Friday Links Lists - 15 November 2019

From the SCBWI Bologna FB page: Why is SCBWI not going to be at Bologna in 2020?

From SCBWI-British Isles: Writing Knowhow: Writing Tension, also SPECIAL FEATURE Secret Steps to Success

From Myth & Moor: Wild Children

From Hachette: Get to know Children's Book Creator Todd Parr

From SLJ: Middle Grade Is too Young, YA too Old. Where Are the Just-Right Books for Tweens?


During portfolio reviews the other day, I mentioned to some of the students the:
5 Main Themes Most Ad Agencies Fall Into:
So, if you want to work for an advertising firm, make sure these themes are represented in your portfolio!

From SCBWI Carolinas: Monthly Newsletter, including the announcement of my upcoming webinar on "Getting Your Pictures Onto the Page"

One of our Ad Agency speakers on Tuesday mentioned Simon Sinek - here are his TED Talks. Another fave of mine is Seth Godin - visit his website and listen to any of his 100+ videos. They're both brilliant and all marketers/advertisers/world-changers should give them a listen.

From Muddy Colors: How to Match Any Color (with Oil Paint)

From Illustrator Eliza Wheeler: HOME In The WOODS—AHA Moment #1 (on book illustration)

From Thread, Fashion, and Costume: Cristina Arceneguibono WOW.

From KinderComics: Tillie Walden has a new graphic novel out! It's called ARE YOU LISTENING.

From SCBWI British Isles: Open Sketchbooks

From Ruth Sanderson: A video tutorial on coloring grey-scale coloring pages (which she offers in profusion at Goldenwood Studios)

From Good News Network: 9-Year-old Who Got in Trouble for Doodling in Class Now Has Job Drawing On Restaurant Walls

From Illustration: Preview Illustration #66

From The Directory of Illustration: Browse the Book

From Muddy Colors: J.C. Leyendecker in North Carolina


I've covered several picture books about Ada Lovelace, the woman who invented the computer. This latest iteration is by Zoë Tucker and illustrated by Rachel Katstaller (NorthSouth). She dropped by to talk about her lovely work...
e: What is your creative process/medium, can you walk us through it?
When I read a manuscript I usually start figuring out how the characters look like, what they wear and what color scheme the book evokes in me. Color is to me, one of the most important elements of an illustration.
      Once I’ve decided that, most of my illustrations start off as messy thumbnails, either digitally or with pencil in my sketchbook. Once I’m pleased with the idea I work out the details digitally and then print out the final sketch in the size I need it. I trace the details onto smooth watercolor paper using watercolor pencils and a lightbox. And then start with the fun part of applying color: first backgrounds with watercolors and gouache, then details with colored pencils and 5B pencils.
e: What was your path to publication?
A few months before going to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, I had taken part in a course in which Zoës story was featured. I developed the character and several scenes of Zoës text in that course. With feedback from Zoë I then went to the Book Fair and presented it to Herwig Bitsche at North South, who immediately clicked with the character and the story. Months later Zoë and I were meeting for the first time in person at the publisher’s in Zürich, it was a very beautiful experience indeed!
e: FAB! Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
While I was researching about London in the times Ada was alive, I came across a very interesting picture. It featured a carriage being pulled by zebras. Apparently there had been a gentleman in London who had brought zebras to show that they could be tamed. And I of course had to draw them!
e:What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
When I read “Heart Art” I immediately thought of art that touches you deeply. When a piece of art touches me deeply, is when a bit of the artist shines through the piece. You can see it in every stroke of the brush and line of a pencil. I find myself returning to look again and again at books that mesmerize me with the artists attention to detail, their use of color and unique way of working. It just tells a lot of the person behind the art.
e: How do you advertise yourself?
I have a lovely agent, Abigail Samoun, who does this for me. But I also am very active on Instagram and use every opportunity of going to Fairs to show my work and meet with potential clients.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Definitely dealing with the anxiety of not knowing whether new projects will come along or not. It is quite nerve wracking, but also one of the most exciting things: you never know what amazing new projects will come along, and it drives you to become better at what you do.
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Even though this story is about a strong little girl who became a woman with a genius idea, this would never have happened without an environment that supported her and allowed her to develop herself. In this day and age, where girls are still less privileged than boys, it’s important to think about how we as individuals can help support other girls to become the next Ada. And it’s not a job for girls only, it’s a job for everybody.
e: Indeed! What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I’m very much looking forward to writing and illustrating my first picture book, and crossing fingers that it happens soon!

