Monday, February 27, 2012

Illustrative Story Contest

by The Management

Our Illustrator-In-Residence, Catherine Lee, has generously provided a Story Prompt image. 


Look at it.

Ponder it. 

Now write a first paragraph. 

“Why?” you wonder. 

The Management will publish our favorites, after vigorous review and many cookies later, and give away some swag like Genuine The Pen & Ink Blogspot book-markers, Mrs. Garcia’s Amazing Chocolate Cookies – they’ll make you forget all your troubles, and an interview of you, yes you, to appear on this blog.

  1. Use illustration as inspiration. 
  2. Write a paragraph, regardless of length.
  3. Submit paragraph to penink04 AT gmail DOT com.
  4. Deadline is the 3rd Week of March.
At the end of March, we will annouce our choices.
Oh, you lucky people.

Rules and Restrictions:
Members of The Pen & Ink Blogspot management, their children, spouses or pets are not eligible for entry. We reserve the right to praise your work and write nice things about you. Contest not valid on the Moon, Folsom Prison, or where ever those cheap knock-off brand toys that look like the real thing but contain lead are sold.

Monday, February 20, 2012

How to Deal with Rejection


by Lupe Fernandez

When, in the Course of a manuscript rejection notice, it becomes necessary for this writer to dissolve his ties with this mortal coil, and to assume that he’ll never write anymore young adult and middle grade stories which he has in mind, because said manuscripts defy the Laws of Publication Probability, and the Almighty Needs of Readers; a sober review of all future manuscript will require that he should declare his impulse to burn them.

I shall join a cult and prohibit others from warning of me of the dangers of said cult; or stop me from ranting about feeling sorry for myself, or writing about feeling sorry for myself, or to join a group and rant about feeling sorry for myself.

I have the right to a stockpile to Chocolate Chip Cookies the size of a bear.

No Happy Thoughts will be quartered or dimed in my brain.

The right of him to secure his future story ideas against critiques, reviews and hints at how bad they may be. No phone calls or emails or interventions shall be issued and the right to have an emotional seizure is protected.

He will not be held to answer for any remarks, gestures, or any other utterances unless the cops show up with an Arrest Warrant; He will not receive the same rejection notice twice; He is owed by the entire world: a contract, a big advance and lots of praise even if it costs him life and limb.

The rejected writer shall enjoy a speedy and public meltdown. His critique group shall assemble witnesses to aid and comfort him and to bear accusations against the injustice of the world; including compulsory process of obtaining cookies that he likes.

He can wear clothes that cost less than twenty dollars and not by judged by a fashion jury, or otherwise re-examined by mental health professionals.

Excessive cheerfulness shall not be required, nor excessive optimism imposed, but cruel and unusual punishments shall be inflected upon self.

Everything written in the Bill of Writes shall not made fun of by others.

Any actions not mentioned in this Bill of Writes, but that may come up later, are reserved for this list.

Give me an Acceptance Letter or Give me...!

Monday, February 13, 2012

When We Was Fab

by Kris Kahrs

I’m always getting asked how the Pen & Inkers got together. I usually smile and beg off because it’s a long story with a lot of twists and turns and a lot of water under the bridge now. Our rise to fame and fortune was a story to rival any group’s. It all started in a hipster joint in Seattle back in the late nineties. I was slinging java at the counter. Hilde and Sue were just regular writers that came, working the daily grind. Hilde sometimes played in a band on the weekends with her boyfriend, Dave. 

One rainy Saturday, Lupe showed up buying Lattes for everyone. We were impressed. We thought anyone who could spend that kinda money must have some good ideas, so we listened hard. He blew our minds. He proposed we form a critique group, the four of us! That made us think, “hey maybe we got somethin’ here. Maybe we are good enough”.

So, we went on the road, yup, we went to the land of sunshine and money. We went to El Ay. Of course, we were writing constantly back then. We never stopped. Lupe wrote a lot of Middle Grade. Hilde did Middle Grade and YA. Sue had a lot of success with Picture Books. Me? I did anything I could get my hands on: Picture Books, blog posts, scripts, even freelanced a bit. Oh yeah, I was crazy in those days.

When the big time hit, we celebrated with a weekend across the border. We blew all of Sue’s latest advance just buying books! We went to any store we wanted; we ordered from Amazon, we even bought e-books. There was one little coffee house where we spent most of the night just listening to grunge poets recite poetry. That’s where Sue got that tat on her ankle. I don’t remember a lot of it, but I bet Hilde does.

