Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Craft & Business of Illustrating Children's Books

I wanted to let you all know about a fantastic online program that will be starting up in August - The Craft and Business of Illustrating Children's Books - run by Mira Reisberg of the Children's Book Academy.

This isn't an affiliate link thing, I don't get paid for telling you about this workshop - but I did take the class last fall and I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship... and then I was offered a book project with Clear Fork Publishing...


"Ready, Set, Gorilla!" written by Melissa Stoller, will be out this fall - and I will write a separate blog post about the book itself. I want to help spread the word so Mira will know how much I appreciate all the work she puts into this class and how much she cares about her students!

For now - I wanted to encourage anyone who has every wanted to learn about illustrating picture books to sign up for this workshop! Scholarships are still available - there is a link at the bottom of this post. You have nothing to lose!

As added incentive - if you sign up and then email me your confirmation (proof!), I will send you a PDF of all my sketch-notes from the class!
Yup. I sketch-noted the entire five week class!!


The What: It’s a 5+ week online interactive e-course/training program that teaches you just about everything that you need to know about illustrating children’s books and getting illustration workbuilding an illustrator or author/illustrator platform, and selling your work, with an additional 6 months of access. For writers, we teach you exactly how the illustration process works to enhance your writing process and maybe, you might, as others have done, discover your own inner artist, with the fun easy techniques. We use scaffolded teaching techniques for fearful beginners, courageous writers, award winning illustrators and everything in-between, as you either create a picture book dummy and color sample or portfolio pieces!

The When: Monday-Friday: The course starts August 20th with the first live training happening that night and runs through September 22th. It’s designed to be extremely time flexible so you can access the materials and interact as much or as little as you like. No one is ever in trouble, but the more you can put in the more you’ll get out of it. The additional 6 months of access or more makes it very doable no matter how busy you are and the private Facebook group continues on indefinitely to provide continued support for your children’s book goals.

The Where: The comfort of your own home, a café, the library, in bed, anywhere that you can get Internet access. You don’t need to travel anywhere for this course plus you can still take it even if you are traveling.

The How: Fresh lessons, demonstrations, exercises, and interviews and studio visits from our awesome contributors are released on our password protected website that also includes tons of resources including lists of publishers and agents, worksheets, done-for you templates, and much more. We interact via our private Facebook group where questions are answered and small critique groups are set up for those who want them. We have a special webinar page for each week where students post responses to each webinars topic – e.g., thumbnails, quirky or memorable characters etc. Times are scheduled to accommodate folks in different countries as much as possible and we also record the webinars for those who can’t make it live.

The Why: The most important one. If you want to illustrate children’s books or learn how illustration works, this is the best value course to successfully get published. It’s the original 5wk interactive picture book illustrating course with industry experts and a multi-award-winning best-selling faculty, with a phenomenal proven track-record of published, contracted, and now agented former students. No other course gives this level of focused attention to each student, with a money back guarantee for folks who do the work and still don’t think that they learned a tremendous amount after a year. The course is also the only one that provides fantastic submission opportunities and empowers students to do all sorts of extraordinary things. 


Dr. Mira Reisberg is a multi-published award-winning children’s book illustrator and author whose books have sold over 600,000 copies. Besides running the Children’s Book Academy, she is also an acquiring Editor and Art Director at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s book imprint Spork. Mira is also a former children’s literary agent, a university professor teaching kid lit writing and illustrating courses as well as teacher ed. She has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature and has helped MANY writers and illustrators get published. Her job at Spork allows her to help even more people.

Andrea Miller has designed and/or art-directed many successful children’s books for both Sterling Publishing and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt including, “Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast” by Josh Funk, “Mira Forecasts the Future” by Kell Andrews, “Accident!” by Andrea Tsurumi and “Winter Dance” by Marion Diane Baur. Most recently, she co-art directed and designed the #1 national best-selling children’s book, John Oliver’s “A Day int he Life of Marlon Bundo”. Andrea is also a published illustrator, and is co-creating a series of comics with her wife. She is excited and honored to jump in with the Children’s Book Academy for a rewarding experience as part of their esteemed faculty while looking for fresh talent in this course.


