A Sad Goodbye: Patricia Cantor

 

 

I met Pat Cantor at my very first Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Summer Conference in 2009, where she was among many of the wonderful illustration comrades I’ve made. Ever since meeting her I have looked up to her as an illustrator and person, feeling like she’s been something of a trail-blazer for those of us starting out. She won the SCBWI National Portfolio Showcase grand prize award in 2008, and was able to give me advice on the experience before my own prize trip to NYC to meet with publishers.

And as I work right now on the cover for the SCBWI Bulletin fall issue, I remember her own beautiful cover illustration:

She was also the one who encouraged me to submit to our agency, Andrea Brown Literary Agency, because she loved her agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton, so much. An incredibly talented illustrator, her work is soft and dreamy; filled with atmosphere and emotion. This week she passed away of ovarian cancer. It will be very sad not to see new work from her.

My heart is with Pat, her family and friends, her agent Jamie, and the many SCBWI illustrator friends that will miss her so and remember her always.

Inspired by: Writers

 

 

As a budding writer (or fledgling, it feels like most of the time), I find a lot of encouragement reading advice from other writers. I’ve recently gotten to know our neighbor Mike (a writer), who lent me Stephan King’s book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. I adored his personality, which he used in an amusing way to create an unconventional book on writing.

And this morning I found, through a vast array of links, starting with a Publisher’s Weekly digest email, this article:
 Collection of Brilliant and Inspiring Letters From Famous Authors to Their Young Fans
Included are letters from authors Harper Lee, Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak, C.S. Lewis, Beatrix Potter, J.K. Rowling, and Harold Pinter.

In a letter from C.S. Lewis to a young fan,  I particularly loved this piece of writing advice:

“In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

This letter was originally posted on the blog Letters Of Note; Correspondence deserving of a wider audience, which is “an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.”  Hours will be lost on this blog, but I’ll risk that they’ll be well worth it!

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.

 

Sigh of Relief Due Upon Completion

 

 

It’s been months of intense work here on my picture book project, and the interior artwork is all sent off to New York. Though I have yet to do the cover and endpaper artwork, there’s a big sense of accomplishment and relief knowing that the bulk of the work is finished. I can’t wait to share this artwork with you as soon as I’m able to!

Painting the last pages

Clean Palettes

 

Plugging Away . . .

 

 

I’m here plugging away diligently and watching the big deadline approach on my current book project, The Maple Tree Orphanage. I can’t wait to share more details about the story, and share the process of working on my first story with editor, Nancy Paulsen and art director, Cecilia Yung. But, for now I have to get back to the drawing table . . . because there’s a lot to do in this next month, and this is a bit how I’m feeling:

From the great Bill Watterson

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!