I caught the Japan travel bug a couple of years ago, and in April the timing (and the amazing steal on flights) was finally right - my husband and I spent an amazing two weeks in Japan. We explored the city streets in Tokyo, were awe-struck by the temples in Kyoto, and enjoyed the whirlwind energy of Osaka. We were surrounded by beauty in nature and ate delicious meals every day, but the icing on the cake for me was the hunt for picture books along the way. I knew Japan would be an inspiring trip full of color and beauty, so I’m spicing up my blog with a few videos of the cutest Japanese book shops where I found my picture book gems.
Osaka is a busy, electrifying city, and we stayed right in the heart of the tourist area in Namba. We only spent a couple of days there, but we ate delicious street food the area is known for, tried our luck at the arcade, and explored the city streets. Here’s a little video on Athens Bookstore, a small bookstore we went into while in Osaka. Hope you enjoy it!
If I Were a Book
written by: Jose Jorge Letria | illustrated by: Andre Letria
Here's the little book I bought at Athen's Bookstore. I love the way the simple text goes hand in hand with the graphical illustrations. Since I don't read or speak Japanese, I found this to be a perfect example of how strongly illustrations can speak louder than words.
Without even knowing the title of the book, which I didn't at the time I bought it, I found the illustrations created a story all their own- we can imagine ourselves swimming through the ocean, flying high above the bustling city or scaling the tallest mountain in the adventures we take while reading a book.
I found the English translated version of If I Were a Book on Amazon, providing snippets of the actual text written by Letria:
"If I were a book, I'd be full of new horizons"
"If I were a book, I would not want to know at the beginning how my story ends"
Didn't you already get a sense of these words just by looking at the illustrations? The power of art and words, even art without words, experienced inside a picture book is exactly why I love them so much.
Highlights from our short but delicious stay in Osaka.
Our stay in Osaka was a rainy one, but the days were perfect to get lost among the tall buildings, surrounded by the endless posters calling our name to try one savory treat after another.
Delicious street food and cute desserts everywhere!
Below: Earl grey rye pancakes topped with fruit and ice-cream, adorable and yummy roasted green tea latte, okonomiyaki (savory pancakes filled with grilled octopus) takoyaki (flavorful octopus balls topped with fish flakes on a stick) and a warm an pan with vanilla ice-cream inside. For dinner, we had the crispiest, tastiest salt and pepper chicken wings I've ever had in my entire life. Osaka is food and dessert heaven.
My husband and I are not gamblers, but in Japan, there were arcades with bright lights and playful music everywhere. I just had to include these photos of the adorable prizes teasing us and the Miyazaki game that lured me in. Only 1000 yen later ($10) and my husband won me the "ultimate prize"!
Thanks for watching my first ever video blog! Coming soon: Part 2 of my picture book hunt in Japan featuring an adorable little shop in Kyoto!
Hello 2018! Where have you gone already? I told myself 2018 would be full of writing, and it’s already March and this is my first post of the year. (There has actually been lots of writing going on over here, just not much anyone else has seen but me. This post was originally dated February 9, yiikes! Time flies in the blink of an eye.)
Tara Lazar’s Storystorm! 30 days of an incredible almost literal storm of idea inspiration and writing techniques to jumpstart my writing creativity. 30 days in a row of writing! Sarah 2017 would’ve never thought I could manage writing every single day, but that’s what I did every day in January. And while most of those 30 ideas are total garbage, a handful of them are in the works for picture book manuscripts this year. Yeah!!
12 x 12 Challenge! January meant the 12 x 12 challenge registration opened, a kidlit community I waited almost all of 2017 to join, since I found out about it when registration had already closed. This is a challenge of writing 12 manuscripts in 12 months! What?! How would that be possible?! Sarah 2017 spent all of last year writing and re-writing “Wake Up, Little Bat!”, then barely managed to squeeze out a couple of half-finished stories the rest of the year. The motivation was there, but where would I find the time? Answer: there is always a way to make time for your passions, especially with this the community of supportive kidlit writers. I even found a critique group of author/illustrators to bounce my stories and drawings off of- score!
