Tuesday, March 14, 2017

 I haven't posted in sooooooo long! Rest assured I am working away in my studio. Playing with gouache, making so new pieces to update my portfolio, writing, rewriting and drinking lots of coffee!

Check back soon for a post about getting an agent! I am happily represented by Rick Margolis of Rising Bear Literary. It has been several months since I signed with Rick and we have been very hard at work. More to come soon!

Happy pi day!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Who Do You Write For?

     I've heard Gary Schmidt speak a few times. To me, he was at his best at the Hamline MFA residency program lecture in July of 2015, where he paced back and forth, speaking without notes. A one man show. There was laughter, lots of laughter. A few tears, okay maybe more than a few. Impressed with his knowledge of history and endless stories, I thought I would never hear anything so eloquent again. I was wrong.
     On Sunday, Gary was the last speaker at the #NY16SCBWI conference. The person next to me was an illustrator. She was thinking about leaving and getting in line for autographs.

     "Don't leave" I said. "Stay. It will be worth it."

     "But I'm not a writer" she said.

     "It doesn't matter. Don't leave. It will be worth it".

     Gary was full of exceptional stories. He spoke about writing. He spoke about kids.

     "Who do you write for?" he asked.

     Gary explained who he wrote for. The kind of kid he wrote for. The kind of kid I was. The kind of kid I still am. When I am writing and trying to pull from my experiences and my emotion from that time in my life, I am that kid.

     Sitting on the runway waiting for the plane to take off, I reached in my bag and pulled out Gary's book Okay For Now. I started to read. It was snowing and the plane was delayed. I read. We had to wait in a long line to be De-iced. I read. Down to one runway for take offs and landings. I read. We waited. I read.

     The woman sitting next to me was carrying a HUGE bible, (about 17" x 11") weird, right? Occasionally she would look at me and I knew she was wondering why a grown woman was reading a book meant for middle school kids, but I kept reading. And when I asked her to turn on my light because I was too short, I am sure she thought I was reading at the appropriate level for my intellect. But I kept reading.

     When Lucas came home from the war and his mom greeted him, I cried. I cried because I am a mom and because I was the kid Gary writes for. In a voice used for a seven year old, bible lady told me it would be okay, we were going to take off soon.

     I finished the book, almost at the exact time the wheels touched down. I was home. On the way home from the airport, I told my husband about the kid I write for. It felt good to say it out loud.

     "I was that kid" I said.

     "Sometimes you still are" he said.

     Maybe that bible lady wasn't too far off. During that flight, reading that book, I was that kid. When I was eleven, a book changed me. It changed the way I looked at my life and gave me hope for my future.

     Thank you Gary D. Schmidt. Thank you for writing for the kid I was and sometimes, the kid I still am.

     So whether you write with words or with pictures, ALWAYS remember who you are writing for. You might be writing for me.


Monday, February 8, 2016

New York, New York

     Ready or not, NY here I come. Anxiety, stress and stomach cramps should set in sometime Wednesday. Leaving the comfort of my studio and the company of my dog for the Big City is a bit daunting. I've been to enough conferences to know that I'm not going to land a six figure, four book deal or sign with my dream agent. I am looking forward to meeting a few Facebook friends in person, connecting with my online critique group members, and soaking up some knowledge from  all those smart, talented  SCBWI people.

If you see me standing in a corner biting my nails, come say "Hello", I promise I won't pitch my YA novel or any PB Manuscripts. I frown on stalking editors, I don't talk in elevators unless necessary and nothing will be shared in a bathroom (so unsanitary).

See you in New York!
Colleen





Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Moving Up?

I'm trying to add some pieces to my portfolio that will appeal to an older audience. This is the first of three or four I hope to complete before heading to the SCBWI Conference in NYC. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Road Trip Time!

Projects are complete, automatic replies to work email turned on, dog sitters in place, laundry done, suitcase packed, writing materials ready, traveling watercolor kit secured, car washed, vacuumed and full of gas, because this road trip begins at 6:00am!

St. Paul to the Thousand Islands Region of NY with lots of stops along the way. Follow my Twitter and Instagram for images of things that inspire me, daily doodles and good eats. 

See you in the morning!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Practice Does Not Always Make Perfect



I've been playing around a little bit. You are not seeing the four flat out rejects. Seriously, if I paint this picture one more time I might go crazy. Or drink. Or both. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The E.B. Effect


When I first started working with E.B. I was so nervous!  He is a Caldecott honor winner and illustrator of 65+ books after all.  Afraid to ask questions and sound like a completely insane, untalented person, I would just write down every word he said and obsess over them for the next week.  My family was close to killing me.  I drove everyone crazy with my insecurity and hundreds of thumbnails.  My critique group never blocked my calls or emails, but I wouldn't be surprised if they seriously considered it (at least a few times).  Thanks for putting up with me Carolyn Dee Flores, Laura-Susan Thomas, Akiko White and Eileen Ryan Ewen!!  I wouldn't have survived the last year without you ladies.  Your advice and critiques were, and continue to be my saving grace.

Beyond improvement in artistic skill, E.B. has taught me to trust my instincts, ASK those questions and embrace the insanity (for marketing purposes I call it quirkiness).  And never (and he means NEVER) say you can't.  The word just doesn't exist in his vocabulary.

I've been working with E.B. Lewis for a year now.  I've come a long way in that time.  I thought I would give you a bit of a visual journey, so you can see my progress.  

 This is my original drawing, before I started working with E.B.  I thought it was perfect.  E.B. asked me what the narrative was?  Where is the little boy?  Why do you have a floating (boring) window?  All extremely important questions.  That I had no answer for.


 I started with the interior (trust me this was not the first version).  The boy is in his room.  Yay! One question answered.  Who is this boy? What are his hobbies? I love dogs, plus I thought he added some emotion.  Questions were being answered left and right!  What is he looking at? A landscape, a road, so what?  Where is the anticipation?  What is next...  More questions!


This is the final version.  All questions answered. 

 E.B. has taught me you can't answer the questions, if you don't ask them.