Leeza was named the winner of the 2009 Tomie DePaola Portfolio Award at this year's NYC SCBWI Winter Conference. I know Leeza must still be floating in the stratosphere somewhere but she floated down briefly to tell me what winning felt like to her...
After the shock and delight of receiving the award, I think I truly felt like winning was a sign that I was finally on the right track. I've spent the past few years wondering where I could fit in, what my style was, where I was headed, and even if children's books was the right path for me. For the past twelve months though, this has all started to come together and shown me my desires and passions for working in children's literature. I spent many an early day and late night sketching, painting, doodling, researching, networking, crying and illustrating -- and somewhere in that time, everything clicked. To have two such prestigious names in the children's book world -- legendary Tomie dePaola and Penguin Putnam's art director Cecilia Yung -- describe my work as "Fresh" and "Superlative" is the icing on the cake. I cannot express my gratitude enough to them or to everyone who has been a part of my life since I began this wonderful journey. The feeling is simply AWESOME! I am so very proud of Leeza's growth, determination, and stamina! And I admire her talent and positive disposition in life and art. I feel very lucky to know her, to be her friend, and to know that she is my friend too, and to have her a part of HCCyWIG.
Please join me in congratulating Leeza in this awe inspiring accomplishment!
Always remember, if you stick with it, eventually, you will break in!