right?
So here’s what I want you guys to do:
1. Place your query up on your blog/tumblr/facebook, wherever you can place text, and ask your writer friends for help in adding voice to your query.
2. Starting this Wednesday, you can then enter that new query into the contest below to win a FREE substantial edit of any YA or MG of 100,000 words or less. Open internationally for any MS written in English.
You may or may not have noticed that things have gone a little quiet in the past few weeks on this blog. I intended to make a post far sooner than this to explain. I’ve stopped the features and the guest posts and the interviews, and initially I wasn’t sure if I’d return with content like that again. But for now, I think I’m just taking a little break while I work hard in real life (writing stuff, freelance stuff, teaching stuff), and I expect I’ll be back with a renewed interest and energy by the fall. I hope so.
But there’s more.
Some things have been going on with me, and with my writing career, and while this news (it’s good! I promise!) came at me I was also working so hard and juggling so many things that I went and got sick at the worst possible moment, and am still trying to recover from an ear infection. (I feel basically fine now, but my hearing is still muffled, which is problematic when I want to, uh, actually talk and listen to other humans, or cross a street and hope to hear an oncoming cab’s horn honking. But so it goes.)
So in a way this quiet is a cleansing for me, while I recover from being sick and also get through all the busy-making things for the remainder of the spring. I’ve been stepping back from social things and turned quiet in real life, too. But the good news is that I am now hard at work on a new novel, a novel that I can’t wait to tell you about as soon as I can, a novel I love having as a secret for now, a novel that inspires, excites, and surely will challenge me as a writer. If this blog seems too quiet in the coming months, please forgive me, but think of me, maybe, off on writing retreat in a cabin in the woods (as I will be in June) or tucked away in a back corner table at the café (as I will be for the rest of this month, and after June), and send good drafting thoughts my way. I have a deadline for my first draft, and it’s in the fall.
In the meantime, I don’t know what’s next for this little space of mine on the web. Maybe I’ll go back to blogging about my own writing process again while I’m writing this new novel… or maybe I’ll be quiet for a bit while I save all my words for the draft. I can’t know what I’ll do yet. You might see a lot of me on Twitter and have no clue that anything is different. You might not see so much of me as you did before. I may keep more things to myself.
I’m not yet sure how things will change, only that I know they need to change for a short while because I feel like being in a quiet little cocoon.
I do want to say I’m sorry to the authors—especially the debut authors—who I would have loved to help promote this summer. There are so many 2013 debuts coming out that I’m excited to read, and I’m sorry I won’t be continuing the debut series. I may post a couple guest posts from author friends who have books coming out this summer, but beyond that I don’t think I have the time or energy for much else.
I’ll tell you, though: I’ll miss the feeling of connection—and the writer friends I’ve made, thanks to this blog.
But this seems to be a good opportunity for me to reassess and take some time for quiet.
In the meantime, thank you for reading.
Thank you for writing guest posts for me.
Thank you for welcoming me as a part of this great book community.
I’ll be back—and as soon as I have news to announce, I’ll share it here.
This summer I may be quiet …. But you’ll be able to find me in person in three places, if you’re so inclined.
June 24… Asheville, North Carolina. I’ll be at Malaprop’s Bookstore on Monday, June 24 at 7pm with two other YA authors, Stephanie Perkins and Beth Revis. Who knows when I’ll ever be in the area again, so I hope you’ll come by if that’s close to you!
July 11… Dallas area, Texas. I’ll be taking part in a teen author event at the Irving Public Library in the Dallas area on Thursday, July 11… details and other featured authors to come. This is my first-ever visit to Texas!
August 21… New York City. I’ll be reading in my home city with Libba Bray, one of my most favorite authors, in the KGB Fantastic Fiction series on Wednesday, August 21.
See you there, maybe?
Filed under: confessions, distractions, first-drafting, novels, writing
The Belmar Public Library invited me to attend so I could read my book to school kids as part of the event. Of course, I said "yes".
Turns out that there's going to be a BIG to-do on Wednesday, including the schools closing early (or at least running field trips) so that the kids can all be there for the grand (re)opening, and a visit from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. And sometime after he's done speaking, I'm supposed to read AT THE BOARDWALK to some subset of the school kids.
I am going with "Chris Christie is my opening act." Also, I am wishing I had someone to tag along with me to take photos during the event. My sweetheart is teaching classes, and can't make it, and Maggie has a full school day. Anyone? . . . Buehler?
