Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I Never Dreamed We Would Be Here - By Barbara DiLorenzo

At the end of the school year, I hardly notice anything on my calendar that isn't essential. But looking over our paper calendar, I noticed "World Refugee Day" printed under the number 20. One year ago, on June 20, my debut picture book, RENATO AND THE LION, arrived in bookstores. I celebrated the release with friends at  SCBWI Eastern PA (thank you, Virginia Law Manning!) but was still in a fog due to a new baby in the house. I didn't notice that the publishers had picked June 20, World Refugee Day, as the book's release date.

To be honest, when I wrote the story, I was crafting something that felt connected to a different time. I didn't think that the story of a boy fleeing from Europe in WWII would be relevant to children today. I wasn't sure a story about WWII would be appropriate or interest young readers. The editor, in her wisdom, assured me that children across the globe still dealt with war and the effects of violence– and that this story was relevant. But in my naivete, I imagined my audience more connected to happier stories with brighter colors.

I never imagined we would be here.

I never, in my wildest thoughts, could have anticipated a school visit like the one I had today, where I felt bold in stating to the audience: "Here is an illustration of refugees fleeing a country at war to come to the United States–because President Roosevelt wanted these men, women, and children to be safe." I said this sentence out loud, wondering if I had crossed a line, made the presentation uncomfortably political. This sentence! A sentence which in a prior administration, would have been yawningly boring. I could imagine a younger me in an audience in the 1980's hearing that, and thinking, "Yes, yes, we welcome people. We are the United States of America. That's our thing. Not really news."




But today, news of children, of refugees at our border, being used as a political pawn in a game where our current administration wants to deter more folks from entering our country–this sentence felt like a small protest. I wanted the children in the audience to know that despite what all the adults think today, 74 years ago adults did something different. As a country, we've gotten so much wrong in terms of human rights. But for one moment, our president did the right thing in bringing people here, away from war. Once they arrived, unfortunately, they were carted up to Oswego, NY, where they lived in an encampment. But the children were allowed to go to school in town, and families were kept together. At the end of the war, the refugees were allowed to become citizens. Some returned to Europe, but most stayed. One became a restauranteur–Doris Schechter (see illustration outlining Easter Eggs in the book–like her portrait–below). I recommend her restaurant, My Most Favorite Food–on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It's delicious!




Although I wrote the story, and write about the current political crisis here, on a blog, I feel so powerless. All I can think of is that when I wrote this book–I wondered over and over how people could allow their leaders to work in such dark ways. I wondered how much the average citizens knew. I wondered how deep the racism and anti-semitism ran throughout the countries in Europe. I wondered about everything.

Sadly, I feel like I don't have to wonder anymore.

But along with fellow writers, I feel an obligation to bring hope to younger readers–even when I feel a little scared myself. Dark days have been a part of our history before. But as the Reverand Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” 

But the kids involved in today's refugee crisis don't have time to see this arc play out. To get involved, please visit: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/77293-kid-lit-campaign-rallies-against-immigration-horrors.html


Thank you. 


Written by Barbara DiLorenzo


www.barbaradilorenzo.com | www.renatoandthelion.com | www.quincythebook.com


Thoughts expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the group. No one has said otherwise, but I would not presume to speak for everyone. 



Thursday, June 7, 2018

2018 SCBWI New Jersey Summer Conference - By Barbara DiLorenzo

Yesterday, the Drawn to Picture Books Blog activated an old post, and sent it out to folks. For the life of me, I can't understand how that happened. I thought maybe I had set a time for it to release and typed the wrong year. But June would have been too early for the post to have appeared last year. My best guess is that the blog felt ignored, gained sentience, and nudged us to get going again.

I see you, Drawn to Picture Books Blog–happy to oblige. 

I was already thinking of writing a blog about this past weekend's SCBWI New Jersey Summer Conference. We were missing one of our members, lost to the wilds of Book Expo America. (Patricia Keeler, drawing on the spot, impressing all the librarians!) But everyone else was present. It was amazing to catch up in person, talk about our projects, and share our ongoing challenges. We also discussed sharing work with each other again–something, like the blog, that had taken a back seat when everyone got busy with actual book work. 

I realized during the conference that those outside opinions, other eyes on the projects, really do help us revise and refine our work until it's closer to presentation-worthy. I had a workshop before a one-on-one critique – and information from both brought a new idea forth for my current book dummy. That one idea would not have happened with me alone in my studio–I needed other eyes on my project. And that idea could be the element that brings the story across the finish line. 

Going to the conference was also very helpful in reiterating that publishing is hard work, and the best of the best get rejected–but they don't ever quit. I think I'll need that message until my last moments drawing and writing. The keynote speaker on Sunday, Tami Charles, brought that point home in her closing remarks.

