Monday, September 1, 2014

Not So Accidental Tourist Blog Hop

© 2014 Sylvia Liu

Hello friends. I was tagged by author-illustrator Dani Duck for this blog hop that celebrate artists illustrators, writers, and all sorts of creative types. 

I like this blog hop because it's an opportunity to assess what I'm doing creatively, and to give a shout out to talented creative friends.

1. What am I working on?

Beginning in the fall and through the winter, I am attending several writing conferences (the Hampton Roads Writer's Conference, the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Annual Fall conference, and the annual SCBWI New York conference), so in preparation I am:

  • Updating my portfolio. Working on developing fun characters in fun settings. The critters on the kite is a recent illustration I did for a contest, and here is another recent piece:

© 2014 Sylvia Liu
  • Polishing my picture book manuscripts & finishing a dummy. I have been working on one story in particular and finishing a dummy for it. 
  • Revising my MG manuscript & making sketches for it.  I wrote a young MG story last year during NaNoWriMo, revised it over the summer, and now it's out on beta reads. It will be a highly illustrated novel (in the vein of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, the book).
Before I can dive into this work, I have two commissions that I am working on (a graphic for Oceana, the nonprofit ocean conservation group and a painting for a friend). 

I also continue to work through the editorial process for A MORNING WITH GONG GONG. This summer my editor and I have gone through two rounds of edits and it's been a fascinating process. (Here is this year's Lee & Low's New Voices Award announcement, for unpublished picture book writers of color).

2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Well, I'm not pickling sharks or doing avant garde picture book performance art, so I guess my work is within the conventional bounds of the genre. But everyone has their own style and I'm happily developing mine.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

It's deeply satisfying to see my thoughts materialize in on a page or canvas. It's even more satisfying to be doing this for children. One of the biggest thrills I had last year was when a high school friend sent me a drawing that his 8 year old son had done, copying my blog's banner:

© Felipe Oening Martinez
Now how cool is that?! (And how talented is this kid?)

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

For illustrations, I follow a fairly typical process (thumbnails, loose sketches, tighter sketches, rendering). Occasionally I will have a pretty good vision of what I want to do and I sketch and illustrate with that in mind. I let the process take me where it will but the end result often is quite close to my mental image.

For writing picture books, I get my ideas from characters I sketch, silly situations my kids get into, and quirky things that interest me. I vomit out a first draft and then spend a lot of time revising and going through critiques.

For writing my MG story, I outlined the plot and pantsed the scenes.

And now for the best part: 

I'm tagging three of my critique group members because they are awesomely talented and I'd like to learn more about their creative process. (The other members of my critique group are also awesomely talented but they either don't have blogs or have other commitments, and even the ones I tagged have other commitments, so this is all a very voluntary blog hop).

Teresa Robeson speculative fiction and picture book author, illustrator, and the person you'd most likely want to share a post-apocalyptic dystopian world with, as she can grow and can vegetables and fruits, raise chickens, make soap, and homeschool your children. Read my interview with her about how she landed her agent, Ella Kennen.

Elaine Kiely Kearns picture book author and founder of, the kidlit resource page that she and I run together. Sometimes going into a venture with a friend can be fraught, but the past 8 months have been a great partnership. Listen to us chat about Kidlit411 on Katie Davis's Brain Burps podcast or read this interview of us at Writer's Rumpus.

Yvonne Mes picture book author and illustrator living in Australia, multi-tasking with young children in the house. I love the many creative moods of Yvonne's work (dark, quirky, sophisticated, cute) and can't wait until she shares her talent with the world.   


Friday, August 8, 2014

My Author & Illustrator Friends in Bookstores

One of the most exciting things about getting more involved in the kidlit community is the number of people I know who I count as friends and mentors whose books are sitting on bookstore shelves. Going into a bookstore is a completely different experience now, because the books are truly like friends.

For example, amazing mentors in the Nevada SCBWI mentor program:

Jim Averbeck (his new MG thriller A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT):

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.

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):