Happy Monday! I’m excited to report that I’m participating in this fun blog hop. For those of you who don’t know what a blog hop is (Dad), it’s a kind of a virtual, writerly, bloggerly “Tag! You’re IT!” Once tagged by someone in the blogosphere, you answer a few questions on your blog, and then tag one or two peeps to do the same thing on THEIR blogs by some predetermined time. Clear as mud? I thought so.
I’ve been tagged by children’s author-illustrator Dani Duck…
Married, toddlered and reluctant cat owner.
Writes, Illustrates and Moms. Basically awesome. Seldom boring.
Avid coffee drinker and chocolate fan …
Visit Dani’s blog, here.
Now for Dani’s questions of ME, Kim MacPherson (for those who know me, I have a very hard time talking about myself!)…
1.What am I currently working on?
Well, that’s a loaded question. On the writing and illustrating front, I’m fine-tuning one of the picture books I started earlier this year, Ballerina Witch (working title). I’m almost there as far as the text, and have just started drafting some rough illos and a storyboard. So far, so good.
I’ve also started a couple of new projects–one about an overprotected only child; the other about a prehistoric boy and his beloved sweet treats. (Yes, I know that Orq has just been released, but I actually started this before I even knew about Orq and it’s an altogether different book, David Elliott and Lori Nichols… promise!)
Gabriella is my polished PB… she is just sitting there waiting for me to get three or four other books to this same level of polish so that I can submit to agents, who want to see four or five or six polished picture book manuscripts if they like just one.
I have also resurrected one of the first picture book manuscripts I wrote–a rhyming book. And it’s a rhyming concept book at that! I’ve resurrected it because I’ve always gotten great feedback on it at conferences, and… well, just because. This one has a side cast of characters (read: they’re animated numbers) who carry a bit of a side plot (or illustrated narrative, as I’ve recently learned it’s called). I can’t wait to draw this one!
Last, but not least (as far as my books go, anyway) is one of my favorites. It’s the one I wrote right after a SCBWI conference almost two years ago… in just a couple of hours. I put it on the back burner, where it sat for a few months. I pulled it out and let a couple of my critique group friends look at it. Made some changes. Then put it on the back burner again. It’s been simmering there for a while, but I still love this zany book (if I do say so myself). The book is called… wait for it… Stinkfoot. It’s about an uppity cat (and, no, he does NOT have stinky feet, thank you very much.) Anyway, this is one where I have played and played and sketched and sketched what the heck he must look like, but I just haven’t gotten it yet. It’s like I have him in my mind… but it’s just not coming out in my pencil! Ah well, one of these days. He’s one of my faves, though. Whoever he is and whatever he looks like.
Speaking of cats, I’m also working on fine-tuning my skills in… pet portaits! This was brought on by the love of a dog that we had to give up recently because our 10-year old was profoundly allergic to him. It was heartbreaking… mainly for me because I spent more time with him than the rest of my family and this dog and I REALLY bonded. (I’m getting vaklempt just writing about him.) Anyway, I took a pet portraits class with the intent of drawing/painting him. I thought it might be somewhat cathartic and it has been. (There IS a happy ending, though–he has been adopted into a great home where he is also well-loved. I’ll never forget this very special dog, though.)
Aside from writing and illustrating, though, I also edit. I edit technical and marketing text on a freelance basis for a living, but started editing picture books earlier this year (not necessarily for a living, but for a song). What I love about it is that I get to read other authors’ works-in-progress (in addition to my critique groups’ WIPs). They have been a joy to work on. And authors that have hired me keep coming back, so I must be doing something right! I don’t advertise or anything–I just have a simple post to my PictureBookEditor.com site in one of the 12 x 12 forums and that’s how people have found me.
Last, after a long summer break, I’ve also just begun an internship with a big New York literary agency! I figure it’s a great way to learn more about this crazy world of publishing, plus with all of the great feedback I’ve gotten from authors on how I’ve helped shape their books, plus my successful sales past, agent-ing just might be a twilight career for me. Who knows? This just started this past week, and what I’m mainly doing is reading full manuscripts for agents and then writing a “manuscript analysis” on them. I’ll also write cover letters that will target publishers on books that agents have signed on. I live in the Atlanta area, so I work remotely with one agent… I can’t physically file or answer phones, so that’s a bonus!
Oh – almost forgot! I’m also participating in a “coloring book collaborative” where several illustrators are contributing a coloring page that will go in a book that will be available for free. Very excited about that one. My second “tag-ee” below (Jennyann Carthern) is the creator of this exciting project.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
As far as writing goes, I’ve been told that I have a certain lyrical, rhythmic style to my writing…and that probably stems from the fact that I wrote rhymers to begin with, even though I write in pure prose now. I don’t know if it’s very different from others, but it’s mine for now.
As far as illustrating goes, I’m still trying to find my style–I vacillate between truly colorful/whimsical/weird and what I call “soft shaded cartoons.” There are a few other styles I’ve used. I’m trying to work it out by copying (not plagiarizing-copying… just copying for style purposes) others that I admire.
3. Why do I write/create what I do?
Plain and simple, it is just FUN. I could write and draw kid lit on the weekends, at 4 o’clock in the morning, while on vacation… I don’t care. I’d do it at any time. Even if I had a major deadline with a publisher and I had to get fifteen spreads done while on a gorgeous, long-awaited trip to Turks and Caicos (yes, that is a goal), I wouldn’t begrudge it. I’d say, “Bring it on! I can work on the beach!” That kind of feeling is when you know you’ve found what you were meant to do, I think.
Ultimately, though, I just love the idea of one of MY books inspiring a child to love reading. Today I saw Carmen Agra Deedy at the Decatur (Atlanta) Book Festival. She’s a celebrated children’s author who has been writing kids’ books and telling kids’ stories for at least a couple of decades. She’s an amazing storyteller. She was on a small stage with a bunch of kids in front of her, telling this wonderful Cuban classic children’s story, complete with audience participation on sound effects, dramatic pauses… the whole nine yards. The kids were mesmerized and some were laughing hysterically. THAT, my friends, is what good kid lit is all about. While I know I’ll never be a good storyteller verbally, I hope to one day entertain a child like that with one of my books. And I cannot wait to participate in school visits… that’s my life goal!
4. How does your writing/creating process work?
Ha! There’s no real process here in Crazy-Town! I just “work” (and I use that term loosely… to me, it’s more play than work) when I can. If I’m not “REAL working” (on my editing contract or, now, my internship) or taking care of volunteer events at my son’s school, I’ll find dribs and drabs of time during school hours, or sometimes a bit after school (before Chauffeur Kim has to start shuffling to tennis courts and karate and friends). There’s also weekends, though I always feel guilty unless the boys (hubby and son) have other plans.
My workspace (not one, but THREE desks!)
In my dreams, however, I would rise before the roosters (no, I don’t have roosters; I’d just get up before they get up… wherever they are). I’d then tip-toe down to my office/studio (mere steps away). Oh! And I’d make sure to have a Keurig in my office so as not to wake everyone by going downstairs. (Gotta have that caffeine fix!) And I’d get a good two hours of work in before I had to get my son up for school. I’d start by reading ten or twenty picture books that I have on hand, to get in that “zone.” Then I’d start sketching. Then I’d open up one of my works-in-progress and start polishing or rewriting… or maybe I’d start something new.
In between, I’d check out one of my kid lit groups on Facebook. Or read a “how I created this really cool illustration” blog post by some author-illustrator that I admire. Or I’d pick up Andrew Loomis’ Creative Illustration or my Big Book of Illustration Ideas to help inspire me.
Just about every day, I get some seed of an idea for an actual story. I usually write them down on my phone, or on my desktop if I’m at home. They’re everywhere. I know I’ve got dozens of working titles, but for every twenty that I come up with, maybe one or two really sticks.
So some days, I might spend a couple of hours taking a “Drawing in Photoshop” course by Will Terry. Then another day or another available two hours might be spent writing up an outline of how the heck I’m going to end this “thing” I’ve started. (Endings are always a problem for me. Always.)
A big goal of mine is to learn Corel Painter. I love, love, LOVE the true painterly look of Painter and I know it’s a complicated program, but I aim to learn it!
As you can see, I jump around. A LOT. I would say I have a touch of ADHD, but I’m not very “H.” I’m pretty mellow, actually, though I am pretty active. (I spent way too much of my free time this summer playing tennis.) I’m back to yoga AND tennis now (and, sniff!, running/walking when we had our foster dog). I find I get a LOT of great ideas in yoga class.
Anyway, I digress. I think I just made my point.
Well, well, well! While it seems I’m not very good at talking about myself, I can be pretty darned verbose when it comes to writing about myself! Alas, now it’s time to pass on the virtual torch to two of my fellow creatives. Let me introduce you to…
Colleen Bennett is a former teacher, aspiring writer, and full time snack eater.
She likes to dabble in a little fictional this and a little fictional
that, lingering for the most part over middle-grade.
For more on Colleen visit her blog colleenbennett.wordpress.com
Jennyann Carthern is a Visual Artist, Illustrator, and has been an active Teaching Artist in the Bay Area & Solano County for over 11 years for non profits and after school programs. She has a been practicing and studying art since grade school.
The first memory she has of a paintbrush was in kindergarten. She was painting black and white stripes on a paper mache zebra! T
Today, Jennyann still paints with brushes, along with pen & ink, pencil, and a mixed box of materials. In was later in life that Jennyann decided to attend weekend classes at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. But it was at the California College of the Arts where Jennyann hones her skills, not only in illustration, but in community arts education, and earned a BFA in Illustration. Today Jennyann is currently building her two businesses as the owner and operator of Paint Is Thicker Than Water Studio of The Arts and Jennyann Carthern Childrens Design & Illustration. On another note Jennyann has been a Vegan or Veg 8 years in counting!