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KidLit411 by Sylvia Liu - 2d ago
© Kathryn Ault Noble

July 20, 2018 vol. 29


The Weekly 411 gathers all the links added to Kidlit411 each week. To receive this post by email, sign up for our email updates. Are you on Facebook? Join our Kidlit411 group for conversations & camaraderie. 



AUTHOR SPOTLIGHTS

Today we are pleased to feature author Bree Barton and her debut YA novel, HEART OF THORNS (KT/HarperCollins 2018 July 31, 2018).Enter to win a copy! 


cover design © Joel Tippie



We are also pleased to feature agent and author Lauren Spieller and her debut YA novel, YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT (Simon & Schuster, June 2018). Enter to win a copy!


© Cover Designer:
Jacket design by Krista Vossen
Front-jacket illustration copyright © 2018 by Rebecca Elfast
Picture frame and background rendering (front and back) copyright © 2018 by Customdesigner/Shutterstock
Back jacket illustration copyright © 2018 by iStock/Thinkstock




For Writers

How to Write Unique Themes 

Acronym Finder

alphaDictionary.com - links to foreign dictionaries with grammar information

Ask Jami: How Can We Use Beat Sheets with Short Stories?







Sept. 7-9  Create and Celebrate: Children's Books. 
Award winning authors and illustrators Jan Reynolds and Ashley Wolff  invite you to join them in Stowe, Vermont for a weekend of creativity and celebration, building publish-worthy children’s books. Between them, Jan and Ashley have 80 years of experience in the industry and are just bursting to share it with you. Enjoy gorgeous Stowe, when you will begin an idea, or submit finished work, to Jan and Ashley for personal feedback, and experience their insightful workshops, to polish your book. The bonds you will forge with the other authors at this event will last a lifetime, and these connections will carry you through future projects for years to come. Email or call Jan for details:  janreynolds (at) pshift (dot) com 

Oct. 12-14 Vermont Writers Roundtable Join experts Peter Lourie, Laura Backes and Steve Swinburne and an editor in a small high-level workshop for writing creative nonfiction. (South Londonderry, VT)



Aug. 15 PEN/Phylis Naylor Work in Progress Grant




  • What: apply for a $5000 WIP grant 
  • Who: writer of children's book or YA fiction in financial need with a previously published novel that has received good reviews but has not generated income to support oneself
  • Prize: $5000



Querying a Complicated Book: Dissecting the Elephant



Agent Query: a searchable database of established literary agents


FirstWriter.com searchable & category list of literary agents




SUPPORT KIDLIT411

If you enjoy this weekly update or our Facebook group of fellow authors and illustrators, please consider supporting Kidlit411. Any amount is appreciated.

  


Get this weekly update by email each Friday. We collect your email to send you the update and new posts when they go up.
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KidLit411 by Elaine Kiely Kearns - 2d ago


July 20, 2018


Today we are pleased to feature author Bree Barton and her debut YA novel, HEART OF THORNS (KT/HarperCollins 2018 July 31, 2018).

Enter to win a copy! Bree is also running a Preorder Prize Giveaway, where you get a free bookmark and a sneak peak at Chapters 1 and 2 and are entered to win other prizes.


cover design © Joel Tippie


Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.

Thanks for having me! I started writing stories when I was eight. Back then I wrote about teen characters because they seemed delightfully old. Now I’m the one who’s delightfully old! 

In some ways I think the stories we write when we’re young stay with us, maybe because they’re our first attempt at cracking open the coconut of the world. Case in point: when I was eleven I wrote my first fantasy novel—more of a novella, really—entitled The Island of CocoPux. The story followed a group of girls who flee an evil ruler and escape into the woods beyond the castle walls. Sound familiar? If you read the blurb for HEART OF THORNS, you’ll see why. 


Congrats on your debut YA novel, HEART OF THORNS. Tell us about it and what inspired you.

HoT was always about a girl who sets out to destroy magic—then discovers she has it. But that was only the skeleton. The flesh and tissue weren’t fully formed until after the 2016 presidential election. Suddenly I was thinking an awful lot about what it means to be a woman in a country that hates and fears you, a place where people who don’t look or act or love a certain way are oppressed. So I asked myself the question: What if magic developed in women’s bodies as a way to right the imbalance of power? What if that magic was why they were persecuted—but also how they could rise up and fight against it? From that primordial soup, HoT sprang to life.   


