Giveaway and NESCBWI recap

With Father's Day around the corner, I thought it was a great time to have a book giveaway. I'm giving away one copy of IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by me. The giveaway ends May 30th and I will notify the winner promptly. Open to anyone 18+ years of age in US or Canada.

I promised a little NESCBWI Conference recap, so here are my top five takeaways:

1. Oh, hello! Taking a few years off of this conference was exactly what I needed in order to reboot my perspective. I really enjoyed meeting lots of new people and listening to where they are on their journey. We all know we are part of a tribe, but this tribe comes from a million unique and interesting places - and it was a blast getting to soak it all up. And I had the special privilege of meeting (IRL!) some of my newest tribe - Picture The Books 2017 We are a group of debut children's book authors and illustrators. Their collective talent is only surpassed by their kindness.

From left to right: Mike Malbrough, Emma Otheguy, Alison Goldberg, Heather Pruesser, Gina Perry, Vivian Kirkfield

2. Always take Sudipta's workshops. I've said this before on my blog. If you want to walk away from a writing workshop with tools to improve, look no further than Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Also, you will NEVER fall asleep in her presence. Even after you stayed up way too late both nights before...

3. Mr Schu is in the house. Pass the tissues. I was literally tearing up within 2 minutes of Mr. Schu's presentation. In a good way, of course. I am SO thankful to NESCBWI for snagging him for a moment of his busy year to remind us WHY we write for kids. I am so thrilled for all the kids around the country that will be infected with his sheer joy and love for books. His presentation wasn't all inspiration - I walked away with some really good tips about presenting my work online (BIG, clean book cover jpegs, ready for sharing!) and finding a larger tribe of librarian and teacher advocates. 

4. And the award goes to... Christina Rodriguez! Honestly, that was the most polished, entertaining presentation... not including all the illustrator antics on stage. Or the fabulous prizes! I hope Sketch Battle returns at every possible opportunity. Or you trademark it and make it a prime time show. Thanks for bringing the fun (and the chocolates), Christina!

5. Vita Lane: ready for takeoff! Is there nothing better than seeing a good friend succeed? Keep an eye on my very dear friend, Vita Lane. She has always inspired me in all her creative accomplishments. But her latest work is just blowing me away. It's so good I have to share... Go read her post about her latest project and drool over her beautiful watercolors. 

Be sure to enter the giveaway, it ends on May 30th (Psst. Starting on May 22nd, I'm also hosting a separate giveaway over on GoodReads)

IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD - Cover sketches

With one week to go before the release of IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD I thought I would share the process of creating the cover.
There are SO many characters in the book, that my first round of concepts was partly a game of 'how can I make them all fit':

DADcoverIdeas.jpg

I know what you're thinking. What is this mess? How can she read her own writing? I know. It's ugly and illegible but it's my process. And with more effort it leads to the next step...

A bit nicer, right? There are things that I still really like about each concept. Having Loch Ness in each concept really added an extra challenge. She made a great base for that creature pyramid though, right?

So after talking with my fabulous editor Samantha Swenson, I made some changes and refined a few ideas:

Sam focused in on the framed version, but without the frame:

Want to see the photoshop layers fly by? Watch this video of the cover, layer by layer!
You can preorder IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or at your local independent bookseller (Indiebound can help!).