Skip to content

Yinka Shonibare, The British Library

September 8, 2020
STEPHANIE WARD

 

Yinka Shonibare’s installation of over 6,000 covered books is currently housed at the Tate Modern in London. Its name, The British Libraryrefers to its topic — immigration to Britain — not its location.

The books are bound in African wax print fabric and the names of first or second-generation immigrants to Britain, both celebrated and unknown, are printed in gold on the spines of 2,700 of the books. Some spines are left unmarked symbolising that the story of immigration in Britain is still being written.

A website accessible from the tablets in the exhibit hall shares various articles on both sides of the immigration discussion and everyone is welcome to submit a story.

Tate Modern
Natalie Bell Building, Level 2
London
https://www.tate.org.uk/
Until 21 February 2021

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

This article was originally published on Stephanie Ward’s blog, Writer with Wanderlust: http://www.stephaniemward.com/blog.

Twitter: @StephMWard

E-books: Looking Good to Go

August 4, 2020

ELISABETH HAWKSLEY

On 10th May, I put up a post about my lockdown project of getting my Elizabeth Hawksley historical novels into e-books. Now, ten weeks later, the first book, Highland Summer is almost ready and it’s been a steep, not to say precipitous, learning curve. However, thanks to computer wizard John Hocking, and his wife Janet Gover, another computer wizard, both brilliant at explaining things, we are at last getting there.

Janet has been showing me how to write an e-book blurb – a very different animal from a book blurb. I’ve been learning about ‘Shout lines’ – This is the bait to tempt the reader to find out more. For Highland Summer, for example, the shout line is: Love can be unpredictable… And family secrets can be dangerous. It’s a sort of overall feel for what the book’s about.

We have been working on the blurbs for the first three books: Highland Summer, The Belvedere Tower and Frost FairAnd my attempts have been going to and fro, and Janet has been telling me, kindly but firmly, why what I’ve put won’t do. Often, it’s something simple, like, ‘avoid the repetition of ‘secret’ ‘ and she’s spot on. I am improving and we are getting there.

Then there are problems of choosing a cover. This is John’s territory and he has been very patient with me. John likes art – which helps; but he’s a Jackson Pollock man, whilst I prefer J. M. W. Turner – Hm. Careful negotiations are called for.

Fortunately, John had the clever idea of sending me photocopies of current Amazon bestseller covers – with fifteen images per A4 page, including the ones he has been working on. It’s allowed me to see what’s popular at the moment, which I found really helpful.

A lot of our negotiations, though, have been about typefaces. There are some typefaces which just don’t work with e-books – they look wrong – maybe they turn out too spiky, or perhaps they look more flattened than I thought they’d be. I discovered that the look of a specific typeface can change in an e-book context and I trust John’s experience here.

Generally speaking, I want a traditional but stylish typeface (my novels are historical, after all) and it must look good with all my novels, not just the three we’re concentrating on at the moment. So it’s got to be an adaptable typeface.

When we started looking at book covers, Janet told me that they didn’t need to be too specific – all the Highland Summer cover had to get across was ‘historical’ and ‘Scottish’. However, accurate historical research has always been important to me and, if I know of a picture that is spot on – then I want to use it, if possible.

The cover for Highland Summer features a contemporary print of mid-19th century Inverness in the Scottish Highlands – the setting for much of the book. I was given the print by my cousin Roland, when I was a bridesmaid at his Scottish wedding, and it’s perfect.

The cover for The Belvedere Tower threw up a slightly different problem. It was inspired by the belvedere tower at Sissinghurst, which dates back to 1560. Its tower has a flat roof with battlements at the top to give a splendid view of any hunt the aristocratic owners had arranged for the entertainment of guests. The word belvédère comes from the French and means ‘Beautiful view.’ There are many belvedere towers surviving but most of them are too large for what I want.

The cover for Frost Fair shows a Luke Clennell print of the very last Frost Fair on the River Thames in February 1814. A lot happens at that Fair in the book including an very unpleasant death on an unstable ice floe (I enjoyed writing that). John and I had a lot of discussion about the background colour and I’m particularly pleased with the Jack Frost effect of the icy turquoise for Frost Fair.

