Thinking of Maurice Sendak

 

 

“I have nothing now but praise for my life. I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more. … What I dread is the isolation. … There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.” ~Maurice Sendak

With the news of Maurice Sendak’s death today, I am making time to reflect on his work and life. Fresh Air has a wonderful remembrance of him here: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/08/152248901/fresh-air-remembers-author-maurice-sendak

This program includes his 2011 Fresh Air interview, which is alarmingly raw, human, and beautiful. He speaks of his aging experience, about death, and reminds reminds us to slow down, look at the trees, listen to music, enjoy reading time, and love this world we inhabit for such a short time.

I am so thankful for the work he gave to us – and for the difficult, complex, creative and awesome life he lived.

 

The Big New York Trip

 

 

I just returned from a week in New York City; three days spent at the SCBWI conference and three days visiting publishing houses. It was an epic trip!

Photo by Debbie Ohi

SCBWI conferences are always a blur of information, inspiration, new friends, old friends, and just non-stop fun. I was so happy to be able to spend ample time with friend and fellow mentee, Debbie Ohi. Another illustrator I was happy to spend time with was Mike Boldt, who directed me on a drawing for The ABC’s of Northern Ghana charity project. We also share an agent, so it feels like we’re siblings of a sort.

(photo on right by Debbie Ohi)

The meetings with publishers were unbelievably exciting. They were set up as a result of my win at the last Summer SCBWI conference, and it was humbling just to be talking with these publishing giants.

Visiting publishing houses! Harper Collins (left), Macmillan (center), Simon and Schuster (top), Little Brown Books (bottom)

My meetings were with Liz Szabla, editor at Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), Jordan Brown, Alessandra Balzer and Donna Bray, editors and publishers at Balzer and Bray (HarperCollins), Laurent Linn, art director at Simon and Schuster, and Patti Ann Harris, art director, with Connie Hsu, editor at Little Brown Books. We looked through my portfolio and talked about the work they like, as well as what they’ve been working on lately. Needless to say, I would love for the opportunity to work with these folks!

In front of the building at Penguin

Last, but definitely not least, was my meeting with Nancy Paulsen and Cecilia Yung, my editor and art director at Penguin Books for Young Readers. We discussed our current book project, and had a wonderful 2 hour lunch. It was so great to get to know Nancy in person – I am so lucky to be working with these two incredibly supportive women!

A view from Central Park

With all the time spent at these meetings, I can’t wait to get back soon to do more exploring in the beautiful City of New York.

New York: Almost There

 

 

At the end of this week I’m heading to New York, and I couldn’t be more excited. The trip is a result of winning the 2011 SCBWI National Summer Conference Portfolio Showcase award. SCBWI has set up three meetings with art directors so I can meet face to face and discuss my work with them. I’ve decided to make the most of the trip by also attending the SCBWI New York National conference over the weekend, so it’s doubly exciting.

My agent, Jennifer Rofe, has been helping me hone my portfolio, and suggested that I add a few black and white spot drawings in the hopes of expanding into work for middle grade novels.

For promotional materials, she suggested new promo cards to display with my portfolio and to hand out at the conference. They are double-sided, 5×7″ cards:

Postcard front

Postcard back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for my meetings at the publishing houses, I will bring ‘tear sheets’ – which are 8.5×11″ color copies showing a variety of my illustrations. Editors and art directors keep these on file as a quick reference when they’re looking for illustrators for new projects.

My 2012 tear sheet design

Last, but definitely not least, I’m so excited to meet with my editor, Nancy Paulsen, and my art director (and mentor) Cecilia Yung, who I’m currently working with on my first picture book story. It will be so exciting to finally meet Nancy for the first time, and be able to discuss our project together.

I couldn’t be more thrilled about this opportunity, and hope to plant seeds of many future projects to come. If you’re going to be in New York at the SCBWI conference, I hope we cross paths there!

Exciting Book News!

 

 

I’m so excited to be able to share the official news that I’ve been offered a book contract with Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin Books for Young Readers!! This will be my first written AND illustrated book, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Nancy Paulsen as my editor, and Cecilia Yung as my art director.

I owe Cecilia so many thanks, who I met through the SCBWI Mentorship program last year. She generously invited me to send her one of the stories I had been working on, and even more generously passed it on to Nancy, one of the editors there at Penguin.

I’ve been in conversation about this story with Nancy for the past few months, and I was thrilled to find out this week that we are shooting for the book to be released in the Spring of 2013!

I can’t wait to share more along the way. Wish me luck!

~Eliza

On Winning the SCBWI Portfolio Showcase

 

 

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I won! This year’s SCBWI conference was more than I could have ever expected it to be. I got to spend tons of time with my fellow Mentees who were able to be there, see old friends, meet new ones, and just all around be inspired.

Photo by Debbie Ohi: The mentors and mentees reunite

I’m so excited and honored to share with you my news of winning the Portfolio Showcase grand prize at this year’s SCBWI Summer Conference! Since receiving last year’s Mentorship award, I worked hard revising my portfolio according to the suggestions of the Mentors. Going to this year’s conference with the changes in hand, I felt good about the work I had done but couldn’t imagine it would have been announced as the portfolio showcase winner. It was an amazing moment and continues to feel surreal. To top it off, fellow mentee John Deininger won the Portfolio Honor Award! It felt extra special to be up there together.

Photo by Debbie Ohi: Portfolio showcase pics

Everyone around me has been overwhelmingly encouraging. The prize will be an expense-paid trip to New York to meet face-to-face with art directors. I will share more details when I get them from SCBWI.

The Golden Kite Luncheon (1300 people in attendance this year!)

At the luncheon when they announced the portfolio winners (you can see my illustrations on the screens!)

Coming up this week; I’ll share on the blog my portfolio from this year compared to last year, side by side, so you can see what kinds of changes turned it into a winning portfolio!

See you at the SCBWI-LA conference!

 

Starting early tomorrow morning is the annual Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrator’s conference in Century City, Los Angeles. Publishers, editors, agents, art directors, writers and illustrators in the children’s book field get together and geek out about kids books (picture books up to YA novels). What could be better?

Photo by Debbie Ohi

I’ve been working for the past 6 months on revising my portfolio for the illustrator’s Portfolio Display on Saturday night. After winning the Mentorship Award Program last year along with 5 super talented illustrators (Debbie Ohi, Ashley Mims, Andrea Offermann, Kimberly Gee, and John Deininger), this year will be an important year to show the Mentors (Pat Cummings, Cecilia Yung, Priscilla Burris, Bridget Strevens-Marzo, David Diaz, and Rubin Pfeffer) that I have taken their feedback to heart. Their advice has been an immense help in guiding my work in the right direction.

Good luck everyone, can’t wait to see some of you there!

~Eliza