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 (Here is this year's Lee & Low's New Voices Award announcement, for unpublished picture book writers of color).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.