At the moment, I’m doing the final proof reading for Highland Summer, which is now on Kindle on my desktop – and that’s a story in itself. I’m now feeling far more confident about finding my way around the Kindle version of Highland Summer. I’m used to my books having 2-300 pages – it’s a bit of a shock to find that, on Kindle, I’m dealing with over four thousand locations.

There’s been a lot of work back stage as well, to do with platforms, ISBN numbers and so on. But I still have a mental picture of York Railway Station with Thomas the Tank Engine chuffing into the platform – in my case, Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords. My books will be coming out under Mundeville Books. I grew up just outside the small village of Coatham Mundeville in Co. Durham. Anyone from the North–East will probably recognise the name and it’s my salute to where I come from.


This article was originally published on the Elizabeth Hawksley blog: http://elizabethhawksley.com/elizabeth-hawksley-e-books-looking-good-to-go/

Highland Summer is now available.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Highland-Summer-Elizabeth-Hawksley-ebook/dp/B08DCBKV7N/

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/highland-summer

Twitter: @Hawksley_E

Dear Ugly Sisters And Other Poems

July 31, 2020

LAURA MUCHA

My debut poetry collection is the result of eight years of work, so I’m very excited to finally see it in print. It also comes with a free audiobook, which I hope you will love as much as I do. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book.

Tonight I fancy a flight,
so I shuffle my short feathers
and jump.

Original, dazzling and unconventional, this brilliant first solo collection has a surprise on every page.

Go on a night flight, have a monster’s lunch, immerse yourself in birdsong. Shout out an Apatosaurus rap before checking out Alexander Fleming’s petri dish. Find fairy tales with a twist, poems to make you laugh – and reflective poems to think about.

Full of variety, wit and warmth, this is a spectacular debut from a poet to watch!

Poet and author Laura Mucha performs poems from her debut children’s poetry book ‘Dear Ugly Sisters and Other Poems’

The illustrations are by Tania Rex. ‘Dear Ugly Sisters…’ is available to preorder now!

Find out more and purchase a copy at: https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/dear-ugly-sisters

Find out more about Laura Mucha at: https://lauramucha.com/

Pop-up Tutorials

May 25, 2020

JOHN O’LEARY

I’m very grateful to the schools that have invited me in over the years to talk about my work, run workshops and share my pop-up skills. I wanted to offer them something during this difficult time so I’ve been creating a series of online pop-up tutorials.

I’m currently creating video number 5. Each one deals with an aspect of paper-engineering – parallel fold, v fold, platform fold and so forth and the designs will become more complicated over time. My intention is to continue to make the videos even after everything turns back to normal – whenever that might be. Also, I’ve always wanted to provide people with a resource after they’ve done my workshops and now seemed as good a time as any to create it.

 

 

Quite rightly, no comments are allowed on the YouTube videos intended for families and kids but if you have any questions about the techniques, feel free to ask me here.

 

 

This post originally appeared in https://johnolearyillustration.co.uk/blog/

Illustration Know-How / Keeping Creative During Recovery

April 16, 2020

CLARE TOVEY


Having recently emerged from injury rehab, here are my tips on how to stay creative during recovery from illness. 

Breaking a finger is distressing. When you are also an illustrator it is highly challenging. Keeping a positive mental attitude during the six weeks or so recovery is incredibly important to the healing process; as is finding a way to keep on using your illustrator brain!

 

My tips:

  • Accept fully that during the recovery time you cannot carry on as usual: reschedule stuff, and take your time. Rest LOTS. Ignoring your injury and carrying on regardless is a recipe for associating your craft with pain, as I learnt the first time I broke a finger.
  • Think about and enjoy what you CAN do.
  • Find ways to continue using your favourite techniques and materials: think outside of the box – what could be do-able, with some help? For example, using a sketchbook of pre-printed storyboard templates, and weighting it open with drawing board clips (make sure they are the good ones which close tight!) Or asking someone else to draw you some templates.
  • Search online to find ideas from others who have experienced similar set backs.
  • Set yourself a challenge – something you will love to do, and will be fun.
  • Have a plan to do something every day – and post it online – Inktober-style. Say you are going through recovery from injury – use a hashtag. This is encouragement for anyone going through a similar challenge who does a search. It is also a great way to track your recovery.
  • There are lots of daily drawing/painting challenges out there to provide prompts: find one you like.
  • Look at what other illustrators are doing on Instagram for inspiration: John Shelley’s 365 days of 1’’ drawings inspired me to do my tiny ink drawing a day.
  • Find a way to continue doing the other creative stuff you do, too! For example, one row of knitting, or planting one bulb, and increase the amount you do as you recover.
  • Read up on athletes etc who have gone through injury and recovered.
  • If meditation appeals to you, Head Space app has a pack on Rehab within the Sport section: this is great for the daily reminders to take your time and allow your body to heal.