I got back on track with Little Bat! The truth is, it’s been one heck of a challenge! I knew I wanted 2018 to be my year for stepping up my writing game, but life happens and things never go as planned. Things like a husband breaking his leg smack in the middle of the holiday season. Then a double whammy of me getting so sick, not once but TWICE, while picking up the slack of daily life x 2 while the husband was on the mend. Whew! Once I recovered, and the husband was able to walk without crutches and drive on his own, it was time to really buckle down and get serious about Little Bat. I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far, but by the end of March, Little Bat full color illustrations will be FINISHED, and I will be the happiest girl on the block. Happy dance on hold until the end of this month.
L.A. Writer’s Day and filling my creative cup! This was my second time attending the local conference at the Skirball Center, and my first time pitching to an agent. The talks were inspiring, and speaking to other children’s books writers was so much fun. I thoroughly enjoyed Fiona Kenshole's keynote talk and breakout sessions, (especially with her British accent) and Bethany Barton's sense of humor and tips on social media for authors and illustrators The best part about this day was connecting with other incredibly supportive local writers. I now officially have an in-person writing group that meets at one of my favorite neighborhood cafes. When we put ourselves out there and align ourselves with what we feel we're meant to be doing, really great things happen. And I am so grateful.
The beginning of 2018 really threw me for a loop and feeling a little out of whack is a bit of an understatement. The anxiety really built up when I felt the productivity time going down the drain. But I realized there were other pockets of time I could also take advantage of while I wasn’t at home on nurse duty. Lunches on my office work days were split into mini-writing sessions. And I traded late night TV time into illustration hour, even if it was less than an hour after a long work day. When you really don’t have any spare time, even half an hour moves you forward.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through all of this, is to be kinder to myself. I will always have some looming deadline or a pile of dishes in the sink, or an idea I’ve been dying to turn into a story, but no time to get to. And that’s ok. I can’t do it all, and I don’t want to drive myself crazy trying to.
Listening to podcasts have also kept me sane during this time. Not only creative motivational ones, but stories I can escape with also. Here are a few that get me through my long drives to work and moments when my creative cup is sitting a little low:
Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Cathy Heller (my creative savior and inspiration pitcher filling my creative cup every single week, including the inspirational quotes on my IG sketches. Check out the episode from February 5- How Everything is Possible with Shelli Varela. You will burst from inspiration and all the feels.)
Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert (Elizabeth Gilbert has written several acclaimed books including Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic. I love listening to her podcast while I color Little Bat. Listening to her reach out to artists in need of getting over their creative hump, and helping them with her talks with other equally inspiration artists and speakers really keeps the creative energy flowing.)
This American Life (slices of life ranging from intriguing, emotional, controversial and just plain entertaining)
Radiolab (It's been a while since I've listened to this, but there's always something interesting and fun to learn about the world around us with every episode.)
My Favorite Murder (This was my guilty pleasure for a hot minute, until there were later nights alone with Peanut before the hubs got home for work. That and this girl’s most active imagination make for the worse combo, but maybe good writing material for a kidnapping or murder mystery? I’d rather not find out)
Do you have a favorite inspirational podcasts to keep the motivation high? Or an entertaining one to pass the time on your long commutes? Share them here!
Next up on the blog, my favorite motivations audiobooks for April. Or, more realistically, I’ll be back in June for a super fun re-cap blog post from my vacation to Japan in April. Let’s not forget, March is the home stretch for Little Bat!
Friends, for those of you reading this, thank you for taking the time, and for your continued support on my kidlit journey. This is a love letter to 2017, a year that's been so good to my creative soul. And to you friends, who ask me about Little Bat and how the progress is going, I am so grateful for your thoughts and wishes of good luck. It means so much to me. Love you guys!
You've been so good to me. On days like today, when my body is achy, my nose is stuffy and all I want is to disappear under a blanket, I think back on the amazing opportunities I've had this past year, sip my tea and just feel grateful. On evenings after a long day at work and a long commute in traffic, when all I want to do is veg out ,and binge on Terrace House or Broad City, I remind myself that Little Bat has been waiting for me all day, just to get a few more of his expressions drawn out (sometimes I give into TV anyway, because nobody's perfect and a girl needs a mental break now and then).
There's no better time than now, while my body recovers from an annoying cold, to take a minute and catch up on my blog before the end of the year. Let's see... I took my first online illustration course with the Children's Book Academy and it was so much fun! The timing was perfect, as I'm still smack in the middle of illustrating “Wake Up, Little Bat!” The structure of the class, the exercises for each week and the lessons and interviews were just what I needed to keep the inspiration train going. I'm telling you, illustrating can be a lonely pass-time, so it was really fun to see other illustration styles and other projects the very talented students were up to. I submitted to the Golden Ticket contest (didn't win this time, but you can't win 'em all!), and it pushed me to think about color (yay!) for Little Bat.
I sent in my final sketches for “Wake Up, Little Bat!” to my editor and publisher! Thats right folks, my entire book is all sketched out! And while there are still changes to be made, I feel ECSTATIC to say I can check this milestone off on my illustrating path. What an amazing feeling!
I also took some extra time to connect to inspiration and fill my creative cup. December was jam-packed with events and I had to take advantage of meeting the very delightful Oliver Jeffers and the positively energetic Cathy Heller. If you ever feel yourself in a slump, get out there and look for events with people who do what you want to be doing. Just feeling the energy of being out at an event will give you the refresher you're looking for. (It didn't hurt to bring along a couple of my closest gal pals for a ladies night of creativity too!) If you're on your own creative path, do yourself a HUGE favor and listen to the Don't Keep Your Day Job podcast on iTunes. Cathy Heller is an amazing force of motivation every one of us creative folks need in our lives. I could do an entire blog post on all the episodes she's hosted alone... (hmm.. now that's an idea.. inspiring podcasts and audiobooks!)
Last week, I reconnected with my book buddy, Emily, a fellow kidlit writer and lover of picture books to catch up on her writing journey as well. So fun and so sweet to chat with someone who loves children's books as much as I do! And did I mention, I was a part of an AMAZINGLY fun webinar through the Children's Book Academy, filled with published writers and illustrators ? Wow, what an honor to be a part of this talented bunch. I learned so much and am so excited to be a part of this kidlit community. (For anyone interested, the live webinar was recorded and is available here bit.ly/AnAwesomeGIFT )
And lastly, this has nothing to do with my writing journey, but I hosted our first ever family fiesta at our house, and it was so full of love and warm fuzzies, I had to include it here too. December, you have been so fun and inspiring, and it's not even Christmas yet....wooooohoo!
You've been an amazing pal, 2017, but I can't wait for what my new friend, 2018, has in store for me!
Staying inspired through the holidays and into the new year!
Art, creativity and the time for it is a dream I’ve been searching for my entire life. It hasn’t been easy, but I am happily handing over every spare minute I have to drawing and thinking about Little Bat these days. But the thing about illustrating is it’s a solitary activity. Sure, I bounce my ideas and show my drawings for feedback to my creative partner/husband when he’s home, but for the most part, the creating happens with me alone at my desk (or more times than not, with a very bored Peanut curled up on the floor behind me, springing into action each time I get up to use the bathroom).
I’m finding that for the sake of my sanity and for overall happiness in general, balance is key. And one of those nuggets of happiness always comes from getting together with the ladies for our monthly book club meets. Throughout my life, books were a form of escape for me. And when I moved away from my bubble in the South Bay to a new neighborhood in Los Angeles, books helped me pass the pre-Peanut days of waiting for my then-boyfriend (now husband) to get home from work. Back then, I craved the company of friends and connecting with others with the same interest, so I went in search of a book club.