When we got back up north, our faces were everywhere. There wasn’t a conference, schmooze or book launch we weren’t invited to. Yeah, things got tense once in awhile. There’d be artistic differences, but show me a group that‘s read as many books as we have that doesn’t use a ‘first person’ voice once in awhile. I think it came down to our different genres. We couldn’t agree on one. One person would want to write fiction then we’d hear that blogging was hot, so we’d do that and then creative non-fiction was a sure thing and we’d all jump on that.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still tight as any group. We have other interests now. Sue hangs in Hawaii. Hilde’s super busy doing everything and Lupe hangs with his fans. We called them “Lupe’s groupies.” As for me, you can find me anytime you want, down at The Java Jockey. Anyway, we’re still rockin’ it after all these years and all you bright and shiny kidlit writers new to this gig, do yourself a favor and get a critique group.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Janee Trasler In Conversation

Janee Trasler
by Catherine Lee

Janee Trasler lives in Grapevine, Texas with her husband and two little pet Bucky and Max, while juggling a an artist's life, mixed with lots of deep solid rich colors and prints for illustrations. Her works have made it to publishers such as Simon and Schuster, Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Little Brown and Company just to name a few.

For more information on Janee Trasler go to her website and blog.

Here's a little Texan interview for your enjoyment for artist's that are passionate about reading the life of . . .

1.What is a day in an artist's life?
It all depends on the day and what projects I’m working on. If I’m on a tight deadline, it might be 48 hours long and include a lot of caffeine and cursing.

If I have a more leisurely deadline or am working on personal projects, I will spend a lot of time on the thinking and planning phase of a project and allow myself more room for experimentation (which sometimes puts me back on the 48 hour caffeine and cursing schedule by the end).

Most days will find me doing some brainstorming, some writing, some drawing, and a little procrastinating.

2. What medium do you us? You seem to be experimenting with new mediums, can you let us know a little more about that? 
Other than doodling, I’m 100% digital. I use mostly Painter, but also use Illustrator, Photoshop, and Flash at times. Most of the experimentation you see is me playing with new brushes, styles, or techniques within those applications.

I need that UNDO command.

3. I love the rich, definitive colors, the depth and quality of the work. How long does it take for you to do one illustration?
Thank you. I love color. Again, it’s hard to pinpoint how long I spend on one illustration. When I’m working on book projects, I work in an assembly-line fashion in order to keep consistency across the spreads. For instance, I will paint all the backgrounds, then all the skin or fur of the characters, then the clothing, then I work on the details.

If I’m working on a single piece, and consistency isn’t an issue, timing depends on the style, the technique and how much detail there is in the illustration.

4. You're agented with Andrea Brown Literary. How long have you been there? And is there any advice on aspiring artists on finding a rep in the industry? Did you have former education in art?
I have been with Jamie Weiss Chilton at Andrea Brown Literary for three years. She is fantastic, and we are on the same page about my career goals.

I was with a wonderful illustration rep before that. When my focus changed, and I wanted to concentrate more on my own books and projects, I felt it was a good choice for me to move to a literary agency from an illustration representative.

As a matter of fact, I have two posts on my blog about finding a rep/agent:

To Rep or Not to Rep
Another Milestone

I was in the Visual Communications program at a local community college. I got some very solid basics there. Much of my practical education came from working at an advertising agency. I am always taking some class or workshop though. I just finished an advanced layout class to brush off my rusty design skills. I enjoyed it immensely. And now, I am in an Actionscript class getting my geek on. I’ve also taken many writing classes and workshops.

Benny Bunny
5. What was one of your favorite works and why?
As with many illustrators, my latest is usually my favorite. I’m super psyched about my two newest books, Benny’s Chocolate Bunny (Scholastic/Cartwheel) and Caveman, A B.C. Story (Sterling) because, at heart, I’m a cartoonist, and both of these books afforded me the opportunity to stick close to that sensibility in humor and illustration style.

6. What is your favorite one liner if you have?
One of my favorite quotes is from Malcolm Forbes — "Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are."

7. How long have you been in the business? You have wonderful companies that work with. Must be nice.
I've been in commercial art a while, but I’ve been in children’s illustration and books since 2003. That feels like the beginning because that’s the moment I felt as if I was on the right path for me.

Yes, I have been very fortunate to work with some wonderful companies, editors, and art directors!

On behalf of The Pen & Ink Blogspot Management, I would like to thank Janee for this interview.