While the course is already very low cost for all that you receive, and has flexible payment plans, we also offer half and full Diversity Plus scholarships for writers and illustrators who identify as being of color, low-income, LBGQTI, or as having a disability, who are currently underrepresented in the children's publishing industry. Our courses have opened doors for many now published or contracted people and we have given tens of thousands of dollars worth of scholarships plus a ton of time and heart to recipients. There’s a reason that we get rave reviews and are able to offer a money back guarantee. So our big news is, that we’ve extended our scholarship deadline till Thursday July 5th. Please help us get the word out with this URL http://bit.ly/illoSchol
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Now, I know many people think they can write but they can’t draw. Here is the opportunity to gain the tools and techniques to prove that this is not true! Can you remember being a kid and loving to make marks on paper or walls until someone told you you couldn’t? The world is your canvas. Really! This is not unattainable. Come join us and open wonderful new doors with both our amazing submission opportunities and beyond while we still have the $100.00 early bird discounts and FREE Photoshop course!!! You will be so grateful that you did! Just click the pretty pink button below for...

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Middlebury Diary, Part 2

I updated the first blog post with the photos, so take a look at that one HERE.

Saturday was the BIG event! The Non-fiction Comics Mini-Fest at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, VT. I was surrounded by amazing cartoonists!

Marek Bennett (in the hat) was responsible for telling me (MANY years ago) that there was a little school in Vermont devoted to teaching comic creation, and I should go there... Steve Bissette, in the center, was one of my favorite teachers there (at the Center for Cartoon Studies), and Andy Kolovos, on the right, invited me to the Vermont Folklife Center for the mini-fest!


Steve signing his new dinosaur books...


Isaac Cates - oy! If you haven't seen the Cartozia series, they are AMAZING! Literally, some have mazes. And maps. a whole mess of amazing cartoonists creating a round robin type of comic - working off each others characters and story lines.


To the right of Isaac is Dana Walrath. She was a visiting artist at the cartoon school and is known for her book "Aliceheimer's: Alzheimers Through the Looking Glass".

Seated is Joel Christian Gill who was also a visiting artist at the cartoon school. He creates a comic of "Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History" called "Strange Fruit".

Sarah Rosedahl (left) is ALL about chicken comics - comics ABOUT chickens... not FOR chickens. "What the Cluck?" love the title! And Stefanie Zuppo (right) - juggling comics, The Ladybroad Ledger comics newspaper, AND a new collaborative art studio in Essex Junction, Words and Pictures. Whoa. Superhero.


Robert Waldo Brunelle Jr. - his comics Explain it All!


Below: Kevin Kite (left) was my tablemate - he does science comics with very cute characters.  And Gregory Giordano - with the cool mustache - who created the Vermont Comic Creators group (I'm a member!)


Not pictured, but also awesome, is Bryan Stone - who has been emailing me advice on how my daughter can get started in the world of Dungeons and Dragons! It was fun to finally meet in person.

Oh yeh, and then there was MEYes - I know I look a little... perplexed...
I brought my dummy for the picture book I just finished, "Ready, Set, Gorilla!" and the new science comics - also JUST finished.

Photo by Robert Waldo Brunelle Jr. 
I want to take this house home with me!! It’s so quirky - looks like the house of a cartoonist, right? Or a tiny house for the Addams Family. One of the best parts of driving through these Vermont towns is seeing the amazing houses! I would never be able to choose just one.


As you can imagine - my brain was fried. By Sunday morning, the social hangover was kicking in hard! I slept through 8 alarm snoozes and decided to go "walk it off" at The Montshire Museum of Science.

It was nice and quiet there until later in the afternoon when folks realized that 90 degree weather is the perfect reason to take advantage of the science waterpark. I walked out to the other water features...


I’d walk for a while, then sit and “think”. I usually do this by the ocean, but this waterfall had to do the job. And then a lake... I’d think of a subject that was giving me trouble, and ask for a sign. The Studio? Money? The Fireman? Etc. I had no answers, but I was feeling a lot calmer than I had in...months.

I was deep in the forest when my phone buzzed - with a text from The Fireman. Seriously? Does that count as a sign? What does it mean?

I turned my phone off. And kept walking.





