Monday, December 21, 2009

Belly Dancer

          I'm happy to say that the last few poses that we've done in my drawing the costumed figure class have actually been models in costumes, not street clothes (well, one wore street clothes but they were so funky it looked like she was wearing a costume.)
          Here the model wore a belly dancing outfit. This is also the model who wore the mongolian outfit. The were both her costumes. It's fun to draw someone wearing an actual costume. I hope it keeps up this way, because t-shirts just aren't that exciting to draw.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Woman in Mongolian Hat

Here is the latest of my drawings. The model wore a wonderful asian/mongolian costume that I got so wrapped up in drawing that it messed me up.  I had to start over. Then I focused on just her face and I can't say I'm sorry. I like this one a lot. Maybe because I let myself use color. Slowly my drawing skills are edging up and it's exciting!

Friday, November 27, 2009

NaNoWriMo Winner! How does it feel?

          I have to be honest and say that NaNoWriMo was grueling. It started out well. I didn’t know I could write that much so fast and it was gratifying to find out that I could. I certainly learned a lot about myself during NaNoWriMo.
          I learned that I could write pages and pages every day and not just when some muse wandered by. I could be disciplined about my writing. I found out that my characters came alive and started dictating the story to me. That was a great discovery. My characters were practically writing my novel for me!
          But I also learned that you can’t write well when you write fast and I’m not proud of the writing that I produced. I hope to be once I’ve revised the novel once or twice, but for now, it’s terrible. Finally, I learned that it’s highly stressful to write 50,000 words in one month and even though I did it, I'm glad it’s over.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NaNoWriMo Break

     I am now over 30,000 words and I realized last thursday that I made a tactical error after I finished writing for the day.
     A word of advice for other NaNoWriMoers, don't make the mistake I made. Don't read through what you've written so far. It's terrible stuff, it's the first draft and it created an overwhelming urge in me to revise.
     So I had to stop writing for a couple of days in order to get back to the mindset necessary for pumping out 50,000 words in a month. I've decided I'm going to put my work away for a month in December and let the dust settle. Then I'll come back to it.
     I have a new mantra when I start writing tomorrow.
     It's "Revise in January! Revise in January!"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

NaNoWriMo; 1st update

    I am loving the NaNoWriMo experience. I am sure part of why it’s been so positive for me is because of timing. Perfect timing.
    I finished my first novel, The Adventures of Marcus Tuttle, three months ago. I had the idea for my next novel three years ago, but I discovered that I couldn't work on two projects concurrently. So I only did research for this novel. I also thought about it.  The ideas, the plot and the characters have been percolating in my brain for a long, long time.
    I was nervous when I started NaNoWriMo that I wouldn’t be able to write a 50,000 page novel in four weeks, but it turns out that this book is pouring out of me like a spurting water fountain. Today I hit 23,000 words and It’s only been a week.
    So what I love most about NaNoWriMo is that it gives me permission to write down crap. I'm fine with that. I realize that I’ll have to revise everything anyway but at least now I’ll have a few words to work with. I hope anyone else doing NaNoWriMo is getting a positive experience out of it. Go NaNoWriMoers!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Here is another drawing that I'm happy with. The process of drawing is so engrossing but then you are done. Sigh. I find that I don't have such an emotional attatchment to my artwork after it's finished as I do while I'm working on it. The intensity of looking and the importance of concentrating while drawing is intense and I love that feeling, but when it's over, it's over. So, on to the next one!

Friday, October 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo Jumpstart

      Last night I took a class called the NaNoWriMo Jumpstart.
M. Molly Backes was the instructor and started us off with exercises intended to get us brainstorming about the time and place of our novel “to be”.
     Then she led us through an exercise where we wrote our main character’s #1 goal inside a circle, the #1  main opposition to that goal in another circle and the #1 fear of our main character in the final circle.
     Then we wrote multiple secondary goals around circle #1, secondary oppositions around #2 and secondary fears around the last circle.
     Lastly, we wrote possible scenes and situations around all the goals, oppositions and fears.    
     The final exercise was  based on a writing exercise where an author is supposed to write for ten minutes without stopping or censoring themselves. However, Molly had us do that exercise from our main character’s POV. I enjoyed this one. It helped to get a sense of the voice of the character and after a while I found the character started to tell me how the story should go.
     All in all, I thought it was a successful NaNoWriMo Jumpstart.
     I’m excited for NaNoWriMo to start, but is anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo feel as nervous as I do? I feel like telling myself to fasten my seat belt because its gonna be a wild ride!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Query Contest on

Well, I just found out about the query contest on and as I have started on my querying journey, I figured I should enter. I've already sent out a number of queries for my MG novel and had a few rejections already. Query letters are frustrating since it's so difficult to make a query letter do everything it's supposed to do; the synopsis has to sound intriguing and the letter has to somehow convey a sense of the author's writing style. I've rewrtitten my query once already and I'll send it in to Hopefully it'll be chosen as a wonderful example of a query and the winner gets 30 pages of their manuscript read by an agent. Not bad. I've added a link to in my blog sidebar for anyone else who'd like to submit to the contest.

1st drawing of a costumed model

           Well, here's my first drawing from Drawing the Costumed Figure. We've had three models so far, but we spend weeks on each pose, and not are all successful drawings so I am only showing this one. Doesn't he look sad? or maybe angry? I think it's it funny that he's actually a comedian.
           Models for drawing classes tend to have occupations from all over the board. One time I came to a Nude Drawing class to find my Aerobics Instructor from my gym up on the pedestal. Let me tell you, that was odd.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Agent Talk with Jennifer Mattson.

     Saturday was the Agent Talk workshop at Story Studio. It was well done and Jennifer Mattson of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency had tons of good information to share.
    First she talked about how she’s going to be heading the new Chicago office of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Great news for midwestern writers!
    She talked about what an agent was looking for in an author. They like a complete package - someone who’s a great writer but who also has a marketing platform, such as a website or a blog. She suggested that authors should be active in the kid’s lit community, for example, being a member of SCBWI and attending conferences and workshops.
    Then she talked about market trends. I’ll give a brief overview. “Paranormal” fiction (vampires, werewolves, mermaids, faeries, angels, etc.) is now a hard sell because the market’s been saturated. Trends that she sees now are books that have a strong voice, such as M.T. Anderson’s “Feed”, books that hark back to a simpler time, like Jeanne Birdsall’s “The Penderwicks”, and books that have elements of magic realism, like Ingrid Law’s  “Savvy”. She also talked about “high concept” books being in demand. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that. I’d have thought that wold have meant a literary book, perhaps a book with lots of flowery words in it, but it doesn’t. “High concept” means a novel with a compelling premise that can be explained succinctly, i.e. a commercial book, such as Susan Beth Pfeffer’s “Life as we knew it.” Non-fiction is still a strong section of the marketplace. Editors are looking for character driven picture books that can be turned into a series, such as Ian Falconer’s “Olivia”. Also, picture books about animals instead of kids. That surprised me, because for years I’d heard that animal character stories were difficult to sell, but I guess the market changes and that’s why we look at trends. So pull out that old animal story you’ve got tucked away and send it off!
    She warned us that the slow economy and layoffs have translated into long response times. Laid off editors have turned agents, so there are more agents out there shopping around more manuscripts. Depopulated publishing houses can’t keep up with the tidal wave of submissions, so response times are now months instead of weeks. It means we have to be more patient than ever.    
    The first pages were very informative and I commend Ms. Mattson on doing a great job of weaving positive criticism in with negative criticism. She was honest without being brutal. I think everyone learned something from her thoughtful critiques even if it wasn’t for their own first page. All in all a great morning!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Agent Talk at Story Studio

     This saturday I’ll be attending a workshop at Story Studio, a writing community space on Chicago’s north side. The workshop is called “Agent Talk” and it will focus on a variety of topics from current Children’s book trends to what catches an agent’s eye. The guest speaker is Jennifer Mattson of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I’m excited about it, because I’ve just begun to look for an agent for my middle grade novel, The Adventures of Marcus Tuttle, and the topics are all interesting to me.             
     They’ll be reading a selection of first pages as well. That’s when attendees bring the first page of their manuscript to be read aloud. The pages are collected at the door and a random selection gets picked for Ms.Mattson to critique. I’ve been to a couple of conferences in which first pages were critiqued and it’s quite informative. Sometimes, though, it’s hard if your page wasn’t selected. You feel disappointed and unlucky. But I think that’s a part of searching for an agent that’s important to keep in mind. Sometimes it can be about luck as well as hard work and talent.
     I’ll post highlights and share information and tips that I gather from the “Agent Talk” next week.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Drawing the Costumed Figure

I'm starting a class on friday called "drawing the costumed figure". It's hard work to draw from a live model but it's worth it. I've found that just like writing, drawing improves with practice.  My goal is to develop a children's illustration portfolio over the course of the next few months. I have a portfolio of my prints online already, (see, but it's mostly adult work mixed in with a smattering of children's illustrations. Frankly, it's a bit confusing. I'll seperate it into two catagories, adult and children's, on the advice of some illustrators that responded to a post I had put on Verla Kay. I'll be posting examples from my class here (if I think they're good enough) in the near future. Lots of work to do, but it's good to be working towards a goal.