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!
Here you'll find...
a little about me, thoughts on my writing journey, hopefully a spark of inspiration. Enjoy!