This article was first published in Words and Pictures, the SCWBI British Isles online magazine.

*********************************************************************************************************

 

Clare Clarabelle Tovey has focused on her life-long passion for drawing picture books and stories, from being an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Islington Writers for Children Group. She lives in London with a playful young cat, surrounded by piles of sketchbooks, books and crafting materials. Best place to see work is currently @clarabelledraws on Instagram.

2020 NSW Premier’s Booklist

March 14, 2020

STEPHANIE WARD

I’m honored to learn that Arabella and the Magic Pencil has been included in the 2020 NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge Booklist.

The NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge is an Australian program that aims to “encourage a love of reading for leisure and pleasure in students and enable them to experience quality literature”. The accompanying booklists give children a wide range of quality books to choose from as they attempt to read 20-30 books, depending on age, between March – August 2020.

For more information about the challenge or to see the official booklists by age group, visit the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge website.

2020 NSW Premier’s Booklist — Stephanie Ward

 

 

Sea of Poppies

March 11, 2020
LYNDA WATERHOUSE
 
I am involved in a Book Club event at The Wallace Collection on Monday 30th March in conjunction with the extraordinary Forgotten Masters: Indian-Painting for the East India Company exhibition.

The book chosen is Amitav Ghosh’s stunning novel, ‘ Sea of Poppies’. The evening will include a chance to see the exhibition, talk with a curator, share a glass of wine and chat about the book. This is a new venture for The Wallace Collection.

Please forward details on to anyone you think will be interested if you wish!

 

Female characters – picture books

January 23, 2020

EILEEN BROWNE (guest post)

Female characters – picture books (work in progress)
Autumn 2019

After discovering that only one in three picture or baby books in the UK (and USA) has a female lead, (and only one in five with animal characters), I began compiling this list.

All books on the list are ‘a good read’, with either female protagonists, equal numbers of females & males or no gendered characters.

All are paperback fiction, unless otherwise stated. 

Books published in the last four years have the date in bold.

If titles are out of print, they can often be found in libraries or on line.

Until females and males are equally depicted in children’s media from birth onwards, there’s little chance of gender equality in adulthood.

 BAME (Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic) titles are indicated with an asterisk*.

© Eileen Browne 2016

 


 

Aargh, Spider! 2-7 yrs
Lydia Monks
97814 05210 447 – Egmont 2013 (2004)

Abracazebra 3-8 yrs
Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty
97814 07145 389 – Alison Green Books 2015

Ada Twist, Scientist * 4-8 yrs
Andrea Beaty & David Roberts
97814 19721 373 (hbk) – Abrams (USA) 2016

All Fall Down * 0-3 yrs
Helen Oxenbury
97814 06382 402 (board bk) – Walker Books 2018 (1987)

All Mine! 1-4 yrs
Zehra Hicks
97815 09817 757 (board bk) – Two Hoots 2016 (2015)

Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do! 2-7 yrs
Daisy Hirst
97814 06373 134 – Walker Books 2017 (2016)

Alphonse, There’s Mud On The Ceiling 2-7 yrs
Daisy Hirst
97814 06374 759 (hbk) – Walker Books 2019 

Amazing Grace * 4-10 yrs
Mary Hoffman & Caroline Binch
97818 45077 495 – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books 2007 (1991)

Animal Boogie, The * 2-7 yrs
Debbie Harter
97818 46866 203 – Barefoot Books 2011 (2000) + CD rom:

Anna Hibiscus’ Song * 2-7 yrs
Atinuke & Lauren Tobia
97814 06338 416 – Walker Books 2012 

