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 

Instagram: @ciccotello 
Twitter: @ciccotello 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

It Really Does Take a Village - By Deborah Cuneo

Little Dragon and the New Baby/Back Cover - Sky Pony Press March 20th 2018

To say that the journey to publication has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride, would be a complete understatement!  Being totally honest, at times, it took every ounce of my being to be able to continue forward. 

Fortunately, I have had the best support system in my family and friends, my faith, my crit group and special people, who have known me since I started the journey into Kid Lit, who virtually held my hand while listening to me sobbing endlessly, as my deadline approached and my computer completely choked, destroying more than half of my final art files. There is a piece of each one of them in this book. 

Little Dragon and the New Baby/Interior - Sky Pony Press March 20th 2018

And on the other side of the desk, there was the amazing editor, who saw something in my scribbly little storyboard I presented at one of the always awesome NJ-SCBWI conferences. She believed in me and my vision enough to take this on, even though it was a risk.  And as she passed the baton, each one of the editors and support staff that I've had the pleasure of working with, also had a supportive hand during the course of this project, sometimes during some of the toughest hurdles in the production. 

I always thought that I would just sit down and draw and presto...a book, but it's really not like that at all. Each and every one of the people I mentioned, all played an important role in how this came to be. There is no way it could have happened without their involvement, and I'm truly grateful for them all!

So ... on behalf of myself and my "village", I'd like to present OUR debut book...

  Now Available for Pre-order!

(Click on the link below to Sky Pony's page for more information) 

Blog: Creating Out Loud
Twitter: @debcuneoart 
 Instagram: @ataleof2studios

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Keep Creating by Diana Ting Delosh

"Don't think about making art, just get it done.
Let everyone else decide whether it's good or bad, 
whether they love it or hate it. 
While they're deciding, make even more art." 
- Andy Warhol  

I don't know about you, but if I get a good review, I'm floating up high and if it's bad, I'm down in a dung heap. Either way, I'm temporarily derailed. With the good review, I feel validated and I'm soon back to making more stuff.  A bad review makes me question my instincts and along with the insecurity comes paralysis. 
Sleeping Giraffe © Diana Ting Delosh.
Experimenting with my art process.
The trick of course is to keep creating despite the critics. After all, you can't control other people's thoughts or tastes. Whether they're positive or constructive or pure negative, it's all fleeting. One day you're a FAVE. The next day you're not. Your work can be daring, bold, trail blazing. Some people will love it. Others will hate it. For whatever you create there will always be an opinion; good, bad, even meh. And it's always changing. Absorb what's helpful. Move on. Keep creating.
Rabbit's Tomato Red Rain Boots © Diana Ting Delosh.
Another art process experiment. Is it FRESH? Is it ME? 

Twitter: dtdelosh

For your picture book storyboarding process
Check out: 
The BIG ThumbNailer

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Preorder SCOOP & Choose A Free Gift! by Patricia Keeler

It's annoying to Preorder SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK and then to wait a month or more to receive it. Therefore, preorder giveaways! A treat to get in the mail while you wait for SCOOP!


Square buttons with attitude that read Be Opinionated! Comes on a ribbon with a postcard too! I kind of love them. I have a lot of these!

GREETING CARDS - limited addition

Here is a collection of greeting cards with envelopes. They have art front and back, and quotes inside from some of my favorite children's book authors from the past. Six cards in the package measure 7" x 5".




Giving away original art may seem like a big deal, but most of my early drawings are on tracing paper and full of smudges. It feels kind of cool to sign the sketches and send them to a new home. I'd have to pick the sketch as each is unique, but you could choose either Spunky or Scoop.  
Image measures 5" x 6"        ©patriciakeeler

To Preorder on Amazon type in SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK in the top bar. When SCOOP comes up, tap the Preorder button on the right and checkout! You won't get SCOOP for a month yet, but your publisher's giveaway will arrive soon!

After choosing a gift from above 

message me from Facebook 
or email me at 
with your snail mail address.



Three of us in Drawn To Picture Books have books being released this Spring. Whoo hoo! Barbara DiLorenzo, Quincy: The Chameleon Who Couldn't Blend In (Little Bee Books), Deborah Cuneo, Little Dragon and the New Baby (Sky Pony Press) and Scoop The Ice Cream Truck (Sky Pony Press)!

We're having our launch party together at Little City Books in Hoboken— my New Jersey hometown—at 11 am, April 15! You are all invited! More info coming soon.

Facebook:  PatriciaKeelerBooks
Twitter: @patriciakeeler
Instagram: @patriciakeelerbooks

represented by Liza Royce Agency

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My First School Visit, by Mike Ciccotello

A few years ago I was contacted by the principal of Mary Roberts Elementary. He was inquiring about a mural I did at a local kids hair salon, Hair for Kids. After some discussion, and decision making, and maybe some more discussion, I was hired to create a mural at his school. I finished the painting over a few days. On the last day I spent some time talking with the kids about art. 

This is the mural I created a few years ago.

Last year, the same principal reached out to me. He noticed new art I was posting on my social media feeds. He asked if I was working on picture books and was curious if I would come to the school to speak with the children. I said sure, but there's one problem, I don't have a published book. He didn't think that mattered. He believed I had a compelling story and the students would be interested to see how much work goes into writing and illustrating. WE HAD SO MUCH FUN!

I'm sketching a pig wearing a top hat.

As the children filtered in and took their seats, I did some devil stick juggling. I dropped the juggling stick a few times. Each time, I asked the students what I should do. They immediately responded, "PICK IT UP!" I showed them a few different ways to pick it up. You could use your hands, or the other sticks, or even your feet. They got a real kick out of it.

I'm trying to figure out how the pig's ears would look with the top hat.

Then we talked about illustration and how many mistakes I make. I make a lot of mistakes. Well, when you make a mistake, you need to try again – just like juggling. Nothing comes out perfect the first time you do it. You need to keep working at it every day. The example I gave was a drawing I worked on for over a month. I had a bunch of help form my artist (critique) friends. Through thoughtful critique, I was able to solve multiple problems and finish my illustration.

Talking about my book dummy

After the illustration talk, we read one of my picture book dummies. We spoke about the characters and the problem they had. We tried to find similarities in the children's experiences. They pointed out so many fun things. Then we spoke about submitting a book to a publisher and how much work goes into a story before it gets sent. They couldn't believe it.

It was such a wonderful day. I learned a lot about myself, and hopefully made an impression on some of those kiddos. I can't wait to do it all again.

Represented by Rachel Orr
For more info contact 

Twitter: @ciccotello 
Instagram: @ciccotello 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sucked In - By Deborah Cuneo

Have you ever noticed those sponsored ads that randomly pop up on your social media feeds? They just happen to be a product that was exactly of your interest and for a great price too (of course), so you just have to click on it, right? No?... Just me? 

Photo of the product from Google

Well I have, it was and yes...I did. The product was a Body Kun, articulated sketch model...translated: a glorified, overpriced, cheaply made naked action figure. I had seen these things on and off over the years, but never really had given it too much thought until a few months ago. I was working on a project (another one I can't share yet) that had a lot of humans in it.  I couldn't find the poses in the povs  I needed and my only available models were either canine, feline or humans that were always too busy to pose for me.  

After endless hours of less than fruitful Google searching, I succumbed to the pressure of one of the pop-ups from "The Best Deals" (of course it would be named that) and clicked on the ad. I almost choked on the price, despite the "One time only, 50% off sale!!" (said in your best, loudly exaggerated, tv-salesman voice ). But, it truly seemed to be the answer to my situation and it came with really cool, extra miniature body parts and accessories to draw, so I bit the bullet, ignored the soft voice in my ear whispering "suckerrrr" and pressed "place order". 

Tiny accessories - yes, that's a dime! after a couple of weeks, my brain had somehow justified the purchase of not one but two (a male and female version) and I was actually excited by the time my shipment arrived. I set up my sketching supplies and opened the box and there they were!! They were a lot tinier than they appeared on my screen, but no biggie. I was going to set them up and photograph them so, I'd be able to enlarge it later.

I opened up the package with the woman first. She was in pieces...teeny, tiny, little pieces that didn't want to go back together no matter how many hours I tried. No problem, I'm adaptable, if anything... I would use the guy for both, for now. Fortunately that one was intact...till I tried to gently pose it, at which point I snapped the little dude in half. This one went back together easier than the female, until I tried to pose him again. After a few more times of performing micro surgery to put him back together (not to mention that the voice in my ear was now repeatedly screaming the word sucker) , I decided to email for a full refund.

Fortunately, their customer service was pretty good and they got back to me right away. They were also excellent salespeople too, ugh. Shortly after, I received two, free of charge,  brand new, male and female action figurines in the mail, that were actually intact...even after I touched them! I immediately set up my photo shoots and was able to draw the poses I was after. Yay, a happy ending...sort of. 

Photo Shoot Set Up

So,  the bottom line review on this product...

I think the initial idea was a good one, because there is a true need for an articulated figure of this nature, but the product itself is really poor quality! For what it's worth, I give it a 1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars for quality and pricing,  and a 4.5 for usefulness. 

They are very cheaply made and questionably priced ( I've noticed that whatever the sale, they are always the same cost in the end, hmmm...).  But, if you can get past fumbling with a defective stand and figurine, tiny parts that you need tweezers and a magnifying glass to see, pick up and put together, and the fact that the figurines are still a tad on the fragile side (understatement!),  they actually are super handy for getting that exact pose, in the exact point of view that you're looking for! 

Photo Shoot

 But buyer beware, for sure!!  

Blog: Creating Out Loud
Twitter: @debcuneoart 
 Instagram: @ataleof2studios