Woodworks at The Mint

Vicky and I had such fun wandering The Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend. Neither of us felt rushed and we both had the desire to see every. single. thing! For instance...
I have such admiration for artisans who can work with wood. The brilliant furniture designs sent my heart all aflutter. Like this kinetic bench (above) by Joseph Walsh. Or this chair by his protege, Laura Kishimoto.
This chair by Nacho Carbonell blew my mind.
Then there was the Marlin by John Cederquist. It's colored with aniline dye and is an actual chest of drawers. Can you tell?

I also liked this pencil case by Randy Shull - he used actual pencils in the design. Goodness knows I have enough of those to keep him busy for a while!

This last one is a bit deceiving. They look like glass, but these are actually turned pinecones by Mike Shuler - gorgeous!
So, that's it for wood. Next post? Glass!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Koalas in a Coat

     It may be getting warm in the southern hemisphere, but in the northern hemisphere it's starting to get chilly! This was my #Inktober submission for "Coat." CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance, I'm celebrating the new illustrated (by me) edition of A BIRD ON WATER STREET! My debut novel won me "Georgia Author of the Year!"
Booklist said it's "A book deserving of a wide readership, recommended for all libraries."
If my news and images add value to your life, won't you please
Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.


On our second day together, Stan watched Ody, it was really hard work...
Vicky and I headed to downtown Charlotte and The Mint Museum. This will take a few days to share, but I'll start with the amazing exhibit by Studio Drift. It was called Immersed in Light and was an amazing installation of sculptures, both static and kinetic, tactile and projected. Here's what they had to say about it (click the image to read larger):
This first piece was called Amplitude.
It was a breathtaking, moving sculpture that resembled a giant, flying centipede in a way, and that I could have watched for hours. In fact, I made a recording, so I can! CLICK HERE to watch it in motion on Youtube!
     Another installation was called "Fragile Future."
These were tiny brass boxes with dandelion puffs inside each one, and an LED light inside each puff.
I can't imagine the time that went into this stunning piece.
     Do look at their website as it gives you a walk through one of their complete exhibits including the ones I shared above.
     This next piece wasn't part of the Studio Drift exhibit, but it was all about light, so I'll share it here. It was called "Joy of Transition" by Ayala Serfaty and was made of glass filaments, a sprayed on polymer membrane, and lights. Wow.
I'll share more over the coming days, so come back to see!

An Adorable Stop off the Road

Vicky and I found an adorable little cafe, The Garden Café in Historic York, off the roadside on our trip back from the produce stand.
It wasn't open for dinner yet, so we just wandered around for a bit enjoying the explosion of creativity the owner had poured into it.
I didn't get a photo of the airstream that was parked alongside it, dangit; or of the wedding pavilion that looked like it would easily transform into a romantic wonderland! But I did get the sweet vignette of pumpkins.
They're hosting a craft fair soon, and I think I'll have to head back. Join me?

VIDEO: Savior of Dogs

Watch this inspiring story of a man who is saving stray dogs in Mexico - saving the world one dog at a time. Click to watch on Facebook:

Vicky and Ody Visit!