I had my lunch under a tree and when I couldn't put it off any longer... I finally drove home.


Minou let me know that she had been very well taken care of by Laurie - and I admit - for a minute or two - I thought about getting back in my car, and returning to Vermont!

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Middlebury Diary

The drive up to Middlebury has been a literal roller coaster of emotions and hills and hairpin turns and combine harvesters and overpacked bicycles on steep roads with NO shoulder. Exhausting. Plus I got lost. Twice.

I start to fall asleep at the wheel after about 35 minutes... so I finally stopped at the Sharon rest stop (way more than 35 minutes!) it’s a gorgeous place with a stuffed bobcat, a war memorial and a hydroponic greenhouse exhibit. I’m sitting in the sun, on the hill, looking out at the mountains... and it smacks me in the head, “no one knows where I am right now. And does anyone care?”

One minute I’m thinking how it’s nice to be on my own and not have to worry about someone else’s opinions and moods, and the next I’m feeling desperately lonely since I’m driving through an adorable village and I’m too chicken to stop and explore on my own.

I try to reassure myself that if I hadn’t driven half an hour in the wrong direction... I wouldn’t have seen that gorgeous village where almost EVERY house had a huge round tower on it! (I’m obsessed with towers)


When I was finally sure I was going in the right direction, I rewarded myself with an ice cream (it was actually kiddie sized, so don’t freak out, mom!) while staring at a sign that read “Sandy’s Books and Bakery”, and considering how my life would be different if that were my sign. Then it occurs to me, how many times in the past few days, I’ve asked The Universe/god to “send me a sign!”

Now, I am desperately lonely again.




Blog post, part 2
I had a little trouble finding my motel... in the few hours I’ve been here... the sign has changed three times!! I kid you not!






Blog post, part 3
So. I’m staying in a VERY odd little motel! I think they may be assembling it as I type.



It’s very noisy... between the busy road into Middlebury and the saws building something... I saw a big pile of lumber out there.... and the whole place is candy themed! My room is the Reeses PB cup room.

They must have had a grand time eating all those PB cups to decoupage the lamps! I am SO craving chocolate...


If the Fireman were here, he’d slam the door and find a fancy Inn. This place does NOT smell like dirty socks (Super 8 in WRJ!).
It’s tiny, but clean.

If Lilah were here... she’d say, “let’s get some Reese’s PB cups, and lie around reading The Fog Diver (by Joel Ross)!” Ok, kiddo, you have great advice!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

NH CZT Gatherings at The BeeHive

We've had a few of the CZT (Certified Zentangle® Teacher) gatherings at The BeeHive and they keep getting bigger and better!

Everyone works on their own projects (or just chats and relaxes), but Bette Abdu brought a project to share.


Once it is cut out, the shape folds into a 20-sided, jumbo-sized, tangled die!

I started filling my shape in with organic tangles that I might use for the wall mural around the trees on the studio's walls. I didn't finish during the meet-up, I work slowly and talk too much!


I've been working a little bit each time I am at the studio, and then I started adding shading...


I am really enjoying easing back into the Zentangle world! Meeting new friends too.

If you are a CZT in the New England area - or a visiting CZT - let me know and I'll give you more details about the next gatherings (there's one this Saturday, and two in July) - we'd love to see you!

The BeeHive!








If you'd like to see more pics of The BeeHive, take a look at the BeeHive's website.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Kids Con 2018

Lilah and I headed down to Nashua on Sunday to roam around the Kids Con comic convention. She had her "Go Away So I Can Read" t-shirt I designed for her, and I had on my Lego Batgirl Earrings and my comic leggings:


Yes, my mom actually asked me if I planned to wear them out of the house! It's a Comic convention! Where ELSE would I wear them?!

It was chaotic and colorful and serious overwhelm - but SO fun!




I really prefer walking around and "networking" to standing behind a table all day. I had made some flyers to hand out - I'm trying to get a comic creators group started at my studio in Concord:



And we talked to a lot of really cool people! Many live in Massachusetts or New Jersey - so they probably won't join our club, but I kept all their biz cards (which are amazing too!):



I'd show you some photos of the comics, books, and prints that we bought - but they are already dispersed around the house!

