Passion Projects

As I continue to look through my notes from the conference I realize that… sheesh I have alotta notes.

That’s a good thing though!

These next set of notes are from a presentation titled “Passion Project”that was given by Alyssa Nassner, one of the people who critiqued my portfolio. Mostly for illustrators, but I think you can apply this to writing as well.

To start out, a passion project is a series of works that focus on a specific skill or topic, whatever the illustrator (or maybe writer!) is passionate about.

What makes a passion project? She listed:

  1.  Motivation (The will!)
  2. Inspiration (Idea)
  3. Creative Freedom (No one tells me what to do!)
  4. Time (Carve out time in you schedule!!!)

What does a passion project do?

  1. Improves work through practice.
  2. Increases online visibility.
  3. Demonstrates a consistent art style.
  4. Show cases interests (what inspires creativity?)
  5. Inspires others.

What should YOU do?

  1. Ask yourself what interests you?
  2. What skills would you like to improve?
  3. What type of industries interests you?
  4. Is there a grab in the market?
  5. What is fun and makes you happy?
  6. SET A REALISTIC GOAL!!! (This one is in all caps for me haha)

Nassner also goes into a bit about social media (side note, she pretty much scolded me for not having a URL or domain name, whoopsies, need to do that.) Pinterest and Instagram seem to be the big ones. Twitter, Facebook, and tumblr are others.

Basically, if you’re making a passion project share it! Everywhere! 

To end, my personal passion projects will be to work my on my line work with a weekly illustration, and to work on figure drawing/painting.

The line work will be a weekly project where the figure drawing/paintings will be a daily thing, starting next month when I clear my shed of the winterly spiders.

And this is where I begin my passion project.

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Hope you guys have fun with yours!

Small Press VS Large Press

Veronica Bartles, author of The Princess and the Frogs, gave an informative presentation Saturday at the From Dreaming to Doing 2017 MD/DE/WV conference about the differences between publishing your work at a small press vs a large press.

She began by listing a few things to the audience that I think every writer (and illustrator!) should think about:

  1. Figure out where you want to go.
  2. If you do not know where you want to go then it doesn’t matter what path you take (just think about the cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland when Alice asks what path she should take)
  3. WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU?

She then went on to listing the differences between the two types of presses.

Small Press:

  1. Niche market or specific audience. This is good if you have a VERY specific type of book that may not work in a Large Press.
  2. Individualized attention.
  3. “Family” feel. Basically everyone knows you in that small company and you have like a sibling rival feel with the other published authors there.
  4. Innovative marketing. You’ll be pretty much marketing yourself.
  5. No agent required.
  6. Advance and royalties. Some have a higher royalty rate, some don’t even have them.
  7. Also, make sure to know your contract inside and out because the small press could own your rights one day and then they might go under the next day and STILL have the rights to your book despite not existing anymore.

Large Press:

  1. Expanded market, which is great for a wider distributer.
  2. Perceived status.
  3. “One of the gang” feel, like you are now with the “big kids.”
  4. Powerful marketing.
  5. Agent required.
  6. Advance and royalties.
  7. Again, pay attention to contracts. Every press is different!

As  for picture books, a bigger press would be a better option so for me I would not go with a small press.

Bartles ends on this note, “Whatever path you’re taking, make it YOUR path, not someone else’s.”

 

 

 

Query Letter Notes

I want to begin with the query letter intensive presented by Andrea Morrison because it was such a great intensive. I learned a lot and even wrote my first real query letter draft for a manuscript I’m calling  ValenTINA.

Here are some of the notes I took:

  • Personalize query letters, don’t just send them out! Basically, research who you are querying, indicate your research somewhere in your letter, and if you have met that person at a conference or something, MENTION THAT.
  • Look up the genres they publish.
  • Just remember that when you query an agent and you actually get them to represent you, that usually indicates a big career decision. You can consider this a for life kind of deal though things do happen and you can possibly get another agent.
  • Just send queries, don’t email and ask if you can!
  • 60 days is a safe check in time for response.
  • Comp titles are great but if you can’t compare then don’t worry about it.
  • If you want and you have them, state that your book is apart of a series.
  • Talk about your project, personalize query letter, tell about yourself (everything related to writing/illustrating career, SCBWI, conferences, critique groups if not published.)
  • Really make sure everything in your letter is relevant.
  • Link to your site, don’t add photos to your letter.
  • Paste your submission after your letter in email a couple spaces down. They really don’t like attachments!
  • CHECK SUBMISSION GUIDELINES!