At the time, all I wanted was to find a fun group of ladies to have a drink with and share my thoughts (good and bad) for the book I had just finished. Cue The Girly Book Club on meetup.com. It was described as “a global book club for like-minded women to discuss great books!”, and it was just what I was looking for. A week before the meetup, there was still no host and no location. I volunteered to host and find a place to meet, just that one time. There were eight of us ladies, all meeting for the first time at the restaurant I had chosen, the ATX Kitchen (now Momed) in Atwater Village. We read Wool by Hugh Howey (not one of my favorites) but our love of books is what brought us together and I had such a great time. Fast-forward four years and we’re still going strong. We’re no longer a part of the official Girly Book Club, and I no longer officially host, but month after month, we still get together for that drink, brunch and some good conversation in a different, fun spot all over L.A. The most memorable for me are:
1. Brunch at The Front Yard in North Hollywood (http://www.thefrontyardla.com/), where we met on the outdoor patio of the beautiful restaurant, under the shade of the olive trees and umbrellas. This is the most recent, but it was a check on the book club bucket list. Our lovely Rebecca suggested we read a book written by her boss’ friend, who volunteered to come and hang out with us for a book discussion afterwards. It’s been a long lived wish of mine to have an author attend one of our book clubs, and having Anne Cherian, author of A Good Indian Wife, brunch and chat with us about her book was so amazing. She was so warm, smart and open with us about her experience, and we even got an alternate ending to her book! The experience was so much fun, and an extra special treat for us. I would definitely recommend Anne’s book, a work of fiction with an interesting view on arranged marriages in Indian culture and the U.S.
2. ATX Kitchen (now Momed Atwater Village www.atmomed.com/aw/) This place will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the place for the first book club meeting. The food was always pretty tasty, and I loved the open outdoor space, the community tables and the train whizzing by every half hour. (These photos were taken back when it was ATX Kitchen. I miss the personal touch of the mural of owner's mother or grandmother- I can't remember which.)
3. Our 1-year anniversary in North Hollywood at the clubhouse of the condos member Leslie managed. It was the first time we had gathered for a potluck celebration, and it was so fun to have a special place just for us to celebrate! Next year will be 5 years together for us, so I’ll have to plan for something just as special. (Please excuse the low-res, blurry photo, this was from back in 2013.)
We have gone to so many fun spots throughout L.A. (See end of blog for the delicious and fun spots for a drink, and easy parking situations we’ve checked out- all a MUST for an ideal book club hangout.)
Now, the newness has settled into a warm and comfortable friendship. I love these ladies so much! We still see each other every month, have attended each other’s weddings, baby showers, and said sad good-byes to those who have moved away from L.A. We also rotate hosts to pick the book and location, to keep things fresh and casual for everyone. No matter how busy I get, I always try to come back to my girlies to catch up and fill my creative cup with connection, laughs, and delicious food and book conversation. Shout out to my book club ladies! Thank you for your friendship and for sharing your love of reading with me.
If you’re a book-loving lady in the L.A. area looking for a book club, let me know! We’d love to have you join us. Are you reading anything interesting that would be a good book club suggestion? Have you gone anywhere fun and delicious for brunch in L.A.? I’d love to hear your favorites.
Book Club locations for...
...a weekday drink and snacks
Bow and Truss, North Hollywood
Bon Vivant, Atwater Village
Oeno Vino (formerly 55 Degrees), Atwater Village
...delicious brunch and lovely outdoor space
The Front Yard, North Hollywood
The Culver Hotel, Culver City
Chado Tea Room, Pasadena or Little Tokyo
Off Vine, Hollywood
Cliff's Edge, Silverlake
Favorite books we've read...
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Book Store
The Fates and the Furies
Girl on the Train (mostly because we also watched the movie together)
Me Before You
The Rosie Project
It’s September and back-to-school time is here! I am also joining the kiddos and students of all ages going back to school as I start the very exciting Children’s Book Academy Craft and Business of Illustrating Children's Books course on Monday (www.childrensbookacademy.com). I’ve always loved learning and reading books of almost all kinds (aka was a nerd in school), but this new-found passion of mine has ignited a whole new spark of inspiration to learn as much as I can about the kidlit world.