One of the wonderful things about being back in the states is reconnecting with old friends. Here I am with my hubby, Stan, and my dear friend Vicky Alvear Shecter
She drove up from Atlanta, partly to see me, and mostly so that I could meet Ody!
He's a "Malta-poo" and weighs about 8 pounds, and he love, love, loved our fuzzy rug.
Even at his teeny size, you can't take doggies just anywhere, so we got creative with our destinations. First we hit a cider house. They had a band and it was super-crowded, so we went down the road to a produce stand that had a small, hand-made activity park. For instance, they had this awesome slide made out of a John Deer turbine.
And they'd done amazingly creative things with hay bales. There was the chicken...
and the Angry Birds (the sign says "don't climb on the hay bales," because, you know, it would make them angry)...
and there was the Piggy House!
We were having so much fun just walking around and talking, especially in the corn maze.
And we got silly with the straw men photo op.
Ody especially loved the chickens. Well, maybe love isn't the right description. HE was quite confused by the mini-raptors.
It was the perfect spot to hang out with a wee doggie and catch up on four years apart. So FUN!!!

Friday Links List - 8 November 2019

From Nathan Bransford: How to write a character whose background is not your own

From Little Brown School and Library: We Are Still Here: Thoughts on Indigenous Representation

New York Times Best Illustrated Books list is out. Here are the covers at 100 Scope Notes.

From The Bookseller: China and US tariffs dispute 'painful' for UK publishers

From The Federation of Children's Book Groups: Children Who Changed the World

From Brightly: 15 Great Read-Aloud Books for Older Kids

From The BBC: BBC Two's Great British Menu to celebrate the iconic food from children's literature

From The Bookseller: Collaboration 'critical' to addressing lack of diversity in UK children's publishing, says ACE


From The New York Times: The 2019 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books - with a great peek into the creators' studios!

From Winthrop University: Undergraduate Research Abstract Books and Compilations

Check out John Shelley's Inktober offerings - FABULOUS!: HERE and HERE

From Muddy Colors: Fantastic Arts Conference

From The Guardian: The illustrated city: Glasgow's disappearing independent newsagents: Will Knight documents the rich individuality of his local shops as they adjust their traditional offerings to stay afloat in the digital age

From Muddy Colors: The Month in Covers - October

From Muddy Colors: Raising an Artist: Art School Admissions

From Segre Premium: Mural gegant a Torregrossa (Catalonia)

From Muddy Colors: Greg Manchess on "10 Things...Contrast"

From Glowforge: Small Scale Dollhouse Miniatures

From Diamond: Comics Industry Celebrates the 2019 Ringo Awards

From The BBC: The man behind the Inktober viral drawing challenge

From NPR: Inktober Challenge Pushes Artists To Flex Their Creative Muscles

From Communication Arts: Photographer Cade Martin on finding the beauty in the unfamiliar

ICON 2019 Early-bird Illustration Conference tickets on sale now!

From Winthrop University, for students and faculty: Identify and Cope with Stress Workshop

From Communication Arts: Advertising to Save Us: The public service announcement (PSA) reminds us that advertising is not all bad.

From the York County Arts Council: Competitive Portrait Drawing

From Amnesty International: Posters that draw a parallel between weaponry and fashion

Vicky Alvear Shecter's WARRIOR QUEENS

My dear friend, Vicky Alvear Shecter has a new book out called WARRIOR QUEENS, and I can't wait for you to read it! You may remember Vicky from her book CLEOPATRA'S MOON, CURSES AND SMOKE, HADES SPEAKS, ANUBIS SPEAKS, etc. WARRIOR QUEENS is illustrated by the illustrious Bill Mayer, illustrator of many magazine covers like TIME, NEWSWEEK, and SMITHSONIAN, as well as several picture books, including THE MONSTER WHO DID MY MATH and HIDE AND SHEEP, also written by friends of mine. Both Vicky and Bill are from my old stomping grounds in Decatur, Georgia, home of the Decatur Book Festival and Little Shop of Stories. So, it is an absolute pleasure to have them both here today to talk about...
e: Vicky, what inspired you to write WARRIOR QUEENS?
As an ancient history nerd AND a feminist, it's frustrating to see what little record there is of extraordinary women in the ancient world. I'm just fascinated by the chutzpah it took for these women to not only rule their nations, but fight their enemies when challenged. Women have always been on the front lines!