Who would you cast in the movie of your book?

I just saw—and adored—Love, Simon, so I’m going to cast HEART OF THORNS using only those actors. Quin is definitely Miles Heizer (Cal). Fierce Mia has gotta be Katherine Langford (Leah). Sweetheart Angelyne is Talitha Bateman (Nora) in like two years. Tough-as-nails Pilar is Alexandra Shipp (Abby). And smokin’-hot Domeniq is Keiynan Lonsdale (Bram). Sorry, Nick Robinson: you don’t get to star in my movie, too.  

You're a ghostwriter. How has that experience helped you with your own novels?

Ghostwriting has put so many tools in my toolkit: the ability to write on deadline, take feedback, and—perhaps most importantly—finish a manuscript. I remember being twenty-two and spending like three weeks rewriting a single paragraph. The first paragraph, no less. By week three I’d gotten so precious I was basically just rearranging punctuation. “What if…is it possible…should I use a semicolon instead of an em dash?!!?!” Nope. Ghosting disabused me of that habit, fast. 

What projects are you working on now?

Book Two of the HEART OF THORNS trilogy! I can’t say much, but there are ice caves, fog-cloaked lagoons, and magical creatures we didn’t see in Book One. 

I’m also putting the finishing touches on a magical middle grade novel I’ve dreamed of writing my whole life. I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it….but I can tell you it’s a book about a girl who suffers her first depressive episode at eleven: the age I was when I had mine. The book is funny, I swear! Zia (my MC) let me tap into my innate silliness, which can sometimes get tamped down writing fantasy. But the reality of depression is a big part of my life, so I cried a lot while writing it. I hope this book finds its way to kids who feel sad and scared and broken. I was that kid, and I want them to know they’re not alone.

What are the one or two things you did that most helped you in your writing and publishing career?

We’ve all heard sage advice like “Read a ton of books” and “Write every day.” Those things are absolutely true. But honestly, I think one of the best things I’ve done for my writing is to not write. Only temporarily, of course! Sometimes I need to refill the well by stepping away from my computer and doing something wildly different. I made a YouTube video about this, actually: How to Have a Writing Adventure. 

I also did a whole series about How to Beat Writer’s Block, including a bunch of crafty things I’ve done to unstick myself—ripping up my manuscript to make a collage, studying black-and-white photography, fusing glass, and even taxidermy. Working with images and tactile materials has been a huge boon to my creativity because it unlocks a different part of my brain. Not to mention it’s given me great story ideas. There’s a lit mag floating around somewhere with a story I wrote about my taxidermy class.  

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

When I first came to Los Angeles, I had a commercial agent, because that’s what you do when you move to LA. At one audition—for a San Diego tourism ad—I had to pretend to throw a bocce ball. That required a lot of panicked Googling on my two-hour drive to the studio, since I had no idea what a bocce ball was. I got a callback, so the next day I drove two hours again so I could pretend to throw a bocce ball to three other actors who pretended to throw the bocce ball back. 

I did not get the part. 

Where can people find you online? 

Thanks for asking! Mostly you’ll find me on Instagram and YouTube, where I post funny videos about writing and/or my dog (new vids coming after my book launch!). You can also sign up for my monthly author newsletter if you’d like free books, writing prompts, dance playlists, and a whole grab bag of delights.


Bree Barton is a writer in Los Angeles. When she's not lost in whimsy, she works as a ghostwriter and dance teacher to teen girls. She is on Instagram and YouTube as Speak Breely, where she posts funny videos of her melancholy dog. Bree is not a fan of corsets.
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KidLit411 by Elaine Kiely Kearns - 2d ago

July 20, 2018


Today we are pleased to feature agent and author Lauren Spieller and her debut YA novel, YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT (Simon & Schuster, June 2018).

Enter to win a copy!

© Cover Designer:
Jacket design by Krista Vossen
Front-jacket illustration copyright © 2018 by Rebecca Elfast
Picture frame and background rendering (front and back) copyright © 2018 by Customdesigner/Shutterstock
Back jacket illustration copyright © 2018 by iStock/Thinkstock
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.