April Underhill, Tooth Fairy 3-8 yrs
Bob Graham
97814 06339 604 – Walker Books 2012

Azzi In Between * 6-11+ yrs
Sarah Garland
97818 47806 512 – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books 2012 (graphic novel + non-fiction notes) Read more…

Taking a Moment

January 9, 2020

STEPHANIE WARD

Illustrations by Shaney Hyde

It’s been a whirlwind six months of promoting my picture book Arabella and the Magic Pencil that was released in September 2019. I’ve been thinking about, talking about and obsessing about it for what seems like an eternity. From drafting a marketing plan to visiting bookstores and shipping review copies, I lost touch with how I ended up here in the first place. I actually got a bit sick of seeing my own face and the book I was so proud of splashed across social media. But in the quiet days after the holidays, in a fog of jet lag, I took a moment to sit down with the book I’d been shamelessly promoting to simply read it for myself.

First, I gazed at the cover and end pages. I traced Arabella’s steps as she waltzes in her whimsical world and noticed how Wish, a sweet little bird that was an invention of the illustrator, hops along the inside cover beckoning readers to follow.

Flipping through the pages, I giggled at the hidden details — Stephanie’s Story Tent, Arabella reading her own book and a banner advertising “Magic Happens” that I hadn’t actually noticed until now. And I couldn’t help but laugh at the flashy flamingoes who flamencoed as Word still insists that it’s not a word!

I remembered how feedback from my critique group changed a boring page turn to a dramatic moment with a well-placed ellipsis. Then I quietly observed Arabella as she stands with her back to me drawing with her magic pencil.

I marveled at my physical reaction to the change in color palette when Arabella realizes what she has done. I flipped back to the bright pages that conveyed her happy life and found myself searching for colors on the muted pages that follow.

Finally, I stared wide-eyed at Avery’s dinosaur — not the one that I imagined when I wrote the story, but the one the illustrator painted that just happens to be my favorite.

I find that I’ve been smiling the entire time I’ve been reading. Am I fan-girling myself? No, not really. This isn’t my book. It may be my story, but this thing in my hands has been created by many. People around the world now experience my words together with expressive artwork all wrapped up in a perfect package.

What once was just an foggy idea is now an actual book that will live on bookshelves and archives long after the marketing fervor has died down. It was nice to remember that I still love the story that I originally wrote so many years ago, even after reading it for the gazillionth time. And that seems like a pretty good reason to savor the moment.

via Taking a Moment — Stephanie Ward

What Agents Want

October 3, 2019

ODETTE ELLIOTT

Jottings following the SCBWI Agents’ party 2019

I have listed below some of the points raised by the nine agents who were present.  As you will see, it was clear that different agents have different wish lists. It seems to me that the trick is to hit lucky, without knowing exactly who would like what!

GENERAL

 Different agents look at different parts of the submission. This can be:

  • The cover letter – to see if the agent warms to the author and could ‘get on with them’.
  • Synopsis – Some do NOT want to read the end!! Most DO.
  • The HOOK is vital for some.
  • A “Cracking Opening” of book = Vital
  • First 3 chapters. Because some go straight to the manuscript.
  • Don’t be self-deprecating in letter.
  • Be CONFIDENT/POSITIVE.
  • Do research on website about each agent – sometimes they need a change if have had a lot of one kind (g. One now has enough “funny”)
  • Cover letter should be short.
  • Even picture books and certainly MG can tackle big issues.
  • Voice is SO important.
  • Be concise and clear.
  • Why my voice is different from others – make it clear.
  • Give the setting.
  • Motivation of why wrote book. Why writing. Story behind the story.
  • Show you can be flexible when editing is asked for.
  • Timing is vital. . . g. if another publisher is publishing a book that is very similar. OR if there is a need for a change.

However, there are some things agents have in common. They all mentioned “be clear and concise”.  They recommended studying each agency’s submission guidelines really carefully.  Apparently sometimes a female agent receives a letter or an email prefaced by “Dear Sir!’

I liked the agents who said “Just send me your work. Sometimes I receive something I had never thought of and it turns out to be just exactly what inspires me to say YES.”

Good luck everyone!

%d bloggers like this: