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KidLit411 by Sylvia Liu - 2d 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.

  


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KidLit411 by Elaine Kiely Kearns - 2d 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 - 1w 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 - 1w 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 - 2w 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 





Start Your Novel with a Bang

What I Wish I Had Known- Kill Your Darlings

The Seven Deadly Sins of Submissions
















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



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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covers © Chris KoehlerAaron Sacco,  Michelle TaorminaAlison Seiffer 

June 29, 2018

Welcome to June's 4-Author Spotlight featuring 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)


NISHA SHARMA




Author of MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE (Crown Books for Young Readers May 2018)

Cover art © Aaron Sacco


About your book & what inspired it: MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE is about Jersey girl Winnie Mehta, and her struggle between destiny and free choice. The book was inspired by my love for Bollywood movies, and cheesy dramas.

Who you'd cast in the movie: I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I’ve sold film rights for the book (to Susan Cartsonis and Gurinder Chadha). I don’t really have an actor or actress that really resonates with me for the main characters, but I’ve always envisioned the faculty advisor as Wil Wheaton

Recent YA pick: OMG this is such a loaded question! I’m blown away by all of the diverse debut authors with releases this year. Samira Ahmed, Arvin Ahmadi, Tanaz Bathena, and Aminah Mae Mafi are just examples of the awesomeness. I don’t think I can pick just one of them! 

One thing most people don't know about you: I actually work in a Global Diversity and Inclusion division at a Fortune 15 company for my day job. I left corporate law and corporate contracts to pursue a role in diversity because I felt that passionate about it, and I wanted to pursue my passion in all areas of my life. 

Where to find you online: Everywhere! *right behind you* Ha ha. j/k j/k. I'm on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @nishawrites and my website which holds my blog, links to fun articles and other blog posts is www.nisha-sharma.com

Nisha Sharma is the author of YA-rom-com MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE. She lives in New Jersey with her cat Lizzie Bennett and her chihuahua Nancy Drew.


MARK OSHIRO


Author of ANGER IS A GIFT 


Cover design © Chris Koehler

About your book and what inspired it. ANGER IS A GIFT is the story of a group of queer teens who decide to stage a walkout at their high school to protest their school’s oppressive policies. It was inspired by experiences I had in high school learning how to protest and my own relationship to police brutality. 

Who you'd cast in the movie:  This would be the dream! I tend not to imagine “casts” when I’m writing books, but I’d love to see: Abraham Attah as Moss, Montse Hernandez as Esperanza, Tony Revolori as Javier, Rutina Wesley as Wanda, Algee Smith as Martin, Marsai Martin as Kaisha, Janelle Monáe as Shamika.

Recent YA recommendation:  I’m a huge fan of THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER, by Emily X.R. Pan, which came out earlier this year. Lush, poetic, heartbreaking, and gorgeous. There’s nothing like it out there.

Best advice for an aspiring writer:  Never stop writing. Don’t wait around for success to start a new project, because I’ve found it rewarding that I’ve developed a work ethic that involves me writing something—nonfiction, journal entries, or fiction—nearly every day of my life. It has paid off! 

One thing most people don't know about you:  I am an identical twin! We were both adopted together, too, and there are few people I’m closer to than him.

Where to find you online:  My online moniker is @markdoesstuff, which is where you can find me on all the big social media networks.

MARK OSHIRO is the Hugo-nominated writer of the online Mark Does Stuff universe (Mark Reads and Mark Watches), where he analyzes book and TV series. He was the nonfiction editor of Queers Destroy Science Fiction! and the co-editor of Speculative Fiction 2015, and is the President of the Con or Bust Board of Directors. When not writing/recording reviews or editing, Oshiro engages in social activism online and offline. ANGER IS A GIFT is his debut YA contemporary fiction novel.

MEGAN BANNEN


Author of THE BIRD AND THE BLADE (Balzer & Bray, June 2018)

Cover design © Michelle Taormina


About your book & what inspired it: THE BIRD AND THE BLADE is a retelling of an eighteenth century French fairy tale based on a medieval Persian poem set in the Mongol empire, the same story that inspired Puccini's opera TURANDOT. I wrote the book because the ending of the original version makes me grumpy, so I decided to fix it.

Who you'd cast in the movie: Well, this one is a bit tough to answer because 1.) I live in a cave and have zero pop cultural knowledge, and 2.) I'm not terribly familiar with many Mongolian actors. I think the guy who plays the emperor in the Chinese television drama NIRVANA IN FIRE (which everyone needs to binge-watch on viki.com) would make a mean Chancellor Zhang, though.

Recent YA pick: Carrie Fountain's I'M NOT MISSING. It's smart, moving, funny, romantic ... and the book's hommage to R.E.M. is the icing on the cake for me. (That was my favorite band in high school.)

Once thing most people don't know about you: I won a theater scholarship endowed by Irene Ryan who was the actress who played Granny Clampett on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.

Where to find you online: My website is www.meganbannen.com. I'm on TwitterInstagram (@MeganBannen) and Facebook.


Megan Bannen is a librarian with a few too many graduate degrees. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, two kids. and some literary pets.

ALICE KALTMAN


Author of WAVEHOUSE (Fitzroy Books June 2018)

Cover design @ Alison Seiffer 
About your book & what inspired it: WAVEHOUSE is the story of painfully shy sixteen-year old Anna Dugan, a super surfer who feels most at home when taking off on a ten-foot wave. While other surfers follow trends and speak the lingo, Anna harbors a secret desire to be an artist, drawing houses made of waves. It's not the most practical dream for the daughter of a single mom living in a beach town where most kids are so surf-centric they think 'current events' have something to do with ocean tides.

Who you'd cast in the movie: I love movies that bring fresh talent to the fore, so I'd be stoked to find an unknown young actress who can actually surf to play Anna. If this mystery find can handle sizable waves, that would be awesome. But even if she can't surf the big stuff, having someone who's comfortable in the ocean, and moves naturally with a surfboard would make everything more authentic and gritty.  I'd also like to find an unknown surfer/actor to play Chris, the gorgeous, mysterious stranger who changes Anna's life forever.

I think Margo Robbie would do an awesome job playing Sara, Anna's mom.  Hope Davis, if she'd be willing to wear an old lady wig, and add some age makeup and fake wrinkles, could do a great job playing Gramma. I see Jeff Bridges as Grandpa.  

Recent YA pick: I absolutely adored Lara Geringer Bass's THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART. I'd call it a middle grade and YA crossover. It is a gorgeously written book about death, grief, family, and friendship set in the Inwood section of Upper Manhattan.

One thing most people don't know about you: I seriously considered being a hand model, once upon a time. But my middle finger is a bit crooked, so that dream was never realized. Probably a good thin, as I can't image wearing gloves all the time or keeping my paws out of the sun. The life of a hand model is tough!

Where to find you online:  I'm a Twitter lover, so that's probably the best place (@AliceKaltman). I'm an Instagram newbie, and would love more friends/followers (@alicekaltman). I post bookish news on my personal Facebook page. And Goodreads! Yay Goodreads! Follow me or be my friend.

The daughter of a Merchant Marine and Rockaway beach babe, Alice Kaltman's life has always been ocean-centric, so when she's not on the water she writes about surfers, mermaids, and other odd balls. Alice splits her time between Brooklyn and Montauk, New York, where she swims, surfs, and writes, weather and waves permitting.

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June 27, 2018


Welcome to KidLit411's COVER REVEAL SPECIAL!

We are pleased to reveal author Jess Rinker's new picture book, GLORIA TAKES A STAND: How Gloria Steinem Listened, Wrote, and Changed the World (Bloomsbury, 2019) has a cover illustrated by Daria Peoples-Riley.

Enter to win a signed copy by BOTH the author and illustrator in the Rafflecopter below!



PREORDER HERE: 
GLORIA TAKES A STAND: How Gloria Steinem Listened, Wrote, and Changed the World.




Jessica's debut picture book biography GLORIA TAKES A STAND comes out from Bloomsbury, March 12, 2019, and her debut middle grade THE DARE SISTERS comes out from Macmillan/Imprint Fall 2020 and Fall 2021. 