The problem is, as an adult trying to navigate this journey of writing and illustrating my very first picture book, I find myself scrambling to stay organized. Sure, I add all the events to the calendar on my laptop and use the notes app on my phone to keep my thoughts organized, but I still miss things. (I can’t be the only person out there who still needs a calendar on her fridge to get a bird’s eye view of what’s happening that month, can I?) Even with all this pocket-size technology, to be honest, my organizational skills can be somewhat non-existent at times. (I’m trying really hard not to fall into the artist’s stereotype here, but that could possibly be to blame). However, I refuse to fall into my old disorganized ways, and was determined to find something better.
This time, my phone came to the rescue! A surprisingly easy and very practical solution scrolled right through my Instagram feed: a friend’s post about her planners, organizers and colored pens. Of course, so genius! (Are you kidding me with these amazing photos? Just looking at them makes me want to curl up with some tea and organize the heck out of my life. Thanks @runningmona13, you’re a lifesaver!). Why didn’t I think back to my own school days and love for hard-covered planners and brand-new highlighters? Could the answer really be as simple as going old school and using the tried and true pen and paper?
Luckily, with Amazon Prime, I was only a few clicks and two days of waiting away from receiving the little notebook with hopes that it will keep me sane while I juggle an illustration course, my full-time job and life in general. I went with the Simple Elephant and fine line drawing pens from Sipa. This is not an official endorsement, but simply my own personal and quickly researched choice for the following reasons:
I’m really looking forward to taking this Illustration course head-on, adding important class notes and homework dates to my paper calendar, and using my colored pens to stay organized. Added bonus: plenty of space for colorful sketches in the margins just like my doodles (I mean incredibly detailed and studious notes) back in high school. ;) Do you have a favorite planner or go to tips to stay organized? Please share with me so I can keep it up and stay motivated while I’m ahead!
Stay tuned for an update on “Wake Up, Little Bat!” and my experience with my first ever illustration course online, hopefully a very neatly organized one, thanks to my Simple Elephant!
Starting on this writing journey has motivated me to connect with others. Not only the kids I want to share Little Bat with, but those on their own creative path, no matter what it is. And with people picking up the pieces of their lives after the hurricane devastation in Houston and Florida, there's been a heightened awareness for helping those in need around us. So this past week, I focused my creative efforts on two things:
1. volunteering for Reading to Kids and connecting with kids in my local community
2. contributing an illustration for an amazing anthology through Clear Fork Publishing, the company publishing Little Bat next year, with all proceeds going to the Salvation Army for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
Its been a very rewarding and inspiring past few days. Last Saturday, I got back in touch with the kid inside and volunteered for Reading to Kids, a non-profit organization promoting the love of reading to elementary school kids in Los Angeles. It's been a long while since I’ve joined in, but with my new kidlit journey, I thought I should work on my reading aloud skills. Engaging young kids in a picture book and grabbing and keeping their attention really is a skill, and mine were pretty rusty. But once I got back into it, it was easy as pie. Who wouldn't have fun reading a picture book to kids and seeing what they thought of the funny little fish characters inside?
I thought back to my last volunteering experience, when I was unexpectedly re-assigned to reading to the older fifth graders, ones who were disinterested and ready for the summer to begin (which could be the cause of my long hiatus, but can you really blame kids for wanting to just be out for summer break already?) This time was completely different. I signed up early to ensure I would get my chosen age group, the little kindergarteners. There were only three of them, and since the school year has just begun, they were a bit shy at first. We read The Pout Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen. As the reading went on, the kids opened up, with a few entertaining moments of distraction. By the end of the craft session, the kids were drawing, cutting and letting their imagination run wild on the page. It was so fun to see the creativity these kids had in them. I will definitely be returning next month for the October special and my favorite holiday, Halloween! I’ve even gone against my usual procrastinating ways and signed up already to read to the younger kids again. :) I'll be volunteering as a skunk next month at Gratts Elementary School if you want to join me!
Still warm from the fuzzies of reading to the little kiddos, the following week was filled with late nights of finishing my illustration for the Hug for the World anthology from Clear Fork Publishing. I'm so proud to be part of a publishing company with such a big heart and love for its community. As a Texas-based publishing house, the publisher and owner, Callie Metler Smith, rallied the authors and illustrators in an effort to bring poems, stories, and art into a book to raise money for the people affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. The book comes out October 10 and you can pre-order it here:
Sometimes all it takes is giving a little good to the people around us who need it to spark inspiration and love. Have you been inspired to volunteer lately? Share it here and let's keep that spark going!
