Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review: My Family Inspires Me

© Sylvia Liu
I am so grateful that 2014 was another creative year with much support and friendship from so many fellow creatives. Last year, I talked about my creative communities, like my picture book critique group, fellow mentees from the Nevada SCBWI mentor program, and 12x12 friends.

I still have those wonderful people in my creative life. But today I'm going to talk about the people who are the very closest to me:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Introducing Create One a Day

© Sylvia Liu

As an illustrator, I know that the best way to improve my craft is to practice every day. So last week, inspired by my friend Teresa Robeson, who has posted One Good Thing every day for over a year, I started a daily creative blog:  Create One a Day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Susanna Hill's 4th Annual Holiday Contest: Polar Woes

© Sylvia Liu

Here's my entry for Susanna Leonard Hill's 4th Annual Holiday Contest. The rules: write a 350 word or fewer holiday story for kids that involves wild weather. Check out the link for the other awesome entries. Update: I placed 7th in the overall competition! (here are all the results).   

POLAR WOES (338 words)

by Sylvia Liu

The icy water sloshed under the door of Santa’s workshop. Adelaide lifted her felt boot, soaked with melted snow.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

We Need Diverse Books: Graphic Novel Edition

I've been reading some amazing graphic novels recently, and just by chance, they tell previously untold stories from diverse perspectives & historical eras. I didn't set out to read diverse graphic novels - they were books I had heard of because I liked the author, or they were recommended, or I happened to win it through a giveaway. So here are my recent reads, which I heartily recommend:

Middle Grade

Lowriders in Space, by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raul the Third (Chronicle Books, 2014, reviewed ARC)

Lowriders in Space is a fun and fast read about three car-obsessed critters, Lupe the Impala (a mechanic), El Chavo Flapjack Octopus (a car washer), and Elirio Malaria (a mosquito detailer) who work for an oppressive garage but dream of opening their own.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Emma Walton Hamilton's Just Write for Middle Grade Course

Are you looking for a holiday present for an author in your family? Give him or her the keys to writing a middle grade novel: Emma Walton Hamilton's Just Write for Middle Grade online course. Be sure to enter into her giveaway (below) for a free subscription to this class.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Postcard and Business Card Printers

As an illustrator and artist, I have used online printers to make promotional postcards, bookmarks, and business cards. Here's a brief review of the printers I've used recently, with their current prices for a pack of 50 cards:

I have loved everything I've gotten from They produce top quality cards, but can be pricey. Their prices include full color double sided printing. I've gotten the following from them:

Regular business cards (50 cards = $14 matte, $16 recycled, $58 satin; these are satin that I got on a special promotion):

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Alphabet Soup November (NaNoWriMo, PiBoIdMo, SkADaMo)

If it's November, it's time to get my butt kicked by an alphabet soup of writing and illustrating challenges. Because there's not much else to do this month, right? No need to prepare for Thanksgiving, holidays, or family birthdays.

I am probably overdoing it, but here are the challenges and classes I'm doing, and my grades on effort/productivity.

1. NaNoWriMo: The international frenzy in November when writers pound out the first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I did this last year for an MG novel, didn't reach 50,000, but finished the story. I'm revising it, happy to have a complete manuscript to work with.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloweensie Writing Contest: A Spooky Fight

A pumpkin we carved yesterday

Here's my entry for Susanna Hill's Fourth Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest. The rules: write a Halloween story for children under 100 words, using the words broomstick, pumpkin, and creak.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Almost Ready for the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Conference

I am excited to be heading to the annual Mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference tomorrow. But, as usual, I left everything to the last minute.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How I Landed My First Contract: Yvonne Mes

Yvonne Mes signing the contract
The great news from my critique group keeps coming! My friend, the wonderfully talented author and illustrator Yvonne Mes has landed her first picture book contract!

You signed a book contract! What is the book about?

The book will be called MEET SIDNEY NOLAN, part of the Random House Australia MEET ... series.

It is a nonfiction picture book for children from ages 5 to 8. The story will focus on the Australian modernist painter Sidney Nolan. I am not sure who the illustrator will be yet, but I have loved the illustrations in the other MEET ... books so I am sure it will be amazing ... I don't envy the illustrator illustrating the story of a well-known artist!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tia Bourne Mushka: An Illustrator Going Places

© Tia Mushka

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing my talented friend Tia Bourne Mushka, who I met through the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program. She was in the program being mentored in writing, but she is also a children's illustrator. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Morning with Gong Gong: An Illustrator is Chosen!

Image from Christina Forshay's portfolio @ Christina Forshay

I'm so excited to announce that Christina Forshay will be illustrating my picture book, A MORNING WITH GONG GONG, to be published by Lee & Low Books. Check out her awesome piece above (giant octopus & pirates, some of my favorite subjects!) and more at her website (

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. 

