On My Mind

-thoughts of a wife, mom, author, illustrator, juggler, toy designer, teacher, camp director, ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where's Wednesday?

Wednesday arrived before I could blink. School's out and that means that kids are home. Time at the computer = zero, zilch, nada, nothing. I apologize if you clicked on my blog hoping to see another Author/Illustrator Featured this Week but since they, too, are dealing with summer craziness, this week was left as a black hole in my Wednesday line up. I meant to post about my own journey to publication which has had many bumps and hitches but was unable to get to the computer long enough to do that. Summer craziness has stolen this day, week, month. I do hope you will return for the future line-up of Wednesday Features on amazingly talented Author/Illustrators Diandra Mae, Priscilla Burris, and Charlie Eve Ryan. I will also be posting a "What I learned this summer..." about how Will Terry videos as well as other illustrator mentors have changed my approach to my own illustrations.

Check back next Wednesday to see which of the above Author/Illustrators will be featured.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Author/Illustrator - Andi Osiek

Andi Osiek
        (Pronounced “ON-DEE”… as opposed to Andy. It’s short for Andrea.)
How long have you been creating art for children?

I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. My mom actually has a book I made in Kindergarten about wanting to be an animator for Disney “when I grew up”. I held onto that dream for a long time, received a degree in Illustration, and eventually decided that my real passion is in children’s literature. I’m looking forward to seeing where this new direction will lead me.

How long have you been writing for children?

I imagine I’ve always had stories living inside me, ready to be told. I’ve spent the past 10 years working as a graphic designer and writing (boring) copy for adults. After attending a handful of SCBWI conferences, I kept being encouraged by other writer/illustrators to give it a try. I signed up for the 12x12x12 in January and now have a few manuscripts that I am working with. It’s all a learning process but I’m hopeful that by this fall I will have a dummy or two to start sending out. At the very least, it’s been a fun experience.

Can you share a bit about your publishing journey?

For a number of years I have been working in graphic and web design to pay the bills. Three short years ago, my son was born and I was blessed with the opportunity to leave my 9-5 and stay home with him. I have been doing freelance design work since then, but I’m gradually phasing that out as I focus on my true passions… illustration… and now writing. I consider myself a geek AND an artist, so I am really interested in app development too. Technology and art will continue to intertwine in the future. I’m hopeful that my past experience will lead me toward some interesting opportunities over the next few years.

Where do you do your artwork? Would you describe your space?

I have a nice, organized studio space that I use for most of my computer and digital illustration work. My son and I can often be found at the kitchen table covered in marker smudges and paint. I spend more time than I should in my hammock “thinking”. However, if I’m under a REALLY tight deadline I’m not ashamed to pack up my laptop, Wacom, and a few art supplies and head to a cafĂ© with free Wi-Fi and iced tea refills.

Please tell us about your illustrations. Can you describe your creative process for us? How would you describe your style?

Like most artists, my “style” is continually evolving. In the past I worked a lot in colored pencil, but the medium is very tedious and difficult to make adjustments to. About 6 months ago I began working in digital format with a Wacom and I fell in love. I’ve found that I can get better texture, control and layering capabilities than I had working in pencil. It’s also faster and MUCH easier to edit. My eyes have really opened to a new way of working… one that I had turned my nose up to for a long time.

Generally my process starts with an idea. These ideas often come from something as simple as a word (I’m a huge fan of IllustrationFriday.com prompts). From there I research, sketch, draw everything out in colored pencil, and scan it. Then comes the slow process of layering color. I tend to work in a very controlled way, so I have challenged myself to experiment a lot more lately. I find that “happy accidents” often breathe life into my work. I am trying to allow myself to make more of them… something which has always been difficult for me.

Which comes first - the story or the illustrations?

I would have to say that my work generally starts with character. Sometimes I will know their story before I get started. However, I usually get to know them even better while I sketch. I answer silly questions about them… What do they eat for breakfast? What was their favorite vacation? Who is their biggest hero? These questions help me to understand how they will react in certain situations. Sometimes it will even add a subplot to the story or image that I never would have thought of otherwise.

Andi can be found at:

Website: http://www.andiosiek.com/
Blog: http://www.andiosiek.com/blog
Facebook Fan page: Andi Osiek Illustration

Anything else you would like to add about your art, your writing, or your road to publication?

I would say that the best advice I have been given is to embrace relationships and connections with others in the field. I joined SCBWI several years ago and attend every conference I can. I’m not afraid to ask questions, I try to share what I’ve learned with others, and I treasure the friendships I have made along the way. I now have many friends (in person and online) who I can turn to for advice, support and encouragement. Plus, it’s pretty darn cool when I see a friend’s book in the bookstore or library. I celebrate along with them and look forward to a time when they can do the same with me.

Please leave comments and questions for Andi below.

Come back each Wednesday to see and learn about the
Author/Illustrator of the Week.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tons of Trucks Release & Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter the Tons of Trucks by Sue Fliess Giveaway!

Congratulations on your new book! How long have you been writing for children?
I think I started around 2005. I say I think, because it was sometime that year, but I had an infant and a toddler, and wasn’t getting any sleep, so it’s really anybody’s guess! I’ve been writing all my life, but only had the idea to write for children once I’d had one of my own! I started thinking about writing for children – picture books in particular – in 2003, when my son was an infant and I was reading every picture book and board book out there. I wrote a couple of messy attempts at picture books, but didn’t get serious about it for awhile. I have a good excuse for waiting. I had my second son in 2004!  

Can you share a bit about your journey to publication?
I wrote a terrible draft of a picture book about outer space, and just as I’d ‘perfected’ it, I heard about a class about writing for children at a local college. I signed up, attended, and left with an arsenal of information and a good dose of reality. I joined SCBWI and truly believe it is that organization that helped me get published. I attended conferences, met editors, writers, and published authors. I joined a critique group and wrote, wrote, wrote. Then I submitted my work—over and over. Finally, in early 2009, amidst all the rejections, someone said yes!

 Where do you like to write? Would you describe your space?
Funny you should ask that! For Mother’s Day this year, my husband said I needed a proper office. I should explain that I also work almost full-time as a writer for eBay, and writing at the dining room table was getting old—not to mention I had to hastily pack up my ‘office’ every time we had dinner guests. My desk for my children’s writing was inconveniently in the back of the house (in our guest room), but was not a big enough space to do both eBay and my personal writing. I was scattered and feeling disorganized. When I sold several manuscripts this year, my husband said enough is enough. So, we converted our dining room into an office for me. I’m ecstatic!  I still have some boxes to put away (so forgive the piles), and nothing on the walls yet, but here is a photo.

Would you share a before and after of some of your writing? I mean a few lines before it was ready for publication?

Here is the ‘old’ first stanza to Shoes for Me! and what finally got published.

Shoes for Me! once started like this:

Baby shoes are

All too small.

Off we go. Off to the mall!

And became:

Feet got bigger,

Heel to toe.

Time for new shoes. Off we go!

Sue’s books can be purchased here:
Click HERE to see the trailer for Tons of Trucks!

Sue can be found at:

Website: www.suefliess.com
Twitter: @SueFliess
Facebook Fan page: Sue Fliess Author

Anything else you would like to add about your art, your writing, or your road to publication?

I encourage writers to apply for grants. I applied two years in a row for the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant for picture book writing, and one year for a work in progress grant for a young adult novel I’d written. I received a Letter of Commendation for both Barbara Karlin grants – one for Shoes for Me! and one for Tons of Trucks. These grants are often judged by editors and other people of influence in the industry. It gets you and your work out there and lets people know you are serious about your craft. And, you could win!

and now for the GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway