Tuesday, December 11, 2012

F&Gs of my picture book

Guess what came in the mail from Random House? The F&Gs of my picture book, PENGUIN CHA-CHA! Yay!!!

F&G means "folded and gathered." They are sheets from a print run, folded, cut, and gathered together but without binding them together and without the hard cover that the final book will have. It shows us what the final pages will look like, so the publisher and I can approve the way the colors are printing and to see if we need to make any little changes before the real print run. Sometimes F&Gs are sent to reviewers before publication as well.

PENGUIN CHA-CHA is my first picture book that I've both written and illustrated; all the others I've illustrated but not written. So this one is extremely exciting for me. Yay for sneaky, dancing penguins!

The publication date will be October 2013.

Monday, December 03, 2012


Sketching Stretching Puppies

Friday, November 30, 2012

CWIM Giveaway Winner

I wrote out all the entries, mixed them up in a box, and had a non-biased person pick the winner. Congrats to Nessa Morris! You've won a copy of the 2013 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market!

Sending Art Promotional Postcards to Publishers for Children's Books

The second most clicked-on blog post I've ever written was about sending promotional postcards to publishers. So I thought I should devote another post to covering that topic in depth.

What is my most clicked-on blog post, you wonder? An illustration I did of Peter Rabbit for Theatreworks USA's production. You wouldn't believe how many people search the web for "Peter Rabbit" every day!

Back to promotional postcards. If you're an illustrator looking for work in the children's book industry, one of the ways to get your art considered is to send promotional postcards to publishers.

I would say the first step would be to go to a bookstore and read, read, read the kinds of books you want to illustrate that are currently being published. Learn how the illustrations interact with the text. Study the illustrations and the publishers. Write down the publishers of the books that you think match your own artwork. If you love drawing dragons and sword fights, then sending postcards to that publisher who seems to publish only baby bunny books would be a waste of postage. Writers, you do the same thing here to find publishers who would be a good match with your manuscript.

2008 postcard sent to publishers
Ok, now you have some publishers. Google their websites for submission guidelines. Some only take submissions from agents, but there still are a good number that will take unsolicited submissions. Also, check out more publishers listed in the annual book, Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM) and search their websites for a catalog of books to see if they would be a good match for you. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) also has a listing of publishers. I would highly recommend joining SCBWI if you want to write or illustrate for kids. I volunteer as a Regional Advisor for SCBWI because the organization has helped me so much with my career and continues to help me with marketing my books and making neat connections with publishing professionals. Join SCBWI, go to your local and regional events, get involved by volunteering, and meet friends in the children's book industry. So important!

Should you send postcards of your art or your whole portfolio or what? Read the submission guidelines of each publisher carefully. Some may only take email submissions. Some only want postcards. Some want to see more. The vast majority will accept postcards. Postcards are easy for them - no envelopes to open and no scary virus possibilities with attachments - and they can see at a quick glance if your art is something they'd consider. You MUST put a website on your postcard where they can see more of your illustrations. When I was sending postcards to publishers, I liked to have one illustration and my website on the front of the postcard. That way, if someone tacks it to a board, they have my website right there on the front. This postcard of the little drummer boy I sent in 2008 to hundreds of editors and art directors. Editors have a say in choosing illustrators too, so send postcards to editors and art directors who work with the kinds of books you'd like to illustrate at each publisher. You can find names in CWIM, SCBWI's lists, Harold Underdown's "Who's Moving Where" section, SCBWI conference faculty, etc.

2010 postcard sent to publishers
What illustration should you use on your postcard? Only what you want to illustrate. Of course, that makes sense, but really, be careful with this. If you don't want to draw bicycles, don't put an illustration with a bicycle on your postcard. The best image for a postcard is one that is narrative (children's books tell stories and so should your image), and that shows a character (children's books have great characters, not still lifes). If you're better at animals, show animals. If you're better at people, show kids. If you like to do both and both are high enough quality, show both.

What should you put on the back of the postcard? The rest of your contact info and you can list other books you've illustrated. You can also include some little spot illustrations like these penguins on the back of my postcard from 2010. I had written a manuscript about these dancing penguins and sent this postcard as an art sample. In case an editor would be interested, I included a line saying, "These illustrations are from my WIP dummy, Penguin Cha-Cha-Cha." There were a few editors interested who contacted me to see my manuscript after receiving this postcard! Another editor found the illustrations on my website and asked to see the manuscript and then acquired it! PENGUIN CHA-CHA will be published by Random House Oct 2013!!
Current postcard marketed to people buying books

Where do you get the postcards printed? There are loads of online printers. I've used Vistaprint and Overnight Prints with success. I've also ordered samples from PrintRunner and plan to order stickers and magnets from there.

What size? I like the 4" x 6" size because it's cheapest to print and mail. You can do larger sizes if you want to include more detail or info on it, but check with the post office to see at what point you need to buy a full price stamp instead of a postcard stamp.

The first trade children's book that I illustrated was a direct result of a mailing I did. I had sent art samples to Shen's Books that had a little Asian girl on them because I knew they were a multicultural picture book publisher. Right then they were looking for someone to illustrate CORA COOKS PANCIT and the timing was perfect! I had been sending illustrations out for some time before that bite, so don't give up if this is what you'd really like to do. I had been fine tuning my illustrations to work for trade books by attending SCBWI conferences and getting portfolio critiques by children's book art directors. Those critiques and conferences were instrumental in helping me develop my work along the way, and I still go to them to continue to grow!

Current postcard marketed to people buying books
Now I have an agent, the wonderful Linda Pratt from Wernick and Pratt Agency, so Linda submits for me. I still make postcards, but now my postcards are to set out at conferences and book signings. So instead of marketing my postcards to editors and art directors, now my postcards are marketed to people buying my books. I have one book per card and I list the awards and accolades, like on these postcards for THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN and CORA COOKS PANCIT. I also created a postcard for my upcoming PENGUIN CHA-CHA picture book, and had been handing that out at conferences and book signings. I'm about to update it with the typography from the cover of the book instead of the font on it, which was something I used on the postcard before my cover was finalized.
Recent postcard about my upcoming book

Best wishes on your postcards!

Note to conference planners: This is a subject that I would love to speak on at conferences!

(CWIM giveaway winner coming up later today!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Coloring Sheet

Here's a turkey coloring sheet for Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy it!

I love this time of year when we make a point to name our blessings out loud. Thankfulness is really an attitude of the heart that we're trying to teach our kids to have every day. Most days there's some little thing that doesn't go my way, and instead of getting frustrated and letting bitterness build up, I'm learning how to thank God. And when I stop and thank God, I slow down and notice other small joys. Right now my two toddlers are napping - what a joy! And when they wake, we'll carve yet another pumpkin and they'll laugh at it's funny face, and those giggles are pure joy too.

In the words of Junior Asparagus from Veggietales:
"I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!

For our home on the ground,
For His love that's all around,
That's why I say thanks every day!

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have,
That's an easy way to start!

For the love that He shares,
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!"

The Hart family printed my Halloween coloring sheet and sent me this picture:
Aren't they adorable?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2013 CWIM Giveaway!

Have you used CHILDREN'S WRITER'S AND ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET, also known as CWIM? It's a wonderful resource for those who write or illustrate for kids and young adults. It's updated yearly and has over 650 listings for publishers, agents, magazines, and more, including who to contact, how to submit your work professionally, and what they're looking for. It also has interviews and articles.

A new feature this year is a roundup with more than 20 SCBWI Regional Advisors who share their best advice on how to get your children's book published. I'm one of those!!!

CWIM is edited by the knowledgeable Chuck Sambuchino. I've asked Chuck some questions:

Kristi: In my own journey to being published in children's books, I had first sent art samples to publishers using the list of publishers in CWIM and was able break into illustrating children's books before writing them. When I began writing, I was hesitant and scared to submit my manuscripts to publishers. How does a writer know when they're ready to submit for the first time?
Chuck: In my opinion, a manuscript is ready for submission when it lacks any major problems. What happens is this: You write a book, and then you'll need to get other opinions on your writing -- be that from a professional editor or your own writing peers. These other readers will point out problems with the work -- e.g., how the writing is weak in the middle, or how the book starts too slow, or how the ending is not believable, etc. It is then your job to address these issues and try to fix them, one at a time. Once all the major issues of your book have been fixed, and readers start to respond to you with no more needed fixes, then I believe the book is ready for the world. 

