Happy Spring (and Big Catch Up Post)!

© Sylvia Liu

I just realized I'm very behind on this blog, as I've been busy with writing, illustrating, and running Kidlit411 (plus daily life and tearing my hair out reading the news). So I've missed writing my usual round up posts:

1. 2016 Highlights/Reflection 

What a year! 2016 was the year of my debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books) finally came out. It was a whirlwind of activities and excitement, including a book trailer debut, a blog tour, a book launch party, DC events, and book signing at the ALA Convention. I am truly grateful for the whole experience.

Here's the book trailer that Christina and I made (we did it by learning how to animate using Keynote, which is Apple's Power Point software, and using iMovie):

2. My 2017 Word/Resolutions

What word do you pick to guide you for the year? I have picked Breathe and Balance and other mindful words in the past, but this year I'm going with FOCUS and ENJOY.  I'm a notorious procrastinator, but this year I'm trying to be ruthless about things that don't matter. And I'm going to have fun while on this creative journey.

We live in a difficult political time. I've spent a lot of time writing/calling my representatives, meeting with them at local offices, and staying up to date. But I also do not enjoy letting a certain President live rent free in my head, so I limit the amount of time I spend on those things.  

Looking Forward

Last year, I didn't spend as much time as I wanted to on creating new things. This year, I've been pretty diligent with:

1. Writing

I've managed to stay focused on writing with the help of

  • My trusty critique group 
  • The 12x12 challenge, where I've managed to write a PB draft each month so far (a record for me)
  • Inked Voices, which has writing workshops with agents, and that has been a great way to get critiques
  • A new in person critique group in the local area

2. Illustration

I'm working on:

  • Revamping my portfolio. I am excited to work on new pieces, from cute:
© Sylvia Liu
  to moody (see the raven above).

  • An exciting project in collaboration with Kristen Schroeder, which has resulted in a joint submission of a manuscript that she wrote and I am illustrating. 
© Sylvia Liu

© Sylvia Liu

© Sylvia Liu

© Sylvia Liu
which led me to do this drawing of Apollo:

© Sylvia Liu

3. School Visits

This Spring I've scheduled six school visits to present my book and demonstrate tai chi moves. Three are local, and I'm traveling to the DC area the week of April 24 for three other presentations.  I've figured out a presentation that seems to engage the students, though in some cases, the tai chi part has left them more hyped up than calm. Here's the cover (so official!): 

4. Teaching

Since last summer, I have taught a picture book writing class at The Muse Writer's Center in Norfolk VA. The great benefit for me, besides sharing what I know about writing picture books, is that I am always reading new mentor texts and studying them/ breaking them down. So it's a continuing education for me as well.

So... what is your word for 2017? What has you excited about your creative journey?