Monday, June 25, 2012

In Conversation with Christina Tugeau

Christina Tugeau
by Catherine Lee
Edited by L. Fernandez

Christina Tugeau is an artist's agent. She founded the Christina A. Tugeau Agency LLC in 1994.

Here's a happy terrific woman that loves her agency adorned with a full set of wonderful artists. Perhaps we can all get inspired to love the job that we do. I hope you love the read.

1. Start Agency 
I had been working for 3 ½ years with another agent in the industry, and when it became time for me to leave, I decided to start my own agency. I’d fallen in love with picture books and the people who make them! That was in March 1994. The first year I hustled a lot… but by end of the year I was making money and truly a rep! That’s when the ‘shaking nerves’ started for a time! I’d DONE it!

2. First Artist
Stacey Schuett was one of my first artists in the group…. She had done a bunch of books, and I just happened to catch her when she felt she could no longer rep herself well. My first blessing! I think the world of her as a person and an artist still! Over 18 years!! There are several still with me who came on early, but change is inevitable and not a bad thing for an artist or an agency at times.

3. ARTIST Qualities
There are several… but I have to NOTICE their style, and know it’s THEIRS! Whatever the style, it needs to be professional…comfortable and sure. The right sort of samples helps that of course. And then I have to believe they will be a team player…a pleasure to work with for me and my clients. Life is too short….

4. Man’s World? 
I was not scared of a “man’s world” at all. I worked with a woman agent before I left to start my own, and many of the editors and AD’s are women. The men are lovely to work with as well…I never felt any problem with my being a woman, or a bit older for the industry start up maybe, or NOT living in NYC. People were welcoming and open and helpful. Still are! 

I launched the agency with a mailing announcement and 10 artists, TONS of cold calls (we didn’t have the email and such then) and visits to meet people in NYC and elsewhere…still do that. Relationships and face to face is invaluable. 

I mentioned I started March of 1994 and it was sudden. An overnight decision to DO IT! I had save a few thousand dollars in case I decided to do this, but it was financially a brave thing to do. I was paying for one of my sons college education at Syracuse (my artist JEREMY!) at the time, and my husband had to pick up that last year’s slack! He did and that made it possible.

It’s been over 18 years now, and it’s ebbed and flowed. My very best years were 98-2000 (UNREAL!) and then things started slowing a bit. Of course in ’08 when EVERY biz crashed, we did notice a big slow down which is troublesome as it’s not a lot better yet! But I’ve been supporting us as my husband has been developing a new on-line biz, so it’s still ok. I want MORE WORK for my artists, but reps can’t MAKE WORK, only try to find it. The slowing of the educational market to a crawl has hurt a lot as it was about 50% of my biz, more of some reps. Thank god for my true love - trade picture books.

I won’t answer that question, but can tell you some of the most ‘popular’ at this time with clients! And that changes with the years and what they think will sell. 

Patrice Barton, Priscilla Burris, Nicole Tadgell, Stacey Schuett still (!), Martha Aviles, Heather Maione and my son Jeremy Tugeau. 

I do work in an small pleasant, efficient office at home…always have, but for last 8 years it’s been in Wmsbrg VA instead of NY border of CT. It’s a wonderful commute! But I have to be, and am, very disciplined. Having your own biz is a 24/7 deal though….I can take off to play golf, or help out in one of my grandson’s K class, do the laundry, or take a biz trip and extend it to pleasure too, But then I have to still get everything else done! Each day is different…. I get over 100 emails every day so that is the first thing and a consistent. I answer everyone. Especially if it’s an artist looking for representation. Just a note, maybe a hint or two, but I owe the industry and the artists this attention! Many jobs come in by email now…or requests, so that IS my morning and my all day off and on. 

8. Most exciting: 
I still just love the industry! Probably the most ‘kick’ I get is when newly printed PICTUREBOOKS arrive from a publisher! To see the result of so many months/years of back and forth…it’s like Christmas! You’d think I illustrated them! I don’t find any of it dull or boring (oh yes…keeping my Quickbooks up to date…have an acct. to help me do that too) I even enjoy invoicing and contract viewing etc. I don’t like ‘fires’ or discord which is why I try to be firm but easy to work with. It doesn’t help my artists if the buyers don’t like working with me! 

9. SCBWI talent
I have found many of my artists at SCBWI events YES! I know they will be professional and knowledgeable! It’s always a wonderful surprise to find someone who I must have! I present at a couple of events a year just for the pleasure of the ‘maybe.’ …and I love to teach and help artists ‘get there.’ I write a blog and articles for SCBWI newsletters (mid Atlantic and NYC metro) as well…and just updated the SCBWI ARTIST GUIDELINES….out with their Aug. conference in LA.

