The Ohioana Book Festival
|Poster art by author/illustrator Lindsay Ward|
Per usual, the biggest--and most exciting/hectic/crazy/fun/exhausting--thing about spring for me is my day job at the Ohioana Library. From January to April every year, the place gets turned upside as we plan and prep for the annual Ohioana Book Festival. It's a fantastic one-day event celebrating Ohio authors and illustrators with fun for the whole family. I really enjoy that my day job has such a positive impact on Ohio's literary community. Between my work with Ohioana and SCBWI, I've gotten to know a lot of fellow kids' writers and illustrators, and I love that I can help support them with this event. It makes those late nights at the office (and frantic phone calls about tablecloth colors) well worth it!
I'm going to take a moment to talk about my spine. My spine is not my friend right now. For a couple months, my doctor thought a pinched nerve was causing pain and numbness in my hand and back. In February, we learned that I actually have a broken spinal disc. Eww. Eww. EWWWWW.
How do you cure that? Epidural shots. Maybe surgery. Massively cutting back on writing and illustrating. (I'm not so great at that last one.)
I'm now two injections into treatment and feeling "meh." I have good days; I have bad days. Sometimes I get really frustrated. It's hard to predict what the next few months will bring, so I just remember my doctor's words that any improvement is good improvement. (And it could be worse. WAY worse. So I'm quite thankful for that.)
Now let's go back to happier things. My local SCBWI chapter was a partner of the Ohioana Book Festival, and our illustrators sponsored a coloring page activity for the kids' room. I really didn't want to skip the project (spine injury be darned!), so I paced myself as much as possible and created this:
You may remember this jaguar from a calendar contest piece I created in 2012. I always liked this concept, but the original has been weeded from my portfolio over the years. So I took this opportunity to revisit my old drawing and give myself a refresher in vectoring with Adobe Illustrator. I'm much happier this little guy now and thought it would be fun to show how my art has changed with a "Draw This Again" meme. Who knows--maybe I'll revisit him again in a few years!
The Children's Book Academy:
Middle Grade Mastery Course
Let's face it--I'm bad at taking it easy. I try. I really do. (I'm sorry, spine doctor!) But when I found out the Children's Book Academy was offering an online spring course called "Middle Grade Mastery," I just couldn't resist signing up. I loved the course I took in 2016, "The Craft and Business of Writing and Illustrating Picture Books," and I knew this opportunity was just what I needed for my Pirate Ferret manuscript.
So I signed up, and I'm oh-so glad I did. The "Middle Grade Mastery" course was led by instructors Mira Reisberg and Hillary Homzie. We went over tons of middle grade goodness: revising, illustrating, pitches, mentor texts, character development, idea generating, and everything in between. The instructors were both wonderful (it was great to work with Mira again!), and so nurturing. It's clear they care about the success of their students and pour their hearts into teaching. I met new wonderful writing buddies, too, which always makes me happy. :)
The course inspired me to make Pirate Ferret a priority, which I frequently find difficult to do in the midst of life's chaos. (Darn you again, spine!) With encouragement from the instructors, I even pushed myself (and paced myself) to tackle some new sketches and black and white illustrations.
|Sketches of Tentacles, my main character|
|Three dog characters: Sandy, Cookie, and Pickles|
|B&W Art Sample|
|B&W Art Sample|
The course JUST ended, wrapping up with the exciting "Golden Ticket" contest where professionals have the opportunity to view our work. When all is said and done, though, I'm just super happy that the course brought me back to my true love: writing and illustrating.
And I think that's everything! Kind of a hectic season, huh? I'm not sure what summer will bring, but hopefully I can keep focusing on my book projects, learning all sorts of literary goodness, and continue healing!
Note: "Draw this Again" meme is by Bampire on deviantArt. link