Jessica received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2014 and currently works for Wild River Consulting and Publishing, and does freelance work helping other writers develop their stories. 

Jessica has also been published in various online and print publications including: Curious Parents magazine, Ars Poetica, Feminine Collective, and PA Theatre Guide. 


She currently lives in a tiny river town in New Jersey with her fiance, Joe McGee, fellow children's author and dog lover. Together they have 6 children and a venus fly trap named Ragnar. Eventually they will get a puppy. 


Want to win a signed copy by BOTH the author and illustrator? Then enter the Rafflecopter here.



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© Scott Brundage

June 22, 2018

Today we are pleased to feature illustrator Scott Brundage and his debut picture book, A IS FOR ASTRONAUT, written by Clayton Anderson (Sleeping Bear Press).  Enter to win a copy! 





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

I grew up an indoors-y child. After opting out of T-ball (didn’t want to run after hitting the ball) and Judo (didn’t want to keep getting hip tossed by smaller children), my parents found a cartooning class in the back of an art store that I ended up loving and attended from 2nd grade through high school graduation. I think I had the normal momentum of most artists, where you get a little better at drawing than your young peers so you are known for it. Then, because you are praised for it, you continue doing it and on and on. 




I attended University of the Arts in Philadelphia and did just well enough to have encouragement to continue, and just bad enough to not win any awards which kept me very humble. Afterward I moved to NYC and bugged everyone I knew to find out what illustrators or artists reps took on assistants or interns. I ended up working briefly as an intern for two illustration reps, then as an assistant to my hero at the time, Peter de Sève. He introduced me to another hero, Steve Brodner, who was putting together a book of his work, so I became his assistant too. At his book launch, I met Burt Silverman, who ended up needing an assistant as well. 


© Scott Brundage

For a while, I split my weeks between those three studios, all the while making new work, showing them, getting very brutally honest/amazingly useful critiques, and then making more work. I also was sending all my new work out on postcards every other month and started getting a trickle of work from newspapers and magazines. Then, one of the art reps needed an assistant, remembered me as an intern and was impressed I was still around the community and offered me a job… with health insurance! I had to stop working with the three other illustrators and worked full time learning a whole lot more about the business end of illustration. 

That went on for about 4 years until 2008 when a literal crane fell on our office in midtown Manhattan. A figurative crane fell on the U.S. economy around the same time, so I was laid off, but joined the roster of this group. I was fully freelance by 2009. Nothing quite as terrifying as starting out on your own in a full on recession, and now my work was alongside a large group of much more seasoned and award winning illustrators. Inspiration and fear had me working quite hard. 


© Scott Brundage


I had been mainly making editorial work, but also had many illustrator friends in publishing that inspired me to try my hand there. I gathered some small and independent clients over a couple years and built a big body of samples that fit publishing for younger readers. I made a couple cover samples and got my first book gig and pretty much had traction with middle grade book clients ever since.

Congrats on your recent book A IS FOR ASTRONAUT: BLASTING THROUGH THE ALPHABET. What kind of research did you do to illustrate this book?

The good and bad part about illustrating images about NASA is that there are already really stunning photographs out there. And, NASA being a government program, all that beautiful photography is public domain. So I had tons of great reference to work with. 

© Scott Brundage
The problem is… what am I bringing to this book that doesn’t already exist as a much better picture? I decided to make this about not just how cool space was, but how magical it is for children to encounter it fresh. Instead of painting the crazy firing engines of a launch, I painted the amazed face of a boy watching it for the first time. Rather than try to accurately paint the million stars of our Milky Way, I’ll attempt to capture the wonder of seeing it clearly for the first time. 

Of course, some pages were more about ideas and interpretation of Space jargon. For a lot of those pages, I relied on Clayton Anderson, the author and former astronaut, to help clarify things for me. I cannot tell you how surreal it is to email someone a simple question like “how big is a solar array?” and get a reply like “well, here’s a picture of me fixing one on the space station.” This happened at least 10 times and every one blew my mind.

What projects are you working on now?

Probably too many for a sane person’s sleep schedule and mental health. I’m starting a couple wraparound middle grade book covers right now. One is about a girl stuck in a swamp, another is the first book in a four book series about hunting “real” monsters.  I’m working out the sketches for a sort of animated picture book with the My Friend Wren youtube channel about kids facing fears. 


© Scott Brundage


I’m way behind on another picture book for a small publisher about 9/11. And I should be starting thumbnails on another picture book with the same publisher as A is for Astronaut (Sleeping Bear Press), which also happens to be space themed.   

Oh! And I’m about to go back to working full time on an animated series designing characters and backgrounds for Our Cartoon President on Showtime. 

So, you know, a little of this, a little of that. 

You do both illustration and editorial work. In what ways are they similar and different?

For me, editorial was easier to break into, but harder to stay busy with. The clients need to fill spots so often (daily, weekly, monthly, depending on the publication), they can take a chance on a new artist with much less risk. At the same time, the competition is fierce and gets fiercer every year. And my work, being mostly watercolor based, can feel a little older or maybe a little less fashionable than some of the other work coming along these days. I mean that with the greatest respect, too. 


© Scott Brundage


My personal taste in wanting to make a goofy character look dramatically lit has less of a home in a magazine than it does in a book. That said, when I do get the occasional editorial job, it’s super fun. I get to exercise a different brain muscle, and have to work much faster. And there’s always a thrill in handing something in at 4 p.m. one day, and seeing it on newsstands the next morning across 50 states. 

But with publishing, my work feels very appropriate, especially for younger audiences. But when I started out, fresh from art school, I wasn’t ready for the level of finish needed for the work I wanted to do. Ten years later, I have the skill set required. Now my goofy characters and pretty lighting are perfectly suitable for a cover or interior. Plus, this is the work I wanted to do as a child. I’m the guy making covers for books I’d want to read when I was 10 or 11. I wouldn’t get a call for an adult book about an actual terrifying monster, I wouldn’t be able to make it scary. But… If you want a monster that feels scary, but is actually kinda silly or goofy, that kids will look at and think they are reading a scary book but really aren’t… then I’m your man.



© Scott Brundage


What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

In general, draw. Draw often, draw for fun, draw when you don’t want to. Draw with a variety of media and don’t be ashamed to make a bad drawing. Get in the habit of having a small sketchbook and bag of pencils/pens with you at all times.   A mentor told me once “The most important drawing is the next one.”  

On that same note, get in the habit of finishing things. I’ve met a lot of students who have solid drawing skills, but freeze up once they get to painting or calling something finished. It makes sense since you get a lot of practice starting things, so get in the practice of finishing too.

And possibly the most contradictory advice I can give is to draw what you want to draw, but also figure out what the market needs. Where they overlap is where you can make money. That sweet spot is in no way easy to find. But, if you make work you love, you make better work. If you make better work, people will notice. When people notice, you see where they will need you. 

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

That, while I now make a living off of my fine motor skills, as a child I was so uncoordinated, my parents had to put me into something called “Special Gym.”  While other kids my age were throwing and catching balls, I worked on picking them up and holding them while walking slowly. 

I still can’t properly throw a ball.

Where can people find you online?

www.scottbrundage.com is my badly in need of an update personal website, and I have a more recent portfolio on my agent’s site, www.shannonassociates.com
I also sporadically post to instagram when I remember that I should. My handle there is @olescotty 


Scott Brundage grew up an indoors-y child and discovered his love of art and his career in the 2nd grade at a cartooning class offered in the back of a local art store. Scott graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2003 after which he moved to NYC. He worked as an assistant in the studios of Peter de Sève, Steve Brodner, and Burt Silverman, while developing his own portfolio In 2009, Scott became a freelance artist primarily focused on editorial work. His middle grade chapter book career was born with his first cover in 2013. 

Scott's work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Spectrum Fantastic Art collections 19, 18, and 20. A IS FOR ASTRONAUT is his first children's picture book. Scott divides his time between Connecticut and NYC.  

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