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Posts Tagged ‘Illustrating’

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Statue-ChildReading

With the annual New Jersey Society of Children’s Books Writers and illustrators (NJ SCBWI) June Conference on the horizon one has to think – there is something so amazing about so many individuals all streaming into one location from all over the country for a single purpose – to share, to learn and to grow in the one thing that unites us all – children’s books. We meet old friends and make some new, share and see amazing illustration, and have the opportunity to sit in workshops and at lunch tables, not just with our peers, but with editors and agents from some of the finest publishing companies and agencies in the U.S. Cheers to us all!

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FusedGlassVotive2The journey of writing and illustrating children’s books, as in any serious endeavor, has been packed with a wide variety of experiences. The learning curve has been tremendous between a writer’s critique group, caring support from fellow writers and artists, and the many opportunities to grow offered through the SCBWI, (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.)

Conferences, workshops, individual critiques and sometimes just time to sit down and talk with professionals in our field have given us all hope and sustained us on the road to being published and beyond.  I consider myself very fortunate that, in the time I have belonged to the SCBWI, my New Jersey chapter has been extremely pro-active in providing so many ways to become involved in the world of children’s books.

Our current NJ SCBWI Regional Advisor recently put together a really fun workshop at the Fire Me Up glass studio. It was a chance to create something new and to also sit down and brunch with the Executive Editor of Children’s Books at Sterling Publishing of NYC, Meredith Mundy. And getting there early gave my friend and I the opportunity to sit right opposite her and talk about all manner of things. It was a friendly gathering of about 20 writers and artists in the children’s book field, some published, some not yet, trying our hand at a glass project while talking about our favorite subject.

FusedGlassVotive-Lit2After brunch and getting instructions about our projects, Meredith chatted with us, talked about changes in the industry, what Sterling was looking for as well as what she, in particular, was looking for in terms of stories and subjects. And when our afternoon was done, we were each given our individual critiques of whatever manuscript we had submitted ahead of time.

Meredith’s critique was very helpful and included wonderful insights and detailed suggestions for improvement, really challenging me to expand the ideas I was already working on, while acknowledging what I’d already accomplished. What a treat! I have since been working hard on my MS, getting ready to make a pacing dummy, and sketching my main characters for still new insights.

And what about the fused glass project? We had a variety of options to choose from, and I took a fairly simple one so I could focus on the conversation around me. (You don’t want to lose attention when you’ve got such a talented Executive Editor sitting across the table!) One of the options was a glass votive holder, and as a candle lover, this seemed perfect. So with an 8″ square piece of clear glass and a variety of jewel-colored glass in the form of spaghetti, linguine, flat marbles, small chunks and other possibilities, I made what you see here. TaDa!

If you are an aspiring author or illustrator in the area of children’s books, I encourage you to look into and join the SCBWI, take a look at what’s going on in your own state, get involved and amp up your learning curve and grow!

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WHAT A FABULOUS CONFERENCE!!

I don’t want to lose one minute of the excitement and inspiration. However … I know I am not alone in coming home from a weekend of total immersion in children’s books at the June NJ SCBWI Conference to find that life “as we knew it” is alive and well and waiting for us at the door. Kids and pets, bills and deadlines, meal prep and taxes …. they really did only disappear for those two (or three) fabulous days. And how wonderfully inspiring those days were … and with all our food cooked for us, too. Ahhhhh.

So now we’re back. And as has been true in each year past, the challenge remains … to not lose the forward momentum that was inspired by meeting with agents and editors, art directors and other faculty, and sharing with our peers. I believe most of us come with certain goals in common and with certain individual goals as well. I believe that all of us come to find the avenue – or additional avenues – to be published, and/or represented by an agent, and to bring our writing and illustrating talents to the eyes and ears of children and young adults.

Some of us come looking for the first steps towards that goal … information about the field of children’s book publishing, and others for the nitty gritty of how we can get further along the road. I came with my own missions as did you. One of mine was to get guidance on a particular story I’ve been working on, and I was richly rewarded by the insight of the agent I chose to meet with on that and on other aspects of my work. I came to learn more about how I could improve my illustration and my portfolio, and was rewarded in several ways, some quite unexpected.

I came to be inspired. I came to be reminded, following a very difficult year, that despite all challenges, I am a children’s book author and illustrator. I am. Having a published book in my hand is not what defines me; but yes, it is the significant mark of progress and success along my path to which I aspire. I came to gather the momentum I needed to move forward and become, in more and richer ways, who and what I am.

I suspect, no matter how you choose to phrase it, that that is why you attended the SCBWI Conference as well … to be who you are. May we all find the inspiration, from both without and within, to follow our path and be able to say and believe … I am a children’s book author and illustrator.

Soon … some tips in keeping our dream alive!

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