Hi! My name is Lauren Spieller, and I’m an author and a literary agent. I’ve always loved reading books for teens, but during college and grad school I stopped reading them. Then, after grad school, my sisters handed me a copy of The Hunger Games, and I realized that books for teens had changed a lot since I was in high school, and that there was a whole world I needed to explore. I devoured the entire Hunger Games series, then moved on to books by E. Lockhart and others, then decided to try my hand at writing one!


Congrats on your debut YA novel, YOUR DESTINATION IS ON YOUR LEFT. Tell us about it and what inspired you.

YOUR DESTINATION tells the story of Dessa Rhodes, a teen nomad who dreams of settling down and going to art school. But when she doesn’t get into college, she has to figure out: what do you do after you fail? Dessa’s also grappling with her feelings for Cyrus, the gorgeous guy she travels with….which was my favorite part of writing the book!

As for what inspired me, the idea for came to me shortly after a long drive from California to New York. I was curious about what it would be like to live on the road full time, what kind of person would enjoy it, and what kind of person would long to settle down. Before long I was researching RV life, art school, and all the wonderful places to stop for a night along Route 66!

Who would you cast in the movie of your book?

Oh gosh, I’m terrible at this question. Dessa is Greek-American, so I’d love for it to be someone who identifies that way, or at least looks a bit like they might have Greek heritage. As for Cyrus, I’d love to see someone like Michael B. Jordan play him (though he’s a bit too old to be a believable teenager)!

You're also an agent. How has that experience helped you with your own writing?

Working with my clients on their books has strengthened my own voice, and has helped me think about craft in a different way. I’m able to edit myself more effectively, and when I’m in need of a break, I can read my client’s wonderful work!

What projects are you working on now?

I’m currently working on my next book, which is called SHE'S THE WORST. It’s about two sisters spending one last day together before the eldest goes to college, but when secrets come out, they have to decide if their relationship is going to continue…or fall apart. It’s a story about the secrets we keep and the people we choose to share them with, and I cannot wait to share it with readers.

What are the one or two things you did that most helped you in your writing and publishing career?

Reading voraciously, inside and outside of my genre, and building a strong community of fellow writers that would help me through.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I used to be a modern dancer.  

Where can people find you online? 

You can visit my website at laurenspieller.com, and find me on Twitter @laurenspieller. I look forward to chatting!



Lauren Spieller is an author and literary agent who lives in New York City with her husband.. When she isn’t writing, she can be found drinking lattes, pining for every dog she sees, or visiting her native California. Your Destination is on the Left is her debut novel. Visit her at LaurenSpieller.com and follow her on Twitter @LaurenSpieller.



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KidLit411 by Sylvia Liu - 1w ago
© Maral Sassouni


July 12, 2018 vol. 28


The Weekly 411 gathers all the links added to Kidlit411 each week. To receive this post by email, sign up for our email updates. Are you on Facebook? Join our Kidlit411 group for conversations & camaraderie. 


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Today we are excited to feature actor, screenwriter & author Derek Milman and his debut YA novel SCREAM ALL NIGHT (HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, July 24th, 2018). Be sure to enter to win a copy!






May TBA Exclusive Nonfiction Beach Retreat. Join authors Candace Fleming and Jen Swanson, five editors, and an editor at a beach retreat focusing on writing nonfiction for kids. More details to come.



Oct. 2018 Curtis Brown Creative, the creative writing course led by agency Curtis Brown is offering three new courses: two individual 6-week courses: Writing a Children's Picture Book which will help students turn ideas into fully-fledged story-book texts for 2-6 year-olds and Illustrating a Children's Picture Book  which shows students the tricks of the trade, how to leverage their creativity and develop technique. And a 10-week combined course Writing and Illustrating a Children's Picture Book which brings together all of the teaching materials from the two individual courses. The popular children's author-illustrators: SARAH MCINTYRE and DAVID O'CONNELL are leading the courses.



Sept. 17 2018 SCBWI Narrative Art Award

  • What: submit three illustrations from the same story illustrating dilemma/ conflict/ resolution with three different characters, depicting a narrative of misunderstood monsters
  • Who: SCBWI member illustrators, color for PB age or B&W for MG age
  • Prize: All expenses paid trip to NY SCBWI annual meeting



Plotters, Pantsers, and Picture Book Plot Structures


Children's Picture Books and Plot


Picture Book Standards



3 Awesome Plot Structures for Building Bestsellers


6 Golden Rules of Writing Middle-Grade



9 Factors That Make A Picture Book Successful






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SUPPORT KIDLIT411

If you enjoy this weekly update or our Facebook group of fellow authors and illustrators, please consider supporting Kidlit411. Any amount is appreciated.