- Current Mood: nervous
- Current Music:White & Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic (brainradio)
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations
This week 6000 people attended Canada’s largest children’s literature event, the Forest of Reading, Festival of Trees—two days of award ceremonies, writing workshops, author signings, and other exciting activities that celebrate the shared experience of reading.
Child readers from participating schools across the province of Ontario chose the winning books. The awards in each age category are named for a different Canadian tree, and the winner plaques feature original art by a child reader.
|Blue Spruce award winner Martin Springett|
2013 Blue Spruce™ Award Winner (K-grade 2): Kate and Pippin by Martin Springett and Isobel Springett (Puffin Canada/Penguin Group)
2013 Silver Birch® Express Award Winner (grades 3-4): Margaret and the Moth Tree by Brit Trogen and Kari Trogen (Kids Can Press)
2013 Silver Birch® Fiction Award Winner (grades 5-6): Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Scholastic Canada)
2013 Silver Birch® Non-Fiction Award Winner (grades 3-6): No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs by Rob Laidlaw (Pajama Press)
2013 Red Maple™ Fiction Award Winner (grades 7-8): The Vindico by Wesley King (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/ Penguin Group)
|Red Maple Non Fiction winner Bill Swan|
2013 Red Maple™ Non-Fiction Award Winner (grades 7-8): Real Justice: Fourteen and Sentenced to Death by Bill Swan (James Lorimer & Company)
|White Pine winner Jeyn Roberts and nominee Lena Coakley|
2013 White Pine™ Award Winner (grades 9-12): Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Le Prix Tamarac 2013 (French language fiction, grades 5-6): Le mystère des jumelles Barnes by Carole Tremblay (Bayard Canada Livres)
Le Prix Tamarac Express 2013 (French language fiction, grades 3-4): Billy Stuart: 1. Les Zintrépides by Alain M. Bergeron and Sampar (Éditions Michel Quintin)
Le Prix Peuplier 2013 (French language fiction, grades K-2): Le zoo de Yayaho by Geneviève Lemieux and Bruno St-Aubin (Bayard Canada Livres)
Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College.
She became interested in young adult literature when she moved to Toronto, Canada, and began working for CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, where she eventually became the Administrative Director. She is now a full-time writer living in Toronto.
Witchlanders, her debut novel, was called “a stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews. It is a Junior Library Guild selection and an ABC new voices selection.
See also New Voice: Lena Coakley on Witchlanders.
|Read the novel by Suzanne Collins|
From the promotional copy:
"'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a 'Victor's Tour' of the districts.
Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.
"'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' is directed by Francis Lawrence, and produced by Nina Jacobson's Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the second in a trilogy that has over 50 million copies in print in the U.S. alone. 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' opens Nov. 21."
Today is National Sea Monkey Day. No, I am not making that up.
I am bummed that I missed Lumpy Rug Day (the 3rd), No Socks Day (the 8th, followed by Lost Sock Memorial Day on the 9th), and Dance Like a Chicken Day (the 14th). Must pay closer attention to holidays.
What are you celebrating this week?
Here is Tracy explaining her process:
Below, I’ve included some of the steps I used to draw and paint the “Watermelon Barrette”.
- Draw the design, scan it, and then reduce the drawing to fit the surface.
- Trace the design onto tracing paper.
- DecoArt Americana Acrylics.
- DecoArt Matte Varnish Sealer.
- Krylon Matte Finish Spray.
- Brushes—1/8” and 1/4” Stipplers, #1 and #3 Round, 3/4” Wash, #2, #4, and a #10 Shader, #6 Filbert, and a #10/0 Spotter.
Wood Surface Preparation:
- Sand the wood barrette with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper.
- Remove the dust with a tack cloth.
- Apply one coat of DecoArt Matte Varnish Sealer.
- Allow to dry, sand, and then wipe clean.
- Paint the background with at least three coats of paint.
- Center the tracing over the barrette.
- Slip the dark blue dress-maker’s paper under the drawing, and then
- Trace the main pattern lines with a stylus and/or a pencil.
- Use a 1/8” Stippler to drybrush small areas.
- Use a 1/4” Stippler to drybrush large areas.
- Dip the brush into the desired paint color.
- In a circular motion, wipe off the excess paint onto an absorbant paper towel.
- In a circular motion, applying slight pressure, begin in the darkest area and move toward the lightest area.
- Follow the above steps until the desired results are achieved.
- Let the piece cure (I wait three days).
- Apply one coat of DecoArt Matte Varnish Sealer.
- Let dry (15 to 30 minutes).
- Lightly sand with a brown paper bag.
- Apply at least three coats of sealer, sanding between each coat.
- Spray with Krylon Matte Finish.
Did you go to school for art?
No, not unless you count the “How to Paint” workshops I signed up for in 1991.
What types of things helped you to develop as an illustrator?
In 1994, a published picture book illustrator encouraged me to draw my own designs. So with shaky fingers, I picked up a pencil and gave it a whirl. And voila! The fabric tree and snow mama was my first design, and I painted it on slate.
I continued studying “How to Paint” books, and then with three years of drawing and painting practice under my belt, I designed “How to Paint” pattern packets. During that time, I attended a Tuesday morning group for young moms at a local church. The moms loved my designs, and they invited me to teach on Tuesday mornings. One of the designs I taught them, Noah’s Flying Angels, was painted on a wood piece.
My confidence bloomed like the flowers in my garden, and I decided to sell my expanding portfolio. Without access to the Internet, I packed up my car and traipsed all over Southern Ontario, begging and pleading with store owners to stock my designs on their bulging shelves. Krafty Kennedy’s, a store in London, Ontario, took a chance and purchased my packets. Wait, it gets better. They even asked me to teach workshops. A few years later, I became a “Big Brush” teacher at national painting shows in Toronto and London, Ontario.
Here is a pattern packet design.
What was the first piece of art you did where someone paid you?
A small marketing company hired me to design thirty cards. I recently revamped “Gone Fishing” to create a Father’s Day card.
Did you start out doing interior design work?
It wasn’t until 2004 that I received accreditation as an International Design and Decorating Professional. I then obtained my Staging, Color Consulting, and Professional Organizing designations. While I was running my decorating business, QC Design School approached me to tutor students and, later, to facilitate Color and Professional Organizing workshops. I’ve recently cut back on my decorating services to allow more time to pursue my new love…writing.
What are your favorite art materials?
Hmm…I don’t really have a favorite. I paint on many surfaces—illustration board, slate, tin, wood, and canvas.
Here is a “Musical Angel” I painted on a CD box.
Have those material changed over the years?
Yes, I’ve discovered Copic markers, which I must say are not forgiving. To avoid making mistakes, I test the markers on scrap paper to ensure I choose the correct tint, tones, and shades. The upside, I reduce my painting time in half.
Here is a very rough sketch for the painting below.
Once the idea takes shape, I redraw each figure, scan it, and then enlarge or reduce each element until I’m happy with the placement. I then transfer the final drawing onto Strathmore WindpowerTM smooth finish, acid free Bristol.
How long have you been illustrating?
I seriously began illustrating in 1994, so that means almost twenty years!
I like your note cards. How did you start creating and selling them?
Thank you, Kathy. Some of my three-dimensional wood designs were the inspiration that lead me to produce a line of square-shaped greeting cards, which I submitted to the Thirteenth Uniquely Ontario Creative Arts Show in Toronto, Ontario. My cards were judged on design, workmanship, promotional materials, and saleability. After receiving a score of 92 out of 100, I was invited to participate in the show that assists in the growth of Ontario’s best home-based entrepreneurs. I was disappointed I didn’t receive 100.
Kathy, I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment. Regal Gifts hired me to create A Country Charm Collection, reproduced on wrapping paper and gift cards.
Here are just four designs.
My confidence soared. I queried a well-known calendar company in Markham, Ontario. Rejected, I sulked, unaware God was still at work. A few months later, I received a call. My name had been passed on to Zebra Publishing. They hired me to design a “baby’s first year keepsake” calendar, and the following year, a “twelve-month folk art” calendar. Both calendars sold like hot cakes in mom-and-pop bookstores, Chapter’s bookstores in Canada, and Barnes & Noble in the U.S.
It looks like you have written and illustrated a children’s book. Can you tell us a little bit about the book?
Our Story—You & Me is much more than a children’s book. It’s also a record-keeping book sprinkled with quaint quotes that will appeal to mommies and expectant mommies who want to capture the milestones of their baby’s first year. The book is unique in that it elevates a record-keeping book to an early-reader storybook a mom can read to her child, and uses a child’s natural curiosity about their first year of life to help interest them in reading. In the years to follow, mom and growing child will giggle together, poring over candid photos of things like a toothless grin, wobbly first steps, the ultrasound, and other special moments. This fifty plus page book mirrors my calendar art and will make the perfect baby shower gift.
Do you have plans to self-publish?
I’m on the hunt for an agent.
Is illustrating children’s books a new direction for you?
It sure is.
Have you ever illustrated something for a children’s magazine?
I haven’t pursued that avenue yet, but I have been published numerous times in American and Canadian “How to Paint” magazines.
Here are two tear sheets.
The drawing and painting instructions for the “Musical Angel CD Box” are similar to the “Watermelon Barrette”. Below, I’ve listed the differences.
- DecoArt Walnut Gel Stain.
- Krylon Matte Finish Spray.
CD Box Surface Preparation:
- Prep the box as per the previous instructions, paint the base Napa Red, paint the lid Antique White, and then paint the edge Deep Teal (apply at least three coats of paint).
- Drybrush the Deep Teal area with Blue Green, and again with Deep Teal plus Buttermilk to brighten.
- Apply scotch tape 1/4” from the edge, and then paint the border Country Red.
- Paint corner squares Lamp Black.
- Dilute the gel stain with water, and then apply with a foam brush. Wipe the excess stain with a cotton cloth. Let dry.
- Spatter with Burnt Umber and again with Lamp Black.
- Trace main pattern lines onto the lid.
Color Worksheet 1:
Color Worksheet 2:
What have you been doing to get your artwork noticed?
I have an online whimsical shop over at http://www.tracycampbell.net/shop.html and a website over at http://www.tracy-campbell.artistwebsites.c
Have you made picture book dummies to show art directors, editors, and reps.?
Do you have an agent?
I’m hard at work querying agents.
Do you ever use two different materials in one illustration?
Not materials per se, but here’s another style where I used a Micron pen and watered down acrylics.
The above piece was painted on illustration board. The process is the same as painting on wood, except I don’t have to prepare the surface. I just transfer the line drawing, ink the design, and then apply watered down acrylics.
I also paint on Paper Mache items.
Have you seen your style change since you first started illustrating?
Oh my, yes! My earlier drawings and paintings were stiffer than my ironing board.
Have you gotten any work through networking?
Yes, from author extradornaire, Susanna Hill. She purchased designs for her online course—Making Picture Book Magic. Take a peek over at http://www.susannahill.blogspot.ca/p/mak
Do you do any art exhibits to help get noticed?
Not at present.
Are you open to doing illustrations for self-published picture book authors?
Not at the moment. I’d like to concentrate on illustrating my own books.
Do you use Photoshop?
Yikes! I hear the learning curve is steep and I’m not getting any younger. I do scan my artwork, and manipulate my designs with Microsoft Publisher and Paint. Here’s one I reconfigured.
Do you own a graphic tablet? If so, how do you use it?
How much time do you spend illustrating?
Not as much time as I’d like. Some days I work on marketing, other days I write and/or paint.
Do you have a studio set up in your house? Where do you live?
I have a second-floor studio in my 1841 farmhouse, nestled high on a hill in a secret location.
Is there anything in your studio, other than paint and brushes, that you couldn’t live without?
My art and writing reference books.
What are your career goals?
My career goals are to find a literary and/or art agent, finish writing two picture books, polish my middle grade novel, and continue creating art that one day will appear on home décor and giftware items. Lord willing.
What are you working on now?
Besides tutoring, I’m querying agents, blogging, writing a rhyming picture book, and adding art to sell on my website.
Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
I love dark blue dress-maker’s paper. I lay my line drawings over the transfer paper, and then I use a stylus to trace the design onto any surface I like. The beauty of this paper is that as soon as you add ink or water—poof—the lines disappear.
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?
Don’t be afraid to try new things, step out of your comfort zone. As Will Rogers once said, “If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple: Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.”
Thank you Tracy for sharing your artwork and process with us. We will be watching to see how you develop your style to illustrate picture books.
If you want to see more of Tracy’s work or follow her in the future, her website is www.tracycampbell.net. Please take a minute to leave Tracy a comment. It is much appreciated. Thanks!
Filed under: authors and illustrators, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: 3-D wood designs, How to Paint, Interior Design company, Magazines, Tracy Campbell