Kristi: Now I'm blessed to have a wonderful agent, Linda Pratt, who submits for me. What can published writers and illustrators with agents still learn from CWIM? Do you consider CWIM a beginner's resource?
Chuck: It is certainly used mostly by beginners, but the book can be great for advanced, published authors, as well. Let's say you're a published author or illustrator who has made inroads in the book world -- but now you want to make more money writing for magazines. CWIM lists kids magazines. Perhaps you want to sell more books and build your writer platform through more public speaking. CWIM lists conference opportunities and contact names. Plus, it always has 120-180 upfront pages on the art and craft of writing & illustration. It's great instruction, and we must never stop learning. 

Kristi: Congrats on your new book, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM, coming out soon. Can you tell us a bit about platform and why it's important?
Chuck: Your writer platform is your visibility in the marketplace and your proven ability to sell books. A platform is built through success in arenas like a blog, social media, public speaking, media appearances, newsletter creation, article writing, networking, organizational contacts, etc. 
Platform is important because the number of publicists in the publishing world continues to dwindle. The pressure is now on for writers to be the lead marketers of their own books. In fact, nonfiction and self-published authors absolutely must have platform if they want their books to be successful. Fiction writers and illustrators not need platform, but do indeed want it -- because platform translates to book sales. And if you can personally sell more of your own books, you can make more money for yourself and also for the publisher. That makes you a more valuable, in-demand author that will get future book deals.

Since I've contributed to the 2013 CWIM, I'm holding a giveaway! Simply comment on this post by Nov 30 for one entry, and post a link to this blog in your favorite form of social media for an optional second entry (let me know in the comments). Leave me your email address or a way to find your snail mail address in case you win. Must live in the US.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Illustration Friday - Shy

From a WIP manuscript I've written. Her name is Wing. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Coloring Sheet

"I've got my eyes on you!"

Print them out, color them in, send me a photo, and I'll post them on my blog! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Upcoming Autograph Party

I'll be signing books at 4Kids Books & Toys, a super cute little store, on Saturday, Nov 10 with some other nice children's book authors. Please stop on by if you're in the area - it'll be a great time to buy personalized books as Christmas presents and to chat. Our SCBWI region is hosting this Autograph Party to celebrate our members' books that were published in 2011 and 2012. I love that we get to celebrate each others' books! Help us spread the news by copying this announcement to your own blog or Facebook:

I just created a Facebook page for my art and books: https://www.facebook.com/kvaliant

Time to put on a snuggly sweater and make some hot chocolate!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Illustration Friday - "Sky"

From book #4, THE ONE AND ONLY WILLA BEAN, in a chapter book series called Little Wings that I'm illustrating for Random House. This series is super sweet and fun! Here's the summary for book #4:

Every cupid has a one-of-a-kind flying friend, right? Wrong! Willa Bean has Snooze, an owl, but the new girl in school, Lucy, has an owl, too! And Lucy's owl is bigger, and maybe even smarter, than Snooze. What if Mr. Wingston overshadows Snooze at Noble Nimbus Day? Nope, nope, nope-ity nope. Willa Bean has to make sure Snooze is the best owl at Cupid Academy!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mom's Pumpkin Pie Recipe

My mom's pumpkin pie recipe is in my recent interview on Jama's Alphabet Soup blog, but I thought I'd copy it here too, since it's the time of year to eat, eat, eat pumpkin pie. Pumpkins play a role in the picture book I illustrated called THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN, and pumpkin pie is one of my all-time favorite foods. Not just any pumpkin pie, though. It has to be my mom’s recipe. The spices are just perfect in hers, and seem off to me when I try other pumpkin pies. I may be a bit biased, but try this recipe and see.
1-1/3 cup sifted regular flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup Crisco shortening
3 tablespoons water
Spoon the flour lightly into measuring cup. Combine flour and salt in mixing bowl. Add Crisco. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in Crisco until uniform; mixture should be coarse. Sprinkle with water, a tablespoon at a time; toss with fork. Work dough into a firm ball with your hands.
On a floured surface, roll dough to a circle about 1.5” larger than inverted pie plate (9-inch deep-dish for pumpkin pie). Gently ease dough into pie plate without stretching. Fold under the top edge to make it double thickness around the rim and flute it with your fingers.
“Pie pumpkins” are sweeter and less grainy than the usual jack-o-lantern type pumpkins. Grocery stores or your farmer’s market should carry them during pumpkin season. One pie pumpkin yields more than enough for one pie; I’ve gotten over 5 cups of pumpkin out of a bigger one.

Cut the pumpkin in half. I’ve found the best tool for this is a cheap, little, jack-o-lantern carving knife. Scrape the insides out using an ice cream scoop. If you’d like, save the seeds and roast them in the oven with a bit of salt, oil, and/or cinnamon or any spices. Mmmm…
You can cook the pumpkin several different ways: steaming, baking, pressure cooker, or microwave. I stuck mine in a microwave bowl on high for 15 minutes or until it’s soft enough to scoop out easily.
Scoop it into a blender or blend it using a stick blender until it’s smooth. Use 15 oz for the pumpkin pie recipe below. It comes to about 1 2/3 cup if you don’t have a kitchen scale.
15 oz puréed pumpkin (you can use fresh or canned pumpkin)
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix well sugar, salt, and spices in a small bowl. Beat eggs briefly in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake 40 minutes or until butter knife inserted near center comes out clean. Sometimes it takes a lot longer to bake if you use fresh pumpkin. Refrigerate leftovers. Yum…

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Interview & Book Giveaway

Have you seen Jama's Alphabet Soup blog? It's a blog combining food and children's books. What could be yummier!

I've illustrated a picture book called THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN by Janna Matthies. Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jama interviewed Janna and I on her Alphabet Soup blog about the book.

The interview is full of photos, heartfelt questions and answers, a video of Janna singing at our Bookfair, and of course recipes (including my homemade pumpkin pie!).  There's a delicious giveaway you can enter by commenting on the post - the publisher will give away 2 new copies of THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN. Head on over!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Highlights Illustrators' Party

Every year Highlights invites their illustrators and our families to their headquarters in Honesdale, PA for a delicious weekend. It's a lovely little town, and this is a gorgeous time of year to hit it with the falling leaves. The folks at Highlights magazine and Boyds Mills are so friendly and generous - what a neat company to illustrate for!

They fill our weekend with fun activities, but the highlight is definitely the costume party. These are illustrators creating costumes, right? So the costumes are creative and fantastic and totally overboard! This year the theme was Superheroes, and boy, we illustrators sure fancy ourselves Superheroes.

My last name is Valiant, which means we are Superhero Royalty.

When contemplating our outfits, I knew I wanted custom capes, belts, masks, and so on, but I don't sew. Instead, I found this magic tape called Stitch Witchery to secure the edges of the fabric without sewing; you iron the seams together. It can be washed, but I doubt it would hold up to too many washings. It worked great for all 4 of our belts and the girls' capes.

I cut our V logos from stiff felt and sparkly gold foam (about a dollar per sheet at Michaels) and hot-glued and hand-stitched them to our capes, belts, masks, and crowns.

For our masks, I bought a couple soft microfiber washcloths from the dollar store and used that instead of elastic - so much softer! I downloaded a free template for the shape of the masks.

To get double wear out of the costumes, we used them a couple weeks ago for our daughter's first birthday party and made it a Superbaby party!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Midsouth SCBWI Conference

The Midsouth SCBWI Conference last weekend opened with an Autograph and Dessert Party. I shared a signing table with Dan Yaccarino, and we chatted about building a career in children's books (really, he gave me advice and I nodded my head and tried to remember everything he said as I sipped wine and nibbled dessert).

Some tidbits from the conference:

Dan Yaccarino views sketchbooks as a place to dump ideas. Don't hold back and don't be afraid to fill it with mistakes - it's not precious.