  


Get this weekly update by email each Friday. We collect your email to send you the update and new posts when they go up.
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KidLit411 by Elaine Kiely Kearns - 1w ago


© Jordan Matter

July 13, 2018


Today we are pleased to feature actor, screenwriter, and author Derek Milman and his debut YA novel, SCREAM ALL NIGHT (Harper Collins/Balzer & Bray, July 24, 2018).

Enter to win a copy!

Cover art © Tom Whalen, designed by Jessie Gang

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.

I grew up in the suburbs riding my bike, jumping through streams, and reading lots of books. I read almost all of J.D. Salinger's oeuvre before I was ten years old. When I was in college, studying English and theater, I was tapped to play Zooey in (a probably illegal) stage adaptation of FRANNY & ZOOEY. I was probably 19, 20 years old? I internalized so much of Salinger's thinking and language I think I was destined to ultimately write YA. He really created the concept of a young voice in contemporary American fiction. 

I had been writing plays, short stories, I published an underground humor magazine when I was a kid; YA needed to reach a certain point in the zeitgeist for me to find a way in. Then as children's publishing evolved, and my voice evolved, there was ultimately a match: in terms of risks people were able to take, and what I wanted to attempt to do.

Congrats on your debut, SCREAM ALL NIGHT. Tell us about it and what inspired you.

Thank you. Many things inspired SCREAM ALL NIGHT: loving movies as a kid, working as an actor, training to be one at Yale School of Drama (certainly an inspiration on Moldavia's strange, insular family), even taking a tour of Universal Studios as a little kid, and seeing all the famous façades (the house from Psycho, the clock tower from Back to the Future), the warehouses where they kept props, costumes, furniture. I wanted to run a movie studio. 

I had an idea for years about a kid who inherits one. It seemed so far-fetched! But then I read up on the history of Hammer Horror films, and how they moved into a manor house called Bray Studios in the English countryside, and even had a repertory company of actors; they were churning out these Universal Studios-approved creature features for years. Fascinating stuff.

You started out as an actor and screenwriter. How did that background help you with writing novels?

Developing an ear for dialogue, working with language, and understanding high stakes, and the importance of conflict in a storyline. Also, developing a character's psychological profile. 

Who would you cast in the movie of your book?

I better be careful what I say here, hahahahaha. I don't ever picture actors, or cast things in my head when I write, however cinematic people seem to find my writing. But one of my acting heroes, Jack Nicholson, hasn't been doing a lot lately. I'd love to see him attempt a slight Romanian accent and play Dario's dad. He'd be great, and he's (almost) the right age!

What projects are you working on now?

My second YA novel will be published by James Patterson's imprint at Little, Brown in 2019. It's very different from SCREAM ALL NIGHT, but thrilling in its own way. I am about to start editing it, just at the right time for me to emotionally and psychologically let go of SCREAM ALL NIGHT, and release it to the world. 

What were the one or two things you did that most helped you get published?

Refining my voice, and being patient while I found the exact right people (agent, editor, etc.) who would be the best fit for my writing.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I used to teach at a film school! Also, I can sword fight. (I answered that in someone else's blog, but I still think that's a cool random fact.)

Where can people find you online?

I am @DerekMilman on Twitter and Instagram. My website, www.derekmilman.com, is a great place to get updates and such.
Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon



Derek Milman has worked as a playwright, screenwriter, film school teacher, DJ, and underground humor magazine publisher. A classically trained actor, he has performed on stages across the country and appeared in numerous TV shows, commercials, and films. Derek currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Scream All Night is his first novel. His second novel for young adults will be released by Little, Brown / Jimmy Patterson in 2019. You can find Derek online at www.derekmilman.com.




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KidLit411 by Sylvia Liu - 2w ago
© Abi Cushman

July 6, 2018 vol. 27


The Weekly 411 gathers all the links added to Kidlit411 each week. To receive this post by email, sign up for our email updates. Are you on Facebook? Join our Kidlit411 group for conversations & camaraderie. 


