November 14, 2014

Post #21: World Race Calendar





If you're following me on different social media platforms, you'll already know that I've been working on a calendar the last few months with my friend, Nancy Chi. If you don't know, she'll be taking part in a one-year mission trip to eleven countries in 2015 through an organization called World Race. She had the great idea of putting together a calendar to raise support for her trip, and asked me to illustrate each month using different landmarks and icons that represent the countries she will be visiting. We wanted to keep the illustrations simple, but even still, each painting took a lot of time and thought. If you look at Post #19, you can see some of my initial sketches for the project.

I've posted some of my favorite ones above. If you'd like to purchase a calendar, please fill out a Google form here. Each calendar will be 5.5" x 8.5" bound and printed on cardstock. 

October 6, 2014

Post #20: SCBWI Conference Recap

Finally! As some (or most) of you know, I attended the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) summer conference this past August. I wasn't planning on it until right at the very end, but I'm so glad I did. The 3-day conference was filled with amazing keynote speakers (like Aaron Becker, Judy Blume, Tomie dePaola to name a few), insightful panels, and practical workshops. Everything was led by published authors, illustrators, editors, and agents. I was blown away! There were so many things I learned, but I narrowed them down to three to share here.

Jam-packed schedule
1. Patience
There were countless stories about manuscripts waiting in the slush pile for months or stories being rejected by multiple editors before securing a book deal. Getting a book published to begin with takes almost two years from Point A:  getting a book deal to Point B: seeing your book on the shelves. But even before that, it takes a lot of diligence and resolve to edit, and re-edit, and re-edit some more until your story is ready for submission. Almost every editor said that 90% of the manuscripts they receive are not ready. But even if your manuscript is ready (it probably isn't) and you're certain it's got potential, it can still get sent back. There are so many factors editors have to take into consideration before deciding what story they want to publish. Sometimes, it's just a matter of making a connection with the right editor/agent. All this to say, it's going to take some time. 
  • "You want the rejections from the right people, but you want the acceptances from the right people too." - Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary
  • "There is no speeding up in getting better." - Lucia Monfried, Dial Books for Young Readers
  • "Commit to slowing down." - Steven Malk, Writers House

Some eye-catching postcards I picked up at the Illustrators' Portfolio Showcase.
2. Voice
I kept hearing this word used over and over again. It's the number one thing that people look for, and at the same time it's something that can't be honed or forced because a voice is something you already have. This is probably my biggest struggle. I want to be someone who doesn't just follow an impermanent trend, but how do I strip away the excess in order to be authentic? What it comes down to is honesty. This is something I'm learning not just about writing and working, but in every part of my life. Being honest means seeing the parts of myself I'm trying to cover up. It means not being able to please everyone.  It means knowing what the truth is.
  • "Many a children's book is working out a childhood splinter- the still sharp needle in you."- Megan McDonald, Judy Moody series 

It took 6 pages front-and-back to scribble down as many notes as possible. 
Ninja! by author/illustrator Arree Chung
3. Courage to Create
Those were Tomie dePaola's words on the last day of the conference. There were so many things I learned in those three days, but the biggest takeaway for me was a confirmation to keep going. To get uncomfortable. To take bigger risks. I'm still trying to work out what this means for me. But I know that one starting point is putting my insecurities to rest and owning up to my work. It also means being able to let go of certain things (like financial security, family expectations, my own expectations), so that while I work toward my goals faithfully and diligently, I'll be able to confidently trust that whatever's supposed to happen will happen.
  • "Stop trying to be good." - Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now
  • "The tide is coming. It's time." - Aaron Becker, Journey

September 20, 2014

Post #18: Out of Thyme


Wow, it's been two months since the last post. I'm still trying to figure out where the time has gone. Everything's been a blur, but not much has changed. After the SCBWI conference ended, I closed my notebook filled with how-tos and ideas and advice to spend some time away from that world. I'm still not ready to finish my story yet, but I'm hoping to slowly re-read my notes and share some of the many things I learned that weekend. One thing's for certain- I am more inspired and determined to push through 'til the end (whatever the end may be).

There are a few projects I'll be sharing for the rest of 2014. Calendars, websites, and more maps and signs! The first of these recent projects is for Out of Thyme. Michelle had sent me a message a few months back asking if I'd be interested in helping her revamp her blog- which originally had a food-recipe focus, but would now be expanding to include other topics and interests such as culture, fashion/beauty, etc. She sent me the most detailed and entertaining email I had ever received (I'm almost tempted to share a screenshot here) and we ended up with a new header and these sweet little change-as-you-scroll-over buttons.  You should definitely take a look at her new site.. you might even get home-baked chocolate chip cookies delivered to your door! Who wouldn't want that. Not I. Not. I.

July 29, 2014

Post #17: sun and moon


For the past eight weeks, I've been taking a night class at Art Center on children's book writing/illustrating and it's been... a lot. A lot of learning, encouragement, mental blockage, inspiration, and late nights. A few weeks in, I was feeling frustrated because I didn't have clear direction of my story and was beginning to consider scrapping the idea altogether. But after showing my bare-boned book dummy to my instructor, all I needed was to hear, "There's something there. You're so close." Sometimes, all it takes is one person to really believe in your story.

So in short, I'm going to the SCBWI conference this weekend to learn more about writing and illustrating children's books, make new friends, and be inspired by an amazing line-up of authors, illustrators, editors, and agents. Fingers crossed, the perfect ending will magically fall from the sky so I can finally wrap up this crazy story. The likelihood of this happening is pretty slim, so I'm preparing for a few more sleepless nights ahead. Here above are two of the characters I'm working on. I probably won't show much more than this, but thought I'd share a sneak peek of what's been keeping me busy these days.

P.S. Also, I'm thinking about not posting the blog entry links on Facebook anymore. If you want to stay updated, feel free to subscribe via email (see right column) or through other apps like Feedly or BlogLovin. And seriously, thank you to everyone who has sent me kind words of encouragement and/or listened to me blab on about my wisheshopesanddreams. I really, really appreciate it.