I was very happy to see many friends enjoy leads to follow up with editors or agents. Some earned representation solely from this weekend. New folks were encouraged, which encouraged me. Seasoned writers and illustrators took in the workshops with a sense of calm purpose. I liked seeing that. The desperate energy I carried with me at my first NJ SCBWI conference was most likely offputting. These veterans confidently presented workshops and attended others. Some participated in the art show, but others–having won before–sat back to let others have a turn. 

What I was most struck by at the conference was Paul O. Zelinsky. He gave a great keynote address on Saturday. I could have listened to him speak for hours more than he was alotted. After that, for the rest of the weekend, friends and I kept bumping into him and having terrific conversations. From discussions about the pattern of his shirt (all the scenes from Z IS FOR MOOSE) to answering questions about publishing–he was so dang approachable, friendly, and funny. He is a giant in the industry. Friends for years with Maurice Sendak. (The photo below was taken from his Facebook page.) But he was still willing to answer questions about the editor/illustrator relationship with newbies. I thought his work was amazing before I met him, and was always a fan. But now I'm a fan of Paul, the person. 


I missed the conference in 2016 due to a funeral. And in 2017, I was financially strapped, with a new baby, and a book that had just come out–so completely overwhelmed. The previous conference I attended was in 2015. Because it had been so long, and I was missing friends and the world of kidlit, I volunteered for the NJ chapter of SCBWI just so that I would have no excuses to miss this year's conference. I'm so glad I did. 

I'm also glad I did, because for the first time ever, my illustration earned a nod in the art show. So did Mike Ciccotello's piece. It felt good to be up on the stage with my friend. I don't expect that to happen again–but that warm sunshine glow of that moment will be kept in my heart for those dark moments of doubt that creep in far too regularly. 

If you have the opportunity, get involved with your local SCBWI chapter. You will come home from an event with a feeling of validation–that what you are doing is important work. And the knowledge that you are not alone at all. Writers and illustrators all around the globe, who may not even speak your language, have your back. And want to give you the confidence to keep moving forward and never quit. 

Now to go order fabric with Paul O. Zelinsky's awesome pattern on it!



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Group Illustration Exhibit by Diana Ting Delosh

Last year I was invited to submit a few illustrations for a Long Island kid lit illustrators exhibit at the Quogue Library in May 2018. The invitation came about via a group I belong to, LICWI. I submitted a few illustrations and two made it past the jury. YAY! I'm in, along with fellow D2PB member, Deborah Cuneo. I believe there will be 14 Long Island illustrators in total. I'm happy to have this opportunity to show and possibly sell my work but without the pressure of filling the whole space all by myself.
Little Red - Giclée Print- framed 16" x 16"  
As my work is hybrid traditional and digital I'll be showing framed giclée prints. I ordered mine  from Imagekind.com. Originally I was just going to use my local Fedex and frame laser prints on heavy stock BUT I was really unhappy with the color and this was after going there twice. The first time the machines were down. The second time I was able to get five good 8 x 10" prints of Little Red. BUT the color was wrong for the 11 x 11".  Momentum came out way too dark. AND I still had to pay for them. GR-GR-GR!!! Previously, I had really good results with Fedex but not lately. Sigh, looks like an art print quality, large format color printer is on my wish list.
Momentum - Giclée Print- framed 14" x 11"
Right now I'm in the final throes of prepping for this show. Art framed, wired, packed and delivered to the exhibit coordinator, along with 30 promo postcards. I still have to deliver my promo sheet. I also plan on offering a few unframed prints for sale at the reception on May 19.
Sleepy Giraffe © Diana Ting Delosh
My current Promo Postcard
Ordered 100 of my Sleepy Giraffe Postcards from VistaPrint.com. These are blank on the back. I only need 30+ for the show but I can also use these to hand out and if I stick a return label on the back they can be mailed. Always good to have a few extras.


As for the promo sheet, I've been working on some new illustrations that I was hoping to use on a new promo sheet... However time has run out so I will just be using my 2017 Promo sheet. Always have a Plan B. Now, just need to make more art prints and figure out how to package them to sell at the reception. A wise friend said that it's a good idea to use each promotional opportunity as a chance to show more art. Hence my participation in the show and the different images for the postcard and the promo sheet. 

Long Island Children's Book Illustrators Art
The Art Gallery at the Quogue Library
90 Quogue St., Quogue, NY 11959
631-653-4224
Exhibit: May 1 - May 30, 2018
Reception: May 19, 2018 at 3 - 4pm

At the reception, there will be a Q & A panel and workshops. Prints, books and yes, some of the framed art will be for sale. Mine are. Should be fun. 

Twitter: dtdelosh

Art Prints: wingedrabbit.imagekind.com
For your picture book storyboarding process
Check out: 
The BIG ThumbNailer
ThumbNailer

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

This Is Us by Patricia Keeler

Together we grew stronger. 

SUNDAY, APRIL 15 at 11 AM 
100 Bloomfield Street in Hoboken
we celebrate with three new books from DRAWN TO PICTURE BOOK group

Dreams come true! They do!


Working together made us stronger.