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Today we are excited to feature middle-grade author Saadia Faruqi  and her new series of books, MEET YASMIN! (August 1, 2018 Capstone/Picture Window Books) illustrated by Hatem Aly.

Be sure to enter to win a copy!







How to Research Literary Agents and Publishers Before Sending Materials



Six Academic Writing Habits That Will Boost Productivity




EDIT AND GET IT! Registration now open!!  Pick the editor or agent you want for your critique.  
Learn from National Book Award Finalist, two time Newbery Honor winner, Gary Schmidt.






SUPPORT KIDLIT411

Do you enjoy our weekly updates of links to kid lit articles? Do you participate in our Facebook group with fellow authors and illustrators?  If so, we would appreciate your financial support to help us bring you great content every week, interviews, and book giveaways. A little goes a long way. $12 is the equivalent of $1/month for a year, and $24 is $2/month. Any amount is appreciated.

  


Get this weekly update by email each Friday. We collect your email to send you the update and new posts when they go up.
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KidLit411 by Elaine Kiely Kearns - 2w ago


July 6, 2018

Today we are excited to feature middle-grade author Saadia Faruqi  and her new series of books, YASMIN! (August 1, 2018 by Capstone/Picture Window Books) illustrated by Hatem Aly.





Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.

I’m a Pakistani American writer and cultural sensitivity trainer. For more than a decade I wrote essays and other nonfiction pieces for adults. I transitioned to fiction for adults, and my short story collection called Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan was published in 2015. The children’s writing grew from our current political environment, where my children and those like them were feeling bullied, scared and unheard. I decided that these children needed books that reflected their hopes and dreams. 

Congrats on your early chapter book series YASMIN! Tell us about it and what inspired you.

Thank you. When my children began reading independently. I saw a need for books that reflected their own realities, as dual-culture kids and as first generation Americans. Being a writer, I decided if there weren’t books to satisfy those needs, I must write a few. I wanted to write books about girls that would inspire my daughter. I wanted to write books about Muslims that would shatter stereotypes. I wanted to write books that not only my children but everyone’s children would enjoy regardless of their religious and cultural backgrounds. That’s how YASMIN was born.

You are an interfaith activist. What does that mean and how does it affect your fiction?

I bring people of different faiths together to have discussions and learn from each other. For instance I’m co-founder of an online group called Have Faith Will Parent, where parents try to solve every day parenting challenges from a religious and cultural perspective. During my work, I often heavily rely on storytelling to bring across my message about diversity, tolerance and communication. Somewhere along the way I realized the power of fiction and began to write first for adults and then for children. I see my writing as part of my activism, and use stories to not only entertain but also inform and educate.

You are also an adult author, editor, and essayist. How do your different writing hats influence your children's writing?

I think writing for adults has helped hone my craft tremendously. I’m able to look at a story through the eyes of a child and write a book – whether early reader or picture book or middle grade - that showcases real issues. Often times this means I write what is called an issues book. To me, every book that includes characters from marginalized communities will be an issues book because of challenges those groups face in everyday living. I find that my adult work improves that thought process. 

What projects are you working on now?

I’m working on a middle-grade novel and a picture book. I’ll be announcing more about those projects in the near future. 

What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?

My advice is to read books in the genre and age group that you want to write. I do this all the time. When I’m gearing up to write a picture book, I make multiple visits to my local library and spend hours in the children’s section, just reading tons of books. 

I also advise aspiring authors to join a writing group. Even if you never share your work, you will benefit from being around people who are going through the same struggles and experiencing the same joys. 

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I didn’t wear a hijab until my early thirties. Most people who aren’t Muslim think hijab is a part of dress for Muslim girls as soon as they’re in elementary school. This is greatly a stereotype, and while some families do encourage girls to cover themselves at an early age, mine wasn’t one of those families. I’m still the only one in my family who wears hijab, and I didn’t start to do so until relatively recently. 

Where can people find you online?

My website is www.saadiafaruqi.com and my Twitter account is www.twitter.com/saadiafaruqi. I’m always on Twitter!





Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American writer, interfaith activist and cultural sensitivity trainer recently profiled in O Magazine. She is author of the adult short story collection, "Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan”. Her essays have been published in Huffington Post, Upworthy and NBC Asian America. She resides in Houston, TX with her husband and children. 



