I haven’t been able to post for over a month. October was busier than expected this year! I have a lot more to talk about, but I want to get started by talking about Picture Book Palooza! https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/pbpalooza2020.html
Join the PB Palooza
Picture book Palooza is going into it’s second year. The cost for entry is only $20 and you get so much great information. This is a fundraising event so that Mira Reisberg can continue to give class scholarships to BIPOC, Disabled, LGBTQIA+, Low Income ect.! These scholarships are designed to help even out the publishing playing field. In many of the Children’s Book Academy classes students get to show their work directly to Editors, Agents and Art Directors. Students are all given an equal chance to showcase their work in front of these industry professionals.
What You’ll Learn
It feels like 100 years since last year’s event, but I do know that it was epic. I just learned so much from taking part of the event. There were so many wonderful presenters. Lots of fantastic conversations and a ton of learning. You’ll get a lot of your industry questions answered. The events are: 21st Century Nonfiction, Fiction From Life, Writing for Social Justice, Kidlit Community Resources, How to Write Funny, Fiction vs. Concept Books, Editor & Agent Panel, and an Illustration & Writing Panel. Plus a break out Zoom room where you can get all of your questions answered!
The information you’ll get in this event is equivalent to an event put on a bigger organization. You will find that the people invited have information that will help you no matter what your level in writing or illustration. The information given in this event is current and relevant to those just starting out and those who have been in the industry for a while. Take a look at the picture below and go to https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/pbpalooza2020.html to see the list of all the wonderful people involved with this event! There is also a full list of what’s happening when there too!
Why I Love the Children’s Book Academy
I have learned so much in taking the Craft and Business of Illustrating Picture Books! I have taken the class twice and am currently a helper in this past class (and will be a helper in future classes as well). I just love seeing people go from good to great in these classes. Every single person who does the course works ends up with a huge jump in skills from start of the class to end. Also I mentioned that you get to show your work to actual Agents, Illustrators and ADs after class. Not to just any publishing companies, either. These are a range of great companies (that vary every class) that could give you a huge advantage going into or continuing your illustration or writing career! Please join me for this event! If you missed the link before here it is again: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/pbpalooza2020.html
I published this and realized that I forgot to mention that I’m going in for sinus surgery on Monday August 10th. It’s a minor surgery, but I have no idea how I’ll recover from the surgery. I’ll try to set up posts for next week if possible, but it’s possible it may be a couple weeks before I’m able to post again (but that’s the worst case scenario).
I have a big announcement for Smart Dummies this year, but I will save this for a bit later in it’s own post. The only thing that I’ll say now is that the event will be a little different this week.
I need to go back and edit some of the images I was working on for my comic. I believe I’m done with the current ones, but the older images need some work. After that I need to add in text and edit the images I created.
I worked on a promo piece this weekend for the SCBWI spectacular. I like it, but I feel as though the coloring is not quite what I want to do for this, so I’ll be trying some other things before settling on a style. If I go with this one I’ll be developing the colors/shading further.
I’m currently reading Thorn by Intisar Khanani. It’s a wonderfully magical story about princess Alyrra who finds herself in an arranged marriage she has no say in. Though she does not want to leave her home, she is relieved to get away from her abusive brother.
Before she arrives at the castle a witch forces Alyrra into body of another person. She soon finds herself in the role of a servant cleaning up after geese and spending her time among common folk. Alyrra loves it all!
Alyrra doesn’t want her old life back. She may not have a choice where she stays, because the fate of the Kingdom may depend on her retaking her old body.
I am only halfway through this book and I do not know how things are going to end up! This is a wonderfully fun adventure. Here is a link to the book if you want to pick it up: https://bookshop.org/books/thorn-9780062835703/9780062835703
More Fun Stuff:
It’s been quite the week! I attended the SCBWI Summer Spectacular and it was Spectacular. Lots of great advice and fun with lots of wonderful industry people. Here is the link to the registration: https://www.scbwi.org/events/scbwi-summer-spectacular-2020/#event-registration
How about an LGBTQIA chat for kidlit? It’s happening soon. I’m still planning out the details with Jeanette Bradley. The first Twitter Chat is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday August 12th at 5:30pm PT/8:30pm ET with the hashtag #queerkidlit. Since this is a new chat there may be changes. I’ll officially announce the chat here in it’s own post when we get everything sorted out.
I’d like to formally invite you to join my discord server! This server is for both writers and illustrators! This app can be downloaded to your mobile device (both tablet and phone), used in the browser or in the discord app!
If you are old enough you’ll remember chat rooms. Discord is like that, but better! It’s like a whole chat house of different chat rooms that only select people can access! You never officially leave the room so you can get messages that occur when you aren’t online. You can also share files, images and gifs.
I think this server will be a great tool along with our Facebook group to keep our community active and better connected all year round!
This is a Private server, so please do not post on Social Media. I would like to keep it to just Smart Dummies followers so please don’t hand this out to everyone. Here is the link to the server: https://discord.gg/JQHZefz
This link expires after 100 uses. If you find that it’s not working please go to our Smart Dummies Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/548159692008535/
Or Spring into Writing here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1117605075090170/
I’ve talked about the Craft & Business of Illustrating Children’s Books several times, but I always felt like I had more to say. It wasn’t until now that I figured out just what I wanted to other people to know about the course. (Video is embedded below or you can go here: https://youtu.be/TBcMlOHDsDk)
This video highlights areas like the Facebook group, critique groups, webinars, the course itself, private critiques and golden tickets. There is also a section at the end that talks about putting your best foot forward in this class. Much of the info in putting your best foot forward is going to be useful information for any class!
After doing the audio for this I filmed myself coloring a drawing. I may change this into a presentation later, but wanted to get this out before the scholarships applications closed! I am sick in this video, so I’m sorry if any of this comes through on the video.
You can get a diversity scholarship for this course. There isn’t much time left! November 20th is the new extended date. There were not enough people who applied, so please take advantage of these. There aren’t many people applying so here is your chance to take advantage of this great scholarship! https://childrensbookacademy.teachable.com/p/rlpcscholarships
Ready to just sign up for the course? Go here and make all your kidlit illustration dreams come true: https://childrensbookacademy.teachable.com/p/the-craft-business-of-illustrating-children-s-picture-books
A Bit About Publishing
There are lots of places where you could get your book published, but sometimes finding the right place is hard!
In many cases finding an agent is extremely important. They can help you tweak your story for publication. Agents have a bigger pool of places to submit work to, so a person with a good agent will likely do better than a person without. They also can help you get better contracts, money and answer questions you need answered. If you are thinking about an agent, submit to agents first. They get back to you faster, and won’t be able to shop your manuscript to editors you’ve already submitted to on your own.
You can find an editor before you get published. There are a lot of great publishing companies that do accept manuscripts/dummies from individuals. Do your research on these companies. Publishing companies should pay you, and you should not be paying anything out of pocket!
The Book by SCBWI — A publishing guide with kidlit places to submit your work. Must be a current member of the SCBWI to access. https://www.scbwi.org/online-resources/the-book/
The Writer’s Market Books — A series of books created for writers and illustrators to get their books published. Recently acquired by Penguin Random House so the website may change. https://www.writersdigest.com/WritersMarket
#PB Pitch http://www.pbpitch.com/
Pitch Wars https://pitchwars.org/pitch-wars-schedule/
#MSWL (not a pitch Event) on Twitter (Manuscript Wish List). https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/
This is in no way a full list, but it will help you get started! Check out this post for more events and writing help: https://www.daniduck.com/writing-fun/
The Children’s Book Academy writing class is over, but there is time to sign up for her illustration class here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/p/the-craft-business-of-illustrating-children-s-picture-books
I find that starting a story isn’t really that hard. Maybe the sitting down and writing or drawing it is hard, but the actual coming up with an idea isn’t that hard. Okay, if we are talking about coming up with a good idea that’s hard. Coming up with a gem that can be taken from idea to finished product? That’s really hard.
It’s really not the idea’s fault, because any idea can be good or bad. I’m not putting all the fault on the writer or illustrator, because there are so many obstacles that get into the way of writing and illustrating. Some of these things we can change, and some not. I’m here as a cheerleader for you to do your best when you can.
Don't Worry About Winning
If you are not able to finish Smart Dummies in these two months, you are not a failure. Smart Dummies was never about the winning. The idea behind it is to encourage you to work faster, make some good daily habits and get a good start on your project. Your project is something you can continue working on in the future.
Don't Stop Drawing
Maybe you only get your character drawings done next month. Maybe you don’t get them finished until Christmas. You might only get ideas of what your character (or characters) look like and that’s okay. It’s still progress. If you start over you wont lose what you’ve already learned. If you just do one spread a month you’ll get your dummy done in about 12-16 months. Maybe you do one page a month, but that’s still a finished book in about 2-3 years. That’s more dummies finished than when you started!
Don't Get Mad At Yourself
There are times when I feel like a complete failure in life. I set out a goal to finish my work in a certain period of time and don’t come anywhere near to achieving my goals. The worst thing I do to myself is to punish myself for not achieving everything I wanted. I end up upset for days or weeks and those are days/weeks I can not work. Celebrate every milestone and always forgive yourself for making mistakes. Forgive yourself anytime you aren’t working. Some things will take priority to writing and illustrating! It’s okay to miss out on working. It’s also okay to get angry sometimes, but be sure to forgive yourself and move on.
Don't Give Up!
I can not tell you that you are going to be published. I can’t tell you that any of your publishing dreams will come true. I can tell you that there is no chance of you getting published if you don’t try.
No one should EVER tell you that you should give up. If someone tells you to give up the problem lies with them and not you. It’s possible that your work isn’t ready yet. That does NOT give them the right to tell you to stop.
Keep working and give yourself as much love as you can muster. This is a rough road we are on. I have a lot of friends who have been on the road 10 years or more who are just now getting published. It is possible. I’m going to give you a list of podcasts below that have helped me through some tough times. You should be able to find these wherever you get your podcasts!
Some of these podcasts may have content not suitable for children. Please let me know if there are trigger warnings that should be included because I can’t remember anything specific, but will not say that all of these podcasts are trigger free.
Artists Helping Artists – Fine Art, studio information and marketing/promoting your work.
Face the Truth – Interviews with people in all kinds of art fields from Comedians to Photographers.
Book Friends Forever – Books/Publishing – Lots of different topics covered in making children’s books.
Literaticast – Everything about books and publishing. Lots of great industry information
Picturebooking Podcast – Books/Publishing – Dedicated to exploring the world of picture books with wonderful interviews with writers and illustrators.
The Children’s Book Podcast – Books/Publishing – Interviews with those who create children’s books.
Comics Lab – Webcomics – Everything about making a living in comics, self publishing, some traditional publishing.
Graphic Novel TK – Graphic Novel -Everything about Graphic Novels from idea to making sales.
The Comics Experience Make Comics Podcast – Comic Book -Tons of comic information with interviews with lots of comic people.
3 Point Perspective – Covers everything you need to know about Children’s Illustration.
The Manuscript Academy – Writing- Covers different topics in writing through interviews with industry professionals.
Writing for Children – Writing – Short podcast with powerful tips to improve your writing.
Before you go into perspective or loose drawings make sure that you can visualize your pictures. If possible fix your problems in your thumbnails, because that’s when it’s easiest to make changes. Here are a couple of links for some great design principals.
Perspective is one of the necessary evils of drawing, but it’s not too hard to learn. The most important ones to learn is 1 and 2 point perspective. 3 point perspective is also fun, but most useful if you are drawing the tops of buildings/from an overhead perspective. Three point perspective can also be used to draw an object floating/above the ground.
I learned perspective in high school. We may have gone over it briefly in university, but being out of practice for so long makes remembering the finder details difficult. I’ve recently had to do a refresher myself to reacquaint myself with perspective. Instead of explaining it myself I’m going to give you links for 3 great videos and some extra explanation for one point perspective!
One Point Perspective: https://www.studentartguide.com/articles/one-point-perspective-drawing
https://thevirtualinstructor.com/onepointperspective.html (video and reading/pictures of what’s in the video)
Two Point Perspective: https://thevirtualinstructor.com/twopointperspective.html (video and reading/pictures of what’s in the video)
Three Point Perspective: https://thevirtualinstructor.com/threepointperspective.html (video and reading/pictures of what’s in the video)
It helps me to work on a full-sized loose version of all my drawings before I start on my finals. Some people find it helpful to use a copier or their computer to increase the size of their thumbnails and draw on top of that.
Some people work best going straight into their full sized work after they finish their thumbnails. How you want to proceed is up to you. If you aren’t sure at all how to proceed, please ask!
The finals can be somewhat sketchy. There will be some final images to include with your dummy so an editor/agent/art director can better envision the final book.
Due to a problem with my website I’ve had to cut out the book review for this week! I’ve got a great book for next week. This is from pages 12-13 of your book
What you’ll need for this project:
Pencils and paper, a mirror.
Other helpful things: camera or internet search
I did a quick video for you today. This is all about emotions. I drew a bunch of circles before starting this video and then made faces into my phone. This can be done on a sheet of paper.
Try making some faces of your own. After you are done try applying them to your own characters. This video has been sped up. Unfortunately there is no sound.
If you haven’t signed up for Smart Dummies you can do so here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019/
This part of the process is going to take a bit of research! First off take photos of someone who’ll pose for you, take pictures of yourself or look for poses on the internet. You can even get a video of people dancing and pause to draw beans from that! Look for poses you might use in your story. You might even find some poses you didn’t know you needed!
If you haven’t already look at this video so you can understand the bean method of drawing this video is from Proko: https://www.proko.com/the-bean/#.XXqiL9KJKUl
Practice drawing some beans of your own. Use the references you found and just practice drawing them in bean format. Fill up a sheet or two of beans. Once you do that then take your character and draw them in a few of those position not forgetting their facial expression for that pose.
Here are some of character drawing and emotions. The first one is of a character I did last year. He’s very cartoony and doesn’t have arms to express himself. It can be harder to express certain emotions with simple characters!
The second is a drawing I have yet to finish. It’s something I’ve just left too long so I would probably go back in and redraw if I wanted to use it for an illustration. Either way it’s good practice!
Note: I will not be doing a book review this week (and possibly next week) because I have several things I want to get ready for Smart Dummies this year! Interested in a critique group this year? https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5MCFDBL (Survey closes September 5th and is on a first come first served basis).
Before you start planning out your pages, I’m going to refer you to Marla Lesage’s post about Picture book Length: https://marlalesage.com/2019/08/12/picture-books-length-layout/ It’s important to know how long you want to make your story before you separate it out. This is for picture books, but a lot of the books you will be writing will use one of these templates. Creating a longer book? Make sure that the number of pages that you are creating are divisible by 8.
This year I’m doing Cinderella. I will be using the Cinderella published by George Routledge and Sons as an example. You can read the story here in many formats: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23303
While I will always strongly suggest that you have a fully finished text before you start planning out pages. Sometimes you wont have that text because you are working on a wordless book or you just work better visually. If this is you then you might want write down the important plot points and then separate these into pages and spreads.
A spread is 2 pages put together. When you have a book open in front of you those two pages are a spread.
Important Plot Points for Cinderella
The numbers by the plot points indicate the number of spreads I’d use for each of these plot points.
This version differs a bit from the Disney version. You can already start to see how you can break down this story into 14.5 spreads and 13 plot points. I have the number of spreads I would use in the right hand column to show you how this story would be divided
- Cinderella’s father remarries. (1/2 spread)
- Cinderella’s step mother and sisters are mean to her. (1/2 spread)
- The prince announces there will be a ball so he can find a wife. (1 spread)
- Cinderella told she’s not allowed to go to the ball which upsets her. (1 spread)
- Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother appears and gives her everything she needs for the ball (Cinderella must be back by midnight). (2 spreads)
- Cinderella meets the prince at the first ball. Because she’s so punctual getting home the Fairy Godmother is happy to let her go to the next ball. (1.5 spreads)
- The princess (Cinderella) at the ball is mysterious and everyone talks about her. (1.5 spreads)
- Cinderella falls in love with the prince at the second ball. (1 spread)
- Cinderella forgets about the time and rushes out of the ball at the last minute leaving her glass slipper. (1.5 spreads)
- Cinderella comes back in rags with only one glass slipper. (1/2 spreads)
- The prince looks for Cinderella with the one lost slipper. (1 spread)
- The slipper fits and Cinderella has the other slipper. (1.5 spreads)
- The prince and Cinderella live happily ever after. (1/2 spread)
If you have a manuscript you can write the pages/spreads directly on your manuscript. You can also go to page 18 of your booklet and write 3-4 words under each thumbnail describing the scene you are creating. This will help you visually plot things out. For some pages you are going to want to use 2 pages (or a full-spread) for creating your image. Make sure those two pages are next to each other in your thumbnails.