Happy September everyone, wow this summer has flown by! If you scroll down a bit, you can see I’ve been at this blogging game for a few years now, but only really in little spurts (and somewhat secretly since I'm only now sharing this with all of you!)- my trip to Peru, our wedding, moments of inspiration I’ve been trying to capture for future times when I need a creative push. I think that future is right now. I’m so incredibly excited and grateful to have the opportunity to illustrate my very own picture book! I haven’t been this immersed in art and drawing in years, and a new spark ignited since I’ve started this journey. But to be honest, the day to day is definitely a challenge. I have goals to meet and milestones to hit for each phase of my picture book illustrations, but the reality of balancing creating artwork, a full-time job and keeping up with life can get a bit overwhelming at times. Ok, A LOT overwhelming at times.
With social media, we get inundated with all the exciting and fun parts of a project or path. It’s fun to share exciting times in our lives with the ones we love, and get a glimpse of what our friends are doing too. I’ve been so thrilled to share the progress of Little Bat with all of you, and the encouragement always keeps me going. I can’t wait until the illustrations are all finished and I can share the entire story with everyone. But the truth is, there’s so much hard work, late nights, frustrating and defeating thoughts behind every creative achievement. And sometimes the creative cup feels like it’s gone empty. But it’s all a process I’m trying to get a handle on, and when the creative river goes down to a trickle (or God-forbid, bone dry at times!), it’s important to step back and fill the creative cup back up again. (Creative cup metaphor credit goes to my book buddy, Emily! It’s a good mental exercise to think about renewing your inspiration, almost like filling your glass up with a refreshing ice-cold glass of water, or margarita if that’s more to your liking. I personally prefer a tall glass of Earl Grey iced tea these days- if you’ve never tried it, you really should, it’s amazing!)
I'd love to share moments of filling that creative cup with all of you, in hopes of spreading that spark of inspiration. And please share yours too!
Thanks for reading! Let's keep that spark going!
July 28, 2017
My last filling of creativity came from an impromptu visit to The 14th Factory in L.A. with my little brother. (Sure, he’s a head taller than me and has been for the past ten years, but “hermanito” will never change in my mind.) To my surprise, the art bug bit him not too long ago, and he’s been inspired to visit new art galleries and museums. I’m all for it, little bro! Even though we didn’t have much time, it was incredible to be surrounded by all the different forms of art- from walking through a dark tunnel and towards a spiraling, and somewhat disorienting web of human figures, to the hot, bright room of the interior of a mid-century bedroom, relaxing indoors on a field of grass and swings, and viewing paintings, drawings, videos and everything in between. The art was incredible and so diverse.
It was really fun to catch up with my brother and be surrounded by all the intriguing, beautiful and sometimes dark and haunting artwork displayed at The 14th Factory. We left feeling content and inspired, having quenched our thirst for art after a couple of hours being drawn into it. I think this exhibit of The 14th Factory is closed now, we caught it on the last day, but here’s the website to keep up with future exhibits. http://the14thfactory.com/
It’s so important to expose ourselves to all different kinds of creativity, even if what we’re looking at has nothing to do with what we’re creating. There’s a certain kind of energy and indescribable emotion that exudes from being in the presence of someone else’s creative expression. Be open, get lost in it, and let the creativity cup fill to the brim.
Have you been anywhere inspiring lately? How do you fill your creative cup?
The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s) LA Conference was held early July, and I had no idea what I was getting into, in the best way possible. When I started on the path into the kidlit world, there was a list of things I had to do to get the best start. One of the most important was joining SCBWI to immerse myself in the children’s book world. Luckily, I dipped my toe in this world when I attended the regional meet-up earlier this year because otherwise I would’ve been completely overwhelmed by the event that was the huge L.A. conference.
The weekend was packed with inspirational keynote speakers, informative break-out talks by authors, agents and editors in the industry, and brunch with children’s writer and legend Judy Blume! The days were filled with so much inspiration, I hardly knew what to do with myself. I was constantly torn between attending one talk over the other at the same time, both sounding equally intriguing. But I think the best part of all was meeting all the wonderful people I had connected with online through my children’s book writing class. I spent my days learning from my instructor and "fairy godmother", Dr. Mira Reisberg, and eagerly sitting in on talks and sharing ideas with my book pals Emily, Jodi and Bryan. It was so surreal to meet my book friends in person after sharing my stories and ideas with them for months online. I found my tribe!
The Silver Linings social on Saturday night was really something to experience, with writers and artists dancing, mingling enjoying the appetizers and snacks galore. The drinks flowed and the ice-cream sundaes called my name. I even spotted my kidlit hero, author and illustrator Jon Klassen (but did not give in to my fan impulses this time- next time Jon Klassen, next time). This was kidlit heaven!
Of all the speakers who shared their wisdom and experiences with us (and all of them were so amazing), there were two in particular that really struck a chord with me. Opening keynote speaker Vanessa Brantley Newton and break-out session speaker Leuyen Pham. Newton spoke with an emotion that connected with the audience. Her story of perseverance and unrelenting will was so touching and inspiring to hear. And I hope her story about the goat falling into the well and the words of, “Shake it off and pack it under” will resonate with me when I’m struggling to push through on my creative journey.
Pham is a magical unicorn all her own. She’s illustrated an incredible number of books, and hearing her process absolutely blew my mind. How does she illustrate more than one book at a time and maintain her sanity while raising her young children? This woman is an illustrating machine! Regardless, it was reassuring to hear her speak about her experiences of illustrating, searching for inspiration, and realizing that even though she’s extremely talented, she’s also very, very hard-working. I am a big fan, Leuyen!
When I first told my husband I would be attending the SCBWI conference, he was so supportive, and in Renaldo fashion, could probably see how taken I would be, even more so than I did at the time. I’ve caught the kidlit bug and it’s not letting me go! I came home from each full day at the conference, lit up with energy and newly inspired, though exhausted. I hope I remember this feeling. It was incredible to live in a kidlit bubble for one fulfilling weekend. And even though this event has come and gone, I’ll return to the memories again and again to keep me going on this kidlit journey. There is always next year, and perhaps the Winter Conference in New York to look forward to! My creative cup is now full.
Happy Summer, everyone! I would've never guessed when I wrote my last blog post that even more exciting opportunities would arise. I am now officially a blogger, a Blogateer to be exact! Amazing things happen when you follow your bliss, and it all started with one picture book class with The Children's Book Academy. I would not be here without the generous spirit that is Dr. Mira Reisburg. She surprised me with the incredible opportunity of writing for her website's blog, what an honor!
Writing and following my passion for it really has opened so many doors in just a few short months. And now it looks like all those extra hours I'm putting in getting lost in the children's section of the library and book stores is sparking inspiration two-fold: exposing me to the incredibly fun world of children's literature and giving me the resources to write on the fourth Wednesday of every month for the Blogateers. I think I might already have all the books I want to review for the rest of the year, and it's only June!
It's an understatement to say there are books to fill multiple lifetimes spent in the aisles of the children's books section. My first blog post was on Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos (who I even connected with on Twitter, thanks to Mira of course... wow!) . There is just an abundance, but these are my favorites for June:
The Storm Whale in Winter
by: Benji Davies
Big Wolf and Little Wolf: The Little Leaf that Wouldn't Fall
by: Nadine Brun-Cosme and Olivier Tallec
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
by: F. Isabel Compoy, Theresa Howell, Illustrated by: Rafael Lopez
Nana in the City
by: Lauren Castillo
Monster and Son
by: David LaRochelle, Illustrated by: Joey Chou
I feel so blessed to be learning and exploring on this journey. And the summer has only just begun! Next adventure: my first SCBWI summer conference in July!
Here you'll find...
a little about me, thoughts on my writing journey, hopefully a spark of inspiration. Enjoy!