In one breakout, Martha Mihalick commented on the first page of our picture book manuscripts. Something that came up a number of times was that we need to convey what's at stake for our main character. In a picture book, we should know what the conflict or problem is by about the fifth sentence.

In a panel on marketing: If you're interested in doing school visits, write the descriptions of your presentations to appeal to curriculum-based teachers. A lot of states have their core curriculum standards online for each grade. Use that same language in describing what your presentation can do for the students. Dan said he makes it as easy as possible for schools by listing everything on his website: fees for school visits, equipment needed, a high-res author photo, videos, ordering info for his books, and descriptions of his presentations. I found this especially helpful since I plan on marketing my school visits more next year when my PENGUIN CHA-CHA picture book comes out.

For something different than what I write and therefore different than what I normally hear at conferences, I took a breakout by Sarah Davies on How to Write a Great Thriller. Some of it could definitely apply to picture book writing. Sarah told us that a book could have all the action in the world, but without heart, it's dead. So true in writing for any age. And another great Sarah tidbit: The best fiction doesn't just tell us more about the character, it tells us more about ourselves.

In Martha Rago's breakout, she gave us questions to ask ourselves about the work in our portfolio. A few I want to look into are:
Does my portfolio show my passions?
Does my portfolio reflect where I want to go with my art?
Is all the work in my portfolio the kind of work I want to get?

Kristin O'Donnell Tubb and her editor, Liz Szabla, gave a most informative talk, and I think everyone in the room came away with pages of helpful notes on revising. Wow, those two were great. Revision Tip #2) Sum up your story in one word. For Kristin's novel, THE 13TH SIGN, her word was "change". For her novel, SELLING HOPE, her word was "hope". Do all your details throughout the story support that word? Do your setting and your turning points portray that word?

Julie Danielson from the blog, SEVEN IMPOSSIBLE THINGS BEFORE BREAKFAST (love her blog!), gave an inspiring breakout on picture books. Quote from Charlotte Zolotow, "Writers writing about children are looking back. Writers writing for children are feeling back." Children have more immediate and intense emotions than adults. They're trying to make sense of the world. We have the wonder taken out of our lives as adults. Everything is new to kids. And yet, as Maurice Sendak said, "Children know everything."

My favorite part of the weekend was seeing old friends - writers and illustrators whom I've grown up in my craft alongside - and celebrating their professional and personal successes with them. What a neat group.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Indiana SCBWI Illustrator's Day

This last weekend, Indiana SCBWI hosted an Illustrator's Day. Our Illustrator Coordinator, Sharon Vargo (in purple and black in the photo), did most of the work for it and it was a lovely time!

We have dozens of illustrators in Indiana SCBWI (20-some came), but we feel like we don't them very well, so we started with having everyone introduce themselves and show us a bit of their work. What great artwork! Throughout the day we had 4 speakers:

Nathan Clement (the tall guy in the photo) spoke on how his first picture book was acquired and working with his publisher on the next 2 books. We also got a peek at his process for illustrating in Adobe Illustrator.

Michele Farley (sparkly blue shirt front and center) was on the 2012 Caldecott Committee. I could listen to her for hours! She gave us a humorous and insightful glimpse into how it all works and why she loves certain picture books. We also heard why some beautifully illustrated books ended up not being eligible for the Caldecott (on one they found out the illustrator resided outside the US, on another they decided it was more of a book with pictures rather than a picture book, etc.)

Patrick Girouard (other guy) shared about the various markets that children's illustrators can find work in. He's done just about everything, and urged us to look at anything that has an illustration similar to our style on it and contact the people who made it. Easy enough way to market.

Jennifer Zivoin (dark hair) discussed the process of finding and working with an art rep and how to figure out if you're ready for one or even if you need one.

4Kids Books in Zionsville let us use their meeting room, and because of a regional grant from SCBWI, we were able to offer this Illustrator's Day including lunch for free for our SCBWI members. How cool is that!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

SCBWI Baby Quilts

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a huge organization started by Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser. Now, Steve's daughter and Lin's daughter-in-law both work at SCBWI and are both pregnant. So some of my fellow, sneaky Regional Advisors asked some children's book illustrators to create art pieces to be made into quilts to give to the new mommies this weekend at the SCBWI International Conference. They turned out simply gorgeous! 