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© Abi Cushman

July 1, 2018

On the first of each month in 2018, we feature an illustrator who won or placed in our Kidlit411 banner contest, and we switch our website banner and Facebook page cover image. Today we present Abi Cushman and her work.


Tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.

For the past fifteen years, I’ve worked primarily as a web designer, creating sites for libraries, towns, and small businesses. (And I’m sure this will come as no surprise to people in the kidlit industry, but librarians make the *best* clients. They are wonderful to work with!) Over the years, I also created a few sites for fun, including AnimalFactGuide.com and MyHouseRabbit.com, which provides tips on caring for a pet rabbit inside your home. (I’ve always been a rabbit person.)


© Abi Cushman


My journey into children’s book illustration has been long and bumpy, full of not-so-great book dummies, a myriad of different illustration styles and methods, and of course, lots of rejections. Although I’ve always been interested in illustration, I seriously immersed myself in the kidlit world three years ago, joining a local critique group led by John Himmelman plus a few online groups (like KidLit411). 

In that time, I also went to New England SCBWI annual conferences, entered contests, and landed an agent (BookStop Literary). I’ve found it absolutely critical to have the support of the kidlit community during the lengthy process of improving my craft, putting work out there, facing disappointment, and making progress in small, incremental steps.


© Abi Cushman
Congrats on placing in the Kidlit411 Banner Illustration Contest. How did you go about approaching this assignment?

Since preference was given to pieces that maintained the “birds on a wire” theme, I decided to go with that. I did a few sketches in my notepad and settled on a pigeon reading a Pigeon book to other birds. There were a few things I wanted to focus on. 1. I wanted all the birds to be their own characters - to have individual personalities - but also to be based on real birds. 2. I wanted to maintain a consistent and deliberate color palette. 3. I wanted the illustration to specifically look good as the KidLit411.com website banner.


© Abi Cushman
I took my time drawing the different birds, looking at reference and trying to make their facial expressions and body language/positions dynamic and fun. To ensure the design and colors complemented the KidLit411 site, I took a screenshot of the site and would periodically place my banner-in-progress on top to see how everything looked together.


© Abi Cushman



You recently won the 2018 Portfolio Showcase at the NESCBWI and have some other good news that is not yet announced. Congrats! What are the one or two things you've done that have most helped you reach these achievements?

For my portfolio, I made a concerted effort to push myself a little bit in each piece. I’d give myself little challenges, like “Do a night scene” or “do a birds-eye view.” And by limiting it to just one new thing per piece, it made it manageable. I was also very intentional about creating series of images so that my portfolio wasn’t just a bunch of standalone scenes and characters. And over the past year, I created enough pieces where I could really be selective in what I included.


© Abi Cushman
The other thing that has really helped me grow as an author and illustrator is joining Storyteller Academy with Arree Chung. I was part of the inaugural class in the fall of 2016, and I still meet with my online critique group, which is made up of extraordinarily talented author/illustrators, including Aaron Clark, Ken Lamug, Maral Sassouni, and Emily Wayne. They have helped me develop my illustration skills and stories so much over the past couple years.


© Abi Cushman


Please walk us through your illustration process.

First, I make very rough sketches using a regular gel pen in my sketchbook, trying out different layouts, expressions, postures, etc.


© Abi Cushman
Then I look at reference photos and make a final drawing using a mechanical pencil on computer paper.


©Abi Cushman
I scan that in and adjust the levels in Photoshop. I set the pencil drawing layer to Multiply (which makes the white areas of the drawing transparent), then I use a Wacom tablet to color everything in.


© Abi Cushman
I like this process because I can piece together my final illustration and easily move elements around or replace them if I don’t like the way they turned out. The key for me is that I feel comfortable throughout the process to make mistakes and choose to either leave them in or get rid of them.


© Abi Cushman


What projects are you working on now?
I am in various stages of brainstorming/revising a couple dummies. The one I’ve got on my desk right now is geared towards younger readers and involves little peekaboo windows. I’m having fun. :)


© Abi Cushman

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

One time I got contacted by ESPN to create a painting of the Vince Lombardi trophy and then come to ESPN headquarters to get filmed “painting” it for a segment on Sunday NFL Countdown. The idea was to weave in clips of me painting with a montage of football scenes as a way to add artistic drama to the segment. I had to do the painting in a day so I stayed up all night doing it. Then I drove over to ESPN, and they filmed my hands as I painted. (I was really just painting over my already finished art.) It’s one of the few non-animal paintings I’ve done, but I figured it was a really unique opportunity, so I accepted.


