Saturday, February 22, 2014

Leave room for the illustrator!

If you are writing a picture book manuscript, here are a few tips from Deborah Underwood of The Christmas Quiet Book as she guest posts on The Write Routine blog. She writes: Leaving room for the illustrator is one of the most important lessons for picture book writers. And I’m sorry to say it took me about six years to learn it. SIX YEARS. I think that was because I didn’t really understand why we need to leave room, why we shouldn’t write a lot of description. Now--finally!--I do.
Me: When I’m in the middle of writing a story for a picture book, I visualize in my head the colors, the clothes, the setting, etc. Once the illustrator reads the manuscript and sketches and comes up with the final art, I am stunned. The end result is always so much more beautiful than I envisioned. It’s best to leave out some details and give the illustrator the space to create. Illustrators are the artists who bring our story to life. Let’s leave them room to do their thing. It is a collaboration between author and illustrator to make the book the best that it can be. 

Underwood goes on to write: Every descriptive word in a picture book limits your illustrator. Read her post on how she resisted, at first, to make changes, but in the end was happy to have acquiesced.

Dummy – A loose mock-up of a book showing placement of text and artwork. – Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.  Here’s a link to creating a picture book dummy.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rio Grande Valley School Visit and ESC Region One

High School teachers with author and illustrator.
Just got back from three days down in the Rio Grande Valley. It was such fun! My illustrator daughter, Carolyn Dee Flores, and I did a joint presentation at Sharyland High School in Mission, Texas. She presented the creative book process from an illustrator’s perspective while I presented mine from the writer’s perspective. We had two sessions of about 150 high school students each. We felt privileged to be presenting to such talented art students.
Librarians Janie Flores and Nicole Cruz with author and illustrator
 A really neat surprise that left me speechless happened when one of the art students, Eric Hinojosa, presented me with the portrait below. I shall frame it and put it up in my home. Thank you, Eric.
Author with portrait.

Artist Eric Hinojosa with author and illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores.
The next day, my daughter and I again did a joint presentation, but this time we presented to librarians from the ESC Region One area in Edinburg. We also had the pleasure of being on the same schedule as award-winning author (2014 Pura Belpre Honor for The Living), Matt de la Peña, who wowed everyone with his keynote speech.

Author Matt de la Pena and me
I first met Matt at the 2013 summer SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. I attended one of his workshop sessions. We had a bit more time to talk at the Edinburg event. He is a remarkable writer. Imagine my surprise when he came up to my table so that I could autograph one of my books for him. Yikes!!
At our Saturday meeting yesterday, our local SCBWI chapter discussed the three 2014 award-winning  picture books: Locomotive by Brian Floca (Caldecott), Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales (Pura Belpre), and Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream For Me (Coretta King Illustrator Award) by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier. All three books were awesome.
Hasta luego! Until next time.

“Art is really the language of feeling.” – Steven Kellogg

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Multicultural book awards - 2014-2015 Tejas Star Book Award Reading List

Exciting news for us. My bilingual picture book, Lupita’s First Dance/El Primer Baile de Lupita, which came out in November 2013 and is illustrated by Gabhor Utomo, is on the 2014-2015 Tejas Star Book Award Reading List. This award is sponsored by the Texas LibraryAssociation (TLA).
Also on the list is my daughter’s (Illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores’) bilingual picture book, Sing/Froggie/Sing/-Canta/Rana/Canta.  My daughter and I are thrilled! Congratulations to all the other authors and illustrators who made the list as well. Well deserved!

My never-fail secret to getting your book published … Write it! – Stephanie Gordon Tessler