Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Public Speaking for Those Who Turn Red When Nervous – By Barbara DiLorenzo

Several years ago, I won a writing contest and had to read my story in front of a small group. The crowd consisted of people connected to the contest, friends and family. These people were happy for me, yet I was so nervous and unprepared. I had my text, and painted accompanying illustrations–so I thought I was prepared. But I had no experience with public speaking. I was TERRIBLE at it. Not only did I not know how to read a children's story to a group and make it interesting, I turned bright red from being nervous, which I could feel as heat on my cheeks, which only made me more nervous, which made me sweat more while my face got redder. I sped up my reading to just get through it, losing opportunities to connect with the audience.


While I'm sure this reading was painful to watch, I learned so much from this experience. I never wanted to let down a crowd again, so I walked into to my local library and asked if I could volunteer to read during story time. The librarians were happy to have extra help, and allowed me to add a watercolor painting activity at the end of the reading. While that may sound interesting, it was really just a way to add to the program without singing songs to the toddlers. I wasn't ready for that yet. 

I watched the children's librarian for a few sessions, and noted how comfortable she was reading to the kids, gently guiding the children when they bent the rules, and her ease in switching the activity to singing and dancing when they got wiggly. She made it look effortless. I was in awe. By the time I got to run the story time on my own, I felt I was letting the toddlers down somehow, taking away their fun librarian and putting a sad substitute in her place. I smiled a lot to make up for it. But they were probably transfixed by the tomato-red that my face turned when I was nervous.

I volunteered for years, until a move prevented me from being able to show up on a regular basis. But the librarians and some of the families stay in touch. The change in my ability to speak was so gradual, I don't think I really noticed anything for a long time. I teach art classes too, but somehow that feels different. A reading needs to be entertaining to keep little ones in their seats. If you are boring, they walk away. Simple as that. Adults don't do that, and I was used to adults. 

Most introverts that create picture books (whether author, illustrator or both) are content when puttering alone in the studio. Nothing feels better than a full day with the family members off at school and work, and hours to yourself to write or paint or study books. Or just daydream.

But here's the tricky part – when the work you created in your cozy studio is finally published, you will need to emerge from your safe space, and speak to the public. For many of us, this transition can feel awkward. The good news is that like anything else on your road to publication, these skills only need to be practiced to be mastered–or at least functional. None of us could jump right into drawing characters on the first day of holding a pencil. Nor could we make an interesting sentence when first learning to write. We had miles of marks to make before we felt confident. So to, we need to stand up in front of people and talk a lot to make the transition from creative introvert to creative public speaker. 

While there will always be speakers that you compare yourself to, keynotes at conferences that move you to laugh one minute, and cry the next, comparison is not helpful here. Of course studying what works for others can help your speaking experiences flow more smoothly. But resist the temptation to tell yourself that that person was born ready to both write award-winning material AND to wow a crowd. Instead, admire that their style must have evolved over many experiences sharing their work in public. Assume everyone started where you feel you are today. 

Similar to writing or drawing, take steps in this journey. No cutting corners or magic pills. And no hiring look-alikes to deliver your speech for you. (I'm sure the most terrified among us have considered this option.) Volunteer at your local library! No matter what, you will learn something while helping others. 

As I gear up for this school year and hopefully a lot of school visits for RENATO AND THE LION (so much history to talk about!) I find myself practicing again. This time, in front of children ages 5-18 in the ArtsExchange program at the Arts Council of Princeton. While I used to lead art lessons with somewhat of a dry lecture, I'm learning that I can be fun in front of a crowd. The last few lessons, I've encouraged the crowd to participate with me on designing characters and joke with me about what I was demonstrating. Last night, I didn't turn red at all after doing a blind contour drawing of the HomeFront coordinator. I was so happy when the room erupted in laughter when I revealed the funny drawing. And that's when I knew, if I can learn to get a crowd of young folks on my side and make them belly laugh, absolutely anyone can.

Watercolor activity after reading RENATO AND THE LION. Apparently I forgot to give Renato a fidget spinner.

QUINCY watercolor activity after reading the book. Children drew Quincy's thoughts on his skin.

Note my face starting to turn red...

People too polite to just get up and walk away like bored toddlers do. Thank you people!

Less red at the Books of Wonder author panel on July 16, 2017.

by Barbara DiLorenzo
Now booking author visits for 2017-2018!

Barbara is represented by Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency.
Twitter: @wavepaint
Facebook: @BarbaraWillcoxDiLorenzo

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Picture Book Dummy Process by Diana Ting Delosh

My picture book dummy Hard Copy process used to be very time-consuming and tedious. It involved lot's of rubber cement and took about 3 -5 hours, probably due to all that rubber cement. Than one day, I came across Meredith McKean Gimbals' blog post, Putting Together a Dummy the Smart Way. WOW! Mind blowing stuff. I just had to try her process on my next dummy. Best of all no smelly, gooey, mind altering, rubber cement was involved.

You will need Adobe InDesign and I used my local Fedex/Kinkos.  I'm using CS6 not sure what INDesign Meridith used but her instructions are different from mine. FYI: I already knew how to set up my  dummy in INDesign and make the Lo-res PDF But the hard copy dummy had me flummoxed.

1: Sketch. Paint create your dummy art per your usual way.  Scan and name your files. Example My files might be named, 1-BunnyWaves-SK.jpg or 16&17-BunnyDancing-COL.jpg, etc. Save files as 300 dpi, RGB, JPG.

2: Open up a New Document in Indesign - now the fun begins. Fill in the info. My dummy book has 32 pages. It starts on pg 1. The page size is 8 x 10".  Click on Facing pages.  Put in your margin guidelines. Input your bleed info .25". Note I only added the bleed on the top, bottom and outside. My Art spread size including bleed is 16.5 x 10.5" which centers nicely on 17 x 11 paper.

Click OK
3- PLACE your images on the pages in your INDesign Document. Go to File and select PLACE or use keyboard shortcut  Command D. Page 1 is your Dummy front cover and Page 32 is your back cover.

Note if your images look blurry, you may have to go to VIEW, go down to DISPLAY PERFORMANCE and click on High Quality Display.

Now that wasn't too bad. Right?
Open INDesign document will look like this -Only showing pages 1 -5 above.

4- Need a Lo-res PDF Dummy to E-submit to an editor or agent. In INDesign go to FILE. Select ADOBE PRESETS and select (Smallest File Size). Under PAGES select ALL and make sure you select SPREADS. Click Export. Voila! It's ready to send.

5- Sometimes only a Hard Copy Dummy will do.  Using the same INDesign document as before go to FILE select ADOBE PRESETS  select (High Quality Print). Under Pages select ALL but this time select Pages. Don't fear INDesign will cut your spreads precisely and they will come together when it's collated as a a booklet - magic.

If your document has bleeds, go on the left side and click on Marks and Bleeds
Select USE Document Bleed settings. If you don't your bleed areas will not appear in your PDF. 
I didn't, but you can even get fancy and click on Crop Marks. Now, Click Export.
6- Copy your High Quality PDF to a memory stick/flash drive and take it to your Fedex/Kinkos. Ask them to print it as a BOOKLET and to staple it. My Fedex rep asked if I wanted it to be stapled in the corner or in the middle. I wanted it stapled in the middle like a real soft cover book. They used 2 staples down the "spine". They are stapled far enough away from the edge so I can trim off my bleed.

You may also experiment with different weights of paper. For example if you're meeting with an editor you might want a heavier, pricier paper. But if you're snail mailing it and you know they will not return it, you may want to go with a lighter weight paper.

7- IF your dummy has bleeds like mine - take it home and trim off the bleed on 3 sides. Using some blue tape, a metal ruler and a razor.

You can barely see it, but I've marked where I'm cutting with a pencil. The dummy pages are blue taped together to prevent them from shifting. I use a metal ruler as my straight edge and with a razor, using multiple shallow cuts until I've cut all the way through. Repeat on the next 2 sides.  Lastly, I erase any pencil marks that weren't trimmed off, if any.  
I don't know If they have a cutter that could have trimmed off the bleed for me. When I asked about the placement of the staples because I needed to trim off my bleed. They didn't offer the additional service of cutting it. So, I assumed they didn't.

8- Need to attach your dummy to your portfolio? No  problem. I used a push pin to poke a hole about an inch from the bottom in the fold. Use a big eyed needle to attach embroidery thread/string/ribbon to your dummy.

Dummies are attached to my portfolio with ribbon.
FYI: my dummies are mainly made up of pencil sketches with 4 - 5 finished illustrations, including the cover.

Twitter: dtdelosh

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Random Acts of Art - By Deborah Cuneo

So... what do you do when it's your turn on the kid-lit group blog and although you've been busy working 24/7, on fun book projects, for months, but you're not allowed to share a single thing yet? You post random images of other artwork that you created in every area that you like to create in!

Girl Character  -  Pencil sketch
Duck and egg sketchbook doodle - pencil and ink
Decorative Type doodle - markers and paint pen
Decorative Type doodle - paint pen and ink

Puppy sketch...gotta have a puppy sketch!

Fiber Art

painted color sketch - Watercolors and marker

Girl Character - digital color study

Hope I get the OK to share some of the more "secret stuff" by the time it's my turn again!

Twitter: @debcuneoart 
 Instagram: @ataleof2studios

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I Left My Cell Phone Behind by Patricia Keeler

Last week I went to the beach. I left my cell phone behind. I took just my sketchpad and pencils. 

I found soft air, cool water, warm sand and time to sketch.



Have a wonderful summer!

Facebook:  PatriciaKeelerBooks
Twitter: @patriciakeeler
Instagram: @patriciakeeler

represented by Liza Royce Agency