With Easter just around the corner, I thought I would give away this month one of my original illustrations of a gluttonous Bee (this is from my Christmas Bee Book I did last year). If you would like to win the original illustration of my bee, then all you have to do is drop me an email with your name, contact details and postal address (so I can send it to you). Read more
You might have remembered that last year I was planning on launching a course around using social media for illustrators and creatives. I created notes, worksheets and even a few hours worth of video. But then I discovered that while online courses try have the best interests for everyone, the people using them are incredible sly. They purposely give bad reviews to courses and then good reviews to their own, in a bid for the top slots. They employ others to spend their days creating accounts and just ruining it for everyone. So I decided against it. I deleted my videos and worksheets and moved on.
For months I sat, doing other projects, working on other things, when I came across my notes. I looked at them. Over 40 pages of information, already typed up and ready to go.
That’s when I thought – why don’t I just convert this into an eBook?
In Pink Camels and Floating Grannies I stayed away from having a villain type character. The story was based around Monkey’s grandparents coming to visit and spending the weekend with her, so I didn’t feel like it needed a direct conflict character. It was more a series of family events that everyone could relate to (well – at least a little). My grandmother was a main character and she created a lot of explosive interactions which I felt was enough. The feedback I have been getting from children who have/are reading my story confirmed that I was correct. They are all adequately embarrassed about my Grandmother.
In the second book, my feeling are a little different. In this book, my focus is around Monkey and her friends as they embark on a school camp. All my favourite teachers will be there, including Mrs Pelliot and maybe even Mr Trousers. I have also included a new teacher, Mr Mefer, who is the gym teacher (with a large moustache, of course). During the trip to their camp, Monkey, her friends and Mr Mefer stop for a lunch at a petrol station.
It was at this point that I felt like something needed to happen. I stopped writing.
I didn’t know what needed to happen. Did Mr Mefer relate an interesting story? Did something happen at the gas station? Did something happen to the Kombi they were driving in? I let these ideas float around in my head as I carried on my day.
At 5:30am on Sunday, my youngest cat – Gandalf – started scratching at the bedroom door wanting to get out, which my husband does. Of course then I am now awake. I could toss and turn till a decent hour, but that’s just going to irritate everybody. It then hits me.
Last week I got an email from the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) announcing that they were going to have a an open studio day with Alex Latimer. I can’t honestly say that I knew who Alex was before that email. After meeting him, seeing his studio and his work, I am so glad that I now do.
I will admit that in the rush to get to Alex’s studio in the morning, I actually forgot his name (this is a common thing that happens – especially if I haven’t met a person, so it didn’t even bother me that I was going to a person’s house whose name I had forgotten). I was five minutes late when I arrived and had to yell around his house until eventually I found his wife who guided me up the stairs to his studio. I still hadn’t remembered what his name was, as I quickly nodded and did mini waves to everyone apologetically, as I made my way to the back of the room. I had missed the introduction to the open day and just decided that I was going to have to check my emails on my phone at some point to get this guy’s name. As I was standing there my eyes began to wonder to the shelving on the wall.
There were all these books that were written and illustrated by some person called ‘Alex Latimer.’ I thought to myself ‘I need to Google that when I get home – maybe it’s up-coming illustrator or something that this guy is drawing inspiration from.’
A friend of mine is a writer and every Thursday we get together with another writer, to basically, well, write. This was how my first book Pink Camels and Floating Grannies came about. This interaction also exposed a little something called ‘Prompts’ to me. I knew about prompts already, as I follow the #DailySketch and #FridayIllustration on Twitter. There was something a little more special, however, when someone pulls out a container and slips a little piece of paper that has a word, a sentence, a phrase written on. That little piece of paper was something you pulled out, just for you. It was what your body had chosen, your fingers had sussed out from the container.
I experienced this again, a few weeks ago at the Bodhi Khaya Retreat, where Michelle did a writing workshop. She brought her prompt jar for writing along and it was passed around the table, like sweets or treasures. I realised that the art world was greatly missing out with our short-changed twitter version. I also wanted a special jar with words just for me to draw. I wanted to whisper out a piece of sketching inspiration for a warm-up illustration before the day started.