Sunday, July 20, 2014

How I Got My Agent: Lori Ann Levy-Holm

Today I am thrilled to feature my friend, Lori Ann Levy-Holm in my How I Got My Agent series. 

I first met Lori Ann through Julie Hedlund's 12x12 picture book writing challenge; we were in a critique group together; and we were in the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program together as illustration mentees. So I've had the great pleasure of enjoying her hilarious and wonderful company both online and in person. 

Lori Ann writes and illustrates picture book manuscripts. She recently announced that she has signed with Jodell Sadler of Sadler's Children Literary

Here she is to tell us about it.

Give us the short version of how you came to children's writing and illustrating.

When I was in grad school my first class was with Ted and Betsy Lewin. . . I know . . . right??? The course was Your Dream Project. I decided to write and illustrate a picture book. It was my first attempt and they helped me from start to finish. On a later study tour that dream team invited us to visit them at their Brooklyn home where Ted gave us a reference photography lesson. Ted and Betsy gave me much encouragement and I haven't looked back.

What is your niche in writing? How did you figure this out?

When I started writing, I concentrated on developing characters to illustrate and then came up with story lines to accompany them. Needless to say, these stories were horrific. My friend Kristen Fulton read a story I had written in grad school and asked me why I wasn’t writing nonfiction.  

I’ve always been fascinated with biographies. The first chapter book I read as a child was about Abraham Lincoln. The cover was textured light blue linen with a black line drawing of Abe’s childhood cabin. In my mind's eye, I can still see the spine of the book in my elementary school library.

How did you learn about/ meet Jodell Sadler and what drew you to her?

I read a post she did about pacing pictures books weeks before I met her at the WOW retreat. I thought she was articulate, insightful and had a great command of picture books. Basically, I thought she was a pretty sharp tool in the kidlit shed.  In person she is kind, intelligent, a direct communicator and best of all she is happy.

Tell us about "the call" or the moment you got the offer. 

I didn’t get a call. Jodell looked me in the eyes and said, I really want to work with you. I love your work and I think we would make a great team.

What would you say are the one or two things you did that got your work  to the level that landed you an agent?

I stay connected to my need for learning. If I am not discovering, then I am not living. Taking classes and doing the work are essential for me. 

I am not talented, people. I am a hard worker. 

My critique partners have helped me hone my craft. 

David Diaz and Jim Averbeck from the SCBWI Nevada Mentor program were instrumental mentors who continue to support me on my journey long after the program ended. 

I am a lucky girl.

How did you celebrate getting an agent?

I cleaned my refrigerator, got a pedicure, and finished up the excitement with grocery shopping. I stick with my motto . . . do the work.

Any parting words of advice to other writers and illustrators?

See the above motto, do the work.

Thank you so much, Lori Ann!

The website I help run, will feature Lori Ann in the Illustrator Spotlight on Friday, July 25, where we will explore her illustration work. In the meantime, here's a teaser of her one of her illustrations:

© Lori Ann Levy-Holm

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daily Doodles: or How Little Doses of Work Add Up

RABBIT prompt © 2014 Sylvia Liu
I know it and you know it. Every successful author or illustrator tells us the same thing: keep your butt in the chair and do a bit of work every day.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Tomie de Paola Award - 2014 Edition

© 2014 Sylvia Liu
I've been busy with end of school activities, family in town, working on client and other projects, and finishing up my entry for the SCBWI Tomie de Paola Illustration Award.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How I Got My Agent: the Multi-talented Teresa Robeson

I've been sitting on really exciting news.

My picture book critique buddy and good friend Teresa Robeson has signed with an agent: Ella Kennen of the Corvisiero Agency. She is multitalented: she writes picture books, middle grade, YA, short stories, and illustrates (not to mention homeschools, paints, knits, gardens, cans food, etc.). She tells us about The Call and how she ended up here.

Tell us about your writing journey. How long have you been writing, and what sorts of stories do you write?

I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I learned English after moving to Canada in third grade, but I didn’t think about writing professionally until 1990 when I took my first course from the Institute of Children’s Literature. I decided to take the course because kid lit, along with science fiction, was one of my first loves. Within a year of completing the class, I joined SCBWI and sold my first short story to Ladybug Magazine and my first article to Outdoor Indiana.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Whirlwind Month of Creativity

I've been quiet here because I've had an amazingly busy few weeks. A quick recap:

Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program Concluding Conference

I went to the concluding conference of the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program in Virginia City, Nevada, last weekend, where my six month mentorship program concluded with a huge bang. We met with our mentors, reconnected with friends, and had an art and conversation filled weekend. A few photos:

The five women illustrators in the program (we had one guy, Steve Roe, who was the photographer) with David Diaz (Sidne Teske, Heidi Woodward Sheffield, Lori Ann Levy-Holm, Kary Lee, and me):

Monday, March 31, 2014

Should Authors and Illustrators Form an LLC (and Other Business Questions)?

© 2014 Sylvia Liu

Once you start taking your writing and/or illustrating seriously, it may be time to treat your work as a business. This can include keeping track of expenses and income and reporting them on your taxes, obtaining a business license, or creating a limited liability company (LLC).

Although I was once an attorney, this post does NOT constitute legal advice. Instead, it raises some of the issues you may want to consider when treating your writing/illustrating as a business.

FIRST ISSUE: Should I treat my writing/illustrating as a business for tax purposes?