February's Inspirational Quote

"One Hour at a Time"
~ Laurie Wallmark.

Dear Laurie,
You might not recall saying this and perhaps I won't remember the specifics but you are our inspiration for the rest of February and maybe even March.

You and I were on the phone and talking about how hard it is to write a novel and as usual I was whining and feeling sorry for my long-a$$ journey. And you told me about how you were working and how busy you were so you wrote your novel one hour at a time. Astounded I said, "You wrote your novel one hour at a time?" And you said, "Yup." And I thought, "Wow... ... ..."

Often times we think we need - or I think I need - huge chunks of time set aside so I can write. Do you do that too? What if we gave ourselves one hour of each day? If it turns into two, well then fine, but if not, at least you still had your One Hour at a Time. So that is the motto of the month, thanks to ours truly, Laurie Wallmark.

We love you, Laurie!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Doris Ettlinger Visit Hosted by HCCWIG

Doris Ettlinger delighted an intimate crowd at the Hunterdon County Library on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. While we made some additional preparation for our guests, Doris sketched on the whiteboard, saying it always calmed her before speaking publicly.

Doris' informative talk certainly belied any pre-visit jitters as she presented a well-prepared slide-show which covered her background as an artist, her current books as well as her thoughts and feelings about them. We learned about Doris' various techniques that she has developed along the way to bring to life the rich characters she has created in her illustrations. Whether drawing children or famous people like Abe Lincoln or a cat that came over with the Pilgrims, Doris brings a lovely, luminous quality to her work through watercolor and colored pencil.

She chatted about her favorite books, and some of the personal touches, (such as the occasional appearance of her dog, Bruce Wayne), that appear in her books. She also discussed the entire illustration procedure from first receiving an offer to do a book through receipt of the manuscript through the actual illustrating process. Doris also gave some great tips on how she illustrates using aerial views, two page spreads and collecting small animal figurines to help her with perspective on animals.

Many of these were readily noticeable in the collection of books Doris had brought for sale. After a question and answer period, Doris signed books and chatted with us.

A big thanks to Doris for being the guest of HCCWIG and sharing her experiences in the illustration of children's books.

On hand to welcome Doris Ettlinger and guests were three of HCCWIG's facilitators, from left to right, Jeanne Balsam, Leeza Hernandez and Cathleen Daniels. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Picture Book Group II News

Its always nice to be able to celebrate group members successes:

The Art of Game deck of cards featuring Diana Patton's illustrations.

Diana Patton's illustrations have been published in a deck of cards (there are 100 cards by different artists) for International Game Developers' President Jesse Schell's publication "The Art of Game Design." Jesse's book -- also named "The Art of Game Design" -- is out, as well as T-shirts featuring some of the cards. Diana's "The Lens of Unification" appears on one of the tees. The cards are a way of brainstorming to invent and/or improve a game -- whether video, board, TV, or amusement park. For more details, click here. Go Diana!

One of Diana's illustrations also made it on to a T-shirt.


Facilitator Leeza Hernandez just signed her first illustrated picture book deal with Charlesbridge Publishing. How to Eat Your Math Homework by Ann MaCullum is due for release in 2010.

Leeza also illustrated a boy's chapter book, called Twin Formation -- independently published by Golden Ram Press. (Pictured below).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Subjects for Magazine Articles

The Hunterdon Library subscribes to a database index magazine articles. It's searchable, so for example, you could search within Highlights and see if they've published any math articles. (Now who might want to do such a search?) You can see if your topic's been done to death or is brand, spanky new.

It's easy to use:
1. Log into your library account at http://ipac.hunterdon.lib.nj.us/
2. Click on "E-Sources"
3. Under E-Source Targets, click on "EbscoHost"
4. Enter you library card number again and click "login"
5. Make sure MasterFile Premier is checked and click on "continue"
6. If you only want to look in one magazine, click on "publications" at the top
7. Otherwise, just enter your search

I know, I know. As usual, I've given the directions in excruciating detail. But really, it's easy to do. Laurie

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not an Outliner, but Must Succumb...

So, (I start a lot of sentences this way... must break the habit) I have mentioned many times before that I am not an outliner. I blame it on Mrs. Oken - my 9th grade English teacher...

I had a habit (yes, I have many) of letting my English teachers read my poetry and short stories as a way of getting on their good sides. Hey, I struggled for my grades. I needed to use anything I could to get an advantage. Anyway, Mrs Oken, after reading a compilation of poems and stories, asked me to stay after class one day. She wanted to know what my outlining process was and I said... "Oh, I don't outline." And she said, "What? You must! Real writers outline and if you want to be a real writer, you must outline too." Well, I grabbed my papers and puffed out my chest and said, "I just write," and left.