10. HOW to get a REP
It can be as hard to get a rep as a publisher. There aren’t a lot of us, and several have recently retired. (trying times?) And it’s so subjective a match. I tell artists to contact us with samples in jpg and a link to website for more. NO need to MAIL samples unless we ask. EASIER that way today. We’ll often know in an instant if it’s a possible match or not….as do buyers. And it might not be a fit THIS year, but maybe with some more work, next year it might be. Market changes…our needs change. There are lists of agents/reps with SCBWI and other sources. STUDY them and their groups, talk about them to other artists, and clients. Find a match for YOUR type and needs… and go for it. Don’t give up…listen and learn! 

11. What want: 
I always want quality of drawing, color, composition, character, conception, and unique look. HUMOR is always big, and hard to find! I’ve got 33 artists now and I won’t take more then 35 (40 made my head spin on my shoulders!) But I make changes now and then as the year flows. (for reaching me, see above….) 

12. Writers: 
I DO rep writers too…but artists/writers. We hook with the art, but I’ve sold many books written by artists and their partners. LOVE THAT! I try to have dummies to show EVERY time I go to NYC. Editors want to see them, and I see editors more than AD’s I think! I was a lit minor (art major) in college, and I’ve read a TON of kids books but I’m NOT an editor. I admire what Lit agents do! 

Would I change industries? 
NO! this was a perfect match. And it came from something tragic in my personal life. When in late 30s I became very sick with Asthma, brought on by the oil paint and turp I used in my fine arts painting. I was just beginning to win local shows and get some interest in galleries. I was told that ENDED NOW. I went through some hard rediscovery for a few years, trying various ways to stay with the arts, but not use the materials I loved so, but when I started working for this other rep in 1990 I found my calling. I’ve felt especially grateful ever since. Something to keep in mind…. Be willing and able to alter paths in life!

13. Artist Tip
“LET THE ART DO THE TALKING!” “Can’t get hired if they don’t SEE you!” and “ Good drawing, Good color, Good composition!”

14. Info: 
No b/w photo! Attached a color. Also the AFTER BEA BLAST I sent out this week with books we’ve done this spring and some from FALL…showed at BEA. I added a recent one from Jeremy, my son too which is a book he’s working on and it’s his son George as model! Also my new Dir. Of IL. Add for this fall…. Several artists there. enough? 

I am married 43 years! To my first love and best friend Bill…HS sweethearts, but went to separate colleges and ‘expanded’…then got married Winter after my graduation. Three grown children and 6 ½ wonderful grandkid later! My son Jeremy is one of my artists, and his wife Nicole runs the agency check them out!! Wonderful. We’ve two ‘stray’ cats….Gorgeous tux male adopted us in 2001 and a starving female yellow tabby (rare!) 3 summers ago. Both fabulous personalities and friends! I have no favorite color…I love all color in its place…but YELLOW always makes me smile! Coffee ice-cream and Gray Goose martinis do the same! (not together!) I’m now 65 years old and a very happy, lucky, blessed person. Thank you for YOUR interest!

The Management would like to thank Christina Tugeau for granting this interview. For more about Christina: and

Monday, June 18, 2012

Divorce – Critique Group Style

by Lupe Fernandez

Almost three years ago I joined a writing group with Teri Fox. There were four of us, but now there is only Teri and I. Teri Fox writes YA. She lives in cool house in the San Fernando Valley. We meet once or twice a month on Saturdays. She always has cookies and or fruit. The house is quiet, no screaming kids or barking dogs or jetliners roaring overhead, her house does not require satellite triangulation to find.

Teri, a former journalist for the Los Angeles Times, is a meticulous editor. My YA story is a better manuscript thanks to her efforts. She devotes the same attention to her own manuscript, scrutinizing each word and fearless in her rewrites.

Adjectives, adverts and clichés: Beware of Teri’s mighty pen. She takes no prisoners, and she’s usually right.

Here’s what Pen & Ink’s own Susan Berger has to day about Teri:
“Teri and I were in the same critique group for three years. In 2009, we lost a member which led us to put up a notice on Critique connection. We received so many replies that we ended up having a large group meeting at Hilde's house. At the end of the meeting Teri chose to go with a the newly forming YA critique group and Channe and I went to a picture book group. I knew I would miss Teri's critiques, this group meeting yielded enough writers to form a YA group and that's where Teri belonged. Hilde said she needed a Tuesday night group and I also joined that group. The four of us became Pen and Ink. I know Teri will be an asset to any group she joins. I really enjoyed working with her.”
With such a great writing partner, what’s with the divorce? The only reason I ever do anything drastic is because of a woman. In July, I’m leaving Los Angeles and moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, the land of my birth. So I will be unable to continue my writing relationship with Teri, hence the divorce. It’s an amiable divorce. Teri gets to keep her house. I get to keep my manuscript. Teri isn’t letting mourning our separation, she always looking to start a new writing group. But don’t take my word for it.