And to my query letter that I wrote during the intensive, I had asked her if my query was too short and she said that short and sweet is totally fine as long as I covered each points mentioned above.

And that’s all folks! Great intensive and I’ll be adding more notes on here later tonight!

From Dreaming to Doing 2017

From Dreaming to Doing. 

You know, that’s a perfect theme for a children’s book writing and illustrating conference. Writing and illustrating DOES begin with a dream, a passion to create this piece of work that dives into the heart of the reader. To make them FEEL what you are feeling, understand and connect. The doing part is what makes the dream come alive. 

Each panel reminded me that in order to make my dream a reality I must do the work and put myself and my work out there! I had so many notes from the panels that my notebook pages are currently kind of a mess.

Other than the panels, which I will post some of my notes in the near future, I had two extremely helpful and encouraging portfolio critiques from Calef Brown and Alyssa Nassner:

Brown:

  1. Practice varying my line work throughout a piece. Almost all of my images had the same kind line thickness and the idea is to thicken the lines of the objects up close and thin them out further away. Also vary the types of line, like I do a lot of swooping motion and curves. Need to change it up a bit.
  2. DRAW DRAW DRAW! He wanted me to practice drawing the figure and told me to take night classes. Unfortunately I don’t have the money to take night classes, but maybe I could save up or apply for scholarships.
  3. He liked my more detailed pieces, the small intricate details I had with some pieces.
  4. He liked my color, but gave me the idea to try to work with brighter colors.
  5. One of the mixed media pieces he thought wasn’t working due to the two mediums fighting for attention.

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     this is the piece with the two fighting mediums.

  6. . He said in some pieces I seemed hesitant. Fix that.
  7. And last he told me to work on INDIVIDUAL pieces instead of stories. And focus only on illustrating instead of writing.

Nassner:

  1. I got the same advice on varying line work.
  2. Bring more narrative into my pieces, though she thought I was good with the narrative with my last three images.
  3. Liked my color.
  4. Suggested that I look into illustrating for middle grade too. She made this suggestion when she saw the black and white piece show above.
  5. Work on drawing.
  6. With the mixed media pieces, some were too muddy. Fix that.
  7. Told me to get a domain name and website  (or URL) and basically said I was silly for not having one lol.
  8. She liked my digital pieces much more than the mixed media.

Both critiques told me I was not quite professional enough, however I was CLOSE. Both told me that my compositions are good, my light, color, and drawing are pretty good, I just need to get to that next level of professionalism and tighten up the craft. Both thought my style was consistent even with the two ways of working, which is GREAT.

Both liked the piece below the most.

 

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It was a great idea to have two critiques. I plan on going to the next conference!

I Had to Pick from a Hat

Does anyone ever have that problem where you have a lot of ideas but don’t know which ones are good or worthwhile?

I’ve been having that problem for about five months now…and it’s really slowed down my work! What to do?

So I wrote the ideas down on little pieces of paper, threw em in a hat, and picked. Yup, let fate decide!

Fate decided that The Hungry Witch Mabel was the one to work on. I already had character designs, a manuscript, and colored pieces as a separate portfolio builder project…I just need the dummy.

I probably should’ve been editing this one all along.

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I Miss Looking at Art

What do I mean by that? I miss looking at art? I look at it EVERY DAY.

Constantly analyzing.

I constantly wonder if a piece is good. I judge the design on a page and determine if the words match a scene or if they’re in the right place and then I’ll write about it or read about what makes good art and what makes bad art, what makes a good picture book, what makes a bad picture book.

I judge the work of others therefore I judge myself, a constant state of judgmental criticism that means well.

How can this piece be better? What’s missing? What needs to be left out?

Or… this piece has everything lined in place and there are no awkward tensions and the words match and this scene conveys this particular message extraordinarily well and there is emotion detected and each character is diverse enough and this placement is purposeful and this concept could sell well…

I don’t just look at art anymore or just appreciate it for what the it is, and because of this I’m losing my own enjoyment as an art and book lover.

I miss looking at art. I think I should go back to doing that.