Where can people find you online?
www.AbiCushman.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/AbiCushman Instagram: http://instagram.com/Abi.Cushman



Abi Cushman is a children’s book author and illustrator. She is the winner of the New England SCBWI Portfolio Showcase (2018), the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award (2017) and the Tassy Walden New Voices Award (2017). Abi lives along the Connecticut shoreline with her husband and two children. When she’s not working, she can be found running, playing tennis, and eating nachos. (Yes, at the same time.)

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KidLit411 by Sylvia Liu - 3w ago
© Julie Rowan-Zoch

June 29, 2018 vol. 26


The Weekly 411 gathers all the links added to Kidlit411 each week. To receive this post by email, sign up for our email updates. Are you on Facebook? Join our Kidlit411 group for conversations & camaraderie. 




KIDLIT NEWS

Agent seeking clients: Nicki Richesin of Wendy Sherman Associates is seeking YA clients 




AUTHOR SPOTLIGHTS

Today we are excited to feature middle-grade author Tae Keller and her new book, THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS (Random House, March 2018) Enter to win a copy!


cover & interior art © Alexandria Neonakis


We also welcome's four debut YA authors. Be sure to enter the giveaway for all of these amazing books.

  • Nisha Sharma, MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE (Crown Books for Young Readers May 2018)
  • Mark Oshiro, ANGER IS A GIFT (Tor Teen May 2018)
  • Megan BannenTHE BIRD AND THE BLADE (Balzer & Bray, June 2018)
  • Alice KaltmanWAVEHOUSE (Fitzroy Books June 2018)

covers © Chris KoehlerAaron Sacco,  Michelle TaorminaAlison Seiffer 





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KidLit411 by Elaine Kiely Kearns - 3w ago



June 29, 2018

Today we are excited to feature middle-grade author Tae Keller and her new book, THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS (Random House, March 2018) Enter to win a copy below!


Cover & interior illustrations © Alexandria Neonakis


Tell us about your background and how you came to write middle grade.


I've been writing my whole life, but this is my first middle grade story. I tried to write this story—about familial depression—first as an adult novel, then as YA, but it wasn't until I switched to middle grade that the voice finally clicked.

Congrats on your debut THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS! Tell us about it and what inspired you.

Thank you! When I started writing the story, I had just found out that someone very close to me was suffering from depression. It was such a scary time; I didn’t know how to help or what to do and I wrote the story as a way to process my own fear. 

Natalie’s situation with her mom was different enough from my own that I could still keep some distance, but close enough that I could work through what I was feeling at the time. I actually wrote more about that process here.

Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?

THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS is the fourth novel I've finished, but it's the first one I tried to publish. With the earlier novels, I knew I wasn't quite there as a writer. They were fun to draft, but I had no interest in revising them. I didn't feel a spark. This book was different because as soon as I finished my first draft, I had ideas for the second. I didn't want to stop working on it, so I knew it was something I should pursue. 

What projects are you working on now?

I can't say too much about it, but it's another middle grade, one that centers the Korean fairytales I heard as a kid. It's been such a joy to revisit those stories as an adult. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to an aspiring author?

Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. It's the same advice I'd give to an aspiring author, and the same advice I remind myself of now. When I realized I wanted to be published, I researched the publishing world and other author's processes obsessively. I thought there was a Right Way to do this author thing. But everybody's path and process is different, and I'm always happiest when I let go of this mythical Right Way, and just do what works for me.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I'm obsessed with dogs. My entire instagram feed is dog accounts, and I will tell you all about my Yorkie if you let me. I'm that girl who will ask to pet your puppy. Apologies in advance.

Where can people find you online? 


I'm on Twitter at @taekeller, Instagram at @tae_keller, and I send a monthly email letter with writing and personal updates: taekeller.com/newsletter





Tae Keller grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she danced hula and subsisted on kimchi and spam musubis. Now, she writes about biracial girls trying to find their voices, and lives in New York City with a stubborn Yorkie and a multitude of books.



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