Teri, what did you to at the Los Angeles Times? 
In Los Angeles Times' glory days I produced feature articles on contemporary products and modern architecture. I designed sets, directed photographers and wrote the copy. 'Home Magazine' under Otis Chandler. It paid well. 

What are you look for in a writing critique group?
I want to be critiqued by YA writers who kill cliches in their work and bomb all adverbs. Most commas can die. 

What will other writers benefit from working with you?
Short sentences and chapters require sharp word choices. I help writers express their deepest intentions. 

What are you working on now? 
My YA novel is an historic adventure. Nineteen-year-old Jacob, a New York stage actor, struggles for his lead in D. W. Griffith's first silent western.

How do potential critique mates get in touch with you?
I would like to do an online YA Critique of four members. Reach me at

Anything else, you’d like to say? 
Thank you Lupe. Keep up your good work! 

I’d like to say, it’s been a pleasure to work with you, and eat your cookies and assorted sliced fruit. I enjoyed washing my hands in the sink full of rocks.
No, no. don’t worry about me, gentle reader.
I’ll be fine…sniffle, sniffle.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How To Write Books for Boys and Girls

(This post is being re-posted because The Management is all on vacation.  Enjoy!)

I found this 1954 article about Children’s Literature on a defunct website. Submitted for your edification and amusement.

"How To Write Books for Boys and Girls"
"Always portray the military, politicians and religious figures in a positive way. Remember, these responsible authority figures keep Americans safe against atheists, beatniks and Communists.

"The family in your story should consist of married parents. Divorce has no place in reading material of teens. Broken homes make them nervous and might put unnecessary worries in their heads about whether Mom and Dad are getting along. While many classic stories feature orphans, today’s modern family is more educated and healthy, and orphans are old fashioned characters.

"Dad should always work in an office or to a responsible job like a fireman or a policeman. Fathers should never be an unemployed loafer or a union organizer. Mothers should always be homemakers. Mother’s who work in offices set a bad example for impressionable girls.

"Boy characters should have healthy, manly hobbies like playing baseball, collecting bubble gum cards, and outdoor camping. Girls should like sewing, cooking and talking with other girls about like clothes and boys. Activities that keep boys inside like reading, writing or thinking are not suitable role models for young men. Those are girl activities. On the other hand, too much physical exercise by girl characters would be unrealistic and your reader would lose interest. If your story has a Tomboy, make sure she is not a major character. Make the Tomboy a supporting character who longs to act like a real girl.

"Dress your characters in appropriate clothing. Boys: short sleeve shirts (only puny boys who spend too much time reading in their rooms wear long sleeve shirts), loose, comfortable pants with pockets and Keds sneakers with tied laces.

"Girls: ankle-length skirts (absolute no pants), Mary Jane shoes (only girls with loose morals wear high heels unless attending special occasions like a funeral or a wedding), hair tied in a pony tail or neatly trimmed.

"Language is very important. As boys and girls are often not in control of their feelings, they make many exclamations of surprise.

"Appropriate phrases:
'Holy Moley!'

"Inappropriate phrases:
'Crazy man!'
'What a gasser!'

"Never show a boy and a girl holding hands unless accompanied by an adult or riding in a hay wagon with other boys and girls.

"Never have a girl romanced by a foreigner, especially greasers, scratch-backs, potatoes, pachucos, fruitpickers, or braceros.

"If your story is a crime mystery, make sure your youngsters deal with bunco artists, robbers, or counterfeiters. Never put your youngsters in peril with murderers or social deviants.

"Everybody likes a good ghost story, but stories with supernatural happenings should be confined to misunderstood blithe spirits, college fraternity pranks or escaped convicts in disguise.

"If you follow these tips, your story is sure to be a delight to boys and girls everywhere, and stand the test of time just like the classics you read as a youth.

"End your story with a good, hearty laugh at the dinner table. Perhaps, Skippy the family dog runs through the house chasing Fluffy, the neighbor’s cat.

"These are a few tips for a good writing and wholesome reading."

Monday, June 4, 2012

In Conversation with
Dutch Illustrator Margot Senden

by Catherine Lee
Margot Senden
Edited by L. Fernandez

Margot Senden, once a junior designer for Hallmark Cards, illustrates children's books. She has two books coming out in August 2012. She's a wife and mother to two children, working on her childhood dream, and is doing a wonderful job. I hope you enjoy the interview. 