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):

Monday, March 31, 2014

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

© 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?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Little Red (a short short fairy tale)

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

This is my entry for Susanna Leonard Hill's fractured fairy tale contest (The March Madness Writing Contest), clocking in at 164 words.


                Little Red ignored the village worrywarts who warned her about Nail Forest. She would risk the nasty scrapes from rusted ridges and the stinging scratches from metal flakes. It was the only way to get to Nana’s house before dark.
            “Are you lost, young lady?” called a kindly, raspy voice.
            “No. My Nana’s just through the spikes and past Chainsaw Canyon. Thanks for your kind concern.” Little Red smiled at the strange man with long ears and bushy tail.
            The man started forward, but then furrowed his furry brow. He scratched his head with long, sharp nails. Then he smiled, showing long, ugly teeth.
            He should really get those cleaned, Little Red thought.
            Twenty minutes later, she hugged Nana.
            Nana said, “I’m so glad to see you. The Grimm Daily News says that Lone Wolf is roaming Nail Forest and preying on young girls.”
            “Oh, don’t worry, Nana. A really nice fellow also hangs out there. He’ll keep us safe. Here, have some bread.”

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Kidlit411 Giveaway and David Diaz in the Spotlight

This is a super short post to encourage you to head over to Kidlit411 and enter into our giveaway for a free picture book critique with Susanna Leonard Hill or a chance to submit a picture book, middle grade, or young adult manuscript to agent Mira Reisberg of Hummingbird Literary. The giveaway ends on Friday, March 7.

Also on Kidlit411, I've interviewed illustrator David Diaz, the 1995 Caldecott winner and the 2013 Pura Belpré winner. David is my mentor in the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program. One my favorite books of his is the biography of Frida Kahlo, ME, FRIDA.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New Work: Logos and Banners

I've been making logos and web banners recently. I enjoy doing these logos because it is immediately gratifying to see my work on some of my favorite kidlit websites:


Elaine Kearns and I have been working on Kidlit411, a website gathering information for kid lit writers and illustrators. Here's the website banner:

© 2014 Sylvia Liu

Friday, February 14, 2014

How to Create an Active Sub Page in Blogger

Recently, a blog reader asked me how to make an active sub-page in Blogger instead of the default static page. The example she gave was my Portfolio tab (above), which links to a page that acts like a blog or website rather than a static page.

I haven't figured out a way to do it within one blog, but here's my very simple workaround.  My portfolio site is a separate Blogger blog, and my page tab in this blog links directly to the URL of that separate site.

How to Link a Page to Another Site to Create the Illusion of an Active Sub Page

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Poetry Friday: Cephalopod Dactyl & A New Poetry Class for Picture Book Writers

© 2012 Sylvia Liu

My friend and children's poet Renée LaTulippe is hosting Poetry Friday today, and thanks to her, this is the first time I feel brave enough to offer my own poetry.

I have been part of a beta class for her new online class, THE LYRICAL LANGUAGE LAB. In this 4 week course, Renée teaches the basics of poetry for picture book writers, whether they plan to write in rhyme or not. The classes cover basics such as meter, rhyme, and types of poetry, as well as techniques to bring poetic and lyrical language to one's writing, both rhyming and prose. Renée will begin monthly classes in April 2014, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2013 New Voices Award Winner Announced!

May I share the limelight with you, Mr. Magnifico? © 2013 Sylvia Liu

Today I am beyond excited to announce that I WAS SELECTED AS THE WINNER OF THE LEE AND LOW 2013 NEW VOICES AWARD (click the link to see the announcement). So excited that fresh words fail me so I shall resort to cliches:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A to Z Cephalopods: L thru R

This is a catch up post of my December Doodle Day Cephalopods. I only got to P by the end of December, but I will slowly finish the alphabet, hopefully before the end of January. The Doodle Day prompts in January have been locations (like Bedroom, Bathroom), so I will incorporate those as well.

L for Longfin Inshore Squid

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Neuroscientists practice on the giant axon of this squid because it behaves exactly like humans, but is many time larger and easier to manipulate. Also, long fin inshore squid do not have good malpractice lawyers.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Introducing Kidlit411

Screenshot of Kidlit411

It's five days into the new year, and I've been very productive . . .  on everything but my illustrations. But that's okay, because these are some of the fun things I've worked on:

  • Launch of KidLit411. I helped children's writer Elaine Kearns launch her awesome website KidLit411, which aims to be a one stop hub of information for children's book writers and illustrators. I helped design the site using a free Blogger template provided by Confluent Forms, which designs websites and provides great information for Blogger blogs on their website Blogger Xpertise. (Yes, the whole look is done on a Blogger blog. It's the same template as my portfolio). The site provides soup to nuts information on the kid lit world, including resources (web and print), classes, challenges, submissions, and more. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

5 Types of Unproductive Procrastination and How to Stop it Now

© 2011 Sylvia Liu

The new year is a great time to make changes. My main resolution for 2014 is to stop procrastinating.