Sunday, December 29, 2013

Daily Doodle

I stood and stared for quite a while
till a Lion sang to me and smiled...

...pretty soon I knew the tune
and I sat and sang under the moon
and the jungle rang in joyful harmony.
(If you can name that tune I will give you a gold star!)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How I Got My Agent

I can't even believe I finally get to write one of these posts.

Yes. It happened. I signed with an agent. Her name is Maria Vicente of PS literary and she is bomb- tastic. In honor of my previous post I plan to give you as many nitty, gritty details and background as possible. Ready?

Let's begin.

After several rejections on a YA novel I had been revising and rewriting for several years, (yes, years) I decided to refocus my energy back on illustrating for a while. That's when I found Underneath the Juniper Tree, a macabre children's lit magazine. I submitted a story. Rejected. Then I submitted an illustration for a contest and won!

Red Tide. The illustration that won.

I was immediately hooked.

For a couple of years now I have been submitting stories and illustrations to Underneath the Juniper Tree (UTJT) and building friendships with the other writers and artists, as well as learning from the brilliant co-founders: artist, Rebekah Joy Plett and agent, Bree Ogden.

(BTW the Winter Issue is out! I did the cover and illustrated John Lucas Hargis' brilliant story, Twixie's Wishbone!! Check it out!)

With a newfound confidence in my talents, I branched out and created illustrations for Anchor Group Publishing and -- thanks to UTJT alumni Soju Shots -- I ventured over to

Soju doesn't realize this but Frigl and Fred (the children's book manuscript that eventually won over Maria) was, in a way, inspired by Soju's tiny story. I created an illustration for his tiny story, and that illustration inspired a whole new story of my own.

I want to pause for a minute to emphasize the importance of making friendships with other creative people. They are impossibly inspiring and supportive. I love them.

Back to the story.

I had a good feeling about Frigl and Fred. Cah-razy good. So I edited. I created concept art. I shared with family and friends. I edited some more. And a little more. Then I queried.

I picked a handful of my most favorite, most desired agents to query. I got some rejections, but understood it was part of the process and expected to do several rounds of queries before I saw any positive responses...but then I came across a blog, Maria's blog.

You know when you see something at a store and you instantly love it. Or when you meet a person and you immediately know you want to be their friend. This was the exact feeling I got when I read her blog. Then -- as if that feeling wasn't enough -- I saw something that made my heart jump.

She had interned under Bree Ogden.

I knew then and there that I had to send her a query; not only did I have a sort of connection to mention in my query, but I pretty much adore anyone associated with Bree because she seems to surround herself with the most awesome of awesome people.

Anyway, after I sent Maria my query -- and against my normally reasonable nature -- I did that thing where you play out all the scenarios in your head of a particular agent going nut-so over your story and calling you immediately demanding to sign you.

Well, Maria didn't call demanding things, but I did receive an email relatively soon requesting to see more. I forced myself not to get too excited, sent the requested materials, and waited.

Pretty soon I got the email that made me do something I have NEVER done before.

I. Spazed. Out.

I spazed like a little child. I ran through the house kissing my children and shaking my husband by the shoulders. "She wants to call meeee!!!"

There were a couple moments when I worried it was simply one of those calls to let me down easy, (I've heard that some agents do this when they like something they can't take on), but it wasn't.

Maria offered rep. I'm pretty sure I giggled like a complete dork, but in the end I accepted and here I am.

Merry Christmas to me!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Danger of Headlines.

Alright, people.

While it is completely awesome that the undeniably talented Elise Parsley was able to land a full-on book deal within a few days of emailing a query, I am slightly bothered by this recent -- and popular -- headline. Not because I am jealous. Not because I don't think she deserved it (she does). I am bothered because I fear it will reinforce the already unrealistic ideas writers and illustrators have about being published.

Rather than hearing/reading about another seemingly effortless success story...
I want to hear about the hard work behind the story.
I don't know Elise Parsley, but I don't think I'd be wrong in assuming that her success was earned with hard work and time. I want to hear about how many books she wrote before finally finding her voice. I want to know how long she's been honing her (truly) fantastic illustration skills. I want to hear about the uncertainty so many of us face at some point in the process and how she pushed forward anyway.

I know those things must be there.

So why do we just skip over all of it to have yet another sensational Cinderella-type story? It seems like a disservice to the author's efforts.

Maybe after so many years of being told to reach for our dreams we have become way too focused on said "Dream" and subsequently blinded to the often uphill, bumpy path to it. It's important to not only remember that path but to not get discouraged by it.

In other words, don't give up because things weren't handed to you, be proud of your hard work and know you are not alone no matter what the headlines read.

For a beautiful example of how hard work -- or as he calls it "pounding the pavement" -- paid off, check out James Dashner's (The Maze Runner), "How I Got Here" story.

Don't Feed the Krakken

Will someone please build a monster zoo. I would pay to see a Krakken. I would pay double to feed it ice cream.

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