Like Barbara DiLorenzo's 
QUINCY: THE CHAMELEON WHO COULDN'T BLEND IN 
we struggled to fit in.

©BarbaraDiLorenzo
©BarbaraDiLorenzo

©BarbaraDiLorenzo

Like Deborah Cuneo's 
LITTLE DRAGON And The NEW BABY
we resisted change.

©DeborahCuneo

Like Patricia Keeler's 
SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK 
we found change and growth inevitable.

©PatriciaKeeler
©PatriciaKeeler
©PatriciaKeeler
And then it happened!

JOIN US IN A CELEBRATION THIS SUNDAY!

Thank you friends for helping us all by critiquing—but also for organizing conferences and workshops where we could make contacts, all the likes and sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the childcare and cooking, tech support, and that smile of encouragement you always gave. What an amazing community you are!

Facebook:  PatriciaKeelerBooks
Twitter: @patriciakeeler
Instagram: @patriciakeelerbooks
Website: patriciakeeler-author-illustrator.com

represented by Liza Royce Agency www.lizaroyce.com

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Power of (Book) Friends - By Barbara DiLorenzo

Our group in this blog, Drawn to Picture Books, consists of two men and four women. We are friends as well as critique partners. But we all also belong to other groups as well. Some of us have local art groups, or writing groups consisting of members spread across the globe. I used to Skype regularly with a writer in Brooklyn, one in Germany, and another in South Africa. We are members of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and CBIG (Children's Book Illustration Group). We seek out the advice of our peers, those above us, with more experience, and those folks new to the process with a fresh eye.

Basically, we network. 

And yet–most of us will tell you that social connection does not come as naturally as it looks on the surface. We be shy! 

So why struggle to make new friends and connections when writing and submitting is a solitary experience? Why listen to the very friendly Lin Oliver at an SCBWI conference when she tells you, from behind the podium, to reach out and connect with others? I remember hearing her say that in 2009, 2012 and 2014 in NYC. I thought it couldn't possibly be as important as she made it sound. But she is charming, sweet and funny. How could I not try her advice?  

At each conference or event, I might make one or two friends. Sometimes those friendships thrived online. And sometimes they developed into critique partners. Becoming part of this blog was an organic process with SCBWI friends picked up by Deb Cuneo along the way. She really pulled the group together! 

We shared our work, occasionally met up after a CBIG or SCBWI meeting, talked on the phone, and texted when we just needed help. We've been a group for a while now–and though we don't operate with the same organization that we did in the beginning–we are all such good friends, we just like to stay connected. 

So what is the point of all this connection?

It's so hard to see up close, in the moment. I wanted to be published immediately and thought friendship was too slow to make a dent in my goals. But today, I look back and see that each and every person that I shared work with, that also shared work with me, helped me to get here: two books published within a year. That could be luck or a fluke. But of the six members, two of us have books that launched on the very same day (April 3, 2018). And one more member had a book launch two weeks before us. 

3 out of 6 people in our group launched a book within the same two weeks. 50% of our group. Published by traditional publishers. Within two weeks. 

I'm not mathematically inclined, but I do think that speaks to the power of connection within a group of like-minded people constantly striving to improve their craft. 

The three of us plan to celebrate together at Little City Books in Hoboken on Sunday, April 15th, 2018 at 11am. Stop by and say hello! There will be games, and drawing, and cookies and fun. But mostly, you will be making one more connection that might make a difference in your own journey!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Public Speaking... YIKES! By Mike Ciccotello

I can trace my fear of public speaking back to my sixth grade student council elections. As I walked up to the podium, I tripped and fell over a bunch of metal folding chairs. My heart started pounding. I was so embarrassed. I barely got through my speech. The same year, my mind went blank during my piano recital. I could only get through the first stanza of music. After three attempts, I got up, walked away from the piano and started crying my eyes out. Those two incidents set the stage for my fear of being singled out in front of a crowd. 

It's not a comfortable thing to watch. I start talking and inevitably my voice cracks. My eyes glaze over as I stare blankly into the audience, and then my arms start shaking. 

Last year, I insisted on getting over this fear. It took many conversations with friends and loved ones. This past year, I ran a workshop for NJ SCBWI, I hosted a Lunch and Learn at Johnson & Johnson headquarters, I spoke at my county library, and I did a full day school visit for 300 children. I decided that the only way I was going to get over it was to keep doing it. I will be the first to tell you, its not easy, but it's getting better. 

On Thursday and Friday this week, I'll be leading four Character Design workshops for the NJ Teen Arts Festival, hosted by Monmouth County Arts Organization at Brookdale Community College. I'm somewhere between excited and terrified. 

I'm not too worried about the speaking part, I just hope to connect with the kids, and let them know that nurturing their talent and following their dreams is absolutely worth it. 


Don't Let Go, by Mike Ciccotello



Represented by Rachel Orr
For more info contact 
rko(a)prospectagency.com

Instagram: @ciccotello 
Twitter: @ciccotello