I was thrilled to illustrate a square on each and stunned when I received the photos and saw my humble penguins dancing next to Strega Nona (illustrated by Tomie dePaola - yes, THE Tomie dePaola) and Grover (illustrated by Laurent Linn who worked on Sesame Street). Whoa!!!

I'm sure you can figure out some of the other contributors by their well-known characters. Here's the full list from Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld, the head secret organizer of this:
Dan Yaccarino, Fred Koehler, Frank Remkiewicz, Henry Cole, Kristi Valiant, Mark Teague, Paul Zelinsky, Dan Santat, Marla Frazee, Priscilla Burris, Linda Shute, Kathy Blackmore, Janeen Mason, Laurent Linn, David Diaz, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Richard Jesse Watson, Christina Tugeau, Jeni Reeves, Loreen Leedy, Mary Ann Fraser, Jamie Temairik, Julie Paschkis, Elizabeth Dumbela, Pat Cummings, Leeza Hernandez, Brian Pinkney, E.B. Lewis, Ethan Long, Tomie de Paola, and Yuyi Morales.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Won a Marketing Grant from SCBWI!

Whoa, just found out tonight that I won a Marketing Grant from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) for my picture book, PENGUIN CHA-CHA, that's coming out next year! How totally sweet!! I have loads of fun ideas for marketing this book (book launch, blog tour, dance days, etc), and will post about marketing tips as I go along. I'm so thankful for SCBWI; they've been a huge helping hand in my career and now are even helping with marketing my books. What a smily night!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rhino Birthday Card

My 2-year-old and I made this rhino birthday card today. It's been so long since I played with paint and cut paper and lil' sticky dots. I had so much fun! Maybe we'll make another card together tomorrow.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bio flap

I've been working on my bio to go on the flap of my picture book coming out next year, PENGUIN CHA-CHA. 

Do you read author and illustrator bios on books? I sure do. I especially love to see where the author and illustrator live. I don't know why that's so interesting to me. Maybe because I plan children's book conferences and if someone happens to live near here, I go, "Ooooo... I should totally keep them in mind to speak at an event." 

Bios on book flaps are usually short - most seem to be 3 to 6 sentences plus websites - but I find them hard to write. I've been reading dozens of them this past week to see what works best and what is the most important info to list. Here's what I've found: 
1. First, I want to relate my flap bio to the story somehow. Say something witty about why I wrote the book or how I'm connected to the characters or theme of the story. 
2. Then I want to share a bit about my other books. 
3. Optional pieces of my bio might include my education (does anyone care?) and my leadership role in SCBWI. 
4. Then finish up my bio with where I grew up and where I currently live with my family and my room full of hippos, monkeys, and sneaky penguins. 

I like to see a photo of the author and illustrator on the bio flap; it helps me feel like I know them. I especially like it when the photo relates to the story. In BIG SISTER, LITTLE SISTER, the author/illustrator, LeUyen Pham, shows us a photo of herself with her big sister when they were kids. I guess that means I should include a photo or illustration of me dancing or playing with penguins or dancing with penguins. Oh, that'd be fun.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Illustration Friday - Shiny

My cover illustration for Little Wings Book #3: STAR-BUBBLE TROUBLE that just came out this month. I need to head to Barnes & Noble and see how the series looks all lined up on the shelf. I'll probably squeal and take pictures. Gotta celebrate, right?

Friday, June 01, 2012

Illustration Friday - Hurry!

I'm posting this piece again because it works for Illustration Friday's theme "Hurry!" (the father hurried to meet his returning wayward son and embrace him with joy), and also some of you have asked if prints are available, and I'm happy to answer yes!

My church, Christian Fellowship Church, in Evansville, IN will continue to sell unframed 8" x 12" giclee prints through their bookstore for $150. You can buy one by calling 812.867.6464 and asking for Sheryl Walts. The title of the piece is "Love That Lifts A Child." I've decided to stick with CFC selling my prints so that the commission goes to Olive Tree Arts, the ministry that hosts the art show I originally entered this in.