Please tell me about yourself.
My name is Margot Senden, I was born on February 9 1968 in the Dutch town Kerkrade. I am married to an Englishman, who makes me laugh out loud. We have 2 beautiful daughters and a lovely German Shepherd. We live in the most beautiful rural part of the Netherlands (at least I think so) in a small village called Mechelen. It is close to the Belgian and German border. 

What makes you laugh? 
What makes me laugh: my husband... whenever I am in a sad, bad or grumpy mood, he is the one that is able to make me laugh. And so many other things as well.

And what makes you cry? 
What makes me cry: I am so sentimental. Even a Disney film can make me cry. 

And as a child, what did you enjoy most?
I love stargazing with my 8 inch telescope, I love my Zumba an Sh'bam and I enjoy playing the piano, accompanying my daughters. My eldest daughter plays the guitar, my youngest the Cello.

What is your favorite color?  
My favorite colours: blue & lilac.

When you decide that illustrating children's books, and was it difficult to get your first project?
As long as I can remember, I wanted to become an artist. What kind of artist wasn't very obvious to me as a young girl. Ballet dancer, musician, painter. I liked all three. After secondary school, I went to the Conservatory or Music Academy to study piano & teacher's training, During the music lessons the notepapers were filled with sketches and doodles instead of music. So after 2 years of sketching I decided it was time to follow my heart. 

I went to Art academy and loved every single bit of it. From that moment on I then knew that I wanted to become a children's book illustrator. 

After I got my degree, I started working as a graphic designer and also as a junior designer for Hallmark Cards. 

Nowadays it is 50/50. I have a part-time job as a graphic designer and work part-time as a freelance children’s book and editorial illustrator. 

What was your first project? 
My first project? Let me think.... I think that was when I was still studying at Art academy. An author saw my illustrations and asked me to illustrate his book. My first assignment for an editorial illustration was in 1996 for a company called Hago. 

It looks like you use traditional method, perhaps watercolors. What method do you use? Do you use digital illustration? 
I love to work traditional and use traditional methods most of the time. I use acrylic, watercolours and do collage's as well. Every so often I use my art board to add details or collages to the traditional illustrations.

The editorial illustration I make however, are digital. Made with Adobe illustrator.

What inspires you to wake up every day, and enjoy what you do?
Everything, especially the small everyday things in life that can be so touching and special. My children giggling, long walks with our dog Darwin in the beautiful environment I live in. Birds singing, People I meet. Stargazing, daydreaming and keeping in touch with my childhood. Being able to giggle out loud with my daughters. 

I know that you live in Europe, and would you say that your illustrations differ from Americans?
I really don't know. Inspiration is taken from familiar surroundings and yes, maybe therefore there will be differences between American and European, or in my case Dutch illustrators.

What style would you say that your illustrations resemble? 
I hope my own unique style and of course I hope they resemble whatever I am drawing.

There are so many aspiring artists/illustrators that would like to be published. What is your advice to them? 
Stay yourself, look around, notice, receive, sketch and work hard. And very important: stay positive and make sure that you have a good network of friends and illustrator's. Also one last advice: illustrating should be like writing. Everybody develops his own handwriting, it is not something you go and look for, it is something that is already in you. So keep on going and the style will float to the surface and will find you.

Are you agented, and if so, what agency to do you belong to? What advice would you give about finding an agent or going freelance? 
No not yet, I am the wrong person to ask. In fact I would welcome any advice. 

What is the most difficult part about being an artist/illustrator in the children's market?
The most difficult part? The amount of absolutely brilliant illustrators. 

Do you also do artwork for the educational market? If so, how does that differ from creative illustrations for children's books?
Yes I work for the educational market as well. For the educational market there is precise instruction on what to draw, where as with children's books there is room for own interpretation in of what is worded .

What is your favorite children's book? And why?
Not an easy question... I love so many children's books.

I love the original "Winnie the Pooh", Julia Donaldson's "the Gruffalo" and Roald Dahl's "Matilda", Books written and illustrated by Tony Ross as well as so many other children's books, my bookshelfs are overloaded with them.

What is your newest work coming out? And what did you enjoy about doing this work?
My newest work will be released in the autumn of 2012. A lovely non-fiction book for children up to 6 years old about horse riding. it is written by Netty van Kaathoven and will be published by Clavis Publishing

At the moment I am still working on this book. I just finished the cover illustration yesterday.

What I love about working on this picture book? Animals, I love drawing animals. 

Pen & Ink would like to thank Margot Senden for this interview. For more on Margot Senden, see her blog. It's in Dutch, so turn on your Universal Translator.