If you want to hang out and talk to cartoonists - don't forget - this Saturday is the Non-fiction Comics Mini-Fest in Middlebury, VT.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

...And it Got Worse

"Cheer up," she said, "things could always be worse."
So I cheered up... and sure enough... things got worse.

I'm not going to whine about stress and panic attacks (at least not in this post), but I do keep working myself into a tither trying to "figure stuff out" and "make everything work". But when it all shakes down, I never seem to pick the right thing to worry about.

I've been distracted these last two days from my plans to get the new Studio open - by two new really big opportunities - which will have to go in another post. So - distraction upon distraction and I can't seem to focus, make any decisions, or get people to respond to me.

My daughter kept coming up to my studio to see if I would come watch tv with her and she started to lay in the guilt "Can't we do something interesting together?"

Eventually, we're relaxing on the couch, watching the Flash on TV (my mind is still doing research on my computer and trying to work stuff out...) and the bad guy, on TV, is releasing deadly gas into the police station... my Mom says "Do you guys smell something? Is something burning? The toaster? What is that?"

And then we are all running around sniffing... the basement, the attic, every single room... and suddenly my head is throbbing and I have to get out! Mom said she was having trouble breathing and she was going to call 911. My kid and I threw on our sneakers and went to take a walk and clear our heads.

The fresh air felt good, but I couldn't think straight. As we came around the first corner, we saw the lights of an ambulance go by. As we rounded the second corner we saw two fire trucks with the ambulance, and then a few more in front of my house:











It was really weird and disturbing to walk home past all our neighbors and the big, glowing trucks.
This was as close as they'd let us go:


They made me go to the ambulance to be checked because of the pain in my head. I remember thinking how strange that was. I've spent so much time in hospitals and yet this was the first time I'd been in an ambulance. Then they brought my mom in and things took their usual turn. She's a retired medical examiner and particularly chatty with firemen and police. By the time Lilah joined us (she was fine, just wondering what happened to us), we were all laughing hysterically.

They scoured the house and suggested I have all the electrical work and the heating system checked out... damnit... that's bad timing... (but I promised not to whine). They did find some very scary, melted lightbulbs, but I still have no idea what actually happened. My mom started to suggest some terrifying scenarios.

I preferred the hysterical laughter. I commented to Laurie, "If I'd known we'd be surrounded by 50 good looking firemen - I'd have taken a shower and put on some real clothes!"

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Non-Fiction Comics FEST


I am so excited to be a part of the Non-Fiction Comics Mini-FEST sponsored by the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, Vermont!

Here's the info from their webpage:

Join us from 10am-4pm on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury for the second Non-Fiction Comics Mini-Fest!

From science to politicshistory to health care, cartooning has exploded as a legitimate medium for exploring non-fiction topics and the textures of lived experience. 

The Vermont Folklilfe Center's Non-Fiction Comics Mini-Fest is a day-long event presenting a diverse assortment of Vermont and regional cartoonists engaged in non-fiction work - including discussion panels at 11am (Stephen R. Bissette Presentation: THE PALEO PATH), 1pm (History and Historical Fiction: A Conversation with Jason Lutes) and 3pm (Ethnographic Cartooning).
So stop in and meet some local cartoonists, check out their work, and learn about how comics can describe the world around us and tell stories of everyday life.
Best of all it's ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Oh, Hey! 

Also! On Friday, June 15, 2018 we are hosting a special workshop: Drawing from the Past: A Nonfiction Comics Workshop. Taught by NH cartoonist, Marek Bennett, Drawing from the Past will introduce participants to the basics of making comics from primary source historical materials!

Steve Bissette and Jason Lutes were my teachers at the Center for Cartoon Studies, and Marek Bennett was the person responsible for telling me there WAS a cartoon school!

The other cartoonists displaying their (our!) art is also quite impressive:


I'll be bringing a few of my Thesis comics - the Begin Again Comics Magazines, We Will Never Leave You - comic interviews with my inner demons, some of the Science Comics and Kits I created for the Montshire Science Museum, and some of the Tangle Cards too.

Unlike a comic-con, there's no cosplay and licensing insanity. Just all-natural, gluten-free, preservative free - COMIC CREATORS!

Good stuff - totally worth the trip!

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