In other news, the Indiana SCBWI conference that I had been planning since some time last year was a couple weeks ago and was a fantastic success! We had the friendliest, most helpful faculty ever and I came away excited to revise my latest picture book manuscript. My favorite parts of the conference were seeing which illustrations the editors and art director marked as their favorite in each portfolio in the portfolio display and attending Jessica Garrison's picture book workshop where we filled out a Title Info Sheet on our WIP manuscripts comparing them to picture books on the market, coming up with selling points for them, and so on. If you write or illustrate kid's books or even want to, these SCBWI conferences are super encouraging, inspiring, and helpful.

I'm hurrying to make deadlines on other books I'm illustrating right now, including my own picture book, PENGUIN CHA-CHA, that will come out next year. I'm sneaking in people I know as extras in PENGUIN CHA-CHA and it's so much fun! Think of anyone and put them in whatever pose I want in the background of an illustration. Hee hee. Book 3 in the Little Wings series that I'm illustrating for Random House is now out and Willa Bean's antics are as funny as ever.

Hope you're enjoying this summer-y weather!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Prodigal Son - Best of Show!

Olive Tree Arts hosts an annual art show and sale each year. The theme of the art in this year's show needed to be based on the story of the Prodigal from the Bible in Luke 15:11-32. I created this piece and was floored when it won Best of Show! It's such a neat art show with over 100 pieces from different artists, so you get to see different perspectives on the same story through the different pieces of art.

Here's my inspiration statement on my piece:

What inspired me most from this parable was the father’s loving heart. The shadow represents the father’s view that his son will always be his little child. Even when his son basically said, “I wish you were dead and I had your money,” the father handed the money over without bitterness. In the culture of that day, the son should have been disinherited or even stoned. A father who loves his son that much had to have had high hopes for that boy. Did he pray for his baby son? Did he watch his son’s heart grow harder through the years? Did his own heart mourn for those younger days? When the rebellious son finally took some steps back towards the father, did the father run to meet him and lift him in the air with such overflowing joy that he couldn’t contain himself?

I believe he did.

And that’s the kind of love God has for us. An overflowing spinning and grinning kind of love.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Illustration Friday - Heights

I drew a quick color sketch while my girls were napping for the Illustration Friday theme, "Heights."

Hope you all had a lovely Easter and are enjoying spring!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Illustration Friday - Yield

Yield a crop of pumpkins!

This is from a picture book that I illustrated called THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN, written by Janna Matthies. It recently won the 2011 Best English Language Children's Book at the Sharjah International Book Fair - wow! And it's also been chosen for CCBC Choices 2012: The Cooperative Children's Book Center top children's book picks for 2012. It's being translated into Arabic and Danish. I hope I get copies of those!

Cancer affects so many families these days. This is such an important, hopeful book about one family's way of responding to Mom's breast cancer recovery. What an honor to illustrate.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Illustration Friday - Popularity

Willa Bean is instantly more popular because of her rare, polka-dotted, knotted arrow.

This is another illustration from a series of chapter books called Little Wings that I'm illustrating. Super-dee-duper cute books!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Little Wings Series

What is Harper whispering to Willa Bean? Oooo... the suspense! You'll have to read the book to find out!

I just received my illustrator copies of a new series of chapter books I'm illustrating for Random House called Little Wings. They just came out and are super adorable. Check them out!

Last week I visited NYC to meet my editors and art directors at Random House, to meet a few more publishers and my agent, to visit my brother, and to go to the big SCBWI Winter Conference with over 1100 attendees. What an amazing week! Random House even invited me to draw on their illustrator wall alongside some incredible illustrators - I totally geeked out.
"Really? Really? I can draw on your wall? Are you sure? These are all massively famous illustrators!"
I drew my dancing penguins from my upcoming picture book, PENGUIN CHA-CHA. Here I am with my editor for PENGUIN CHA-CHA and my dancing penguins on the wall next to Babymouse and Duck & Goose: