Monday, November 26, 2018

The Middle of the Marathon - By Barbara DiLorenzo

For almost 3 decades I yearned to get published. 
I thought that publication was the finish line. 
It’s not. 
It's only the middle of the marathon. 

And though I’ve never completed a marathon, I think the middle of any journey is a hard place to be. In the beginning, there is always the option to turn around, to say, “Just kidding! I didn’t really want to do this! Glad for the t-shirt and the experience. But… nope!”

If you reach the middle, it means you have committed to the journey. You set out to do this hard thing, and you actually got far enough along that people can point to you and say, “Hey, that person is running a marathon/writes books.” 

The middle is the place where the world sees your efforts. You care enough about this hard thing to train and dedicate free time-maybe even full time-to this pursuit. It is also the place where doubts enter anew. Other runners/writers are whizzing past in their super-fit strides. If your trajectory isn’t fast enough, you may start to doubt yourself, your preparation, and your natural ability to perform well. More than ever, you may want to stop and say, “I could have done better but my knee is acting up/I have writer’s block. I’ll sit this one out and try again someday soon.” There is no shame in this decision. Sometimes a break allows us to regroup, retrain, and perform even better. 

But for those in the middle of the marathon that haven’t stopped, and haven’t zoomed ahead, you are the brave ones that inspire me. Writers and illustrators that show up regularly to their workspaces to make art, even when it’s not working out so well-but do it anyway-you are my heroes. You are the ones that show me that the book-writing marathon is about endurance and stamina. Recognition and medals are fabulous. And seeing other people receive them is complicated. You may genuinely care for the people receiving an award, and their long journey to get there. But you may also be tempted to feel like their win is your loss. 

It’s not. 

Their win is their win. Your win is around the corner. And unlike a running race, a writer can zoom to the front of the line with one stellar work of art. 

You may also redefine your “win” from the middle of the marathon. Maybe your win is unpublished work that exceeds your artistic expectations. Maybe your win is connecting to one special reader whose response makes the whole damn journey (and tears) absolutely worth it. Maybe your “win” is not stopping, no matter what. 

What’s your “win”?

Written by Barbara DiLorenzo
Tortoise and the Hare Illustration by Barbara DiLorenzo
Instagram: @BarbaraDiLorenzoArt

Twitter: @BarbDiLorenzo

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:

Thank you. 

Written by Barbara DiLorenzo | |

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 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 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
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:
For your picture book storyboarding process
Check out: 
The BIG 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 
we struggled to fit in.



Like Deborah Cuneo's 
we resisted change.


Like Patricia Keeler's 
we found change and growth inevitable.

And then it happened!


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

represented by Liza Royce Agency

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 

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