Obviously, this had some affect on me, if here I am still writing about it some er... harrumph... well, a few short years later... And so, I have carried on in my stubborn (but adorable) way of 'just writing.' I hang my head low and must admit defeat... Yes, Mrs. Oken, real writers outline... *sniff, wiping tears*

Truthfully, real writers do a myriad of things. And every writer's process is completely and utterly unique. I have written many times, about owning your process and being proud of it. And I still hold that I am. However, I must admit, the "just writing" process can only take you so far when you are writing a novel, especially if you wish your novel to be one of many in a series. You NEED to outline.

And not that you need to adhere to this outline like the gospel, or that your characters don't have the right to change your outline... but you need a plan, a road map, if you will, something to drive you forward, something so that when you are in the dark, murky depths of novel writing, you can say, AHA! Wait a moment, don't I have that nightlight somewhere! Ah, yes! Here it is, my outline! (I picture saying that in the superhero stance and for some reason I am wearing a cape - I don't know why...)

So, I have begun a pre-outlining process. I actually began it over the summer. Here's what I did...
  1. I read from the beginning to my current latest page (pg 85 - which is as far as I got w/o an outline, trying to remember everything in my brain, instead of in an outline...). I took copious notes. I included every time a new character was introduced and on what page. I wrote down sentences that sounded like foreshadowing, or that I definitely wrote as foreshadowing on purpose. I wrote down any objects used by my MC that could have significance and be used later. I wrote down holes in my plot, questions that seemed unanswered, and things that led to questions in general. Finally, I wrote down things I must add/delete/change for subsequent drafts and things I must research.
  2. Then I pretended I was each major character and jotted down all the questions I could think of off the top of my head for that character to answer.
  3. This week I have been answering all these unanswered questions. Anytime I came to a plot hole, I began by asking more questions... what could T do to stop LB from succeeding? What would happen if T did this... what would happen if T did that... And I wrote it out until I felt it was a satisfying answer to this plot hole or question.

I am just about finished with this ever-growing brainstorming session. Next, I will begin to outline. I will be outlining chapter by chapter, summarizing the ones I've written already and truly outlining the ones I've yet to write. I will want to capture certain aspects, such as... what characters are in the scene, does the scene move the story forward, is there an emotion rise and fall to the scene, does it raise the stakes, does it present more obstacles for my MC or solutions to previous obstacles, has anything been foreshadowed, any objects used or hinted on, etc.

I have read about some choices for outlining on many of your blogs . Now I want to know, what forms work particularly well for you? I've heard of a friend who buys those large desk calendars, you know - the ones teachers use... and he uses each month as a sequence of scenes (this is based on screenplay writing though) There are 12 sequences of scenes in a movie. Each sequence is made up of a number of scenes. I think this could relate though, somewhat to novel writing too. I am a visual learner, so I like the idea of having the whole story laid out before me visually like this... So, let's share... what outlining techniques have worked for you time and time again. Or... what outlining techniques have not worked for you...

Monday, September 1, 2008

First Illustrator Meeting for HiccyWigs...

August 19, 2008 — Our first meeting devoted to illustrators of the HCCWiG was a success. In attendance: Lisanne Bartram, Cathy Thole-Daniels, Jeanne Balsam, Diana Patton, Leeza Hernandez and special surprise guest children's book illustrator and Hunterdon resident Lena Shiffman.

The members spent the evening discussing the industry and business of illustrating books for young readers, then had an opportunity to share their portfolios and any works in progress.

Lena, known for her beautiful watercolor works in many Scholastic titles, offered advice and suggestions to each member to help improve their work.

And, despite the difficulty and competitive nature of the market for picture books, Lena encouraged us to keep at it and continue to strengthen our abilities to draw and perfect our portfolios.

Attending meetings, conferences, workshops and seminars are the best ways to get your foot in the door of publishers, she suggested and when sending samples or a dummy, make sure to send to editors (and meet editors) also — because ultimately, they are the ones who make and offer the contracts.

With our first meeting off to a great start, HCCWiG would like to continue illustrator meetings every four months with goals for each illustrator to track progress and stay motivated.

Jeanne: Finish her first draft dummy of her √Čtoile story.
Diana: Send out her three dummies for submission to multiple publishers.
Lisanne: Create four new pieces for her portfolio based on the speckled egg and bird pieces already in her portfolio.
Cathy: Complete her dummy for the Princess and the Frog story.
Leeza: Revise her draft dummy of her Milly Moppet story along with three color samples as finished art for Milly Moppet.

The next meeting is scheduled for: Monday, December 8, 2008. (Right before the holidays!)
Illustrators of HCCWiG are welcome, but please RSVP if you plan to attend. The number of people in attendance determine the nature of the meeting. Bring portfolios, sketches or any works in progress to brainstorm and discuss.

Hope to see you at the next meeting.

Until, then - happy art love and happy Labor day!

HCCWiG would like to extend a very warm and special thank you to Lena Shiffman for volunteering her time to come to our meeting and offering such invaluable advice.