e: Bill, what is your creative process/medium, can you walk us through it?
Everything starts off with thumbnails. Small layouts to help visually organize elements and compositions. Occasionally color suggestions if they're important to a concept.
      From there, tighter sketches to work out important details. On this project, the illustrations had to be extremely accurate historically. There was a ton of reference to wade through and organize. Costumes and weapons for each “Warrior Queen.”


e: Bill, what was your path to publication?
I went to Ringling when I was 17, where I met my wife, Lee, also an artist. We graduated three years later and moved back up to Atlanta where I got a job at a studio, Graphics Group. I worked at a couple of studios for about 4 years before going out on my own. It was a pretty easy transition. That was about 1976, been staying busy ever since. My first published piece would have been a drawing of a bicycle, for a promotional piece for the studio. A very small spot but I do remember how great it felt to see it in print.

e: Vicky, how did you feel about Bill’s illustrations when you saw them?
BLOWN AWAY. They are simply gorgeous and I love how he captured the women and their armies. His work is brilliant!

e: I was too - wowsa!


e: Bill, is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of these illustrations?
It was very difficult keeping all of the reference separated and accurate in six different time periods and six unique geographical areas. At one point, I tried to introduce maps into the sky of the illustrations to add some historical reference to locations, but this was rejected because it was going to require too much research to make sure the maps were accurate. Nothing particularly funny...

e: Vicky, did you have a favorite Warrior Queen?
I love all of them but I'd have to say my favorite is the Nubian Queen, Amanirenas. I love her because she delivered the biggest burn to the most powerful man in the world at the time (you'll have to read it!) and, in negotiations to end the war, managed to get everything she wanted. That is unheard of and speaks to her power. Also, she lost an eye in battle, so there's that!


e: Bill, what do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Sometimes it’s hard to write a rational explanation for a piece of work done a year or so ago. It’s strange to me, the process of painting spills in so much of it’s own momentum that I scarcely remember working on it. It’s like someone else is in control. It’s like a previous life experience.
      I'm always intrigued by art that surprises your eye, or makes you think in a way that you don't normally think. Illustrations with lots of details always leave something to come back to.
      For me personally, a great illustration comes from an uninterrupted creative process that allows you to move fluidly from idea to sketch to final. I do try to keep some enthusiasm toward projects I'm working on. Sometimes not finishing everything in the sketch can allow me to start fresh. Since the “style” we chose on this was similar to my sketchbook work, it was a challenge to keep them spontaneous.
      Miro believed that an artist shouldn’t look at his work when he paints, that only by blocking your vision can you reach your true inner self. I have to admit I peeked several times. Maybe it’s a deeply psychotic infatuation with death and the true desire to become literate, or maybe it’s just a portrait of a bunch of warriors hacking each other to bits...

e: Bill, how do you advertise yourself?
I have websites, blogs, ads in business publications, gallery shows, entering trade competitions, direct mail, I have a rep in New York, Tricia Weber (The Weber Group)
      Mostly I do good work for people, I'm easy to work with and the word gets around.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I love what I do. It's a tactile therapy of playing with materials. Playing and experimenting with new materials is what helps keep the work fresh after 40+ years. I think the key is to love what you do.


e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
The illustration of the queens riding on the back of elephants. One of the “Trung” sisters had huge breasts. They had to tie them behind their back when they rode into battle.

Trung Sisters

e: OMG! Bill, what are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
The one that's on my table now is always my favorite. Right now, I'm doing a label for a limited edition scotch. (The rare, $250-a-bottle stuff....) It's painting of a anthropomorphized pig in a top hat.
      But generally I love my work and anything I'm working on is my new favorite.

e: Vicky, how do you hope WARRIOR QUEENS will be used/loved?
My hope is that young readers will get hooked on history—especially ancient history—the way I was when I came across wild stories from the ancient world. Since most of this is not taught in schools, most young readers will never know about these fascinating and rich histories. And that's a shame!

e: Indeed! I'm glad you're telling them about it! Folks, you can read an excerpt HERE!